Ivanka Trump’s Worst Week in Washington


Ivanka Trump has long been cast as the one person that her father — aka the President of the United States — really, truly listens to.

So, when she formally joined the White House earlier this year, many people who were deeply concerned about the direction Donald Trump would take the country viewed it as a a major step in the right direction.
But, through the first 134 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Ivanka has been far more talk than action. And her inability to deliver results came to a head this week as Ivanka failed to convince her father to keep the US in the Paris climate accord.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh — not Paris,” Trump thundered in his Rose Garden speech announcing that the US would join Nicaragua and Syria as the only three countries who are not part of the Paris accords.
It was a statement — and a sentiment — right out of the mind of Steve Bannon, chief strategist in the Trump White House and someone with whom Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, has repeatedly clashed over the first four-plus months of the administration.
Bannon represents a hard-charging, nationalist, populist, anti-establishment view of politics. Ivanka and her husband — “Javanka” for short — are far more liberal and moderate-minded.
Bannon’s views won out on this issue, due in no small part to the fact that Trump promised to get out of Paris during the campaign and felt compelled to make good on that pledge to appease his political base.
For Ivanka, this week serves as a blunt reminder that, despite her considerable influence with her father, she has yet to affect major changes — or even minor ones — in his views since coming to the White House.
On virtually every issue — trade, immigration, healthcare and now climate — Trump has sided with his political base rather than his daughter and her husband. Whether “Javanka” want to admit it or not, that’s embarrassing given the role in the White House
they quite clearly envisioned for themselves.
Publicly, Ivanka’s serenity is unbothered. This comes from a terrific story in Politico:
“Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have taken the defeat in stride, according to two people familiar with their thinking on the issue. Their view of their roles in the
White House is that they’re playing the long game, helping the President to be successful. And they don’t tally their own influence day by day or bill by bill.”
Riiiiiiiight. Relatedly, I am playing the “long game” on making it to the NBA.
None of this means that Ivanka — or Jared — is going anywhere anytime soon. They aren’t. And, if they do, it will be their choice, not because President Trump pushes them out.
But, what this week disproved — or at least poked holes in — is the notion that Ivanka Trump can get her father to do what she wants when she really sets her mind to it.
Ivanka, for realizing that no one rules Donald Trump but Donald Trump, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Lindsey Graham won’t vote for Trump or Clinton in 2016


Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Donald Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics, says he will not vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton for president this year.

Saying he thinks the Republican Party has been “conned,” Graham told CNN Friday that he and Trump don’t share the same beliefs.
“I don’t think he’s a reliable Republican conservative,” Graham said, just hours before former 2016 rival Jeb Bush also declared he would not vote for Trump. “I don’t believe that
Donald Trump has the temperament and judgment to be commander in chief. I think
Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”
Graham’s comments sparked a scathing response from Trump, who called him a “poor representative and an embarrassment to the great people of South Carolina.”
Graham said Trump lost his confidence when the billionaire businessman criticized Arizona Sen. John McCain for being a captured during the Vietnam War and accused former President George W. Bush of lying to Americans about the Iraq War. Graham also cited Trump’s compliments of Russian President Vladimir Putin, spending thousands of dollars to find out if President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and linking Sen. Ted Cruz’s dad to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination as some of the front-runner’s other wild ideas.

First on CNN: Russians ‘barrel roll’ over another U.S. Air Force plane


A Russian SU-27 conducted a “barrel roll” Friday over the top of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 which was flying a reconnaissance mission in international airspace above the Baltic Sea, the Defense Department said.

The Russian SU-27 approached alongside within 25 feet of the U.S. aircraft and then flew inverted over the top of the plane to the other side, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, a U.S. Army spokesperson, said in a statement.
“The SU-27 intercepted the U.S. aircraft flying a routine route at high rate of speed from the side then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135,” Baldanza said.

Caitlyn Jenner softens her tone on Hillary Clinton


Caitlyn Jenner softened her tone on Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton after calling her a “f—ing liar.”

