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The real winners of the US election

US election campaigns raise millions of dollars to get their candidates elected. Where does all the money go? Romina Spina finds out about the main beneficiaries of campaign spending. In the final stretch of this year's general election, candidates are spending money fast and in large amounts. Over seven short days, from October 11th to October 18th, Hillary Clinton's campaign poured no less than $12.5 million (11.2 million euros) into television advertising to get the Democratic nominee elected to the White House. During the same period of time, her opponent on the Republican side, Donald Trump, similarly stepped up his game by spending $11.7 million to run commercials on television stations. "If you live in a [battleground] state like Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania, you cannot go more than a couple of minutes without seeing or hearing an ad," said David Brady, a political ecomony professor at Stanford University. The race is still underway, but some, like the political consulting or broadcast media industries, already look like winners in this election cycle. They profit not only from presidential campaigns, but also from gubernatorial and congressional contests, with candidates spending a staggering amount of money on advertising. To ensure their message reaches their target electorate, they rely on media buying agencies that deploy a myriad of consultants, strategists, analysts and pollsters. Media agency tops list There are between 100 and 200 firms at the core of the political consulting industry, according to Adam Sheingate, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of a book on the subject. He estimated that there were probably several thousand consultants at work. The firms, some of which are part of bigger global conglomerates, were the recipients of most of the money spent during election season. Within the industry, media is the most lucrative out of several specialties. "Media consultants get a big contract so they are responsible for designing and placing the ad. They make money by charging fees and getting commissions," the political scientist said in an interview with DW. GMMB, the main media company handling advertising for Clinton and other Democrats, is the single largest recipient overall. As Election Day approaches, the firm's political team at its main office in Washington, D.C., is working around the clock. So far, it has received over $121 million in this election cycle, according to data from the Federal Election Commission reported by the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks campaign spending. Four years ago, when the firm worked on President Obama's reelection, it received over $411 million. GMMB declined to provide details for this article, as companies and media buyers typically do not comment on what they charge their clients. Because it is a market, Sheingate explained, fees and flat rates were negotiated between the campaigns and the firms, whereas commissions were based on the local television or cable station charge for the airtime. In past decades, it was common for consultants to earn a commission of 15 percent from television stations for placing ads with them. Nowadays, that has changed and there does not seem to be a standard commission anymore. Public records only show the total amount a campaign sends to a firm and for what purpose. "We don't know how much of that money stays with them [for revenue], and how much is just passing through," said Sheingate. Advertisements are the biggest part of business, but candidates also spend large amounts on polling and survey research. Fundraising, too, requires significant resources and the same goes for legal services, as campaigns must ensure compliance with federal regulations. Digital consulting is now the fastest growing of industries. Firms specialize in digital campaign tools like email, internet advertising, fundraising or data analytics to target potential voters. Money spent on these operations is predicted to exceed $1 billion for the first time this election season. That is a tenfold increase compared to 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president, said Jeff Hauser from the Center of Economic and Policy Research. Money invested in digital outreach might be on the rise, but campaigns have not abandoned more traditional methods. Printers, for instance, continue to benefit from election spending. All across the country, voters find copious amounts of printed materials in the mail. Even in states like California, a Democratic stronghold, residents are bombarded with brochures and leaflets in the final weeks of the race. Funds are also still channeled into merchandising. In August alone, the Trump campaign paid over $2 million to two companies, California-based Cali-Fame and Ace Specialties in Louisiana. They both provide promotional materials such as T-shirts, mugs, stickers and the ubiquitous hats emblazoned with the campaign's slogan, "Make America Great Again." Little impact on the economy Spending was originally expected to top $5 billion in this election cycle, but recent figures show a decline compared to four years ago. Either way, the money spent is not substantial enough to impact the economy. "It's a great boon to political consultants, pollsters and local broadcast television and radio stations, but beyond that, it just isn't a large enough phenomena to make much difference economy-wide," said Jeff Milyo, an economist and professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia. There might be some effects on the local level during primary season in places like Des Moines, Iowa, or Manchester, New Hampshire. These cities do not usually see a lot of business during the winter months. In election years, local operators such as hotels, restaurants and bars can benefit from the influx of people working on the campaigns. Similarly, cities that host presidential conventions might see local business increase. There was some evidence for that, but according to Milyo, it is for the most part a temporary boom that does not drive the local economy over any period of time. "It's not the lasting kind of effect that might have an impact on a state or local economy," the economist told DW. While the largest amounts go to cable systems and local televisions stations, they are not independently owned but part of larger, national corporations or conglomerates. That meant the money poured into advertising does not trickle down to the local economy, said Tobe Berkovitz, who teaches advertising at Boston University. In the primaries, there would also be money flowing into field operations, mainly spent on rents for space and equipment rentals, car rentals, accommodation and food. But its impact, too, tended to be short-term. "When the date of the primary is over, everything closes down," Berkovitz added. "What a state or city wants is for business to come in and stay."

