By Gabriel Debenedetti MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Conservative Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz tested the 2016 presidential waters at an event on Saturday in the influential state of New Hampshire at which potential opponents from the more moderate wing of the party did not appear. The "Freedom Summit" rally was the latest in a series of stops for Cruz and Paul, who are hoping to win the favor of the party's right wing for potential White House bids. The event was co-hosted by Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and the single largest advertiser in the 2014 election cycle so far. Among other speakers was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and is seen as a potential 2016 contender. Paul, a favorite among libertarians, cautioned Republicans against compromising. "Some say we just need to dilute our message, let's just be a little more like the Democrats," the Kentucky Republican told the audience. "You think that's a good idea? Hogwash. It's exactly the wrong thing to do. Our problem isn't that we are too bold. Our problem is that we are too timid." Among the leading moderate Republicans, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's 2016 prospects have been clouded by the "Bridgegate" traffic scandal, while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush appears in no hurry to join the race for the White House. That has created an opportunity for others to try to make inroads in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state, where White House candidates often preview their campaign messages. "You want to know why people are frustrated out of their mind in Washington? The biggest divide we have is not between Democrats and Republicans," Cruz, a Texas Republican, said at the event. "It's between entrenched politicians in both parties, and the American people." While no politician has yet thrown a hat into the presidential ring, Cruz and Paul have been preparing for possible campaigns for months, undaunted by the Republican Party's reluctance to nominate a conservative in recent presidential elections. Over the weekend, Cruz headlined two rallies for activists and voters with the New Hampshire Republican Party. Paul appeared at two fundraisers with the state party and one for a non-profit group that has funded ads against the re-election bid of the state's Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen. NO REAL FRONT-RUNNER The fractured Republican field has no true front-runner 21 months before the first primary votes of 2016, unlike among Democrats, where former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a large lead over other possible contenders. The RealClearPolitics average of national polls taken from March 6 to 30 showed no potential Republican candidate with more than 15 percent support. Paul, Cruz, Bush, Christie, Huckabee and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan each averaged between 8 and 15 percent in the RealClearPolitics sample. Polls this far ahead of elections are rarely predictive, and national appeal does not necessarily translate to primary-state popularity. Cruz, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, who has feuded with more moderate Senate colleagues, and Paul, whose libertarian leanings and non-interventionist foreign policy worry traditionalist Republicans, would have to broaden their appeal within the party to win the nomination, analysts said. "There are not enough Tea Party people, not enough libertarian people, not enough socially conservative people to win a Republican nomination, by definition," said veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who runs polling for Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another possible 2016 hopeful. "Anyone who comes from one of those traditions must expand beyond that tradition to win," Ayres said. A leading Republican critic of National Security Agency surveillance, Paul has appeared before a wide range of audiences, looking to woo social conservatives and young people. In March, he even spoke at the University of California at Berkeley, long known as a liberal stronghold. "Anybody got a cellphone? You're under surveillance," he said on Saturday, holding one up. "Here's the thing: It's none of their damn business what you do with your cellphone." In office less than two years, Cruz has been a frequent presence in early candidate-selection states like Iowa and South Carolina, and has rebounded from criticism from fellow Republicans over his role in the government shutdown last October. The White House agreed on Friday with Cruz's call to deny a visa to Iran's choice for U.N. ambassador because of the envoy's suspected participation in a Muslim student group that seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Bush and Christie did join other potential Republican candidates at a Las Vegas meeting in March with donor Sheldon Adelson, who spent more than $100 million in the 2012 election cycle. Bush, who says he will decide whether to run by the end of 2014, ran into trouble with conservatives this week after characterizing illegal immigration as an "act of love" by those who come to the United States to provide for their families. The first mention of Bush's name and his immigration comments drew boos from the conservative crowd on Saturday. (Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)
- Yahoo News
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., told the Yahoo News "Skullduggery" podcast that President Trump's supporters claiming voter fraud share a lot in common with the people searching for Bigfoot.
- Associated Press
The leader of a pro-gun group that stages armed protests against police violence has been charged with pointing a rifle at federal officers while in Kentucky for a demonstration. John F. Johnson, who calls himself “Grandmaster Jay,” is facing a federal charge of assaulting task force officers. A complaint filed in federal court in Louisville said Johnson pointed a rifle, which had a flashlight mounted to it, at officers who were on a roof in downtown Louisville on Sept. 4.
