Watch live: Sanders holds White House news briefing

Oct. 31 (UPI) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will hold a press briefing Tuesday afternoon — her second since the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

On Monday, Sanders tried to steer the news conference toward Republican plans to reform the nation’s tax code. Instead, reporters mostly asked Sanders questions relating to the indictment of Manafort and business associate Rick Gates, the guilty plea of campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and special counsel Robert Mueller‘s special probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Sanders said the indictments and guilty plea have “nothing to do with the President’s campaign or campaign activity.

“The real collusion scandal, as we’ve said several times before, has everything to do with the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, and Russia,” she said.

Sanders’ news conference Tuesday is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. EDT.

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Amid Russia case, Internet group seeks higher standards for political ads

Oct. 31 (UPI) — An Internet lobbying group made recommendations to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday on increasing standards for political advertising on platforms like Facebook and Twitter — an issue that’s at the heart of Congress’ Russia investigation this week.

The Internet Association, a lobbying trade organization representing over 40 web companies — including Facebook, Twitter and Google — released what it called a list of principles it hopes will guide U.S. legislation.

The group’s recommendations call for legislation to give the Federal Elections Commission authority “to regulate and enforce online advertising disclosure obligations.” It also asks for a uniform standard of disclosure regarding political advertising, instead of singling out only a few companies on the Internet who accept payment for political ads.

Facebook, Twitter and Google became part of Congress’ Russia investigation after it was revealed that about 80,000 posts, created by 120 Russia-linked pages, were part of Internet news feeds and advertisements during the 2016 presidential election.

The Senate intelligence committee and U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian entities tried to sway the election.

Existing FEC rules specify that paid political ads on third-party websites must include the buyer’s name. The regulatory agency approved Google’s request for a waiver in in 2010, provided that the ads included a link to the sponsor’s site — but did not approve a similar Facebook request in 2011.

The group’s list also recommends clarification for rules of responsibility on advertising platforms, clearer responsibility on the part of advertisers and strengthening Congress’ existing authority to prevent foreign involvement in U.S. elections. It also encourages lawmakers to “balance transparency and individuals’ privacy,” suggesting that any legislation should avoid public identification of individuals who purchase advertising.

The Internet association’s list was released on the same day attorneys and security directors from Google, Facebook and Google were set to testify before congressional committees on the issue of Russian interference.

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House intelligence Committee will all hold hearings beginning Tuesday.

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Mattis, Tillerson make case to Congress for continued authorization of military force

Oct. 31 (UPI) — Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday cemented White House reliance on a pair of 15-year-old authorizations for military force as the legal cornerstone permitting the executive branch to stage counter-terrorism operations.

The testimony on Capitol Hill late Monday is the third hearing on the AUMF since the summer to discuss the possibility of passing a new authorization for use of military force to replace the old ones, which were passed and signed into law in 2001 and 2002.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters after the hearing that the committee is aiming to craft a new AUMF that would meet the needs Mattis and Tillerson outlined.

“The next step most logically is to attempt to move to a markup and to actually try to pass an [authorization for the use of military force] out of committee,” Corker said, noting that he plans to work with ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., to began a draft “fairly soon.”

“We want to discuss what provisions are most likely to make it through, but fairly soon,” he said. “I don’t know why we would wait. We had a great hearing. We had a good classified briefing. We all know the subject matter. If we’re ever going to attempt to do this, I don’t know why we would wait beyond the next several weeks.”

Mattis and Tillerson told senators that a new AUMF should not be time or geographically constrained due to the metastasizing nature of foreign terrorist organizations, as well as to avoid telegraphing a timeframe of U.S strategy or when that strategy will cease.

“Generally speaking, you don’t tell the enemy in advance what you’re not going to do,” Mattis told Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. “There’s no need to announce that to the enemy and relieve them of that concern.”

“We must recognize that we are in an era of frequent skirmishing, and we are more likely to end this fight sooner If we don’t tell our adversary the day we intend to stop fighting,” Mattis said.

The secretaries told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the current 2001 AUMF, which was instituted seven days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to authorize the Bush administration to go after al-Qaeda operatives and the Taliban in Afghanistan — along with the 2002 AUMF for the Iraq War — and Article II of the U.S. Constitution, give the Trump administration the proper legal authorities to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Mattis and Tillerson both testified to Congress, however, that if a new AUMF were drafted and passed, it should not repeal the current AUMFs until the new authorization is in place. The goal would be to avoid operational conflict and continue running of the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

A new AUMF proposal from Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is already on the table for the committee’s consideration. Corker said their version would sunset after five years and require the administration to notify Congress if it sends troops to new areas of operation not listed in it.

