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Ex-Ambassador to Ukraine testifying the Trump impeachment inquiry.

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    Only you can prevent forest fires,' a longtime message from the U.S. Ad Council and Smokey the Bear. With apologies to Smokey the Bear, and my many friends in California, some reading this in darkened homes with no power, there really ARE good forest fires, purposefully set by people, which could have and likely would have saved them this current nightmare.  'Controlled or prescribed burnings' are a key forestry and timberland management tool, largely begun and standardized as an industry best practice in the state of Georgia since the 1950s. Droughts, long, hot summers and fast growing and vulnerable pine and other evergreen trees often die, fall and litter the forest floor, along with pine straw, broken limbs and bark as well as other small shrubs and vegetation, each drying into a fuel source akin to the tinder you would seek out to begin a campfire.  So imagine thousands of acre of that tinder, piled up from decades of non-forest management and a nearly 20-year prohibition on controlled burns or even the use of the BIG rakes referred to previously by President Trump to cull out dead plants, broken limbs and dry underbrush...and you have the makings for massive fires, aided and abetted by the infamous Santa Anna Winds and other natural weather phenomenon, now annually visiting northern and southern California.  I in no way mean to be flippant. We have friends who have lost everything in these fires and last year's...their homes, place of business...entire communities. And yes, perhaps some of the communities were developed in vulnerable areas and may not be re-built, despite their beauty and natural surroundings, but when we DO make the choice to build a community, it also only makes sense to take the steps necessary to protect it.  Working in Middle Georgia as a television reporter in the mid-80s, I became quite familiar with the timber industry practice of controlled burns and fires. Hundreds of acres would be torched, in low wind conditions, sometimes even using accelerants, along with fire breaks (long ditches or natural bodies of water which would break or end the fire as it ran out of fuel). Yes, there was smoke, and sometimes blinding conditions, but rarely did any of those fires get out of control.  The Georgia Forestry Commission permits 'prescribed burns' as well as offering other resources including onsite assistance for larger burns. The state has multiple statutes regulating the process including:  Georgia Burn Permit Law O.C.G.A. 12-6-90  Georgia Prescribed Burning Act O.C.G.A. 12-6-145 to O.C.G.A. 12-6-149  O.C.G.A. 12-6-145  O.C.G.A. 12-6-146  O.C.G.A. 12-6-147  O.C.G.A. 12-6-148  O.C.G.A. 12-6-149  Controlled and prescribed burns fell out of favor in the western states a few decades ago, as these fires do release carbon into the atmosphere, and can add to smog and air pollution. But the difference is typically hundreds or a few thousand acres, and a comparatively brief and defined fire...or the current situation with millions of acres burning or at risk, turned from tinderbox to inferno by a lightning strike or an errant lit cigarette butt, aided and abetted by ill-timed but annual high winds.  After last year's record breaking fires, causing massive property loss, power loss and deaths, California was at the heart of a national debate to expand the use of controlled and prescribed burns...and here we are a year later, with a whole new set of communities evacuating and at risk, and millions now temporarily without electricity due to the aging and vulnerable electrical grid in California, and its potential to spark or spread a fire due to the ongoing drought conditions. If millions sitting in the dark or millions of acres and dozens of communities literally running hoses on their rooftops to save their homes isn't cause for an Emergency Legislative Session, I'm not sure what is.  People are losing their homes, entire towns are burning, dozens of thousands on both ends of the state have faced forced and mandatory evacuations and still may not return home. When winter and the potential rainy season finally arrive, break out the rakes and the backhoes and let's dig some fire breaks and plan prescribed burns well into springtime. If the current NON-action pattern continues, it is only a matter of time before these fires move further north into the Pacific northwest and endanger those old growth hardwood forests, including our national parks and the Great Redwoods. This time next year may be too late to protect them. ONLY YOU California can prevent your own forest fires. Just ask Smokey.
  • The Decatur, Georgia Veterans Administration Health Care campus annually treats nearly 120,000 veterans facing a variety of illnesses, treatment regimens and surgical needs. It is one of the busiest VA campuses in the nation, and it is currently operating under a state of emergency.   Consider this a potential preview of Medicare For All. The U.S. Veterans Administration is the largest civilian agency in the federal government. Despite doctor and nursing staffing shortages, the VA employs more than 400,000, a number just slightly less than our entire standing U.S. Army.   Though patient outcomes continue to be troubled, along with access to and inconsistent quality of care, the entire VA health care system is government funded and controlled, and though some of its facilities are not aging well, the agency does not lack for resource or bi-partisan congressional support. But big budgets don't necessarily mean excellent or even efficient performance and fixed salaries and federal salary caps don't make for the most promising job opportunities for the best and brightest in health care.   Infection rates in operating rooms and other issues became so problematic that all routine surgeries at the Decatur campus were suspended in September, with hopes of resuming in November, once new nursing and support staff have been trained or re-trained. Joe Marrable, a veteran battling cancer on the Decatur campus also died in September, covered with more than 100 ant bites. Pest infestations also closed the campus canteen the same month.   Soon to be retiring U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, Georgia's senior senator and chair of the Veteran Services Committee joined a loud chorus calling for a change in leadership of the VA campus. Regional VA Director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave on September 17th, Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, Regional Medical Director was moved to administrative duties, pending further investigation, and seven other staff members were reassigned to non-patient care duties. And terminating the employment of poorly performing administrative and federal union VA staff remains a major problem. 'It’s just the culture, and I don’t know what it’s going to take to change it other than a complete house cleaning,” said Sheila Meuse, a retired VA whistle-blower and former assistant director at the VA hospital in Decatur.   Nationwide, the VA has the additional challenge of several thousand open physician and nursing staff positions. VA system salaries typically lag their private sector counter-parts at for-profit and non-profit hospitals alike. And the VA’s model with all employees working for the federal government, no insurance company and all care provided by one provider...is also VERY much like the much vaunted ‘Medicare For All’ being touted by the bulk of potential Democratic candidates for President.   There are still millions of physicians, specialists and nurses of all stripe, employed in private practices, and many of them do not accept Medicare, or are challenged by performing procedures and providing care at Medicare determined reimbursement rates lower than the actual costs of providing that same procedure or service. As most any Medicaid or Medicare patient can share with you, this often means restricted options and long waits for even the most basic appointments, procedures and patient care.   Thankfully, the Veterans Choice and Veterans Mission Acts, championed by Georgia Senator Isakson, passed with rare bi-partisan support and signed into law by President Donald Trump, are providing our veterans with a long needed safety valve of seeking care outside of the VA healthcare system.   But unfortunately our Atlanta VA system is far from alone in operating on broken down equipment, with low employee morale and unexpected deaths among routine patient outcomes. Our veterans deserve better, promises made to them and their families still need to be kept, and though I do not view health care as a Constitutional right, American citizens do deserve the right to make a choice in the structure and nature of their health care provider system.    In the most recent Democratic Presidential candidate debate, Vice-President Joe Biden mentioned a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of $34-trillion over 10 years for Medicare For All (which Biden does not support), and those costs could be covered only four short months if we eliminated the entire Pentagon, all military service branches, every weapon system and bullet. There is virtually no way to fund this plan which also has absolutely no operational quality guarantees. That's my diagnosis anyway...
