democrats

Leaders on Capitol Hill responded Friday to special counsel Robert Mueller’s delivery of his report related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General Bill Barr.

Barr sent a letter to Capitol Hill committee chairmen in both chambers, informing them that the report was submitted to the Justice Department. (RELATED: Breaking: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement he welcomed that the announcement from the special counsel has finally completed his investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.”

He continued, “Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests. I hope the special counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.”

McConnell said Barr will now need time to review the report, adding, “The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”

Little is known about the contents of the report that was two years in the making and led to the indictment or guilty plea of six Trump associates. However, not one indictment was related to conspiracy or collusion with Russians.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and other congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the complete public release of the report in a joint statement:

Now that special counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress.

Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.

The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.

Although the Mueller investigation has ended, Democrats have vowed to continue their own investigations of Trump from the Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee in the lower chamber. Additionally, Democrats are counting on investigations of the president and his allies from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Senior White House adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will reportedly cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee's investigation into Trump's background.

According to The Hill, Kushner's lawyer confirmed he will hand over documents the panel requested as part of a sweeping Democratic probe.

With Democrats now in control of the House, they have targeted dozens of people in Trump's orbit as they look for anything that indicated Trump may have broken the law before or after he became president.

Judiciary panel chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., has also asked Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump for documents.

Source: NewsMax

Trump's hosts a meeting with Caribbean leaders at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida
U.S. President Donald Trumps, seated with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan (C) and National Security adviser John Bolton speaks during a meeting with the leaders of The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 22, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The closure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election does not mark the end of legal worries for President Donald Trump and people close to him. Other ongoing investigations and litigation are focusing on issues including his businesses and financial dealings, personal conduct, charitable foundation and inaugural committee.

These investigations, pursued by prosecutors at the federal and state level, could result in charges beyond those brought in Mueller’s investigation or civil liability. The special counsel on Friday submitted his confidential report on the investigation to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who must decide on how much of it to make public.

The U.S. Justice Department has a decades-old policy that a sitting president cannot face criminal charges, so such a case against Trump would unlikely while he is in office even if there were evidence of wrongdoing. Some legal experts have argued that the department is wrong and that a president is not immune from prosecution. Either way, Trump potentially could face charges once he is out of office.

Here is an explanation of some criminal investigations and civil lawsuits still underway.

MUELLER’S CRIMINAL CASES

Mueller charged 34 individuals and three companies. Several of those cases resulted in guilty pleas and one case went to trial, with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort convicted in August 2018 of eight criminal counts including bank fraud and tax fraud. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted in January 2019 and pleaded not guilty but his trial is still pending. There are other cases involving indicted Russians that have not gone to trial. Other prosecutors within the Justice Department will likely take over criminal cases begun by Mueller, legal experts said.

BUSINESS PRACTICES AND FINANCIAL DEALINGS

Trump may face significant peril from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to legal experts. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in Feb. 27 congressional testimony that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is examining Trump’s business practices and financial dealings. Cohen already has implicated Trump in campaign finance law violations to which he pleaded guilty in August 2018 as part of the Southern District of New York investigation.

Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance laws by arranging, at Trump’s direction, “hush money” payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump’s candidacy. Both women said they had sexual relationships with Trump more than a decade ago. He has denied that.

Prosecutors said the payments constituted illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election. Under federal election laws, such donations cannot exceed $2,700 and need to be publicly disclosed. Daniels received $130,000. McDougal received $150,000.

The New York investigation has involved long-time Trump ally David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper, who admitted to paying McDougal for the rights to her story and then suppressing it to influence the election, an arrangement called “catch and kill.”

In his Feb. 27 hearing, Cohen said he was in “constant contact” with Manhattan federal prosecutors and said other crimes and wrongdoing by Trump are being investigated by them, though he did not offer details. Cohen said he could not testify about the nature of his last conversation with Trump in early 2018 because it was under investigation by the federal prosecutors in New York.

NEW YORK STATE CHARGES AGAINST MANAFORT

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is exploring criminal charges against Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, over financial crimes related to unpaid state taxes and possibly loans. In cases bought by Mueller, Manafort in 2018 was convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts in Virginia and pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges in Washington. He was sentenced to a combined 7-1/2 years in prison in the two cases. Trump has not ruled out granting Manafort a pardon. The president would not be able to pardon Manafort if he is convicted of charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney because they would not be federal crimes. However, New York has broad double jeopardy protections that usually prevent the state from prosecuting a person for crimes arising from the same criminal conduct the federal government has prosecuted before.

