Morning Read 5/17: Rabbi fired as chaplain from Brooklyn prison claims religious discrimination

Rabbi Naftali Ausch was fired from his job as chaplain in 2015 after bringing teffilfin to this Brooklyn correction facility [CC0]
Rabbi Naftali Ausch was fired from his job as chaplain in 2015 after bringing teffilfin to this Brooklyn correction facility [CC0]

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Israel Provided Secrets Trump Told to Russia

WASHINGTON — Israel provided the U.S. with the classified information that President Donald Trump shared last week with Russian officials, according to officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

The intelligence came from a particularly valuable source of information about the Islamic State terrorist group’s ability to build sophisticated explosives that could evade aviation-security measures and be placed on aircraft, these officials said. The source of the information was developed before Mr. Trump’s election in November, they said.

The disclosure that Israel was the source of the intelligence adds a layer of complication to Mr. Trump’s sharing of the information with the Russians. Israel is among the U.S.’s closest allies in the Middle East. The two nations’ intelligence services work closely on counterterrorism operations in the region and routinely share information with each other.

But the information that Israel provided in this case was considered so sensitive that it wasn’t shared even with the closest U.S. allies, known as the “Five Eyes,” a group of countries that includes the U.K. and Canada, the officials said.

The disclosure came days before Mr. Trump embarks on his first overseas trip as president, with Saudi Arabia and Israel as his first two stops.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump acknowledged on Twitter that he had shared information about threats to aviation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and the Russian foreign minister in an Oval Office meeting last week. He didn’t identify Israel.

Mr. Trump’s national-security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said on Tuesday Mr. Trump’s conversation with the Russian officials “was wholly appropriate” but that he believed the subsequent leaking of that conversation to the media put national security at risk.

U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the Israeli source said Mr. Trump might not have provided enough detail to the Russians to damage that source. However, they stressed that by openly sharing such classified information with a U.S. adversary, when even American allies aren’t privy to it, could create an impression that the U.S. can’t be trusted with other countries’ secrets. [WSJ]

Israeli intelligence source: We must reassess what info we share with US – report

Israeli intelligence is reassessing what information they choose to share with the country’s “greatest ally,” the United States, according to a Wednesday report in the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

“We can’t hand over our crown jewels,” an intelligence source warned following Monday’s bombshell Washington Post story revealing that US President Donald Trump had disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russians officials in the White House last week.

The country supplying the intelligence to the US was identified in the Post story only as “an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.” Sources told The New York Times on Tuesday that Israel was that country.

The Yedioth source assessed that the “highly sensitive” information disclosed by Trump to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and its US ambassador Sergey Kislyak was handed over recently in several meetings with US officials on the situation in Syria. The intelligence officials speculate that Trump presented this information as a reprimand to the Russians.

As a result of the information leaked by Trump, an Israeli spy’s life is believed to be at risk, according to a Tuesday ABC news report.

The spy is said to have tipped handlers off about an Islamic State plan to blow up a passenger plane headed for the US by hiding a bomb in a laptop, said the station, quoting current and former US officials. [ToI]

Trump Called Netanyahu, but White House and Israel Kept Mum

U.S. President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday and discussed his upcoming visit to Israel, senior officials told Haaretz on Wednesday morning.

The call, which took place shortly after Trump called Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday, was not publicized by either the White House or by the Prime Minister’s Office. Netanyahu’s office confirmed the phone call took place.

A senior official noted that the call took place at around 5 P.M. Tuesday Israel time, as Netanyahu was about to enter an event with his finance minister. The call lasted for about twenty minutes.

The senior official noted that the call did not touch on reports according to which Trump leaked intelligence information in his meeting with the Russian foreign minister last week. [HAARETZ]

U.S. Allies Weigh Impact of Trump’s Disclosure

Some of America’s allies reacted with alarm and befuddlement to reports that U.S. President Donald Trump shared intelligence from an allied country with Russia, though officials—speaking before the source of the information was publicly revealed—hesitated to conclude that his actions would hinder intelligence-sharing between the U.S. and its closest partners.

The reports buttressed concerns among some allies that Mr. Trump isn’t following the accepted procedures for handling classified information. Others said the public disclosure of what happened behind closed doors in the White House revealed infighting in the Trump administration that could make the U.S. an unreliable partner in intelligence matters.

