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Le film d’animation Disney “La Reine des Neiges” se hisse à la première place du box-office américain avec 31,6 millions de dollars de recettes. “Hunger Games 2”, après deux très grosses semaines, doit céder sa place de leader.

Le film d’animation Disney La Reine des neiges se hisse à la première place du box-office américain avec 31,6* millions de dollars de recettes supplémentaires pour son second week-end d’exploitation en sortie nationale, cumulant désormais plus de 134 millions de billets verts. S’il parvient à prendre la première place du classement malgré une chute de fréquentation de 53%, c’est parce que Hunger Games – L’embrasement, après deux très grosses semaines, voit logiquement son rythme ralentir. L’aventure portée par Jennifer Lawrence rétrograde au deuxième rang avec 27* millions de dollars de recettes en troisième week-end et une chute de fréquentation de 63,6%. Le long métrage cumule désormais plus de 336 millions de billets verts.

© The Walt Disney Company France

Principale nouveauté de la semaine, le long métrage Les Brasiers de la Colère ne décolle pas avec 5,3* millions de dollars au compteur. En revanche, Inside Llewyn Davis, le nouvel opus des frères Coen, fait très fort avec plus de 400 000* dollars de recettes pour sa sortie limitée sur quatre copies. De très bonne augure avant une combinaisons plus large prévue pour le 20 décembre.

© Kerry hayes

Box-office US du 6 au 8 décembre 2013 : voir le tableau complet

VOIR AUSSI :
“La Reine des neiges” : TOUT savoir sur le nouveau Disney !

Clément Cuyer avec CBO Boxoffice

*Les chiffres mentionnés dans l’article sont des estimations, publiées dimanche soir par la société spécialisée Exhibitor Relations.


“La reine des Neiges” – Anaïs Delva interprète en live “Libérée, délivrée” :

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Pierre Sarkozy a posté un joli message à l’attention de son père, Nicolas Sarkozy, après sa défaite à la primaire de la droite et du centre.

Il s’est toujours tenu à l’écart de la vie politique. Pierre Sarkozy, le fils aîné de l’ancien président cultive la discrétion. Il n’en a pas moins toujours soutenu son père dans ses différents combats. Participants systématiquement aux meetings importants qui ont jalonné la carrière de ce dernier.

Le producteur de musique n’a toutefois jamais voulu répondre aux sollicitations des médias concernant des thématiques politiques. Ce « metteur en son », comme il se qualifie lui-même, a toujours préféré graviter dans l’univers des maisons de disques plutôt que dans la sphère politique, contrairement à son frère cadet Jean, élu par le passé conseiller général des Hauts-de-Seine. Pierre Sarkozy a toutefois tenu à envoyer un signal fort à son père après la défaite de ce dernier.

Au lendemain du premier tour de la primaire de la droite et du centre, alors que l’ancien président a annoncé sa prise de distance avec la vie publique, son fils aîné a posté sur son compte instagram un message de soutien. En légende d’une photo représentant son père âgé d’une vingtaine d’années, manifestant avec un drapeau de la France place de la Concorde avec en arrière fond la tour Eiffel, Pierre Sarkozy écrit : « Une histoire d’Amour éternelle, dont la haine n’aura jamais raison ». Un joli hommage filial.

L’accent est souvent mis sur le côté néfaste des réseaux sociaux, hier, le journaliste Samuel Etienne a pourtant prouvé que Twitter peut également sauver des vies.

Il est 21h42, vendredi soir, lorsqu’un message inquiétant apparaît sur le réseau social Twitter. Un utilisateur niçois prénommé Julien se connecte à son compte et publie les quelques mots suivant: « Cher twitter. Cette fois j’ai décidé d’en finir. Je vais prendre assez de cachets pour m’endormir pour toujours. Adieu à tous ». Au même moment, très loin de là, le journaliste Samuel Etienne profite de quelques jours de vacances à l’étranger avec sa famille. Alors qu’il jette un œil à son feed Twitter pour se tenir au courant de l’actualité politique, l’animateur d’Europe 1 tombe sur le message de détresse. Immédiatement, il tente de prendre contact avec le jeune homme en difficulté. « Julien, je vois que tu me suis… On parle en message privé s’il te plait ??? ».

Pas de réponse. Là où de nombreuses personnes auraient alors pu baisser les bras ou penser à une plaisanterie de mauvais goût, Samuel Etienne persiste. Il se lance à la recherche des amis de Julien, tente de trouver une personne susceptible de le connaître dans la vraie vie. L’animateur lance plusieurs messages rapidement relayés par d’autres twittos. Cette chaîne improvisée parvient à entrer en contact avec une personne résident à Nice. Un peu moins d’une heure après leur premier échange, Samuel Etienne donne des nouvelles de Julien à ses followers. « Julien a été pris en charge par les pompiers et emmené vers l’hôpital Pasteur. On pense fort à lui. » Contacté par France 3 Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur, le journaliste se montre particulièrement humble, insistant sur le fait que les vrais héros de l’histoire, à ses yeux, sont « les personnes qui ont agis à Nice ». Lui, minimise-t-il, “n’a fait qu’envoyer quelques messages« . Samuel Etienne salue donc la réaction de la Toile et de ses nombreux confrères, parfois plus suivis que lui, qui n’ont pas hésité à relayer son message et ont ainsi augmenté les chances qu’avait la victime d’être secourue. Pour conclure sur une note positive, le journaliste a partagé ce samedi le message d’un proche de Julien. »Julien s’est réveillé ce matin. Il est bien sûr toujours à l’hôpital ». Une fin heureuse due à l’existence des réseaux sociaux mais par-dessus tout à l’abnégation d’un journaliste altruiste.

