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November 16, 2016

One of New York City's most iconic and mysterious buildings might secretly house an NSA spy hub, The Intercept reports. The AT&T Long Lines Building at 33 Thomas St. in Lower Manhattan towers 29 stories high with no windows or lighting at night; the concrete structure can reportedly withstand an atomic blast. Publicly the building is understood to be an important telecommunications hub used for processing long-distance phone calls from around the globe and is operated by an AT&T subsidiary, the New York Telephone Company. AT&T, notably, was a partner in the NSA's surveillance programs.

Indeed, documents leaked by Edward Snowden to The Intercept seem to point to more suspicious activity going on within 33 Thomas St. "It [...] appears to be one of the most important National Security Agency surveillance sites on U.S. soil — a covert monitoring hub that is used to tap into phone calls, faxes, and internet data," the documents state.

The most ominous building in #NYC

A photo posted by Forrest (@artistboy7) on

The analysts at The Intercept believe evidence points to 33 Thomas St. being a famous secret NSA site code-named TITANPOINTE based off of its architectural plans, interviews with former AT&T employees, and other documents:

Inside 33 Thomas Street there is a major international "gateway switch," according to a former AT&T engineer, which routes phone calls between the United States and countries across the world. A series of top-secret NSA memos suggest that the agency has tapped into these calls from a secure facility within the AT&T building. The Manhattan skyscraper appears to be a core location used for a controversial NSA surveillance program that has targeted the communications of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and at least 38 countries, including close U.S. allies such as Germany, Japan, and France. [The Intercept]

Read more about the mysterious building and the evidence indicating it might be a spy mega-center hidden right under everyone's noses at The Intercept. Jeva Lange

5:38 p.m. ET

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has declared Friday — the day House Republican leadership pulled the vote on the American Health Care Act — a "great day for our country." "It's a victory ... for the American people. For our seniors, for people with disabilities, for our children, for our veterans," Pelosi said in a press conference shortly after the House Republican leadership's announcement.

Other Democrats were just as gleeful. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) similarly deemed Friday a "good day for the American people," while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he has "never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House." "So much for the art of the deal," Schumer said, referring to President Trump's bestselling book.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez borrowed the words of former Vice President Joe Biden to describe the moment:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tweeted this sick burn:

Hillary Clinton also came out of the woods to celebrate, starting off with this tweet and continuing on with several more:

Trump on Friday blamed Democrats for Republicans' health-care bill's failure, deeming Pelosi and Schumer the real "losers" because now Democrats have to "own" ObamaCare, which he said is "exploding." Democrats were unfazed by that prospect: "We owned it yesterday and the day before and in November," Hoyer said. Becca Stanek

5:23 p.m. ET

House Republican leadership pulled the American Health Care Act from the chamber floor Friday, after it became apparent it did not have the necessary party consensus to pass. The bill, which was drafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and backed by President Trump, was Republicans' first attempt at realizing their nearly decade-long promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

While former President Barack Obama was in office, Republican lawmakers repeatedly passed bills calling for the repeal of his signature Affordable Care Act, only to have the Democratic president veto that legislation when it arrived on his desk. With the government currently 100 percent controlled by the GOP, some reporters asked after the bill failed Friday why Republicans had been able to pass countless measures under Obama, but not one under a Republican president who might actually sign their bills into law — and Texas Rep. Joe Barton (R) offered a shockingly frank answer:

In this case, "fantasy football" turned into "possibly leaving millions of Americans without health insurance." Kimberly Alters

5:05 p.m. ET

President Trump declared Friday that the real reason the GOP plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare failed was because there were "no votes from the Democrats." "I think the losers are [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, because now they own ObamaCare. They own it, 100 percent own it," Trump said, shortly after the planned vote on the American Health Care Act was called off by House Republican leadership. Trump said he was "a little surprised" by the House Freedom Caucus' refusal to support the GOP-backed bill, but insisted they were still his "friends."

Though Trump claimed "a lot of people don't realize how good" the GOP's health-care proposal was, he maintained that Republican leaders' decision Friday to pull the vote was "perhaps the best thing that could happen." "The best thing politically speaking is to let ObamaCare explode," Trump said, predicting Democrats will eventually "come to us."

Watch Trump's remarks below. Becca Stanek

4:34 p.m. ET

At a press conference Friday after GOP leadership canceled the vote on the American Health Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) admitted "doing big things is hard." "Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains," Ryan said. "Well, we're feeling those pains today."

Though Ryan conceded the House Freedom Caucus contributed to the GOP being short on votes, he laid the blame on the Republican Party as a whole. He noted the party will "need time to reflect" and consider what could've been done better.

Ryan said Republicans "came really close" but ultimately "came up short," explaining why he advised President Trump earlier Friday that "the best thing to do" would be to pull the bill. "ObamaCare is the law of the land," Ryan said. "It's going to remain the law of the land until it's replaced."

After a seven-year battle to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Ryan confirmed the GOP will be "moving on" for now from health care to tax reform. Catch a snippet of Ryan's comments below. Becca Stanek

3:56 p.m. ET

House Democrats had the perfect GIF picked out and ready to go when House Republicans pulled the vote on the American Health Care Act on Friday afternoon. Within minutes of the announcement, the official account tweeted this out:

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Becca Stanek

3:49 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Those of us still recovering from the Google Reader massacre might want to sit down to read this one. Starting in June, Google will kill off yet another of its most beloved products — this time, the instant messaging app Google Talk, better known as "Gchat," New York reports.

Gchat first launched in 2005 as a hip alternative to AOL Instant Messenger and it persisted due to its simplicity and ease of use. Google will still offer its other instant messaging platform called Hangouts, and Gchat users who haven't already transitioned will seamlessly be rolled over to the service when Gchat pings its last ping on June 26. Hangouts is actually not a new service; it has been around for about four years, and is a glitzier messaging app (you can doodle in it, for example).

As New York writes in its eulogy to the platform, "giving somebody your personal Gmail account to message was an offering of friendship, an invitation to gossip freely away from the potentially prying eyes of company-owned Slack channels and Campfire rooms. If somebody wanted to Gchat, you knew to expect some good dish about your boss, or your ex, or your boss' ex."

RIP Gchat. You will live on in our hearts. Jeva Lange

3:42 p.m. ET
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump reportedly spoke to Paul Ryan around 3 p.m. ET on Friday and agreed the House speaker should pull the health-care bill, a leadership aide told Politico. The vote was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon before being pushed back to Friday.

Many organizations counting "no" votes found as many as 34 Republicans said they would oppose the bill ahead of the planned vote; if the legislation lost more than 22 Republican votes, the proposal would not have passed the lower chamber. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had indicated in his early afternoon news conference that the vote was going to go ahead anyway, despite apparently not having enough support to pass, but refused to reveal the president's "strategy."

Trump had issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday night: Pass the American Health Care Act on Friday, or lose the opportunity to repeal ObamaCare once and for all. Despite two days of tense negotiations — mostly with the far-right House Freedom Caucus, members of which oppose the bill for retaining too much of ObamaCare — it appears Ryan failed to get enough votes. Jeva Lange

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