Day: March 7, 2019

Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is seen in an undated photograph handed out by her family
Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is seen in an undated photograph handed out by her family. Ratcliffe Family Handout via REUTERS

March 8, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will hand diplomatic protection to British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to underline the government’s belief that Iran has behaved unjustly in its treatment of her, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday.

Hunt said while the move, a little-used way for governments to seek protection on behalf of their nationals, was unlikely to be a “magic wand,” it may help Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case.

Iran’s ambassador in London said on Twitter that Britain’s move “contravenes international law”.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit.

She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News.

“I have today decided that the UK will take a step that is extremely unusual and exercise diplomatic protection,” Hunt said in a statement, adding that the move signaled to Tehran that “its behavior is totally wrong”.

“It is unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result. But it demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent and the UK will not stand by when one of its citizens is treated so unjustly,” he said.

Diplomatic protection is a mechanism under international law through which a state may seek reparation for injury to one of its nationals on the basis that the second state has committed an internationally wrongful act against that person.

“UK Govt’s extension of diplomatic protection to Ms Zaghari contravenes int’l law. Govts may only exercise such protection for own nationals,” Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador in London, said on Twitter.

“As (the) UK Govt is acutely aware, Iran does not recognize dual nationality. Irrespective of UK residency, Ms Zaghari thus remains Iranian,” Baeidinejad added.

Earlier this year, Zaghari-Ratcliffe went on hunger strike in protest at her treatment in jail.

“We have been working hard to secure her release but despite repeated efforts have not been successful. We have not even been able to secure her the medical treatment she urgently needs despite assurances to the contrary,” Hunt said.

“No government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her family.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Peter Cooney and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Boyu Capital is seen at the company's office in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Boyu Capital is seen at the company’s office in Hong Kong December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

March 8, 2019

By Kane Wu and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese private-equity (PE) firm Boyu Capital, known for cutting lucrative deals at home, has closed its latest U.S. dollar-denominated fund with $3.6 billion in committed capital, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The fund, Boyu’s fourth and largest to date, has received strong backing from its existing investors, including family offices, sovereign funds and pension funds, the people said, declining to be named as the information is confidential.

Reuters reported in November that the Hong Kong-based Boyu was raising a new dollar fund targeting at least $3 billion, the latest among a slew of global and regional investment firms that have raised record-sized capital for a region seeing a surge in deal-making.

Boyu’s success in this round underscores investor confidence in the firm’s ability to land lucrative deals in China’s fast-growing new-economy sectors despite a slowdown in the nation’s growth and Sino-U.S. trade tensions, the people said.

China-focused PE and venture capital managers raised a combined $49 billion last year, sharply down from $128 billion in 2017, according to data provider Preqin. But Asia-focused dry powder still stood at a record high of $291 billion by end-2018.

Boyu’s investors include Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing and Singapore state investors Temasek and GIC, one of the people added.

The New York Common Retirement Fund is a limited partner in Boyu’s latest fund, committing $40 million, the New York state comptroller disclosed on his website.

Boyu declined to comment.

INVESTMENTS

Founded in 2010, Boyu counts former TPG Capital senior executive Mary Ma and Alvin Jiang, the grandson of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, as partners.

It is known for its 2012 investment in e-commerce giant Alibaba and other profitable deals such as its 2011 purchase of a controlling stake in Sunrise Duty Free, a retailer with outlets at Beijing and Shanghai airports.

In the past few years, Boyu has been actively investing in China’s booming tech startups, including ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, on-demand services provider Meituan Dianping and Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial, separate people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Recently, it led a 1.8 billion yuan ($268 million) Series D round in Shanghai Yimi Dida Supply Chain Management Co, which crowd-sources delivery services in small counties and villages, according to Refinitiv data.

It was also among four cornerstone investors in the Hong Kong IPO of Chinese biotech firm CStone Pharmaceuticals last month, pledging $20 million.

Boyu’s last U.S. dollar PE fund, which raised about $2.1 billion in 2016, saw a 37.5 percent gross internal rate of return (IRR) as of end-June, Reuters has reported.

(Reporting by Kane Wu and Julie Zhu; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A oil pump is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard
FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

March 8, 2019

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday amid growing investor jitters over the global economy, after the European Central Bank (ECB) warned overnight of continued weakness and as fresh data showed Chinese exports and imports slumped last month.

With surging U.S. supply also unsettling markets, international benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $65.83 per barrel at 0358 GMT, down 47 cents, or 0.7 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.32 per barrel, down 34 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement.

Financial markets, including crude oil futures, took a hit after ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday the economy was in “a period of continued weakness and pervasive uncertainty”. Europe’s economic weakness comes as growth in Asia is also slowing down.

A slowdown in economic growth would also likely result in stalling fuel demand, putting pressure prices.

China’s February dollar-denominated exports fell 21 percent from a year earlier, coming in far worse than analysts’ expectations, while imports dropped 5.2 percent, official data showed on Friday.

On the supply side, prices have been receiving support this year from output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Together with some non-affiliated producers like Russia, the producer group has pledged to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply to tighten markets and prop up prices.

But these efforts are being undermined by soaring U.S. crude oil production, which has increased by more than 2 million bpd since early 2018, to an unprecedented 12.1 million bpd. That makes America the world’s biggest producer, ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

(Graphic: U.S., Russian & Saudi crude output – https://tmsnrt.rs/2ETCLmP)

U.S. TO BECOME TOP OIL EXPORTER?

As a result, U.S. crude exports have also been chasing new records, reaching 3.6 million bpd in February – more than OPEC members like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait or Iran produce.

Some analysts even expect the United States to soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil exporter.

“In a pivotal geopolitical shift, the United States will soon export more oil and liquids than Saudi Arabia,” consultancy Rystad Energy said this week. Liquids include non-crude oil products like natural gas liquids (NGLs).

“The (Saudi) kingdom currently exports some 7 million bpd of crude oil plus about 2 million bpd of NGLs and petroleum products, compared with the U.S. now exporting approximately 3 million bpd of crude oil and 5 million barrels of NGLs and petroleum products,” Rystad said.

The consultancy “forecasts that U.S. oil production…will grow by close to another 1 million bpd in 2019.”

Beyond added supply to global markets and likely downward pressure on crude prices, Rystad said this export surge would have huge benefits for the U.S. economy.

“The U.S. trade deficit will evaporate, and its foreign debt will be paid quickly thanks to the swift rise of American oil and gas net exports,” said Rystad Energy senior partner Per Magnus Nysveen.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

Source: OANN

Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador for International Religious Freedom, attends the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong
Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador for International Religious Freedom, attends the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, China, March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Yuyang Wang

March 8, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, on Friday called on Beijing to end religious persecution in China, while requesting a visit to the country’s mass internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang.

In a strongly worded speech during a visit to Hong Kong, Brownback said Beijing was waging a “war with faith” and that it needed to respect the fundamental and “sacred right” of people to worship.

“It is a war they will not win,” he told an audience at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

“The Chinese Communist Party must hear the cries of its own people for religious freedom and act to correct its wrongs.”

Addressing the subject of China’s vast internment camps for Muslims in Xinjiang, Brownback spoke of rights violations including torture, political indoctrination and forced labour. The camps reportedly hold more than a million ethnic Uighurs and people from other Muslim minorities,

“The Trump administration is deeply concerned and considers this oppression a deliberate attempt by Beijing to redefine and control members of these Muslim minority groups’ identity, culture and faith.”

He declined to say whether the United States is currently weighing up any fresh policies or sanctions against China over the crackdown in Xinjiang, including human rights-related sanctions against the region’s Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo.

“We don’t discuss internal matters about what’s being discussed about possible actions in any place around the world, the same for Xinjiang.”

But he reiterated a request for an open visit to such camps.

“I would like to have the opportunity to go, but not to just to be given a show. I want to get into the actual camps themselves and talk to people and interview them freely.”

Turning to the issue of Catholics in China, where there exists an underground church loyal to the Pope and a state-sanctioned church, Brownback said a reported landmark deal for China to allow the Vatican a say over the appointment of new bishops in the mainland hadn’t led to improved freedoms.

“Since this provisional deal was announced last year the Chinese government’s abuse of members of the Catholic community has continued. We see no signs that will change in the near future.”

He noted that Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, with its strong rule of law and religious diversity, could serve as an example for China to follow in future.

“The gates of religious freedom will fly open in China and the iron curtain of religious persecution will come down. The Chinese government is currently on the wrong side of history,” said the former senator.

(Reporting by James Pomfret and Shellin Li; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Man is seen in front of an electronic board showing stock information on the first day of trading in the Year of the Pig at a brokerage house in Hangzhou
FILE PHOTO: A man is seen in front of an electronic board showing stock information on the first day of trading in the Year of the Pig, following the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, at a brokerage house in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

March 8, 2019

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian stocks shuddered lower on Friday after shockingly weak export data from China heightened market fears about a global economic slowdown, a day after European policymakers slashed growth forecasts for the bloc.

Beijing reported exports in February tumbled 20.7 percent from a year earlier, far beneath forecasts of a 4.8 percent drop and more than erasing January’s surprise jump.

Analysts cautioned the timing of the Lunar New Year made it difficult to draw a true signal from the noise but the scale of the miss was alarming.

Adding insult to injury, China’s leading brokerage Citic Securities issued a rare “sell” rating on the Shanghai-listed shares of People’s Insurance Group of China (PICC) sending them down almost 10 percent.

Shanghai blue chips quickly extended early losses to be down 2.9 percent, the sharpest daily fall since October, while the dollar climbed on the yuan.

Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1.9 percent and Australia 0.9 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.1 percent to a two-week trough.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 eased 0.1 percent.

The mood had already been brittle after the European Central Bank slashed its growth forecasts and surprised everyone with a new round of policy stimulus, leaving investors fearing the worst for the global economy.

ECB President Mario Draghi said the economy was in “a period of continued weakness and pervasive uncertainty” as he pushed out a planned rate hike and instead offered banks a new round of cheap loans.

The reversal came in the same week that Canada’s central bank took a sudden dovish turn and dismal data from Australia to the UK instilled a sense of foreboding in markets.

“When central banks surprise like this some investors wonder whether that infers things are much worse than they thought,” said Gavin Friend, a senior market strategist at NAB.

“Our initial take is these developments are pressing down on market confidence, seen in lower bond yields and equities.”

Yields on German and French 10-year bonds dived to their lowest since 2016, while banking stocks took a beating. The euro duly sank to depths last seen in mid-2017, sending the safe-haven U.S. dollar and yen surging.

(Asian stock markets : https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4)

EURO IN A HOLE

The next hurdle for investors will be U.S. payrolls data for February, with analysts uncertain how much payback there might be for January’s outsized jump. There was also a chance the jobless rate could fall by more than forecast given the recent strength in employment.

The numbers are still likely to highlight the relative outperformance of the U.S. economy, especially against the European Union, and further encourage dollar bulls.

The greenback reached a new 2019 high against a basket of currencies and was last at 97.548.

The euro cowered at $1.1194, having suffered its biggest one-day loss against the dollar since June 2018 when the ECB last pushed back plans for a rate hike.

The euro also shed over 1 percent on the yen overnight and was last trading at 124.70 yen. The safe-harbor Japanese currency was one of the few to hold its own on the dollar at 111.40.

“The ECB’s updated forecasts imply that, at best, growth slowly returns to trend over the next few years, meaning it will be very difficult to get underlying inflation up,” wrote analysts at ANZ in a note.

“Euro interest rates could be at current levels into 2021. That is not good news for euro area banks or the euro.”

In commodity markets, the rise in the dollar restrained gold to $1,287.19 per ounce.

Oil prices eased as U.S. crude output and exports climbed to record highs, undermining efforts by producer club OPEC to tighten global markets. [O/R]

U.S. crude was last down 35 cents at $56.31 a barrel, while Brent crude fell 49 cents to $65.81.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong)

Source: OANN

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul
South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

March 8, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in has replaced his unification minister who played a major role in last year’s detente with the North, his office said on Friday, and named a longtime confidant to lead Moon’s drive for “a new Korean peninsula”.

Kim Yeon-chul, a pro-engagement scholar who heads the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification, will replace Cho Myoung-gyon pending a confirmation hearing.