SUMMER ZERVOS DEFAMATION SUIT

A defamation lawsuit against Trump by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality television show “The Apprentice,” continues in New York state court after a judge in 2018 allowed it to proceed. Zervos sued Trump after he called her and other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct liars and retweeted a post labeling her claims a hoax.

Trump has agreed to provide written answers to questions from Zervos by Sept. 28, according to a court filing.

Zervos accused Trump of kissing her against her will at his New York office in 2007 and later groping her at a meeting at a hotel in California. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of making unwanted sexual advances against them years before he entered politics.

Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer for Trump, had argued that the lawsuit unconstitutionally impedes the president from performing his duties. An appeals court rejected that argument on March 14 by a 3-2 vote. Kasowitz said he would appeal the decision to the state’s highest court.

Separately, two lawsuits against Trump brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels were dismissed.

THE TRUMP FOUNDATION

A lawsuit filed by the New York state Attorney General’s Office already led the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which was presented as the charitable arm of Trump’s business empire, to agree in December 2018 to dissolve, and the litigation continues.

The state is seeking an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from leadership roles in any other New York charity. Trump has said the lawsuit was concocted by “sleazy New York Democrats.” The state’s Democratic attorney general accused the foundation of being “engaged in a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” in violation of federal law.

The attorney general’s office alleged Trump and his family members used the charity to pay off his legal debts and purchase personal items. The foundation agreed to dissolve and give away all its remaining assets under court supervision.

“EMOLUMENTS” LAWSUIT

Trump is accused in a lawsuit filed by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia of violating anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution through his businesses’ dealings with foreign governments.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on March 19 in the Trump administration’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte’s 2018 rulings allowing the case to proceed.

The Constitution’s “emoluments clauses” bars U.S. officials from accepting payments from foreign governments and the governments of U.S. states without congressional approval. The lawsuit stated that because Trump did not divested himself of his business empire, spending by foreign governments at the Trump International Hotel in Washington amounts to unconstitutional gifts, or “emoluments,” to the president.

TRUMP INAUGURAL COMMITTEE

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether the committee that organized Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 accepted illegal donations from foreigners, misused funds or brokered special access to the administration for donors.

Federal election law prohibits foreigners from donating to U.S. political campaigns or inaugural committees, and corruption laws ban donors from making contributions in exchange for political favors.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in December 2018 that the president was not involved in his inaugural committee. The $107 million raised by the committee, which was chaired by real estate developer and investor Thomas Barrack, was the largest in history, according to U.S. Federal Election Commission filings.

IMPEACHMENT

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president, vice president and “all civil officers of the United States” can be removed from office by Congress through the impeachment process for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives acts as the accuser – voting on whether to bring specific charges such as obstruction of justice – and the Senate then conducts a trial with House members acting as prosecutors and the individual senators serving as jurors. A simple majority vote is needed in the House to impeach. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to convict and remove.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 22, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted the report on his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, Attorney General William Barr must decide how much of the document – if any – to make public.

Justice Department regulations governing special counsels adopted in 1999 give Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, broad discretion in deciding how much to release to Congress and the public. Barr, in his January Senate confirmation hearings after being nominated by Trump, promised to “provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law” – a pledge that still gives him a lot of wiggle room.

Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report.

Mueller was named special counsel in May 2017 by the department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over an investigation that had been headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He examined whether Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.

Here is an explanation of the rules Barr must follow and the political pressures that he faces in deciding on disclosure of Mueller’s findings.

WHAT DO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS CALL FOR?

Justice Department regulations do not require the release of the entire special counsel report but also do not prevent Barr from doing so, giving him leeway to disclose it if it is in the public interest.

Special counsels can be appointed by the department to investigate matters of high sensitivity that are not handled through the normal channels.

The department placed limits on special counsel powers in the 1999 regulations creating the post.

The regulations state that when an investigation is conducted a special counsel must provide the attorney general a “confidential report” explaining why particular individuals were or were not charged.

The regulations require Barr to notify the top Republicans and Democrats on the House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees that the investigation has ended. Department policy calls for Barr to summarize the confidential report for Congress with “an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.” According to the regulations, Barr “may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”

In deciding what to release, Barr may have to confront thorny legal issues involving secrecy of grand jury testimony, protecting classified information, communications with the White House possibly subject to the principle of executive privilege shielding certain information from disclosure, and safeguarding confidential reasons for why some individuals were not charged.

WHAT POLITICAL PRESSURE MIGHT BARR BE FEELING?

