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France prime minister Manuel Valls announces presidential bid

(CNN)French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced Monday that he would seek the presidency in next year’s election.

Valls will run against others for the Socialist Party’s candidacy, and if successful, he will likely face Francois Fillon of the Republican Party and Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National in the first round of the presidential election next spring.
The announcement Monday came during a news conference in Evry, where Valls previously served as mayor before being elected to the National Assembly. Prior to serving as prime minister, Valls was France’s interior minister.
    Moments after announcing his candidacy, Valls said that his aim in running was to create an independent France, “inflexible on its values facing China of Xi Jinping, Russia of Putin, Donald Trump’s America, Turkey of Erdogan,” referring to the leaders of those countries.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/05/europe/france-prime-minister-manuel-valls-presidential-bid/index.html

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    December 7, 2016
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    Petraeus: ‘Five years ago, I made a serious mistake’

    Washington (CNN)David Petraeus made a last-ditch effort Sunday to show President-elect Donald Trump that his guilty plea for revealing classified information to his mistress and biographer shouldn’t disqualify him from serving as America’s top diplomat.

    Petraeus, the former general and CIA director, was asked on ABC’s “This Week” what he would say to Republican senators who are hesitant to vote to confirm a man who pled guilty to exactly what they spent months accusing Hillary Clinton of doing via her private email server.
    “What I would say to them is what I’ve acknowledged for a number of years. Five years ago, I made a serious mistake,” Petraeus said.
      “I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I paid a very heavy price for it and I’ve learned from it,” he said. “And, again, they’ll have to factor that in and also obviously 38-and-a-half years of otherwise fairly in some cases unique service to our country in uniform and then at the CIA and then some four years or so in the business community, during which I’ve continued to travel the world — nearly 40 countries — in that time as well.”
      His comments come as Trump considers a list of contenders for secretary of state that includes Petraeus.
      Also on that list: Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and former UN ambassador John Bolton, according to Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Sources told CNN that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, President Barack Obama’s first ambassador to China, is also under consideration.
      Trump frequently said on the campaign trail that what Clinton had done was far worse than Petraeus. But Petraeus was charged and entered a guilty plea in exchange for two years of probation and a $100,000 fine.
      Petraeus admitted making false statements to the FBI, saying that “obviously I made a false statement. At the time I didn’t think it was false.”
      “But, again, look, I made a mistake. I have again acknowledged it, folks will have to factor that in and determine whether that is indeed disqualifying or not,” he said.
      Petraeus said his impression of Trump after the two met last week is that the President-elect is “quite pragmatic.”
      He also said he didn’t vote for Trump.
      “I don’t vote. So that’s an easy answer,” he said. “And I also did not support him nor did I oppose him, nor did I support or oppose any other candidate. I’ve truly tried to be apolitical, non-political.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/04/politics/david-petraeus-trump-secretary-of-state/index.html

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      December 5, 2016
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      Haim Saban: Keith Ellison ‘is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual’

      (CNN)Prominent Democratic donor Haim Saban on Friday described Rep. Keith Ellison, who is running to head the Democratic National Committee, as an “anti-Semite.”

      Saban, who gave millions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, spoke about Ellison at the Brooking Institution’s Saban Forum, an annual gathering between American and Israeli political leaders, during a question-and-answer portion of a conversation with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
        “If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual,” the Israeli-American said Friday about the Minnesota lawmaker. “Words matter and actions matter more. Keith Ellison would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.”
        Saban’s comment came unprompted and he did not ask a question.
        Ellison’s past association with the Nation of Islam, including his defense of the group’s leader Louis Farrakhan — who has made anti-Semitic remarks — has increasingly come under scrutiny during his bid to be the next DNC leader.