“He’s the right man who can actively embody the president’s vision for a new Korean peninsula, a new peace and cooperation community, by carrying out the Unification Ministry’s main policy tasks without a hitch and implementing inter-Korean agreements in a speedy manner,” Moon’s spokesman told a news briefing.

The change was part of Moon’s largest cabinet reshuffle since taking office in 2017, with new ministers for the interior, land and transportation, culture and sport, oceans and fisheries, science and technology, and small and medium enterprises.

The shake-up allows incumbent aides to run in parliamentary elections next year, analysts said, and turns a page for an administration facing a sluggish economy and sagging popularity.

The removal of Cho, who has yet to say if he will enter politics, comes a week after the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to narrow their differences on dismantling the North’s nuclear program and U.S. willingness to ease sanctions.

The failed summit was a blow for Moon, who had hoped U.S. sanctions relief would boost South-North projects including a factory park, tourism zone and railway network.

Ahead of the Hanoi summit, a rift opened within Moon’s administration over how to advance Korean ties without undercutting international sanctions and the alliance with the United States.

Some top aides, including national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, had pushed for the economic projects to go ahead. Cho and other aides favored sticking to Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign to force the North’s denuclearization.

Cho’s advocacy of strict sanctions enforcement surprised – and drew complaints from – many officials.

The appointment of Kim Yeon-chul, a staunch backer of Korean reconciliation, may further improve ties with the North, officials said.

It could also signal deeper divisions within Moon’s government, some analysts said, and fuel U.S. concerns that the South may be moving too quickly with the North.

Kim, 55, is a North Korea studies professor and adviser to a previous administration in which Moon also served.

More recently, he advised Moon’s office on Korean summits before moving to head the think tank affiliated with the Unification Ministry.

Kim was a vocal critic of the 2016 decision to close the Kaesong factory after Seoul’s then-conservative government said the North had diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean firms to bankroll its weapons programs.

A private panel appointed by the Unification Ministry under Moon said there was no evidence to back up that charge, and Kim has since called for the factory to reopen.

The factory, alongside a railway and tourism project, are important parts of Moon’s initiative to build a pan-peninsula economic community which he has said will also benefit South Korea’s economy.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of U.S. Dollar and Euro notes
U.S. Dollar and Euro notes are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

March 8, 2019

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – The euro wallowed close to a 21-month low against the dollar on Friday, hurt by a series of dovish signals from the European Central Bank, and the currency market braced for further volatility ahead of U.S. jobs data later in the day.

The single currency stood little changed at $1.1196 after tumbling 1 percent on Thursday to touch $1.1176, its lowest since June 2017. It has declined 1.5 percent this week.

The euro’s big hit on Thursday came as the ECB pushed back the timing of its first post-crisis interest rate hike to 2020, cut its economic forecasts and launched a new round of cheap bank loans.

The euro slid along with euro zone yields, with the 10-year German bund yield declining to its lowest since October 2016 following Thursday’s ECB meeting.

(Graphic: Euro, 10-year bund yield – https://tmsnrt.rs/2UpQck3)

The February U.S. jobs report to be released as 1330 GMT could stack more pressure on the floundering euro.

Economists polled by Reuters expect to see 180,000 jobs added in the United States last month, after two months of staggering growth. The U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs in January and 222,000 in December.

“Whether the dollar can remain on an uptrend in the long-term is debatable, but for now a strong U.S. jobs report would provide further boost for the currency,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

That in turn would weigh on the euro, caught in a downward spiral after the ECB meeting and also shackled with Brexit woes, Ishikawa said.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was a shade lower at 97.548. The index soared 0.75 percent on Thursday to brush a near three-month peak of 97.71 and was headed for a weekly gain of 1.2 percent.

The dollar “is head and shoulders above peers, but this also means that it is the currency most susceptible to potential adjustments,” said Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist at Mizuho Bank.

The greenback was down 0.15 percent at 111.44 yen , stretching overnight losses, amid risk aversion in broader markets. Global equities were lower after the ECB stoked economic growth concerns.

The yen, a perceived safe haven, attracts demand in times of political tensions and market turmoil.

The Australian dollar trod water at $0.7013 , having declined 0.9 percent this week and hitting a two-month trough of $0.7005 after data showed the economy grew at its slowest pace in two years last quarter.

The currency showed little reaction to official data on Friday showing China’s February dollar-denominated exports plunging a steeper-than-expected 20.7 percent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 5.2 percent.

The Aussie is often seen as a liquid proxy of trades related to China, Australia’s major trading partner.

(Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 – http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

(Editing by Sam Holmes and Richard Borsuk)

Source: OANN

Women bang pots and pans during a protest at the start of a nationwide feminist strike on International Women's Day at Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid
Women bang pots and pans during a protest at the start of a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day at Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, Spain, March 8, 2019.REUTERS/Susana Vera

March 8, 2019

MADRID (Reuters) – Loudly banging pots and pans, a few hundred women protesters gathered in Madrid in the early hours of Friday to mark the start of International Women’s Day.

The women – some wearing purple bags and clothes, and holding banners that read “Sister I do believe you” – met at midnight in Puerta del Sol square in the heart of the Spanish capital, in one of the first protests in Europe to commemorate the day and call for more gender equality. Purple has in recent years been a signature color of women’s rights protesters.

“It’s essential to demonstrate and more in a day like women’s day because there are still a lot of gaps and problems in society that women face and need to overcome. We are in a patriarchal society,” said Abril Vilatrollol, a 21-year-old cinema student protesting in the square.

She added that sometimes she fears for her safety when heading home after partying at night, and argued that there is clear discrimination against women in the cinema sector.

Larger rallies are expected in Spain later on Friday during a general strike, at a time when gender inequality has become a divisive issue ahead of an April 28 parliamentary election.

New far-right party Vox, which according to opinion polls would for the first time win seats in a parliamentary election, has called for the scrapping of Spain’s gender violence laws, one of its trademark proposals.

The conservative Partido Popular will not take part in major March 8 demonstrations, arguing that they have been politicized by the left. On the other side, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists have made gender equality a top priority of his nine-month government and reelection campaign.

(Reporting by Joan Faus and Catherine MacDonald; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

Devon Windsor celebrated her birthday and thanked her 1.6 million followers for their kind wishes with a jaw-dropping bikini shot on Instagram.

The 25-year-old Victoria’s Secret model looked fantastic as she posed for the snap rocking a dark red two-piece suit while she held up two balloons, that together read, “25.”

She didn’t explain much about where the celebration was taking place and only captioned it, “Here’s to [25] !!!
Thank you to everyone for the kind birthday wishes!!! I love you all.” (RELATED: Celebrate Alessandra Ambrosio’s Birthday With Her Most Scandalous Pics [SLIDESHOW])

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The lingerie model’s social media account is always pure fire with some terrific photos she’s shared from her past fashion photo shoots to her swimsuit-clad trips all over the world.

Here are a few that really stood out, including one photo of her rocking a red bikini and looking terrific. (RELATED: Celebrate Kate Upton’s Birthday With These Unforgettable Shots [SLIDESHOW])

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Not to mention, a handful from her stunning appearances over the years in the annual underwear show. Happy Birthday!  (SLIDESHOW: 71 Times Samantha Hoopes Stripped Down)

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Containers and trucks are seen following a snowfall at the port of Qingdao
FILE PHOTO: Containers and trucks are seen following a snowfall at the port of Qingdao, Shandong province, China February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

March 8, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s February dollar-denominated exports fell 20.7 percent from a year earlier, far worse than analysts’ expectations, while imports dropped 5.2 percent, official data showed on Friday.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $4.12 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected February shipments from the world’s largest exporter to have fallen 4.8 percent from a year earlier, after a surprise jump of 9.1 percent in January.

Imports were expected to have dropped 1.4 percent, after declining 1.5 percent in the preceding month. The trade surplus had been tipped at $26.38 billion last month from January’s $39.16 billion.

Analysts caution, however, that Chinese data is often highly volatile early in the year, due to massive business disruptions caused by the long Lunar New Year holidays, which began in early February this year.

China’s economic growth slowed to a 28-year low in 2018 and is expected to cool further this year, weighed down by weak demand at home and a bruising trade war with the United States.

(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference during ongoing session of the NPC in Beijing
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference during the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliamentary body, in Beijing, China March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 8, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, said on Friday that foreign sanctions would only worsen the situation in Venezuela and that China continued to support the search for political resolution there.

Wang was speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

China has repeatedly called for outsiders not to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, and has stuck by the embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Most Western nations have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

Beijing has lent more than $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade, securing energy supplies for its fast-growing economy.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

It’s Hailey Clauson’s birthday Thursday.

In honor of the 24-year-old Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model’s day, we searched the internet to find her most unforgettable looks on the red carpet to date. (RELATED: Celebrate Samantha Hoopes’ Birthday With Her Hottest Looks)

Born in Thousand Oaks, California, the super model was first discovered during an open casting call at the age of 14-years-old by the famous Ford Models agency. (RELATED: Celebrate Anna Kendrick’s Birthday With Her Hottest Looks [SLIDESHOW])

Soon she found herself modeling for such well-known fashion houses as Calvin Klein, Zac Posen and Gucci, just to name a few. (RELATED: Take A Look Back At Adriana Lima’s Career With Victoria’s Secret)

However, it wasn’t until she got the opportunity to appear in the annual swimsuit issue in 2015 in which she posed nude wearing body paint that she became a celebrity. Her appearances in the swimsuit magazine over the years are definitely can’t miss. You can check out some of those memorable moments here.  (RELATED: Check Out The Hottest Looks From The 60th Grammy Awards [SLIDESHOW])

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Check out this list of her hottest looks and let us know if you agree. (RELATED: Take A Look Back At Our Favorite Celebs’ Hottest Looks Of 2018)

Here’s to hoping this new year is her greatest year yet. Happy Birthday, Hailey! (RELATED: Celebrate Kate Upton’s Birthday With These Unforgettable Shots [SLIDESHOW])

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers sit at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California
FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers at Pier J at the Port of Long Beach wait for processing in Long Beach, California, U.S., April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Riha Jr./File Photo

March 8, 2019

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Takaya Yamaguchi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Downside risks in the global economy are likely to persist over the medium to long term, pressured by the Sino-U.S. trade war and a slowdown in China, Japan’s top financial diplomat said.

Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for international affairs, said he hoped Washington and Beijing would resolve their trade dispute by tackling not just trade issues but China’s structural problems.

Asakawa’s comments came just days after China set an economic growth target of 6.0 to 6.5 percent in 2019, below the 6.6 percent gross domestic product growth reported last year.

“It’s inevitable for Chinese economy to slow, with its potential growth lowering as a trend,” Asakawa told Reuters.

“It is unlikely to falter greatly as there’s room for authorities’ stimulus measures.”

Global trade has slowed over the past year as Washington and Beijing have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff battle for months. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that trade talks with China were moving along well and predicted either a “good deal” or no deal.

Asakawa said the trade war and China’s slowdown meant the risks to global growth remain over the medium to long term, although the world economy is still in recovery mode.

Asakawa said he wanted the world’s two largest economies to address China’s structural problems over intellectual property, technology transfer and state-owned enterprises.

Tokyo and Washington are set to enter bilateral trade talks in the coming months, with currency issues likely in focus.

Asked if Trump’s past criticism against Japan for keeping the yen low through the Bank of Japan’s “money supply” could tie Tokyo’s hands in coping with a spike in the currency, Asakawa said he saw no problem as long as monetary policy is not targeting currencies

“G7 and G20 have constantly agreed that excess currency volatility and disorderly movement are undesirable for economy and financial stability,” he said.

“Japan can act as appropriate based on the G7/G20 agreement in case disorderly moves like “flash crash” occurs in the market.”

Asakawa took up his post in July 2015, overseeing currency issues and international affairs such as G7 and G20 meetings.

He has become the longest serving top financial diplomat, exceeding the previous record set by BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who served as vice finance minister for international affairs for 3 1/2 years to Jan 2003.

Under Japan’s chair, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will meet in Fukuoka in western Japan on June 8-9, followed by a leaders’ summit in Osaka on June 28-29.

Japan hopes to deepen debate on global imbalances, including widening income gaps and the distribution of wealth, as well as the management of fiscal and monetary policies in the face of aging populations around the world, he said.