Some Democrats have expressed concern Barr may try to shield Trump and bury parts of the report. Barr may feel pressure from the Republican president to conceal damaging parts of Mueller’s report and release any findings that may exonerate him.

Barr, 68, is a veteran Washington insider who also was attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under Republican President George H.W. Bush. He has embraced an expansive view of presidential powers but also is considered a defender of the rule of law.

Trump fired Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, in November after complaining for months about Sessions’ 2017 decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

WHAT IF BARR DECLINES TO RELEASE THE FULL REPORT?

Democrats control the House and some already have pledged to subpoena the report and Mueller and go to court if necessary to secure its full release. The House on March 14 voted 420-0, with four conservative Republican lawmakers voting “present,” to approve a non-binding resolution urging Barr to make public everything in Mueller’s report that is not expressly prohibited by law and to provide the entire document to Congress.

HOW HAVE OTHER SPECIAL COUNSEL REPORTS BEEN HANDLED?

Only two special counsels have been appointed under the 1999 regulations: Mueller and former Senator John Danforth, who was appointed that same year to investigate the deadly 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas. Danforth’s report in 2000 cleared government officials of wrongdoing.

In appointing Danforth, Attorney General Janet Reno specifically directed him to draft a report for public release on his findings, which he did. Rosenstein made no such demand on Mueller.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

A building that houses an office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pictured in Washington
One of the buildings that houses an office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is seen in southwest Washington, U.S., March 21, 2019. Picture taken March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Here is a timeline of significant developments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow.

2017

May 17 – U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Mueller as a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and to look into any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and people associated with Republican Trump’s campaign.

The appointment follows President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on May 9 and days later Trump attributed the dismissal to “this Russia thing.”

June 15 – Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, the Washington Post reports.

Oct. 30 – Veteran Republican political operative and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who worked for the campaign for five pivotal months in 2016, is indicted on charges of conspiracy against the United States and money laundering as is his business partner Rick Gates, who also worked for Trump’s campaign.

– Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.

Dec. 1 – Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month who also had a prominent campaign role, pleads guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI about his discussions in 2016 with the Russian ambassador to Washington.

2018

Feb. 16 – Federal grand jury indicts 13 Russians and three firms, including a Russian government propaganda arm called the Internet Research Agency, accusing them of tampering to support Trump and disparage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The accused “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election” according to the court document filed by Mueller.

– An American, Richard Pinedo, pleads guilty to identity fraud for selling bank account numbers after being accused by prosecutors of helping Russians launder money, buy Facebook ads and pay for campaign rally supplies. Pinedo was not associated with the Trump campaign.

Feb. 22 – Manafort and Gates are charged with financial crimes, including bank fraud, in Virginia.

Feb. 23 – Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators. He agrees to cooperate and testify against Manafort at trial.

April 3 – Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, is sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000 for lying to Mueller’s investigators, becoming the first person sentenced in the probe.

April 9 – FBI agents raid home, hotel room and office of Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described “fixer” Michael Cohen.

April 12 – Rosenstein tells Trump that he is not a target in Mueller’s probe.

April 19 – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump supporter in the election campaign, joins Trump’s personal legal team.

June 8 – Mueller charges a Russian-Ukrainian man, Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner whom prosecutors say had ties to Russian intelligence, with witness tampering.

July 13 – Federal grand jury indicts 12 Russian military intelligence officers on charges of hacking Democratic Party computer networks in 2016 and staged releases of documents. Russia, which denies interfering in the election, says there is no evidence that the 12 are linked to spying or hacking.

July 16 – In Helsinki after the first summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump publicly contradicts U.S. intelligence agencies that concluded Moscow had interfered in the 2016 election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda. Trump touts Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial of meddling. He calls the Mueller inquiry a “rigged witch hunt” on Twitter.

Aug. 21 – A trial jury in Virginia finds Manafort guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

– Cohen, in a case brought by U.S. prosecutors in New York, pleads guilty to tax fraud and campaign finance law violations. Cohen is subsequently interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Aug. 31 – Samuel Patten, an American business partner of Kilimnik, pleads guilty to unregistered lobbying for pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine.

Sept. 14 – Manafort pleads guilty to two conspiracy counts and signs a cooperation agreement with Mueller’s prosecutors.

Nov. 8 – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump’s request. He had recused himself from overseeing the Mueller inquiry because of his contacts with the Russian ambassador as a Trump campaign official. Trump appoints Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a critic of the Mueller probe, as acting attorney general.

Nov. 20 – Giuliani says Trump submitted written answers to questions from Mueller, as the president avoids a face-to-face interview with the special counsel.