Crédits photos : Somer/ABACA

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WASHINGTON — 

Before our national attention span flits heedlessly toward impeachment, the Iowa caucuses and Megxit, it’s worth pausing to remember that the United States was on the brink of war with Iran last week.

Two adversaries that barely speak to each other managed to avoid catastrophe — but there’s still plenty to worry about.

President Trump set a new red line: Iranian-sponsored acts that harm U.S. citizens will draw retaliation.

Iran lost a top general but reaped an unexpected dividend: Iraq’s parliament, angered by U.S. missile strikes on Iraqi territory, voted to order U.S. forces to leave. The vote was nonbinding, but the Trump administration faces a new problem.

By week’s end, Washington and Tehran returned to the shadow war they’ve conducted for the last 40 years: U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, and Iranian proxy strikes against U.S. interests in the Middle East.

But it’s not the same old stalemate. It’s worse, for two reasons.

First, Iran has moved closer to a long-held strategic goal: forcing the United States out of Iraq — and eventually the rest of the Middle East.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that “the real revenge” for the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Suleimani on Jan. 3 would be “when America is expelled from this region and its hand of aggression is cut off forever.”

Iran’s allies in Iraq are trying to help him get his wish. After Baghdad’s parliament passed a resolution to expel U.S. troops, Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, asked Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo to send a delegation to start planning a U.S. withdrawal.

The State Department dismissed that request, saying U.S. troops were staying and arguing that most Iraqis don’t want them to leave. This story isn’t over.

“A U.S. withdrawal would be a major Iranian victory,” Douglas Ollivant, who worked on Iraq strategy under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, told me. “What’s happening [in Iraq] is far beyond Iranian expectations.”

Ironically, getting U.S. troops out of the Middle East is one of the few goals Trump has in common with Iran’s Islamic leaders. But he probably doesn’t want to leave this way — run out of Baghdad while Iran’s influence grows. Indeed, he threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq, a U.S. ally, if it tries to force U.S. troops out.

Second, leaders in both countries say they support diplomacy, but their brush with war worsened the prospects for negotiations.

Trump said he was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” and Pompeo directed U.S. embassies to avoid meeting with armed Iranian opposition groups because it could be “counterproductive to our policy goal of seeking a comprehensive deal with the Iranian regime.”

Iran tried to sound reasonable, too. Rouhani talked with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has tried — without success — to play the role of mediator in the past.

And Iran asked the prime minister of its Muslim neighbor Pakistan, Imran Khan, to intercede with Trump — an intriguing move, since the former cricket star seems to have a good relationship with the president.

But none of that appears likely to get very far.

Trump and Pompeo have shown no sign they would meet Iran’s long-standing condition for negotiations — an easing of U.S. sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Indeed, Pompeo announced several new sanctions Friday, adding to more than 1,000 already in place.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called Trump “unstable,” “a bully” and an unreliable negotiator. “Who would negotiate with a country that has ignored all other agreements?” he asked last year.

Iran-watchers think Khamenei wants to see Trump lose reelection this fall — not because the ayatollah likes the Democratic candidates, but because he wants Trump to fail, especially after the death of Suleimani.

“The Iranians may well have decided on a strategy of regime change,” John W. Limbert, who was one of 52 American diplomats and citizens held hostage for 444 days in Iran in 1979 and 1980, told me.

Iran doesn’t want to give Trump the domestic political boost he might gain from a summit meeting with one of its leaders.

“It’s pretty hard to see bright prospects for negotiations right now,” Limbert said. “The Iranians are going to want an outcome they can paint as a victory. They want to say that they brought the Americans to their knees. That doesn’t sound like something the Trump administration would be interested in.”

Iran’s leaders are in no mood to make concessions to Trump. Instead, they may look for ways to make him a one-term president, just as they believe the hostage crisis doomed President Carter’s reelection bid in 1980, perhaps even by sparking a new crisis before November.

Until then, both sides will need careful diplomacy to keep hostilities from escalating again. Our week of almost-war ended not in peace — only a tenuous, makeshift cease-fire.


Ten years ago this month, the Supreme Court shocked the American political establishment with the declaration that corporations had the same rights as people in the eyes of the 1st Amendment, and therefore were exempt from restrictions on political spending.

Many conservatives said it would make the system fairer, broadening the open market of ideas and creating a new frontier of freedom of expression in politics. Liberals, for the most part, denounced it as a threat to democracy that would cement power in the hands of the few.

A decade later, the ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has certainly changed the way money influences American politics — but largely in ways that were unforeseen at the time.

The anticipated flood of corporate money into politics in the form of independent expenditures — that is, spending not affiliated with an individual candidate or campaign — never materialized. Nor did a cascade of funds from labor unions and other left-oriented groups.

Nevertheless, the ruling Jan. 21, 2010, did unleash a torrent of new money into politics in the form of contributions from wealthy individuals — Charles and the late David Koch, Michael R. Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, George Soros and others. Citizens United allowed them to use super PACs as vehicles for unlimited infusions of money into politics. It also allowed nonprofit groups to more easily keep the sources of campaign funding secret, allowing so-called dark money to influence elections.

Like the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision itself, the effects of the ruling have been complex, breaking some new ground in American politics and affirming existing trends.

“You could say that elections are up for sale, and yes, it was a horrible decision,” said Anthony J. Corrado Jr., who teaches political theory at Colby College and is regarded as a leading expert in campaign finance. “But the point is that the effect that the Supreme Court seemed to create has been less, and different, than often claimed.”

