News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Did Israel Respond to 'Animal Assad' and Much, Much More

Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad

Good Monday morning.

Here is what’s on the president’s agenda today:

  • The president receives his intelligence briefing
  • President Trump hosts a Cabinet meeting
  • The president receives a briefing from senior military leadership
  • President Trump has dinner with senior military leadership

Poison gas attack in Syria

Over the weekend, a rebel-held town was gassed in Syria according to reports.

“Forty were killed immediately in the basements and in the ground floors,” Firas al-Abdullah, a prominent media activist, told Fox News. “Later the White Helmets found other dead bodies in the pavements, side streets and the stairs while the victims were trying to escape from the gas… they found new victims today.”

President Trump strongly condemned the attack.

War-friendly Senator Lindsey Graham had a message for the president

“If he doesn’t follow through and live up to that tweet, he’s going to look weak in the eyes of Russia and Iran so this is a defining moment,” Graham told Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday.

“Mr. President, you need to follow through with that tweet, show a resolve that [former President Barack] Obama never did to get this right,” Graham said.

RUSSIA fires back

RUSSIA has warned the U.S. against military action in Syria following the attack. Isn’t it odd that shortly after President Trump announces he wants to get our troops out of Syria, we have this attack? Why wouldn’t Assad wait until the U.S. leaves to gas his own people? Something seems a little off. What do you think?

“It is necessary to warn again that military intervention under invented and fabricated pretexts in Syria, where at the request of the lawful government there are Russian military personnel, is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to the most serious consequences,” the statement from the RUSSIANS reads. “The aim of these false speculations, that have no basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, who reject a political solution, at the same time while trying to justify possible armed strikes from outside.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) doesn’t seem to get it.

“President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria,” McCain, who is also the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

“Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and are emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma. Initial accounts show dozens of innocent civilians, including children, have been targeted by this vicious bombardment designed to burn and choke the human body and leave victims writhing in unspeakable pain,” he said.

Really? Again, I ask: Why would the RUSSIANS and the Iranians give the U.S. reason to stay in Syria?

All options on the table

White House Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert said on ABC’s “This Week” that no options should be taken off the table. Bossert defended the U.S and said, “the pendulum has swung in the wrong direction for too long and the United States of America has been taken advantage of in their responsibility to provide security for the entire world.”

“American troops aren’t going to fix six or seven different ongoing conflicts and wars going on in the Middle East or in Syria at this stage,” he added. “We need regional partnership increased, and we need U.S. presence decreased.”

Syria and RUSSIA: Israel retaliated

Israel responded to the poison gas attack by dropping some KABOOM on the Assad T4 airbase, say the RUSSIANS and Iranians. These two malefactors say the Israeli strike killed 14 people (some were Iranians) and that Syrian defenses shot down five out of eight missiles.

Facebook/Zuckerberg to testify on Tuesday

Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees on Tuesday. The social media company has recently come under heavy fire for allowing data company Cambridge Analytica access to user data—data that purportedly “helped” President Trump win the election. Acquiring data from Facebook by third parties for ad targeting is not unusual. Did you ever log into a website using your Facebook credentials? Play a game through Facebook? (Farmville, anyone?) Take a quiz? (What Sex and the City character are you? I’m Charlotte. Just kidding, I never took one of those quizzes.)

But Facebook makes it difficult to control your privacy. Their control systems are scattered around the website settings, the company changes its privacy rules or setups regularly. It does seem the social media giant wants to obscure its privacy controls. Here’s a little preview of what Zuck might face on Tuesday: “We have a problem. Our promised digital utopia has minefields in it. Mr. Zuckerberg has not exhausted himself being forthcoming,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We had one hearing. Mr. Zuckerberg sent his lawyer. Very bright, very articulate. Could talk a dog off a meat wagon. But he didn’t say anything.”

“And my biggest worry in all of this — and I have many, many questions, Mr. Zuckerberg — but my biggest worry with all this is that the privacy issue and what I call… called the propagandist issue, are both too big for Facebook to fix, and that’s the frightening part,” Kennedy said.

In related news, today users will find out if their data was swept up by Cambridge Analytica. “Starting Monday, the 87 million users who might have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica will get a detailed message on their news feeds. Facebook says most of the affected users (more than 70 million) are in the U.S., though there are over a million each in the Philippines, Indonesia and the U.K.”

Be sure to check your Facebook account to find out, assuming you still have a Facebook account.

Diamond and Silk have been deplatformed by Facebook because they are “unsafe for the community.” Laughable. Facebook and other social media companies claim they are merely a platform and have no liability for the content on their websites, but as you can see by this move against Diamond and Silk, they indeed have control over content and curate exactly what users are exposed to in their timelines. Time to end their protection against liability. Facebook is no different than any other news website like ABC News and The New York Times.

Related:

Why did Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg cancel Sunday show interview?

YouTube hit with complaint by child advocacy groups, which say it illegally targets kids

Historical picture of the day:

Frank Sinatra performs at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York’s Long Island April 9, 1974. (AP Photo/RED)

Other morsels:

North Korea tells U.S. it is prepared to discuss denuclearization: source

The Canadian Psychologist Beating American Pundits at Their Own Game

You’ve been stirring your tea all wrong, according to a royal butler — here’s how to do it right

‘I know I don’t need it’; An AR-15 owner explains the allure

Trump national security spokesman to depart White House

Hackers target Iranian data centers with onscreen message: ‘Don’t mess with our elections’

Chicago attorney general to oversee FBI document release to House

Gowdy accuses DOJ of stonewalling investigation into alleged FBI abuses

Crowley unlikely to challenge Pelosi as Speaker if Dems take House

Trump Tower fire kills one person — but that doesn’t stop liberals from mocking and praising it

Dems And EPA Insiders Are Freaking Out Over Trump’s Refusal To Nix Pruitt

Trump attacks ‘garbage’ Washington Post; calls Kelly story ‘hit job’

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!