A Band Without a No. 1 Hit Is Outselling Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran – Trending Stuff

An old New Wave rock band that’s never released a No. 1 song in the U.S. is selling more concert tickets than the biggest pop stars in the world.

Depeche Mode, the British synth-pop group formed in 1980, is having one of the most remarkable tours in modern music and its most-successful concert run ever. The band sold 1.27 million tickets through the first nine months of 2017, more than Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber or Bruno Mars — much younger pop acts at the peak of their fame.

In October, the band became the first act to sell out four consecutive shows at the Hollywood Bowl, an open-air theater in the hills of Los Angeles that’s hosted everyone from the Beatles to Luciano Pavarotti. Now Depeche Mode is back on the road for its second tour through Europe this year and will head to Latin America in 2018. Not bad for a group whose album sales peaked more than 20 years ago.

“Every time we go out and tour, we’re playing to more people,” said Martin Gore, 56, the band’s guitarist and lead songwriter. “It’s just incredible at this stage in our career.”

Old Rockers

Depeche Mode’s success speaks to the enduring power of old rock groups, which accounted for a big chunk of the $7.3 billion North American concert industry last year. The best-selling festival of 2016 was Desert Trip, a bacchanal in California’s Coachella Valley featuring acts that came to prominence half a century ago. According to researcher Pollstar, the top tours of 2017 are Guns N’ Roses and U2, which released their best-selling albums 30 years ago.

Yet Depeche Mode’s late-career surge is also a tribute to a band that has carefully nurtured and expanded a loyal army of fans known as the Black Swarm (or Devotees) who follow it all over the world. The mania for the group’s dance pop is strongest in Germany, where the last seven albums have topped the charts, but it reaches every corner of the globe.

Delly Ramin Moradzadeh was just 14 when she developed an obsession that has gripped teenagers from Munich to Buenos Aires. Listening to Los Angeles radio station KROQ in 1984, she heard the song “People Are People,” and immediately asked her mom to take her to Tower Records to buy Depeche Mode’s new album.

She had to wait two years before seeing the band at Irvine Meadows, an experience that cemented her devotion. Moradzadeh has seen Depeche Mode live more than 30 times since that fateful first taste, including seven times on this latest tour. She estimates she has spent more than $2,000 on tickets and merchandise this year alone.

“I warned my husband before we got married that I have this obsession you have to deal with once every little while,” Moradzadeh said.

She praises the band for constantly rewarding fans with shows at small venues and special releases. While other groups have reunited after years apart for a big payday, Depeche Mode has released a new record about every four years since the mid-1980s and devotes much of its current set to music from its latest album, “Spirit,” the band’s 14th.

Never Stopping

The group has never stopped touring, even during a drug-addled era that manager Jonathan Kessler dubs “the experimental years.” Lead singer Dave Gahan, whose distinctive baritone is one of the band’s signatures, has grown more confident as a performer with each tour, strutting across the stage like a man possessed. Where the band once struggled to sell more than a couple thousand tickets in Nashville, Tennessee, it now plays before crowds more than triple that size in the cradle of country music. 

Periods between tours give band members time to recharge and leave fans wanting more, especially because the group doesn’t venture to the same cities every tour. Salt Lake City was the first stop on the 2017 U.S. tour, a place that hadn’t hosted Depeche Mode since 2009. Eight years is also enough time for devotees to inculcate their children with a love of songs like “Personal Jesus” or “Enjoy the Silence.”

Depeche Mode doesn’t sell records like it did in the 1990s, nor has it ever reached the heights of fellow British rockers Coldplay or Oasis. But a group whose musical genre was once derided has earned long-overdue respect. Critics raved about the latest tour, while Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Rihanna all cited the band as a major influence.

“They weren’t appreciated before,” said Kessler. “People didn’t get who they were or why they mattered musically. It’s one of the first electronic bands.”

Fighting Label

While Metallica and Taylor Swift have fought new ways of distributing music, Kessler has urged Depeche Mode to embrace new technologies, be it Apple’s iTunes or Spotify. Inspired by the Grateful Dead, which allowed fans to make their own recordings of live shows, Depeche Mode has often fought its record label and publisher to leave unlicensed videos on YouTube. 

Searching for the proper way to promote this latest tour, Depeche Mode opted to let a different fan take over its Facebook page every day to share stories and photos. Facebook is an ideal medium for Depeche Mode, whose core audience is between the age of 35 and 60. Fans have already created more than a dozen different fan pages and groups for Depeche Mode on the social-media platform.

This project gave those fans control of the band’s official page for the first time. Devotees from all over the world have shared their favorite memories, including some who say they’ve seen the band more than 40 times just this year. The page has 7.3 million “likes.”

While a single TV advertising campaign would cost millions, the Facebook promotion is free.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Jana Novotna, former Wimbledon tennis champion, dies aged 49 – Trending Stuff

Jana Novotna, the Czech tennis player who won the 1998 womens singles at Wimbledon, has died at the age of 49

Jana Novotna, who has died of cancer at 49, will forever be remembered for a moment of tears in defeat on Centre Court at Wimbledon, as much as the 100 titles she won in a long and lauded tennis career.

The Czech player, who was inducted into the sports hall of fame in 2005, struggled to contain her emotions after losing to Steffi Graf in the 1993 final at the All England Club, and the image of the Duchess of Kent consoling her during the trophy presentation is among the most enduring of the championships.

She was in sight of victory, leading 4-1 in the third set, when the German took five games in a row to win 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-4. When Novotna began crying after being presented with the runner-ups plate, the Duchess of Kent put an arm around her and whispered: Dont worry, youll win this one day.