  • I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 leaders. It is big and grand, on hundreds of acres next to Miami International Airport, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But as usual the Hostile Media & their Democratic Partners went CRAZY!' Tweeted by President Donald Trump over the past weekend in a rare back-tracking to withdraw plans to host the 2020 G-7 Summit at his Trump-owned Doral Golf Resort in Miami, Florida. Reversing course and stopping a problematic no-bid contract worth several millions to any hotel or property, as well as a major reputation enhancement, is a good idea. Making the selection in the first place on many fronts, and particularly given his timing, was a very bad one. I will give the President credit however again, in that he is often a master of distraction. All this chatter and absorption of the 24-hour news cycle for a few days did shift to this story and away from the Ukraine, Kurds in North Syria and the impeachment inquiry.  Though as the original G-7 site announcement came from at least still now Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (as of this writing), it was also Mulvaney who let slip a boo-boo regarding the President's earlier phone call with the President of the Ukraine in the same briefing. I would not be taking bets on Mr. Mulvaney's long term job security.  The Doral is a beautiful hotel, as is Mar-a-Lago, the Trump National Hotel in Washington, D.C. and many other Trump resorts, both foreign and domestic, but even if offered at cost, with no public bidding or public contracts from a private company, the revenue to the host property would be in the millions of dollars, as well as the additional global media exposure. The last then G-8 Summit on American soil was in June of 2004 at The Cloister on Sea Island, hosted by President George W. Bush. That visit by the eight heads of state was deemed important enough to custom order a hand-made conference table utilizing old growth hardwoods and repurposed timber at a reported cost of nearly $100,000. If the table was that pricey, imagine the costs for security, catering and lodging. And presidents, prime ministers and the like typically travel with rather large posses, not to mention the several hundred news media outlets and reporters staged and present nearby.  This President should be, and likely has already been made well aware of the downsides of his hotels doing business with foreign governments, as his private lawyers have been litigating multiple lawsuits siting the Domestic Emoluments Clause, which prohibits U.S. Presidents from directly or indirectly receiving income from foreign governments while in office. President Trump chose not to place his various enterprises in a blind-trust or to completely separate himself from his many business holdings. While his corporate and real estate holdings remain privately-owned and generally managed at present by his two sons, many acknowledge the President remains apprised of, if not directly engaged in the day to day affairs of various Trump enterprises.  As candidate Trump, the entrepreneur often Tweeted and stated at campaign rallies that he might become the first President to actually make money on his campaign, as well as while being in office. The Trump 2020 re-election campaign theme is Promises Made, Promises Kept. It appears we may have two more of those to add to that list.  At G-8 Summit 30, on Sea Island, an additional wrinkle was the passing of former President Ronald Reagan, and his funeral which occurred on June 9, on the second day of the summit, and caused several heads of state to extend their stays stateside. The Doral would pass muster on similar access to military installations, but so for that matter would the Eden Roc or the Fontainebleu Resorts in Miami Beach. And closer to D.C., both the Greenbrier in West Virginia, or the Homestead in Virginia, would also easily fit the bill, and have previously hosted foreign heads of state.  If the Doral's selection had become reality, Congressional Democrats were all but stating that this action would have created its own separate Article of Impeachment, and even many of the Presidents typical allies and defenders on Capitol Hill were more than lightly critical of both the timing and the choice.  Some supporters of this President have suggested that his likeness may later be added to the carvings on Mount Rushmore. Though his re-election may well still be possible, driven largely by the hard rush left by the most likely candidates still standing in the Democratic field, it would seem right now that he may be more strongly remembered for having too many thumbs instead. Two.