The source of the classified information was Israel, according to officials with direct knowledge of the matter. The disclosure of the source on Tuesday came a day after the first reports that Mr. Trump revealed sensitive information about Islamic State operations to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador during a visit to the Oval Office last week.

Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, said on Tuesday that it “was wholly appropriate” for Mr. Trump to share the information with the Russian officials. He said he was “not concerned at all” that U.S. allies would cease sharing intelligence. He was speaking before the source was publicly revealed.

Some other U.S. officials, also speaking earlier Tuesday, said it was too soon to tell if there would be any direct impact in their dealings with European allies, who rely on Washington for intelligence and share valuable information with the U.S. [WSJ]

No figures set for Brexit bill, EU doesn’t want a ‘no deal’ option

There is no figure for a financial settlement between Britain and the European Union yet, because it can only be established once both sides agree on a common methodology of calculations and taking into account the date of exit, the EU’s Brexit chief negotiator said on Wednesday.

“The figures will depend on the methodology we adopt and the actual date of the UK’s exit. It is not (me) who will set a figure,” Michel Barnier told the European Parliament.

He also said that he had no intention of ending up without an agreement with London on the terms of Britain’s departure in 2019, and hoped to reach a deal that was in collaboration with Britain, rather than negotiate against it. [REUTERS]


Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump

The Trump administration’s search for a new FBI director hit roadblocks on Tuesday when two high-profile potential candidates, a moderate judge and a conservative senator, signaled they did not want the job.

Advisers to Judge Merrick Garland and U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas told Reuters they discouraged them from leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cautioning that they would be leaving important, secure jobs for one fraught with politics and controversy.

The advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the new FBI director would have little job security and heightened scrutiny by political observers following President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of James Comey on May 9.

Garland and Cornyn distancing themselves from the selection process just three days before Trump has said he may make a decision, points to the difficulties the White House has in filling the FBI post amid turmoil in the administration.

Trump’s firing of Comey, the man in charge of an investigation into possible collusion between 2016 election campaign associates and the Russian government, outraged many lawmakers, including some Republicans.

Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, “loves his job and is not interested in leaving the judiciary,” said one source familiar with the judge’s thinking.

Cornyn said in a statement that he had informed the White House that “the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday that an announcement on FBI director was still possible before Trump leaves on his first foreign trip on Friday. He said the U.S. Department of Justice was still interviewing candidates. [REUTERS]

Pvt. Chelsea Manning set for release after 7 years in prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the soldier convicted of giving classified government materials to WikiLeaks, is due to be released from a Kansas military prison on Wednesday after serving seven years of her 35-year sentence.

President Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in his final days in office in January. Though she’s set to be released from Fort Leavenworth, Manning’s lawyers and the Army have refused to say when and how she’ll be freed due to potential security concerns.

Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. She was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.

The Crescent, Oklahoma, native tweeted after being granted clemency that she plans to move to Maryland. Neither she nor her attorneys explained why, but she has an aunt who lives there.

Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, has acknowledged leaking the materials, which included battlefield video. She said she wanted to expose what she considered to be the U.S. military’s disregard of the effects of war on civilians and that she released information that she didn’t believe would harm the U.S. [AP]

Why Carrying Concealed Weapons Could Get Easier

A convergence of state and federal legislation could ease restrictions on carrying concealed firearms nationwide, a long-sought goal of gun-rights activists that their opponents say would threaten public safety.

More states are giving their residents the right to carry a concealed handgun without permission from authorities—including two this year, bringing the total to 12—while Congress is considering legislation to make that right portable across state lines.

New Hampshire, for example, eliminated the need for permits this year, allowing anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it concealed in public.

If bills introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) become law, a New Hampshire resident could bring his or her concealed handgun to any other state, even those such as New York that require their own residents to undergo vetting and obtain approval from law-enforcement officials for the same right.

The legislation, introduced in January, has broad support among Republicans, who hold a two-vote majority in the Senate. But it would need 60 votes for Senate passage, a steep climb in this hyperpartisan climate.

If passed, the measure could hasten the spread of permitless-carry laws, which were rejected in at least 15 states where lawmakers introduced bills in the most recent legislative sessions, gun-control activists said. States with strict permit regimes likely would face pressure to lower their standards to make carrying guns as easy for their residents as for out-of-state visitors.

The National Rifle Association calls the reciprocity bills its highest priority and a necessary substitute for a confusing patchwork of agreements among states that allow concealed-carry permit holders to travel with their guns to some places but not others.

