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Republican Senators Spar over Trump Nominees to Head State Department, CIA

Two U.S. Republican senators sparred Sunday over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as his new secretary of state, and deputy CIA chief Gina Haspel to take over at the intelligence agency.

If confirmed, Haspel would be the first female director in the CIA’s 70-year history.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted on CNN that both Pompeo and Haspel would be confirmed by the Senate. He dismissed one opponent of the nominations, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, as “an outlier” among Republican lawmakers.

Paul, also on CNN, argued against Pompeo, saying Pompeo supports U.S.-sanctioned regime change in some foreign countries. Rand said Haspel was linked to CIA torture of terrorism suspects at clandestine sites overseas.

Paul said he would “do whatever it takes” to derail the two nominations in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority. Paul said that if need be, he would filibuster the nominations, in an attempt to block them from winning approval.

Graham described Haspel as “highly qualified,” while acknowledging her past support of “enhanced interrogation” techniques — including waterboarding, which simulates drowning — against terrorism suspects in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The CIA no longer permits enhanced interrogation.

“I’m looking forward for her to acknowledge this policy is no longer allowed,” Graham said.

Paul said he does not think Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman before Trump named him CIA director, would be a “good fit” as the nation’s top diplomat to succeed Rex Tillerson, who was fired last week by Trump after a year on the job.

“I don’t think our policy ought to be for regime change,” Paul said.

As for Haspel, Paul said, “What America stands for is not torture. Torture is the hallmark of totalitarianism.”

Paul cited Haspel’s reported oversight of a CIA “black site” in Thailand and her subsequent role in an order to destroy video evidence of the interrogations.

“It’s just inconsistent with who we are as a people to have someone run our spy agency that has all this enormous power, who is intimately involved with torture, and from everything we’re reading, was supportive of the policy,” Paul said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Investigates Deaths in Hyundai-Kia Cars When Air Bags Failed

Air bags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes and four people are dead. Now the U.S. government’s road safety agency wants to know why.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s investigating problems that affect an estimated 425,000 cars made by the Korean automakers. The agency also is looking into whether the same problem could happen in vehicles made by other companies.

In documents posted on its website Saturday , the safety agency says the probe covers 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize cars and 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte compacts. The agency says it has reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars. Four people died and six were injured.

Electrical circuits 

The problem has been traced to electrical circuit shorts in air bag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TRW. NHTSA now wants to know if other automakers used the same computer.

On Feb. 27, Hyundai recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas because of air bag failures, which the company blamed on the short circuits.Hyundai’s sister automaker Kia, which sells similar vehicles, has yet to issue a recall.

In a statement Saturday, Kia said that it has not confirmed any air bag non-deployments in its 2002-2013 Kia Forte models arising from “the potential chip issue.” The company said it will work with NHTSA investigators.

“Kia will act promptly to conduct a safety recall, if it determines that a recall would be appropriate,” the company said.

But a consumer complaint cited in NHTSA’s investigation documents said Kia was informed of a crash near Oakland in which air bags failed to deploy and a passenger was killed.

In October 2015, the complainant told NHTSA that a 2012 Forte was involved in a serious front-end crash that occurred in July 2013. A passenger was killed and the driver was injured. According to the complaint, Kia was notified, the air bag computer was tested and it was “found not to be working.”

Kia spokesman James Bell said he could not comment beyond the company’s statement.

Hyundai recall

In addition, no deaths or injuries were disclosed in Hyundai’s recall documents, which were posted by NHTSA in early March.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor says the problem occurred in rare high-speed head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. “It’s very unusual to have that kind of collision,” he said Saturday.

Dealers will consider offering loaner cars to owners until the problem can be repaired, he said. “We certainly would do everything we can to help our customers,” Trainor said.

Hyundai said in a statement that the air bag control circuitry was damaged in three crashes and a fourth crash is under investigation.

ZF-TRW said in a statement that it is prevented by confidentiality agreements from identifying other automakers that bought its air bag control computers. The company said it is working with customers and supports the NHTSA investigation.

According to NHTSA, Hyundai investigated and found the problem was “electrical overstress” in the computers. The company didn’t have a fix developed at the time but said it was investigating the problem with ZF-TRW. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. The problem also can stop the seat belts from tightening before a crash.

In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW. The agency noted a 2016 recall involving more than 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and SUVs that had a similar problem causing the air bags not to deploy. Agency documents show those vehicles had air bag computers made by ZF-TRW.

