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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the Tuesday briefing, Sept. 25, 2018, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)

    WASHINGTON – Comedian Jon Stewart slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying that Stewart is “all bent out of shape” about the slow pace at which Congress is moving to reauthorize the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

    “No, no Mitch McConnell, I am not bent out of shape, I’m in fine shape,” Stewart said on CBS’ “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert on Monday night.

    He added: “Well, I am out of shape. But not because of you… I’m fine. I’m bent out of shape for them, these are the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions of dollars war on terror. And they’re currently still suffering and dying and still in terrible need.”

    Stewart called on McConnell to meet with 9/11 first responders and their families.

    Last week Stewart gave riveting testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. He was accompanied by several first responders, some of whom had illnesses such as cancer as a result of their work. Stewart decried the lack of attendance among members of the panel and called on Congress to expeditiously reauthorize the fund.

    McConnell made the remarks in a Monday morning interview with Fox and Friends. He  responded to criticism Stewart had leveled in a Sunday morning interview with the show.

    “Well, many things in Congress happen at the last minute,” McConnell said. “We’ve never failed to address this issue and we will address it again. I don’t know why he (Stewart) is all bent out of shape but we will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.”

    The fund was created shortly after the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001. It provides “compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes,” according to the fund’s website.

    The fund must be reauthorized every five years. It was last reauthorized in December 2015. The money will run out in December 2020 if Congress does not act.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he is considering pardons for lifestyle guru Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

    The remarks came shortly after Trump announced that he would grant a full pardon to Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative commentator and filmmaker.

    Stewart was found guilty in 2004 of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of an agency proceeding springing from an insider-trading investigation.

    Blagojevich was found guilty of 18 corruption charges in 2011 after he was arrested three years earlier for allegedly trying to leverage then president-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Four of the charges were ultimately dropped.

    On Stewart, Trump said she was “harshly and unfairly treated.”

    She served five months in a federal prison.

    “She used to be my biggest fan in the world … before I became a politician,” Trump said. “But that’s ok; I don’t view it that way.”

    Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s mugshot in 2008 (U.S. Marshals Service)

    As for Blagojevich, who is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that soliciting bribes in exchange for Obama’s seat was “a stupid thing to say,” but expressed doubt that the sentence was fair.

    “Eighteen years in jail for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know, that many other politicians say,” Trump explained. “Plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse.”

    He noted that he is considering the pardon despite Blagojevich being a Democrat.

    “He’s not my party. But I thought that he was treated unfairly,” Trump said.

    Trump has previously pardoned four other people: former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz.; Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney; Navy sailor Kristian Mark Saucier, and deceased boxing legend Jack Johnson.

    Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters after Trump’s remarks that Johnson’s posthumous pardon last week had been the most important to the president so far.

    Washington (Talk Media News) – While Donald Trump has a well-documented history of questioning President Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve as Command-in-Chief, comedian Jon Stewart raised his own pressing question Monday night over whether or not the presumptive Republican nominee is able to serve.

    “I’m not a constitutional scholar, so I can’t necessarily say, but are you eligible to run if you are a man-baby, or a baby-man?” Stewart asked during a taping of the Axe Files with David Axelrod at the University of Chicago.

    Stewart defined “man-baby” as an individual who has “the physical countenance of a man and a baby’s temperament and hands.

    The former star of the Daily Show added that he wasn’t intentionally trying to be politically incorrect, explaining that he wasn’t sure if there was a more suitable term, such as “man-baby-American” that he should use instead.

    The comment marks the second time this month that Stewart has jabbed Trump, once a popular target on his Comedy Central program.

    “Don’t worry,” Stewart said during an address before service members at a USO event in Maryland on Thursday. “Trump’s going to keep you busy when he’s the Commander-in-Chief. You’re going to have to paint all the planes with ‘Trump’ in big gold letters.”

    Stewart’s recent attention on the nominee is not surprising for those who watched the final days of his program. The comedian, shocked by the tone of the campaign, frequently mused that Trump was making his retirement all-the-harder.

    While Stewart clearly enjoys taking shots at Trump, the candidate has described himself as at least somewhat of a fan.