He added that Japan would lead the G20 debate on free trade, adding that the global body would lose its influence if trade issues aren’t discussed in a comprehensive manner.

Asakawa justified Japan’s hefty current account surpluses, running about 20 trillion yen for a third straight year to 2018, which mostly consist of income gains from overseas investment. Japan’s current account surplus is in part backed by a rise in savings for the future as the population ages, he said.

“Japanese direct investment overseas has helped create jobs in the United States and Europe.”

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Takaya Yamaguchi; additional reporting by Mayu Yoshida; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: North Korean ICBMs on parade
FILE PHOTO: Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high-ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

March 8, 2019

By David Brunnstrom and Hyonhee Shin

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is open to additional talks with Pyongyang over denuclearization, his national security adviser said on Thursday, despite reports that North Korea is reactivating parts of its missile program.

New activity has been detected at a factory that produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo and Donga Ilbo newspapers reported, citing lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service.

This week, two U.S. think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said North Korea was rebuilding its Sohae rocket launch site, prompting Trump to say he would be “very, very disappointed” in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if it were true. The think tanks said on Thursday that they believed the launch site was operational again.

Asked on Thursday if he was disappointed about recent North Korean activity, Trump told reporters: “It’s disappointing,” while adding without elaborating: “We’ll see. We’ll let you know in about a year.”

The reports of North Korean activity raise more questions about the future of the dialogue Trump has pursued with Kim after a second summit between them broke down in Vietnam last week.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to North Korea, said Trump was still open to more talks with the country.

“The president’s obviously open to talking again. We’ll see when that might be scheduled or how it might work out,” he told Fox News, adding it was too soon to make a determination on the reports of the North Korean activities.

“We’re going to study the situation carefully. As the president said, it would be very, very disappointing if they were taking this direction.”

The Vietnam summit on Feb. 27-28 collapsed over differences about how far North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program and the degree of U.S. willingness to ease economic sanctions.

Trump, eager for a big foreign policy win on North Korea, which has eluded his predecessors for decades, has repeatedly stressed his good relationship with Kim. He went as far late last year as saying they “fell in love,” but the bonhomie has failed so far to bridge the wide gap between the two sides.

“NO COMMITMENT YET”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful he would send a delegation to North Korea for more talks in the next couple of weeks, but that he had received “no commitment yet.”

A senior State Department official told reporters on Thursday that Washington was keen to resume talks as soon as possible, but North Korea’s negotiators needed to be given more latitude than they were ahead of the summit.

He said no one in the U.S. administration advocated the incremental approach that North Korea has been seeking and the condition for its integration into the global economy, a transformed relationship with the United States and a permanent peace regime, was complete denuclearization.

“Fundamentally, where we really need to see the progress, and we need to see it soon, is on meaningful and verifiable steps on denuclearization. That’s our goal and that’s how we see these negotiations picking up momentum.”

The official, who did not want to be identified, said the U.S. side still saw North Korea’s complete denuclearization as achievable within Trump’s current term, which ends in January 2021.

While the official said he would “not necessarily share the conclusion” that the Sohae site was operational again, any use of it would be seen as “backsliding” on commitments to Trump.

“We are watching in real-time developments at Sohae and we will definitely be seeking clarification on the purposes of that,” he said.

MISSILE FACTORY

South Korean spy chief Suh Hoon told lawmakers in Seoul this week that cargo vehicles were spotted moving around a North Korean ICBM factory at Sanumdong recently, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The paper also quoted Suh as saying North Korea had continued to run its uranium enrichment facility at the main Yongbyon nuclear complex after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore last June.

The Sanumdong factory produced the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which can fly more than 13,000 km (8,080 miles). After a test flight in 2017, North Korea declared the completion of its “state nuclear force” before pursuing talks with South Korea and the United States last year.

South Korea’s presidential office and defense ministry declined to confirm the Sanumdong reports and the U.S. State Department said it could not comment on intelligence matters.

Separately, Washington’s 38 North and Center for Strategic and International Studies think tanks reported on Thursday that North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station, which Kim pledged in Singapore to dismantle, appeared to be operational again after rebuilding work that began days before the Hanoi summit.

“The rebuilding activities at Sohae demonstrate how quickly North Korea can easily render reversible any steps taken towards scrapping its Weapons of Mass Destruction program with little hesitation,” CSIS said.

It called the action “an affront” to Trump’s diplomatic strategy that showed North Korean pique at his refusal to lift sanctions.

SANCTIONS WARNING

Some analysts see the work as aimed at pressing Washington to agree to a deal, rather than as a definite move to resume tests.

A U.S. government source, who did not want to be identified, said North Korea’s plan in rebuilding the site could have been to offer a demonstration of good faith by conspicuously stopping again if a summit pact was struck, while furnishing a sign of defiance or resolve if the meeting failed.

38 North said photos from Wednesday showed a rail-mounted transfer building used to move rockets at the site was complete, cranes had been removed from the launch pad and the transfer building moved to the end of the pad.

“But we don’t draw any conclusions from that besides they are restoring the facility,” Joel Wit of 38 North told Reuters. “There is no evidence to suggest anything more than that.”

On Wednesday, Bolton warned of new sanctions if North Korea did not scrap its weapons program.

Despite his sanctions talk, there have been signs across Asia that the U.S. “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against North Korea has sprung leaks.

In a new breach, three South Korean companies were found to have brought in more than 13,000 tons of North Korean coal, worth 2.1 billion won ($2 million) since 2017, South Korea said.

North Korean media have given conflicting signals on U.S. relations, while appearing to target Bolton as a spoiler.

Its state television aired a 78-minute documentary late on Wednesday showing a cordial mood between Trump and Kim as the Hanoi summit ended, indicating Pyongyang was not about to walk away from negotiations, experts say.

It also showed a stone-faced Bolton during a meeting in Hanoi, while Trump and other U.S. participants were all smiles.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, said on Friday that a “resolution could not be reached overnight”.

“All parties should have reasonable expectations on this,” Wang told a news briefing.

China is North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, and has suggested easing U.N. sanctions on North Korea as a way to reward it for its improved behavior.

In a return to a more usual strident tone, North Korea’s KCNA news agency criticized new small-scale military exercises that the United States and South Korea plan to hold instead of a large-scale spring exercise they have called off.

It said the drills would be a “violent violation” of agreements with the United States and South Korea, although Seoul’s defense ministry said the drills are defensive in nature.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, David Brunnstrom and Steve Holland in Washington; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, David Alexander and Tim Ahmann in Washington, Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee in Seoul, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Fox News Host Sean Hannity said in his Thursday monologue that the Democratic Party’s decision to ban his network from future debates was a “gutless move.”

“A party that has gone so far to the left they won’t even hold a debate on the Fox News channel?” Hannity said. “By the way, I won’t be hosting. Don’t worry. Let not your hearts be troubled. Pretty gutless move by Democrats.”(RELATED: DNC Chair Explains Why Fox News Won’t Host Debate)

“In reality, we know that 2020 Democrats, they’re just too afraid to face real questions from fair and balanced journalists here on the Fox News channel and our news division,” Hannity continued. “Journalists who don’t buy into the conspiracy theories and fake news, that will ask fair and tough questions. You know what? They’re not in the tank like CNN and MSNBC.”

The Democratic Party announced that it would not allow any debates or town halls to appear on or be moderated by anyone affiliated with the Fox News network, a move that many on the right view as unfair.

Party leadership cited an article in the March edition of “The New Yorker,” which accused Fox of being a propaganda arm of the Trump White House.

Source: The Daily Caller

Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss, stepsister of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, listens to Chabad Rabbi Reuven Mintz at Newport Harbor High School after speaking with a group of students
Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss, stepsister of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, listens to Chabad Rabbi Reuven Mintz at Newport Harbor High School after speaking with a group of students seen in viral online photos giving Nazi salutes over a swastika made of red cups that sparked outrage in Newport Beach, California, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

March 8, 2019

By Steve Gorman

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (Reuters) – An Auschwitz survivor and stepsister of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank met on Thursday with some of the California high school students who posed in social media photos giving Nazi salutes over a swastika made of red cups used in a drinking game.

The anti-Semitic images, one with the caption “master race” – a reference to the Nazi belief in ethnic purity – went viral after being posted to Snapchat on Saturday, fueling concerns about a recent surge in incidents of hate speech in public schools nationwide.

Eva Schloss, 89, a peace activist who has chronicled her Holocaust experiences in several books, visited privately for more than hour at Newport Harbor High School with about 10 of the teens involved, along with their parents, student leaders, faculty members and a local rabbi who helped organize the meeting.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Schloss said the students described the Nazi salute incident as “a joke,” and she was surprised when they professed not to have fully understood the meaning and consequences of their behavior.

“It did show that education, obviously, is still very, very inadequate,” said Schloss, a London resident who was in California this week on a U.S. speaking tour. She said the students expressed sincere remorse for what happened on Saturday.

“I was 16 when I came out of Auschwitz,” Schloss said she told the students. “I was their age when I realized my life was completely shattered.”

The photos were taken at a party attended by students from several high schools serving a cluster of predominantly white, largely affluent Orange County communities. The images included teens with arms raised in a Nazi salute and students crowded around the cups arranged in the shape of a swastika.

School officials said they have interviewed more than two dozen students and are weighing possible disciplinary action.

LIVES INTERTWINED

The early life of Schloss, a native Austrian, closely parallels that of her German-born stepsister, Anne Frank. Both families moved to Amsterdam to escape anti-Jewish Nazi persecution in their homelands.

The two girls lived near each other and were friends before Germany’s Dutch occupation, forcing both families into hiding. Frank’s personal journal about her family’s ordeal was posthumously published in 1947 as “The Diary of a Young Girl.”

Frank died at age 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in early 1945.

Like Frank’s family, Schloss was captured by the Nazis in 1944 in Amsterdam and was sent to Auschwitz, where her brother and father died. Schloss and her mother were liberated by the Soviet army, and her mother married Frank’s father, Otto, in 1953.

Newport Beach Rabbi Reuven Mintz, who helped organize the students’ meeting with Schloss, said the controversy should be a “wake-up call” to a rising tide of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks acts of racism, says the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported at U.S. public schools jumped 94 percent from 2016 to 2017, the latest year such figures are available.

One factor appears to be wide-scale human migration stirred by war, political upheaval and environmental degradation, which in turn has fed a global rise in xenophobia and discriminatory politics that is “becoming mainstreamed in much of the Western world,” said regional ADL director Peter Levi.

“High school kids are not immune from that,” he said.

Another factor, he said, is the spread of extremist ideology by way of social media and the Internet, “and everyone has access to that in his pockets.”

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Newport Beach, California; Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Darren Schuettler and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

TheDC Entertainment | Contributor

It’s that time of year again.

March 8, 2019 is International Women’s Day.

Friday is a day to celebrate the contributions made by women across the world. So, what better way to celebrate than to appreciate some of the world’s top models? (RELATED: Here Are The Smoke Room’s Women Of The Year)

The names include Adriana Lima and Gisele Bundchen from Brazil, English model Rose Huntington-Whiteley, South African supermodel Candice Swanepoel, Chinese model Liu Wen, Russian model Natalia Vodianova and Hungarian model Barbara Palvin.

Now, I put a lot of effort into this, so I hope all of you enjoy. This took days and hours of research to put together, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this holiday. International Women’s Day is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year and should be a federal holiday.

Who are some of the most important women in your life? Let us know in the comment section below.

Source: The Daily Caller

A sign for a T-Mobile store is seen in Manhattan, New York
A sign for a T-Mobile store is seen in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

March 8, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday it has halted the informal 180-day “shot clock” on the review of the merger of wireless providers Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc to give the public three additional weeks to comment on the $26 billion tie-up.

The FCC said the decision was made after the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers had filed significant additional information on their network integration plans for 2019-2021 and other new information on the merger.

The FCC said it typically allows for additional public input after “substantial new submissions” by the applicants. The FCC said it expects to resume the “shot clock,” at the current Day 122 on April 4.

T-Mobile and Sprint in separate statements called the FCC decision “a positive step” that the FCC is “so deeply engaged in understanding this transaction and our recent filing, and we completely understand their desire” to stop the clock “to fully review the merits of our merger.”

