Washington, Oct 25 (AP/UNB) — Pipe bombs packed with shards of glass were intercepted en route to several prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in an unnerving wave that deepened political tensions and fears two weeks before national midterm elections.
None of the seven bombs detonated and nobody was hurt as authorities in New York, Washington, D.C., Florida and California seized the suspicious packages.
One of the explosives was sent to CNN, which prompted the evacuation of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan where the news outlet has its offices.
The targets of the bombs were some of the figures most frequently criticized by President Donald Trump, who still assails Clinton at rallies while supporters chant "lock her up" — two years after he defeated her and she largely left the political scene. Trump also often singles out cable news network CNN as he rails against the "fake news" media.
Trump took a softer tone at a rally in Wisconsin Wednesday night.
"Let's get along," he said. "By the way, do you see how nice I'm behaving tonight? Have you ever seen this?"
The attacks overtook other news in an already-tense political season that could reshape Congress and serve as a referendum on the first two years of Trump's presidency. The actions, which caused panicked building evacuations and reports of additional explosives that later proved unfounded, are bound to add to fears that overheated rhetoric could lead to deadly violence as the parties engage in bitter fights over immigration, the Supreme Court and the treatment of women.
The bombs, each with a small battery, were about six inches long and packed with powder and broken glass, said a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.
The first crude bomb to be discovered had been delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of George Soros, a liberal billionaire and major contributor to Democratic causes.
The FBI said an additional package was intended for former Attorney General Eric Holder, but that one ended up at a Florida office of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose return address was on it.
Later Wednesday, the FBI said two additional packages addressed for Rep. Maxine Waters had been intercepted that were similar in appearance to five others.
The White House condemned the attacks aimed at Democrats and other perceived foes of the administration.
"Acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States," Trump said. "This egregious conduct is abhorrent."
Other Republican leaders said the same. But Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California said such words "ring hollow" when coming from Trump. They noted the president's recent praise of a GOP congressman who body-slammed a reporter, among other Trump statements.
Law enforcement officials said all the packages were similar: manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior bearing six stamps and the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She is the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who was accused by Clinton rivals of secretly helping the party's eventual presidential nominee.
The package intended for Holder had the wrong address and was forwarded to Wasserman Schultz.
The devices all were sent to an FBI lab in Virginia to be studied. Officials provided no details on a possible suspect or motive.
"Suffice it to say, it appears an individual or individuals sent out multiple, similar packages," said John Miller, the New York Police Department's head of intelligence and counterterrorism, who briefed reporters.
The U.S. Secret Service intercepted the bomb that was addressed to Hillary Clinton at the Chappaqua, New York, home she shares with former President Bill Clinton, and another that was sent to Obama at his home in Washington.
A police bomb squad removed still another from CNN's New York office, which was evacuated. The CNN package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who has publicly clashed with Trump and is a regular television contributor.
Speaking at an event in Austin, Texas, Brennan called the spate of pipe bombs "a very unfortunate turn of events," particularly if he and others are being targeted for their public comments.
"Unfortunately, I think Donald Trump, too often, has helped to incite some of these feelings of anger, if not violence, when he points to acts of violence or also talks about swinging at somebody from the press, the media," Brennan said.
Overhead TV shots showed a truck carrying that device being driven away. The package sent to CNN contained a live explosive, with wires and a black pipe, and an envelope with white powder, officials said. The powder was tested and determined to have been harmless, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill says investigators are reviewing security video to see if they can identify a courier believed to have delivered the pipe bomb package to CNN's office. O'Neill said in an appearance on CNN that he was "pretty sure those images will be caught on video, and we'll be able to find out where that person came from before they entered the building and where they went to after."
Waters, whom the president has denigrated as a "low-IQ individual," reported Wednesday afternoon that she was the target of a suspicious package. Though the FBI did not initially include her on a list of targeted individuals, the bureau later said two packages addressed to her and similar to the five others had been found. One was intercepted at a Los Angeles mail facility.
Neither Clinton nor Obama received the packages sent to them, and neither was at risk because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, "These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
But while stopping short of blaming Trump's rhetoric for inspiring the attacks, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, contended there was a "total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media."
"The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that," he said.
Hillary Clinton was attending campaign events for Democrats in Florida and was not at the family's New York residence when the bomb was intercepted. But Bill Clinton was at the family's Chappaqua home, said a person familiar with his schedule. The person said the device was screened at a Westchester County facility — not near their residence — and never reached the Clintons' home.
