Mark Hamill on His Secret Appearance in ‘The Mandalorian’ Season Finale: ‘Nothing Less Than a Miracle’ – TheWrap

  1. Mark Hamill on His Secret Appearance in ‘The Mandalorian’ Season Finale: ‘Nothing Less Than a Miracle’  TheWrap
  2. The Mandalorian Season 2’s Best Moments Were Emotional Connections, Not Cameos  Collider
  3. Sebastian Stan Might Have His Chance to Finally Play Luke Skywalker  Yahoo Entertainment
  4. ‘The Mandalorian’ launched Disney+, now it has the goodwill to usher in a new era of Star Wars  CNBC
  5. Is This The Way? ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 Review  The DisInsider
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, Mark Hamill on His Secret Appearance in ‘The Mandalorian’ Season Finale: ‘Nothing Less Than a Miracle’ – TheWrap

Rose Bowl denied a special exemption from California to allow fans into College Football Playoff – ESPN

  1. Rose Bowl denied a special exemption from California to allow fans into College Football Playoff  ESPN
  2. Brian Kelly argues Notre Dame’s case for the College Football Playoff  FOX59 News
  3. Rose Bowl playoff semifinal ‘on the verge’ of being relocated over attendance policy, per report  CBS Sports
  4. CFP semifinal moved from Rose Bowl to AT&T Stadium in Texas  The Associated Press
  5. College football’s goofball bowl season has been battered by exhaustion, illness and ennui  Washington Post
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, Rose Bowl denied a special exemption from California to allow fans into College Football Playoff – ESPN

Congress, experts worry about potential spy agency reorganization amid hack response

December 19, 2020

By Christopher Bing

(Reuters) -A senior lawmaker is concerned the Pentagon is pushing to split the National Security Agency, America’s premier signals intelligence organization, from U.S. Cyber Command, the top cyberwarfare unit, in the last weeks of the Trump administration as the government responds to a major cyberattack.

News of the possible reorganization emerged following a breach of government computer systems across more than half a dozen federal agencies, with Russian hackers believed to be the main culprits, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. Representative Adam Smith, Democratic chair of the House Armed Service Committee, said in a letter published on the committee’s website on Saturday that he is “profoundly concerned about reports that the department is unilaterally seeking to end the dual-hat relationship” between the two agencies.

Spokespeople for Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was unclear which reports Smith was referring to in his letter to Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, but Cyber Command officials have been briefing lawmakers in recent days, according to a person familiar with the matter.

One congressional aide in a different lawmaker’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters there is fear that a rushed reorganization of the nation’s top two offensive cyber agencies would handicap the U.S. government’s ability to respond to the ongoing hack.

At the Pentagon, a “potential proposal” to split the agencies reached the top U.S. general’s desk, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, within the last two weeks, according to a U.S. official. Milley has not yet reviewed the plan, the official said.

The initiative originated at the defense secretary’s office, according to the official and a second familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A NSA spokesperson said the agency had no comment. If a split were decided then it would normally require Congressional notification.

The so-called “dual hat” designation allows for NSA and Cyber Command, both headquartered at Fort George G. Meade military base in Maryland, to be more unified through a single leader: Army General Paul Nakasone.

Supporters of the designation say it lets both agencies more easily share certain resources. Critics say it creates unnecessary bureaucracy that hampers their individual missions.

In either case, experts told Reuters that a hasty separation of the agencies at a crucial moment, as the Trump administration prepares to hand over to President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20 and the U.S. government responds to one of the biggest hacks in years would be damaging.

“You don’t do this during one of the most wide-ranging incident response efforts in history after this major hacking incident by what we believe is Russia,” U.S. Representative Jim Langevin told Reuters. “Acting Secretary Miller and General Milley need to shut down this dangerous idea immediately.”

Langevin, who sits on the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, said he was concerned and upset by several “questionable” recent developments at the Pentagon.

“I can see where this is going, that they would presumably put a Trump-loyalist, civilian head of the NSA that would be acting and I am very disturbed by what the implication could be,” Langevin said late on Saturday in a telephone interview.

Mark Montgomery, chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, the U.S. government’s top cyber policy body, said the insufficient defensive capabilities of federal government systems were mostly to blame for the latest hack – not the performance of Cyber Command.

“It appears premature and dismissive of Congressional oversight to execute a split,” Montgomery said.

(Reporting by Christopher Bing; Additional reporting by Idress Ali; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

A heated Oval Office meeting included talk of martial law before devolving into screaming matches among the President's advisers

President Donald Trump convened a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, including lawyer Sidney Powell and her client, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, two people familiar with the matter said, describing a session that began as an impromptu gathering but devolved and eventually broke out into screaming matches at certain points as some of Trump’s aides pushed back on Powell and Flynn’s more outrageous suggestions about overturning the election.



