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    German automaker Audi says it will fit up to 850,000 diesel cars with new software to improve their emissions performance, following a similar move by rival Daimler as the auto industry tries to get ahead of public controversy over the technology. Audi, the luxury brand of the Volkswagen Group, announced the voluntary retrofitting program on Friday. The company said in a statement that it 'aims to maintain the future viability of diesel engines' and believes the program 'will counteract possible bans on vehicles with diesel engines.' The free program, which will apply to Europe and other markets outside the U.S. and Canada, applies to cars with six-cylinder and eight-cylinder diesel engines. The service action also applies to Porsche and Volkswagen models with the same types of engines. On Tuesday, Daimler said it will voluntarily recall 3 million Mercedes-Benz cars with diesel engines in Europe to improve their emissions performance. Diesels have been under a cloud since Volkswagen admitted equipping vehicles with software that manipulates the level of emissions. In the U.S., the software turned on emissions controls during lab tests and illegally turned them off when the cars were on the road, to improve performance. Separately, five German automakers — Mercedes-Benz, Opel and Volkswagen and its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche — last year agreed to recall a total of 630,000 diesel vehicles in Europe after it was found that real-world emissions often exceeded EU emissions standards. There have been calls for bans on diesels in several German cities due to concerns about pollution levels, while the government in the large southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has said it would reject such demands if automakers came up with a way to adjust older vehicles to reduce emissions levels. Volkswagen has admitted using illegal software in 11 million vehicles worldwide. It agreed to pay more than $20 billion in civil and criminal settlements and penalties in the U.S. and eight executives have been charged there. In other cases, engine control software turns off emission controls at certain temperatures to avoid engine damage, carmakers say. That exemption is legal but German regulators have questioned whether its use was always justified. Auto executives and state and city officials will meet with Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt at a 'diesel summit' over the issue on Aug. 2 in Berlin. Government officials say the purpose of the summit is to reduce diesel emissions and at the same to ensure that the technology can continue to be used in the future. The auto industry is a major employer in Germany and it's an election year, with a national election slated for Sept. 24. Diesels have lower emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases blamed by scientists for global warming. Automakers say diesel is therefore needed to meet stricter limits on CO2 emissions as part of fighting climate change. Expensive and cumbersome emissions controls are needed, however, to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, an air pollutant that harms health. Stock prices of automakers fell Friday after a report in Der Spiegel magazine that they had colluded for years on holding down the cost of diesel technology and that information about the meetings had been given to German anti-trust authorities. Daimler shares were off 2.1 percent, while BMW shares fell 2.6 percent and Volkswagen dipped 2.8 percent. The Spiegel report said companies had agreed on things like the size of the tanks that hold a urea solution injected into exhaust gases to control emissions of nitrogen oxide. The report could not be independently confirmed. ___ McHugh reported from Frankfurt, Germany.
  • The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local): 2:00 p.m. Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress has appointed a slate of new judges to the Supreme Court, and the government-stacked high court is wasting no time in declaring those nominations null and in violation of the constitution. Juan Jose Mendoza is head of the constitutional branch of the Supreme Court. He says the 33 judges appointed Friday by the National Assembly are illegally usurping authority by attempting to fulfill the role of the court. Mendoza called on civil and military authorities to respond with actions that he did not specify. Opposition lawmakers have been at odds with the Supreme Court since they won a majority in congress in 2015. They appointed the slate of judges in an escalating fight against President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution, a move they see as a power grab. ___ 12:25 p.m. Venezuela's chief prosecutor says a 15-year-old boy and a 34-year-old man are the latest victims killed during anti-government demonstrations, bringing the number killed during a 24-hour nationwide strike to four. Authorities say the teenager was killed during a protest Thursday in Zulia while Eury Hurtado was shot four times at a demonstration in Los Teques, a hotspot for opposition protests about 20 miles (30 kilometers) outside Caracas. The teen's name and cause of death were not released. Authorities had previously announced the deaths of two other men during the strike. At least 97 have been killed in more than three months of political upheaval jolting the South American nation. Venezuela is plagued by triple-digit inflation, food and medical shortages and a homicide rate among the highest in the world.