  • Impeachment was designed by our founders as a fail-safe, not simply for over-turning election results, and although admittedly a political versus judicial process, it was not intended to be partisan. President George Washington was a major opponent of political parties, and believed strongly that their evolution and expansion would be to the detriment of our nation. Impeachment, originating in the British House of Commons, and then tried by the House of Lords, is the process for legislative body to investigate wrongdoing by the Executive branch. In Britain, the last impeachment by Parliament was in 1805. The first U.S. impeachment came much later, for President Andrew Johnson in 1868.  In the waning days of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln began to shift his focus to re-uniting the Union. He formed a National Union Party (having been elected as GOP nominee in 1860) and ticket to seek his second term, reaching out to the lone Democrat and U.S. Senator from the south who did not secede with his state from the Union, Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. .  Lincoln's assassination, six week's after his second Inauguration thrust Johnson into a role for which he was likely unprepared. As President, Johnson began a series of vetoes of legislation from the Republican Congress, aimed at both heavily structured southern Reconstruction and improved civil rights for millions of now freed slaves. Johnson publicly opposed the 14th amendment which extended citizenship to those formerly enslaved.  As differences between the Executive Branch and Congress grew, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, to restrict Johnson's ability to hire and fire members of his Cabinet. Johnson persisted and sought to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln confidante. In early 1868, the House voted out articles of impeachment, but he was acquitted by one vote in the U.S. Senate. His primary accomplishment as president was the purchase of Alaska from Russia. He sought the Democratic Party nomination in 1868, was not successful and left office in 1869.  Without re-hashing all that was Watergate or the Nixon administrations, a once popular president, re-elected in a landslide, was irreparably harmed by his own paranoia and displays of a private side which broke demonstrably from the Richard Nixon which the public thought it knew. Despite his many accomplishments, Nixon's actions caused him to lose support among the U.S. Senate, as well as Nixon protege and then Chair of the Republican National Committee, George H.W. Bush, who suggested first privately and then publicly that the president should resign for the good of the nation. As both chambers of Congress had heavy Democratic majorities and Republican Senators began breaking publicly from the President, Nixon resigned from office August 8, 1974. He was later pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford, and that pardon likely cost Ford re-election in 1976.  President Bill Clinton's flawed personal behavior was hardly a secret in Arkansas, Washington or to his family, but the President chose to lie to Congress about some of that behavior. A newly elected Republican Congressional majority, led by an aggressive House Speaker with his own skeletons and agenda began impeachment proceedings against Clinton in October 1998. By majority vote, the House approved two articles of impeachment, named prosecutors and a trial went underway in the U.S. Senate on December 19, 1988. There were two counts being decided, the first was a 45 to 55 vote of guilty, and the second count was a vote of 50/50...with neither charge receiving the required two-thirds vote to convict. President Clinton was acquitted and completed his second term in office.  Other columns will be written on these currently pending impeachment precedings and the merits of those charges, but it is also worth noting to those screaming 'lock him up,' that a guilty verdict in the U.S. Senate simply removes the impeached party from office, it carries no other financial or criminal penalties.  As there appear to be so few remaining unimpeachable sources in the eyes of the American public, our widening divide will most likely simply roll forward into the 2020 election cycle. Though I was only in grade school during Watergate, I have much more recently watched the Democratic Party, in its eagerness to win the day, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, while tripping down memory lane through the high school yearbooks of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Over-reach in politics can be the most certain guarantee of backfire. Proceed with caution, let the facts fall where they may, and I strongly recommend against dancing on anyone's political grave just yet.
  • You need to have a market, and that's what we lost with China,' said Anne Germain, VP of Technical and Regulatory Affairs for the National Waste and Recycling Association, as reported September 9, 2019 in The Wall Street Journal.  Began recycling first with newspapers, during elementary school paper drives, made sense as our family was also in the newspaper business, and public pressure was growing on publishers to use recycled stock. By college, I had added collecting empty aluminum cans to my recycling habits, I was a broke college kid, and at peak recycling centers were paying around 33 cents a pound.  Those realities have shifted substantially though, and just the past two years, markets for the bulk of recyclable commodities have all but collapsed. You may still be sorting, separating and placing recyclables in your blue bin at home, but there is a more than decent chance that a healthy portion of that once recyclable waste stream is now heading straight to a landfill.  More than a generation ago, China was a fast developing country, in need of multiple types of raw materials which it was unable to manufacture in sufficient supply on its own. Already a massive net exporter, the Chinese government and shippers realized that they had thousands of empty cargo containers in the United States and elsewhere in the western world about to be shipped back to China. Buying discarded metals, plastics, paper and glass for a pittance and filling those empty containers that had to be shipped back anyway was an inexpensive solution to producing more raw materials.  As late at 2017, the U.S. exported roughly 14.5 million metric tons of recycled waste to China. China announced in 2017 that beginning in 2018 it would no longer accept many kinds of waste. During the phase-down in 2018, China still accepted 9.4 million metric tons, and only a fraction of that tonnage so far in 2019. Recycled commodity markets have collapsed. Mixed paper was going for $67.00 a metric ton as late as August of 2017. The current price is for the city, county or state government seeking to dispose of the paper is -$2.00 a metric ton.  And while many municipalities here and elsewhere consider banning single use plastics altogether, consider your community without pooper scoop baggies, your local newspaper sitting on the lawn soaked in a light rain without a bag delivery or remembering to carry bags/boxes on every shopping trip. And a good bit of single use plastics came about for product safety reasons, the interior lid/sealant on most all food products, the plastic wrap around virtually every over-the counter drug (a result of the Tylenol tampering scare of the 1980s), these plastics can be removed, but are we willing to sacrifice those protections and assurances of some degree of product safety?  Illegal dumping also remains a problem, particularly and often in lower income communities. The ingenuity of American industry should be incentivized here to do more. Most tire rubber can be granualized into rubber, used for playground and other recreational surfaces, or perhaps as a roadway substrate. Coal ash, a by-product of burning coal for energy, is toxic and filled with heavy metals like mercury, but could potentially be used as a low cost road patching material, as well as mixed with traditional asphalt (a petroleum based product), and if a rubber liner (from tires) was under that same road bed, there would be much less opportunity for leaching into any nearby underground aquifer.  The Chinese still incinerate our old unusable trash as a fuel source, but there are plenty of air quality concerns with that approach. As it continues to reduce its waste product footprint, the Coca-Cola Company developed a partnership a couple of decades ago, to turn its waste plastic bottles into carpet fiber. More carpet is now produced with polyesters and similar recycled plastic fibers than wool. However only about 9 percent of all plastics are currently being recycled . Nearly eight million metric tons of plastic waste are seeping and creeping into the world's oceans every year. Depending on where your fish and shellfish are caught, you are probably now occasionally eating some micro-bits of that plastic waste.  Not exactly an appetizing thought, but choking on our own waste never is. We can’t look the other way anymore, with China out of the mix, are trash is here to stay…so let’s figure out more ways to again turn that trash back into treasure.
