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February 20, 2018

On Tuesday, CNN's Alisyn Camerota had some questions for former Republican Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), who questioned the authenticity of the students who survived last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the wake of the shooting — in which 17 people were killed by a 19-year-old wielding a semiautomatic weapon — students across the country have planned anti-gun demonstrations, which Kingston suggested over the weekend was the nefarious work of "left-wing gun control activists.”

On Tuesday, Kingston appeared on CNN's New Day to explain that claim. Camerota began with a simple question: "Do you think these kids aren't acting on their own volition?"

Kingston acknowledged that the shooting was "a horrible tragedy" but said that the students' "sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups. ... Do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?" Kingston claimed this looked like the work of groups associated with liberal financier and frequent right-wing target George Soros.

Camerota insisted otherwise: "I talked to these kids before they knew the body count of how many of their friends had been killed," she said. "They hadn't been indoctrinated by some left-wing group. They were motivated from what they saw and what they endured during that ordeal."

Kingston tried to backtrack, saying, "I don't doubt their sincerity," to which Camerota replied, "Yes you do, Jack." The former congressman then argued that 17-year-olds simply do not have the "logistical ability to plan a nationwide rally without it being hijacked by groups that already had the pre-existing anti-gun agenda."

"Jack, it's just silly," Camerota replied. Watch the whole exchange below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:33 a.m.

President Trump's economic advisers notified him earlier this month that "some internal forecasts showed that the economy could slow markedly over the next year," The Washington Post reports. But even as warning signs mounted, Trump "has been portraying the economy to the public as 'phenomenal' and 'incredible.' He has told aides that he thinks he can convince Americans that the economy is vibrant and unrattled through a public messaging campaign."

But that messaging campaign has been "muddled and often contradictory" thanks to mixed economic data, Trump's erratic comments, and internal disagreements over how to shore up the economy, compounded by uncertainty among staffers about what Trump measures would support or what he's thinking at any given moment, the Post reports, citing interviews with more than 25 current and former administration officials, lawmakers, and external advisers who've spoken with Trump and his team throughout this tumultuous month.

"Everyone is nervous — everyone," a Republican with close ties to the White House told the Post. "It's not a panic, but they are nervous."

"Compounding Trump's situation, some of the economy's strains appear to be of his own making, as uncertainty surrounding his trade war with China has frozen much investment nationwide," and the White House is struggling with "how to handle that bracing reality — and Trump's own stubbornness on trade strategy and his anger about news coverage of the economy," the Post reports. "Trump, aides said, is obsessed with media coverage of the economy, and thinks Americans will believe negative news and stop spending money."

White House spokesman Judd Deere insisted "the fundamentals of the economy are strong because of this president's pro-growth policies," but former White House economic advisers disagree. "The irony here is that Trump's erratic, chaotic approach to the economy is probably the most significant economic risk factor in the world right now," said Gene Sperling, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations. "Their response is just to show even more erratic behavior. It's economic narcissism." Read more about the economic tumult of August at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

August 22, 2019

Environmental groups and researchers say the fires destroying the Amazon were almost all set by humans, as cattle ranchers and loggers want to take over the land.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research said that so far this year, there have been 72,843 fires in the country, an 80 percent increase compared to this same time period in 2018; more than half of those blazes have been in the Amazon. The Amazon is a humid rainforest, and it is difficult, even during dry spells, for it to catch on fire, Christian Poirier of the nonprofit group Amazon Watch told CNN.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promised during his campaign that he would open the Amazon up to business, and he has since slashed the environmental enforcement agency's budget. Environmentalists say his policies encourage ranchers and loggers to burn down land, with no fear about getting in trouble. The government has said lightning strikes are one reason for the fires, and Bolsonaro has also claimed baselessly that the fires were started by environmentalists to make him look bad.

The Amazon forest produces roughly 20 percent of the world's oxygen, and the World Wildlife Fund said if it is damaged beyond repair, the Amazon could start emitting carbon, which would make climate change even worse. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2019

President Trump will be missing what could have been a crucial trip to Denmark after postponing it due to some "very not nice" comments from its prime minister.

Trump earlier this week announced he wouldn't be going on his planned trip to Denmark over Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's rejection of his interest in purchasing Greenland, a notion she called "absurd." On Wednesday, Trump made clear this "absurd" comment is the reason he canceled, telling reporters, "You don't talk to the United States that way."

But The Atlantic notes that Trump's visit would have come at a key time when the United States is looking for "concessions" from Denmark and as portions of Frederiksen's government have "indicated that they would reject U.S. requests for increased support in the Middle East." Kristian Søby Kristensen, deputy director of the University of Copenhagen's Centre for Military Studies, explained to The Atlantic that there's currently resistance in Denmark to U.S. requests for increased Danish troops in Syria, as well as naval support in the Strait of Hormuz.

With that in mind, Kristensen noted the importance of this now-axed trip, saying, "if you want to convince a country of something, a state visit can be a good way." Frederiksen on Wednesday, however, said that decisions about potential Danish contributions in Syria or the Strait of Hormuz would not be affected by this snafu, The New York Times reports. The Atlantic writes that the delicate diplomatic situation could be at play as Frederiksen says that the relationship between Denmark and the U.S. is not "in crisis." Trump after Frederiksen's Wednesday comments went on to complain on Twitter about Denmark's contribution to NATO. Brendan Morrow

August 22, 2019

The CEO of Overstock has resigned after divulging having been in a romantic relationship with convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina and in a strange press release commenting on the "deep state."