US Investigates Deaths in Hyundai-Kia Cars When Air Bags Failed

Air bags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes and four people are dead. Now the U.S. government’s road safety agency wants to know why.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s investigating problems that affect an estimated 425,000 cars made by the Korean automakers. The agency also is looking into whether the same problem could happen in vehicles made by other companies.

In documents posted on its website Saturday , the safety agency says the probe covers 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize cars and 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte compacts. The agency says it has reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars. Four people died and six were injured.

Electrical circuits 

The problem has been traced to electrical circuit shorts in air bag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TRW. NHTSA now wants to know if other automakers used the same computer.

On Feb. 27, Hyundai recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas because of air bag failures, which the company blamed on the short circuits.Hyundai’s sister automaker Kia, which sells similar vehicles, has yet to issue a recall.

In a statement Saturday, Kia said that it has not confirmed any air bag non-deployments in its 2002-2013 Kia Forte models arising from “the potential chip issue.” The company said it will work with NHTSA investigators.

“Kia will act promptly to conduct a safety recall, if it determines that a recall would be appropriate,” the company said.

But a consumer complaint cited in NHTSA’s investigation documents said Kia was informed of a crash near Oakland in which air bags failed to deploy and a passenger was killed.

In October 2015, the complainant told NHTSA that a 2012 Forte was involved in a serious front-end crash that occurred in July 2013. A passenger was killed and the driver was injured. According to the complaint, Kia was notified, the air bag computer was tested and it was “found not to be working.”

Kia spokesman James Bell said he could not comment beyond the company’s statement.

Hyundai recall

In addition, no deaths or injuries were disclosed in Hyundai’s recall documents, which were posted by NHTSA in early March.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor says the problem occurred in rare high-speed head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. “It’s very unusual to have that kind of collision,” he said Saturday.

Dealers will consider offering loaner cars to owners until the problem can be repaired, he said. “We certainly would do everything we can to help our customers,” Trainor said.

Hyundai said in a statement that the air bag control circuitry was damaged in three crashes and a fourth crash is under investigation.

ZF-TRW said in a statement that it is prevented by confidentiality agreements from identifying other automakers that bought its air bag control computers. The company said it is working with customers and supports the NHTSA investigation.

According to NHTSA, Hyundai investigated and found the problem was “electrical overstress” in the computers. The company didn’t have a fix developed at the time but said it was investigating the problem with ZF-TRW. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. The problem also can stop the seat belts from tightening before a crash.

In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW. The agency noted a 2016 recall involving more than 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and SUVs that had a similar problem causing the air bags not to deploy. Agency documents show those vehicles had air bag computers made by ZF-TRW.

Women ‘Weed Warriors’ Leading the Way in US Pot Revolution

The pot revolution is alive and well in the state of Colorado where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014. While the full impact of legal marijuana in Colorado has yet to be determined, what is clear is that cannabis has become a giant moneymaker for the state. And as Paula Vargas reports from Denver, women entrepreneurs — weed warriors, as some have called them — are leading the way.

Women ‘Weed Warriors’ Leading the Way in US Pot Revolution

The pot revolution is alive and well in the state of Colorado where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014. While the full impact of legal marijuana in Colorado has yet to be determined, what is clear is that cannabis has become a giant moneymaker for the state. And as Paula Vargas reports from Denver, women entrepreneurs — weed warriors, as some have called them — are leading the way.

Analysts: Iraq War Legacy Marked by Failure, Some Success

March 20 marks the 15th anniversary of U.S. President George W. Bush announcing the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with air strikes and ground troops deployed to target long-time dictator Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders. But the mission and its complicated legacy have not been without controversy. VOA’s Jill Craig has more from Washington.

AP Fact Check: Trump Wrong on Russia Collusion Question, McCabe Timeline

In a series of blistering tweets, President Donald Trump falsely asserted that the House Intelligence Committee has concluded there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.

Trump in his Saturday tweets lashed out at his perceived foes tied to the Russia investigation and exulted in the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, once a leader of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices. The FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton infuriated Trump at the time, and still does.

TRUMP: “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.” — Trump tweet.

 

THE FACTS: He’s wrong. That conclusion came from Republicans on the committee; it was not a committee finding. Democrats on the committee sharply dispute the Republican conclusions and will issue their own.