        A CNN KFile review of Ellison’s past writings and public statements this week reveal his repeated defense of Farrakhan and other black leaders against accusations of anti-Semitism in columns and statements to the press. But none of the records showed examples of Ellison making any anti-Semitic comments himself.
        CNN has reached out to Ellison for response to Saban’s comments and not yet gotten a response.
        Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, renounced his association with the religious group in 2006 during his congressional run after local Republican bloggers began publishing information about his connection to the organization.
        “I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues,” Ellison wrote at the time.
        A spokesperson for Ellison recently told CNN that Ellison “rejects all forms of anti-Semitism” and said “the right wing has been pushing these stories for years to drive a wedge between Congressman Ellison and the Jewish community.”
        After Ellison expressed interest in being the DNC chair, Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and J-Street have come to Ellison’s defense on his past writings.
        However, the ADL this week criticized 2010 comments Ellison made, which the group described as implying US policy in the region favored Israel at the expense of Muslim-majority countries, remarks ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt described as “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”
        Ellison responded with an open letter Thursday, saying his remarks were “selectively edited and taken out of context by an individual the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an ‘anti-Muslim extremist,'” and that his point was simply to motivate people to “get involved.”
        “My record proves my deep and long-lasting support for Israel, and I have always fought anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia – the same values embodied by the Anti-Defamation League,” Ellison wrote.
        Saban’s comments Friday came at the start of the question-and-answer portion of the discussion and came after Tapper asked Lieberman about Ellison’s 2010 remarks.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/03/politics/haim-saban-keith-ellison-anti-semite/index.html

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        December 4, 2016
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        Muslim comedian sits next to Eric Trump on trans-Atlantic flight

        Washington (CNN)Mo Amer, an Arab American stand-up comedian, received an unbelievable gift of comic material when he found himself seated next to Eric Trump on a flight to Scotland on Thursday.

        Amer, on his way to a leg of a comedy tour, shared a picture he took with Trump on Instagram, and described their conversation.
          “Hey guys heading to Scotland to start the U.K. Tour and I am ‘randomly’ chosen to sit next to none other than Eric Trump,” he wrote.
          “Good news guys Muslims will not have to check in and get IDs. That’s what I was told. I will be asking him a lot of questions on this trip to Glasgow, Scotland. Sometimes God just sends you the material. #Merica#UKTour #HumanAppeal#ThisisNotAnEndorsement#Trump2016ComedyTour”
          Amer spoke to Buzzfeed about the experience with Trump — who was reportedly flying to Scotland to check in on the Trump International Golf Links — and said he talked about President-elect Donald Trump’s proposals for a form of government registry for Muslims or immigrants from majority-Muslim countries.
          “And I said — just FYI I’m not getting that ID shit done. You gonna really make my people get ID cards and all this? You know we’re not doing this s***,” Amer recounted telling Trump.
          He said that Trump told him, “Come on man. You can’t believe everything you read. Do you really think we’re gonna do that?”

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/politics/muslim-comedian-eric-trump-flight/index.html

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          December 3, 2016
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          Many of us in rural, poor America supported Trump. But he will hurt us | Brook Bolen

          Donald Trumps daily assaults on working people are exhausting. His choice for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, is just the latest example

          I live in one of the poorest parts of Virginia, and Im one of the few members of my family and community who do not support the president-elect. The fact that my own rust-tinged trailer is distinguished by a lack of signs in favor of Trump is a personal point of pride.

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          December 2, 2016
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          Dolly Parton dishes out more Christmas spirit in ‘Circle of Love’

          (CNN)After the success of “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors,” a sequel was inevitable. And NBC’s follow-up movie, subtitled “Circle of Love,” actually manages to be sappier and more infused with Christmas spirit than the last one, which frankly didn’t seem possible.

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          December 1, 2016
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          Jimmy Carter to Obama: Before you leave office, recognize Palestinian state

          (CNN)Former President Jimmy Carter is calling on the Obama administration to recognize Palestinian statehood before leaving office January 20.

          Carter, who is strong proponent for Palestinian rights and a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, praised the Obama administration in a New York Times op-ed out Monday for its support for a “negotiated end to the conflict based on two states,” but warned this work could be undone with an incoming Republican administration.
          “I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short, ” Carter wrote. “The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine.”
            The former President also called for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution “laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict.”
            “It should reaffirm the illegality of all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders, while leaving open the possibility that the parties could negotiate modifications,” he said.
            “Security guarantees for both Israel and Palestine are imperative, and the resolution must acknowledge the right of both the states of Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security.”
            Carter went on to criticize the controversial building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
            “Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands,” Carter wrote. “Over 4.5 million Palestinians live in these occupied territories, but are not citizens of Israel. Most live largely under Israeli military rule, and do not vote in Israel’s national elections.”
            Carter is one of Israel’s most vocal American critics. In his 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” he compared Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank to the apartheid system in South Africa.
            Obama has also been critical of Israel, calling in 2009 for a complete freeze on the building of Israeli settlements.
            However, President-elect Donald Trump’s position has thrilled many supporters of Israel, as well as Israel’s political right wing. As a candidate, Trump promised to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and renogotiate the Iran nuclear deal, which has been criticized by Israel’s leaders.
            The leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett, claimed a Trump presidency allows Israel to fully dismiss the notion of a Palestinian state. “This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/29/politics/jimmy-carter-palestine-op-ed/index.html

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            November 30, 2016
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            Why #GivingTuesday matters

            (CNN)Whether we are separated by our politics, the bubbles we live in, or the opposing factions across the Thanksgiving dinner table, we all know we are a nation divided.