“The right to defend yourself against a violent attack doesn’t end when you step outside your home or cross state lines,” said Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokeswoman. [WSJ]


Synagogue blaze was most likely arson: NYPD

The inferno that tore through a Lower East Side synagogue Sunday night was most likely intentionally set, according to the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives.

Chief Robert Boyce told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, “We do think it’s arson. We were able to recover the video. We’re looking at it now.”

Boyce cited surveillance video which shows three people running near the scene of the fire at the 167-year-old Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on Broome Street and Suffolk around 7p.m. Sunday.

The raging 3-alarm fire left the vacant landmark building completely gutted and its exterior marred.

Authorities are still investigating the official cause of the blaze. [NYP]

Clerical error over road repairs will cost taxpayers $9.2M

Taxpayers will have to shell out an extra $9.2 million to fix the city’s bumpy roads because the Department of Transportation stubbornly refused to let the lowest bidder fix a clerical error, The Post has learned.

In submitting bids totaling $79.7 million for five, two-year contracts to mill deteriorated roads in each borough, the owners of Carlo Lizza & Sons in Old Bethpage, LI say they accidentally wrote that they would provide a 5 percent bond as protection for the city rather than 10 percent as required.

The company says it immediately contacted DOT to fix the mistake made by its outside bonding agent before the contracts were awarded last month. But the appeal was rejected.

Instead, DOT awarded the contracts to two competing contractors who were the next lowest bidders – PCI Industries of Mount Vernon and Queens-based Restani Construction Corp. – at a cost of nearly $88.9 million.

“[The de Blasio] administration talks a lot about saving good local jobs,” said Aly Lizza, who heads Carlo Lizza’s New York City division. “Here’s an opportunity to make that happen and save taxpayers more than $9 million in the process. DOT should do the right thing and rebid these contracts.”

The family-run paving company claims that it was the only bidder to commit to hiring Big Apple residents.

In rejecting Lizza’s appeal, DOT Executive Deputy Commissioner Joseph Jarrin on April 28 wrote that the company failed to comply with the bid requirements and that “such a waiver could prejudice other bidders.” He also pointed out Lizza has a long history of doing city work and “should have been well aware” of the 10 percent bid-bond requirement. [NYP]

Rabbi fired as chaplain from Brooklyn lockup sues federal prison system, ex-bosses over religious discrimination claims

A former Jewish chaplain working in a Brooklyn federal prison said his bosses discriminated against him — and ultimately fired him — for his religion.

Rabbi Naftali Ausch, a certified chaplain and Hasidic rabbi in Williamsburg, is now suing the federal prison system and his former bosses who, he says, subjected him to the discrimination, a hostile workplace and retaliation when he complained.

Ausch started as a chaplain in the Metropolitan Detention Center in July 2009 and said he did well by the inmates he counseled. Prisoners of all faiths talked with him at the Sunset Park facility and he enjoyed the work.

Ausch had a Monday-to-Friday schedule, which let him attend morning prayers and make it home at the end of the work week for Shabbat.

But that became a hassle.

Barry, a Jesuit priest, “always gave Rabbi Ausch a difficult time about accommodating his religion,” said the lawsuit filed Monday in Brooklyn federal court.

In December 2012, Ausch told Barry about volunteers for the upcoming holiday of Purim, which fell that year on a Sunday. Ausch said he didn’t work on Sundays, but Barry allegedly lost his temper and vowed to “fix that.” Two days later, Barry put Ausch on a Sunday-to-Thursday schedule.

“I’m sure your God will forgive you. He is a forgiving God,” Barry said, according to Ausch’s lawsuit.

The new schedule began earlier in the day, which interfered with Ausch’s morning prayers. When the rabbi didn’t show up the Sunday of Purim, he was disciplined and docked pay. Ausch’s suit said Barry “often made derogatory remarks to the Jewish inmates and other chaplains in front of Rabbi Ausch, and when Rabbi Ausch was not present. These comments were perceived by Ausch, as well as his fellow chaplains, to be anti-Semitic.”

The rabbi filed complaints with the Bureau of Prisons, which he said only led to further scrutiny from Barry, and then another supervisor, after Barry retired around September 2014.

Ausch was fired in October 2015 for bringing in tefillin, a prayer accessory that prison authorities claimed was contraband. When he heard about his termination, Ausch said he was “shocked to death” and cried as he went home to his wife. [DN]

Finance Department double-bills thousands of property owners

The city’s Department of Finance double-billed numerous property owners for transfer taxes on home sales they had already paid in a recent mailing to 5,600 individuals seeking to recoup $3.6 million, The Post has learned.