She lost to Martina Hingis in the final four years later but won the title in 1998, beating the French player Nathalie Tauziat (whose cousin, Didier Deschamps, a week later captained France to the World Cup title in Paris). At 29 years and nine months, Novotna was the oldest first-time winner of a slam singles title in the Open era.

3 July 1993, Wimbledon final

Four-one up in the final set against Steffi Graf, Jana Novotna was poised to pull off one of Centre Court’s great upsets when she served for the point to go a further game ahead and, in all likelihood, beyond the reach of her opponent. It was a second serve and, sensing this was her moment, Novotna strained to put Graf’s return under pressure. The result was a double fault and Graf went on to break serve. Just over 20 minutes later, they were shaking hands. Novotna had failed to win another game.

The shock of her collapse finally struck as she collected her runner’s-up medal from the Duchess of Kent. ‘I wanted to handle myself well,’ she said later, ‘but when she smiled at me I just let go.’ As she wept, Novotna was consoled by the Duchess. ‘Don’t worry Jana,’ she said. ‘I know you can do it.’ Indeed, she did. Five years later, she was Wimbledon champion

Photograph: Chris Cole/Getty Images Europe

In a 2015 interview with the BBC, Novotna said of the 1993 final: The next day, even though I was sad and disappointed, I opened the newspaper and my picture with the Duchess of Kent was on the front pages. For a moment it felt like I was the winner and that was a great feeling. I still have the newspapers. Theyre beautiful pictures and I think it showed the human side of professional tennis, which most of the people came to remember instead of me losing.

It wouldnt sound great to say the 1993 final was the one I was most proud of because I lost the match when I was ahead. But it meant so much for me and maybe it made me a better player, a better person and maybe that match helped me to accomplish a lot more in my career.

Novotna, like many players of her era, was most comfortable playing at the net, a serve-volleyer of the excellent judgment and touch. Her forte was doubles, in which she won 12 grand slam titles including the full set of Wimbledon, Australian, French and the US as well as four in mixed doubles, but she was widely respected in singles, also.

The Duchess of Kent comforts Jana Novotna as she presents her with the runner up trophy on centre court at Wimbledon. Photograph: PA

Novotnas singles game flourished under the tutelage of her compatriot, Hana Mandlikova, and she earned $10m in a career in which she won more than 500 matches, beating some of the best players in the game, mostly on grass, where her skills were seen to best advantage. Her doubles partners included Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Arantxa Snchez Vicario, Gigi Fernndez and Helena Sukova.

She came to prominence in singles at the Australian Open in 1991 when, against all expectations, she beat Graf for the first time in 11 attempts on her way to the final, where she lost in three sets to Monica Seles.

Novotna won silver in the doubles at the 1988 Olympics and again in 1996 at Atlanta, where she also won bronze in the singles. She was ranked No1 in the world in doubles in 1990 and No2 in singles in 1997. Over 14 years, she won 24 singles titles at all levels and 76 in doubles. After retiring in 1999, Novotna briefly did commentary for the BBC at Wimbledon.

It is a measure of the esteem in which she was held on and off the court that the tributes arrived from all quarters of the sport on Monday.

Jana was as kind as she was athletic, as smart as she was competitive, the former world No1 Pam Shriver said. I cant believe she is gone this soon. Her smile lives forever young.

It was a sentiment echoed by the former British No1 Andrew Castle who said: She was good fun of an evening, a champion on court, so tough to play against. And her smile was wonderful.

Jo Durie, who lost all her five matches against Novotna, tweeted: Oh no how terrible sad. All thoughts to her family and friends. So glad Jana won Wimbledon. Such a fighter on court & a wicked sense of humour.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Trump ‘seething’ as Mueller probe reaches former aides – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)The dramatic intensification of the Russia investigation on Monday reignited President Donald Trump’s fury at the controversy clouding his presidency, prompting his aides to urgently advise him against lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller as they work to revive a halting policy agenda.

Watching the developments unfold on the large television screens installed in his private residence, Trump was “seething,” according to a Republican close to the White House.

The indictments on Monday of campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates weren’t a surprise to Trump, according to people who have spoken with the President. Trump has long assumed that members of his presidential campaign would be swept up in Mueller’s probe.
The revelation that another campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI was far less expected, the sources said. And the assumption that Papadopoulos is cooperating with the FBI’s Russia probe stirred even more unease among Trump’s allies.

Even as the White House sought to downplay the developments, the charges only served to fuel questions about Trump’s ties to Russia, which he has angrily denied and worked to discredit.

A question Trump asked on Twitter — punctuated by five question marks — offered the clearest window into his mindset: “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”

The President’s attempt to change the subject was complicated by the highly detailed indictments of his two former aides, which painted Manafort as a well-compensated broker of pro-Russian interests. It was complicated even more by the unveiling of a guilty plea from a third adviser who had repeated contacts with officials close to the Kremlin — the clearest connection so far between the Trump campaign and Russia.

As revelations from the Russia investigation rocked Washington on Monday, Trump spent much of the day hunkered down, surrounded by only a handful of aides in the third-story living quarters of the White House.

Huddled with members of his legal team — including Ty Cobb, his in-house lawyer focused on the Mueller probe; John Dowd, an outside legal adviser; and Jay Sekulow, who called into the White House from his base in Nashville — Trump was bolstered by the sense among his team that the charges against Manafort bore only the loosest connections to the presidential campaign. He griped that Manafort’s role on his campaign had taken outsized importance in the media, and insisted his former chairman played only a minor role.

Senior aides, according to a senior White House official, expected Mueller to target top members of Trump’s campaign team like Manafort, but the addition of Papadopoulos surprised the President.