    “I like Jon Stewart,” Trump said during an interview with the Hill. “I think he’s good.”

    Trump went on to add that Stewart’s team begged him to appear on the show’s final episode, a cameo he did not make.

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to have all vulnerable equipment and personnel moved out of the possible paths of Hurricane Dorian by today, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

    In addition, there are 26 bases prepared to support the response in varying ways to Hurricane Dorian, Pentagon officials told reporters Tuesday.

    ““Even though the storm’s category has changed, it’s still a life-threatening storm, with high winds expected to affect Florida and the Carolinas over the next few days,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told Pentagon reporters Tuesday. “Even without a landfall, there may be some significant impacts, which we’re preparing for.”

    Gen. Terrence O’Shaughenessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, told Pentagon reporters than more than 4,000 National Guardsmen are pre-staged in Florida, and others will soon be in place Georgia and South Carolina.

    Forty to 50 helicopter crews and 80 high-water vehicles have also been moved to perimeter positions to help in the hurricane aftermath, they said.

    Non-essential personnel were ordered off about 10 military installations over the weekend and the last aircraft and other equipment is to be flown or moved today to military installations elsewhere, Pentagon officials said.

    The personnel left behind are to remain in place to ride out the storm as well as, in some cases, be ready to assist in post-hurricane missions.

    Over the weekend the Navy sent frigates and destroyers out to sea to get them a distance away from the hurricane. The Air Force secured some of its smaller fighters in hardened hangers for protection. However, larger aircraft such as the fleet of KC-135 aerial refueling tankers were flown to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

    Among the installations under the hurricane orders: Patrick Air Force base, Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, MacDill Air Force base, all in Florida; Fort Stewart in Georgia; and Shaw Air Force base, Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, all in South Carolina.

    Fort Bragg in North Carolina has not yet been ordered to evacuate non-essential personnel. As of early Tuesday afternoon EDT, Fort Bragg was designated to be one of the centers coordinating post-hurricane operations as a Federal Emergency Management Agency staging area, Pentagon officials said.

    Major Gen. James Eifert, head of the Florida National Guard, told reporters on Friday that almost 2,000 Air Force and Army Guardsmen will be mobilized to help hurricane recovery operations in that state.

    Last year’s hurricanes were extremely damaging to many of the military’s major bases. Funding still has not come through to repair that damage.

    For example, in Florida, last year’s Category 5 Hurricane Michael directly hit Tyndall Air Force Base, damaging more than 700 buildings and forcing the relocation of 11,000 personnel and 46 aircraft. Rebuilding efforts are estimated to cost more than $4.7 billion — but repairs halted on May 1 because of budget disagreements between the White House and Congress.

    Rains from Hurricane Florence damaged Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, all in North Carolina. Major damage remains at all three facilities.

    By Jordan Karp

    UNITED NATIONS — Voters chose former London Mayor Boris Johnson to succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next prime minister and he vows the United Kingdom will leave the European Union by Oct. 31.

    Johnson won each of the five polls in the Conservative leadership election before securing 66.1% of the final vote, compared to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s 33.5%. The election results were announced on Tuesday.

    Some members of Parliament (MPs) have threatened to resign prior to Johnson’s victory, and Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan renounced his position after the election results, refusing to be a part of the Johnson Ministry. Other MPs, including one of Johnson’s competitors, Rory Stewart, have planned to resign after Theresa May officially hands over the reins on Wednesday.

    Johnson galvanized the Conservative Party — also known as the Tories — in his victory speech, promising to lead the U.K out of the E.U. and ward off the challenges by Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn. 

    The Tories are nine seats shy of the majority in the British Parliament and continue to face fierce resistance from Corbyn, who served as a significant roadblock during May’s failed Brexit deal. 

    Corbyn rebuffed Johnson’s victory on Twitter saying, “Boris Johnson has been elected by fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Tory members” and is organizing a rally for a general election on Thursday. Corbyn hopes that a general election may give his party, the Labour Party, a chance to turn over more Tory seats. 

    Johnson also is expected to clash with the European Commission throughout the fall with its incoming president warning of “challenging times ahead.”