  • A British man and his young daughter have gained international attention for being fined for selling lemonade. Andre Spicer said his 5-year-old daughter was left in tears after local council officers fined her 150 pounds ($195) for selling lemonade without a license near their home in London. The girl was selling home-made lemonade to fans attending the Lovebox dance festival when she was fined. The four officers approached the girl and began speaking in technical legal terms, telling her that her lemonade stand infringed on local business rights. Halfway through the interaction with the officers, Spicer said his daughter burst into tears and said 'I've done a bad thing, daddy. I've done something wrong.' 'I think initially she was a bit shocked and sad,' Spicer said. 'And then I suggested we try it again with a permit. And she said: 'Oh, it's a bit scary.'' He hopes that his daughter will overcome the 'heart-wrenching' experience and continue to pursue entrepreneurial ideas. Spicer wrote an article about the incident for the Daily Telegraph that garnered hundreds of comments and shares online. Local officials said the fine will be cancelled immediately. They have apologized to the family. In a statement Friday, the council said it was 'very sorry' about what happened and that its enforcement officers are expected to 'show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen.
  • The United States said Friday that an airstrike in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province killed an unspecified number of Afghan security forces. The provincial governor confirmed the deaths, saying at least two commanders were among those killed but the final death count was not immediately known. The Department of Defense said the U.S. was supporting Afghan troops, who were carrying out an operation against the Taliban in the province's Gereshk district, when the bombing took place. 'We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families affected by this unfortunate incident,' the statement said. 'During a U.S. supported ANDSF (Afghan National Defense Security Force) operation, aerial fires resulted in the deaths of the friendly Afghan forces who were gathered in a compound.' Helmand provincial Governor Hayatullah Hayat said the NATO airstrike hit on Friday and that at least two Afghan commanders died. He added that the death toll was expected to rise further because several security force personnel were known to have been in the compound at the time. Hayat also said many of the security forces were not in uniform, which may have caused some confusion about their identities. The incident was still under investigation, he said. While much of Helmand province is under the control of the Taliban, the Afghan national security forces have been waging fierce battles to retake territory. NATO and U.S. troops are in Helmand to assist the Afghan troops. Elsewhere in Afghanistan an insurgent attack in western Ghor province killed four police officers and wounded seven. Mohammad Mustafa Moseni, Ghor's provincial police chief, said Friday that the Taliban attacked police compounds in the provincial districts of Taywara and Pasaband, considered key to the security of the provincial capital. The attacks, which occurred overnight, resulted in a four-hour gunbattle in which 24 Taliban were killed, said Moseni. In northern Baghlan province, fighting has raged for days on a key highway linking several northern provinces to the capital of Kabul. Hospital officials said eight local police and two civilians died earlier this week in one incident. Deputy provincial police chief Said Amir Gul Hussainkhil said the fighting is continuing but it is sporadic. ___ Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report
  • A senior Iranian official is accusing the United States of not living up to its side of the nuclear agreement that Washington and five other world powers signed with Tehran, saying it is trying 'scare off' foreign companies from doing business with the Islamic Republic. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi says his country 'maintains its right to react' to the alleged bad U.S. behavior. Araghchi spoke to reporters Friday after a review of the pact by the seven nations that signed it. The move comes at a time of high tensions between Tehran and Washington that threaten the nuclear pact's continued existence. The U.S. administration announced new, non-nuclear sanctions this week and warned Tehran it would face consequences for breaching 'the spirit' of the nuclear deal with world powers.