Sprint said it hopes to complete the regulatory approval process by the end of June.

The deal to combine the carriers, struck in April 2018, was approved by both companies’ shareholders in October and has received national security clearance, but still needs approval from the Department of Justice and the FCC. A number of state attorneys general are also reviewing the merger.

Last month at a congressional hearing, House Democrats raised worries about the deal because the U.S. wireless market has just four main carriers. The industry leaders are AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere defended the deal, arguing that it will create jobs and help with the construction of the next generation of wireless networks. He said the merged company would have more capacity which would lead to a push to lower prices.

Legere and Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure will testify at another U.S. House hearing on March 12.

The deal has run into criticism from unions, consumer advocates, and rural operators.

The Communications Workers of America said in a statement Thursday the decision of the companies to file new analyses of the merger suggests they “have failed to persuade regulators.” The union argues the deal will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs.

A group of eight Democratic U.S. senators and independent Senator Bernie Sanders last month urged regulators to reject the deal, saying monthly bills could rise as much as 10 percent.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Diane Bartz; editing by Richard Chang and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

Conservative commentator Mark Steyn called freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., "strangely unwoke" Thursday after she admitted in an interview that she threw away some of her plastic bags.

"Obviously in a certain sense this is a boutique issue.  We will be arguing about plastic bags at the time Kim Jong Un decides to drop the big one on Cleveland and we will look ridiculous," Steyn said on "Tucker Carlson Tonight." "What’s oddly revealing about this is I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comes across as strangely unwoke in this soundbite."

"I can be upset that I get 10 plastic bags at the grocery store and then have to toss out my plastic bags, because the recycling program in the area is tough. And that’s okay," Ocasio-Cortez told Spectrum News NY1.  "All of these are not reasons to stop fighting, all of these are reasons to keep fighting."

Ocasio-Cortez’s push for the Green New Deal, a much-debated resolution that addresses climate change and renewable energy among other issues, has opened up the congresswoman to scrutiny from the media and critics.

The New York Post reported earlier this week that Ocasio-Cortez elected to take a minivan back to her Queens office Sunday instead of the subway, which was less than four blocks away.

OCASIO-CORTEZ HIT WITH NEW ETHICS COMPLAINT OVER BOYFRIEND’S EMAIL ACCOUNT

"Living in the world as it is isn’t an argument against working towards a better future,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to the Post’s story.

Steyn criticized the congresswoman for not using reusable bags instead of taking the plastic ones.

"I can be upset that I get 10 plastic bags at the grocery store and then have to toss out my plastic bags, because the recycling program in the area is tough. And that’s okay."

— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

"They take out the NPR tote bag and they have all the groceries in it and they don’t have to have the plastic bags," Steyn told Tucker Carlson. "There’s no reason for this problem."

"She sounds weirdly ‘unwoke,’" Steyn reiterated. "Where is Alexandria’s Charlie Rose tote bag? That’s what we want to know."

Source: Fox News Politics

Smartphone with AT&T logo is seen in front of displayed Time Warner logo in this picture illustration
Smartphone with AT&T logo is seen in front of displayed Time Warner logo in this picture illustration taken June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

March 8, 2019

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – Two U.S. House Democrats on Thursday asked the White House and Justice Department to turn over documents that could show whether Republican President Donald Trump sought to intervene in the regulatory review of AT&T Inc’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

In letters released on Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Representative David Cicilline, who chairs a panel overseeing antitrust issues, asked them to turn over records after The New Yorker magazine reported this week that Trump directed then-National Economic Council director Gary Cohn to use the Justice Department to block the deal.

The pair wrote that if accurate, Trump’s involvement would “constitute a grave abuse of power.” Last week, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling rejecting a Justice Department challenge to the deal filed in November 2017.

The White House and Justice Department did not immediately comment. AT&T declined to comment.

The letters cited the New Yorker article reporting that Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office “along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, ‘I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it 50 times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!’”

Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said in a declaration last year that he had never received “orders, instructions, or directions relating” to the AT&T Time Warner deal from Trump, Justice Department officials or officials from the Executive Office of the President.

The Justice Department said last week it would not seek further appeals.

In February 2018, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected AT&T’s request to see White House communications that might shed light on whether Trump pressured the Justice Department to try to block the deal.

AT&T lawyers said last year the deal may have been singled out for enforcement, citing as evidence statements by Trump as a candidate and as president that the deal was bad for consumers and the country.

Trump criticized the deal as a candidate in late 2016, saying it would concentrate too much media power in the hands of one owner, and later saying it would raise prices. He has also frequently attacked CNN, a Time Warner property now owned by AT&T, for what he sees as negative coverage of his campaign and administration.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis and G Crosse)

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Democratic Rep. Julian Castro of Texas believes that there will be more indictments related to the Mueller investigation, according to a Thursday interview on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

“The president has been surrounding himself at the highest levels of the organization with people who lied and engaged in witness tampering and this continues to be the tip of the iceberg,” Castro asserted. (RELATED: Paul Manafort Found Guilty On 8 Tax And Bank Fraud Charges)

“I know Mike was just on and he talked about the interview we had with Michael Cohen this week and I believe there will still be more indictments to come. I think the information led me to believe members of the president’s family could be in legal jeopardy. So I think there’s a good bit of investigation to do and I also think we’ll probably see more prosecution.”

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was sentenced Thursday to 47 months in prison, much less than the 19.5-25.5 years that Mueller recommended to the court. The convictions were for obstruction, as well as tax evasion, not related to the Russian investigation.

Source: The Daily Caller

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn sits inside a car as he leaves his lawyer's office after being released on bail from Tokyo Detention House, in Tokyo
Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn sits inside a car as he leaves his lawyer’s office after being released on bail from Tokyo Detention House, in Tokyo, Japan, March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

March 8, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – The following conditions were imposed on ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn as part of the $9 million bail that freed him from jail, according to a member of his legal team. If he violates these terms, he will be sent back to jail.

1. Must reside in Tokyo.

2. Cannot travel abroad; must surrender passport to his lawyer.

3. Needs court permission to go on a trip of more than two nights.

4. Must install surveillance cameras at the entrances of his residence.

5. Prohibited from accessing the internet and using e-mail.

6. Can only use a personal computer at his lawyer’s office that is not connected to the internet.

7. Banned from communicating with parties involved in the case.

8. Needs court’s permission to attend a Nissan board meeting.

8. Banned from contacting Nissan managers.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Mayuko Ono; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Source: OANN

A vendor sells vegetables at a retail market in Kolkata
A vendor sells vegetables at a retail market in Kolkata, India, December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

March 8, 2019

By Manjul Paul

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian inflation likely accelerated in February but remained well below the central bank’s target, economists in a Reuters poll said, as only modest rises in food and fuel prices failed to drive a bigger lift from January’s 19-month low.

The poll of 37 economists, conducted March 5-7, showed consumer price inflation, due to be released at 1200 GMT on March 12, is expected to have picked up to 2.43 percent last month from January’s 2.05 percent.

An overwhelming majority of economists polled predicted inflation would average below 3 percent, with forecasts ranging from 2.15 percent to 3.20 percent.

If inflation comes in as expected, it would be below the Reserve Bank of India’s medium-term target of 4 percent for the seventh month in a row and closer to the lower end of its 2-6 percent buffer range for a fourth month.

“Headline CPI inflation will have remained low in February even if, as we suspect, it rose a touch due to higher food inflation,” noted Shilan Shah, senior India economist at Capital Economics.

Another low inflation reading would support the RBI’s surprisingly dovish turn early last month, when it cut interest rates and shifted its policy stance to “neutral” from “calibrated tightening”.

A Reuters poll of economists taken immediately after that decision showed another RBI rate cut expected before May’s general election. [RBI/INT]

But core inflation is expected to remain elevated with a separate Reuters polls showing oil prices rising and a potential trade conflict with the U.S. weakening the Indian rupee, which would both be inflationary. [O/POLL] [INR/POLL]

“Inflation is going to creep upward as we already see fuel prices pumping up following a lead from global oil prices which are going higher,” said Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING.

“Plus, we have a weaker rupee – although INR has consolidated a bit since February – it is not totally out of the woods yet.”

(Polling by Khushboo Mittal and Anisha Sheth; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

American journalist Cody Weddle speaks in Caracas
American journalist Cody Weddle speaks in Caracas, Venezuela, January 2019 in this picture grab obtained from a social media video. WPLG LOCAL 10/via REUTERS

March 8, 2019

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) – Venezuelan security officials who detained an American journalist for more than 12 hours pushed him to voice support for socialist President Nicolas Maduro, whose government faces international condemnation, the journalist said on Thursday.

The journalist, Cody Weddle, told reporters who met him at Miami International Airport as he arrived from Caracas that his interrogators had covered his face with a ski mask and accused him of having contacts with senior military officials.

“It was clear they wanted me to say several things, political things, they wanted me to say Nicolas Maduro is still the president,” said Weddle, a freelance journalist who has worked for outlets including Miami television station WPLG Local 10. “They continually kept asking if I had contacts in the military, if I had contacts in the local police force or in the national police force.”

Weddle’s arrest, which came a week after Venezuela deported a team from U.S. Spanish-language television network Univision, was condemned by opposition leader Juan Guaido, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, and several U.S. lawmakers from both major parties.

Most Western countries, including the United States and Germany, have recognized Guaido as the OPEC nation’s legitimate head of state and back his plan to install a transition government ahead of free elections. Guaido says Maduro’s re-election last year resulted from a sham vote, and he blames Maduro for an economic collapse that has led to widespread shortages and hyperinflation in Venezuela.

The incident threatened to worsen already-fraught relations between Venezuela and the United States, which has reduced its diplomatic presence in the country after Maduro said in January he would break ties.

Weddle said he believed his interrogators were trying to get him to say things that could manipulated in videos: “We’ve seen this before that when these videos are recorded that they might release some type of edited version to make it look like I said something that I really didn’t say.”

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; writing by Scott Malone; editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Scott Morefield | Reporter

When CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins was removed from an event at the White House last July after shouting a series of questions at President Donald Trump, Fox News stood in “strong solidarity” with her and her network. But despite the DNC banning Fox News from hosting Democratic debates, CNN has yet to defend its fellow news network.

“We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press,” Fox News president Jay Wallace told TheWrap via statement. Fox News anchor Bret Baier also tweeted his support.

Similarly, when CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press pass was suspended last November after he refused to give his microphone to an intern during a press conference, Fox News was quick to defend its fellow news network over what it considered a fundamental press freedom, and even filed an amicus brief on CNN’s behalf.

“FOX News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential,” read the Fox News statement. “We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”

However, when DNC Chairman Tom Perez announced that Fox News would not be allowed to host any of the 2020 Democratic Party primary debates, CNN has yet to reciprocate in kind. (RELATED: Trump Weighs In After DNC Says Fox News Can’t Host Primary Debate)

CNN anchor Brian Stelter tweeted that Fox News is “mostly defined by its opinion division, where hosts and guests demonize Democrats from morning til night.”

“We have seen the beyond cozy relationship with people like Sean Hannity and other of the opinion hosts on that network,” said CNN correspondent Ana Navarro on Wednesday. “So I think it’s a — and after the ‘New Yorker’ piece, it’s not irrational, it’s not illogical for the DNC to wonder and suspect that they can’t get a fair shake from FOX News, or they will be set up.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper, at least, seemed to question the move Wednesday:

“There are plenty of people who watch Fox News, and there are responsible journalists who could ask questions,” said the CNN host. “I mean, Chris Wallace is a tough interview, Bret Baier, I mean why….why….does this make sense to you that the DNC would do this?”

However, at time of publication, there is no official statement from CNN regarding the Fox News Democratic debate ban.

Follow Scott on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Manafort arrives for arraignment at U.S. District Court in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 8, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch, Andy Sullivan and Jan Wolfe

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced on Thursday by a U.S. judge to less than four years in prison – far shy of federal sentencing guidelines – for financial crimes uncovered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis imposed the surprisingly lenient 47-month sentence on Manafort, 69, during a hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, in which the veteran Republican political consultant asked for mercy but expressed no remorse for his actions.