US election campaigns raise millions of dollars to get their candidates elected. Where does all the money go? Romina Spina finds out about the main beneficiaries of campaign spending. In the final stretch of this year’s general election, candidates are spending money fast and in large amounts. Over seven short days, from October 11th to October 18th, Hillary Clinton’s campaign ... Read More »

FBI releases papers related to Bill Clinton’s pardon of Swiss-based fugitive trader

The FBI has released archived documents concerning the pardon Bill Clinton gave to Marc Rich, a controversial, Swiss-based investor and husband of a Democratic donor. The timing of the release has come under scrutiny. The heavily-redacted 129-page document concerns the pardon of Marc Rich, a Swiss-based financial trader who was indicted in 1983 but evaded prosecution. The documents show that his ex-wife, Denise Rich, is a wealthy Democratic donor who pledged $450,000 (407,000 euros). Some of the donations went to the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, the predecessor to the Clinton Foundation, according to the document. In a controversial move, Rich was pardoned on the last day of Bill Clinton's presidency in 2001. An FBI investigation was launched into the pardon later than year and closed in 2005 without charges. Rich died in 2013. "It appears that the required pardon standards and procedures were not followed," the FBI document from February 2001 reads. While Denise Rich's name is redacted from the files, it indicates that she "has been a major political donor to the Democratic Party, and these donations may have been intended to influence the fugitive's pardon." The case fell under the watch of current FBI Director James Comey, then a young prosecutor. Comey is currently under firefrom Democrats after notifying Congress on Friday, just days before the presidential election, of the bureau's decision to reopen its investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. The Democratic camp has questioned the FBI's decision to release the documents ahead of next week's election. "Absent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation deadline, this is odd," Hillary Clinton's spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted. "Will FBI be posting docs on Trumps' housing discrimination in '70s?" referring to accounts concerning a 1973 federal housing discrimination lawsuit against the Republican presidential candidate and billionaire real estate mogul, Donald Trump. The FBI said that posting the documents was common procedure under FOIA guidelines and law. Documents requested three or more times were made public "shortly after they are processed." The Marc Rich documents "became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI's public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures," the FBI said. The agency also indicated that the document was a "preliminary" release, meaning it could be followed by more text. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that he was unaware of anyone at the White House being consulted ahead of the release. Speaking to reporters travelling with President Obama to Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, Earnest said: "I've not spoken to anybody who has any awareness of being consulted about that material before it was released."