“The President is going, ‘Really, this is the guy?’ ” a senior White House official said in describing Trump’s reaction to Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.

As the morning carried on, however, Trump grew increasingly frustrated as he viewed cable news coverage of his onetime campaign chairman arriving at the FBI field office in downtown Washington, believing his former aides’ roles were being inflated.

Full combat mode

The West Wing suddenly was back in full combat mode, with an internal tug-of-war emerging over how aggressively Trump should seek to discredit Mueller and his investigation. Even as White House lawyers urged the President to avoid directly criticizing Mueller, other advisers — including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon — suggested he aggressively push back.

“Calling for Mueller’s firing would undercut the White House argument,” one senior administration official told CNN.

Cobb, a White House lawyer, has been a leading voice inside the West Wing to urge cooperation with Mueller’s investigation. White House chief of staff John Kelly has reinforced that argument inside the administration. Both have told Trump that providing Mueller with information — including, potentially, an interview with the President himself — would allow the investigation to reach a conclusion quicker.

Their recommendations have gone beyond simply cooperation, however; Cobb and Kelly have both warned Trump that spouting off on Mueller on Twitter or during friendly interviews on Fox News would backfire badly.

For the past several months, Trump has largely followed that advice. But as word of indictments emerged late last week, other members of his team — both West Wing aides and informal advisers — have said that Trump’s kid-gloves approach to Mueller has yielded no results.

Bannon, who was dismissed in August, has told associates that Trump’s legal team is steering the President in the wrong direction, and has suggested a more combative approach to Mueller, according to administration officials.

A source familiar with Bannon’s thinking tells CNN that he is urging the President to start to fight back aggressively against Mueller.

He wants the White House to get Republicans to cut funding, publicly debate Mueller’s mandate and slow down document production in court. But so far there is no evidence that Trump is willing to change course and several Republican lawmakers have warned against going after Mueller.

“The President frequently changes his mind,” said one person familiar with the President’s legal strategy, “and we are always revisiting every plan.”

Another person familiar with the President’s thinking said it wouldn’t be surprising for more lawyers to join Trump’s legal team.

‘Continuing to cooperate’

Many of the President’s allies have privately speculated that Monday’s indictments only made it more likely he would ultimately find some way of hampering the probe, including potentially dismissing Mueller.

Cobb took care to note in a statement the President was “continuing to cooperate” with the special counsel’s office and investigation, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders would only say Monday the President has “no intention or plan” to fire Mueller.

During his morning session with his lawyers, Trump asked for an explanation of the federal grand jury indictment process, and why a sealed indictment was used, according to a senior White House official. He was also interested to know whether the indictments signaled that the investigation is speeding up toward its conclusion, the official said.

Officially, the White House insists the probe is nearing its end.

“We still expect this to conclude soon,” Sanders said.

But privately, there are few legal experts or even close allies of Trump who believe Mueller is close to finished.

A sense of tension and uncertainty was palpable in the West Wing on Monday, officials said, as they sought to keep the President focused on the week’s busy calendar. The dramatic scaling up of Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia comes ahead of what the White House hoped would be a policy-centric several weeks, with the opportunity to reset an off-course agenda.

Republicans on Wednesday are set to visit the White House after unveiling their tax plan on Capitol Hill. Trump is expected to introduce Jerome Powell as his Federal Reserve chairman on Thursday. And on Friday he departs for a 12-day trip to Asia, where North Korea’s nuclear threat will demand full attention.

Presidential trip looms

Trump’s Asia swing amounts to the longest presidential trip to that continent in decades, a fact that has some of his advisers anxious about the results that jet lag and a foreign environment could have on the President’s mindset.

It won’t be the first time Trump has departed overseas just as a swirl of Russia-related scandal mounts back home. A day before he departed for his first presidential foreign trip in May, the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel, ensuring the story would follow Trump on his stops in the Middle East and Europe.

Trump avoided tweeting almost entirely on that first swing, his cantankerous mood tempered by the presence of his wife, Melania, and a rapid-pace schedule that included stops in five countries.

Some of Trump’s advisers have already expressed the hope his trip to Asia proceeds in similar fashion — though they acknowledge that attempts to rein in Trump’s behavior often result in the President entrenching himself in the very actions his advisers recommended against.

Trump, meanwhile, has expressed concern the special counsel’s ongoing investigation could hurt his ability to negotiate with foreign leaders as he prepares to head to Asia.

“He worries about his ability to negotiate with various entities and how much he’s hamstrung by this,” the official said, adding the President feels hobbled by the investigation and he and the White House believe he will be in a stronger position politically and internationally once the investigation concludes.

At the heart of the President’s fury is the very existence of the special counsel, for which he still blames Attorney General Jeff Session and his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

At a previously scheduled lunch on Monday with Sessions in the private dining room just off the Oval Office, an official said the President did not raise the Russia investigation. Rather, a spokesman said, they talked about immigration, the opioid epidemic and upcoming judicial appointments.

And Trump revealed few outward worries when he emerged in public late in the day Monday to greet trick-or-treaters from a spider-webbed White House South Portico. With Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” blaring from the speakers, Trump handed out plastic-wrapped cookies and high-fived costumed kids — including a skeleton in a “Make America Great Again” hat.

But when a reporter shouted a question about the day’s indictments, all Trump did was wave.

Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

Categories CNN

Cold Blast Headed for Europe Won’t Faze a Very Warm 2017 – Trending Stuff

Europe’s coldest December for seven years is unlikely to derail what will probably be one of the warmest years on record.