Manafort was convicted by a jury last August of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Ellis disregarded federal sentencing guidelines cited by prosecutors that called for 19-1/2 to 24 years in prison. The judge ordered Manafort to pay a fine of $50,000 and restitution of just over $24 million.

Manafort, brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair because of a condition called gout, listened during the hearing as Ellis extolled his “otherwise blameless” life in which he “earned the admiration of a number of people” and engaged in “a lot of good things.”

“Clearly the guidelines were way out of whack on this,” Ellis said.

Manafort was convicted after prosecutors accused him of hiding from the U.S. government millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government. After pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.

The judge also said Manafort “is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.”

The sentence was even less than the sentence recommended by Manafort’s lawyers of 4-1/4 to 5-1/4 years in prison.

“These are serious crimes, we understand that,” said Thomas Zehnle, one of Manafort’s lawyers. “Tax evasion is by no means jaywalking. But it’s not narcotics trafficking.”

Legal experts expressed surprise over the sentence. “This is a tremendous defeat for the special counsel’s office,” former federal prosecutor David Weinstein said.

Manafort’s sentence was less than half of what people who plead guilty and cooperate with the government typically get in similar cases, according to Mark Allenbaugh, a former attorney with the U.S. Sentencing Commission. “Very shocking,” he said.

Ellis, appointed to the bench by Republican former President Ronald Reagan, called the sentence “sufficiently punitive,” and noted that Manafort’s time already served would be subtracted from the 47 months. Manafort has been jailed since June 2018.

Manafort’s legal troubles are not over. He faces sentencing next Wednesday in Washington in a separate case for two conspiracy charges involving lobbying and money laundering to which he pleaded guilty last September.

Legal experts said the light sentence from Ellis could prompt U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to impose a sentence closer to the maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, and order that the sentence run after the current one is completed rather than concurrently. Jackson was appointed by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

‘IN SHAMBLES’

Before the sentencing, Manafort expressed no remorse but talked about how the case had been difficult for him and his family. Manafort, who opted not to testify during his trial, told Ellis that “to say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” He described his life as “professionally and financially in shambles.”

The judge told Manafort: “I was surprised I did not hear you express regret for engaging in wrongful conduct.”

Manafort, with noticeably grayer hair than just months ago, came into the courtroom in a wheelchair holding a cane, wearing a green prison jumpsuit emblazoned with the words “Alexandria Inmate” on the back. It was a far cry from Manafort’s usual dapper appearance and stylish garb.

During a break shortly before the sentence was handed down, Manafort turned around and blew his wife, Kathleen, a kiss.

The case capped a stunning downfall for Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such international figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych.

Ellis had faced criticism by some in the legal community for comments he made during the trial that were widely interpreted as biased against the prosecution. Ellis repeatedly interrupted prosecutors, told them to stop using the word “oligarch” to describe people associated with Manafort because it made him seem “despicable,” and objected to pictures of Manafort’s luxury items they planned to show jurors.

“It isn’t a crime to have a lot of money and be profligate in your spending,” Ellis told prosecutors during the trial.

Prosecutor Greg Andres urged Ellis to impose a steep sentence. “This case must stand as a beacon to others that this conduct cannot be accepted,” Andres told the hearing on Thursday.

Jackson ruled on Feb. 13 that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort is the only one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Mueller to have gone to trial. Several others including former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen have pleaded guilty, while longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.

Trump, a Republican who has called Mueller’s investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt,” has not ruled out giving

Manafort a presidential pardon, saying in November: “I wouldn’t take it off the table.”

“There’s absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia,” Kevin Downing, another Manafort lawyer, said outside the courthouse.

The Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, quickly accused Downing of making “a deliberate appeal for a pardon” from Trump.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said after the sentencing: “I believe Manafort has been disproportionately harassed and hopefully soon there will be an investigation of the overzealous prosecutorial intimidation so it doesn’t happen again.”

Mueller is preparing to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied U.S. intelligence findings that it interfered in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump.

Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign for five pivotal months in 2016 that included the Republican National Convention where Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, three of them as campaign chairman.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Andy Sullivan and Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne, Eric Beech and Makini Brice; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference during ongoing session of the NPC in Beijing
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference during the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliamentary body, in Beijing, China March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 8, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said on Friday that trade talks with the United States had made substantive progress, and that the two countries’ relations should not descend into confrontation.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament, Wang said China had positive expectations for the future of ties with the United States.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference during ongoing session of the NPC in Beijing
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference during the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliamentary body, in Beijing, China March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 8, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said on Friday that competition between China and the United States was normal and that Washington should abandon zero-sum thinking and meet Beijing halfway.

Wang was speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the Venus erotic fair in Berlin
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the Venus erotic fair in Berlin, Germany, October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 8, 2019

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Los Angeles on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to end a hush-money agreement she had with U.S. President Donald Trump, court papers showed.

U.S. District Judge James Otero dismissed the lawsuit because Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen have agreed not to enforce the nondisclosure agreement against Daniels, court documents showed.

“The Court specifically found that Stormy received everything she asked for in the lawsuit – she won,” said Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, in a Twitter post.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit in March 2018 to rescind a nondisclosure agreement that kept her from discussing her alleged 2006 sexual relationship with Trump in the final weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels.

Cohen has said the agreement, under which Daniels was paid $130,000, was struck to help Trump capture the White House.

In his ruling, Otero sent the lawsuit back to California Superior Court, essentially ending the case. He said the case “lacks subject matter jurisdiction.”

The nondisclosure agreement did not prevent Daniels from speaking to news media, including CBS’ “60 Minutes,” or releasing a memoir, “Full Disclosure.”

“More than a year ago when I was being threatened with a 20 million lawsuit, I asked a judge to toss out this illegal NDA. Glad I stood my ground & kept fighting,” Daniels tweeted after the ruling was made public.

In October, Otero dismissed Daniels’s defamation lawsuit against Trump and ordered her to pay his attorney’s fees. He said in that ruling that a tweet the president had written referring to her was protected by free-speech laws.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone, Peter Cooney and Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is resuming an investigation of potential surveillance abuse by the FBI with an expansive request for records related to the bureau’s vetting of the Steele dossier.

In a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General William Barr, Graham asked for all FBI and Justice Department documents related to investigators’ attempts to verify allegations made in the dossier, which was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats.

The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s report to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Republicans investigated whether the FBI misled the FISA court by relying on the dossier even though its allegations about Page were unverified. They also asserted the FBI failed to tell surveillance court judges that Steele was working on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign on an investigation of Donald Trump. (RELATED: DOJ Releases Carter Page FISA Applications)

Graham also indicated in the letter that he is investigating the FBI’s decision to open up investigations of Trump campaign associates in 2016.

He said the Judiciary Committee is concerned vetting proper vetting procedures and the full presentation of facts to the FISA Court “may not have occurred with regard to the applications for FISA warrants for (and the opening of the underlying investigation on) Carter Page and other individuals associated with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”

U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The FBI formally opened counterintelligence investigations on four campaign associates on July 31, 2016. The first FISA against Page was granted Oct. 21, 2016.

Graham is seeking all documents provided to the Gang of Eight in May 2018 regarding the Russia probe. He is also requesting the so-called “Woods file,” which would include any materials used to verify the allegations against Page included in FISA applications.

The dossier alleges Page served as the Trump campaign’s backchannel to the Kremlin. He is also accused of coming up with the idea of providing stolen DNC emails to WikiLeaks and of meeting with two Kremlin insiders during a trip to Moscow in July 2016.

Page has vehemently denied the allegations. He has testified to special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury, but has not been charged in the investigation.

The dossier suffered a heavy blow last Wednesday when Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney, undercut one of Steele’s main collusion allegations. Cohen denied under oathever visiting Prague, where Steele alleges Cohen met with Russian hackers in August 2016.

Graham also wants all documents with the FISA Court “relating to any FISA applications associated with Carter Page or other individuals on or associated with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.”

Page is the only former Trump aide known to have been targeted with FISA warrants.

It remains to be seen how Barr will handle the document requests. Republicans battled throughout 2017 and 2018 with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had final say on document production because he oversaw the special counsel’s investigation.

Republicans accused Rosenstein of slow-rolling or ignoring document requests. Rosenstein is leaving the Justice Department in March.

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Source: The Daily Caller

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers
March 6, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) moves the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Staples Center. Gary A. Vasquez

March 8, 2019

With the playoffs slipping further away with every loss, the Los Angeles Lakers will scale back LeBron James’ minutes for the remainder of the season, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the first to report on the plan, said both the Lakers’ front office and people in James’ camp have agreed to limit the superstar’s minutes to “in the range of 28-32 minutes per game.” What’s more, Haynes reported, James may sit out one side of back-to-backs, depending on how he feels.

But ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported later Thursday that “a source close to James” said that while the team is looking at a 32-minute limit, that number is more of “an advisement.” Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke with ESPN on Thursday and confirmed, “I will be monitoring his workload from here on out.”

Of the 17 games remaining on their schedule, the Lakers have three sets of back-to-back games remaining. They entered Thursday 6 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. James is averaging 35.6 minutes despite the fact he is 34 and in his 16th season.

–In other Lakers news, ESPN reported the team will not fine or discipline point guard Rajon Rondo for sitting in a courtside seat for fans, off the bench and away from his teammates, near the end of a Wednesday night loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Rondo said it is something he said he has done “eight, 10 times this year.” But after meeting with Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka on Thursday to discuss the incident, Rondo told ESPN, “They notified me that it was a league rule that you can’t sit there. I wasn’t aware of it. But now I know going forward where I need to be.”

Rondo only scored four points on 2-for-7 shooting (0-for-3 on 3-pointers) but had 11 assists. The fact that he played only 16 minutes in the second half had nothing to do with his seat selection, Rondo said.

–Amir Hinton, a junior from Division II Shaw University, told ESPN he plans to enter the 2019 NBA Draft and hire an agent.

Hinton led Division II in scoring in 2018-19 with 29.4 points per game. The CIAA Player of the Year is shooting to be the first DII player drafted since 2005, when Robert Whaley of Walsh University was selected in the second round. Whaley played 23 NBA games with the Utah Jazz in the 2005-06 season.

“Some scouts have told me I am a top-three guard in this class,” Hinton told ESPN.

–Free agent Tyler Zeller will join the Atlanta Hawks on a 10-day contract Friday, ESPN reported.

Zeller, 29, was a first-round pick out of North Carolina in 2012 but never played for the Dallas Mavericks, who traded the 7-footer to the Cleveland Cavaliers. After two seasons with the Cavs, Zeller spent three seasons with the Celtics, then split a year between Milwaukee and Brooklyn.

He has 165 starts in 406 career games, averaging 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

–The New Orleans Pelicans announced that guard Jrue Holiday will be out at least seven to 10 days due to a lower abdominal strain.

A day after scoring 16 points in a 114-104 loss to Utah, Holiday underwent an MRI exam Thursday morning, and the severity of the injury was discovered, according to a news release from the Pelicans.

Holiday, 28, is averaging a career-best 21.2 points per game as well as 7.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar participates in a news conference to call on Congress to cut funding for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a news conference to call on Congress to cut funding for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 8, 2019

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved a broad resolution condemning bigotry on Thursday after remarks by a Democratic member that some viewed as anti-Semitic exposed an ideological and generational rift in the party.

Some Democrats, including several U.S. senators who are seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, warned that party leaders were playing into Republicans’ hands and had stymied legitimate debate over U.S.-Israel policy.

The House, which is controlled by Democrats, approved the resolution condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination and other forms of bigotry by a 407-to-23 vote.

The vote came less than a week after Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress, made statements at a Washington event that were denounced by some as anti-Semitic.

The resolution does not mention Omar by name. But Republicans have seized on Omar’s statements and the resulting intra-party conflict as a sign the Democratic Party is fractured.

Many Democrats, in turn, have said House leaders were cowed by a Republican effort to divert attention from bigotry within their own ranks and that Omar is being held to a different standard.

“Unfortunately, I think the Democratic leadership here has made what I think is a pretty serious mistake in caving to this pressure,” said Democratic strategist Peter Daou, who has advised Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

The disagreement began after Omar, in an appearance at a Washington book store, said she feared that statements she and fellow Representative Rashida Tlaib made about foreign policy and the pro-Israel lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would be viewed as anti-Semitic because they are Muslim.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it’s OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?” Omar said.