The FBI has released archived documents concerning the pardon Bill Clinton gave to Marc Rich, a controversial, Swiss-based investor and husband of a Democratic donor. The timing of the release has come under scrutiny. The heavily-redacted 129-page document concerns the pardon of Marc Rich, a Swiss-based financial trader who was indicted in 1983 but evaded prosecution. The documents show that ... Read More »

Criminal probe opens into Trump-linked investment in Brazil

A Brazilian prosecutor has opened a criminal probe into investments made by state pension funds in Trump Towers Rio. It alleges state agencies favored the interests of the 'The Trump Organization.' The size, structure and high risk level of the investment meant it "required investigation," Anselmo Lopes, a federal prosecutor in the capital, Brasilia, said in the document dated October 21 opening the inquiry. The court filing was reviewed by news agency Reuters on Tuesday. Lopes alleged that state agencies "favored, in a suspicious manner, the economic group The Trump Organization," among others. However, according to a disclaimer on the Trump Organization's website, Trump Towers Rio "is not owned, developed or sold by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, or any of their principals or affiliates." The project's developer, the Bulgarian real estate company MRP Group, licensed the name from another company, DT Marks Rio LLC. The revitalization project - known as "Projeto Porto Maravilha” (Project Marvelous Port) - has been the subject of a federal investigation into claims of favoritism in the selection of financing projects backed by investment funds from state-owned companies. According to Brazilian authorities, $2.5 billion (2.2 billion euros) in public funds were lost as a result of investments which went bad. "Investing amounts of such size, for these (relatively small) pension funds, breaks principles for diversification and liquidity," Lopes said in the document. "It is necessary to verify if the favoritism shown by the pension funds towards LSH Barra Empreendimentos Imobiliários SA and the Trump Organization - run by the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump - was due to illicit payments and bribes," Lopes said in the 15-page document. No money from the Trump Organization was reported to have been invested in the project. The 130 million reais (36 million euro) investment was made by the two small funds - one for state IT firm Serpro and the other the Igeprev fund for employees of Tocantins state - in the developer LSH Barra Empreendimentos Imobiliários SA. It built the Trump Hotel Rio de Janeiro, a beachfront property with 170 rooms, near where the Olympic Park. Plans to build the hotel were announced in 2014 and it was meant to be ready for the Olympics held in August, but delays meant it was only partially open during the Games. The investigation is part of a wider probe into fraud at Brazilian state pension funds in which bribes were allegedly paid to secure investments. Trump Organization denies wrong doing The Trump Organization and LSH Barra Empreendimentos Imobiliários SA have denied any wrongdoing. They said they have not been informed of either investigation and said all their business dealings had strictly complied with Brazilian law. "We have no relationship or involvement with these pension funds," said Alan Garten, executive vice president and general counsel at The Trump Organization. "We have an arm's length agreement with the developer where we were hired to provide a service. "In time, I think the investigator will realize that these types of things wouldn't involve us and don't involve us," he added.

A Brazilian prosecutor has opened a criminal probe into investments made by state pension funds in Trump Towers Rio. It alleges state agencies favored the interests of the ‘The Trump Organization.’ The size, structure and high risk level of the investment meant it “required investigation,” Anselmo Lopes, a federal prosecutor in the capital, Brasilia, said in the document dated October ... Read More »