  • You would hardly know it, as we are all engulfed in the swirl of Impeachment Palooza out of Washington, D.C., but we are just over a month away from hundreds of municipal elections all across Georgia this November. Georgia's more than 500 cities elect their mayors, council members, school board district seats and other local offices in the odd-numbered years, with terms staggered so that not all offices are up in the same election cycle.As a school boy, we brought home mid-term Progress Reports each quarter, these reports graded your progress and school work as Satisfactory (S), Needs Improvement (N) or Unsatisfactory (U). Any U's at our house made for a very loooooongggg night. I now use a similar grading process, to track and follow the performance of our local elected officials. My home DeKalb County contains 13 municipalities, including our capital city of Atlanta, with hundreds of elected officials, so this sometimes requires a spread sheet.
  • Chip changed the norms for suburban office development in Georgia with structured parking decks, taller buildings, attention to detail and a density component, which previously had not been seen in metro Atlanta's Perimeter sub-market,' said Bob Voyles, immediate past Chair of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Atlanta District Council, and CEO of Seven Oaks Company.   It is true in large and small towns, but particularly true in the south. Strong, positive servant leadership, more than any other trait, can make or break most any community. Metro Atlanta and many other regions in our state have been blessed with visionary leaders, and often multiple generations of the same leading families carrying a disproportionate share of that load. As our state has grown and matured, thankfully that leadership team has also become more diverse, including women, minorities and a variety of cultural backgrounds in those groups which attempt to build consensus and move communities forward.   Separating the servant leaders and community builders from the self-aggrandizers is also pretty simple. Again, from my grandparents, who long published community newspapers for several decades in five metro Atlanta counties, pay more attention to what people actually do, versus simply what they say or how they preferred to be viewed in the local press. The Davidson family in DeKalb County was long known for granite. Literally, they owned the parcel and acreage around Arabia Mountain, Stone Mountain's smaller, twin sibling, as well as granite quarries dotting the east side of metro Atlanta, atop a massive granite vein which includes Stone Mountain (long owned by the Venable family).    In 1983, Charles 'Chip' Davidson III, returned to his hometown of Atlanta to open the southeast real estate development offices of Houston, Texas based Hines. Hines has long since been a name dotting north metro construction sites and developments, but it was Davidson's ground-breaking work, developing The Ravinia complex, at what would become later known as Perimeter Center, that changed that area of modern day Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and now Brookhaven, from literally apple orchards and cow pastures, into what is now one of the nation's most robust edge cities, containing the metro area's second largest cluster of Fortune 500 corporate and North American headquarters. Davidson brought what some may now consider the 'evils' of density to the suburbs dotting north metro Atlanta, parking decks, mid and high rises, destination hotels and dining...to a market long-accustomed to heading to downtown, later Midtown or Buckhead for such options and fare. Hines is still a market leader and The Ravinia is being again refreshed even as this column is being written, but you can tie back the Dunwoody MARTA station, relocation of Pill Hill hospitals from downtown, and the massive expansion of the Perimeter Center sub-office market to decisions and bets made by leaders like Liane Levetan, Bob Voyles, Chip Davidson and others during metro Atlanta's turbulent 1980s and explosive 1990s. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently honored Davidson for a career and lifetime of vision and instrumental developments, first at Hines and later as the CEO and co-founder of his own firm, the Brockdale Group.   'At first I thought (winning this award) was a set-up. Then, when it sunk in and I looked at the previous list of winners, I was blown away,' said Davidson to The Atlanta Business Chronicle.   Prior winners of this lifetime achievement recognition by the ULI include Tom Cousins, John Portman, Egbert Perry and Lawrence and Mary Gellerstedt. Those are some pretty tough acts to follow, also proving that Chip and his career are much more than merely a blip or a chip off of the old Davidson granite block. Like most leading families, Davidson's work does not end with his own enterprises. Davidson sits on the board of trustees of the Shepherd Spinal Center as well as the Georgia Conservancy. A man of strong faith, he is also an honorary board member of Trinity House Community Ministries.   You generally know who the ground-movers are in your community, and those who all too frequently further divide their limited time, schedule and resources to make your town a better place to live, invest and raise a family. I'm going to suggest that when the opportunity arises, just say thank you or offer those folks a nice pat on the back. Remember, it was often their capital and perhaps family resources at risk, with no guarantees of return and a requisite share of near misses. Mr. Davidson, to you and your family, and the many leading families like yours across Georgia, many thanks.