In a last chilly blast, the first half of this month will be unusually cold before warming to near normal temperatures, according to eight meteorologists surveyed by Bloomberg. December may still be the coolest since 2010 as high pressure near Iceland and northwest Russia funnels arctic winds south, said Tyler Roys, an Accuweather Inc. meteorologist in State College, Pennsylvania.

While Europe is seen well-supplied for electricity this winter and natural gas stocks are higher than average for the time of year, those buffers could be tested in extended spells of extreme cold. China forecasts it will have gas shortages this winter, which may mean competition with Europe for liquefied natural gas cargoes already trading at the highest for the time of year since 2014.

“Extreme, even dangerous cold does threaten at times this winter including in December,” said Joe D’Aleo, WeatherBell Analytics LLC’s chief meteorologist. “Snow will develop in east Europe as it cools and will spread back toward the center with some possible in the U.K.”

The chilly start to December is already here. In Germany, temperatures are predicted to drop to near-freezing on Saturday versus a 10-year average of 3.4 degrees Celsius (38 Fahrenheit), according to Weather Co. data on Bloomberg. Czech Republic temperatures are set to fall below zero over the coming days.

The coldest conditions in the first half of December will be in Norway and across the southwest of Europe before warmer conditions return, according to MDA Information Systems Inc., a weather forecaster based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This year is on track to be one of the warmest on record, said Rebecca Fuller, a senior meteorologist at MDA.

To read more on rising global temperatures, click here

Milder temperatures may protect against energy price jumps, while higher-than-usual inventories of natural gas may help prevent the sort of fuel scarcity that occurred last winter. Spot LNG prices in northeast Asia rose 20 cents last week to $9.90 per million British thermal units, matching the highest level since January 2015, according to a report from World Gas Intelligence

“I think storages have sufficient slack to accommodate a period of cold during December,” said Pierluigi Frison, a gas trader at Green Network U.K. Plc in London. “The big question is whether they will be able to do so later in the winter with lower stocks, if LNG prices in Asia remain this high.”

Also helping energy prices remain low will be high winds, which lowers the need for gas-fired power plants. Wind supply in the U.K. may surge past a record, set Monday, on Dec. 7, according to data from Elexon.

In early December “it looks like winds will gradually pick up,” particularly over the U.K. and Benelux and Germany, said Giacomo Masato, London-based meteorologist for Marex Spectron. “The tendency is toward high volatility with spells of very weak winds, but then subsequent spells of relatively strong winds.”

A change to milder weather in northern Europe seems probable by the middle of the month, but additional cold snaps, especially in the south, are still likely later in December, according to Matthew Dobson, a senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup U.K. Ltd.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work

For Iain Duncan Smith, poverty was the rotten fruit of broken families, addiction or debt. Photograph: Bloomberg/via Getty Images

That was Jrvinen, too, until this year. Just as with so many Britons on social security, he was trapped in a humiliating system that gave him barely enough to feed himself, while refusing him even a glimmer of a hope of fulfilment.

So what accounted for his change? Certainly not the UBI money. In Finland, 560 is less than a fifth of average private-sector income. You have to be a magician to survive on such money, Jrvinen says. Over and over, he baldly describes himself as poor.

His liberation came in the lack of conditions attached to the money. If they so wish, Finns on UBI can bank the cash and do nothing else. But, in Jrvinens case at least, the sum has removed the fear of utter destitution, freeing him to do work he finds meaningful.

It sounds simple. It is simple. But to this visitor from Austerity Britain, with its inglorious panoply of welfare scandals stretching from universal credit to Concentrix to Atos, it was almost fantastical.

This UBI trial was introduced by a centre-right government that is bringing in its own version of austerity, including big cuts to benefits and schools. Yet, try as I might to imagine Theresa May or Philip Hammond allowing even loose change to be given to the poor with no questions, I still draw a blank.

I visit Finlands equivalent of Iain Duncan Smith, the social affairs minister Pirkko Mattila. A recent escapee from the populist True Finns, she carries no discernible hippy tendencies not a whiff of joss stick. Yet she seems genuinely bemused that there could be any political resistance to handing poor people some money to sit at home. I personally believe that in Finland citizens really want to work, she says.

What this underlines is how debased Britains welfare politics have become compared with much of the rest of Europe. Blame Tory austerity, or New Labours workfare, or Thatcherisms trite exhortations to get on your bike but we have ended up with a system shot through by two toxic beliefs.

One, that poverty is the product of personal moral failure. For the former chancellor George Osborne, it was about skivers v strivers. For IDS, poverty was the rotten fruit of broken families, addiction or debt. Neither man, nor the rest of their party, can accept what their rightwing counterparts in Finland do: that poverty is no more than a lack of money.

What flows from that is the second bogus British belief: the idea that social security isnt a safety net for all, but a cash-starved and demoralised triage system for the lazy and feckless right at the bottom.

Treating the poor as criminals in the making places welfare as an adjunct to the criminal justice system. It means declaring dying people as fit for work. It leaves disabled people living in mortal fear of their next Esa or Pip assessment; jobless people being sanctioned for no good reason.

And it is all next to useless. Bureaucracy and costs are displaced everywhere from the NHS to local councils to citizens advice bureaux. The government has, on its own assessments, failed to make a fraction of its proposed savings from reforming disability benefits. Think about all those ordinary peoples lives ripped up and ruined and barely a penny saved.

If that was the philosophy of the Finns, they would never have got this experiment off the ground, and Jrvinen would not now be dreaming up dozens of schemes.

Go to Finland for answers on universal basic income, by all means. But be prepared to come back with even more questions about why Britain abuses its poor.

