New Delhi: Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad Wednesday alleged Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav were “agents” of the BJP, adding he will not contest from Varanasi if his candidature scuttled the Dalit movement. He made the remarks during a public meeting in Jaipur days after BSP chief Mayawati termed him a “BJP agent” and alleged that he was contesting from Varanasi as part of the saffron party’s conspiracy to divide Dalit votes. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has entered into an alliance with SP in Uttar Pradesh to take on the BJP. “Akhilesh Yadav gave promotion to officers who inflicted atrocities on Dalits. His father says in Parliament that he wants Modi to become prime minister again. They are agents of the BJP, not me,” the Bhim Army chief said. “They call me an agent for questioning them. Yes, I am an agent of B R Ambedkar… If my own people were not in my way, I would have shown you (Akhilesh) that if we can vote you to power, we can pull you down too,” he said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Chandrashekhar also claimed that Mayawati was being “misled” by Satish Chandra Mishra, her general secretary and Brahmin face of the BSP. He added that he won’t contest the election in Varanasi if his candidature “strengthened” Prime Minister Narendra Modi in any way. Varanasi is the parliamentary constituency of Modi. Mayawati had on Sunday tweeted, “BJP tried hard to help Chandrashekhar join the BSP as its mole, but failed in its conspiracy. It is imperative in national interest to dislodge autocratic, despotic anti-Dalit BJP from power. Please ensure no vote goes waste.” The Bhim Party founder had announced at a rally in the national capital last month that he would contest against Modi from Varanasi and welcomed support of all parties, including the Congress, to take on the BJP. He had also sought the support of SP and BSP for his candidature, saying Dalit groups would back their alliance in other seats. The SP-BSP-RLD alliance is yet to declare its candidate against Modi in Varanasi. The Chandrashekhar-led group shot to limelight during the May 2017 clashes between Dalits and upper caste Thakurs in Saharanpur of Uttar Pradesh. Chandrashekhar was arrested after the clashes. Though he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, the UP Police arrested him under the stringent National Security Act. He was released in September 2018 after spending 16 months in jail.
For nearly a year-and-a-half as the sports editor of The Lantern, I suppressed my inner sports fan out of professional obligation. Having come out the other side and attempted to rekindle my love of sports this past weekend for the first time since resigning from my post in January, I’m not sure how much of a sports fan still resides in me. The times I spent as the sports editor of The Lantern were some of the best of my life. I had the privilege of roaming sidelines and locker rooms all over America while bearing witness to the Ohio State athletic department’s many teams and student-athletes. The price of admission for this rare opportunity was shelving the sports fan in me. Upon taking the position in the summer 2011, I was all too happy to abide by that stipulation, which all sports writers must do, of course. I didn’t stop to realize what I was looking at during my editorship, but there were times when covering the OSU athletic department went far beyond the chalk on the field. In truth, the editorship was a lot like walking in on your parents having sex. By this, I mean that you also bear witness to the ugly side of things – things that are burned into your memory forever. It is the kind of stuff that is obviously taking place but you’d rather not see. In the case of the sports writer, it is the kind of thing you’d prefer not to report on or witness, but must. It is the things you read while sifting through hefty documents after Freedom of Information Act open records requests are fulfilled. It is the stories you hear about coaches and athletes being jerks when the bright lights aren’t shining their way. Of course, it is also the public relations person that argues you have misrepresented the truth about their team or their department. There is no ugly side to the true sports fan, though. Fandom, in its purest form, is innocent and unassuming. Men, women and children of all ages commit themselves to their chosen team and make an emotional investment with no promise of a return. The team’s success can be the daily metric of a fan’s happiness or despair. This can be a cruel way to live, but it’s the chosen way of life for so many. When I attempted to awaken my inner sports fan for the occasion of the OSU men’s basketball team’s game against Indiana on Sunday at the Schottenstein Center, my inner sports fan didn’t wake up. I don’t know if he ever will. With only a vague recollection of the game day rituals OSU fans partake in, I did my best to recreate an authentic fan experience. To gain admittance to the stadium, I pulled a crumbled ticket from my coat pocket and held my breath as an usher scanned the barcode – I had purchased the ticket for an exorbitant price from a scalper just five minutes earlier. This, of course, was a departure from flashing a press badge to get inside. Once inside, I didn’t have a free meal with unlimited Coca-Cola products provided for me. Rather, I had to pay for a hot dog and a pop like the other 18,808 fans in