To be sure, any Supreme Court ruling that put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the American Civil Liberties Union on the same side had the potential to disrupt long-held alliances and smash stereotypes.

The Citizens United decision was widely perceived as a boon for the right and may have played a role in the big gains that Republicans enjoyed in 2010, the year the ruling came down. But since then, Democrats have mostly caught up.

The biggest effect of the ruling has been to engage and empower the very wealthiest Americans, across the political spectrum. The top 100 individual donors contributed $339 million in the 2012 presidential campaign year. That figure leaped to $768 million in the next presidential campaign year, 2016.

Overall, total individual donors to super PACs grew in just two years from $299 million in 2014 to $1.1 billion, with some of that money coming from trust funds, including $7 million from the trusts of the conservative Koch brothers.

“In other words,” according to a report by the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board, a business-oriented research group, “individuals, including a relatively small number of individuals who make seven- or eight-figure contributions, have been responsible for the dramatic growth of super PACs.”

Many of the top funders in the last midterm congressional elections are well known to the public. The top three were Sheldon Adelson, the founder of Las Vegas Sands Corp. ($122 million); Bloomberg, the former New York mayor now running for the Democratic presidential nomination ($95 million); and Steyer, the hedge fund manager who also is a Democratic presidential candidate ($73 million). Ranked slightly lower are Soros, the liberal financier, and Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos.

Of those, only Adelson is consistently associated with the Republican Party and right-wing causes.

Overall, the 100 top donors were responsible for two-thirds to three-quarters of all the money raised by super PACs, greatly exceeding the amount given by corporations.

“Citizens United is enabling small groups of the very wealthy of the right and left to have undue influence over politics,” said Steve Westly, former state controller of California and an unsuccessful 2006 gubernatorial candidate who is now raising money for former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

These massive infusions came as the influence of money in American politics was expanding. Spending on presidential elections, for example, grew 66% from the 2000 campaign between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore to the 2016 campaign between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. At the same time, spending on congressional campaigns grew 143%.

“The current system of campaign finance is one that is dramatically different from the one that jumps out from the pages of the statutes,” according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center prepared by, among others, scholars from the New York University and Stanford law schools. “The current system has been shaped by a combination of legislative, judicial, and administrative actions, and is not a system that, in its entirety, Congress ever established.”

But the notion that the Citizens United decision opened the donation floodgates to 21st century corporations is a myth.

The power of corporate contributions in modern times — $95 million in 2016 — is arguably about the same as it was in 1896, when businessman Mark Hanna was able to raise the 2019 equivalent of $90 million from banks and insurance companies on behalf of Republican presidential candidate William McKinley to battle the populist Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan. McKinley won.

Not one major American corporation spent money independently in support of a candidate in 2014 and 2016. Only two smaller companies in 2014 and 10 two years later made independent expenditures, amounting to a total of $753,282.

“Even when the expenditures reported by trade associations or other business organizations are considered,” according to the Conference Board study, “the role of business spending is relatively insignificant.”

Students of campaign finance believe a major reason for the relatively small corporate contributions — money specifically directed to an individual campaign, as opposed to super PAC contributions — is a reluctance to alienate customers. “You want to sell soap to everybody, not just to Republicans or just to Democrats,” said Corrado, the Colby College political scientist.

Another surprise since 2010 has been the degree to which grass-roots fundraising has changed politics, arguably serving as an antidote to big-money contributions. Internet-based, small-dollar individual contributions have soared, largely funding candidacies such as those of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and changing the dynamics of many congressional campaigns, especially on the Democratic side.

In the 2018 midterms, ActBlue, the main Democratic internet platform for small-dollar donations, raised $1.6 billion for Democratic candidates, with an average donation of $34. That’s twice what all super PACs collectively spent, and represents a huge increase in the ability of average citizens to play a role in campaign financing.

Early on, the Citizens United ruling was expected to erode political party discipline and the central authority of party leaders. That is because it was expected to circumvent the role and power of the two parties’ congressional campaign committees as fundraising arms.

But those committees have been supplemented — and to some degree, supplanted — by party-controlled super PACs, largely overseen by the four party leaders: McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Those super PACs have become enormously powerful tools for enforcing party discipline.

Nevertheless, Citizens United remains a lightning rod for disagreements about campaign finance.

“A corporation can’t breathe, it can’t be affectionate, and it can’t vote,” said Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa who is critical of the Citizens United ruling. “Money has nothing to do with speech, besides being used as a medium of exchange. It can buy words, but it can also buy influence. And it can be used to corrupt. This is all about power.”

Former Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee who teaches each winter at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, called the notion that a corporation had 1st Amendment rights “outrageous,” adding: “The Founders who wrote the Constitution would be astonished. The right has been peddling this idea for years, and it’s nonsense.”

That view is a major reason why a group called American Promise is working to win a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

“The premise of American politics is that we may not be equal in material goods but we are equal in our rights,” said Jeff Clements, president of the group, whose supporters include former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and actress Debra Winger. “Citizens United says that there are not equal rights when it comes to money in politics, for the decision gives the wealthy and others a megaphone, and it violates the rights of other Americans to be heard.”

Many conservatives disagree, even if they are troubled by the way campaigns are funded today.

“The Founders had no idea about any of this, and in any case people who have a lot of money always find a way of wielding influence one way or another,” said John Yoo, who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and teaches at the law school at UC Berkeley. “I acknowledge there is a problem with the way campaigns work today, though I don’t think limiting campaign contributions and expenditures is the way to solve it. I think we should let everybody speak but have full disclosure.”