Source: CNN, A heated Oval Office meeting included talk of martial law before devolving into screaming matches among the President’s advisers

Heated Oval Office meeting included talk of special counsel, martial law as Trump advisers clash – CNN

  1. Heated Oval Office meeting included talk of special counsel, martial law as Trump advisers clash  CNN
  2. Trump Discussed Naming Sidney Powell as Special Counsel on Election Fraud  The New York Times
  3. Officials increasingly alarmed about Trump’s power grab  Axios
  4. Trump campaign told to preserve all documents related to Sidney Powell and Dominion Voting Systems  CNN
  5. Trump reportedly considered appointing controversial lawyer Sidney Powell to lead election fraud investigation  Yahoo News
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, Heated Oval Office meeting included talk of special counsel, martial law as Trump advisers clash – CNN

Sheriff: One-time candidate for Va. House of Delegates arrested on cross-country trip with 12-year-old girl – WTOP

  1. Sheriff: One-time candidate for Va. House of Delegates arrested on cross-country trip with 12-year-old girl  WTOP
  2. California authorities rescue girl, 12, from pedophile who once ran for Congress  Fox News
  3. ‘Pedophilia advocate’, ex-Va. congressional candidate abducted Fresno child, police say  WJLA
  4. ‘White supremacist’ arrested in Denver, police say, ending abduction of Fresno girl  Fresno Bee
  5. Known White Supremacist, Pedophilia Advocate, Nathan Larson Arrested At DIA  CBS Denver
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, Sheriff: One-time candidate for Va. House of Delegates arrested on cross-country trip with 12-year-old girl – WTOP

Facing a new coronavirus strain, the UK imposes strict Tier 4 lockdown – Vox.com

  1. Facing a new coronavirus strain, the UK imposes strict Tier 4 lockdown  Vox.com
  2. Trump signs two-day spending bill, narrowly avoiding federal shutdown  Yahoo News
  3. UW president: Community COVID-19 testing slowed spread  WKOW
  4. Letter: Trump is only interested in the election, not the pandemic  STLtoday.com
  5. Trump Failed to Protect America  The Atlantic
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, Facing a new coronavirus strain, the UK imposes strict Tier 4 lockdown – Vox.com

Keir Starmer to promise wave of devolution under Labour government

Labour leader will announce plans to push power away from Westminster in keynote speech

Keir Starmer is to commit Labour to delivering a new wave of devolution across the UK as he seeks to head off demands for Scottish independence.

In a keynote speech on Monday, the Labour leader will say the party’s next manifesto will lay out a programme to win power “in order to push as much power as possible away from Westminster”.

Continue reading…

Source: The Guardian Politics, Keir Starmer to promise wave of devolution under Labour government

Biden's U.S. attorney appointment decisions get 'tricky'

Former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Politics.]

By Susan Crabtree
Real Clear Politics

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to restore integrity to the Justice Department and allow it to run independently, free of White House meddling. But if the experience of his predecessors is any guide, that lofty pledge is easier said than done – even if a president’s own son were not the subject of a federal investigation.

Although naming a new attorney general is the most pressing judicial personnel matter Biden faces, it’s not the only one. A potentially fraught decision is whether to replace David Weiss, the federal prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden’s tax returns and business dealings in China and Ukraine.

In his dual role as a supportive father and the president-elect in a deeply divided nation, Joe Biden issued a terse response to his son’s disclosure last week that he was under investigation. Biden said, as he has in the past, that he’s proud of a son who has “fought through difficult challenges,” including “the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”

On Wednesday a reporter asked if he’s confident that Hunter did nothing wrong.

“I’m confident,” Biden replied.

Nonetheless, news of the Hunter Biden investigation has added an unwelcome complication to the incoming president’s choice of the nation’s top law enforcement officer – one who will inherit the Hunter Biden mess. Joe Biden plans to announce his attorney general nominee by next week, sources familiar with transition deliberations told RealClearPolitics. Top candidates include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, outgoing Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, U.S. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

All of this is taking place against the chaotic backdrop of the current administration’s waning days and the sudden resignation this week of Attorney General William Barr. Trump’s once-trusted legal chieftain’s abrupt decision not to finish out the administration’s term came after President Trump openly railed against some of his actions (or lack thereof). The president denounced Barr’s statement that he hadn’t seen enough evidence of election fraud thus far to overturn the presidential outcome. Trump also expressed displeasure with Barr’s decision to keep the Hunter Biden investigation, which began in 2018, under wraps throughout the 2020 campaign.