attendance. And my seat wasn’t arm’s length from the court. I was up in Section 332, Row “R,” Seat 12. It is not as posh as press row, but true fans take pride in simply being present for the big event, proximity to the playing surface aside. I even perused the souvenir shop on the lower level and wore an OSU T-shirt to the game – to the untrained eye I was just another nameless, ticket-bearing, die-hard member of Buckeye Nation. This die-hard died quickly, though, and I quickly had to concede that my experience was anything but authentic. I observed the game with the submissive silence and shifty eyes of a deadline reporter. No time or cause for cheering as far as I could see. Of course, silence in the presence of two top-10-ranked basketball teams playing in sold-out arenas was beginning to make me stick out. The media resist emotional reaction to game play, but the wild crowing and bellowing of the sports fan – let us call those reactions “fangasms” – is accepted bleacher etiquette in most stadiums. In a desperate attempt to participate and gain the approval of the people I was sitting near, I began to curse and cry out loudly during the second half of the game. Having not attended an OSU game of any kind as a fan in about a year-and-a-half, I had all but forgotten how to cheer. I was crying out at inappropriate moments, or too long after the play was over. My reactions were a forgery. I was a fraud. I was faking my fangasms. The embarrassment of my fraudulent fangasms arrived midway through the second half, and Indiana was in control of the game by that point. The Hoosiers went on to coast to an 81-68 win. I stayed until the final buzzer, but I knew I had spent each second of the 40 minutes of game action occupying a seat that would have been better suited for someone eager to twirl a Homage rally towel and root hard for OSU. If there was a way for me to realize I wasn’t fan enough anymore that didn’t involve handing a fistful of cash to a ticket scalper, surely I would have pursued that action. For all that I gained as sports editor of The Lantern, and I promise you that I gained greatly, I lost the fan in me, for now at least. Sports are my lifeblood, so shelving my fandom and my passion for sports writing simultaneously is out of the question. I suppose it is really a win-win situation because, as I did during my editorship, I’m sure to continue meeting interesting people and seeing things that true fans can only dream of seeing. There are more good days ahead. Perhaps I came into the field of sports writing too naive about how things really work. Maybe my view of sports fans is more of an idealistic hope than a reality. In any event, the path of the sports writer, and not that of the sports fan, is the path I will continue down. That is to say, I’ll stay on this path as long as I can continue to stomach a job that occasionally requires me to witness things that we don’t always want to see.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) waits for the snap during a game against Michigan State on Nov. 8 in East Lansing, Mich. OSU won, 49-37.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe script surrounding the Ohio State quarterback picture is the same as it was three months ago — the lead character just has a different name.When the Buckeyes took the field for fall practice in August, their top quarterback was a Heisman Trophy contender with the ability to rewrite the record books.But that quarterback — senior Braxton Miller — was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder during fall camp, leaving the door open for redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett to take reigns of the OSU offense.Now with three regular season games still remaining for the Buckeyes, Barrett is just four touchdown passes away from tying the single-season school record of 30. That record just so happens to have been set by OSU’s most recent Heisman winner, Troy Smith in 2006.On Monday, coach Urban Meyer said he thinks Barrett’s play — at least on paper — should have him in the conversation for the sport’s most prestigious postseason award.“I think statistically he’s got to be in the mix somewhere,” Meyer said, but he conceded he hadn’t had a chance to watch most other players who are in the Heisman conversation.But before Barrett’s play elevated him into that conversation, all signs pointed toward Miller returning to the Buckeyes as the starter next season. Since his injury was season-ending, Miller qualifies for a medical redshirt, meaning he can choose to stay at OSU next season with one year of eligibility remaining.In fact, Miller’s future at OSU was even qualified by Meyer on Sept. 29.“Braxton is our quarterback,” Meyer said, seemingly ending any debate as to whether Barrett — the former understudy — could send Miller packing.But now with Barrett’s play putting him in the national spotlight and Miller having already come in ninth in Heisman voting last season and fifth in 2012, Meyer could be tasked with choosing between two of the top signal callers in the nation next season.And after saying he was committed to Miller less than two months ago, Meyer’s stance shifted Monday when he addressed a potential Barrett vs. Miller battle next season.“Competition brings out the best,” he said. “And I’m really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year.”But with that potential decision still months away, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said he’s focused on 2014, and not who will be under center on Sept. 7, 2015, when the Buckeyes are scheduled to open their season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.