The star of E!’s “I Am Cait” revealed in a clip of Sunday’s upcoming episode that she met Clinton and posted a photo of her and friends posing with the former secretary of state with the caption “#learningfrommygirls #willingtolisten.”

In a previous episode, Jenner said she would vote for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump over her.
“I would never, ever, ever vote for Hillary. We’re done if Hillary becomes president. The country is over,” Jenner said.
Jenner also clarified comments she recently made about Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Trump in an interview with E! last week, saying she did not endorse either candidate.
Jenner, an activist for transgender issues, received a wave of backlash on social media this month for saying that she would like to serve as Cruz’s “trans ambassador” and for saying last week that Trump “would be very good for women’s issues.”

Flydubai plane crashes in Russia; 62 aboard reported dead


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After circling a southern Russian airport for more than two hours because of high ground-level winds and poor visibility, a passenger jet from the United Arab Emirates crashed during a landing attempt, killing all 62 people aboard.

The flydubai Boeing 737 took off from Dubai and was scheduled to land at the Rostov-on-Don airport at 1:20 a.m. Saturday (6:20 p.m. ET Friday), Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said.

But it didn’t come down — about 800 feet from a runway — until 3:50 a.m. By that point, Russian state media reported, there were winds of about 60 mph.

Authorities have ruled out terrorism as a cause of the crash. Instead, according to investigative committee spokeswoman Oksana Kovrizhnaya, they will be looking at three possibilities: technical issues, severe weather and human error.

Kovrizhnaya said the investigations will take at least two months, as required by Russian law, but “could be prolonged,” according to state-run Sputnik news.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/18/europe/russia-plane-crash/index.html

More staffers flee Breitbart News over Trump


Reporter Michelle Fields and at least three other staffers have resigned in opposition to their company’s coverage of Trump and to its handling of an alleged assault on Fields by a top Trump aide.

Fields, who has claimed that she was yanked and bruised by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and Ben Shapiro, one of the site’s top editors, told BuzzFeed late Sunday night that they would be leaving the company.

Then on Monday, Breitbart editor Jarrett Stepman and national security correspondent Jordan Schachtel announced they were also resigning in protest.

“Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation,” Fields said on Sunday. “I do not believe Breitbart News has adequately stood by me during the events of the past week and because of that I believe it is now best for us to part ways.”

http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/14/media/michelle-fields-ben-shapiro-resign-from-breitbart-news/

Taliban reject invite to Afghanistan peace talks


The Taliban are invited to the negotiating table, but they aren’t coming.

The Islamist militant group made that clear Saturday, refuting reports that it would send representatives to upcoming talks involving the Afghan government, Pakistan, the United States and China in the Pakistani city of Islamabad.

“We reject all such rumors and unequivocally state that the esteemed leader of the Islamic Emirate has not authorized anyone to participate in this meeting, and neither has the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate decided to partake in it,” the Taliban said, using another name for itself.

The announcement appears to be a significant blow to the peace talks and is a reversal from what the Taliban reportedly have done in the past.

Taliban representatives met with their Afghan government counterparts, as well as with U.S. and Chinese officials, last summer in Pakistan, officials said.

But just weeks later, the Taliban’s reported new leader (Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour) deniedin an audio message that his Sunni Islamist group was trying to work toward peace with Afghanistan’s government.

Such pronouncements haven’t stopped other parties from talking, or from trying to include the Taliban.

After conversations in Kabul on February 23, the Afghan government sent out a news release noting President Ashraf Ghani’s “strong commitment … for peace and reconciliation with Taliban groups and Hezbi Islami Hekmatyar,” the latter being another nationalist militant group.

Characterizing it as a “national priority,” Ghani called “on the Taliban and other groups to join early direct talks with the government of Afghanistan.”

And the Afghanistan, Pakistani, Chinese and U.S. governments together “invite(d) all Taliban and other groups to participate … in the first round of direct peace talks” slated for early March in Islamabad, Pakistan.

 http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/05/asia/afghanistan-taliban-violence-talks/