  • The Latest on the earthquake that hit the Aegean Sea region (all times local): 7:55 p.m. A powerful earthquake has shaken shook beach resorts in Greece and Turkey, killing two tourists crushed when a building collapsed on a bar in the Greek island of Kos and injuring nearly 500 others across the Aegean Sea region. Only a few miles apart, Kos and the Turkish resort of Bodrum were hit hours before dawn by the shallow undersea quake that caused a two-foot (0.6-meter) sea swell and havoc among residents and thousands of vacationers at bars and restaurants. The U.S. Geological survey measured the quake as being of magnitude 6.7, with Greek and Turkish estimates a fraction lower. Kos resident Vassilis Megas told The Associated Press the earthquake was 'shocking, terrifying ... The whole house shook back and forth. People ran out into streets. We did too, and stayed out all night.' ___ 5:25 p.m. Sweden's foreign ministry has confirmed that the second victim of the earthquake that struck the Greek island of Kos overnight was a 20-year-old man who lived in central Sweden. His name was not revealed. In a Twitter message, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom offered her condolences to the relatives of those who perished and were injured in Greece and Turkey and said that her ministry would keep a close contact with Swedish citizens travelling in the area. Norway's foreign ministry said a Norwegian man was seriously injured in Kos during the earthquake and was flown to a hospital for treatment. ___ 2:30 p.m. The EU is offering emergency equipment, personnel and satellite imagery to help Greece deal with the aftermath of the overnight earthquake. The bloc's commissioner for humanitarian aid, Christos Stylianides, offered condolences and said 'the EU offers its full support' after Friday's quake that killed two people on the island of Kos. The quake, which also struck the shores of nearby Turkey, injured some 200 people. Stylianides' office is in touch with Greek officials and ready to send equipment and provide satellite images to help civil protection authorities locate potential victims or damage. Seismic activity is common around the Aegean Sea. ___ 1:45 p.m. Greek health officials say 13 people have been airlifted to hospitals in Athens and on the islands of Rhodes and Crete following Friday's pre-dawn earthquake that killed two people on Kos. A spokesman for a state hospital in the Cretan city of Iraklio said they had received four patients, including two people in critical condition, one with a head injury and one who had to have a leg amputated due to injury. Authorities have not listed the nationalities of those seriously injured, but police officials involved in the operation said that one Norwegian national, one Turk, one Albanian and one Greek were included in the list of airlifted patients. ___ 1:30 p.m. A top Turkish official has named the Turkish national killed in a powerful earthquake on the Greek island of Kos. Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu, speaking Friday in quake-hit resort town of Bodrum, said the tourist was named Sinan Kurdoglu. No other details were provided. He said another Turkish national was injured, adding: 'All of our state's institutions are here for our citizens.' Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said 358 people were hurt in the earthquake. Earlier, officials said the injuries were mostly sustained as people were fleeing their homes. ___ 12:00 p.m. Turkey's Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Turkish citizen was killed on the Greek island of Kos during the powerful earthquake that struck the area overnight. The ministry said Friday that a second Turkish national was in serious condition and was being evacuated to Athens for treatment. It did not identify the victim, saying authorities were still trying to reach his or her family members. Turkish authorities have sent a 250-person vessel from the Turkish resort of Bodrum to Kos to start evacuating some 200 Turkish tourists stranded on the island, the ministry also said. It said Greek authorities had granted the ship special permission to approach a pier at Kos where the port and customs building was damaged. Kos is a popular destination for Turkish visitors. ___ 11:30 a.m. Turkey's Istanbul-based earthquake research center says the powerful quake that hit the Aegean Sea caused a small 'tsunami' at the Turkish resort of Bodrum, where waters surged but damage was limited and appeared only slight. The Kandilli Observatory' director, Haluk Ozener, told reporters Friday that the tsunami waters swept between 10 and 100 meters (yards) in to the coast. The Observatory said the quake's magnitude was 6.6. Ozener said it was followed by some 160 aftershocks, the highest measuring 4.8. ___ 11:00 a.m. Turkish media reports say the powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Aegean coast caused cracks on the walls of some buildings in the resort of Bodrum, flooded the lower floors of sea-front hotels and restaurants and sent moored boats crashing toward the shore. Tourists and residents spent the night outside on beach loungers or in cars. Boat captain Metin Kestaneci, 40, told the private Dogan news agency that he was asleep on his vessel when the quake hit. 