US candidate Hillary Clinton makes first campaign appearance with Michelle Obama

The two women emerged as something of a dynamic duo to make the case for Clinton's ascent to the White House. Clinton appears to have an edge in most of the swing states but Trump remains within striking distance. Hillary Clinton made her first campaign appearance with first lady Michelle Obama, who has emerged as a powerful advocate for the former secretary of state, senator and first lady who is seeking to become the United States' first female president. Their joint appearance at a campaign rally in the critical swing state of North Carolina drew an estimated 11,000 people, according to the fire marshal, making it one of the largest crowds to attend a Clinton campaign appearance. "Seriously, is there anyone more inspiring than Michelle Obama" Clinton asked, and the crowd responded with boisterous cheers. Obama reciprocated and referred to Clinton as "my girl" while reassuring the crowd that her support was not just political, but personal. The first lady emerged as a powerful supporter for Clinton first at the summer's Democratic nominating convention and then, again, earlier this month with the compelling comments she made in response to revelations of Republican candidate Donald Trump's vulgar comments about women. "Yes, Hillary Clinton is my friend," Obama said, although the two have not been known to be especially close. The two women spoke of their mutual respect, shared values and their common goal - defeating Trump. High stakes election Obama acknowledged her reluctance to stand in the political spotlight but, she said, the stakes were too high to not take an active role. "We want a president who takes this job seriously, and has the temperament and maturity to do it well. Someone who is steady. Someone who we can trust with the nuclear codes," Obama said. "I believe with all of my heart that Hillary Clinton will be that president." The rally was aimed primarily at getting young people and women out to vote, and Clinton reminded voters of the importance of the elections. "I wish I didn't have to say this. ... But indeed, dignity and respect for women and girls is also on the ballot in this election," Clinton told the crowd. "And I want to thank our first lady for her eloquent, powerful defense of that basic value." Meanwhile Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was campaigning in Ohio, a state that is absolutely critical to his chances of winning the White House. He once again chastised Clinton for her tough stance against Russia's authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin. "She speaks very badly of Putin, and I don't think that's smart," Trump told a crowd of thousands, adding that Russia has nuclear weapons. "How do you speak so badly of someone" he asked? The Clinton campaign jumped on Trump's comments and said, through a spokesman, they would "stand up to Putin in the face of his unacceptable behavior and not coddle him." Trump also continued to hammer Clinton over the flow of donations into the Clinton Foundation, a charitable organization. He has alleged it is a corrupt scheme in which donations have been made in exchange for access, citing a daily release of thousands of stolen emails from the foundation by WikiLeaks. "The more emails WikiLeaks releases, the more the lines between the Clinton Foundation, the secretary of state's office, and the Clintons' personal finances are blurred," Trump told thousands of supporters. Despite Trump's allegations, the leaked emails have not shown that anyone received any special access as a result of a donation.

The two women emerged as something of a dynamic duo to make the case for Clinton’s ascent to the White House. Clinton appears to have an edge in most of the swing states but Trump remains within striking distance. Hillary Clinton made her first campaign appearance with first lady Michelle Obama, who has emerged as a powerful advocate for the ... Read More »

Putin denies plans to ‘influence’ US election

Moscow would welcome any US leader who is willing to work with Russia, President Vladimir Putin told reporters in India. Adding, Hillary Clinton pursued a more "aggressive" tone towards Russia than Donald Trump. The Kremlin chief dismissed the US' allegations of Russian hacking on Sunday, commenting on the claims that Moscow-based hackers were trying to embarrass the US Democrats and get people to side with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. "I would like to reassure everyone, including our US partners and friends, we do not intend to influence the US election campaign," Putin told reporters in Goa, India. Putin's remarks came on the side of a meeting of leaders from the BRICS - which include Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. The US government officially accused Moscow of cyber attacks earlier this month, following similar claims from Democratic Party officials. On Friday, US Vice President Joe Biden publicly threatened a US retaliation hacking against Russia. Putin, however, dismissed the issue as campaign rhetoric. "You can expect anything from our American friends," he told journalists. "Don't we know that official bodies of the United States are spying and eavesdropping on everyone?" he added. "The only new thing is that for the first time the United States has recognized at the highest level ... that they themselves do [cyber attacks]." "We can see that they are a bit nervous," Putin said of Biden's warning. Russia as scapegoat Russian secret services are operating "strictly within the Russian law, unlike the NSA, which acts against even the US regulation," he added. The president of Russia accused the outgoing US administration of "playing the Russian card" in order to distract voters from its failures, including a large state debt and bad diplomacy in the Middle East. He also said relations between Moscow and Washington should not be sacrificed over internal political issues. "This is not the first time this is happening. If you look into it, research all the previous election campaigns – it's happening over and over," said Putin, adding that the process was "not funny anymore." Trump ready to cooperate Speaking of the US-Moscow relations after the elections, Putin said he hoped that ties could be restored after the end of the presidential campaign. The Kremlin, Putin added, is ready to cooperate with any leader who was willing to work with Russia. "Mrs. Clinton has chosen aggressive rhetoric, an aggressive position on relations with Russia, and Mr. Trump, in turn, is urging cooperation, at least where antiterrorism efforts are concerned." he said. "However, none of us can know what will happen after the election. We do not know if presidential candidate Trump would act according to his intentions or how far his cooperation would go. If Mrs. Clinton becomes president, would that mean that the threats and tough rhetoric would come true?," Putin asked. "She might also change her position."