“I honestly give that zero, zero thought,” Herman said Monday. “Zero.“I’m focused on this team and I’m also focused on Braxton and his rehab, which is going greatly from what I understand.”Herman added that the Buckeyes will “cross that bridge when we come to it,” in reference to possibly having a quarterback competition on their hands next fall.Meyer said having both quarterbacks on the roster isn’t a problem for him — even saying the Buckeyes are “fortunate and blessed” to have Barrett and Miller — and agreed with Herman that he’ll worry about making any decisions at a later date.Then-junior quarterback Braxton Miller (5) looks for an open receiver during the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl against Clemson Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium. OSU lost, 40-35.Credit: Lantern file photo“I think they’re both excellent quarterbacks. Excellent quarterbacks,” Meyer said Monday. “And we’ll worry about that day when it comes.”Miller proved that excellence to Meyer by picking up back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year awards, while Barrett has done so by progressing after taking over before the season opener against Navy. For Herman, Barrett’s speed of that progression has come as a surprise, he said, but not a big one.“I think the pace at which his improvement has accelerated is mildly surprising,” Herman said.“To see a kid that’s played nine college games now, to make the progress that he’s made,” he expanded. “It’s visual … You don’t have to be a coach to know that.”Now coming off a 49-37 win against then-No. 7 Michigan State on the road in which he threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns while adding another two scores on the ground, Barrett has totaled 2,156 passing yards and 26 touchdowns through the air this season. He’s also tallied a 172.9 quarterback efficiency rating and is second on the team with 582 rushing yards and first with eight rushing touchdowns.In comparison, Miller threw for just 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns in his entire first season as the Buckeyes’ full-time starter in 2012. But the then-sophomore also rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 more scores that season.While that production has mostly been replaced by Barrett’s play this year, many might not have expected such an output. But at least one of Barrett’s receivers said he expected the Wichita Falls, Texas, native to step in seamlessly after replacing the injured Miller.“It’s kind of like the next man up, and he’s a mature dude and he took his job real serious,” redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas said Monday. “So I had a lot of confidence in him.”While the Buckeyes had championship aspirations under Miller, those plans seemed to take a hit when Barrett stepped in. But — with the right team around him — Herman said he feels Barrett is the type of quarterback who can lead OSU to a title as well.“I think with the right pieces around him and the right preparation and the right protection and ability to block people up front, yeah, he can certainly win any game that we put him out on the field to go against,” Herman said.But if Barrett can win any game Miller can, does that leave the door open for the Buckeyes’ injured star to leave OSU for another school next season?“I can’t even imagine that,” Herman said about the prospect of Miller transferring after he graduates from OSU this year.Whether or not the curtain has dropped on Miller’s time as OSU’s starter, Barrett is set to be the man taking the lead when the curtain rises for the Buckeyes on Saturday in Minneapolis. OSU is scheduled to kick off against Minnesota at noon.
Teenage star Phil Foden insists he sees himself continuing at Manchester City, despite fellow young prospects Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz both leavingFoden broke into the first-team at City last season in a Champions League match against Feyenoord at just 17 years old and he’s since gone on to make a further 24 appearances.Manager Pep Guardiola is a big admirer of Foden’s and has already ruled out a loan move for the 18-year-old, despite having never handed him a Premier League start.Nevertheless, Foden has no plans on emulating new Real Madrid signing Diaz and Borussia Dortmund’s Sancho in leaving City for better first-team opportunities.“It shows the strength of the squad we have here, how good the players are – it is difficult to get in, but we all try our best,” said Foden, according to FourFourTwo.“It’s up to them [Diaz and Sancho], really – they have gone their separate ways, and everyone has their own plan in what they want to do, so fair play to them.Liverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“Everyone is different, and I see myself playing here. It’s up to them, really.“We’ve got the best set of players and the best staff, so I’m in the right position. I’m learning off them every day, so I couldn’t be in a better place.“I’m sad to see him [Diaz] go, but he wants opportunities, so good luck to him. He will do well, I know it.“I grew up with him and know his qualities, so I know he’ll do well. Maybe one day I’ll face him in the Champions League.”Foden has made 15 appearances for City this season across all competitions with five of them being starts.