Some of the bills sought taxes that had been paid as far back as 2009 — including a $3,351 charge that was sent to Queens condo buyer Diana Calabrese.

Her attorney, Errol Brett, said a Finance staffer even threatened over the phone to garnish Calabrese’s wages if she didn’t pay up.

“It is mind-boggling that although the transfer occurred in 2009, eight years later the city is making a claim which clearly it was not entitled to do,” Brett wrote the agency last month.

The city’s bill to Calabrese included $1,701 in late fees and interest. But Brett showed The Post a copy of a check cashed by the Finance Department in 2009 proving the debt had been paid by the condo seller.

He also provided a copy of a check from 2010 for another client, now deceased, from whom the city sought $6,618, including $3,118 in penalties and interest.

The tax bills — which were mailed out to buyers and sellers alike — acknowledged that it’s typically the seller who’s responsible for paying the tax.

“However, the law provides that if the [seller] fails to pay the balance due or is exempt, the [buyer] is liable for the full amount,” the bills state.

Asked about complaints of double billing, city officials acknowledged that they goofed in some cases. They said they’ve since decided to forgo all the unpaid debt because many of the outstanding bills were so old.

Anyone who paid up in recent weeks will get a refund, they promised. [NYP]


Day by Day: How the Crisis at the White House Deepened

The White House has been working for about a week to contain the fallout that started last Tuesday with President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of James Comey as director of the FBI. Headaches for the White House spilled into this week after reports the president shared highly classified information with Russian officials.

Here’s a timeline of events and White House comments related to the controversies:

Monday, May 8:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been confirmed by the Senate just two weeks earlier, meets with Mr. Trump, and they discuss Mr. Comey’s job performance. Mr. Trump tells him to write up his concerns.

Tuesday, May 9:
Mr. Rosenstein writes a memo to the president detailing his concerns about the director’s conduct. In that letter, Mr. Rosenstein never expressly recommends that Mr. Comey be fired. Instead, the 12-paragraph letter is deeply critical of Mr. Comey’s handling of an investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct public business. Mr. Rosenstein concludes that the FBI had lost the public’s trust and that “the director cannot be expected to implement corrective action.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in part citing the Rosenstein letter, writes a letter to Mr. Trump recommending that Mr. Comey be fired.

Mr. Trump sends a letter to Mr. Comey, saying he received the recommendations from Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, and that he has “accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office.” The White House also publicly announces the firing.

Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, tells Fox News that Mr. Trump had reacted after receiving a “clear and direct and very strong recommendation from the deputy attorney general [Rosenstein].”

Wednesday, May 10:
Ms. Sanders, on MSNBC, says the reason for Comey’s dismissal was “real simple … The deputy attorney general made a very strong recommendation.”

Vice President Mike Pence tells reporters: “Let me be very clear that the president’s decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the American people, and to ensuring that the FBI has the trust and confidence of the people of this nation.”

In a brief appearance before reporters, Mr. Trump said he fired Mr. Comey because “he wasn’t doing a good job.”

In the afternoon news briefing, Ms. Sanders shifts her emphasis, saying of Mr. Trump: “He’d lost confidence in Director Comey, and, frankly, he’d been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected.” Asked if the president had already decided to fire Mr. Comey and asked the Justice Department to put together the rationale for that firing, she responds, “no.”

White House circulates timeline saying Mr. Trump had been “strongly inclined” to remove Mr. Comey after watching his testimony in front of a Senate panel last week.

Thursday, May 11:
Ms. Sanders, at the daily briefing, said: “I don’t think there was ever an attempt to pin the decision on the deputy attorney general … The president, though, makes the decision. The buck stops with him. Nobody’s ever tried to say that this wasn’t the president’s decision, that he wasn’t the one that carried it out and to try to, I think, conflate those things — it’s — it’s just not what took place. We know that the president’s been thinking about this for a long time. Wednesday, it certainly, I think, expedited that — the director’s testimony last Wednesday. And then getting the recommendation from the attorney — or deputy attorney general, excuse me, I think just further solidified the president’s decision.”

The president offers a different take.