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            November 29, 2016
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            Trumpitecture: what we can expect from the billionaire cowboy builder

            The tower with a combover, the 90-storey skyscraper with just 72 floors, the name in huge shiny letters Trump says his buildings are beautiful. But all they stand for is money, status and power

            As the self-styled builder president, Donald Trump began his electoral campaign with a grand architectural promise. I will build a great wall, he said, standing in the lobby of his proudest creation, Trump Tower in New York, surrounded by 240 tonnes of pink Breccia Pernice marble. Nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And Ill build them very inexpensively.

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            November 28, 2016
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            Fidel Castro bedeviled US presidents for decades

            (CNN)Fidel Castro visited the United States only a handful of times. But the late Cuban dictator for decades had an outsized effect on the presidential politics of his northern neighbor.

            Castro, who died late Friday, long befuddled American administrations, Republican and Democratic. Commanders in chief found they had limited options against the bearded leader of an island nation just 90 miles off America’s southern shores.
              His country in 1962 famously became the nexus of a near-nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis. The 13-day Cold War-era standoff calmed only when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev backed down against President John F. Kennedy’s administration, removing nuclear warheads from Cuba.
              More recently President Barack Obama sought to thaw years of hostility between the US and Cuba. On December 17, 2014, Obama and Cuban President Ral Castro (Fidel’s younger brother and appointed successor) began the process of normalizing relations for the first time since they were severed in 1961.
              Here are five ways Fidel Castro influenced American presidential politics and government, overtly and indirectly.

              Bad first impressions

              Castro wasn’t immediately labeled an enemy after his leftist forces overthrew the Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959. Castro visited the US in mid-April to address the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Council on Foreign Affairs.
              The GOP administration of President Dwight Eisenhower also wanted to size up Castro. While Eisenhower wouldn’t meet the insurgent Cuban leader, Vice President Richard Nixon was dispatched for the task.
              It didn’t go well.
              In the Washington meeting, Nixon hoped to push Castro “in the right direction,” he said at the time, away from radical policies. But Castro acted confrontational and standoff-ish, according to American officials, who were used to open access to casinos and sugar cane during Batista’s long reign.
              The CIA soon began developing plans to arm and train a group of Cuban exiles. This would play out, in failure, amid the April 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco ordered up by Eisenhower’s Democratic successor, Kennedy.

              Intelligence ops

              Those anti-Castro plans had actually played a role in the hard-fought presidential race between Nixon and Kennedy — and for decades have influenced the debate about just how much information to give out to presidential candidates on intelligence and national security.
              Eight years earlier, during the early Cold War years, presidential candidates for the first time were provided intelligence briefings. The thinking was that the winner shouldn’t be caught cold about thorny world problems — and clandestine operations — upon assuming power.
              In the closing weeks of the 1960 presidential race, the Kennedy campaign released a statement calling for a group of exiled Cubans to retake their country. The nominee was asleep when the statement went out and never saw it, USA Today reported this August.
              But Nixon, who was running against Kennedy, knew his Democratic opponent had been briefed about Cuba and figured he was aware of their plans for the exiles to attack.
              Nixon seethed over the matter. But having been privy to classified information spelling out the Cuban exile plan, he took the opposite view publicly during the campaign in order not to accidentally divulge it.
              He did try to get at the issue through a side door, however, in one of four televised debates against Kennedy, then representing Massachusetts in the Senate.
              “I think that Sen. Kennedy’s policies and recommendations for the handling of the Castro regime are probably the most dangerously irresponsible recommendations that he has made during the course of the campaign,” Nixon said during their final face-off.
              Nixon narrowly lost the presidency to Kennedy, and for years he nursed a grudge against the intelligence community, suggesting it had aided his rival.
              While the precise nature of intelligence on Cuba provided to JFK during the campaign remains murky, it’s fair to say the episode played into Nixon’s long-standing resentments against the Kennedy family and intelligence officials, which would return to haunt him during his own presidency, from 1969-1974.
              Intelligence briefings for presidential candidates remain a sensitive issue. During the 2016 campaign, critics of Republican nominee Donald Trump warned that he might share secret information, on Twitter or elsewhere. And Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, which the FBI called reckless in its implications for classified information, led for GOP calls that she not receive the briefings.