With nearly five decades of public life in Washington that includes time serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden has a special vantage point in sizing up how previous presidents have handled their relationships with their hand-picked attorneys general. Biden has also taken public positions on whether former presidents properly fired slates of U.S. attorneys chosen by predecessors and who were involved in politically charged investigations and prosecutions.

All of those statements will be used as a way to evaluate whether his actions impacting the Justice Department are consistent with his previous stances. For starters, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have harshly criticized the way Trump has treated his attorneys general. Trump publicly excoriated his first, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia probe, and Barr for failing to investigate or prosecute his political opponents.

“We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job,” Harris said in a joint interview she and Biden gave to CNN in early December. She added that “any decision coming out of the Justice Department … should be based on facts, should be based on the law, should not be influenced by politics. Period.”

Biden underscored the pledge: “I guarantee you that that’s how it will be run.”

As a senator, Biden was particularly critical of another Republican president, George W. Bush, and what he regarded as the politicization of the attorney general position. In 2007, Biden publicly called for then-AG Alberto Gonzales to resign in part over the decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys amid allegations of Republican meddling in some of their investigations. Several GOP senators said they also had lost faith in Gonzales, and he eventually stepped down.

That criticism prompted some scrutiny at the time. In an interview on Fox News in April 2007, Chris Wallace pressed Biden on whether he had criticized Republican presidents and their Justice Department decisions while giving President Clinton a pass, especially when it comes to the firings of U.S. attorneys.

Most presidents, either when assuming office or at other points in their presidency, dismiss the U.S. attorneys chosen by the predecessors. But firing them en masse prompts allegations of partisanship from the opposing party. Presidents Trump, Bush and Clinton all did so at the beginning of their time in office, and Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general in May of 2009, announced plans to dismiss a “batch” before backing off and gradually replacing them over time.

In his interview with Wallace, Biden defended his call for Gonzales to step down, arguing that the U.S. attorney firings were politically motivated.

Biden added that he believed Gonzales had become a “creature of the president, not the attorney for the people as well as representing the president.” And he went so far as to say the Bush White House even exceeded the Nixon administration in installing loyalists in the U.S. attorney jobs.

“And as recently as today, there’s an article in one of the major newspapers out that this administration, more than any other, and that covers a lot, including Nixon and others, went out and put U.S. attorneys in spots who were the cronies – wrong word, that’s not fair – who were the employees of the White House and the Justice Department who were loyal directly to Gonzales and to the political people in the White House,” Biden argued. “That is highly, highly unusual.”

Wallace wasn’t satisfied with that answer. He pointed out that Biden declined to hold hearings when he was Judiciary committee chairman back in 1993 into the propriety of President Clinton’s firing of 93 of 94 U.S. attorneys, including “several who were involved in politically sensitive investigations.”

At the time, Senate Republican leader Bob Dole pressed Biden to hold hearings into the firings because he regarded the dismissals as “a severe blow to the administration of justice.”

The U.S. attorneys being fired included one who was investigating Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, for corruption.

In Clinton’s case, Biden said there was no political meddling in the investigations, noting that Rostenkowski was convicted and served time in jail, a prosecution carried on by the dismissed U.S. attorney’s replacement.

Several former Justice Department officials who spoke to RealClearPolitics said they fully expect Biden to fire some or all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump, including the one investigating his son. Guy Lewis, a former U.S. attorney in Florida who also served as a director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys during the Bush administration, said most dismissals of holdover federal prosecutors create a blowup politically but should be considered a matter of routine presidential prerogative.

“Almost without exception, say, in the past four or five [presidential transitions], U.S. attorneys have been relieved of their positions,” Lewis told RCP. The dilemma Biden faces with his son under investigation is truly “extraordinary,” Lewis added, predicting that Biden will leave the decision on whether to dismiss the U.S. attorneys to his AG.

“In order to demonstrate the independence and arms-length promises – everything he’s been preaching — I think he’ll say, ‘Attorney General, you make the call. It’s your call,’” Lewis said. “Isn’t that the safest play?”

That decision-making role fell previously to Stuart Gerson, who served as acting attorney general during the early months of the Clinton administration after his role as assistant attorney general for the civil division during President George H.W. Bush’s time in office. It was Gerson who had the job of firing a slate of U.S. attorneys at the beginning of the new administration, including one in Tennessee who was in the midst of a controversial trial.

“You have certain people who were partisan political people who were seeking the office but somehow viewed themselves as having a right to stay on in the new administration, and they don’t,” Gerson told RCP.

The key to ensuring that justice continues to be carried out after the firings, Gerson said, is having ready replacements, either new U.S. attorneys already vetted and poised to start work, or court-appointed acting U.S. attorneys or interim U.S. attorneys who can continue the investigations or prosecutions already underway.