The result is a yeasty dispute about the nature of free expression that will last well beyond the debates in the 2020 campaign and even the appointment of new justices to the Supreme Court.

“I like free speech and minimal controls,” said William Watson, an economics professor at McGill University in Montreal and a senior fellow of the market-oriented Fraser Institute, which has charitable status in both Canada and the U.S. “But there has to be a borderline to what is speech. There is always going to be a debate about this. It’s a conflict that is not going to go away.”


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — 

Amy Klobuchar, campaigning across Iowa in the first days of the New Year, told voters about a text a friend sent her after a surge in polls and fundraising.

“It had autocorrected by mistake, it said congratulations on your insurgency,” she said to laughs from a few hundred people gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. “I’m happy to take those words! That’s fine by me, and I think that’s what you’re seeing all over this state and all over this country!”

Klobuchar’s optimism may be overstated — the Minnesota senator is in single digits in nearly every state and national poll, including an Iowa survey released Friday by the Des Moines Register and CNN, and she trailed her main rivals for the Democratic nomination by more than $10 million in the fundraising quarter that closed Dec. 31.

But Iowa political experts say her day job representing a neighboring state, her Midwestern values and the work she has put into meeting voters in big cities and small towns in every corner of the state could result in a surprise payoff when Iowans caucus on Feb. 3.

A win for Klobuchar here doesn’t mean coming in first in Iowa, said Dianne Bystrom, director emerita of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. It means beating expectations.

“I think Klobuchar has a chance. People really like Amy Klobuchar,” said Bystrom, who is neutral in the race.

“She is down home, and she’s funny, and she’s got this quirky charm about her,” Bystrom said.

Klobuchar is not a soaring orator; she is plainspoken and earnest. Sporting a no-muss, no-fuss bob, she offers anecdotes about parenthood and being a woman in the workplace — complete with references to hiding her gray roots — that appeal to the suburban moms who can be key to elections.

Since the senator launched her campaign in February during a blizzard on the banks of the Mississippi River, she has counted on Iowa as the keystone to her path to the Democratic nomination.

She has headlined 161 events over 58 days, leading the major candidates, according to the Des Moines Register’s candidate tracker.

She has visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties, and along the way she has sipped hot cocoa with voters on her campaign bus in Rockwell City, mourned a shuttered ethanol plant in Crawfordsville, drank beer at a bar in Humboldt and gazed at stars at a planetarium in Cherokee.

Klobuchar’s message to voters here is that she is a pragmatic progressive with Midwestern, working-class roots and a record of accomplishment in her three terms as a senator, notably on issues important to Iowans. She helped shape three versions of the Farm Bill and has led legislative efforts on biofuels, ethanol and farm bankruptcies. The 59-year-old shuns plans promoted by her more liberal rivals such as universal student-debt forgiveness or free tuition.

“It sounds like a good deal on a bumper sticker,” she told an audience at a community college in Ankeny, adding that her plan would not provide free college for the wealthy but would increase Pell grants and direct resources to community colleges and historically black universities. “That is the difference between a plan and a pipe dream.”

Pam Wyant, 57, was so impressed by Klobuchar’s measured approach after seeing her speak in Johnston that she said she was strongly leaning toward caucusing for her.

“She’s reasonable. She makes sense. She’s a grown-up. She talks like an adult,” said the Des Moines trade show exhibit planner. “I think she can bring people together and I think that we need that in this country because right now, things are not working right.”

This moderate tack and her record, Klobuchar argues, makes her the perfect Democrat to take on President Trump.

“The Midwest is not flyover country to me,” Klobuchar told voters at a rally in Sioux City, saying she would confront Trump with that point on a debate stage. “I live here, and those people that you’re hurting with your trade war and with your oil waivers and everything else you’ve done to bring down the renewable fuels standard — they are not poker chips in one of your bankrupt casinos. They are my friends and they are my neighbors.”

That event took place in the most Republican swath of Iowa. Klobuchar is counting on her appearances in conservative places such as that to show how she can appeal to a broad base of voters, as she has demonstrated in Minnesota. In her Senate campaigns, she has won the reddest regions in her home state, including the congressional district once represented by archconservative Michele Bachmann.

“Thirty-one counties in Iowa voted for Barack Obama and then turned around and voted for Donald Trump,” Klobuchar told reporters. “Most of them are rural, most of them are the kind of counties and the kind of voters where I do well. When I’ve said that I don’t want to be the president for half of America, but want to be the president for all America, that’s part of what I was talking about.”

Soni Jelinne, a dentist in Sioux City, raised Klobuchar’s ability to appeal to Midwestern and Rust Belt voters at the candidate’s rally in her city. The 52-year-old said she plans to caucus for the senator because of her detailed plans, as well as her appeal in states such as Michigan that will be pivotal in picking the next president.

“We need someone electable, and I think she’s very middle ground, not too far right or too far left,” she said.

Klobuchar has also courted Iowa Democrats for years, campaigning for candidates, speaking at party gatherings and building relationships with politicians. That’s probably why she has the most endorsements from current and former Iowa elected officials.

“She has a hell of a lot of local politicians, and those people are influencers,” said David Yepsen, who spent more than three decades as a political reporter at the Des Moines Register. “The fact that they are seeing what they see in her — someone who can beat Trump by carrying rural voters around the country and at the same time governing effectively — that has appeal.”

Klobuchar’s problem, Iowa political observers say, has been the crowded field of candidates.

Aside from a tweet from President Trump poking fun at her for looking like a “Snowman(woman)!” because of the flakes that blanketed her head during her campaign launch, Klobuchar hasn’t received much attention from Republicans or her Democratic rivals.