Rio Ferdinand has questioned the mentality of Chelsea players after their unbeaten run was brought to an end by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.Maurizio Sarri’s men were outclassed from the first minute to the last as Tottenham recorded victory in the London derby thanks to goals from Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and Son Heung-Min.However, former Manchester United defender Ferdinand admitted he was shocked by Chelsea’s lackluster performance and accused their players of failing to stick to a game plan.“Tottenham approached this game as if it was a derby, Chelsea approached it as if it was a testimonial,” he told Daily Mail.Chelsea hat-trick hero Tammy Abraham hopes for more Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Tammy Abraham hopes this season will be his big breakthrough at Chelsea after firing his first hat-trick for the club in Saturday’s 5-2 win at Wolves.“Tottenham have this in their locker, it’s not a surprise, what was a surprise was how Sarri’s team played.“I just think when you come away from home you want to make sure you’re compact and they have done everything but that. In the first half, they went against everything that would have been said in the team talk.“That’s a performance as a player and a manager especially, you’re fearful of off the back of an international football: Lackadaisical, jaded, the air miles are playing a part in it, too.“It feels like they have not focused on what the job in hand was here today and that was to come here and especially in the first 10, 15 minutes away from home in a massive game like this is to quiet the crowd and to get your foot in the game and they did everything but that.”
West Ham coach Matt Beard says his team’s performance wouldn’t have given room for defeating Manchester United in the Continental Tyres Cup quarter-finals.Manchester United progressed into the last four of the competition having beaten West Ham United at the Leigh Sports Village Stadium on Wednesday.“Over the course of the game, we didn’t deserve to win,” Beard told West Ham TV. “Manchester United deserved to go through. I felt that they were the better team tonight. They created the better chances and they were quicker to the second balls, and for me that is frustrating.“We know we are struggling numbers-wise. We’ve been training with about 12 players for around three months. We had a three-week break and now we’re playing three games in seven days. We’ve lost Simic and Kiernan, and that’s not ideal for these big games.Solskjaer praises Harry Maguire after Man United’s 1-0 win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out Harry Maguire for praise after helping Manchester United keep a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Leicester City.“None of that is an excuse though, because we didn’t really deserve it. They deserved it and we’ve got to take that on the chin.”He continued: “I feel frustrated. I felt we did okay in the first half, but it was a frustrating first goal to concede because we worked on this in training after what happened against Arsenal.“I think we grew into the game. We did better in the last 20 minutes of the first half, and had a great chance to equalise, although Siobhan Chamberlain has made a great save.“The second goal changed the course of the game. I looked at the incident and I think it should be a free-kick on Kate Longhurst, but it’s gone against us. After that the game is gone, and for me that’s frustrating.”