    President Donald Trump and Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage congratulated Johnson on his victory, with the latter offering an alliance to defeat Corbyn and ensure the delivery of Brexit. 

    Since the “Brexit Referendum” in June 2016, by which 51.89% of Brits voted to leave the E.U., the Brexit crisis has cost the former Prime Minister David Cameron plus the outgoing May their jobs, and contributed to the mass headache of “Brexiteers” and “non-Brexiteers” in the U.K. Johnson, May’s former foreign secretary, resigned last July over opposition to her Brexit strategy.

    Johnson and his supporters hope he is the one who ends the crisis. 

    WASHINGTON – The Senate Tuesday afternoon approved legislation that reauthorizes the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) though FY 2092.

    The measure passed 97-2. GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah voted no.

    The House approved the legislation on July 12. It now heads to the White House, where President Donald Trump is expected to sign the measure.

    Under the legislation, first responders and their families claims can file claims until October 2090. Claims that were underpaid due to insufficient funding will be paid in full. Caps on the payment of non-economic damages will be lifted in certain circumstances and annual payments will be adjusted on the basis of inflation.

    The fund was created shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. It provides “compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes,” according to the fund’s website.

    Passage comes almost two months after comedian Jon Stewart gave riveting testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in which he implored Congress to expeditiously reauthorize the fund, which was set to expire in December 2020.

    During the hearing, an emotional Stewart decried the lack of attendance among members of the panel.  Many lawmakers have since responded by saying they had multiple commitments that day and could not stay for the duration of the hearing.

    Stewart was accompanied by several first responders, some of whom had serious illnesses as a result of their work on and after 9/11. Among them was Luis Alvarez, a former New York City police detective suffering from colorectal cancer. He had been diagnosed with the disease in 2016 — 15 years after spending weeks at Ground Zero searching for victims and eventually the remains of victims. He told the lawmakers that he was about to undergo his 69th round of chemotherapy. Nevertheless, he said that he had no regrets about his actions and that responding to the crisis was his responsibility as a police detective.

    But he pleaded with them to continue to provide funding for the many first responders who had fallen just for doing their jobs on and after that fateful day.

    “I’m going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders,” Alvarez told the panel.

    On June 29, just 18 days after his testimony, the married father of three sons died from complications related to his disease. He was 53.

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said it spent at least $1.2 million to send equipment and handle logistics for the Independence Day fete on the National Mall ordered by President Donald Trump.

    The bulk of that cost centered around the transportation and handling of two Abrams tanks and two Bradley fighting vehicles from Fort Stewart, Georgia, to Washington, D.C., for the event, Pentagon officials said.

    The $1.2 million does not include the cost of the flyovers of military aircraft, which the Defense Department routinely says is an expense covered by separate training funding streams.

    The B-2 bomber, a highlight of the flyover, has a non-combat operations costs of roughly $122,000 an hour, the Air Force has said.

    “The Department of Defense supported the ‘Salute to America’ with demonstrations by aircraft, static displays of equipment and ceremonial unit participation,” the Pentagon said in its Tuesday statement. “Funding for the demonstrations came from the military services’ training budgets that facilitate flying hours, which are imperative to military readiness. Additional funding was used for the transportation of static displays and equipment.”

    The larger bill for the event, which Trump said Monday will be repeated next year, started with $2.5 million the National Park Service diverted from national park entrance fees to help pay for the event, according to the Washington Post.

    On Tuesday, Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C., wrote to Trump asking that the federal government reimburse the city for the $1.7 million it spent on security for the July 4 event and related demonstrations. She said the costs drained the city’s Emergency Planning and Security fund and would leave a negative balance of $6 million.

    About 24 aircraft from all the services were used in the events, the Pentagon said, coming from a multitude of bases in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and California. Three military bands from the Washington, D.C., area performed during the event at the Lincoln Memorial.

    Last week three members of the Senate Appropriations Committee asked the Government Accountability Office to examine all the costs of the event.

    WASHINGTON — The Blimp versus the tanks. It is shaping up to be an Independence Day at the National Mall like none before.