Moscow would welcome any US leader who is willing to work with Russia, President Vladimir Putin told reporters in India. Adding, Hillary Clinton pursued a more “aggressive” tone towards Russia than Donald Trump. The Kremlin chief dismissed the US’ allegations of Russian hacking on Sunday, commenting on the claims that Moscow-based hackers were trying to embarrass the US Democrats and ... Read More »

Clinton diagnosed with pneumonia

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, her doctor said, hours after the Democratic presidential nominee left a 9/11 memorial feeling ill. In response to the incident, Clinton's team decided to cancel one of her campaign trips. Hillary Clinton's health moved to center stage in the US presidential race on Sunday after she fell ill at a high profile 9/11 ceremony, and her doctor said the Democratic nominee had pneumonia. Clinton left the 9/11 commemoration after 90 minutes because her campaign said she felt "overheated." A video posted online appeared to show the 68-year-old wobbling on her feet as she was helped into a van to be taken to her daughter's New York apartment. Clinton's doctor, Lisa Bardack, said in a statement that the former secretary of state had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday after experiencing coughing related to allergies. "Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies. On Friday, during follow-up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with pneumonia," Bardack said. "She was put on antibiotics and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning's event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely." Clinton emerged from her daughter's apartment after several hours saying she was "feeling great." She then went to her home in Chappaqua, 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City. Still, Clinton's camp later said they were canceling a campaign trip to California because of the diagnosis. She was originally scheduled to leave for the state on Monday for a series of fundraisers. The incident comes after earlier this month Clinton had a coughing fit at a campaign rally. That event added further fuel to accusation from Donald Trump and some of his backers that Clinton has undisclosed health problems and lacked the "stamina" to be president. Those allegations have centered largely around a concussion Clinton sustained in December 2012 after fainting. The fall led to temporary double vision and discovery of a blood clot in between her brain and skull. Her doctors have said she fully recovered. They have also said she has deep vein thrombosis and takes a blood thinner to prevent new clots. Neither presidential candidate has released their health records. Trump, 70, only released a letter from his doctor that said he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, her doctor said, hours after the Democratic presidential nominee left a 9/11 memorial feeling ill. In response to the incident, Clinton’s team decided to cancel one of her campaign trips. Hillary Clinton’s health moved to center stage in the US presidential race on Sunday after she fell ill at a high profile 9/11 ceremony, and her ... Read More »

Would a Trump America walk away from NATO?