Defense Department leaders appear to be moving ahead with a plan to consolidate the military’s commissary and exchange systems, according to multiple sources.The move comes in response to a recommendation from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in January. Consolidating DOD’s three exchange services with the Defense Commissary Agency into a single Defense Resale Activity would generate savings by combining many of the back-end office and support functions such as logistics and staffing, the panel concluded.A meeting this week at the Pentagon is intended to allow military resale officials to review DOD’s plans for implementing the commission’s recommendation, sources told Military Times.Congress, however, would need to approve a significant restructuring of the commissary and exchange systems.A Pentagon spokesman would not confirm the meetings. Last month, President Obama said he supported the commission’s reforms to military pay and benefits and said DOD would send Congress by April 30 a set of legislative proposals based on the recommendations.DOD proposed its own set of cost-saving reforms to the commissary system in its fiscal 2016 budget request, including trimming staff, store hours and the days stores are open. That plan also called for U.S. commissaries to be operated more like a business, forcing the grocery stores to reduce customer discounts.Opponents of DOD’s proposal — which would cut funding for commissaries by $322 million in fiscal 2016 and by $1 billion the following year — say raising prices would eliminate the shopping benefit for military families. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
Indian rescue workers look for survivors in the debris of a collapsed building in Mumbai on 31 August 2017. Photo: AFPAt least 12 people died Thursday when a building collapsed in India’s financial capital Mumbai following heavy rains that have wreaked havoc in many parts of South Asia.More than a dozen others were pulled from the rubble of the four-storey residential building, which gave way around 08:40 am (0310 GMT) in the densely populated area of Bhendi Bazaar.It was the most recent deadly housing collapse to strike the teeming metropolis — shining a spotlight on poor construction standards in the Asian country — and came after flooding in the city killed 10 people.”Twelve people have died including three women and nine men. Rescue operations are ongoing,” Vijay Khabale-Patil, a spokesman for Mumbai’s civic authority, told AFP.Ambulances rushed more than a dozen injured to the nearby J.J. Hospital in the south of the city while locals joined a 43-member NDRF team in picking through piles of debris in a desperate hunt for survivors.”I can confirm that 11 people are dead and 15 have been brought here injured, including three who are in a critical condition,” the dean of the hospital, T.P. Lahane, told AFP.Building collapses are common in Mumbai, especially during the monsoon season from late June to September, when heavy rains lash the western Indian city, weakening poorly built structures.Severe downpours caused flooding and chaos across Mumbai and the neighbouring region of Thane on Tuesday although waters had receded by late Wednesday.Bhendi Bazaar, a scruffy colonial-era market, is one of Mumbai’s most historic districts and officials said the collapsed building was 117 years old.It had been marked for demolition as part of a $600 million redevelopment project that is currently replacing hundreds of ramshackle, decades-old low-rise buildings with around a dozen glitzy new tower blocks.- Living in fear -Distraught residents said they rushed to the scene of the collapsed structure after hearing a loud crash.”There was a huge noise and we all came running,” Naseem Mogradia, who lives two lanes away, told AFP.Shahid Khan, 52, said he didn’t know whether his friend and seven family members who lived on the ground floor were alive or dead.”I am just trying to help with rescue operations,” he told AFP.Mumbai has been hit by several deadly building collapses in recent years, often caused by shoddy construction, poor quality materials or ageing buildings.Millions are forced to live in cramped, ramshackle properties because of spiralling real estate prices and a lack of housing for the poor.Activists say housing societies, private owners and builders often cut corners to save on costs.Rent control acts mean landlords cannot afford to maintain buildings while poor people choose to remain in homes even after they have been declared unsafe because they have nowhere else to go.”Most of the buildings in Bhendi Bazaar are old and dilapidated. We always live in fear that they will collapse during monsoons,” 63-year-old Mohammed Shaikh told AFP.In July, 17 people including a three-month-old baby died when a four-storey building gave way in the northern suburb of Ghatkopar.In 2013, 60 people were killed when a residential block came crashing down in one of Mumbai’s worst housing disasters.On Thursday officials in Mumbai said the death toll from floods in and around the city were expected to rise above 10 as the waters receded.”We are still on the lookout for more missing persons and the number may go up,” Santosh Kadam, spokesman for disaster control in Thane, told AFP.More than 1,200 have been killed India, Nepal and Bangladesh in devastating floods this monsoon season.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: AFPThe International Criminal Court (ICC) has constituted pre-trial Chamber-III demonstrating further progress over ongoing process to look into the atrocities committed against the Rohingyas, reports UNB.The chamber is composed of judge Robert Fremr, judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia and judge Geoffrey Henderson , according to a media release issued by ICC on Wednesday.This decision follows a notice by the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda informing the presidency of her intention to submit a request for an authorisation to open an investigation into this situation.Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Bangladesh since 25 August , 2017 amid military crackdown on them in Rakhine state of Myanmar.The prosecutor has notified judges that she will seek an authorisation “to investigate alleged crimes within the court’s jurisdiction in which at least one element occurred on the territory of Bangladesh – a state party to the Rome Statute since 1 June 2010 – and within the context of two waves of violence in Rakhine state on the territory of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events”.Once the prosecutor submits her request, it will then be for the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III to decide whether or not to authorise the prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation.The judges will have to consider whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, upon examination of the prosecutor’s request and the supporting material.On 6 September 2018, following a request submitted by the prosecutor pursuant to article 19(3) of the statute, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I decided by majority that the court may exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar occurred on the territory of Myanmar to Bangladesh.On 18 September 2018, the prosecutor announced the opening of a preliminary examination concerning the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Pool/Getty ImagesPresident Trump, seen in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, lashed out in a series of tweets at the FBI after the guilty plea of his former national security adviser in the Russia probe.A day after Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, was ensnared — and apparently flipped — in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, another story leaked: “Mueller Removed FBI Agent From Russia Probe Over Anti-Trump Messages.”Coincidence?In a week when Republicans are trying to get a tax overhaul bill to the president’s desk for the first piece of major legislation he would sign (more on that below), that story gives the White House a much-needed talking point, as the president is again being threatened by the Russia investigation. In response, Trump and his allies are undertaking an all-out effort to undermine Mueller’s work — and the FBI itself.The Russia investigationMentioning the anti-Trump texts on ABC’s This Week Sunday, Chris Ruddy, the CEO of the conservative site Newsmax and a Trump friend, said Mueller represents an “existential threat” and is racking up charges at “lightning speed. … You get a picture that this group is out to get the president.” (Remember, Ruddy told PBS NewsHour back in June that Trump was considering firing Mueller, which the White House denied at the time.)The president took up the charge during a weekend tweetstorm. He criticized the FBI, saying its “reputation is in tatters,” and he painted a conspiratorial picture of the anti-Trump texts: “Now it all starts to make sense!”Report: “ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE” Now it all starts to make sense!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017He even defended Flynn, alleging a “double standard.” Expect Trump supporters this week to dig in and claim the texts are just the tip of the iceberg, that they prove the sentiment is endemic among Mueller’s team.Serving its political purpose: Of course, the irony here is that Mueller removed the investigator months ago upon learning of the texts. But that pro-Trump talking point is already serving a critical purpose — to muddy the waters, keep Trump’s base on board and insulate the president from further political damage.Building a case of obstruction: Democrats are moving in another direction this week, raising a big charge against the president: “I think what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on NBC’s Meet the Press.“I think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments and pleas that have just taken place, and some of the comments that are being made. I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House: the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it, most importantly, in what happened with the firing of Director Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.”What did the president know and when did he know it? Another weekend Trump tweet raised new questions about obstruction when he indicated he knew Flynn lied to the FBI before he fired then-Director James Comey.I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017Remember that Trump fired then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (the stated reason was because she wouldn’t defend his travel ban) after she told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had lied to the vice president about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.And remember that after Comey was fired some months later, he submitted in testimony — under oath — that Trump asked him to let “Flynn go” in a Feb. 14 meeting. Perhaps realizing the potential damage of Trump’s tweet, his personal lawyer, John Dowd, took ownership of it. “My mistake,” he claimed in an interview with Axios. “I’m out of the tweeting business.”Yates testified before Congress that she told McGahn that the FBI interviewed Flynn Feb. 24, but declined to tell him how Flynn did. Dowd told NPR’s Tamara Keith in an email Sunday that in Yates’ meeting with McGahn:“No accusation of lying had been lodged or conveyed to WHC [White House counsel] by Yates, Justice or FBI. Just that F [Flynn] told the agents what he told VP.”Dowd said in the email that there was “no accusation of lying.” But, let’s follow the logic: if Yates told McGahn that Flynn had said something untrue to the vice president, and Yates told McGahn that Flynn said the same untruth to the FBI, how does it follow that McGahn didn’t know that Flynn made false statements to the FBI?In response to a follow-up question seeking clarification, Dowd replied:“No, it does follow. Yates NEVER said he lied. That’s the point.”That’s not much more clarifying. For the record, Trump hotly denies that he “asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn.” He claimed in a tweet Sunday was Comey who was lying:I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017Well, someone’s not telling the truth. And we haven’t heard the last of the Mueller investigation.Can Trump get his win on taxes?Evan Vucci/APPresident Trump holds an example of what a new tax form may look like during a tax-policy meeting at the White House with Republican lawmakers.Now that the House and Senate have each passed their own versions of a tax bill, they have to be reconciled. Republicans plan to set up a conference committee, where differences in the two bills will be worked out. And there are some significant differences:-First, the Senate bill makes tax cuts for individuals expire after 2025 to comply with requirements to keep the deficit under control. The House bill makes them permanent;-The bills have entirely different tax brackets;-The House bill eliminates the estate tax and alternative minimum taxes, while the Senate bill just rolls those back;-The Senate bill officially ends enforcement of the Obamacare requirement that most Americans carry health insurance.Those are just the highlights. However, Republican leaders promise they will move quickly to work things out and get President Trump the final tax bill, with a bow on it just in time to tuck under his Christmas tree.