“I think they’ve done a pretty good job in laying that out,” Corker said of Kaine and Flake’s AUMF proposal. “Members are going to want to express themselves, and Sen. Cardin and I are two members that are going to want to do that also. Again, I think that the only area to me that left somewhat of a debate was the associated forces issue and just whether an actual sunset versus reversing that out and giving Congress an ability to weigh in.”

The “associated forces” issue refers to groups that align themselves with terrorist organizations named under the original AUMF, such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Kaine and Flake’s AUMF draft defines associated forces as any group that supports al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban and is engaged in hostilities against the United States. The bill also requires congressional notification when the administration adds a new terrorist group to the list.

Mattis told Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., that even though a group like Boko Haram — which operates out of Niger and Chad — is not named in the original AUMF, the current AUMF authorizes targeting of the group because Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, which is named in the original 2001 AUMF.

Corker said he plans to hold more hearings on the issue in months to come, but admitted he sees little hope for progress.

“Moving ahead without significant bipartisan support would be a mistake in my opinion,” Corker said. “And right now, we are unable to bridge that gap.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said last week that he is working with Democratic members on crafting a bipartisan AUMF compromise, adding that he expects the results of those negotiations to be reveal in the near future.

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UPI Almanac for Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017

Today is Sunday, Oct. 22, the 295th day of 2017 with 70 to follow.

The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Mars and Venus. Evening stars are Jupiter and Saturn.


Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include American pioneer Daniel Boone in 1734; Hungarian composer Franz Liszt in 1811; actor Sarah Bernhardt in 1844; comic actor Curly Howard of The Three Stooges in 1903; baseball Hall of Fame member Jimmie Foxx in 1907; actor Joan Fontaine in 1917; English author Doris Lessing, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for literature, in 1919; psychologist and LSD advocate Timothy Leary in 1920; artist Robert Rauschenberg in 1925; actor Derek Jacobi in 1938 (age 79); actor Christopher Lloyd in 1938 (age 79); actor Tony Roberts in 1939 (age 78); actor Annette Funicello in 1942; actor Catherine Deneuve in 1943 (age 74); writer Deepak Chopra in 1947 (age 70); actor Jeff Goldblum in 1952 (age 65); champion skater Brian Boitano in 1963 (age 54); rapper Shaggy in 1968 (age 49); film producer Spike Jonze in 1969 (age 48); actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson 1975 (age 42); musician Zac Hanson in 1985 (age 32); Jerry McGuire actor Jonathan Lipnicki in 1990 (age 27).


On this date in history:

In 1797, the first silk parachute jump from a high altitude was made by Andre-Jacques Garnerin, who dropped in a basket released from a balloon at 3,300 feet over a Paris park.

In 1836, Gen. Sam Houston was sworn in as the first president of the Republic of Texas.

In 1929, Professor Irving T. Fisher, head of the Yale department of economics, said that the recent bearish stock market had about reached its bottom and an upward movement was in sight, increasing throughout next year. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 would begin just two days later.

In 1934, federal authorities fatally shot Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, a fugitive suspected in the so-called Kansas City massacre in which four officers were killed.

In 1938, inventor Charles Carlson produced the first dry, or xerographic, copy. He had trouble attracting investors.

In 1962, U.S. President John Kennedy announced that Soviet missiles had been deployed in Cuba and ordered a blockade of the island.

In 1966, The Supremes became the first all-female group to score a No. 1 album, with Supremes a Go-Go.

In 1978, Pope John Paul II was installed as pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1983, Ten U.S. warships sailed toward the violence-wracked Caribbean island of Grenada Saturday, prompting its new Marxist leaders to mobilize their forces for a possible invasion.

In 1992, pioneer sportscaster Red Barber died at age 84.

In 2001, the Pentagon announced nearly 200 U.S. jets struck Taliban and al-Qaida facilities in western Afghanistan and disputed Taliban claims that 100 civilians died when a bomb hit a hospital.

In 2009, the U.S. Congress expanded a hate-crime law to make it a federal crime to assault someone because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 2010, nearly 400,000 previously secret U.S. documents on the war in Iraq were posted on the WikiLeaks Internet website. Three months earlier, more than 75,000 undisclosed Afghan conflict documents appeared.

In 2011, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, heir to the Saudi Arabian throne, died after several years of medical problems. The prince, half-brother of King Abdullah and a longtime power in the Saudi government, was 81.

In 2012, a UPI poll indicated 53 percent of likely voters believed President Obama would defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 general election. Thirty-six percent said they thought Romney would be the winner and the rest were undecided.

In 2012, the International Cycling Federation stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles amid a doping scandal.