The US has long warned its European partners it was losing patience with paying the majority of NATO's bills. The nomination of Donald Trump has made the threats of a US withdrawal from NATO seem real and present. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made US dissatisfaction with NATO's resource and funding gap a major campaign issue for the first time, coupling stark reprimands against European allies who don't devote the NATO-prescribed minimum 2 percent of GDP to military spending with blunt threats to walk away from mutual defense responsibilities enshrined in Article V of the NATO treaty. Trump says "NATO is obsolete and extremely expensive to the US, disproportionately so, and we should readjust NATO." He pledges if he becomes president, US participation in an Article V operation would depend on whether the ally under attack had "fulfilled their obligations" to the US. It's unclear whether Trump believes other NATO countries owe money directly to the US for military reassurance, as he also said recently that European allies "don't pay us what they should be paying" and that he "want[s] them to pay." Former US ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, a prominent Republican voice on foreign policy, agrees the gap between American and European defense spending is a neuralgic problem that needs to be addressed. "The question is," Volker says, "what do you do about it? And to threaten to blow up NATO might be a negotiating tactic that somebody might want to try out, but I don't think it's a good idea to threaten that, because you're sending the wrong signal to people like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, who have invaded their neighbors, who have threatened NATO countries, who buzzed our warships. They've threatened to attack Denmark with nuclear weapons." While Volker notes "there are a lot of institutional checks and balances that will kick in if [Trump] actually does get elected president, you don't really know" how much of the campaign bluster he would try to carry through to policy. 'Trump makes no sense' Even Republican party stalwarts have found Trump's views so disturbing they are deserting him to publicly endorse his opponent Hillary Clinton. Among them is Reuel Marc Gerecht, a prominent neo-conservative commentator and former CIA officer, who's written an open letter raising alarm about Trump's foreign-policy positions. Gerecht shakes his head in disappointment at where he - and the GOP - find themselves today. "If you'd asked me 18 months ago whether I could envision voting for Clinton, the answer would have been no, I could not." But he's openly supporting her now and concluding his own party has imploded. "Mr. Trump makes no sense," Gerecht says, and while he disagrees with many Clinton positions, he feels she is at least "within the realm of normal." As for whether Trump really would or could pull the US out of NATO, Gerecht speculates a Trump presidency might mean there won't even be a NATO to quit. "Any president has within his powers as commander-in-chief to effectively gut NATO," he says. "And certainly by simple statements that he's already made, if he were to make them again after becoming president, that he would not honor Article V, then NATO is de facto defunct." Constanze Stelzenmüller, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and frequent commentator on her native Germany, says even if Trump doesn't win and cut off US support for NATO, damage has been done. "The reality is that in politics, just talking about this kind of thing, as a candidate who isn't even elected yet, already has an impact on people's expectations and on the relationship in the 'now' as opposed to in November or in January," she says. "It is damaging the transatlantic relationship which is based on trust and the assumption that we have a broad commonality of interests and values now because Europeans understand that Trump is not a singular phenomenon, he is a symptom of a broader mood." That mood sees Americans turning away not just from NATO but from other international involvement as well. Erik Brattberg, a Swedish senior fellow with the McCain Institute on International Leadership, believes the transatlantic free-trade deal known as TTIP, already struggling under a supportive President Obama, would face certain doom under Trump. But Brattberg says there would be bigger things to worry about in that case, such as "what does the West actually stand for anymore?" Brattberg says it's no longer clear whether the US worldview is "liberalism, openness and globalization" or "nationalism, protectionism and religion." "These are fundamental questions that I think both American and European citizens are going to face," he says. "And the elections, both here and other elections coming up in Europe, are going to be pivotal for how we respond to them." Islamophobia mainstreamed Growing Islamophobia around the world, fueled by Islamist-inspired attacks particularly in Europe, is one of those challenges that will consume increasing time in European political campaigns as it has in the American one. Shahed Amanullah, a former advisor to the US State Department on Muslim outreach, is a co-founder of Affinis Labs, which helps launch Muslim-founded startups around the world. Amanullah worries that the popularity of Trump's views - for example, his pledge to ban Muslims from coming to America - is "normalizing" what he calls "structural Islamophobia" that he says has previously been more accepted in Europe, but not in the US. That's "empowering those people in Europe who are now feeling that because America is starting to adopt some of this that they're now validated," Amanullah says. "We all need to band together to help fix some of these problems that are a forest fire raging around the world and not put gas on it," Amanullah adds. "I think Trump doesn't realize that he will be putting gas on a fire that's going to make things worse for conflict in the Middle East. It's going to make things worse for integration in Europe. It's going to make things worse in terms of racial and ethnic tensions at home. I think the rest of us see it. I don't think he does." Trump cabinet? But a growing number of Republicans are declaring themselves unwilling to be part of a Trump government. Former Ambassador Volker says he and his counterparts with deep experience look at each other and say "I don't want to [serve in a Trump administration], but I want YOU to do it" - he chuckles - "because we want sane people, good people who know policy, who know what they're doing." It's unclear who might be left to ask. Last week, 50 more former officials went public with their opposition to Trump. In an open letter described as "unprecedented" for its big names and fervent views, a list of prominent Republicans who "served in senior national security and/or foreign policy positions in Republican Administrations from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush" laid out the reasons to stop Trump. The letter states the candidate "has little understanding of America's vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which US foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself." Trump would be, they warn, the "most reckless president in American history." The Trump campaign responded to the letter by thanking the group for "coming forward so everyone in this country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place."

