Let's talk
July 17, 2019

In their first interview since President Trump's racist "go back" tweets, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), spoke with CBS' Gayle King about the president's attacks. They also discussed their reported feud with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which was sparked by a voting split on a border funding bill.

King asked Ocasio-Cortez if she would be willing to sit down with Pelosi "face-to-face" to air out their differences and find a resolution. That's when Tlaib cut in and let Pelosi have it.

Ocasio-Cortez, though, appeared to take a more conciliatory tone, saying she would "absolutely" meet with Pelosi. She also said that there is no "fundamental fracture" between the speaker and the four congresswomen known as "the Squad," despite the fact that they disagree "from time to time." Omar agreed with that sentiment, The Washington Post reports.

Ocasio-Cortez has criticized Pelosi in the past, particularly for the "singling out of newly elected women of color," but she attempted to clarify those frustrations in the CBS interview. "I did not say she was disrespectful of women of color," Ocasio-Cortez said. "I found some of the comments disrespectful, and that was my personal opinion. And I did feel that singling out on the basis of one vote was creating an opening." But she reiterated that not always seeing eye-to-eye is not akin to "fundamentally" disrespecting each other. Tim O'Donnell

March 3, 2019

In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned the stance the U.S. has taken against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

"Destructive external influence under hypocritical pretext of humanitarian aid has nothing to do with democracy," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement about the conversation, referring to the United States' push for the international recognition of the presidency of opposition leader Juan Guaidó and the recent sanctions imposed upon Maduro's government. The statement also said that "only the Venezuelan people have the right to determine their future."

Per Reuters, Russia and the U.S. "have been at loggerheads" over the issue.

Despite the criticism, Lavrov also said that Russia, which considers Maduro's government legitimate, is ready to take part in bilateral conversations with the U.S. on the crisis in Venezuela.

The phone call, which was initiated by Pompeo, also featured agreements for the two sides to continue to talk over other foreign policy matters, including Syria, Afghanistan, and the Korean peninsula. Tim O'Donnell

February 17, 2016

On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI break into an iPhone owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, giving Apple five days to object. It took Apple only a few hours to say no.

"We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to customers on the Apple website. But while "up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," the U.S. government has now "asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."

Cook continued:

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession....

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them. Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority. [Apple]

Cook wrote that the FBI's demand should spark a "public discussion." You can read his conversation-starter at Apple's site. Peter Weber

October 15, 2015

If you want to persuade someone who disagrees with you politically, your best strategy is to appeal to their moral values and keep quiet about your own.

In a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, social scientists from Stanford and the University of Toronto found that many political conversations work at cross purposes as each participant focuses only on his or her own value system. "Our natural tendency is to make political arguments in terms of our own morality," says co-author Matthew Feinberg. "But the most effective arguments are based on the values of whomever you are trying to persuade."

So, for example, telling conservatives that gay couples were patriotic Americans made them more likely to support legal same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals could be convinced to look more fondly on big military budgets if they were told that military jobs were a great way to reduce economic inequality. Bonnie Kristian

May 22, 2014

Cassandre Fiering, 45, is an actress and, until December, a substitute teacher for the New York City Department of Education. She was fired, according to an official report acquired by DNAinfo New York, for asking a 4th grade class in the Bronx what she should do about the two men she was dating last June.

Here's DNAinfo's James Fanelli:

Investigators say she acted out scenarios in which the kids were her and she was the boyfriends. She complained that the younger boyfriend, a mechanic in Rhode Island, didn’t return her phone calls, according to the report.... The report says Fiering hugged one student, tapped another on his shoulder, and touched the thighs of two other students. [DNAinfo]

While Fiering acknowledges the role-playing about her love life, she denies any inappropriate touching and insists the class was "G-rated.... I certainly wasn't talking about sex or anything." The 4th graders acted as her "counselor," she insists, and "were saying all kinds of things, trying to help me because this guy was being a jerk to me," Fiering told DNAinfo. Even so, is that really an appropriate role for a group of 9-year-old students?

She is appealing the firing. Peter Weber

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