A law enforcement official told the AP that the package discovered at Soros' home appeared to be a pipe bomb and was in a package placed in a mailbox outside the gates of the compound. A Soros employee opened it just inside the gates, not near Soros' quarters, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Washington, Oct 24 (AP/UNB) — Crude pipe bombs targeting Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, CNN and others were intercepted Tuesday night and Wednesday in a rash of attacks aimed at prominent Democrats and a cable news network often criticized by political conservatives.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his office received a similar package, and the FBI said Florida Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz did, too, possibly misaddress and then sent to her as the return addressee. A similar device was found Monday at the New York compound of liberal billionaire George Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes.
There were no explosions and no reports of injuries.
The bombs were intercepted two weeks before nationwide elections that could reshape Congress and serve as a referendum on the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. The events quickly overtook other campaign news in an already-tense political season, which has included pitched fights over immigration, the Supreme Court and sexual violence against women.
The White House quickly condemned the attacks aimed at Democrats and perceived foes of the administration. Republican Vice President Mike Pence said they "have no place in this country," and Trump tweeted, "I agree wholeheartedly."
All the confirmed bombs appeared to come from the same person or persons, said John Miller, the New York Police Department's head of intelligence and counterterrorism, who briefed reporters in New York.
The U.S. Secret Service intercepted a bomb that was addressed to Hillary Clinton at the Chappaqua, New York, home she shares with former President Bill Clinton, and another that was sent to former President Obama at his home with Michelle Obama in Washington. A police bomb squad removed still another from CNN's New York headquarters, which was evacuated.
Overhead TV shots showed a truck carrying that device, which law enforcement officials said was linked to the other explosives, being driven away. The package sent to CNN contained a live explosive and envelope with white powder, and officials said the substance was being tested to see if it was dangerous.
New York Gov. Cuomo said at a briefing that "we will not allow these terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives."
A U.S. official told The Associated Press that investigators believe the explosive that was discovered near the Clintons' home was linked to one found Monday at the Soros compound.
The official noted that one of the packages had the return address of Florida Rep. Schultz, an ironic reference to the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who was accused by Clinton rivals of secretly helping the party's eventual presidential nominee.
Neither Clinton nor Obama received the packages, and neither was at risk of receiving them because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, "These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
Two law enforcement officials, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the pipe bomb at CNN was crude but operational and was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who regularly appears as a television contributor and who has publicly clashed with Trump. They said it was similar to other explosives discovered in the past few days.
Hillary Clinton was attending campaign events for Democrats in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday and was not at the family's New York residence at the time. Bill Clinton was at the family's Chappaqua home at the time the package was intercepted Tuesday night at a Westchester County facility, said a person familiar with his schedule. The person said the device was screened at the facility — not in proximity to their residence — and never reached the Clintons' home.
A law enforcement official told the AP that the package discovered at Soros' home appeared to be a pipe bomb and was in a package placed in a mailbox outside the gates of the compound. A Soros employee opened it just inside the gates, not near Soros' quarters, the official said.
Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - A teacher in the United States got very amused while checking papers recently, thanks to the witty and humorous answer of her seventh grader-student.
Evelyn Lizette shared on Twitter last Monday, October 15, a part of the exam she gave the students, asking them to tell a joke for one point.
One of her students nailed this part of the exam with two simple words: “Our president.”
“Grading papers. This legit made my night,” Lizette posted on the social media site, even tagging US President Donald Trump.
Her post quickly went viral, with over 6,000 retweets and almost 25,000 likes, as of this writing.
Some netizens took notice of the student’s answer, such as ss (@shasimss) who wondered how old is the student, to which Lizette answered, “7th grader. Smart little guy.”
However, one netizen, trump’s BOSS (@NeverTrump1214), was a bit concerned, “Careful… I totally agree, but this could cause you trouble.”
“I didn’t make the question political. He did,” replied the teacher.
Meanwhile, netizen Marjorie Freedman (@mrfphd) was curious about how many points in total was the test, to which Lizette answered “50.”
And what was the student’s grade on the test? Lizette revealed that the student got an A.
Source: Philippines Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network.
Washington, Oct 24 (AP/UNB) — The Trump administration has not settled on a plan for what to do if a migrant caravan arrives at the southern border, despite threats by President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency or rescind aid from the countries whose people are journeying north.
Top immigration officials and close Trump advisers are still evaluating the options in closed-door meetings that have gotten increasingly heated in the past week, including one that turned into a shouting match as the caravan of about 7,000 people pushes north, according to administration officials and others with knowledge of the issue. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the topic.
The caravan, at least 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away, comes on the heels of a surge in apprehensions of families at the border, which has rankled Trump but has also given him a fresh talking point to rally his base ahead of the midterm elections just two weeks away.
But the president's inner circle on immigration is grappling with the same problems that have plagued them for months, absent any law change by Congress.
Some in Trump's administration, like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, advocate for a diplomatic approach using relationships with Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador and the United Nations to stop the flow of migrants arriving to the U.S.