Determining whether the U.S. attorney who launched the Hunter Biden investigation will remain in his job is far more politically and personally fraught than any other presidents’ decision on retaining or dismissing U.S. attorneys, Gerson acknowledged.

“I think there’s a high political risk for President-elect Biden when he becomes president to interfere in that case, having criticized Trump for interfering in cases involving people close to him,” Gerson said.

One possible turn of events, he said, would be for the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, to name Weiss as a special counsel charged with carrying out the Hunter Biden investigation. Trump is reportedly considering pushing to have a special counsel named and is consulting with top advisers on whether do so. Naming Weiss to that role would mirror Barr’s decision to elevate John Durham, who was investigating the origins of the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia collusion probe as a U.S. attorney, into a special counsel role, a move that presumably will ensure the integrity of his work in a Biden administration.

“When Durham was declared to be a special counsel, it got a lot of publicity as being a major event,” Gerson said. “But I don’t believe it’s a major event. Durham is a person of good reputation, who had always been known to take his time before doing anything, and that’s clearly the case now.”

Although Weiss was appointed by Trump, he is not known for his partisan leanings. A decade ago, however, he did prosecute a fundraiser who engaged in a scheme to use political donations to gain favor with an influential senator. The identity of that senator? Joe Biden of Delaware.

Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics’ White House/national political correspondent.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Politics.]

wnd-donation-graphic-2-2019

The post Biden’s U.S. attorney appointment decisions get ‘tricky’ appeared first on WND.



Source: WND Politics, Biden’s U.S. attorney appointment decisions get ‘tricky’

Brazilian finance minister to stay until end of Bolsonaro administration, president says

December 19, 2020

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro said in a video published on Saturday that his finance minister Paulo Guedes assured him he will stay on in the government until the end of his administration.

Bolsonaro acknowledged in the video that Guedes is unhappy because of the difficulties experienced in implementing his economic agenda, which involve significant cuts in public spending and a tax reform long-awaited in financial circles.

“It’s logical that we see that once in a while he becomes irritated because certain measures require a (congressional) vote,” Bolsonaro said of Guedes. “I know how parliament works, but he’s still learning.”.

Guedes was in the private sector before joining Bolsonaro and is a cofounder of investment bank BTG Pactual. He advised Bolsonaro on economic matters in his 2018 presidential run and has been finance minister since he assumed the presidency on Jan. 1, 2019 for a four-year term.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; editing by Grant McCool)

White House cancels release of statement alleging Russia' involvement in cyber attack – AP – TASS

  1. White House cancels release of statement alleging Russia’ involvement in cyber attack – AP  TASS
  2. Hacked networks will need to be burned ‘down to the ground’  Fox News
  3. At Least 200 Victims Identified in Suspected Russian Hacking  Bloomberg
  4. SolarWinds hack shows we need a ‘whole of society’ national cyber strategy | TheHill  The Hill
  5. Why we should consider Russia’s hacking an act of war  New York Daily News
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, White House cancels release of statement alleging Russia’ involvement in cyber attack – AP – TASS

CRAZY Dr. Fauci Tells Children He Flew to the North Pole and Vaccinated Santa Clause

Crazy Dr. Fauci told children around the world not to worry, he had vaccinated Santa Claus.

The Guardian reported on the crazy doctor:

Children around the world should not worry about the logistics of Christmas present delivery while the coronavirus pandemic rages, Dr Anthony Fauci said – because he vaccinated Santa himself.

“I took care of that for you,” the top US infectious diseases expert told CNN. “Because I was worried that you’d all be upset.

“So what I did a little while ago, I took a trip up there to the North Pole. I went there and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself. I measured his level of immunity, and he is good to go. He can come down the chimney. He can leave the presents, he can leave, and you have nothing to worry about. Santa Claus is good to go.”

Anyone that believes in this clown believes in Santa Claus too.

The post CRAZY Dr. Fauci Tells Children He Flew to the North Pole and Vaccinated Santa Clause appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.



Source: The Gateway Pundit, CRAZY Dr. Fauci Tells Children He Flew to the North Pole and Vaccinated Santa Clause

Ohio State wins Big Ten title as Texas A&M makes final case for College Football Playoff spot – CNN

  1. Ohio State wins Big Ten title as Texas A&M makes final case for College Football Playoff spot  CNN
  2. Trey Sermon rushes for Ohio State-record 331 yards as Buckeyes win Big Ten title  ESPN
  3. Ohio State vs. Northwestern picks: How the public is betting the Big Ten Championship Game  DraftKings Nation
  4. Football: Big Ten Championship status report reveals key player’s absence  OSU – The Lantern
  5. 2 more Ohio State women’s basketball games postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests  10TV
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News



Source: Google News, Ohio State wins Big Ten title as Texas A&M makes final case for College Football Playoff spot – CNN