In an interview with NBC News, Mr. Trump downplays the importance of the Rosenstein letter: “Regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” he said. He added: “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Friday, May 12:
On Twitter, Mr. Trump defended his aides. “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!…..Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

Monday, May 15:
The Washington Post reported that the president shared “highly classified information” with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, sparking a new controversy even as the fallout from the Comey firing had yet to completely blow over. The Wall Street Journal later reported that the president shared sensitive intelligence obtained from a close U.S. ally, potentially jeopardizing critical intelligence-sharing agreements in the fight against Islamic State.

The White House responded that evening with statements from three top officials:

The White House brought out National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who denied that Mr. Trump disclosed any sources and methods of U.S. intelligence services or those of U.S. allies, but didn’t address whether Mr. Trump had shared information with the Russians.

Tuesday, May 16:
The president confirms that he did divulge some “facts” with Russian officials, saying in an early morning tweet that it was “absolute right” to “share with Russia.” He didn’t contest the accuracy of the news reports saying he shared sensitive information. The move further raised further questions, as his tweets were a departure from the White House response Monday night.

In a late morning briefing, Gen. McMaster says the counterterrorism information that Mr. Trump shared with Russian officials “was wholly appropriate to that conversation.” He declines to answer questions about whether any classified information was shared. He also said Mr. Trump didn’t know the source of the information.

It is revealed that the classified information that Mr. Trump shared last week with Russian officials was provided to the U.S. by Israel, according to officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Later, it is reported that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to back off the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn shortly after Mr. Flynn resigned in February. [WSJ]

Trump asked Comey to end Flynn investigation

President Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to end the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn in February, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Comey wrote in a memo shortly after the meeting that Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the report said.

The meeting took place Feb. 14, one day after Flynn resigned, according to the Times, which reported that Comey’s memo was part of an effort to create a paper trail documenting what he saw as Trump’s improper influence on the investigation.

Comey’s memo says he did not respond to Trump about the probe, but agreed with him that Flynn is “a good guy.”

The White House denied the memo’s version of events, telling reporters, “this is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey.”

White House officials stressed that acting director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers last week that “there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.” [THEHILL]

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings: Republicans would have already impeached Hillary Clinton

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said Tuesday that House Republicans would have already impeached Hillary Clinton if she had done a fraction of what Donald Trump has done as President.

Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, made the comments on the Joe Madison Show on SiriusXM radio.

“I have bird’s eye view on all this stuff, and I look at how they treated Hillary Clinton. I mean, for one millionth of what has happened with Trump, they would have impeached her. I’m just telling you. They would have been going crazy. That’s what makes this so egregious.” [CNN]

DNC plans 50-state ‘Resistance Summer’ tour in hopes to harness Trump opposition
The Democratic National Committee is reportedly planning to pump $1 million dollars into everything from rallies, town halls and neighborhood meetings in hopes to grow voter opposition to President Trump.

The so-called “Resistance Summer” is billed as a 50-state strategy. The DNC plans to hold events across the country in early June before sponsoring a national training summit in the hopes of attracting scores of new Democratic voters, the Hill reported.

The move is the party’s first concrete expansion plan since Tom Perez took over as chairman.

Nationally, Democrats face a power deficit they’ve not seen in nine decades. Republicans control the White House and Congress, hold 33 governorships and run about two-thirds of state legislatures.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, Perez’s opponent for chair and now his top deputy, said the intent is to help local Democrats manage everything from rallies, town halls and neighborhood meetings to registration drives and voter database improvements.

“We’re asking them to engage neighbors not just in this whole mess about Trump but on what kind of vision we have for our country,” Ellison said, adding that he and Perez are talking regularly to many of the independent groups on the left.

Party leaders hope to use the anti-Trump groundswell to improve voter turnout, and swing elections back in their favor. [FOXNEWS]

Study: CNN Is Completely Obsessed With Donald Trump

CNN claims it’s right down the middle, somewhere between the left-wing MSNBC and the more conservative-friendly Fox News Channel. But an MRC study of an entire day of CNN’s coverage shows the network spent almost all of its time covering the Trump presidency, with a heavily skewed roster of anti-Trump guests and on-air commentators.

To get a handle on CNN’s news priorities during the Trump era, a team of MRC analysts reviewed all of the cable network’s programming on Friday, May 12, starting with the 4am ET Early Start and continuing through the 11pm ET CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, a total of 20 hours of material.