Aditya Chakraborttys report from Finland can be seen on Vice News Tonight on HBO and online

Aditya Chakrabortty is a Guardian columnist

Ex-Trump campaign adviser pleads guilty to making false statement – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)A former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser has pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government — the campaign’s clearest connection so far to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

In court records unsealed on Monday, the FBI said George Papadopoulos “falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed ‘dirt’ related to emails” concerning Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Records also describe an email between Trump campaign officials suggesting they were considering acting on Russian invitations to go to Russia.

In addition, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered Monday to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

The charges against top officials from Trump’s campaign signals a dramatic new phase of Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.

Papadopoulos’ guilty plea brings the Mueller probe into actions that occurred during the 2016 campaign. The charges against Manafort and Gates are unrelated to the Trump campaign, though it’s possible Mueller could add additional charges.

Gates, 45, is a longtime business associate of Manafort, 68. The pair worked together since the mid-2000s, and Gates served as Manafort’s deputy on the campaign. The two were indicted under seal on Friday, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

President Donald Trump distanced himself from Manafort on Monday morning, asking why Clinton wasn’t being investigated.

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” He soon added: “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

He tweeted before Papadopoulos’ guilty plea was unsealed.

Campaign official suggested ‘low level’ staff should go to Russia

Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents “about the timing, extent and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials,” according to the complaint. Mueller signed a 14-page statement regarding Papadopoulos’ offense, which lays out of the facts of the case.

In May, Papadopoulos sent an email to a “high-ranking campaign official” with the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.” The email said Russian officials were eager to meet with the candidate and had been reaching out.

In a footnote, the FBI statement notes that the email suggesting a Russia visit was forwarded from one campaign official to another. “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal,” the email read.

The FBI statement does not explain to whom the campaign officials were concerned about sending signals.

In the affidavit connected to the case, there is a reference to a July 2016 email Papadopoulos sent to a foreign contact regarding setting up a meeting with what appears to be Manafort (described in the email as his “national chairman”). Papadopoulos writes the meeting has been “approved from our side.”

Mueller’s statement also says that Papadopoulos met in March 2016 with a Russian woman — introduced to him as a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though she was not — and he sought to use her connections to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials.

The statement also says that Papadopoulos falsely claimed he met with an overseas professor before joining the Trump campaign about “the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’”

The professor only took interest in Papadopoulos because of his status on the campaign, according to the statement.

A former Trump campaign official said Papadopoulos interacted with the campaign “a significant amount” during the 2016 election cycle.

“He was a foreign policy adviser,” said the official, who described Papadopoulos as an adviser who was in contact with the campaign staff via email and not a familiar face around Trump Tower. The official said Papadopoulos exchanged emails “constantly” on foreign policy matters with the Trump team during the campaign.

Another former senior campaign adviser said of Papadopoulos: “He was a zero. A non-event.”

When asked about Papadopoulos’ role in the campaign, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters his role was “extremely limited” and called it a “volunteer position.”

Sanders said the fact that Papadopoulos did not tell the truth “has nothing to do with the campaign” and said he never acted in an official capacity.

“He reached out and nothing happened beyond that. That shows one, his level of importance in the campaign, and two, shows what little role he had within coordinating anything officially for the campaign.”

Manafort, Gates charged with conspiracy against the US

The indictment against Manafort and Gates contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

The two pleaded not guilty before US District Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson on Monday afternoon. Other than stating their names, neither man spoke. Gates was represented by a public defender.

A federal judge ordered home confinement for Manafort and Gates and set bond at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates. The defendants will have to check in daily with law enforcement by phone, and they will only be allowed to leave their homes to see their attorneys, to appear at court or for medical and religious necessities.

Glenn Selig, a spokesman for Gates, said Monday afternoon that Gates “welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court” and won’t comment further until he’s had a chance to review the indictment with his legal team. CNN has reached out to Manafort’s lawyer for comment.

Manafort and Gates were the first officials in Trump’s orbit charged in connection with the special counsel investigation, which is exploring whether Trump’s actions surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey amount to obstruction of justice. Mueller has taken a broad approach to his mandate that includes a focus on the financial dealings of Trump’s team.

Trump has been briefed on the charges against Manafort and Gates, a source close to the President told CNN.

At the briefing Monday afternoon, Sanders said Trump did not have much of a reaction to the Mueller news “because it doesn’t have anything to do with us.”

Two officials told CNN Trump will not call for Mueller’s firing, and Sanders said there is “no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel.”

Clinton has no comment on the charges, a spokesman told CNN.

Manafort, whose work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has attracted scrutiny from federal investigators, has previously denied financial wrongdoing regarding his Ukraine-related payments, his bank accounts in offshore tax shelters and his various real-estate transactions over the years. Gates, who has also denied wrongdoing, was Manafort’s longtime business associate in his lobbying firm before being tapped as his deputy on the Trump campaign.

Manafort’s Ukraine work scrutinized

Before the indictment, the FBI in July executed a so-called no-knock search warrant with guns drawn at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, seizing financial and tax documents, including some that had already been provided to congressional investigators.

Federal investigators’ interest in Manafort and Gates goes back well before the special counsel was appointed. For about a decade, Manafort worked for Yanukovych and his Russia-friendly Party of Regions. Manafort’s work spurred a separate federal investigation in 2014, which examined whether he and other Washington-based lobbying firms failed to register as foreign agents for the Yanukovych regime.

Gates joined Manafort’s lobbying firm in the mid-2000s and handled projects in Eastern Europe, which later included work for Yanukovych.

Yanukovych was ousted amid street protests in 2014, and his pro-Russian Party of Regions was accused of corruption and laundering millions of dollars out of Ukraine. The FBI sought to learn whether those who worked for Yanukovych — Manafort’s firm, as well as Washington lobbying firms Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group — played a role. The Podesta Group is headed by Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, a former chief of staff of the Clinton White House, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Two sources told CNN on Monday afternoon that Tony Podesta is leaving the group amid the Mueller investigation.