'There was first a noise and then a roar. Before I could ask 'what's happening?' my boat was dragged toward the shore. We found ourselves on the shore,' Kestaneci said. 'I've never experienced such a thing.' ___ 10:30 a.m. A local official says about 70 people were treated in hospitals in the Turkish resort of Bodrum for minor injuries after a powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake sent people rushing to the streets. Bodrum's district governor Bekir Yilmaz says Friday that most injuries were sustained while people were fleeing their homes in panic, according to private Dogan news agency. There were no fatalities in Turkey. Speaking in Bodrum, the head of Turkey's disaster and emergency authority says tourists could continue their holidays. Mehmet Halis Biden said, 'We expect life in our tourism town to go back to normal in a speedy way,' as quoted by Turkey's official Anadolu news agency. Dogan news agency reported some tourists leaving Bodrum on the first morning flights. One local tourist said he chose to leave because people were not allowed in their hotel rooms. ___ 9:00 a.m. Greek authorities say two tourists killed in an overnight earthquake on the island of Kos are from Turkey and Sweden. Fire Service rescue chief Stephanos Kolokouris told state television that the two men had been identified but gave no further details. He said one of the five people seriously injured had been identified as being Greek. The two tourists died after a wall collapsed onto a bar in the Old Town of the island's main port, he said. The 6.5-magnitude quake struck about 1:30 a.m. Friday..
  • Support for independence in the prosperous Spanish region of Catalonia is waning less than three months ahead of a planned referendum, an opinion poll published Friday indicated. The poll showed that 49.4 percent of Catalans are against seceding from Spain, up one percentage point from a March poll, while 41.4 percent want independence, down 3 percentage points. Others did not know or did not respond. The poll by the Catalan regional government's Center for Opinion Polls was based on 1,500 face-to-face recent interviews. The margin of error was 2.53 percent. Also Friday, the Spanish government said it will conduct weekly audits of Catalonia's public spending to ensure no taxpayer money goes to the ballot. The central government says the referendum proposed for Oct. 1 is unconstitutional and is threatening to cut off funding to Catalonia's government if the referendum goes ahead. In response, the Catalan government accused the central government of discrimination and an attempt to bankrupt the region. In a statement, the Catalan government accused central government in Madrid of seeking to 'put at risk social services to stop us going to the polls ... and is putting Spain's unity ahead of the democratic wishes of the people.
  • Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate, wrapped up a three-day trip to Germany in Hamburg, where they attended a concert for children in a spectacular new concert hall on Friday. The couple, known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, kicked off their two-nation European tour in Poland earlier this week before visiting Berlin and Heidelberg. They traveled with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, though the children didn't appear at most of their public engagements. On Friday, they took a train from Berlin to Hamburg and visited the city's International Maritime Museum, where they were shown a new model of Britain's royal yacht Britannia. The royals viewed Hamburg's harbor from the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall, and joined 350 schoolchildren to hear a concert with excerpts from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. They then visited European plane maker Airbus' Hamburg plant, where they met apprentices and were being shown the assembly of A320 jets, as well as two helicopters.
  • Venezuela's chief prosecutor says a 15-year-old boy and a 34-year-old man are the latest victims killed during anti-government demonstrations, bringing the number killed during a 24-hour nationwide strike to four. Authorities say the teenager was killed during a protest Thursday in Zulia while Eury Hurtado was shot four times at a demonstration in Los Teques, a hotspot for opposition protests about 20 miles (30 kilometers) outside Caracas. The teen's name and cause of death were not released. Authorities had previously announced the deaths of two other men during the strike. At least 97 have been killed in more than three months of political upheaval jolting the South American nation. Venezuela is plagued by triple-digit inflation, food and medical shortages and a homicide rate among the highest in the world.