  • While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Since then President Bill Clinton was unable to keep Georgia in his win column during his 1996 re-election campaign, Georgia has been viewed as a reliably red, and safe GOP state. The state's congressional delegation made the shift to red and right in 1994, the Governor's office eventually fell in a surprise upset win in 2002 by Sonny Perdue, shortly followed by majority wins in the State Senate and State House. Since the middle of the 2000 decade, the Georgia GOP has controlled or held virtually all levers of power at state and federal government levels. The 2020 election cycle offers the most realistic potential that Georgia will move to the top of Democratic Party target lists for several reasons in a changing political landscape. The close victory for the Governor's office by Governor Brian Kemp is being misread by some as placing the Georgia Democratic Party at the cusp of multiple victories. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP Republicans will be defending 23 seats, including McConnell's as well as both Georgia's Senate seats. Senator David Perdue is seeking his second term, and by January of 2020, Governor Kemp will have named another Republican as the Interim Senator to seek the seat in a November Special Election, to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson. Though also held on General Election day, that contest will take all-comers from both parties, and quite possibly result in a run-off contest, the first Tuesday in January of 2021.  As of the September 12 Democratic Presidential candidate debate, the primary field of candidates, following several withdrawals and shifts to other races has essentially been winnowed to 10, versus the more than two dozen a month ago. The focus will stay on what is shaping up to be a consistently top five in polling, fundraising and among party activists - former Vice-President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker cracks this circle in some polls as well.  Back to our U.S. Senate contests, the GOP is defending 23 seats, while Democrats only have 11 incumbent or existing seats in contest. If Democrats win the White House, the party will only need a net pick-up of three seats to take Senate majority, and four seats if Trump wins re-election. Georgia will be the only state in the nation, and for the first time in our state's history, with both Senate seats on the ballot at the same time.  Senator Perdue will have a real campaign and contest, but it is always difficult to oust an incumbent U.S. Senator, and the current four announced Democratic challengers combined have yet to match Perdue's fundraising or polling numbers. An essentially 'open' seat, with only an interim incumbent of less than a year, is a much easier target. Expect renewed pressure on former State House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams, to consider entering that second Senate seat contest.  The White House race, particularly with Trump as its nominee, will cause the GOP to focus its finances on retaining the White House first, with the Senate a secondary priority. Candidates and the Republican National Senatorial Committee will raise and expend dozens of millions across 34 states, and it will be quite difficult for the RNSC to be a primary funding source for two Georgia Senate contests. Perdue, as a close ally of President Trump, and as an incumbent, will be the priority among the two. Georgia's demographic shifts, Trumps fallibility among metro area voters and the two Senate contests will move our state to the top of the target list for Team Blue pick-up. And as Georgia voters have pretty consistently split party votes in recent elections in consistent percentages from the top to the bottom of the ballot, a close or successful U.S. Senate contest for Democrats would also have substantial down ballot impact on the Georgia State House and Senate, just as Ms. Abrams candidacy impacted dozens of other state and local races in 2018.  All this adds up to Team Blue moving in campaign staffers, non-aligned 527 PAC endorsements and dollars and a record amount of green into this once reliably red state, starting almost as soon as the ink is dry on Governor Kemp's interim U.S. Senate appointment in January. Among the biggest guaranteed winners of these contests will Georgia broadcasters who will also likely also see record political spending before the end of 2020. It's off to the races!
  • This is not one to play around with,' said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, during a September 2nd press conference ordering the partial evacuation of 6-coastal counties during the approach of then Hurricane Dorian. With the heat of summer still baking our great state, it's hard to believe that a week ago thousands were battening the hatches, boarding up doors and windows and preparing for Mother Nature's worst, before heading north on Interstate 16 and evacuating the region. Thankfully, unlike the Bahamas and large swaths of North Carolina, the South Carolina low-country and coast -- Georgia's coast and Golden Isles largely dodged this once maelstrom storm bullet unscathed. However hurricane season is far from over, and indications are that with this summer heat lingering, in the atmosphere and across the Carribean, there may be a few more like Dorian yet to come.  Thousands of home, business and property owners did choose to ignore the evacuation orders, stay and ride out the storm. Though evacuations were only mandated for residents and property owners east of I-95, most everyone took precautions and prepared for the storm. Signs of that were everywhere, from boats moved to dry dock, to grocery shelves emptied of staple items and bottled water.  The primary evacuation route also functioned as it should have, I-16 traffic became one-way heading north and traffic flow north surged overnight by 30 percent. Some admittedly grousing that the National Weather Service and Georgia Emergency Management (GEMA) were being overly cautious, would certainly be kicking themselves if Dorian had made a decisive left-hand turn.  Kemp's predecessor, Governor Nathan Deal, and Atlanta's then Mayor Kasim Reed, each learned the downside of not listening in full earnest to dangerous weather forecasts. The two were both being honored at a Georgia Trend magazine luncheon recognizing Outstanding Georgians on the morning of January 28, 2014, an unusually strong snow and ice storm was looming for most all of north Georgia, and as far south as Macon. Deal and Reed were having their photos taken and enjoying the company of many of Georgia's community and business leaders, as the first sleet and frost started landing and sticking on Georgia streets and highways outside around noontime.  Before the salt trucks could be mobilized, the ice froze and was then joined by 2-6 inches of snow, as the onset of metro Atlanta's infamous rush hour became the now historic Snowmaggedon. Thousands were trapped on metro interstates which had become practically solid sheets of ice, and many simply abandoned their vehicles and walked home. School buses were similarly delayed 8-10 hours, many idling on the roadside until they ran out of fuel. No significant injuries or loss of life were attributed to the snow, sleet and ice storm, but the north side of the state was practically paralyzed for several days.  Deal and north Georgia Mayors, county commissions, school boards and superintendents became decidedly more cautious after that. Snow days were added to the state school calendar of 180 school days. Even the hint of an inch of frozen precipitation would cause full school system closures. Erring to the side of caution since 2014 has become our rightful norm. Yes, meteorology is a science, but so is geology and the prediction of earthquakes. Both include a margin of error, as well as the very real change in temperament of winds, rain and the occasionally mercurial shift of storm fronts. Dorian stalling and sitting atop the Bahamas for several days was also something quite difficult to pre-forecast.  Having been on Jekyll Island a few times in my childhood and teen years during tropical storms, a downed tree on a home, car or family pet is a quite significant challenge moving forward just the same. Perhaps the happiest folks in reaction to the evacuation call were hoteliers, restaurant and gas station owners in points north like Dublin, Macon and Atlanta. Reports of price-gouging were thankfully minimal and multiple Georgia cities and households welcomed the evacuees into their homes and shelters with open arms. Our state and coastal citizenry have their lives largely returned to normal and thankfully, a few million are largely none the worse off after taking a course and path of taking heed, playing it safe and being better safe than sorry.  And perhaps most thankful of all are our neighbors in lower Alabama and along the Gulf coast, hammered hard a year ago by Hurricane Michael, but now also spared, thanks to the magical power of a Presidential Sharpie, from any injury or further harm.