Patrick Byrne in a letter to shareholders on Thursday said that he is in the "sad position of having to sever ties" with the company effective today, although he contends that "I did what was necessary for the good of the country," The New York Times reports.

Byrne referring to the fact that earlier this month, he said in a press release with the title "Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment" that he "assisted in what are now known as the 'Clinton Investigation' and the 'Russian Investigation,'" which "turned out to be ... political espionage conducted against
Hillary Clinton and
Donald Trump." In the bizarre statement, he also refers to FBI agents as the "Men in Black."

Byrne and his lawyer later spoke to The New York Times and clarified that he was talking about the fact that he dated Butina and spoke with the FBI during its investigation. He alleged in this interview that the investigation was mishandled and said that he is still "quite fond" of Butina, who pled guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and is serving 18 months in prison. "Maria should go home and be president of Russia one day," Byrne told the Times.

In his Thursday announcement, Byrne says he spoke about this publicly after "I was reminded of the damage done to our nation for three years and felt my duty as a citizen precluded me from staying silent any longer." Now, he plans on "disappearing for some time." Following Byrne's announcement, CNN reports Overstock stock surged more than 10 percent. Brendan Morrow

August 22, 2019

Up to 20 subpoenas have been served to correctional officers as part of the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein's death, CNN reports.

After the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges was on Aug. 10 found dead in his jail cell, investigations were opened by the FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general into the circumstances surrounding what a medical examiner later concluded to be a suicide. Reports have emerged in recent weeks suggesting protocol was not followed at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein was being held. The New York Times has reported that two guards who were tasked with routinely checking on Epstein fell asleep on the job, leaving him unwatched for hours, and The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that at least eight staffers at the jail, including supervisors and managers, were aware that Epstein was not to be left alone.

Now, CNN reports that "as many as 20" correctional officers from the Metropolitan Correctional Center received grand jury subpoenas last week, with investigators in particular wanting to "talk to the lieutenants who were in charge that night to get details on rounds that were not made." CNN also reports that "more subpoenas could be in the works as the investigation widens." Attorney General William Barr, who has said he was "appalled" to learn of Epstein's death, has promised that "we will get to the bottom of what happened" and recently replaced the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In its Wednesday report on the investigation, the Post noted that the eight officers' "apparent disregard for the instruction" to keep Epstein under supervision "does not necessarily mean there was criminal conduct" and that it may be a "simpler and sadder" case of "bureaucratic incompetence spanning multiple individuals and ranks within the organization." Barr has said the investigation's findings will be ready to share with the public "soon."

Brendan Morrow

August 22, 2019

You should have no trouble at all keeping your fancy new Apple credit card in tip-top shape, the company says, so long as you keep it away from ... one or two things.

Apple has released an official list of instructions for how to handle its physical titanium Apple Card after its credit card service officially launched in the U.S. earlier this week, as noted by Apple Insider. The company warns, first of all, that if the card should come into contact with leather or denim, it may receive "permanent discoloration that will not wash off."

But that's not all. Apple also warns that you dare not allow your card to touch other credit cards, as "if two credit cards are placed in the same slot your card could become scratched." Oh, and it can't come into contact with "potentially abrasive objects," such as loose change or keys. Other than nearly every single thing that a credit card typically comes into contact with, though, you're all good. Apple provided no word on whether you can feed it after midnight.

Of course, getting a physical card when signing up for Apple's credit card service isn't entirely necessary, so customers can not be bothered with any of this headache by simply sticking to the app.

The titanium Apple Card, which has no number printed on it and looks like something Patrick Bateman would absolutely love, even comes with cleaning instructions for when you need to wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, which, based on this extensive list of dangerous contaminants, sounds like it will be fairly often. The day when Apple begins selling screen protector-style add-ons for its credit cards to ensure not one single fingerprint rubs off on its impeccably-crafted surface may not be far away. Brendan Morrow

August 22, 2019

Sarah Huckabee Sanders might not be going on Dancing with the Stars like her White House predecessor, Sean Spicer, but she's just lined up a new TV gig of her own.

The former White House press secretary, who announced her resignation in June after almost two years on the job, has been hired by Fox News as a contributor, The Hollywood Reporter reports. She's set to make her debut on Fox & Friends, Trump's favorite morning show, on Sept. 6. In a statement, Sanders said she is "beyond proud" to join Fox's "incredible stable of on-air contributors in providing political insights and analysis."

Sanders being hired by the Trump-friendly network may put the president at ease, as he has in recent months complained about Fox, especially as its news division has conducted polls showing him losing to 2020 Democrats.

"Fox has changed, and my worst polls have always been from Fox," Trump recently said, Deadline reports. “There's something going on at Fox. I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.”

Trump, who also attacked the network earlier this year over a town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in which moderator Bret Baier was supposedly too "smiley and nice," has been so concerned that The Daily Beast reports he's been "repeatedly" asking various people, "what the hell is going on at Fox?"

Sanders is just the latest former Trump administration official to join Fox. Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah is currently the Fox Corporation's senior vice president, while former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is its executive vice president and chief communications officer. Numerous members of Trump's administration are also former Fox News contributors. Brendan Morrow

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