But she is one of six candidates to qualify for Tuesday’s Democratic primary debate in Des Moines and has outlasted more prominent politicians, notably California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Obama Cabinet member Julián Castro.

Asked how she outperformed such candidates, Klobuchar sang the title verse of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” before turning serious.

“We had a sense of the long haul. I also knew exactly why I was running from the beginning,” she said in an interview on her campaign bus, sitting in her stockinged feet in a leather recliner after kicking off sensible black heels.

Klobuchar’s campaign is lean, so two $1-million fundraising boosts she received in the 24 hours after strong debate performances last year allowed her to double the number of offices and hire more than 100 staffers in Iowa and add to her efforts in other states, she and her campaign said. She’s now drawing the largest crowds of her campaign, including more than 500 voters in a steamy barn this month in Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines.

While the larger crowds and campaign infrastructure are improvements, they demonstrate how far Klobuchar has to go. One of her top rivals in the moderate lane, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, has roughly double the offices and more staff in Iowa, more than three times the support she does in the most recent Iowa poll, and has held several events in the Hawkeye State that attracted more than 1,000 people.

The consensus among political observers is that Buttigieg or former Vice President Joe Biden must falter for Klobuchar to progress. She will probably face an additional hurdle because she may be confined to the nation’s capital for days at a time during the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.

Klobuchar is resolute, however. “We have enough to win,” she said.

Her passion and rationale impressed Jim Kelly, an undecided voter and retired college professor who attended a rally at an art museum in Waterloo. He came into the event 50/50 on Klobuchar and said he left at 82% in favor of supporting her.

“The one thing I want is somebody who’s got values that reflect the values of Iowa, and Amy does,” said Kelly, 77.

“Those experiences, they pay off big dividends, and she’s got that,” he said. “It wins hearts. And it wins votes.”


KYIV, Ukraine — 

Ukraine’s president called on Iran to fully accept its “guilt” for the downing of a passenger jetliner on Wednesday that killed 176 people.

After initial denials and under growing international pressure, Tehran acknowledged Saturday that an Iranian surface-to-air missile had unintentionally brought down the plane, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukraine International Airlines.

In one of his strongest statements since the disaster, President Volodymyr Zelensky said he appreciated that Iran had acknowledged what happened, but he demanded more answers.

“The morning was not good today but it brought along the truth,” Zelensky wrote early Saturday morning on his Facebook page after a briefing from U.S. diplomats. “But we insist on the full acceptance of guilt. We expect Iran to pledge readiness to carry out a full and open investigation, to prosecute those responsible, to return the bodies of the dead, to pay compensations, to extend official apologies via diplomatic channels.”

Zelensky also requested that 45 Ukrainian experts already on the site have full access through the course of the investigation. Iran has reportedly asked that Boeing Co. — the American manufacturing giant that has been besieged by safety problems relating to another model, the 737 Max — to join the investigation.

“Iran was pressed to acknowledge the guilt by the evidence presented collectively by the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain and others,” Taras Berezovets, a political scientist and head of Berta consulting company, told the Los Angeles Times. “Yesterday in Kyiv, U.S. diplomats handed over to the Ukrainian authorities all the evidence, including the data received from satellites.”

Among those on board the plane were 11 Ukrainians, 63 people from Canada — including two newlywed couples, both of Iranian ancestry — and a San Diego college student, her sister and their mother.

The disaster has once again thrust Zelensky — a former comedian and actor who won election last April in a landslide — into the spotlight. Since the political novice took office in May, he has found himself personally pulled into the impeachment proceedings against President Trump after the United States held back military aid from his country.

Ukraine has also been reeling from another major plane crash over its soil, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down by Russian-backed rebels in the country’s east in 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

The latest plane crash occurred during a new round of tension between the United States and Iran following a U.S. strike that killed Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad last week.

The Ukraine jetliner was shot down just hours after Iran fired more than a dozen short-range ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq hosting U.S. troops. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said Thursday that the evidence showed that a surface-to-air missile had brought down the plane.

Unlike the United States, Ukraine maintains diplomatic relations with Iran.


WASHINGTON — 

President Trump’s senior aides struggled Sunday to reconcile conflicting statements over the reasons for killing a top Iranian general, including Trump’s assertion that attacks were being actively planned against a quartet of American embassies.

At the same time, the White House walked a careful line over anti-government protests that flared for a second day in Tehran. Crowds there and in other major Iranian cities marched amid anger over the government’s admission that its forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian passenger jet last week, killing all 176 aboard, most of them Iranian.

In a round of interviews on news talk shows, top administration officials were eager to call attention to dissenting voices within Iran. But they also tried to avoid giving the impression that the demonstrations dovetailed with an American desire to undermine the Tehran government.

“You can see the Iranian people are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” But Robert O’Brien, the national security advisor, said regime change had “never” been the administration’s Iran policy.

O’Brien, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” said Iranian authorities were “having a very bad week” after denying and then acknowledging responsibility for shooting down the passenger plane. The strike came a few hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at a U.S. base in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani outside Baghdad’s airport.

“This is a regime that’s reeling from maximum pressure, they’re reeling from their incompetence in this situation, and the people of Iran are just fed up with it,” O’Brien told ABC.

Trump, who has been tweeting Farsi-language support for “the brave Iranian people,” took an admonitory tone toward Iranian authorities on Sunday with an all-caps warning on Twitter: “DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS.”

“The World is watching,” the president wrote. “More importantly, the USA is watching.”