News

  • A life-size statue of Sully, the service dog by the side of former president George H.W. Bush, will be displayed at Bush’s presidential library in College Station, Texas. >> Read more trending news  The bronze statue designed by sculptor Susan Bahary depicts Sully in his service dog coat emblazoned with the seal of the United States, holding a leash in his mouth. It goes on display Dec. 6, the library said. “I fell in love with Sully and wanted to capture in life-size bronze the beautiful loyalty and bond that our beloved president inspired in him and that was forever seared in our memories,” Bahary told KTXA. “As a sculptor known worldwide for my service animal monuments, I feel Sully helps honor the president’s legacy, wonderful groups like America’s VetDogs, and raises awareness of all types of service animals, as I’m also doing through the National Service Animals Monument and the Purple Poppy movement.” The yellow Labrador retriever gained national attention after laying next to Bush’s casket during the 41st president's funeral.  Sully, a service dog trained through America’s VetDogs, was paired with Bush for about six months before Bush died.  “Sully is an outstanding ambassador for the life-changing work our specially-trained dogs provide to our nation’s veterans and first responders with disabilities,” John Miller, head of America’s VetDogs, told KTXA. “It was our honor to provide President Bush with Sully, and we are forever thankful for his service to our country and to those with disabilities.” After Bush’s death, Sully was reassigned to work at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
  • The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is testifying Friday in the second public hearing in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump. >> Read more trending news  Marie Yovanovitch will appear before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to answers questions about her time as ambassador in Ukraine and how she believed she was driven out of that position by Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. The hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. ET, will be broadcast live on CSPAN, CNN, Fox News and other cable news channels. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, (D-California), and the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, (R-California), will question Yovanovitch in 45-minute segments each then committee members will have five minutes each to question Yovanovitch. Watch the live stream of Friday’s hearing here Live updates Social media can be mean? 1 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: GOP counsel Castor argues that a Ukrainian official was “out to get” Trump via tweets as Trump was running for president and that the official said some “mean things.” 'Sometimes that happens on social media,” Yovanovitch said, eliciting laughter from the room. ‘Ukrainian establishment’ wanted her out 12:42 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Under questioning by Castor, Yovanovitch said the 'Ukrainian establishment” had hoped her removal as ambassador would pave the way for them to do things that would be against US interests. 'I think that, in addition, there were Americans, these two individuals who were working with mayor Giuliani, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, who have recently been indicted by the Southern District of New York, who indicated that they wanted to change out the ambassador, and I think they must have had some reason for that.' Republicans begin asking questions 12:32 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Nunes asks Yovanovitch if she was present for the July 26 call between Trump and Zelensky, she answers no. He asks if she was present or had talked to other White House officials concerning Ukraine. She says she had not. Nunes then recognizes Rep. Elise Stefanik to ask questions. Stefanik attempts to ask a question but Schiff cuts her off, saying she has not been recognized. Nunes and Schiff argue about who can yield time to a committee member. Schiff says she cannot ask questions at this time and Nunes then yields to Steve Castor, the counsel for the Republicans. The hearing has resumed 12:22 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The hearing has resumed and Republicans are asking questions. In a break 10:45 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The hearing has been suspended for a short recess for House members to vote.  Trump tweets, Yovanovitch defends herself  10:30 a.m. Nov. 15, 2019: Schiff read a tweet from Trump this morning disparaging Yovanovitch’s service. Trump said that “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.” Schiff asks if she wants to address the tweet. Yovanovitch answered, “I don’t think I have such powers,” but went on to say that her work “demonstrably made things better, both for the US and for the countries I’ve served in.” Fearing a tweet 10:24 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Goldman asks Yovanovitch if she was given a vote of support from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She said she was not. He asked if she knew why not. She said the department feared that the president would post a tweet contradicting any support. ‘Devastated' by Trump's Ukraine call 10:15 a.m. Nov. 15, 2019: Yovanovitch said she was “shocked” and “devastated” by the White House memo on Trump’s call with Zelensky. The transcript included the phrase that Yovanovitch is “bad news.” “A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said the color drained from my face,” Yovanovitch told Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York who is the counsel for the Democrats. She said Trump’s comment that she was “going to go through some things,” in his call with Zelensky, “felt like a vague threat.” ‘Big hit for morale’ 10 a.m. Nov. 15, 2019: Schiff asked Yovanovitch how her recall was received by colleagues in the State Department. Yovanovitch said, 'Well, it's been a big hit for morale, both at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and also more broadly in the State Department.' She also that it’s fair to say that her firing affected morale of other ambassadors. Yovanovitch's opening statement 9:33 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Yovanovitch is giving her opening statement, talking about the sometime dangers of foreign service. She opened her statement by recounting her family’s history. They fled the Soviet Union. She says she has served in several “hardship” posts as a diplomat.  She talked about her work in Ukraine. 