The prominent pro-democracy supporter's detention comes a day after several activists were jailed.
- The Telegraph
Murderers and rapists could be barred from claiming asylum as part of Priti Patel's crackdown on immigration
Murderers and rapists to be prevented from claiming asylum, says Priti Patel, after the Jamaican deportation flight row. In an interview with The Telegraph, the Home Secretary said it was “completely wrong” that convicted killers and rapists released from jail should be able to exploit the asylum system to remain in the UK. She also indicated that asylum will be “streamlined” to prevent migrants making multiple claims that can be lodged and heard hours or even minutes before their removal. It will be part of a major reform of Britain’s “completely broken” asylum system, which is due to be unveiled in the new year. Her comments came after a murderer, two rapists and two would-be killers were among 23 criminals who escaped deportation to Jamaica early on Wednesday morning after lodging 11th hour appeals including claims for asylum. One was removed from the flight just minutes before the flight after a judge granted a stay.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden has settled on a team to lead the U.S. through its biggest ongoing crisis, two people familiar with the decision tell Politico.Jeff Zients, who headed the National Economic Council under former President Barack Obama and is co-chair of Biden's transition team, will reportedly be named the White House's COVID-19 coordinator. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general under Obama, will reportedly return to his role with more responsibilities, and Biden's coronavirus advisory board co-chair Marcella Nunez-Smith will get a special role focused on health disparities.Zients "isn't a health care guru, and he's the first to say that," one source close to Biden told Politico. But his managerial experience is seen as an asset as the U.S. prepares to roll out a vaccine and combat the coronavirus-induced economic crisis — "he's essentially playing that role with the transition now," the source said. Zients will reportedly be paired with health experts including Murthy, who has already been a part of Biden's coronavirus plans. Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associate professor of medicine, will meanwhile help address how COVID-19 and other health care issues disproportionately affect people of color.The left wing of the Democratic party isn't expected to be thrilled with Zients' selection, The New York Times reports. Progressive groups such as Revolving Door Project and Justice Democrats have already pointed out his corporate record, and the fact that an anesthesia company managed under the investment firm Zients ran had poor reviews. Under Obama, "his role was essentially to be a management consultant for the executive branch: cutting costs, finding efficiencies and looking at things like a businessman," Revolving Door said in a document about Zients' background.More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
- Associated Press
The European Union’s aviation safety agency has extended a ban imposed on Pakistan's state-run airline this year barring it from flying to Europe after a plane crash that killed 97 people in the port city of Karachi, a spokesman said Friday. At the time — and while the probe into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash was still underway — authorities acknowledged that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots, 260 out of 860, had cheated on their pilot’s exams. Pakistan International Airlines subsequently grounded 150 of its pilots while a probe by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority into the other pilots is still ongoing.
- USA TODAY
Five executions are scheduled before Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment, takes office. Ninety current and former law officials want a halt.
A bilateral trade deal between Taiwan and the United States would reinforce U.S. support for the democratic island in the face of "unrelenting intimidation" from China, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has long angled for a trade deal with its most important diplomatic and military backer, and in August Tsai announced a relaxation on imports of U.S. pork and beef, removing a stumbling block.
He is the first to be arrested under a controversial anti-conversion law passed last month.
- Yahoo News Video
As a pair of critical Senate runoff races approach on Jan. 5, Georgia Republican leaders find themselves in a conundrum, trying to balance indulging President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud with supporting state GOP election officials. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, is frustrated with the misinformation about the election process in his state. “I’m actually embarrassed at the amount of misinformation that continues to show up on Twitter feeds and Facebook posts and blogs that takes literally 10 seconds to debunk,” Duncan told Yahoo News. “Anybody could debunk it, but because they’ve let themselves get to a point where they’re more worried about flipping an election result than they are following the truth, that’s how we’ve gotten here.”
