Saturday, October 8, 2016

October Surprises: Lewd Conversation Audio and Released Speeches

Trump, in video still, apologized for lewd remarks about
women he made in a private conversation in 2005. The
political repercussions for his remarks are yet to be
determined, though some Republicans are calling for him
to drop out of the race.
The usual October surprise in American Presidential politics has arrived, this time one for each nominee, though it remains uncertain which one will have a greater effect on the election's outcome.

Trump's October surprise is the release of a lewd audio from 2005 captured in a "hot mic" moment. The conversation with radio and television host Billy Bush captures Trump using crass language to describe his attempted sexual exploits, along with comments from Trump that he feels comfortable as a celebrity touching women without any threat of repercussions. In addition, it suggests possible marriage infidelity just months into marriage with his current wife, Melania.

Republicans have been quick to disavow the remarks, with House Speaker Paul Ryan making clear that Trump was no longer welcome to campaign with him at an upcoming event. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also called his remarks "unacceptable in any circumstance."

Trump himself apologized for the remark, saying in a video, "Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it. I am wrong. I apologize. I’ve never said I am a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I am not. I’ve said and done things I regret and the words released today on this more than decade-old video are one of them.”

He went on to attack Bill and Hillary Clinton in his apology video, saying, "Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday."

In the wake of the audio release, some Republicans have called on him to drop out of the race in favor of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who was widely seen as having had a solid debate performance this past week. Trump has responded that there is "zero chance" of the happening.

You can watch the video containing the audio below (NSFW):

Clinton's October Surprise came only hours after Trump's, with Wikileaks releasing excerpts of her speeches to major financial firms. The speech transcripts, coming from hacked DNC emails, suggest a more pro-free trade and pro-Wall Street Hillary Clinton than the one currently running for President.
Any poll boost Clinton may have received from Trump's
October surprise may be muted by her own, which involved
the transcripts of some of the speeches she gave to Wall
Street firms.
Credit: Getty/Justin Sullivan

According to Naomi LaChance of The Intercept, "The excerpts are revealed in an email from Tony Carrk, the research director of the Clinton campaign, to John Podesta, the campaign chairman, and other top campaign officials. Carrk, who did not respond to a request for comment, highlighted in the memo the most politically damaging quotes from each paid speech, under headers including “CLINTON ADMITS SHE IS OUT OF TOUCH,” “CLINTON SAYS YOU NEED TO HAVE A PRIVATE AND PUBLIC POSITION ON POLICY,” and “CLINTON REMARKS ARE PRO KEYSTONE AND PRO TRADE.”

Clinton also hinted that she favors internal bank reforms, rather than government-mandated reforms.

These revelations come as Clinton continues to be viewed as untrustworthy and dishonest by a majority of Americans though she still maintains an advantage in nationwide polling. If the news of Trump's old audio had not been released one day before, this release would likely be dominating the news cycle one day before the next Presidential debate. But for the meantime, Clinton can find solace that Trump's October surprise will also be a major subject in the debate lead up (and vice versa).

Friday, September 30, 2016

Clinton, Trump Debate, Set Election Season into High Gear

Trump and Clinton faced off for the first time Monday as
they debated at Hofstra University in Hampstead, NY
Credit: YouTube/ABC15
Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off head-to-head for the first time Monday, when both debated at Hofstra University. The debate was the most-watched debate in history, scoring 84 million viewers.

The debate featured both candidates sparring over a number of issues, both political and personal, with Clinton attacking Trump on his tax returns and Trump countering by bringing up Clinton’s email scandal.

While the debate did not seem to feature one single standout moment, polls conducted afterwards suggested that Clinton had gained the most from the debate, with some analysts predicting a poll bump for Clinton in the wake of the debate. While Clinton has led Trump by 3-5 points in post-debate polls, it is not a dramatic improvement from polling done just prior to the debate, where she was leading in various polls between 1-5 points in a four-way matchup.

While Clinton was widely declared the victor by media analysts, Trump’s performance seemed to meet expectations by some, in that Trump’s temperament was more demure than he was in many of the Republican primary debates. With one of Clinton’s aims being to case Trump as “temperamentally unfit” to be commander-in-chief, Trump could claim some aspect of victory in this, though this is unlikely to carry to the second debate, as another perceived Clinton debate victory could put him further behind in nationwide polls.

Hurricane Matthew Heads Towards Jamaica

Hurricane Matthew has intensified into a monstrous category four hurricane, becoming the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin this season. Matthew, currently just north of the South American coast, seems to have its path set Jamaica.

As of Friday night, Matthew’s pressure is 960 millibars (a lower pressure which indicates storm strength) and 120 mph sustained winds.

Possible path of Matthew as it moves forward in the coming days.
Credit: NOAA
While Matthew’s current path takes it to Cuba and northward (and possibly impacting Florida) after it strikes (or strikes closely to) Jamaica, the storm’s exact path and strength remains difficult to predict until the storm moves forward in the coming days.

Congress Overrides Obama’s Veto for the First Time

Congressional Republicans and Democrats voting overwhelmingly this week to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would allow the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been accused for years of complicity in the attacks, charges which the oil-rich Islamic kingdom has vehemently denied.

If US courts do indeed award victims’ families damages, the government could seize Saudi assets in the US, causing the Saudis to openly consider liquidating their assets in the US to avoid such.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Apple Rolls Out iOS 10 Update, Faces Issues at Launch

Screenshot of how one panel
of the homescreen appears
in iOS 10
As Apple works to recover from major setbacks (such as a fatal manufacturing defect in certain iPhones) and controversies (i.e. removing the headphone jack from iPhone 7), the technology behemoth launched its newest iteration of its mobile operating system on Tuesday.

iOS 10 removes support for devices running Apple's A5 processor, preventing devices such as the iPad 2, first generation iPad Mini, and all iPod Touches except the latest generation, from receiving the update.

The newest version version of iOS allows users, among other things, developers the ability to integrate Siri, Apple's personal assistant software, into their application, and to adjust the appearance of message bubbles in Apple's iMessage app.

The rollout on the first day, however, was not all smooth. Users reported difficulties downloading the update, and some devices were "bricked," as the user had to connect their device to a computer to reinstall the device's firmware for the device to be usable again.