The US has long warned its European partners it was losing patience with paying the majority of NATO’s bills. The nomination of Donald Trump has made the threats of a US withdrawal from NATO seem real and present. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made US dissatisfaction with NATO’s resource and funding gap a major campaign issue for the first ... Read More »

Clinton calls Trump out on Second Amendment solution

Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump engaged in incitement by calling for gun enthusiasts to prevent her from nominating Supreme Court justices. The Republican had made the remarks at a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump "crossed the line" and engaged in "casual inciting of violence" by calling for firearms aficionados to seek extra-democratic recourse should she win the presidency. The remarks by Trump, the last of more than a dozen Republicans standing after a wild primary season, have stoked further panic within the party about whether the occasionally bankrupt billionaire can stay on track. "Words matter, my friends," former Secretary of State Clinton said at a rally on Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa. "And if you are running to be president or you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences." On Tuesday, Trump said weapons advocates could prevent the former senator from disarming Americans through the judiciary if she were elected president and given the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices. The former reality show celebrity has repeatedly accused Clinton of seeking to take away Americans' guns. She says all she wants are tougher controls in a country where 13,286 people died from firearms in 2015, a year when 372 mass shootings left 475 people dead and 1,870 wounded. "Hillary wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment," Trump said in North Carolina, referring to the constitutional dictate that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." He added: "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks - although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know." 'Everybody knows it' On Wednesday, high-profile Republicans appeared shaken by their candidate's latest misfire. In an interview with the right-wing broadcaster Fox News, however, Trump insisted that he had called for democratic - not deadly - action. "There is tremendous political power to save the Second Amendment, tremendous," Trump told Fox on Wednesday, a day when the high-rise he calls home was scaled in New York. "And you look at the power they have in terms of votes, and that's what I was referring to - obviously that's what I was referring to, and everybody knows it." An August 5-8 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that nearly one-fifth of 396 registered Republicans wanted Trump to drop out of the race and another 10 percent said they didn't know whether he should give up. Overall, the poll found that 44 percent of 1,162 registered voters believe that Trump should exit the race, which Clinton leads by seven percentage points, up from three late last week. That poll was taken before the casino mogul's latest gaffe. Clinton's campaign has moved to bring disenchanted Republicans into her fold. The centrist who had once sought the backing of supporters of independent Senator Bernie Sanders now lists endorsements from 50 prominent conservatives on a website where Republicans and political independents can familiarize themselves with her pro-business policies.

Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump engaged in incitement by calling for gun enthusiasts to prevent her from nominating Supreme Court justices. The Republican had made the remarks at a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump “crossed the line” and engaged in “casual inciting of violence” by calling for firearms aficionados to seek extra-democratic recourse should ... Read More »