  • The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 campaign has represented a military unit operated by Russia's intelligence agency, according to court filings obtained by The Associated Press on Friday. The filings from 2011 and 2012 show that Natalia Veselnitskaya represented Military Unit 55002 — run by the FSB, Russia's main intelligence agency — in a dispute over property rights. The court ruled in favor of the Federal Property Agency, which sought to regain ownership of a building occupied by the military unit. Veselnitskaya was not immediately available for comment. President Donald Trump's eldest son, his son-in-law and then-campaign manager met with Veselnitskaya in June 2016 after being told that she could provide potentially incriminating information about Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The meeting has been billed by many as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican's White House campaign. Veselnitskaya denied having any ties to the Russian government, although the man who arranged the meeting said she got the information from Russia's prosecutor general. The court filings described how the building which used to be property of the Soviet Ministry of Electronic Industries was privatized following the fall of the Soviet Union and sold off to two private companies. The claimant argued that the building was sold illegally and that the military unit that was running it 'essentially owns the disputed property and bears the maintenance costs.' The filing shows that the military unit had been using the building since 2007 after the two companies first lost the case in 2006. They appealed the ruling until 2012. The five-story building in the north of Moscow is currently occupied by Electronintorg, a state-owned electronics company which services the Russian military.

News

  • Police are investigating a shooting at a Starbucks in Cobb County. Channel 2's Ross Cavitt learned that a woman was shot outside the Starbucks at Paces Ferry and Cumberland Parkway Thursday afternoon. Witnesses said they heard a pop and then saw the gunman jump over the bushes and run to a waiting truck. Cavitt spoke to a witness who said the woman who was shot asked for help, but then left. The woman has been identified as Sheena Fisse, 31. 'She had come into the door and I heard from other people she asked for help and said she's been shot. She asked for help or announced she'd been shot and turned around and left,' Grant Wyckoff said. TRENDING STORIES: O.J. Simpson granted parole after 9 years in jail Police: Burglar thought he cut security wires, still caught on camera 10-year-old girl hit, killed while walking to store Police said Fisse was shot in the side and drove eight miles down the interstate to Fulton Industrial Boulevard where they found her. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Police said they are questioning one person in connection with the shooting. If you have any information, you're asked to call 770-499-3945. Woman shot outside Cumberland Starbucks, drives miles down the highway before stopping. Suspect at large. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/LNiySLNVz8-- Ross Cavitt | WSB-TV (@RossCavittWSB) July 20, 2017
  • Police said a burglar broke into a local nail salon and got away with cash.Channel 2's Audrey Washington was in Gainesville where police said the man scoped out the shop for one specific reason.Police said the burglar targeted the salon because he knows the nail techs get tipped with cash. They said it's the same reason they want him off the streets before he hits another nail shop.Surveillance video obtained by Washington showed the man walk into the back door of the nail studio and spa inside the Lakeshore Mall before 8 a.m.'Somebody come in through the back door like you see in the video,' the business owner told Washington, 'He just randomly picked it and (was) lucky to get in.' TRENDING STORIES: Woman had $2 million in liquid meth hidden in cleaning jugs during traffic stop, police say 10-year-old girl struck, killed while walking to a store Man shoots AT&T work truck outside parked in front of his home While inside, the shop owner said that the man cut the wires to what he thought was the security system. It turned out the wires he cut were to the audio system, so the camera was rolling as the man made his way inside. 'Not fair for us or anybody or business owners,' the salon owner told Washington.Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, with the Gainesville Police Department, told Washington, 'He did not hit any other businesses in the mall. He went to this nail salon, probably knowing that they do a lot of cash business.'The owner wouldn't say how much the guy got away with and police are hoping someone will recognize the suspect in the video by his distinctive camouflage backpack. Meanwhile police are warning other nail salon owners in the area. 'If you do cash business, if you have employees that receive cash tips, do not keep large amounts of cash in your store,' Holbrook said.The salon owner said he added extra security to his back door and as for the suspect, police believe he lives in the area. Anyone with information is asked to give Gainesville police a call.
