President Trump responded on Twitter Sunday to comments from LaVar Ball, the father of a UCLA basketball player, which downplayed the president's role in getting his son, LiAngelo Ball, and two other student athletes, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, released from shoplifting charges in China.
"Who?" the elder Ball said to ESPN Friday when asked about Trump's actions. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out." Trump reportedly spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players while visiting Beijing on his tour of Asia this month, and he did not appreciate Ball's remarks:
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
In previous tweets this past week, Trump took credit for the athletes' release, wondered if they would thank him, and told them to "HAVE A GREAT LIFE" and be wary of "many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!" Bonnie Kristian
Southern California is expecting very strong winds and low humidity for a 24-hour period beginning Saturday and ending Sunday. The weather conditions will pose a new challenge to the thousands of firefighters battling wildfires in the region, especially those dealing with the Thomas Fire, which is now the fourth-largest wildfire in California's recorded history.
— CIIMT1 (@Info_CIIMT1) December 16, 2017
A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary injunction against the Trump administration's modification of ObamaCare's contraception mandate.
The Affordable Care Act requires employers to pay for birth control as part of employee health plans, with limited exemptions. The Trump White House issued a new rule expanding those exemptions to allow almost any business to decline to offer contraception coverage for religious or moral reasons.
Judge Wendy Beetlestone of Pennsylvania wrote in her opinion that the rule could cause "enormous and irreversible" harm, worrying that employers could seek to drive women out of the workplace entirely by changing their coverage policies.
While Beetlestone argued it "is difficult to comprehend a rule that does more to undermine the Contraceptive Mandate or that intrudes more into the lives of women," religious liberty advocates argue that business owners with sincere religious or moral opposition to birth control methods — like the morning-after pill, which can stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall — should not be forced to offer coverage. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump on Saturday tweeted an endorsement of a new book purporting to offer the inside scoop on his presidential campaign:
Congratulations to two great and hardworking guys, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, on the success of their just out book, “Let Trump Be Trump.” Finally people with real knowledge are writing about our wonderful and exciting campaign!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2017
Let Trump Be Trump is written by Corey Lewandowski, the fired Trump campaign manager who may be best known for allegedly manhandling a Breitbart News reporter, and David Bossie, Trump's former deputy campaign manager and current president of Citizens United. The book claims to tell "the greatest political tale in the history of our republic," a "once-in-a-millennial [sic] event."
A review of Let Trump Be Trump by David Frum for The Washington Post describes the work as "by turns gullible, dishonest, and weirdly careless," noting that it never mentions Wikileaks but does spend 20 pages on the Access Hollywood scandal. An early excerpt of the book revealed the president's single-sitting fast food consumption on the campaign trail was typically "two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish" — minus the buns — "and a chocolate malted" milkshake. Bonnie Kristian
Moore told supporters in an email that the election "battle is NOT OVER" while soliciting donations to his "election integrity fund" to pay for investigations into voter fraud he claims may have cost him victory. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has not found any evidence of voter fraud. Merrill said his office has investigation reports of irregularities and has "not discovered any that have been proven factual in nature."
Also Friday, President Trump said Moore should admit his defeat. "He tried. I want to support, always, I want to support the person running," Trump said, but at this point, Moore "certainly" should concede. Bonnie Kristian
The White House has directed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to avoid using seven words and phrases in agency documents, The Washington Post reported Friday evening. The ban list is comprised of "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based." In place of the latter two phrases, the directive suggested saying things like, "CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes."
While the ban on the first five words has drawn fire for its implicit commentary on minorities, LGBT issues, and abortion, the prohibition of "evidence-based" and "science-based" has garnered particular criticism given the CDC's scope of responsibilities.
An unnamed CDC analyst who spoke with the Post said colleagues within the agency were "incredulous" at the announcement. The reaction "was very much, 'Are you serious? Are you kidding?'" the analyst said, adding, "In my experience, we've never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint" like this before. Bonnie Kristian
Republicans released their final tax bill Friday, the result of conference between the House and Senate. The final legislation proposes seven tax brackets for individual earners, with the top rate capped at 37 percent, down from 39.6 percent. The corporate tax rate is lowered to 21 percent from 35 percent.
Dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the bill overall includes $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. The latest version notably retains a deduction for state and local taxes, which had been scrapped from versions of the bill in both the House and Senate to the consternation of some Republicans in California and the Northeast. It also expands the child tax credit to be fully refundable up to $1400 — a concession to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — as well as preserves deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses, and charitable contributions.
After the child tax credit expansion prompted Rubio earlier Friday to flip to a "yes" vote, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) also announced that he would back the bill, likely sealing enough support for the bill to pass the Senate and hit President Trump's desk. Republicans have said they hope to deliver the measure to the president by Christmas.
Critics of the bill warn that the sweeping tax cuts are not sufficiently offset and will cause the federal deficit to balloon. Read more about the bill at The Wall Street Journal, or see a summary of its contents below. Kimberly Alters
Summary of final GOP tax bill - House members are currently being briefed on a conference call pic.twitter.com/z1AqIRWqpS
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) December 15, 2017
If you want easy money, don't bet on the Golden State Warriors. ESPN reported Friday that final scores in Warriors games this season are an average of 10.5 points off of their predicted point spread — a nightmare for bettors.
In point-spread betting, gamblers bet on the difference, aka "spread," of a game's final score. And while the defending NBA champions win most of their games, their quality of play fluctuates drastically from night to night, which means the scoreboard's final tallies are extremely unpredictable. Professional bettor Erin Rynning summed up the issue to ESPN: "It's a headache. You do all this research and you want to think you're going to get 100 percent effort ... [but they] are bored. They have bigger fish to fry."
In order to minimize fatigue in the long 82-game regular season — not to mention conserve energy for an expected lengthy postseason run — the Warriors generally rest one or two key players per game under the guise of a minor "injury." These rests rarely lead to actual losses for the Dubs, but the absence of a star player like point guard Stephen Curry can lead to reduced margins of victory that mess with the spread. The Warriors are also notorious for playing possum in the first half of games and then either racing to huge leads in the second half or squeaking out victories in a game's final minutes.
While the Warriors' ability to "flip the switch" makes for great TV, it doesn't make for good predictions. In a season where the Warriors' actual win-loss record is 23-6, their record against the point spread is only 14-15. Read more at ESPN. Kelly O'Meara Morales