    The National Park Service formally announced Tuesday that permission has been granted to Tighe Barry of the group Code Pink to have a First Amendment demonstration on the Mall from 4 a.m. through 9 p.m. on Thusday.

    The centerpiece of that demonstration will be the flying of a giant blimp featuring a diaper-clad caricature of President Donald Trump, tethered to the ground near the Washington Monument.

    That will overlap the president’s event at the Lincoln Memorial, which is to begin at 6:30 p.m. That means the Baby Trump blimp will be visible to the president, who will be looking in the direction of the Washington Monument when he speaks.

    Trump’s insertion into what has been a nonpartisan day of activities has spurred requests for demonstrations from a swath of groups, with protests planned through the long holiday weekend.

    Trump has insisted that tanks and other armored vehicles be on display near the Lincoln Memorial. He also ordered a flyover of aircraft, including one of the planes used as Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels performance aircraft — which were scheduled to be on break.

    (On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday that operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport — across the Potomac River from the National Mall — would be suspended between 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. ET for the fly over. The runways will also be closed from 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. ET for the annual fireworks display. A closure has never been made for July 4 events.)

    The commander-in-chief also has ordered the top brass from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to stand with him during his appearance, according to news reports.

    Pentagon officials are remaining tight-lipped regarding details of the military’s contribution to the president’s show on July 4. One White House official told reporters that at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be on display as part of Trump’s “Salute to America” event.

    On Monday an Associated Press photographer saw at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and four other military vehicles on a flatcar in a rail depot at the outskirts of Washington. The tanks each weigh more than 60 tons and most likely came from Fort Stewart, Georgia, the nearest Army base with Abrams tanks.

    Trump’s event is technically open to the public. However, a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being established for VIPs, including members of Trump’s family, friends and members of the military, with the White House distributing the tickets.

    Long-standing Independence Day events in the Mall environs remain scheduled. They include the 10-block long parade along Constitution Avenue, which runs next to the National Mall, and the concert by the National Symphony on the Capitol steps, which ends as the fireworks begin to go skyward.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the Tuesday briefing, Sept. 25, 2018, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)

    WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is slated to meet with 9/11 first responders on Capitol Hill today, according to multiple media reports.

    The meeting comes amid a feud between the Kentucky Republican and Jon Stewart over what the comedian calls the slow pace at which Congress is moving to reauthorize the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

    The fund must be reauthorized every five years. It was last reauthorized in December 2015.

    The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation to reauthorize the fund sometime this week. The legislation will then head to the Senate.

    Both Stewart and Democratic lawmakers have called on McConnell to meet with the first responders and their families.

    Earlier this month, Stewart gave riveting testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. He was accompanied by several first responders, some of whom had illnesses such as cancer as a result of their work. Stewart decried the lack of attendance among members of the panel and called on Congress to expeditiously reauthorize the fund.

    The fund was created shortly after the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001. It provides “compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes,” according to the fund’s website.

    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at the hearing of President DONALD TRUMP’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, before the House Oversight Committee, February 27, 2019, (Photo ©2019, Douglas Christian/TMN)

    On the Hill with Doug Christian

    (Audio: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) says internment camps at Southern border are concentration camps)

    Capitol Hill – That was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (AOC) saying that the internment camps run by ICE are concentration camps. She has been receiving a lot of push-back from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for her comparison.

    Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) tweeted back to Ocasio-Cortez:

    Ocasio-Cortez fired back at King on Sunday:

    In other news, the House and Senate are set to negotiate competing budget bills this week before the July 4th recess. Both bills would provide President Donald Trump with $4.5 billion in U.S.-Mexico border funding, but they are not likely to resolve their differences how the money would be allocated among the Pentagon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

    Looking forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will meet with 9/11 first responders tomorrow after he received criticism from comedian Jon Stewart over the September 11th Victims Fund.

    John Feal, a first-responder who lost part of his foot at Ground Zero, told The New York Post, “Listen, we come in peace. But we also — we’re prepared for anything, whether it’s a street fight or Mitch McConnell saying yes.”

    Doug Christian, Capitol Hill