'Not all Ukrainians embraced our anti-corruption work. Thus, perhaps, it was not surprising, that when our anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. Ambassador. How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?' She says she never tried to work against Trump or for Clinton. She said she has never met Hunter Biden but did know former Vice President Joe Biden. Nunes’ turn 9:20 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Rep. Nunes is speaking now. He says five of the members of the Intelligence Committee voted to impeach Trump before he ever made the July 26 phone call. He complains that the Democrats met secretly with the whistleblower and that Republicans have been threatened if they try to find out the person’s name and release it. He also said Democrats went after nude photos of Trump. He is reading the just-released transcript into the record. The hearing has begun 9:10 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Schiff is giving his opening statement. He is praising Yovanovitch’s qualifications and her anti-corruption work in Ukraine. He's asking why Trump wanted to recall Yovanovitch from her post. Phone call transcript released 9:05 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The White House has released the transcript of the first phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That phone call took place in April. This is not the phone call the whistleblower reported on. People are getting to their seats 9 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: House Intelligence Committee members, the press and spectators are coming into the room for the start of the hearing. $3 million in donations 8:55 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale announced on Thursday that the Trump campaign raised more than $3 million on Wednesday during the first public impeachment hearings. A case of bribery? 8:47 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, accused Trump of bribery. Pelosi pointed out at her weekly press conference that bribery is “in the Constitution” as a reason for impeaching a president. Yovanovitch has arrived 8:38 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Yovanovitch has arrived at Capitol Hill with her attorneys and is entering the building. One public hearing and two in private8:35 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: While Yovanovitch will testify in public Friday, David Holmes will appear before the committee afterward in a closed-door session. Holmes is a State Department employee who claims to have overheard a phone conversation about Ukraine between Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, and Trump. On Saturday, Mark Sandy, an office of Management and Budget official, will testify before the committee in private. Sandy will be the first OMB official to agree to testify before the committee. How the hearing will go 8:15 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The hearing will be conducted in the same way as Wednesday’s hearing with William Taylor and George Kent was conducted. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, and the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-California, will question Taylor and Kent in 45-minute segments each. Those 45 minutes can be delegated to the staff lawyers or other committee members. After the extended 45-minute periods, the committee will go back to its usual format of five-minute rounds of questions for committee members. Let’s get started 8 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Good morning and welcome to live updates from the second public hearing of the impeachment inquiry. The hearing begins in an hour, at 9 a.m. ET. Live updates coming 6 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Live updates of Marie Yovanovitch's testimony will begin at 8 a.m. ET. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. ET [Summary]
  • A jury found Roger Stone guilty Friday of obstruction, giving false statements to Congress and tampering with witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. >> Read more trending news  The verdict came on the second day of jury deliberations. Stone had denied any wrongdoing and framed the charges as politically motivated. Update 12:20 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Jurors found Stone guilty Friday of all seven counts against him, including one charge of obstruction, one charge of witness tampering and five charges of making false statements connected to his pursuit stolen emails damaging to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman set a February 6 sentencing date for Stone, Fox News reported. Until then, Berman allowed Stone to be released on his own recognizance. Stone, who did not take the stand during his trial, is the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The president slammed the jury's verdict Friday, questioning in a tweet whether Stone fell victim to 'a double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country.' Original report: Jury deliberations in the case against Roger Stone, a political consultant and confidant of President Donald Trump, extended into a second day Friday after jurors failed to reach a verdict on whether he lied to Congress about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. Jurors asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson two questions Thursday during their six hours of deliberations, Reuters reported. The questions were about what was considered testimony in the case and a request for a clarification of the charges, according to the Courthouse News Service. Authorities arrested Stone in January on charges brought by then-special counsel Robert Mueller, who headed the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone was charged with obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis said Stone lied to protect the Trump campaign from embarrassment and scrutiny in its quest for emails hacked by Russian officials and disseminated by WikiLeaks, according to The Washington Post. Attorneys for Stone claimed he never intentionally deceived Congress and that he was simply wrong in his testimony after committee members unexpectedly peppered him with WikiLeaks-related questions. 'There was nothing illegal about the campaign being interested in information that WikiLeaks was going to be putting out,' defense attorney Bruce S. Rogow said, according to the Post. 'This is what happens in a campaign. … It happens in every campaign.' In testimony, several witnesses highlighted how Trump campaign associates were eager to gather information about the more than 19,000 emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia and then provided to WikiLeaks. Former campaign CEO Steve Bannon reluctantly testified last week and told jurors Trump's campaign saw Stone as an 'access point' to WikiLeaks. He said Stone boasted about his ties to the anti-secrecy group and its founder, Julian Assange. Bannon said campaign officials tried to use Stone to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rick Gates, who served as a campaign aide for Trump, told jurors Stone asked him in June 2016 for the contact information of Trump's son-in-law and then-senior campaign adviser, Jared Kushner. Stone wanted to 'debrief' him on developments about the hacked emails, Gates said. Stone has proclaimed his innocence and accused Mueller's team of targeting him because of his politics. He could face up to 20 years in prison if he's convicted. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A newborn’s body was found on a pile of rocks on the side of the road Tuesday night, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  The infant was found lying in the fetal position with the umbilical cord still attached in freezing temperatures, News12 reported. Investigators are interviewing the child’s mother. Charges have not been filed and there have been no arrests, WPVI reported. Her identity has not been released. 