But with questions mounting about the decision-making behind the targeting of Suleimani, senior administration officials floundered in the face of pointed questions about the legal justification for the action.

Officials have repeatedly cited an “imminent” threat from Suleimani, and Trump suggested in a Fox News interview Friday that the general was readying attacks on four U.S. embassies in the region.

“I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies,” Trump told Fox interviewer Laura Ingraham.

No other officials have backed up the assertion from Trump, who frequently fabricates details to embroider his accounts of events. Congressional Democrats said no such intelligence was relayed to them in briefings last week.

Esper and O’Brien, in a series of television appearances, refused to directly repeat the president’s assertion, although they tried to avoid directly contradicting him.

“I didn’t see” any specific intelligence regarding attacks on four embassies, Esper conceded, but he declared that “I share the president’s view” that the diplomatic posts were “probably” a target.

O’Brien took a similar stance, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” the intelligence showed “they were looking at U.S. embassies throughout the region.”

But he declined to detail imminent threats against any diplomatic installation other than the American Embassy in Baghdad, whose gates were breached on New Year’s Eve by protesters aligned with a pro-Iranian militia.

“I’d love to have the intelligence out there,” O’Brien said. “Unfortunately, if we declassify it, we could end up losing that stream of intelligence.”

The episode was reminiscent of Trump aides’ efforts last week to dismiss or minimize the president’s threat to strike Iranian cultural sites — an action that would likely have constituted a war crime — even as the president himself amplified his original remarks.

Trump finally backed down, saying that “I like to obey the law,” and there’s been no evidence that any Iranian cultural sites were targeted.

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Frustrated Democrats said they were well aware of the need to avoid disclosing sources and methods for intelligence reports, but accused the administration of providing an incomplete or outright misleading picture of the factors that allegedly made it imperative to kill Suleimani as a matter of self-defense.

“In the classified briefing, we got less detailed information than President Trump shared with Laura Ingraham,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, interviewed on “Fox News Sunday.” That assertion was echoed by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Schiff said there was “no discussion” in briefings with the so-called “Gang of Eight” — the chairs and ranking members of relevant House and Senate committees and the House and Senate leaders — of four embassies being targeted. He accused Trump and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo of “fudging the intelligence” in public comments about the Suleimani strike.

The administration, Schiff said, is “overstating and exaggerating what the intelligence shows. And when you’re talking about justifying acts that might bring us into warfare with Iran, that’s a dangerous thing to do.”


Over everything else, the winning coach recalls the silence that spread through the stadium on the cold Georgia night when Trevor Lawrence last lost a football game.

“It was almost eerie,” Tim McFarlin says.

He remembers the pure panic on his sideline too. Twelve seconds remained after the two kids from Blessed Trinity connected on a long touchdown pass to take the lead from Cartersville, 21-17, plenty of time to screw up what would become one of the most notorious upsets in state history, if his players didn’t stop running around in circles like the delirious teenagers they were.

Across the way, a somber group of seniors who had won 41 straight games and back-to-back state championships behind the leadership of a generational quarterback had to fight going into mourning right then.

“Don’t cry until you get in the locker room,” Cartersville coach Joey King told them.

The Hurricanes did not wait around when the clock hit zero. They did not fall onto the turf and wail in agony or show their pain to their close-knit small town. They quickly retreated to safety, and Lawrence, the star quarterback with the trademark golden locks, went with them, leaving his home field wearing purple and gold for the final time as a surprise loser.

“We had kind of forgotten what that feels like,” says Carson Murray, a senior on that Cartersville team. “It just kind of hit like a ton of bricks. The whole locker room was bawling.”

That was Nov. 17, 2017. It is now January of 2020, and no one could blame Lawrence, Clemson’s sophomore quarterback, if he has again forgotten what what it feels like to lose.

Since he arrived at Clemson, the Tigers are 29-0, with 25 of those wins led by Lawrence as the starter. On Monday night, they will play for their second straight national championship against Louisiana State in the Superdome. If they somehow escape New Orleans with the trophy, it will be a real possibility that Lawrence — who is expected to play one more season before being taken at or near the top of the 2021 NFL draft — will never experience defeat in a college football game.

“When I came to school, I just didn’t want to lose anymore,” Lawrence told reporters in South Carolina this week. “Me and Coach [Dabo] Swinney have had talks. It’s not in the rule book that you have to lose.”

In the last five years, Lawrence has only one reference point, that second-round playoff heartbreak at the hands of Blessed Trinity that came out of nowhere. The assumption, of course, is that he does not have fond memories of the one defeat in his last 71 games and would do anything to avoid it happening again.

Against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Fiesta Bowl, Lawrence got the ball at the Clemson six-yard line with three minutes left trailing 23-21. He promptly led the Tigers on a four-play, 94-yard, game-winning touchdown drive that was just too easy given the heft of the moment.

“He never succumbs to pressure,” Murray says. “It makes him play better.”

To Murray, who was run over by Lawrence twice the first time he took the field with him as an 8-year-old, it was always going to be this way for his eventual close friend. What the Cartersville boys could not have known was that, around that same time in another metro Atlanta town called Roswell, two boys named Jake Smith and Ryan Davis started playing football together, and they too felt destined for greatness on the gridiron.

But while the quarterback Smith and the wide receiver Davis developed their connection out of the spotlight before deciding to attend Blessed Trinity, it would be different for Lawrence and everyone in his orbit, especially by the time he was in high school.

King took the head coaching job at Cartersville in the spring of Lawrence’s eighth-grade year. He heard that he had a talented incoming junior at quarterback named Miller Forristall who was ranked nationally as a passer and an incoming freshman quarterback who had it all.