Manafort was previously investigated for failing to register as a foreign agent for the Ukraine work, and the FBI secured approval from the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor Manafort’s communications. The surveillance lapsed in 2016 but was restarted as part of the FBI-led Russia investigation after Manafort left the campaign.

The investigation into Manafort intensified after Mueller was named as special counsel in May. Mueller has hired a team of prosecutors who have examined Manafort’s financial and tax history stretching back 11 years to January 2006, while he was working in Ukraine.

Running the Trump campaign

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help with delegate counting ahead of the Republican National Convention, as some Republicans hoped to use arcane delegate procedures to wrest the nomination from Trump at the convention in Cleveland.

He soon was promoted to campaign chairman, and he became the top official on the campaign after then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired in June 2016.

His tenure didn’t last long.

The Times reported in August 2016 that Ukrainian investigators found Manafort’s name in an off-the-books, handwritten ledger detailing secret payments — including $12.7 million to Manafort from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Manafort denied he had received any such payment and claims the ledger was forged. But just days later, he resigned from the campaign as the accusations swirling around him became a major distraction for Trump.

Gates rose and fell with Manafort

When Manafort joined the Trump campaign, he brought Gates on board shortly thereafter.

As Manafort rose in the ranks, so did Gates, who took on a more prominent role after Lewandowski was fired. But his stock rose and fell with his business partner — after Manafort resigned in August 2016 amid questions about his Ukraine dealings, Gates’ role was diminished, and he later left the campaign.

Questions about Gates’ work in Ukraine continued to dog him even after Trump was inaugurated.

Gates was a founding member of America First Policies, a pro-Trump advocacy group, but stepped down after about two months. He was forced to leave amid another round of blistering headlines about Manafort, his longtime business partner and political ally, CNN reported at the time.

Gates has denied any allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, telling the Times in June that they were “totally ridiculous and without merit.”

Gates, according to a source, accompanied Trump ally Tom Barrack to the White House several times this year.

Focus of multiple investigations

Manafort’s web of connections to Russia has continued to expand as the investigations have moved forward.

In July, new reports revealed that Manafort was part of a June 2016 meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian lawyer who had connections to the Kremlin.

In September, The Washington Post reported that Manafort had offered to provide private briefings on the campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Putin.

Manafort has denied that he ever “knowingly” communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election or participated in any Russian efforts to “undermine the interests of the United States.”

This story is breaking and will be updated.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that John Podesta was a chief of staff in the Clinton administration and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

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Donald Malarkey, war hero portrayed in Band of Brothers, dies aged 96 – Trending Stuff

Scott Grimes, center, plays Donald Malarkey in Band of Brothers. Photograph: David James/HBO

Malarkey was born on 30 July 1921 in Astoria, Oregon. He was a freshman at the University of Oregon when he was drafted into the US army in 1942. He volunteered to become a paratrooper.

He returned to the University of Oregon after the war, receiving a bachelors degree in business in 1948. While at the school he met Irene Moore. The two married in 1948 and had four children: Michael Malarkey, Marianne McNally, Sharon Hill and Martha Serean.

Malarkey met the historian Stephen Ambrose in 1987. In 1989 he traveled with other members of Easy Company to Europe to provide oral histories of their war experiences. Those recollections became the basis for Band of Brothers and an earlier book with the same name written by Ambrose.

A scene from Band of Brothers.

In the series, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, he was played by Scott Grimes.

Malarkey detailed his experiences in a 2008 autobiography written with Bob Welch, Easy Company Soldier. He was frequently asked to speak about his experiences in the second world war. He also lectured at the United States military academy at West Point and made trips to Kuwait and Germany to meet wounded soldiers from the Iraq war.

He remained close to the other surviving members of Easy Company and attended his final reunion in Portland, Oregon, in August.

You could look back and with great pride realize that you had done a very significant thing and acted responsibly in what amounted to saving the world, he told Oregon Public Broadcasting in 2012.

Malarkey is survived by his daughters and his sister, Molly Rumpunkis.

How a Tokyo-Born Outsider Became the Face of Czech Nationalism – Trending Stuff

Tomio Okamura’s background is about as multicultural as you can get. The son of a Czech mother and a Japanese-Korean father, he suffered racist bullying in Japan and the Czech Republic that was so severe he developed a stutter and wet his bed until the age of 14.

Which may or may not help explain why his Czech political party is adamantly opposed to immigration, wants the country to leave the European Union and compares Islam to “Hitler-style Nazism.” The message is resonating: Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy may become the fourth-strongest party in parliament after next week’s elections.

“We are living under a total EU dictatorship,” the 45-year-old politician said in a pub in Prague’s historical center. “Not even the Soviet Union dared to dictate to us who should live here and who shouldn’t.”

Tomio Okamura

Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg

The burgeoning appeal of the party, known as SPD, mirrors the recent electoral surge of the nationalist AfD in neighboring Germany and the likelihood that Austria’s Freedom Party will become a part of the ruling coalition after Sunday’s elections. In Eastern Europe, far-right agendas are already represented by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party and the opposition Jobbik as well as Slovakia’s People’s Party, whose leader has openly praised the country’s World War II fascist regime.

In the Czech Republic, which accepted only 12 out of the 1,600 refugees it was required to take in under the EU migrant redistribution system, the anti-immigrant rhetoric has spilled over to most political parties. Among them: the ruling Social Democrats and their coalition partner ANO, which leads in polls. In June, the EU launched infringement procedures against members Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for their opposition to shelter refugees via the shared national quotas.