  • Roger Stone was one of the key figures of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling, accused fo trying to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential race, NBC News reported. Stone was found guilty of all charges he faced including making false statements to Congress and obstruction of justice. Stone's lawyers said that any misstatements their client made to lawmakers were unintentional, the Washington Post reported shortly after his arrest. Who is Roger Stone? Stone was born in 1952 and was raised in Lewisboro, New York. His mother was a newspaper writer and his father was a well digger. Stone started his conservative leanings when a neighbor gave him a book, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” written by Barry Goldwater. It was given to him before he turned 13. Shortly after, he started working on the mayoral campaign for William F. Buckley Jr. in New York on weekends in 1965, The New Yorker uncovered in an article published in 2008.  He attended George Washington University but didn’t graduate because he got into politics, working with Republican candidates for more than 40 years, according to The New Yorker. >> Read more trending news  He was only 19 when Watergate happened, and he, under the name Jason Rainier, made contributions to Pete McCloskey, who was challenging President Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination. Stone, as Rainier, made the contributions through the Young Socialist Alliance and then released the receipt to a newspaper to show that McCloskey was a left-wing candidate, according to The New Yorker. Stone also hired another person to work in  George McGovern’s Democratic presidential campaign. Both events were uncovered during the Watergate hearings in 1973. He lost a job on the staff of Republican Bob Dole because of the hearings and started the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which backed Republicans Chuck Grassley in Iowa and Dan Quayle in Indiana. Stone also worked twice on the Republican presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan -- once in 1976, when Reagan didn’t win, and again in 1980, when he did -- then as political director for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, The New Yorker reported. After Reagan took office, Stone stayed in the private sector, creating a political consulting and lobbying firm that went under different names, including Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater.  The firm worked for corporations like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to lobby former co-workers in the Reagan campaign who held jobs in the administration. It also served clients like Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, The New Yorker found. Focusing more on political campaigns as a solo entity instead of lobbying as part of a group, Stone worked as a senior consultant for the successful campaign of George H.W. Bush and worked three campaigns for Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. He also ran unsuccessful campaigns for Dole’s 1996 quest for president. He was brought in when the 2000 presidential recount started in Florida. He played the political game on radio stations in southern Florida, saying that the recount was Al Gore’s left-wing power grab, The New Yorker reported. His efforts, along with other Republican assets, empowered George W. Bush’s Republican supporters to protest the second recount. Stone wanted, and got, the recount in Miami shut down in what became the “Brooks Brothers riot,” The Washington Post and The New Yorker reported. Stone also worked on  the younger Bush’s re-election campaign. It is believed documents obtained by CBS News that showed that Bush got out of military service for Vietnam were actually fake and that Stone was the person who created the documents, The New Yorker reported. Stone was one of President Donald Trump’s panel of long-time advisors, The Washington Post reported. He was connected to Trump when the now-president floated the idea of running in 2000.  Then, Trump said, “Roger is a stone-cold loser,” who “always takes credit for things he never did,” according to The New Yorker. Despite the harsh words then-private sector member Trump had for Stone, he used Stone for his campaign not once, but twice, teaming up in 2011 when Trump toyed with, but eventually decided against a presidential run. They went their different ways in August 2015, the Times reported.  But who pulled the plug on Stone’s tenure on the Trump campaign? Stone said he resigned and Trump’s campaign officials said he had been fired, The New York Times reported. Trump said of the firing, “I hardly ever spoke to the guy; he was just there. He played no role of any kind,” the Times reported in 2015. But Stone was listed on Federal Election Commission filings as being on the campaign payroll and he used Twitter to defend Trump during the campaign, according to the Times. What is his connection to Trump? Stone has been scrutinized for having ties to WikiLeaks by using an associate as an intermediary between himself and people associated with WikiLeaks, CNN reported. Stone spoke about having “back channel communications” with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, during the campaign. Stone later said the “back channel” was really a New York radio host, Randy Credico, who allegedly shared only information gleaned from interviews with Assange, CNN reported. Stone also predicted releases of information by WikiLeaks in the final days of the campaign between Trump and his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, CNN reported.  Stone said in a column for Breitbart, the website run by former Trump campaign adviser Steve Bannon, that it wasn’t the Russians who hacked the servers containing the emails leaked by WikiLeaks, but it was actually a hacker who went by the name Guccifer 2.0.  >>Read: Russian hackers indicted: Who is Guccifer 2.0? Here are 15 things to know Despite Stone’s assertions in the column, some have linked Guccifer 2.0 to Russian web services, Foreign Policy reported.  In July 2016, the Times reported that intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the email leaks and that Guccifer 2.0 was in reality an agent of the Russian military intelligence service, or GRU. Mueller’s team is investigating whether there were other connections between Stone and WikiLeaks. That connection could come in the form of Jerome Corsi, another associate of Stone’s who said this week that he expects to be indicted by Mueller for “giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury,” CNN reported. If Corsi’s prediction comes true, he could face charges from perjury to making false claims and even obstruction of justice, all related to false statements he made about his alleged connection between WikiLeaks and Stone, CNN reported. Stone, however, said he was truthful in previous testimony before a congressional panel. >>Read: 12 Russians indicted: Here’s what the DOJ says happened “My attorneys have fully reviewed all my written communications with Dr. Corsi,” Stone wrote in a statement to CNN. “When those aren’t viewed out of context they prove everything I have said under oath regarding my interaction with Dr. Corsi is true.” Stone went on to write, “I stand by my statement to the House Intelligence Committee and can prove it is truthful if need be. I have passed two polygraph tests administered and analyzed by two of the nation's leading experts to prove I have (been) truthful.” >>Read: 12 Russians indicted: Military officials accused of hacking DNC, stealing voter info Corsi said Stone warned that there would be trouble for Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta after Corsi published an article for InfoWars. After Stone’s statement, WikiLeaks released thousands of hacked emails from Podesta, CNN reported.  >>Read: WikiLeaks emails: FBI investigates, Podesta claims he was targeted by Russian hackers Stone tweeted “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” six weeks before WikiLeaks published the emails, The Washington Post reported. >>Read: Julian Assange: WikiLeaks source was 'not the Russian government' Stone said he did not tell Trump that WikiLeaks was going to release the hacked emails and denied working with Russia, CNN reported. But Stone did say in a recent opinion piece for The Daily Caller, that he emailed Bannon during the campaign, CNN reported. Stone, in the column, clarified that the information he shared with Bannon was publicly available. Stone said the statements he made during the campaign were exaggerations or tips only and that he didn’t know details of WikiLeaks’ plans before the document drops, the Post reported.
  • A brake fluid leak on certain Nissan cars and SUVs could lead to risk of fire prompting the automaker to recall about 394,000 vehicles in the United States. >> Read more trending news  An antilock brake actuator pump can leak onto a circuit board, causing electrical shorts and fires. Because of the risk, Nissan recommends owners park the vehicles outside and away from buildings if the antilock brake light is on for more than 10 seconds.  The recall covers 2015 to 2018 Nissan Murano SUVs, 2016 to 2018 Maxima sedans and 2017 to 2019 Infiniti QX60 and Nissan Pathfinder SUVs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is the second recall for some of the same vehicles. In 2018, Nissan dealers inspected parts but did not replace the pumps if fluid wasn’t leaking. Dealers will now replace pumps on all of the vehicles. The Associated Press contributed to this report.