"We fully support the efforts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico as they seek to address this critical situation and ensure a safer and more secure region," Nielsen said in statement earlier this week that noted her department was closely monitoring the possibility of gangs or other criminals that prey on those in "irregular migration."
But others are agitating for more immediate options, including declaring a state of emergency, which would give the administration broader authority over how to manage people at the border; rescinding aid; or giving parents who arrive to the U.S. a choice between being detained months or years with their children while pursuing asylum, or releasing their children to a government shelter while a relative or guardian seeks custody.
Tensions boiled over last week, when Nielsen suggested going to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights in a meeting with White House chief of staff John Kelly. National security adviser John Bolton, a longtime critic of the U.N., exploded over the idea, the officials and people said. Nielsen responded that Bolton, not a frequent attendant of the immigration meetings, was no expert on the topic, they said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said in a statement: "While we are passionate about solving the issue of illegal immigration, we are not angry at one another. However, we are furious at the failure of Congressional Democrats to help us address this growing crisis."
Meanwhile, administration officials sounded off Tuesday on an increase in families coming across the border, mostly from Central America. Nearly a third of all people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border during the budget year 2018 were families and children — about 157,248 out of 395,579 total apprehensions.
Coupled with the caravan, Trump administration officials have said it's a full-on crisis. They say loopholes in laws have allowed for a worsening border crisis where the vast majority of people coming illegally to the U.S. cannot be easily returned home.
But the administration's efforts to enforce a hard-line stance on immigration through regulation changes and executive orders have been largely thwarted by the court system and, in the case of family separations earlier this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap separations through an executive order June 20.
While such caravans have occurred semiregularly over the years, this one has become a hot topic ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The march appeared to begin as a group of about 160 who decided to band together in Honduras for protection against the gangs who prey on migrants traveling alone and snowballed as the group moved north.
If they arrive, they are likely to face long lines at ports of entry. Family detention space is limited to about 3,300 beds nationally, and, under a court settlement, children can generally be held no more than 20 days, so many would likely be released.
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department on Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sen. Mike Lee suggested that the administration make a "third party" agreement with Mexico that would force any caravan members seeking asylum to do so in their country of arrival — Mexico. The Republican lawmakers said the process already works that way in Europe.
Trump tweeted: "Sadly, it looks like Mexico's Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States." He said he had alerted Border Patrol and the military and called for a change in laws, and said that people of Middle Eastern descent had joined the group.
He later acknowledged that his claim was only a hunch.
"They could very well be," he said. "There's no proof of anything. But there could very well be."
Asked if he was implying there were terrorists in the caravan, Trump said, "There could very well be."
Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for Homeland Security, later tweeted that the department could confirm that gang members or serious criminals are in the caravan, but he didn't provide details.
It was the latest effort to thrust immigration politics into the national conversation in the closing weeks of the congressional elections. He and his senior aides have long believed the issue — which was a centerpiece of his winning presidential campaign — is key to motivating GOP voters to turn out.
"Blame the Democrats," he wrote. "Remember the midterms."
Washington, Oct 24 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday described the killing of a Saudi journalist as a botched operation and a "bad original concept" as his administration took its first, careful steps toward punishing the Saudis by moving to revoke the visas of the suspects.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said the entire operation was a fiasco.
"They had a very bad original concept," Trump said. "It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. Somebody really messed up, and they had the worst cover-up ever."
Even in the face of ugly details of Jamal Khashoggi's slaying, Trump has resisted calls to cut off arms sales to the kingdom and has been reluctant to antagonize the Saudi rulers. Trump considers the Saudis to be vital allies in his Mideast agenda.
Members of Congress have demanded that sanctions be imposed on Saudi Arabia over the killing of Khashoggi, who lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. and wrote critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The writer, who was a contributor to The Washington Post, vanished Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey, where he went to pick up documents for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee.
Turkish officials say that a Saudi team of 15 men tortured, killed and dismembered the writer and that Saudi officials had planned the killing for days. Saudi officials — after weeks of denials — now concede that he died, but they say it happened accidentally in a fight at the consulate.
"It was a total fiasco," Trump said. "The process was no good. The execution was no good. And the cover-up, if you want to call it that, was certainly no good."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move to revoke visas was just a first step.
Visa records are confidential and Pompeo was not more specific about who the revocations would affect, but the State Department later said 21 "Saudi suspects" would have visas revoked or would be declared ineligible to enter the U.S.
"These penalties will not be the last word on this matter," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.
The administration "will continue to hold those responsible accountable. We're making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, with violence," he said. "Neither the president or I am happy with this situation."
Still, Pompeo stressed the strategic importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
"We continue to view as achievable the twin imperative of protecting America and holding accountable those responsible for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi," Pompeo said.