Omar’s critics denounced the statement as playing into the anti-Semitic trope that Jewish Americans are loyal to Israel over the United States. Omar said opposing the policies of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not synonymous with anti-Semitism.

Omar, in a joint statement issued after Thursday’s vote with Tlaib and Representative Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana, said “we are tremendously proud to be part of a body that has put forth a condemnation of all forms of bigotry.”

Omar had previously apologized for February tweets that her critics said suggested Jewish Americans used money to influence pro-Israel U.S. policies.

Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters on Wednesday that Omar “embodies a vile, hate-filled, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bigotry.”

President Donald Trump on Twitter on Wednesday called the Democratic response “shameful.”

Cheney, complaining that the House should have “rebuked” Omar by name and removed her from the Foreign Affairs Committee, voted against the resolution.

Other Republicans who voted no, such as Chris Collins of New York, said the bill was not “strong enough in support of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East.”

Republican Representative Steve King, who was condemned by the House in January for questioning why white supremacy is considered offensive, voted present.

Democrats had been divided over how best to handle Omar’s comments.

Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he welcomes policy debate but that it was “deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Young, progressive House newcomers like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several Democratic presidential candidates, however, came to Omar’s defense.

Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement that “we must not … equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government.” Senator Elizabeth Warren said “branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse.” Senator Kamala Harris said she was concerned about Omar’s safety.

Daou, the Democratic strategist, said a political double standard was at play, pointing to a recent tweet from Republican Representative Jim Jordan that used a dollar sign for a letter in the name of Democratic donor Tom Steyer, who is Jewish.

“Why is it that a white, male Republican can largely get away with the same thing and this massive outcry happened over a Muslim, progressive woman of color? That’s something we have to grapple with,” Daou said.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Tom Brown, Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

  • Freshman Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Mike Braun of Indiana are the cosponsors of the Banning Lobbying and Safeguarding Trust (BLAST) Act.
  • Scott and Braun want to put an end to lawmakers stepping into the so-called “revolving door of K Street” — using their connections to become well-heeled lobbyists once they are out of office.
  • Already, at least 15 members of the past Congress have made the move to lobbying firms.

Two Republican senators introduced legislation to ban members of Congress from lobbying Congress once they exit office, and although the lawmakers are “barking up the right tree,” their solution might not be realistic, a government transparency expert told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Mike Braun of Indiana are the cosponsors of the Banning Lobbying and Safeguarding Trust (BLAST) Act.

“You generally do see more of a reform agenda from some of the newer members that come into the Senate or into the House. We’re hoping some of their policies actually gain traction and can be supported in a bipartisan way,” Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, told TheDCNF in a phone interview. “The public is tired of politics as usual.”

Scott and Braun want to put an end to lawmakers stepping into the so-called “revolving door of K Street” — using their connections to become well-heeled lobbyists once they are out of office. Current law mandates ex-House members must wait a year to lobby their former colleagues, while ex-senators must wait two. (RELATED: Trump Weighs In After DNC Says Fox News Can’t Host Primary Debate)

“I’m proud to introduce this bill that imposes a permanent ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists. Rather than serving the public, too many in Washington spend their political careers preparing for a lucrative job at a DC lobbying firm where they can cash in on their connections and their access,” Scott said in a statement March 1.

“One of the reasons I left the private sector for Washington was to help President Trump drain the swamp and we can accomplish this by permanently banning Congressmen and Senators from lobbying Capitol Hill. Together we can end the revolving door of career politicians coming to Washington, spending time in Congress, then enriching themselves from their service to the American people,” Braun said in a statement March 1.

Already, at least 15 members of the last Congress have made the move to lobbying firms, according to MarketWatch. They include former Democratic New York Rep. Joe Crowley, who hopped over to major lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, former Republican Indiana Rep. Luke Messer, who is now at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, and former Republican Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl.

The Revolving Door

Kyl is the “Featured Revolver” on the Center for Responsive Politics’ website after he returned to work for lobbying law firm Covington & Burling following a four-month appointment to the Senate that ended in January.

(L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Vice President Mike Pence and former Sen. Jon Kyl greet one another before a meeting in McConnell's office in the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Vice President Mike Pence and former Sen. Jon Kyl greet one another before a meeting in McConnell’s office in the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Kyl’s appointment sparked concern since he would be able to vote for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — after acting in his capacity as a lobbyist as Kavanaugh’s “lead sherpa” for the beginning of his Senate confirmation process. Kyl voted yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“The reason why we have revolvers in the first place is they’re deemed to be rather valuable. If you have gone from working on the Hill with members of Congress, as a chief of staff or legislative assistant, somewhere in that realm, to now working on K Street lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry or a gay rights organization, you are established enough to know all of these people you’ll be taking meetings with,” Center for Responsive Politics spokesman Brendan Quinn told TheDCNF in a phone interview.

These crossovers can be lucrative.

“Salaries are considered definitely higher” than congressional salaries, Quinn told TheDCNF, even though senior members of Congress can rake in roughly $200,000 a year.

Possible Side Effects?

Scott and Braun’s bill could have unintended consequences, Bruce Mehlman of lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas told TheDCNF.

“The bigger challenge is that registered lobbying represents only a small part of the total spent on influencing government policy, and this proposed law would merely encourage even more ex-Members to avoid disclosure while serving as ‘senior advisors,’ ‘strategists’ or ‘consultants at law and PR firms,’” Mehlman told TheDCNF in an email.

Quinn pointed out that Scott and Braun are already wealthy. Braun’s exact net worth is unknown (it’s reportedly somewhere between $35 million to $96 million), while Scott is worth more than $230 million, according to the Orlando Sentinel in 2018.

US senators Marco Rubio (L) and Rick Scott speak to reporters after a meeting with US President Donald Trump on Venezuela, outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC on January 22, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US senators Marco Rubio (L) and Rick Scott speak to reporters after a meeting with US President Donald Trump on Venezuela, outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC on January 22, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

“They don’t need to think about where their next paycheck is coming from,” he told TheDCNF.

Scott’s office is adamant that “Congress shouldn’t be a place where people come to permanently live off the taxpayers,” Scott spokesman Chris Hartline told TheDCNF in an email.

“They shouldn’t spend their political careers trying to find a way to capitalize on their connections and their access. There’s plenty of jobs besides lobbying that former members can do. In fact, there’s 250,000 job openings in Florida. Former members should apply for one of those jobs. The weather’s nicer,” Hartline continued.

The split Congress has a chance to restore public faith in government with bills like this one, Amey told TheDCNF.

“One of the things you hear a lot when talking to people who are frustrated with the way government works, they think government makes a lot of its decisions based who you know, the lobbyists that visit these offices,” Amey said. “Those lobbyists don’t often speak for the general public.”

TheDCNF reached out to Kyl but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a joint news conference with Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Minister Chyngyz Aidarbekov in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a joint news conference with Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Chyngyz Aidarbekov (not pictured) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

March 8, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said on Friday that China supports Huawei Technologies’ bid for legal redress in the United States, adding that Beijing would resolutely protect the rights of Chinese people and firms.

The Chinese telecoms equipment maker has sued the U.S. government, saying a law limiting its U.S. business was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit marks another rift between China and the United States, which spent most of 2018 slapping import tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods.

In December, Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the United States’ request and faces possible extradition.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament, Wang said it was “quite obvious” that recent actions were deliberate political moves to bring certain people and companies down.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by John Ruwitch; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Rep. Doug Collins delivers an opening statement before acting U.S. Attorney General Whitaker testifies before House Judiciary Committee in Washington
FILE PHOTO – Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivers an opening statement before acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is sworn in to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 8, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican on a U.S. House of Representatives oversight committee that is investigating President Donald Trump blasted the Democratic-led probe on Thursday as a “draconian inquisition” and an abuse of congressional power.

The House Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, Doug Collins, said the panel’s investigation into obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power under Trump surpasses the scope of legitimate legislative inquiry and violates the U.S. Constitution.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler launched the investigation on Monday by sending document requests to 81 government agencies, business entities and individuals associated with Trump, including his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

“Your requests are part of a concerted effort to target and punish associates of the president,” Collins wrote to Nadler in a March 7 letter released by the Republican’s office.

“This effort to intimidate those who choose to associate with the president ‘through actual or threatened imposition of government power or sanction’ violates the First Amendment.”

Nadler’s office was not immediately available to comment on the letter, which cited several court cases as legal precedents for limiting the scope of congressional investigations.

Democrats, who won control of the House last year in an election marked by voter opposition to Trump, say they must investigate the Republican president to uphold the rule of law after two years of inactivity under the previous Republican majority.

The committee is seeking evidence of misconduct by Trump, including any effort to obstruct U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling during the 1996 presidential election and any collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, and other federal investigations.

But Collins, a Georgia Republican, said Democrats could instead upend the rule of law: “Your 81 letters appear to be little more than a deep-sea fishing expedition with the purpose of exposing private matters and airing alleged dirty laundry rather than legislating.”

While some Democrats want to impeach Trump, Nadler and other House Democratic committee chairmen say they are far from any such decision.

But without impeachment proceedings providing a legislative purpose, Collins said the House Judiciary probe threatens to usurp the law enforcement powers granted to the executive and judicial branches of government by the Constitution, while burdening innocent individuals with unnecessary legal costs.

“It is my hope that your draconian inquisitions are not returning this committee to the dark days of 16th-century England,” he said.

Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 election. Trump has said there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow, and has labeled the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”

(Reporting by David Morgan; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Retired coal miners from three states traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers and put in place a federal safety net in case the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) pension fund fails.

Coal industry veterans from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia spoke with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and attended a Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing Thursday titled “The Cost of Inaction: Why Congress Must Address the Multiemployer Pension Crisis.” (RELATED: Trump Approved Two Coal Mining Operations Within Hours Of A Federal Board Voting To Shutter Coal Plants)

“We just want what we were promised, you know. We are going to fight and keep fighting,” Tony Kodric, a third-generation retired coal miner from Pennsylvania, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Recent coal plant closures and company bankruptcies have sent the pension fund to the edge of collapse. The fund will likely dry up by 2022, and possibly earlier if Murray Energy, the last major company propping up the dwindling fund, fails, Kodric said.

The UMWA labor union has pushed Congress for a fix for years. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and GOP Rep. David B. McKinley, both from West Virginia, have introduced sister bills into the House and Senate to amend federal law and transfer unused funds in the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) fund to the pension program.

Currently, transfers out of the AML fund is capped at $490 million over one year, according to the act. The new legislation would raise that cap to $720 million. The fund’s excess money is split among a variety of state, tribal and other causes, and the legislation would add the miners’ pension fund to the list of qualified recipients.

“This is the right thing to do to get these bills passed to get our pensions secured after all this time,” Jack Frazier, a retired coal miner from West Virginia, told TheDCNF.

The plan has bipartisan support, but also a significant number of critics. GOP Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, a coal-producing state, opposes the legislation based on the precedent it could set: making American taxpayers responsible for underfunded company and union pension programs.

Robert Murray, founder and CEO of Murray Energy greets coal miners at the EPA hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S. November 28, 2017 before speaking to the panel supporting the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. REUTERS/Kara Van Pelt

Robert Murray, founder and CEO of Murray Energy greets coal miners at the EPA hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S. November 28, 2017 before speaking to the panel supporting the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. REUTERS/Kara Van Pelt

“Senator Enzi is dedicated to working with those mine workers in Wyoming whose health care has been impacted by the recent Westmoreland Mining Company bankruptcy, but he remains concerned about any legislation that encourages or helps union and private companies to rely on taxpayers when the union and companies fail to deliver on their promises,” Enzi spokeswoman Rachel Vliem told TheDCNF in a statement.

“He is specifically concerned that bailing out the UMWA pension would set a dangerous precedent and make the federal government liable to bail out other underfunded pension plans around the country. There are currently 1,300 union pension plans alone that are underfunded,” Vliem said, citing the conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown's, D-Ohio, announcement Thursday he will not run for president bolstered White House aspirations for former Vice President Joe Biden, Politico reported.

Brown, a populist who toured early nominating states heralding "the dignity of work," was widely viewed as potentially drawing support from Biden, as well as from fellow progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Politico noted.