After excluding commercials, teases and promos, our analysts found 13 hours, 27 minutes of actual news coverage, an average of just over 40 minutes per hour. Of that, a whopping 92 percent (12 hours, 19 minutes) was devoted to the Trump presidency, with a mere 68 minutes — a little more than three minutes per hour — devoted to all of the other news of the day.

Much of that airtime consisted of interviews and panel discussions giving their assessment of Trump. MRC tallied 123 appearances by guests or panelists over the course of the day. Many of CNN’s analysts showed up in multiple newscasts, each of which would count as a separate appearance. (There were 77 unique appearances by people identified as CNN analysts or commentators, or 62% of all guests).

The vast majority of all of CNN’s guests that day (96, or 78% of the total) were Trump critics, compared to a handful of pro-Trump guests (just seven, or 6% of the total). Another 13 guests were neutral, and seven offered mixed assessments of the administration.[MRC]


Louis Farrakhan Still ‘Leading Anti-Semite’: ADL

Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan has “reinforced his position as one of the leading anti-Semites in the United States,” according to a May assessment by the Anti-Defamation League.

In recent weeks, Farrakhan called for the Muslim world to unite against the State of Israel — and said “white Jews” have no home in the Middle East.

The ADL points to other recent statements from Farrakhan to support their assessment.

During the Nation holiday known as Saviours’ Day, Farrakhan said that contemporary Jews are “not really Jews but are in fact Satan” — and described Jews as “the enemy of God and the enemy of the righteous,” according to the ADL. Farrakhan also urged President Trump to distrust Jews, particularly his son-in-law Jared Kushner who Farrakhan alleged was disloyal to America.

“The Nation of Islam remains committed to distorting the relationship between blacks and Jews,” the ADL wrote. [FORWARD]


U.S. stock futures, dollar fall on rising concerns over Trump

U.S. share futures and the dollar tumbled on Wednesday on worries about more U.S. political turmoil after media reports said President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end a probe into Trump’s former national security advisor.

The reports raised questions over whether obstruction of justice charges could be laid against Trump, weakening confidence in the U.S. president’s ability to push through an aggressive stimulus program that investors had been banking on since his election in November.

S&P 500 mini futures ESc1, the world’s most liquid stock futures, dropped 0.5 percent to 2,385, though they have managed to hold above their recent lows around 2,379.

The dollar dropped 0.7 percent to 112.37 yen JPY=, slipping further from its highs near 114.40 yen touched last week.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies .DXY =USD dropped to 97.93, giving up all of the gains made after Trump’s election victory in November.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR dipped to 2.294 percent, flirting with its lowest level in two weeks. [REUTERS]

Industrial Production Surged in April

WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial output rose sharply in April, the latest evidence that economic growth is picking up following a lackluster start to the year.

Industrial production—a measure of output at factories, mines and utilities—jumped 1.0% from a month earlier, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. That was the largest gain in more than three years.

The strong showing follows a string of upbeat April indicators, including the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level since 2007, solid consumer spending gains at online sellers, restaurants and other retailers, and existing-home sales climbing at their fastest pace in a decade. The broad-based growth across key sectors of the economy suggests healthy demand from consumers and businesses, reversing some gloomier readings from earlier in the year.

“If you filter through the noise and look at the broader trend, things are starting to get a little better,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp.

Tuesday’s report from the Federal Reserve showed manufacturing output, the biggest component of industrial production, posted its strongest gain since early in 2014, pushing the Fed’s manufacturing index to a new post recession high. [WSJ]

Hello Living files plans for 21-story DoBro hotel

Eli Karp’s Hello Living plans to build a 100-key hotel at 291 Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn, a permit application submitted to the city’s Department of Buildings on Tuesday shows. The 21-story project would appear to be the first hotel for what is one of Brooklyn’s most active residential developers.

Plans call for a 40,721-square-foot structure with five hotel rooms per floor and coffee shop on the ground floor.

Karp is best known for bringing small- and mid-sized rentals to Brooklyn. He acquired the 291 Livingston site from John Catsimatidis for $11.1 million in March. The parcel was originally supposed to be part of a $70 million assemblage sale to Aview Equities that fell through and led to multiple lawsuits.

Hello Living’s largest project, a 132-unit rental building at 1580 Nostrand Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, is still under development and is expected to wrap construction in 2018. Earlier plans had called for 60 condominiums in the unit mix, but information on Hello Living’s website would indicate that those condos have since been nixed. [TRD]

05/17/2017 10:33 AM by David Kinzer
Tags: Morning Read

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