Okamura has accused Muslims of propagating terrorism and advocates “zero tolerance” toward accepting asylum-seekers. He has urged locals to stop buying kebab and to harass Muslims by walking dogs and pigs near the two mosques in the country of 10.6 million. Hatem Berrezouga, a Tunisian tourism guide who has lived in Prague since 1998, blogged that such a stance was “extremely disturbing in a democratic, law-abiding country.”

Okamura’s response: “I’m totally allergic to racism and xenophobia because I experienced it first-hand,” he said in his signature rapid-fire delivery, with no traces of the former stutter. “But Islam is not a race. It’s not even a religion. It’s an evil ideology.”

This rhetoric has turned him into a political pariah, rebuffed as a coalition partner by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and ANO chairman and billionaire Andrej Babis. Still, if the SPD and the country’s Communists fare as expected in Oct. 20-21 elections, coalition talks may get complicated. Okamura is scheduled to face off against Babis, who is favored to win the election, and a third party leader in a national TV debate on Sunday.

“If the SPD really gets 9 percent of the vote, it will no longer be possible to ignore it,” said Kamil Svec, a political-science professor at Charles University in Prague. “Add the Communists, and a full fifth of the Parliament will represent severely disenfranchised voters.”

When Okamura was five, his family moved from Japan to a small town in what was then Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. Due to family problems, he spent a part of his childhood in an orphanage, where he developed a stutter because of the racist taunts. He also said the bed-wetting kept him from participating in ski trips and other school outings.

To escape the pervasive discrimination, he dropped out of college and at 21 moved to Japan, where the prejudice intensified. Treated as a “half-breed,” he ended up working as a garbage collector and later sold popcorn at a movie theater. Eventually, he returned and became a successful tourism entrepreneur, catering to Asian tourists visiting Czech castles and spas.

Already a public figure thanks to his role as the spokesman of travel agents’ association, Okamura ran for the presidency, unsuccessfully, before founding his first party, the Dawn of Direct Democracy, in 2013. Two years later, after internal squabbles within Dawn, he quit the formation to set up the SPD.

Despite Okamura’s zero chance of gaining power, his party’s popularity has risen in recent months to a range of 7 percent to 9.2 percent and he’s currently the second-most popular party leader in the country, according to polls.

“I will vote for Okamura because I care about the safety of this country and my children,” said Jaroslav Samek, 52, who was sipping a latte in a Starbucks in a suburban shopping mall and runs a business importing cheese from Italy and France. “The EU isn’t fulfilling its basic function, which is to protect its citizens.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Brexit is stupidest thing any country has done besides Trump – Trending Stuff

Exclusive: Billionaire media mogul says it is hard to understand why a country doing so well wanted to ruin it

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former mayor of New York, has said Brexit is the single stupidest thing any country has ever done apart from the election of Donald Trump as US president.

Bloomberg argued that it is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it with the Brexit vote, in a series of outspoken remarks made at a technology conference in Boston a fortnight ago.

At that event, Bloomberg, 75, also warned that some workers at the financial media company that bears his name were asking to leave the UK and US because they think the two countries no longer like immigrants and are no longer welcoming.

The CEO was in London on Tuesday to open a new European headquarters for Bloomberg in the City, covering 1.3 hectares (3.2 acres). But his earlier remarks, unearthed the same day, suggested he had regrets about making the investment decision because of the Brexit vote.

We are opening a brand new European headquarters in London two big, expensive buildings. Would I have done it if I knew they were going to drop out? Ive had some thoughts that maybe I wouldnt have, but we are there, we are going to be very happy.

My former wife was a Brit, my daughters have British passports, so we love England its the father of our country, I suppose. But what they are doing is not good and there is no easy way to get out of it because if they dont pay a penalty, everyone else would drop out. So they cant get as good of a deal as they had before.

He added: I did say that I thought it was the single stupidest thing any country has ever done but then we Trumped it.

Bloomberg employs 4,000 staff in the UK and 20,000 worldwide, and the New York-based firm has long made the country its headquarters in Europe. But he said some staff were becoming unhappy about London as a key location.

One of the things that is hurting us both in the United States and in the UK is that we have employees, not a lot but some, who are starting to say: I dont want to work here can we transfer to some place else? This country doesnt like immigrants, Bloomberg said.

All this talk in Washington words have consequences. Whether we change the immigration laws or not, there is general feeling around the world that America is no longer an open, welcoming place and a lot of people dont want to go there, and the same thing is happening in the UK because of Brexit.

Bloomberg first made the comments about Brexit at the little-reported HUBweek conference in Boston less than two weeks ago and then repeated his quip about Brexit and Trump at an event in France on Monday.

It is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it, Bloomberg said of Brexit. It was not a smart thing to do and getting out of it is going to be very difficult and is going to be very painful. It will hurt industries. People are already taking space in other cities over there [Europe], us included.

On his visit to London, Bloomberg was more circumspect. Giving a speech next to Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, Bloomberg insisted his company was strongly committed to London.

He added: Whatever London and the UKs relationship to the EU proves to be, Londons language, timezone, talent, infrastructure and culture all position it to grow as a global capital for years to come. We are very optimistic about Londons future and we are really excited to be a part of it.

Bloomberg is worth an estimated $47.5bn (36.2bn) according to Forbes and was given an honorary knighthood in 2015. He was a Republican mayor of New York between 2002 and 2013 before he reassumed his position as chief executive of Bloomberg.