In 2013, a U.S. Labor Department report delayed almost three weeks because of a partial government shutdown said hiring was down for September but the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent, lowest in nearly five years.


A thought for the day: “I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure — that is all that agnosticism means.” — Clarence Darrow

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On This Day: Lance Armstrong stripped of Tour titles

Oct. 22 (UPI) — On this date in history:

In 1797, the first silk parachute jump from a high altitude was made by Andre-Jacques Garnerin, who dropped in a basket released from a balloon at 3,300 feet over a Paris park.

In 1836, Gen. Sam Houston was sworn in as the first president of the Republic of Texas.

In 1929, Professor Irving T. Fisher, head of the Yale department of economics, said that the recent bearish stock market had about reached its bottom and an upward movement was in sight, increasing throughout next year. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 would begin just two days later.

In 1934, federal authorities fatally shot Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, a fugitive suspected in the so-called Kansas City massacre in which four officers were killed.

In 1938, inventor Charles Carlson produced the first dry, or xerographic, copy. He had trouble attracting investors.

In 1962, U.S. President John Kennedy announced that Soviet missiles had been deployed in Cuba and ordered a blockade of the island.

UPI File Photo

In 1966, The Supremes became the first all-female group to score a No. 1 album, with Supremes a Go-Go.

In 1978, Pope John Paul II was installed as pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1983, Ten U.S. warships sailed toward the violence-wracked Caribbean island of Grenada Saturday, prompting its new Marxist leaders to mobilize their forces for a possible invasion.

In 1992, pioneer sportscaster Red Barber died at age 84.

In 2001, the Pentagon announced nearly 200 U.S. jets struck Taliban and al-Qaida facilities in western Afghanistan and disputed Taliban claims that 100 civilians died when a bomb hit a hospital.

In 2009, the U.S. Congress expanded a hate-crime law to make it a federal crime to assault someone because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 2010, nearly 400,000 previously secret U.S. documents on the war in Iraq were posted on the WikiLeaks Internet website. Three months earlier, more than 75,000 undisclosed Afghan conflict documents appeared.

In 2011, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, heir to the Saudi Arabian throne, died after several years of medical problems. The prince, half-brother of King Abdullah and a longtime power in the Saudi government, was 81.

UPI File Photo

In 2012, a UPI poll indicated 53 percent of likely voters believed President Obama would defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 general election. Thirty-six percent said they thought Romney would be the winner and the rest were undecided.

In 2012, the International Cycling Federation stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles amid a doping scandal.

In 2013, a U.S. Labor Department report delayed almost three weeks because of a partial government shutdown said hiring was down for September but the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent, lowest in nearly five years.

People protest against government employee furloughs outside of the U.S. Capitol on October 4, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Congress was in a stalemate on the budget deal as the government shutdown went into its fourth day. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

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Japan election: Abe's coalition projected to win supermajority

Oct. 22 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s coalition appears on track to win a supermajority in the House of Representatives, exit polling data suggests.

Public broadcaster NHK said exit polling data from Sunday’s election indicates Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won between 255 and 300 seats in the 465-seat House of Representatives, while coalition partner Komeito won 26 to 37 seats.

Observers speculated a strong win could bolster Abe’s chances of holding onto party leadership in next September’s contest, which would extend his term as prime minister. If he remains in the office for a full four-year term, Abe would preside over the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and officially become Japan’s longest-ever serving prime minister.

A supermajority would also put Abe in a strong position to strengthen Japan’s military and initiate a national referendum to revise the country’s pacifist constitution.

Japan requires more than two-thirds of the House of Representatives support a national referendum in order for such a move to go forward, and Sunday’s vote appeared to give the prime minister the votes he needs to formally propose a referendum during the regular Diet session that begins in January.

Polls have suggested built-up frustration with Abe’s government, and the nation remains sharply divided over a proposal to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 to define the status of the Self-Defense Forces.

Despite the apparent outcome of Sunday’s vote, Abe could still face strong opposition to his goals.

An opinion poll conducted by the left-leaning Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday and Wednesday found 51 percent of 1,574 respondents said they do not want Abe as prime minister, compared to 34 percent who support him staying in office.

The poll indicates many voters may have cast ballots for Abe’s LDP for want of a clear alternative.

NHK projected Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s newly-formed Party of Hope won 38 to 59 seats in the House. The Constitutional Democratic Party, another newly-formed party that opposes amending the constitution, was believed to have won 44 to 67 seats.

The turnout rate for Sunday’s election was reported by local media outlets as 31.82 percent as of 30 minutes before polls closed at 8 p.m., a drop of 5.9 points from the same time during the 2014 elections. The number does not account for early votes.

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