- Associated Press
Israeli police said Friday they arrested a Jewish man after he poured out a “flammable liquid” inside a church near Jerusalem’s Old City, in what they described as a “criminal” incident. The police did not provide further details about the motive, but past attacks on churches in the Holy Land have been blamed on Jewish extremists. Friday’s incident took place at the Church of All Nations, a Catholic church built on the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christians believe Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his followers, and arrested by the Romans before being crucified.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden said when it comes to the Department of Justice, he is "not going to be telling them what they have to do and don't have to do."Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday, and the discussion turned to reports that President Trump is contemplating preemptively pardoning his adult children, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Biden said this "concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks [at] us as a nation of laws and justice."Biden promised that he is "not going to be saying, 'Go prosecute A, B, or C,' I'm not going to be telling them. That's not the role, it's not my Justice Department, it's the people's Justice Department. So the persons or person I pick to run that department are going to be people who are going to have the independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted, who doesn't."Harris, who once served as California's attorney general, added that the administration will assume that "any decision coming out of the Justice Department ... should be based on the law, it should not be influence by politics, period."More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
Philippine police on Friday threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the coronavirus during the festive season. The Philippines celebrates one of the world's longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls and shopping centres despite the pandemic. Police general Cesar Binag, commander of the coronavirus task force, told a news conference that police and soldiers would patrol in public areas in the capital Manila, the hotspot of COVID-19 cases, carrying 1 meter rattan sticks to measure distancing.
- Business Insider
Attorney for Jared Kushner and a Trump fundraiser investigated by DOJ in alleged bribery-for-pardon scheme
The New York Times reported that a lawyer for President Trump's son-in-law was investigated by the Justice Department this summer.
- Associated Press
A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. Morrison's change in approach came even after he was thwarted in getting his views out directly to Chinese people over the messaging app WeChat, after the Chinese company deleted his post on the grounds it could distort historical events and confuse the public. China has angrily rejected Morrison's complaints, but its foreign ministry on Thursday declined to comment further on the controversy.
- The Week
President Trump reportedly needs no encouragement to start praising the dangerous, baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.The most pressing matter for federal Republicans right now is the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia, which will determine control of the body. But in a meeting with advisers and top Senate Republicans about that matter, Trump totally derailed the conversation by bringing up QAnon, people familiar with the discussion tell The Washington Post.Trump is reportedly not thrilled with Georgia and that fact that it flipped for President-elect Joe Biden, and is publicly upset with Republican leaders in the state who haven't somehow overturned the election for him. So even though Republican advisers say Trump's help is "key to convincing his die-hard supporters to vote for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue" in the January runoff election, the president isn't thrilled about doing so, the Post reports. "Advisers say he has been frustrated at how some GOP senators have criticized him," leading Trump to appear "disinterested" when discussing Senate campaign plans, the Post continues.That was clear in a recent meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), and other aides. As they discussed Georgia's Senate races, Trump brought up the QAnon-supporting soon-to-be congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump mispronounced the name of the group as "Q-an-uhn," and then said supporters of the theory that purports Democrats are a cannibalistic, pedophilic cabal "basically believe in good government," people familiar tell the Post. Everyone reportedly went silent until White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows mentioned he had "never heard it described that way," the Post reports.Trump has been asked to denounce QAnon several times, but usually gives the theory his tacit approval instead.More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
Firefighters battled to tame a wildfire on hillsides southeast of Los Angeles late on Thursday, some 24 hours after it broke out in a wooded canyon, apparently triggered by a faulty domestic generator. Two of some 500 firefighters deployed to control it had been hospitalized with injuries, the Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter. The Bond Fire, named for the street in Silverado Canyon where it started, ignited late on Wednesday evening and was quickly whipped up by dry Santa Ana winds.
- Architectural Digest
From a private island to a tiny Vermont tree houseOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- USA TODAY
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a top official dealing with the pandemic.
- Associated Press
The killing of a young Black man last month by a white man who complained that he was playing loud music has roiled Ashland, Oregon, forcing the liberal college town that is famous for its Shakespeare festival to take a hard look at race relations. The death of Aidan Ellison, 19, added another name to the list of Black men and women whose killings have sparked a nationwide reckoning with racism and fueled a surge in a Black Lives Matter movement. On Nov. 23, Robert Keegan fired a single shot into Ellison's chest after complaining about the music late at night in a motel parking lot.