"I would think of all the candidates or potential candidates running that Sherrod's decision of not running would be most significant for Biden," former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is supporting Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for president, told Politico.

"I mean Biden's been talking about the dignity of work forever," Strickland said. "I think Sherrod and Biden would have a similar message when it comes to those working unions."

Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016, told Politico, "I don't think in our modern-day politics that any candidate can clear the field per se."

But, he said, "the Biden vehicle takes up lots of space on the political highway, which leaves not much room for other cars to travel."

Source: NewsMax

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Thursday he is still trying to determine if Michael Cohen lied to Congress again last week, an act for which the chairman of the House Oversight Committee vowed to "nail [Cohen] to the cross" if it happened.

Speaking with CNN on Capitol Hill, Cummings — whose panel hosted Cohen for more than six hours Feb. 27 — indicated he needs to ascertain if Cohen lied when he claimed he did not seek a pardon from President Donald Trump. Cohen's lawyer admitted this week the pardon issue was raised.

"I told him, 'I will nail you to the cross [if you lie].' And I meant that," Cummings said. "I gotta make sure they are true inconsistencies and not outright lies. And then I gotta find out if it meets even the threshold that the DOJ would even want to look at it."

Cohen was asked during his testimony in front of the committee if he sought a pardon from Trump, to which he replied no. The former Trump lawyer, who is slated to serve a three-year sentence starting in May for lying to Congress and tax and bank fraud, has also come under fire for saying he did not want a White House job and was disillusioned when he never got an offer for one.

Source: NewsMax

House Democrats are wary of the political optics of grilling first daughter Ivanka Trump about any crossover between her private financial interests and service in the White House, The Washington Post reported.

According to the Post, unnamed senior Democratic investigators have discussed opening an oversight investigation into whether she benefited personally from her position as a White House senior adviser, including through Chinese regulators' approval of trademarks for her apparel company.

"Whomever falls into that net, falls into that net," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday, arguing Trump's children are not off limits to investigations, the Post reported.

"They are advisers to the president. They have security clearances. This is not their children at home."

Still, some Democrats appear in no rush to bring Trump's kids to Capitol Hill.

"The optics don't work for us in my opinion," Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., told the Post. "It easily plays into the victimhood narrative on the Republicans side."

An unnamed Democratic aide, however, told the Post that Ivanka Trump's business matter would likely be a focus for investigators at some point.

Another senior Oversight Democrat, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said bringing Trump's children in should be a "last resort."

"They're part of the operation, so they're integral," he told the Post. "I think there's just a sense of decency that you don't do that unless you really have to. We're not out there to cause family problems. But in this case, like I said, there is no exemption for anyone. If we have to get the information, we have to get it."

Source: NewsMax

CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers defended Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar on Thursday in the wake of allegedly anti-Semitic comments Omar has recently made.

WATCH:

“She wasn’t speaking about Jews having an allegiance as much as she was talking about members of Congress being pressured into having an allegiance,” Powers began, referencing Omar’s comments that she was expected to have “dual loyalty” to the United States and Israel. “If you actually look at the average pro-Israel member of Congress today, they’re more likely to be a Republican or an average person out in the country. They’re more likely to be an Evangelical Christian or a Republican, so it’s not necessarily talking about Jews having an allegiance.”

“It’s talking about the fact that she feels like she should be able to make criticisms about Israeli policy without being called anti-Semitic. Now she used the word ‘allegiance.’ I think she shouldn’t have done that, because I think it does [ignite] some fears that Jews understandably have. And I think that’s been explained to her,” she continued. (RELATED: Omar Facing More Accusations Of Anti-Semitism)

Powers concluded:

But, I am very uncomfortable with the way she has been singled out here, while we have a president who routinely makes racist comments about African-Americans’ IQs. He has made anti-Semitic comments as well and he has never been condemned. There’s never been a resolution by anybody on the Republican side, no resolution condemning him basically saying, you know, there’s good people on both sides. So why is this woman being singled out in the way she’s being singled out and having the weight of all of Washington come down on her?

The House passed a resolution condemning hate of all kinds Thursday, which did not mention Omar by name. The vote was 407-23, with all the nays coming from Republicans.

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Source: The Daily Caller

President Donald Trump cannot afford to have another week like last week, which was filled with setback after setback, Judge Andrew Napolitano argues in a new opinion piece.

Writing for The Washington Times, Napolitano outlined Trump's challenging week — which included public testimony by his former lawyer Michael Cohen, whose words dealt several blows to Trump; a report claiming Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner was denied a security clearance before Trump himself stepped in; and Trump's failed attempt to reach a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Cohen testimony was the hardest on Trump in a legal and political sense, Napolitano wrote, because of what Cohen alleged his former boss did before, during, and after the 2016 presidential campaign.

"Hidden in the Cohen testimony was an oblique reference to alleged bank and tax fraud that Cohen claimed he helped Mr. Trump commit, contributed to Mr. Trump's wealth, and has the present interest of federal prosecutors in Manhattan," Napolitano wrote.

Napolitano, who served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge from 1987-1995, said the alleged crimes referenced by Cohen could be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

"It permits federal prosecutors to reach back 10 years to find any two criminal acts, which need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; prosecutors need only demonstrate that they were more likely than not to have occurred," Napolitano wrote. "Then the feds can seize three times the wealth that the perpetrators of these schemes amassed. That could bankrupt Mr. Trump.

"The president has serious and powerful tormentors whom he cannot overcome by mockery alone. He needs to do more than demean them with acerbic tweets, because many of those tormentors can legally cause him real harm. He needs to address these issues soberly, directly and maturely. Can President Trump survive all this? Yes — but not if he has another week like the last one."

Source: NewsMax

A Google official reportedly bashed the Conservative Political Action Conference as a "sideshow circus," but argued Google should remain a sponsor to "steer" conservatives "away from nationalistic and incendiary comments."

In a leaked audio transcribed and posted by Breitbart, Adam Kovacevich, Google's senior director of U.S. public policy, addresses a supposed company-wide meeting.

Another part of the meeting was released last Friday on Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight"; and shorter releases were posted by tech magazine Wired in December.

The supposed meeting took place in the wake of Google's sponsorship of CPAC in 2018, which triggered an internal rebellion from left-wing employees, Breitbart reported.

In the clips, Kovacevich portrayed CPAC as a conference with a "dual identity," one being a "premier gathering" that features a "whole swath of conservatives."

The other side he described as featuring a "sideshow circus-like element" which "CPAC organizers have intentionally cultivated sometimes, inviting outrageous figures that say incendiary and offensive things, I think in order to draw more attention and controversy to the conference."

"I think it's challenging for us to reconcile those two identities of CPAC," he said, the transcript shows.

Kovacevich also opined "the Republican Party and I think conservatism, in general, is also going through a lot of internal debates about what it should be . . ." the transcript shows.

"And I think that's one that we should be involved in because we, I think, want probably — the majority of Googlers would want to steer conservatives and Republicans more towards a message of liberty and freedom and away from the more sort of nationalistic incendiary comments, nativist comments and things like that."

Source: NewsMax

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., co-wrote a statement Thursday evening praising the resolution passed in the House of Representatives that condemned many forms of hate — a resolution that emerged after critics labeled some of her own comments anti-Semitic.

Omar shared the statement through her congressional Twitter account, saying, “Our nation is having a difficult conversation, but we believe this is great progress.”

Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Andre Carson, D-Ind., were also listed as authors of the statement.

The statement highlighted the inclusion of Islamophobia, which the three Democrats called “historic.”

EMOTIONAL MEGHAN MCCAIN SLAMS ANTI-SEMITISM

“Today is historic on many fronts. It’s the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history. Anti-Muslim crimes have increased 99 percent from 2014-2016 and are still on the rise,” the statement read.

The resolution, which was drafted in reaction to controversial remarks by Omar that critics on both sides of the aisle considered anti-Semitic, was fiercely debated among House Democrats. There was specific discussion about whether other forms of hate should be included.

Ultimately, the resolution did include hate of other races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations, and it passed in the House, 407-23. The resolution did not, however, specifically address Omar’s remarks.

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Anti-Semitism was briefly mentioned in the Democrats’ joint statement.

“We are tremendously proud to be part of a body that has put forth a condemnation of all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism and white supremacy,“ the statement continued. “At a time when extremism is on the rise, we must explicitly denounce religious intolerance of all kinds and acknowledge the pain felt by all communities. Our nation is having a difficult conversation and we believe this is great progress.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar released a statement Thursday with Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Andre Carson that celebrated the passage of the resolution condemning hate.

The resolution was initially intended to condemn anti-Semitism, specifically in response to Omar doubling down on a statement that many considered to be anti-Semitic. Last week, she questioned if some members of Congress have a “dual loyalty” to the U.S. and Israel. (RELATED: Omar’s Experiences Are ‘More Personal’ Than Children Of Holocaust Survivors)

The text of the resolution, which passed 407-23, did not mention Omar by name and included language condemning all hate.

“Today is historic on many fronts. It’s the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning Anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history. Anti-Muslim crimes have increased 99% from 2014-2016 and are still on the rise,” the statement began. (RELATED: Omar’s Experiences Are ‘More Personal’ Than Children Of Holocaust Survivors)

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Minnesota Democratic Congressional Candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

“We are tremendously proud to be a part of a body that has put forth a condemnation of all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism, and white supremacy,” it continued. “At a time when extremism is on the rise, we must explicitly denounce religious intolerance of all kinds and acknowledge the pain felt by all communities. Our nation is having a difficult conversation and we believe this is great process.”

All 23 members of the House that voted against the bill were Republicans.

“If a Republican Member was pushing the anti-Semitism that Rep. Omar keeps peddling, this resolution would name names, and be solely, emphatically focused on anti-Semitism and that member would be removed from their committee assignments,” Republican New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, who voted against the bill, said in a statement to The Daily Caller. “The double standard motivating this decision by the Speaker and the moral equivalency filling this watered-down text is spineless and disgusting.”

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Source: The Daily Caller

Former President Jimmy Carter has reportedly offered to fly to North Korea to help the Trump administration continue its nuclear weapons talks with the reclusive nation.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told Politico he spoke with Carter on Thursday and was told of the offer.

The 94-year-old Carter served one term as president from 1977-1981. He has taken on several diplomatic roles since, including visiting North Korea in 1994 — at the direction of then-Present Bill Clinton — to hold talks with the country's leader Kim Il Sung. Kim, who died a month after Carter's visit, is the grandfather of current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Carter also traveled to North Korea in 2010 to negotiate the release of an American being held there.

"The fact that Carter is willing to engage Kim Jong Un is a good thing," Khanna told Politico.

President Donald Trump met with Kim last June and again last week in an effort to convince the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear weapons program. The most recent talks, which took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended in a stalemate when the two sides could not agree on a resolution.

Source: NewsMax

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a Democrat-authored non-binding resolution condemning bigotry of all kinds.

Intended as a resolution to rebuke anti-Semitism following allegedly anti-Semitic remarks made by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar last week, the measure passed with 407 yays and 23 nays. Only Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King voted present on the resolution, which included condemnation of bigotry against Jews and Muslims. (RELATED: Dems Add More Groups To ‘Anti-Hate’ Resolution At Last Minute)

All the no votes were Republican members, who said the resolution was watered down from its original intent as a measure exclusively targeted against anti-Semitism. Additionally, Republicans wanted to see Omar named in the resolution, like King was when he was rebuked last January in a disapproval resolution of white supremacy.(RELATED: Democratic Rebuke Against Anti-Semitism Becomes Resolution Against Everything Else)

(Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The final text reads in part:

Whereas white supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence;

Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib was pleased with the resolution, telling The Daily Caller, “I worked on racial justice issues for decades and this is amazing to be able to at least try to come together. One of my black pastors in Detroit says we’re a community that is not divided, but disconnected, and this is how we can connect and say, ‘Look, we’re going to stand against all forms of hate.’”

Republican New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, however, voted against the resolution and told reporters after the vote that he was disappointed with the final resolution.

“I give people a lot more credit — people are paying attention to what’s going on in Washington right now with this situation. They know what we did in January,” Zeldin said when asked if he was concerned that Republicans who voted no on the resolution could be attacked for their vote.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise voted for the resolution but criticized Omar’s statement’s afterward.