  • Sen. John McCain's treatment for brain cancer could keep him out of Washington for weeks, perhaps months, and yet it's unlikely anyone will challenge his extended leave. Congress has a long tradition in which no one questions ailing lawmakers taking time to recover. For starters, it's just poor form. And, frankly, it's up to the stricken member of Congress and their doctors to decide when — or even if — they return to work. Some have recuperated away from the Capitol for a year or more. It's an unwritten courtesy that often doesn't extend to the real working world where employees are forced to file for medical disability or take unpaid leave. Julie Tarallo, McCain's spokeswoman, said Friday that 'further consultations with Sen. McCain's Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.' McCain had taken to Twitter on Thursday promising a quick return. 'Unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!' said the six-term Arizona Republican and 2008 GOP presidential nominee. The 80-year-old McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, who had removed a blood clot above his left eye last Friday. He and his family are weighing his treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy. In the immediate aftermath of McCain's diagnosis, Republicans wouldn't speculate about what the temporary loss of McCain's vote would mean. But McCain's absence complicates Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plans for a Senate vote on a GOP health care bill to erase much of the Affordable Care Act. A vote is possible on Tuesday, but GOP defections plus McCain's likely absence could sink any chance even to get started. McCain wouldn't be the first lawmaker this year to miss votes, hearings and other legislative action. Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson remained in Georgia for several weeks earlier this year as he underwent two back surgeries and recuperated. Isakson missed the vote on confirming Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. In January 2012, then-Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. suffered a major stroke and didn't return for almost a full year, making a dramatic entrance by climbing the steps of the Capitol on the opening day of the following Congress. In a lawmaker's absence, congressional staff keep the office operating, send out news releases — one from McCain on Thursday blasted the Trump administration's Syria policy — and respond to constituents. Absences can leave the margin of control on a razor's edge. The month after Democrats won back the Senate in 2006, South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson had a near-fatal episode of bleeding in his brain that, at the time, threatened to shift the Senate's margin from 51-49 Democratic to 50-50 GOP control with Republican Vice President Dick Cheney the deciding vote. Johnson recovered but was away from the Senate for almost nine months. McCain is battling the same form of cancer that claimed the life of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in August 2009. Kennedy was away from the Senate for extended stretches but returned on occasion to vote. 'There were times when Senator Reid had to juggle things because he had two senators absent, Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd,' said longtime former Senate aide Jim Manley, who worked for both Kennedy and then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 'Having said that, it really never, with a handful of exceptions, proved to be that big of a problem.' Kennedy also delegated some of his responsibilities as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee by farming out responsibility for bills before the panel to colleagues such as then-Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. McCain has had Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., handle his duties as Armed Services Committee chairman. Unclear is whether Inhofe will steer the sweeping defense policy bill if the Senate begins debate in August. And, if legislative necessity should dictate that McCain return for a crucial, dramatic vote, there's precedent for that. Kennedy, who mostly stayed away from the chamber for fear of infection, returned to the Senate in July 2008 for a key vote. During McCain's first term, Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., recovering from an emergency appendectomy, was wheeled in on a stretcher to cast the deciding vote on a GOP budget plan. And in 1964, California Democrat Clair Engle, whose own bout with brain cancer rendered him unable to speak, was wheeled into the Senate to vote for the landmark Civil Rights Act. Engle pointed to his eye and tried to mouth 'aye,' according to newspaper accounts at the time. In an earlier time, some senators were away from the chamber for years. Karl Mundt, R-S.D., suffered a stroke in late 1969 and refused to resign and allow a GOP replacement to be named. He held the seat until January 1973 and was replaced by Democrat Jim Abourezk. Sen. Carter Glass, D-Va., kept his titles of president pro tempore and chairman of the Appropriations Committee despite being absent because of frailty due to old age.