Bloomberg considering standing as a third-party candidate in the 2016 US presidential election but eventually ruled it out, saying that if he stood it could diminish the Democratic vote and lead to the election of Trump. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience, Bloomberg said in March 2016 when he confirmed his decision not to stand.

His criticism of Brexit included hitting out at the leave campaign and its claims that Britain had problems with immigration and too much EU regulation. Bloomberg described comments from Boris Johnson that the EU rules meant there had to be at least four bananas in a bunch as fictitious and said on immigration that Britain didnt take anyone from northern Africa or the Middle East.

He added: They didnt have an immigration problem and they didnt need control of their borders. They have the English Channel that gave them control of their borders.

Bloomberg said London was the centre of Europe but warned that was not going to be as true any more due to Brexit.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

3 Green Berets killed in ambush in Niger – Trending Stuff

(CNN)Three US Green Berets were killed and two others were wounded in southwest Niger near the Mali-Niger border when a joint US-Nigerien patrol was attacked Wednesday, US officials told CNN.

A US official told CNN that initial indications are the Green Berets were ambushed by up to 50 fighters that are regarded as affiliated with ISIS.

US Africa Command, which oversees military operations in Africa, issued a statement Thursday saying both wounded US service members were “evacuated in stable condition to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.”

Officials told CNN that French military Super Puma helicopters evacuated the wounded Americans along with those killed in action while also providing covering fire.

The attack occurred approximately 200 km north of the country’s capital, Niamey, in southwest Niger, according to the announcement from Africa Command.

Five Nigerien soldiers also were killed in the attack, according to a Nigerien security official.

The officials cautioned that this was still an early assessment. The Green Berets were part of a group advising and assisting local forces when they were attacked.

A US defense official told CNN that operations are underway in the region to locate the attackers.

A spokeswoman for the French Ministry of Defense confirmed that French troops from the Barkhane anti-terror force based in Chad are now involved in an operation in Niger. She said the operation is being led by Niger and the French troops are there to support them.

She added that no French soldiers were killed during Wednesday night’s ambush.

US Africa Command confirmed in a statement Thursday morning that three US service members were killed in the attack and said the names were being withheld pending the notification of next of kin.

“US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, in their efforts to counter violent extremist organizations in the region,” the announcement said.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the attack by chief of staff John Kelly, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday night.

Supporting role for US military in Niger

There are about 800 US troops in Niger, and the US military has maintained a presence in the northwest African country for five years, with small groups of US Special Operations Forces advising local troops as they battle two terrorist groups, ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram and al Qaeda’s North African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

“Niger is an important partner of ours, we have a deep relationship with them,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.

“We are committed to that relationship, we believe that they are as well. In fact, I think it’s a very good success story,” he added.

US officials watch Chad, Niger and Mali as being particularity important as they serve as bridges between north and sub-Saharan Africa, stating that local al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates use their control of these transit routes to gain revenue which helps them recruit, export and expand strikes. ISIS uses these North-South transit routes to move fighters northward, where they could gain more readily access Europe and the West.

One official told CNN that ISIS is attempting to illegally infiltrate the gold mining industry in Niger to sell on the black market and finance world terrorism.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has maintained a presence in the Mali-Niger border area, despite a multi-year French-led military counterterrorism effort, Operation Barkhane, which started in 2014.

The US military has largely played a supporting role, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in support of French forces working in Mali and Niger. The French operation involves thousands of French troops in addition to forces from Germany, Mali, Niger and other countries .

And while US troops largely play a supporting role, military leaders acknowledge the dangers they face.

“Clearly there’s risks for our forces in Niger,” McKenzie said while declining to discuss the specifics of Wednesday’s attack, citing “ongoing partnered operations.”

“Any time we deploy full forces globally we look very hard at the enablers that need to be in place in order to provide security for them and that ranges from the ability to pull them out if they’re injured to the ability to reinforce them at the point of a fight if they need reinforcement,” he added.

“US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” said US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for US Africa Command, including, “one aspect of that is training, advising and assisting the Nigeriens in order to increase their ability to bring stability and security to their people.”

Terror groups in Libya

Wednesday’s attack comes after US drones struck ISIS fighters in neighboring Libya twice per week in late September.

Those two missions, the first under the Trump administration, suggest US officials have become increasingly worried that the terror group is regaining strength in Libya.

More than two dozen ISIS fighters were killed in the airstrikes, US Africa Command said.

While the ISIS presence in Libya has been considerably reduced following a near five-month-long US air campaign against the terror group in the final stretch of the Obama administration, little groups of ISIS fighters had begun to reconstitute themselves in remote desert areas, taking advantage of the lingering instability caused by the Libyan civil war.

“ISIS and al Qaeda have taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting, inspiring and directing terror attacks; recruiting and facilitating the movement of foreign terrorist fighters; and raising and moving funds to support their operations,” US Africa Command said in a September 28 announcement.

US Africa Command failed to specify where the US drones used in the Libya strikes were launched from, but the Pentagon is in the process of establishing a drone base just outside the city of Agadez in Niger in an attempt to bolster regional counterterrorism efforts.

The US has been using a regional Nigerien airport while the base is under construction, based on US Africa Command.

A US Africa Command news release dated October 2 states the construction of the Agadez airbase “is projected to be the biggest military labor troop project in US Air Force history.”

“While nearby terrorist cells and human smuggling are an ongoing threat, the remote location makes daily operations a task unto themselves,” says the story posted on the US Africa Command’s website.

Wednesday’s casualties were not the first this year in the US fight against terror groups in Africa.

In May, a US Navy SEAL was murdered in Somalia during an operation against local al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab.

The SEAL was the first US service member killed in action in Somalia since 1993, when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 American soldiers were killed in the Battle for Mogadishu.

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