“I went to meet with the incoming ninth-grade boys, and I’m trying to figure out which one is him, and he’s about a foot and a half taller than everyone else, easy to pick out,” King says. “We go out to practice, and he’s making throws an eighth-grader’s not supposed to make.”

Heading into the next season, King decided to let Forristall and Lawrence compete for the job. Similar to what would later happen at Clemson with incumbent starter Kelly Bryant, the players split time during the first four games before King had to have an uncomfortable talk with Forristall.

“To his credit, he said, ‘I can’t make the plays this freshman’s making,’ ” King says.

Apparently, everything that Lawrence touches turns to gold, because Forristall would move to tight end and earn a scholarship to Alabama, where he is now the starter.

Once in control, Lawrence took over Georgia’s ultra-competitive high school football scene for the next four years. With his combination of size, speed and that big, accurate right arm, he emerged as the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation.

“Coaches coming in, media calling, random people walking in the front office off the street, vans parked in the parking lot after practice with people looking for him to sign stuff … you name it,” King says. “I’d get stuff addressed to him at the school, some bad stuff, and I’d throw it away, and he never knew it existed.”

There was no way to fully protect him from his own legend, though.

Highlights from a high school football game between Blessed Trinity at Cartersville.

“He did not like it,” Murray says. “He’s a quiet guy. We’d be out and people would ask him for his autograph. As soon as the first one asked, everybody else would. There were sometimes we’d say, ‘Hey, wanna go do something?’ And he’d say, ‘Can we just stay in and hang out?’ Or he’d wear a hood and try to hide his hair.”

Thirty-five miles away in Roswell, the Blessed Trinity team followed Lawrence’s exploits, like anyone who kept up with the prep scene.

“You just have to say his first name, and everybody knows who you’re talking about,” McFarlin says.

“He was the face of high school football for a minute there,” says Jake Rudolph, a Blessed Trinity linebacker.

In 2017, when Blessed Trinity was placed into Cartersville’s side of the playoff bracket, the Titans were not happy. The Hurricanes were routinely putting up 50-plus points, and when their matchup was set, Blessed Trinity figured to be about a 30-point underdog.

That offseason, McFarlin had brought John Thompson, a longtime college football defensive coordinator, out of retirement to run his defense. As Thompson watched film of Lawrence, the only comparison he could make from all his years in coaching was another quarterback who wore No. 16.

“His name was Peyton Manning,” says Thompson, who went against Manning at Tennessee when he coached at Southern Mississippi. “Trevor is still the best high school quarterback I’ve ever seen.”

But Thompson noticed that the other teams Cartersville had played were too afraid to blitz Lawrence.
“We said, ‘Hey, let’s fire all our shots,’ ” Thompson says. “If they had five guys blocking, we were going to bring six. If they had six blocking, we were going to try to bring seven.”

The Titans had been hearing about Lawrence and watching his highlights for years. All of a sudden, “You open your eyes, look up, and there he is across the line from you,” Rudolph says.

“Once the game starts, all that hype, all the stars, all the rankings and everything just goes out the door,” Davis says, “and it’s really just athletes playing against athletes.”

Blessed Trinity’s plan worked from the start, rattling Lawrence and giving the Titans confidence. Blessed Trinity took a 14-3 lead to the half. The Hurricanes answered with the help of a punt return for a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead into the final minutes.

Blessed Trinity got the ball back late after forcing a fumble and had a chance to tie the score with a field goal or go for the win. The Titans, facing third and nine, were set up for about a 42-yard field-goal attempt. Instead of running the ball and going for the tie, McFarlin decided to throw one downfield. In his mind, he had just the guys to do it.

Smith, who would go on to play quarterback at Air Force, and Davis, who is now a receiver at Alabama Birmingham, had been hitting a double move off a play-action pass all season. For that matter, they’d been playing pitch and catch their whole lives. McFarlin dialed it up.

Davis made his move and shook the cornerback. Smith was pressured but got the ball up for him. All Davis had to do was beat the safety to it in the back of the end zone.

As the ball found Davis’ hands, all Lawrence could do was watch, helplessly.

“Somewhere between really good and pretty stupid,” McFarlin says of the call. “I’m serious. We could have easily taken a sack and gotten thrown out of field-goal range, or an interception. A thousand things could have happened. But there’s just a time in the game where you feel like you gotta take that shot.”

For Cartersville, it was a shot to the heart.

“A shock to the community,” King says.

“They were good, but not our caliber of good,” says Murray, who played his last football game that night. “I really miss it. I think about it, I wouldn’t say super often, but it crosses our mind. Me and my buddies like to make up a bunch of excuses for why we lost, like guys do.”

Life moved on for everybody. King is now an assistant at South Florida under new head coach Jeff Scott, who coached Lawrence the last two seasons at Clemson as offensive coordinator.

McFarlin and Blessed Trinity went on to win state in 2017 and repeated that feat in 2018, beating Cartersville in the title game.

With Lawrence and Clemson on the precipice of another championship, McFarlin put on the film from the 2017 Cartersville game because some new coaches on his staff had asked to see it.

“I can promise you, I wouldn’t want to play that game again,” McFarlin says with a laugh.

Thompson, the last defensive coordinator to flummox Lawrence, went back into retirement after the second state championship.

This week, he heard from an old player of his — Ed Orgeron. It is probably not a coincidence that Orgeron, now the LSU coach tasked with taking down Lawrence on Monday, called Thompson, who coached him at Northwestern (La.) State, at this moment.