  • Embattled former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has opened a new consulting firm called Resilient Patriot, LLC that is advising private equity firms, according to one of his brothers, who says Flynn is 'moving on with his life.' Joe Flynn said his family also is in the early stages of starting a fund to pay for the legal bills his brother is racking up as he sits at the center of multiple probes into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. 'Mike's not a millionaire, not even close,' Joe Flynn told The Associated Press this week. 'This situation has put him in a tough spot financially. This is going to cost him a lot of money.' 'There's a lot of people that are big fans of his across the country,' he added. Several of Flynn's siblings plan to administer the fund for the retired Army lieutenant general, and are working on setting up a website and consulting with a lawyer about the legal intricacies of such a fund. Joe Flynn said they want to 'be as transparent as possible' and do it properly. After being forced into retirement in 2014 by the Obama administration, Flynn went on to set up a company that accepted speaking fees from Russian entities and later did consulting work for a Turkish-owned business. He joined the Trump campaign and then the administration as an early supporter. But the Trump White House ousted him after saying he mischaracterized conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. A wide range of his actions — including foreign contracts and payments, and whether he lied to officials — are under scrutiny by investigators. Joe Flynn said his brother is not independently wealthy, and depends on his Army pension. While his brother made some money consulting, Joe Flynn said much of that went into his company and to subcontractors. Now, with Resilient Patriot, Michael Flynn is advising private equity firms on deals they are considering, Joe Flynn said. He did not specify the firms. 'They use him to vet opportunities with his network,' he said. 'He's slowly starting to do that as a totally independent consultant.' While he said his older brother is doing well, 'There's still a cloud over him,' he said, adding 'I think he's not worried about going to jail or anything like that.' His son, Mike Flynn Jr., used the name Resilient Patriot on Twitter, but the work does not involve him, Joe Flynn said. Flynn Jr. sent numerous posts on Twitter about the conspiracy theories of Pizzagate, a fake new story suggesting a Washington, D.C., pizza shop plays a key role in a child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton. The conspiracy theory influenced a North Carolina man to fire a rifle in the restaurant in December. Michael Flynn has been spending most of his summer in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he and his wife grew up and where they built a home years ago. Flynn has spent time surfing and golfing there in recent days. The plans for a legal defense fund were first reported by Bloomberg.
  • Lately the Congressional Budget Office just can't get any respect. Republicans from the White House on down have worked to discredit the nonpartisan agency, in an effort to undermine its inconvenient findings that GOP health care bills would cause more than 20 million people to lose their insurance. Now all eight former directors of the agency, some of them Republicans and some Democrats, have signed onto a letter defending CBO and urging lawmakers to give it the respect it deserves. 'We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency's role in the legislative process,' the former directors say in their letter Friday to the top Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. CBO is a nonpartisan agency and acts as Congress' official scorekeeper, analyzing the costs and impacts of the bills lawmakers write. Most major legislation does not come to a vote without a CBO 'score' and these scores can be consequential in serving as the bottom line analysis of the impact a bill will have. CBO directors are approved by the House and Senate leaders. The current director, Keith Hall, was chosen by Republican Tom Price, who is now secretary of Health and Human Services but previously chaired the budget committee in the House. Price made the selection and it was blessed by the top Capitol Hill GOP leaders at the time. Hall has served since 2015. Nevertheless, in recent months Republicans have not liked what CBO has had to say about the GOP's legislation to repeal and replace 'Obamacare.' The biggest headlines have been the large numbers of consumers who would lose insurance under the GOP plans, plus the higher premiums for older Americans that would result. Many congressional Republicans have pointed out that CBO's predictions sometimes don't prove accurate. In one example Republicans often cite, the agency overestimated the number of Americans who would gain health coverage on the purchasing exchanges created by Obamacare. Two Trump White House officials, legislative director Marc Short and Brian Blase, special assistant to the president for the National Economic Council, went so far as to write an opinion piece in the Washington Post earlier this month pre-butting the agency's findings about Senate health care legislation. The estimates 'will be little more than fake news' the two claimed. The sitting leadership of the CBO does not respond to such attacks. But in an unusual move the past leadership got together to fight back. In their letter the former directors defended the agency's approach and the high quality of its research, while noting that a law's outcome over time can be difficult to predict in a dynamic economy. 