              Exploding cigars?

              A decade-and-a-half and three presidencies after Kennedy, Castro’s regime still vexed American lawmakers.
              In 1975, amid widespread distrust of government after Vietnam and Watergate, the Senate’s Church committee probed the CIA and other governmental operations. The panel found that CIA employees had at times run what seemed like a rogue agency, including a batch of assassination attempts against Castro formulated by subordinate employees without their superiors’ permission.
              Some were borderline comical and ham-handed. Assassination plots reportedly included exploding cigars — a product favored by the Cuban strongman — and even a poisoned ballpoint pen.
              Critics of the Church committee raged that precious intelligence secrets were being aired publicly, which threatened national security. That approach remained a matter of fierce debate in the post-9/11 era. Defenders of President George W. Bush pushed back against efforts to reveal interrogation methods of terror suspects.

              Boatlift politics

              Castro, if indirectly, nearly prevented the Bill Clinton presidency from ever happening. In 1980, the Cuban dictator startled American officials by allowing a mass emigration from the island, which became known as the Mariel boatlift.
              The exodus included not just political exiles but a bunch of refugees that had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities. President Jimmy Carter’s administration housed some of these people in Arkansas, just as Clinton, the nation’s youngest governor, was running for re-election.
              On June 1, 1980, a riot broke at Fort Chaffee, a military installation in Arkansas where the Cubans were being housed. And locals weren’t happy about it, noted The Washington Post 35 years later, in the midst of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
              “The White House message seemed to be: ‘Don’t complain, just handle the mess we gave you,'” Clinton, first lady of Arkansas in 1980, later wrote in her memoir “Living History.”
              “Bill had done just that, but there was a big political price to pay for supporting his President,” she said of her husband’s acquiescence to the plan by a fellow Democrat in the White House.
              Bill Clinton lost his re-election bid, making him the youngest ex-governor in the country. He then won back the office two years later, setting up his successful White House run a decade down the line. But Clinton long nursed a grudge against Carter, who lost the White House to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

              Cuban boy hurts Al Gore’s hopes

              Castro’s death Friday came 17 years to the day after the rescue of a five-year-old Cuban boy, Elin Gonzalez. Fisherman found the child clinging to an inner tube three miles off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, after his mother and 11 others perished in their attempt to flee Cuba for the US.
              A protracted seven-month standoff between American and Cuban authorities followed — in the shadow of a tight presidential race.
              In an April 2000 pre-dawn raid, armed US federal agents seized Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives, who wanted him to stay in the US even as the government said he needed to return to Cuba.
              Within a few hours, the boy was reunited with his father, who had come to the US to plead for his return. Two months later, after a swath of court procedures and anti-Castro demonstrations, they returned to Cuba.
              Many in the Cuban-American community blamed the Clinton administration for turning the child over to the communist nation. After all, Attorney General Janet Reno had put in place the legal mechanisms for doing so — which she defended as a family reunification measure prescribed by law.
              Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic nominee that year, came in for harsh criticism. He ended up losing Florida — and the presidency — to Bush, then governor of Texas, by an official count of 537 votes out of more than 6 million cast.
              While it’s impossible to ascribe one factor to Gore’s razor-thin defeat, the Elin Gonzalez effort likely ginned up voting among South Florida’s stridently anti-Castro Cuban-American population. That’s the working theory, at least, of author Jeff Greenfield, in his counter-factual historical eBook novel “43: When Gore Beat Bush.”
              Greenfield, a five-time Emmy-winning network television analyst, posits that had Elian Gonzalez’s mother not died in the journey from Cuba, that matter never would have become such a public spectacle — and that many voters in the Cuban-American community would not have been enraged at the Clinton administration.
              Greenfield noted that Gore received only about 20% of Cuban-American votes in 2000, according to exit polls, while Clinton won about 35% in his 1996 re-election bid.
              Sixteen years later, in the waning days of Castro’s life, he continued to feature in American presidential politics.
              Trump, on his way to an upset victory over Hillary Clinton, pledged on the campaign trail to unravel the Obama administration’s dtente with Cuba.

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/26/politics/fidel-castro-us-presidential-politics/index.html

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              November 27, 2016