“I voted in favor of today’s resolution because we must all take a strong stand against hatred and bigotry wherever we see it, and I’m glad this resolution makes that clear. However, a watered-down condemnation of hate does little to alleviate the hurt caused by Rep. Omar’s continuous anti-Semitic rhetoric and beliefs,” he said.

Scalise added, “This diluted condemnation only highlights the real problem in the Democrat caucus: Speaker Pelosi awarded a known anti-Semite with a coveted spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee. The House has now voted twice in the first two months of the House Democrat Majority to condemn hateful ideology in response to Rep. Omar’s remarks, yet Speaker Pelosi has not removed Rep. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Democrats’ legislative agenda this week, which includes a bill related to elections, campaign finance and ballot access, stalled over arguments within their own caucus about the kind of language that would be included in the resolution. This bill, H.R. 1 is expected to go to the floor on Friday.

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Jon Brown | Associate Editor

A Pakistani Catholic woman, acquitted in January of a blasphemy charge by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, remains trapped in the country amid fears that her health is failing.

Asia Bibi, 53, is reportedly living with her husband at a secret location in Karachi, Pakistan, where she is being denied medical care for her “low blood pressure,” according to a source who spoke with The Daily Mail. The source explained that Bibi is “very unwell” and expressed frustration that she is being kept by the Pakistani army from following her children to Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered asylum.

“Everyone is very worried,” the source continued, according to the Mail. “She won her appeal and was supposed to be out of Pakistan by now. Even though the government says she can leave, the army has all the power in this case.”

“They are in control of her. They are fearful about getting a negative press if she speaks out about her experiences – but they will get an even worse press if she dies in protective custody.” (RELATED: Andrew Brunson’s American Pastor Describes Harrowing Turkish Courtroom Experience)

Pakistani protesters shout slogans against Asia Bibi, a Christian woman facing death sentence for blasphemy, at a protest in Karachi on October 13, 2016. (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani protesters shout slogans against Asia Bibi, a Christian woman facing death sentence for blasphemy, at a protest in Karachi on October 13, 2016. (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Bibi spent nearly a decade languishing in a Pakistani prison after being accused of blasphemy against Mohammed, a capital offense in the Islamic Republic. On a sweltering day in June 2009, the illiterate field hand claimed to have been picking berries with women from her village when they demanded she fetch them a cup of water. When she returned, the women refused to drink after her because of her Christian faith. (RELATED: Asia Bibi’s Lawyer Returns To Pakistan For Her Blasphemy Trial)

“I want the whole world to know that I’m going to be hanged for helping my neighbor,” Bibi recounted to a French journalist in 2011 from her small prison cell. “I’m guilty of having shown someone sympathy. What did I do wrong? I drank water from a well belonging to Muslim women, using ‘their’ cup, in the burning heat of the midday sun.”

Bibi and her family were the only Christians in her remote Pakistani village, where her neighbors pressured her relentlessly to convert to Islam. Christians make up less than two percent of the population in Pakistan, according to the Library of Congress. (RELATED: Pakistan Shoots Down Indian Fighter Jets)

“We Christians have always stayed silent,” Bibi remembered. “We’ve been taught since we were babies never to say anything, to keep quiet because we’re a minority. But I’m stubborn too and now I want to react, I want to defend my faith. I take a deep breath and fill my lungs with courage.” (RELATED: Rand Paul Calls On U.S. To Cut Off Aid To Pakistan Until Asia Bibi Is Freed)

Qari Mohammed Salim, a petitioner against the Asia Bibi case, comes out the Supreme Court building after the court rejected his review appeal, in Islamabad on January 29, 2019. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

Qari Mohammed Salim, a petitioner against the Asia Bibi case, comes out the Supreme Court building after the court rejected his review appeal, in Islamabad on January 29, 2019. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’m not going to convert,” Bibi told the women when they began to hurl curses at her, reviling Jesus and demanding her conversion. “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?”

Bibi was dragged before the village cleric for such comments and taken to a prison outside Lahore, Pakistan, near the Indian border. For nearly 10 years, she awaited a pending death sentence until being acquitted in October 2018. Riots roiled the country in response, leading to the arrest of several radical Islamist clerics who used the Bibi case to call for the overthrow of the Pakistani government. (RELATED: Asia Bibi Protest Organizer Charged With Sedition And Terrorism In Pakistan)

Her case at last reached the three-person Supreme Court of Pakistan in January, which tossed out an appeal by Islamist radicals and acquitted her again. “The image of Islam we are showing to the world gives me much grief and sorrow,” Pakistan’s Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said.

Source: The Daily Caller

A federal judge in Virginia sentenced Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison Thursday on tax and bank fraud charges, a term much lighter than the sentence the former Trump campaign chairman faced under federal sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III said guidelines calling for 19 to 24.5 years in prison for Manafort were “excessive.”

Manafort, 69, said in remarks before the sentence was handed down that his life is in “shambles.” He will be sentenced later in March in a separate case in Washington, D.C., where the judge in that case, Amy Berman Jackson, will determine if Manafort can serve a sentence in that case concurrently with his Virginia sentence.

Manafort was convicted on eight fraud-related charges Aug. 21, 2018. He pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work for the Ukrainian government. (RELATED: Mueller Says Manafort Faces Up To 24.5 Years In Prison)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Manafort worked as a press relations guru from 2004 through 2014 for Viktor Yanukovych, who served as Ukraine’s president from Feb. 25, 2010, to Feb. 22, 2014.

None of the charges against Manafort involved allegations of collusion with the Russian government, as Ellis noted during Thursday’s hearing.

“He is not before the court for anything having to do with colluding with the Russian government,” Ellis said.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in April 2016 and focused heavily on wrangling delegates for Trump at the GOP convention. He left the campaign in mid-August 2016 after reports surfaced about payments he received from the Ukraine work.

The longtime GOP operative testified multiple times before Mueller’s grand jury after entering his plea deal. But that agreement fell apart late in 2018 after prosecutors accused Manafort of lying about several aspects of the investigation, including his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Manafort business partner who is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

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Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

Police showed up to execute a search warrant at the office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, and she showed them the door.

Gardner is currently the subject of a special prosecutor’s investigation into the handling of the case against former Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens — specifically regarding William Tisaby, who was hired by Gardner to investigate Greitens. Tisaby is accused of perjuring himself during that investigation and Gardner is being investigated under the suspicion that she suborned that perjury. (RELATED: Prosecutor Who Brought Down Republican Governor Now Under Grand Jury Investigation)

Eric Greitens Founder and CEO, The Mission Continues speaks at the Robin Hood Veterans Summit at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on May 7, 2012 in New York City. Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Eric Greitens Founder and CEO, The Mission Continues speaks at the Robin Hood Veterans Summit at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on May 7, 2012 in New York City. Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Gardner filed a motion Monday after she refused to comply with the warrant as served, claiming that the warrant was too broad. In a statement released by her office, she also argued that it was a “fishing expedition” and amounted to retaliation against her office for working to “hold the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department accountable.”

The warrant is a thinly-veiled attempt to circumvent the law and the people of St. Louis in retribution for my efforts to hold the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department accountable and reform our criminal justice system. I am asking the Court to protect the information of thousands of St. Louis citizens from this clear fishing expedition. I will not allow shameful overreach to jeopardize the public’s interest and safety.

Judge Michael Mullen, who is presiding over the grand jury investigation into Gardner and signed the search warrant she rebuffed, chastised her in open court Tuesday and accused her office of “playing games” instead of cooperating with the investigation.

Gardner delayed any upcoming court proceedings by demanding that her three outside attorneys, none of whom live locally, be present in the courtroom. Her office further indicated that she was not likely to be present before the grand jury on March 14 — when she was initially scheduled to testify.

St. Louis Police Officers Association business manager — and author of “The War On Police” — Jeff Roorda spoke with The Daily Caller on Thursday, noting that there were a number of aspects of this case that were troubling.

First and foremost, he pointed out the fact that Gardner was out of line in filing the motion before police were allowed to execute the search warrant. “When you’re the defendant, and she is in this case, you don’t get to tell the police that the search warrant is invalid. Defendants don’t get to say whether or not search warrants are valid. If they could, no search warrant would ever be executed.”

Roorda also noted that doing so before the warrant was executed gave her ample time to destroy any evidence they might have found, especially since the warrant pertained specifically to computer records. “That’s why you don’t give defendants a warning before you serve a warrant,” he explained.

Second, he argued that there really is “no such thing as a fishing expedition” when it comes to search warrants. If a search warrant is properly obtained, it has to meet a fairly high level of scrutiny.

“A judge has to sign off on the warrant,” he explained. “And for that to happen, he has to believe there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that evidence pertaining to that crime can be found where the warrant allows police to look.”

As for Gardner’s assertion that the search warrant was “retribution” for her efforts to hold police accountable, Roorda found no shortage of irony in that claim, saying, “It’s fine if she’s holding police accountable, but shouldn’t she be holding herself accountable as well?”

Gardner’s office currently has a list of over two dozen St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officers from whom she will not take cases or allow testimony — however, Roorda informed the Caller that none of the officers on that list have been the subject of court hearings determining that they are not credible witnesses or upstanding police officers. (RELATED: St. Louis Prosecutor Refuses To Take Cases From 28 Police Officers — She Made A List)

Roorda concluded with one simple question: “Why isn’t this a bigger story?” he asked. “An elected official refused to comply with a legally-obtained search warrant, ignored a court order and this isn’t national news?”

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Source: The Daily Caller

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Thursday was sentenced to 47 months in prison after a federal jury in Virginia convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud last year.

Manafort’s conviction in August made him the first campaign associate of President Trump found guilty by a jury as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis emphasized ahead of sentencing that the Manafort case was not about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

HOW PAUL MANAFORT IS CONNECTED TO TRUMP, RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Ellis said that the guidelines of sentencing Manafort to between 19 and 24 years in prison were "excessive for this case." Manafort will receive credit for the nine months he’s already served. Manafort was also hit with a $50,000 fine.

Paul Manafort, pictured here in court on Thursday, was sentenced to 47 months in prison. 

Paul Manafort, pictured here in court on Thursday, was sentenced to 47 months in prison.  (William Hennessy Jr./CourtroomArt.com)

Manafort, who has been dealing with health issues, looked unwell as he entered the courtroom in a wheelchair. He told Ellis the last two years have been the most difficult he and his family have ever experienced and appeared to choke up a bit as he told the judge he appreciated the way the trial was conducted.

Prosecutors said Manafort, 69, hid income earned from political work overseas from the IRS while fraudulently obtaining millions in bank loans. Manafort had pleaded not guilty to all 18 counts in the case.

Manafort, who has been dealing with health issues, sits in his wheelchair in the courtroom.

Manafort, who has been dealing with health issues, sits in his wheelchair in the courtroom. (William Hennessy Jr./CourtroomArt.com)

"I was surprised I did not hear you express regret," Ellis told Manafort during the sentencing Thursday night. He added that he believes "the importance of this case is to serve as a beacon to warn others."

FLASHBACK: MUELLER WANTED PAUL MANAFORT IMPRISONED UP TO 24 YEARS

After he heard his sentence, Manafort looked red-faced and emotional, while his wife appeared stone-faced. Manafort’s lawyers appeared to be happy with the sentence, but a source close to the team said they remain concerned about his sentencing next week.

He is still facing additional years in prison from another case: After his conviction in Virginia, Manafort pleaded guilty in Washington to foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. He has not yet been sentenced in that case, and Mueller’s team recently asked a federal judge to sentence him to 24 years in prison and order him to pay as much as a $24 million fine.

But his hopes for a reduced sentence in the Washington case may be in jeopardy after a federal judge recently found that he lied to Mueller’s team in response to some, but not all, of their inquiries. The ruling voids his plea deal and exposes Manafort, at a minimum, to a harsher sentence.

There’s been speculation that the president, who has expressed sympathy for Manafort, could pardon his former campaign chairman. “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump said in August.

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Defense attorneys for Manafort have suggested that Mueller’s team had improperly ensnared their client in its probe, as the case did not have anything to do with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates — Manafort’s former business partner who struck a plea deal to cooperate with the government — testified during the trial that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Meghan Welsh contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics


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