 

Whatever the findings of the committee, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the key investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. The probe has produced a number of charges and convictions, none to date alleging criminal collusion. But Mueller continues to explore whether collusion occurred and whether Trump or others may have obstructed justice. 

 

Trump did not specify what he meant in accusing the agencies of corruption. McCabe was fired in advance of an inspector general’s report that’s expected to conclude he was not forthcoming about matters related to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails.

TRUMP: “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!” — Trump tweet.

 

THE FACTS: Some context is missing here. This is true: McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, ran as a Democrat for the Virginia state Senate in 2015, and the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave her campaign $500,000 during her race. McAuliffe is a longtime associate of Hillary Clinton, branded “Crooked H” by Trump. Jill McCabe lost the race.

 

Trump’s complaint, as he spelled it out in the past, is that Clinton-linked money went to “the wife of the FBI agent who was in charge of her investigation.” But that timeline is wrong. Andrew McCabe was elevated to deputy FBI director and didn’t become involved in the Clinton email probe until after his wife’s bid for office was over. The FBI said McCabe’s promotion and supervisory position in the email investigation happened three months after the campaign.

The bureau also said in a statement at the time that McCabe sought guidance from agency ethics officers and recused himself from “all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics” throughout his wife’s campaign.

Lawmakers, Former Officials Weigh in on Firing of FBI’s McCabe

Lawmakers and former federal officials weighed in Saturday on the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe late Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under former President Barack Obama, tweeted “this is dangerous” when referring to McCabe’s ouster.

“Analyze McCabe firing on two levels: the substance and the timing. We don’t know enough about the substance yet. The timing appears cruel and a cave [capitulation] that compromised DOJ [Department of Justice] independence, to please an increasingly erratic President who should’ve played no role here,” Holder said on Twitter Saturday.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who also served under Obama and has been a frequent critic of the Trump administration, aimed his Twitter remarks directly at President Donald Trump: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” he said. “America will triumph over you.”

A former FBI agent who worked closely with McCabe before his own retirement two years ago, Frank Montoya Jr., told Business Insider: “This is a political assassination on a good man and public servant. It is also a savage broadside on the institution he served.”

Montoya also questioned the timing of McCabe’s firing. 

“One does not get fired one day before one is eligible” for retirement, he said. “I’ve never heard of that happening before in 26 years of service.”

Critics applaud

Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, however, issued a statement Saturday that said McCabe’s actions had “tarnished” the FBI’s reputation.

“I applaud Attorney General Jeff Sessions for taking action and firing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe prior to his scheduled retirement,” said Goodlatte, head of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who retired in 2006, said in a commentary for Fox News that McCabe’s firing “was justified because the FBI has a [sic] zero tolerance for lying under oath.”

“In fact,” he said, “there are many examples of the rank and file in the FBI losing their jobs and retirement benefits for violating these high standards.”

Lawmakers, Former Officials Weigh in on Firing of FBI’s McCabe

Lawmakers and former federal officials weighed in Saturday on the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe late Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under former President Barack Obama, tweeted “this is dangerous” when referring to McCabe’s ouster.

“Analyze McCabe firing on two levels: the substance and the timing. We don’t know enough about the substance yet. The timing appears cruel and a cave [capitulation] that compromised DOJ [Department of Justice] independence, to please an increasingly erratic President who should’ve played no role here,” Holder said on Twitter Saturday.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who also served under Obama and has been a frequent critic of the Trump administration, aimed his Twitter remarks directly at President Donald Trump: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” he said. “America will triumph over you.”

A former FBI agent who worked closely with McCabe before his own retirement two years ago, Frank Montoya Jr., told Business Insider: “This is a political assassination on a good man and public servant. It is also a savage broadside on the institution he served.”

Montoya also questioned the timing of McCabe’s firing. 

“One does not get fired one day before one is eligible” for retirement, he said. “I’ve never heard of that happening before in 26 years of service.”

Critics applaud

Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, however, issued a statement Saturday that said McCabe’s actions had “tarnished” the FBI’s reputation.

“I applaud Attorney General Jeff Sessions for taking action and firing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe prior to his scheduled retirement,” said Goodlatte, head of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who retired in 2006, said in a commentary for Fox News that McCabe’s firing “was justified because the FBI has a [sic] zero tolerance for lying under oath.”

“In fact,” he said, “there are many examples of the rank and file in the FBI losing their jobs and retirement benefits for violating these high standards.”