'In sum, relying on CBO's estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress?_?and the American people?_?very well during the past four decades,' they conclude. 'As the House and Senate consider potential policy changes this year and in the years ahead, we urge you to maintain and respect the Congress's decades-long reliance on CBO's estimates in developing and scoring bills.' ___ Online: Read the CBO directors' letter at: https://medium.com/@douglas.elmendorf/letter-from-former-cbo-directors-on-the-importance-of-cbos-role-in-the-legislative-process-278863b7e1c6 An occasional look at what Capitol Hill is talking about
  • Meek Mill faced scrutiny during his highly-publicized rap feud with Drake and relationship with former girlfriend Nicki Minaj. Some may think Mill lost in both situations, especially after Drake's Grammy-nominated diss track 'Back to Back.' But the Philadelphia-bred rapper doesn't view it that way, saying there were other pressing issues in his life he considers as losses — from the death of close friends to a probation violation that landed him three months in house arrest last year. While wearing a gold pendant in remembrance of the late rapper and protege Lil Snupe, who was shot dead in 2013, Mill spoke with The Associated Press about his new album 'Wins & Losses,' which comes out Friday. He also touches on empowering young black youth, Minaj's ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels being jumped during the BET Awards weekend and his aspirations of doing film. AP: What compelled you to name your album 'Wins and Losses'? Mill: Everybody saying that I'm losing and I lost. I lost my case. I lost my friends to the streets. Those things really meant something to me. I started off in the basement on a karaoke machine. Now I'm in million-dollar studios, making a lot of money being able to feed my family and take them out a crazy environment, still being able to wake up on my own time and do things how I want to do it. That's my definition of winning. I determine my definition of losing on this album. AP: Your single 'Young Black America' has a politically-charged tone. What do you want people to take away from it? Mill: It's an eye-opener for the young people for my culture. It's to help them open their eyes and see what they are really dealing with in real reality. A lot of rap isn't based off reality most of the time. Sometimes it's ignorant. ... I just wanted to give young people in our culture an understanding of what's going on. In one video, we got young kids with guns with KKK masks on, basically saying we killing our own. AP: What run-ins have you experienced with the law that youngsters can relate to? Mill: I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops. I was just a statistic coming up. The cops are in a dangerous neighborhood thinking everybody else in the neighborhood is dangerous or everybody in the hood is killers. They caught me and treated me like I was a killer. I don't think that's really right. The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don't want to kill a cop. They basically put me on probation for the rest of my life from that point on when I was 18. I'm 30 now and still on probation. I've been to jail three times from that one stint of probation. Any mistake you make, you'll be put in prison. Your freedom can be took. AP: Your relationship with Minaj and beef with Drake really put a spotlight on you. How did you take to the criticism? Mill: I'll look at the internet and see comments like, 'Meek got Nicki money.' You can't know nothing about Meek Mill if you saying something like that. They be like 'Meek Mill can't rap.'... 'Somebody wrote Meek Mill raps'. ... I came up on YouTube rapping since I was 14 years old. That's my importance to the streets. They seen me come up. My story is not a facade. AP: Did you have anything to do with Safaree being jumped? Mill: I don't know nothing about him getting jumped on. I pulled up and actually seen him getting into an altercation. You can look at my face and see that I was surprised. Me and my friends had a party at that spot that night, so that's somewhere we were supposed to be going. I don't communicate with him. I don't know him. I don't even want to base those guys in this interview. That's not even on my level. Street fights take place all the time. I ain't touch nobody. Didn't put no hand on nobody. I'm on strict probation. I'm just trying to handle my business and feed my family. I don't think those dudes are worthy of being talked about. AP: Does your short film, 'Wins & Losses: The Movie' make you want to get more involved in film? Mill: I want to do something that expresses the things we go through. The things we feel. I have a lot of older white friends who don't understand our culture. They might see ignorant or wild things and don't understand why it's going on. But I might have to break it down like, 'Yo, this guy is on drugs for 15 years.' I believe I can express things through film. ___ Online: http://www.meekmilldreamteam.com ___ Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MrLandrum31 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/jonathan%20landrum