Suction-cup daredevil climbs Trump Tower in New York

Grimacing New York police officers have put a stop to a suction-cupped scofflaw's three-hour ascent of Trump Tower in Manhattan. The Republican presidential candidate lives in the building but was away campaigning. Grimacing New York police officers pulled a man through a 21st-floor on Wednesday, ending his three-hour effort to scale the all-glass face of the 58-story Trump Tower in New York City using suction cups. Wearing shorts, a black shirt and a backpack, the man climbed the tower's glass exterior above an outdoor patio several stories off the ground. "We are sending our units there to try to find out what's going on," a New York police spokesman told the news agency AFP after the constabulary had become aware of the daredevil's antics but apparently before officers had determined a motive. Police shut down several of the streets that surround the building, which lies in the heart of Manhattan's concentrated wealth, and officers climbed to a section of the Trump Tower above the man, who appeared to use some kind of harness to suspend his body. At one point, they attempted to swing a rope to him as he stuck and unstuck his hands on his ascent of the building where the 2016 Republican presidential candidate lives with his family. Donald Trump was campaigning for the presidency of the United States in North Carolina on Wednesday and not home at the time of the man's ascent. The campaign did not immediately respond to news agencies' requests for comment.

Grimacing New York police officers have put a stop to a suction-cupped scofflaw’s three-hour ascent of Trump Tower in Manhattan. The Republican presidential candidate lives in the building but was away campaigning. Grimacing New York police officers pulled a man through a 21st-floor on Wednesday, ending his three-hour effort to scale the all-glass face of the 58-story Trump Tower in ... Read More »

Kaine accepts party nomination as Obama praises Clinton, blasts Trump

US Democratic Party vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine has formally accepted his party nomination. Kaine, like President Barack Obama, praised presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and derided her rival Donald Trump. Kaine said on Thursday that he "humbly" accepted his party's nomination for the vice presidency, adding that he accepted it on behalf of his wife, Anne, "and every strong woman in this country." The Virginia Senator said he would also do it for his friend, and running mate, the presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Kaine claimed the country's other option to be president - Republican Donald Trump - was a "one-man wrecking crew." The nominee said that Trump had asked Americans to believe he'll build a wall with Mexico, and destroy the Islamic State group "so fast." Kaine asked: "Here's the question: Do you really believe him? Donald Trump's whole career says you better not." Meanwhile, Kaine added, Hillary Clinton had shown she had the qualifications to lead the country. "We'd better elect the candidate who's proven she can be trusted with the job ... who's proven she's ready for the job," he said. 'Not really a facts guy' Speaking after Kaine, President Barack Obama echoed Obama's endorsement of Clinton. "I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America," said Obama. "Hillary has real plans to address the concerns she's heard from you on the campaign trail. She's got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help workers share in their company's profits, to help put kids in preschool, and put students through college without taking on a ton of debt. That's what leaders do." Obama also slammed Trump's vision for America, as set out in his speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the previous week. "What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision where we turn against each other and turn against the world." The president lampooned Trump as "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either." "Does anyone really believe that a guy who's spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice?" 'Speaking is difficult for me' Earlier in the evening, former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords - who was nearly killed when she was shot in the head by an assailant in 2011- talked about the need for the Democrats to challenge the US gun lobby. Giffords, who remarkably survived but was left with speech problems, also added her support for Clinton. "Speaking is difficult for me," said Gifford: "But come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President." Longstanding and outgoing Democrat Senator Harry Reid said the Senate's Republican leader Mitch McConnell had slandered President Barack Obama as the first black US president, stirred up hatred of Latinos and sowed fear of Muslims. The Nevada senator said parents were right to worry about children hearing Trump whip up discord, claiming Trump had learned it from watching the Republicans. Earlier still, movie director James Cameron called Trump "a madman," saying he was "incredibly reckless, incredibly dangerous" when it came to global warming. Cameron, the director of "Titanic" and "Avatar" made a short film that aired at the convention about how climate change is harming the US. The film shows wildfires, heat waves and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy - and then cuts to Trump calling man-made global warming a "hoax."

US Democratic Party vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine has formally accepted his party nomination. Kaine, like President Barack Obama, praised presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and derided her rival Donald Trump. Kaine said on Thursday that he “humbly” accepted his party’s nomination for the vice presidency, adding that he accepted it on behalf of his wife, Anne, “and every strong woman ... Read More »

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