“He already knew it, he had talked to Tim McFarlin,” says Thompson, who was Orgeron’s defensive coordinator at Mississippi in 2007. “We were laughing about it.”

Did he share any secrets with Orgeron?

“No, I don’t think they need any pointers,” Thompson says. “Even though that was good at the time, the stakes are a little bit different now.”

While Thompson has a personal reason to root for LSU on Monday night, most everyone affiliated with Blessed Trinity will be cheering for Lawrence.

After all, the more he wins, the more legendary their win becomes.

“What he’s done in college football is unheard of,” Rudolph says. “It’s crazy to watch him do it, knowing we were the last team that beat him. It’s kind of surreal, especially if he can cap this game off, I really don’t see him losing the rest of his college career.”


NEW ORLEANS — 

In the precious private moments before the Louisiana State Tigers run out of the tunnel Monday night, their two leaders will depend on the pregame rituals that got them here, four quarters from college football immortality in a place where legends never die.

The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback has his routine, closing his eyes and visualizing how the beautiful game might unfold, how the defense might choose to attack him. This goes on for about 15 minutes.

“It’s kind of a nap,” Joe Burrow said. “I wouldn’t say I’m fully conscious. Whatever happens, happens. If I fall asleep, then I fall asleep.”

The national coach of the year, the protagonist of one of the sport’s most stirring underdog stories, has his own process.

“I get fired up,” Ed Orgeron said. “I drink a couple of Monsters and Red Bulls.”

Oh, the songs that will be written on the bayou if these two unlikely heroes come together for one more masterful performance and hand the defending national champion Clemson Tigers their first loss in the last two seasons. The first lines of Ed and Joe’s little ditty were scribbled over a crawfish dinner in Baton Rouge, where a hothead coach and a cool-hand quarterback first got to really know each other.

“We are one of the same from two different places,” Burrow said. “We have the same mentality: go run through someone’s face. He’s coached that way and played that way for a long time. That’s how I’ve always tried to play the game. This has kind of been a great match for us.”

Entering this season, you didn’t have to be from Louisiana or be able to understand Cajun French or know the difference between jambalaya and étouffée to know that LSU had a destiny to fulfill.

The Tigers have won three national championships — in the 1958, 2003 and 2007 seasons. Each time, they had the good fortune of aligning a transcendent run with a trip to New Orleans to validate it. Even in the 2011 season, LSU’s national title game loss to Alabama happened in the Superdome.

The four-year cycle was broken in 2015, but not too long after in 2016, Orgeron took over as coach for Les Miles. This year, the Larose, La., native restored the cosmic repetition with the help of a transfer quarterback from Athens, Ohio, who has the ability to recognize more than a coverage or blitz.

“We went into the season saying if the national title is in New Orleans, we weren’t going to let anybody else be there,” Burrow said. “We had to be there. We weren’t going to be at home on the couch watching two teams coming in our state and watching them on TV.”

Given the way the previous four years have gone in the College Football Playoff, Clemson was always going to be the most likely team to join whichever team won the Southeastern Conference in New Orleans. Dabo Swinney’s Tigers, 14-0 and winners of 29 in a row, are playing in their fourth CFP title game in five years.

That is such a staggering accomplishment that, to Swinney, a win over 14-0 LSU for a third national championship would be akin to a heaping helping of Cajun gravy.

“Regardless of what happens Monday night, this has been historic,” Swinney said. “Our program and even this team is not going to be defined by a scoreboard Monday night. Yeah, we win and we’ve won 30 in a row, and these guys went 15-0 back to back. But man, it’s been special.”

Swinney pushed all the right buttons with his team’s motivation in 2019, somehow convincing a group that began the season No. 1 in both polls that it was not receiving proper respect. The Tigers fell to second in the rankings after nearly losing at North Carolina on Sept. 28, and, as LSU and Ohio State won bigger games in October, they dropped all the way to fourth. While Clemson’s ACC schedule did not provide any prove-it opportunities in November, Swinney dug in further on disrespect.

After beating Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl, Clemson is a 5½-point underdog to LSU, which of course did not go unnoticed by Swinney.

“It doesn’t really ever seem to matter,” Swinney said. “We’ll win 50 in a row, we’ll still be the underdog.”

A big part of that is the game’s location, which only adds to the sense that LSU’s run to the title is predestined. Maybe that’s why Swinney began Clemson’s media day Saturday with the reminder that what his Tigers have already done is impressive enough.

“This is definitely a road game,” Swinney said. “It just worked out that way. But I think it’s really cool for LSU. How cool is that, for them to be able to just hop on a bus and ride up the road 40 minutes or so? It would be like us playing for the national championship in Greenville [S.C.], literally.”

Swinney is setting up a scenario in which the pressure all rests on LSU, the team that hasn’t played for a CFP title and has had far more potential distractions surrounding it than Clemson.

The entire state has converged on the French Quarter. Classes at LSU have been canceled Monday and Tuesday. It’s as if Fat Tuesday arrived early.

“Louisiana is shut down. It’s on lock,” said LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a Baton Rouge native. “It’s a sea of purple and gold. Ultimately for the rest of our lives, this is a memory that will never rust if we win this national championship.”

With all of that hanging in the Superdome air, how will Burrow ever find his calm?

There might not be enough energy drinks in New Orleans for Orgeron on Monday night.

“Just to show up at the hotel and see all the fans there,” Orgeron said, “just to hear them when we walk out here. … When we left Baton Rouge, there were hundreds of people in front of the neighborhoods, and just seeing the little kids, understanding the magnitude of this football team and what it means to me and who we represent. … It’s everything.”