‘Conference in name only’? Democrats have blasted Republicans for voting on the Senate bill just hours after the final text was worked out late Friday, which followed a closed-door meeting where the bill was changed to win over holdouts. Some revisions were literally written out long-hand in the margins, affecting major policy like how small businesses are treated in the tax code.Any handwriting experts out there? I’d like to know what this says before they call for a vote. This is absurd. pic.twitter.com/6UkiJmuY9T— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) December 1, 2017Democrats warn that the GOP will race through this final part of the legislative process, too. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden was quoted by the New York Times predicting “a conference in name only.”Sexual harassment allegations keep piling upAlex Wong/Getty ImagesRep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is expected to decide this week if he will resign from Congress amid a sexual harassment settlement agreement and other harassment allegations.Heading into the weekend, another Democrat came under scrutiny. Nevada freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen was accused by a 2016 campaign aide of making sexual advances that forced her to quit her job, as reported by BuzzFeed. House Democrats’ campaign chair, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have called on him to resign.Does Conyers resign? Party leaders’ reaction to Kihuen was a sharp contrast to how much slower they were to call on Rep. John Conyers to resign. And his future could be decided this week. (The Michigan Democrat settled with a woman who said she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and there have been accusations of verbal abuse and unwanted physical contact.) The 88-year-old Conyers went into the hospital last week for stress as his original accuser went public. Conyers’ lawyer said he would decide his future in the next few days, while also saying that his client is facing a double-standard.What about Franken? Conyers’ lawyer asked why Pelosi and others have called on Conyers to resign, but not Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, a white Democrat. Franken is accused of groping by several women and forcibly kissing at least one. Franken has apologized, but says he doesn’t remember many of the alleged incidents. Conyers continues to deny all wrongdoing. House lawmakers will further examine questions about taxpayer-funded secret settlements this week.Trump goes to “Floribama” to campaign for MooreScott Olson/Getty ImagesRoy Moore, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, is getting a boost from President Trump, who unlike other Republicans, is backing his Senate bid despite sexual assault allegations.Republican leaders look wearily to Alabama, just over a week before voters will decide whether to send Roy Moore to the Senate, as he faces numerous allegations including sexual assault against teenage girls. President Trump is going to all but campaign for Moore on Friday, four days before the Dec. 12 special election. Trump’s holding a rally in Pensacola, Fla., and while it won’t officially be a rally for Moore, it’s in the Mobile, Ala., media market. Trump has given voice to Moore’s denials, while thrashing his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.Could Trump lay the groundwork to undo protections for federal lands — and open them up to development?President Trump is expected to shrink the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments Monday during a trip to Utah. Depending on what side of the Trump administration’s review of public lands national monuments you fall on, this is either the latest example of the U.S. government breaking a promise to Native American tribes, many of whom supported the 1.3 million Bears Ears National Monument, or it’s one about an overreaching federal government.Many conservative counties in rural Utah opposed both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monument designations, because they restricted future development like mining on federal public land.The law is grey at best when it comes to whether the president has the authority to shrink or abolish a large, protected national monument. Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, only Congress can do that. But when the administration started its review, officials suggested the law needs to be tested. Sixteen presidents — from Obama to George W. Bush — have used the act to create public-lands monuments. Trump’s decision in Utah today could very well set a precedent for future presidents to undo protections for public lands and other wild areas.— Kirk Siegler, NPR national desk reporterHow’s this for a stocking stuffer?Pool/Getty ImagesPresident Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the annual national Christmas tree lighting ceremony Thursday.Congress needs to come up with funding by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. Expect another short term, likely two-week, continuing resolution that expires Dec. 22. That could mean quite the pre-Christmas week between government funding and taxes.The Washington Post reports that Trump has told allies that a shutdown could be good for him politically.Flashback: “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’….”either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. 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