Nov. 27-28 – Prosecutors say Manafort breached his plea deal by lying to investigators, which Manafort denies. Trump says he has not ruled out granting Manafort a presidential pardon.

Nov. 28 – Giuliani says Trump told investigators he was not aware ahead of time of a meeting in Trump Tower in New York between several campaign officials and Russians in June 2016.

Nov. 29 – Cohen pleads guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to Congress about the length of discussions in 2016 on plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. “I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1,” says Cohen, who previously identified “individual 1” as Trump.

– The president criticizes Cohen as a liar and “weak person.”

Dec. 12 – Two developments highlight growing political and legal risks for Trump: Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the election; American Media Inc, publisher of National Enquirer tabloid, strikes deal to avoid charges over its role in one of two hush payments. Publisher admits payment was aimed at influencing the 2016 election, contradicting Trump’s statements.

2019

Jan. 25 – Longtime Trump associate and self-proclaimed political “dirty trickster” Roger Stone charged and arrested at his home in Florida. Stone is accused of lying to Congress about statements suggesting he may have had advance knowledge of plans by Wikileaks to release Democratic Party campaign emails that U.S. officials say were stolen by Russia.

Feb. 21 – U.S. judge tightens gag order on Stone, whose Instagram account posted a photo of the judge and the image of crosshairs next to it.

Feb. 22 – Manhattan district attorney’s office is pursuing New York state criminal charges against Manafort whether or not he receives a pardon from Trump on federal crimes, a person familiar with the matter says. Trump cannot issue pardons for state convictions.

Feb. 24 – Senior Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff says Democrats will subpoena Mueller’s final report on his investigation if it is not given to Congress by the Justice Department, and will sue the Trump administration and call on Mueller to testify to Congress if necessary.

Feb. 27 – Cohen tells U.S. House Oversight Committee Trump is a “racist,” a “con man” and a “cheat” who knew in advance about a release of emails by WikiLeaks in 2016 aimed at hurting rival Clinton. Trump directed negotiations for a real estate project in Moscow during the campaign even as he publicly said he had no business interests in Russia, Cohen testifies.

March 7 – Manafort is sentenced in the Virginia case to almost four years in prison. The judge also ordered Manafort to pay a fine of $50,000 and restitution of just over $24 million.

March 13 – Manafort is sentenced to about 3-1/2 more years in prison in the Washington case, bringing his total prison sentence in the two special counsel cases to 7-1/2 years.

– On the same day, the Manhattan district attorney announces a separate indictment charging Manafort with residential mortgage fraud and other New York state crimes, which unlike the federal charges cannot be erased by a presidential pardon.

March 22 – Mueller submits his confidential report on the findings of his investigation to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

(Compiled by Grant McCool in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

A bill that would allow taxpayers to donate a part of their refunds to a nonprofit collecting money to build more border wall has successfully passed the Alabama Senate.

Alabama state senators voted 23-6 along party lines Thursday in favor of SB 22, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The legislation would add We Build The Wall Inc. to a list of about 20 groups and programs on state income tax forms that residents can check off and donate with their tax refunds.

“I think it’s a way for Alabamians to say to the president and to the nation that we think strong border security is important. We want to promote that. We want Washington to build that wall,” GOP Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, the bill’s sponsor, stated according to The Associated Press.

“This bill is about sending a message to Washington that we support President Trump and his mission to secure our southern border,” Marsh said, who is mulling a 2020 U.S. Senate bid.

We Build The Wall — which began in December as a viral GoFundMe campaign by Air Force veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage — is a nonprofit group that is raising money for wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border. The GoFundMe page is nearing $21,000,000 in donations.

However, the legislation may be more symbolic than anything else. Before funds from We Build The Wall can be used, Congress must vote to allow the money to be directed to the Department of Homeland Security. Given that the Democratic Party controls the House of Representatives, this is unlikely to happen in the immediate future.

The private contributions are rolling in as President Donald Trump continues to fight for more wall funding. Trump signed into law a resolution that gave him $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of barrier on the Texas border. He then declared a national emergency that has allowed him a total of $8 billion in funding, but numerous progressive groups are suing his emergency declaration in court.

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

People work on the U.S.-Mexic0 border wall on Feb. 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The president, in his latest budget proposal, is asking for an additional $8.6 billion in wall funding.

Back in Alabama, local Democrats derided SB 22, which will later be voted on by the state House.

“What about the Northern border? More people are crossing over the Northern border but you don’t want to pay them any attention,” Alabama state Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat who called the measure a “feel good” bill, said according to AP. (RELATED: Overwhelmed ICE Facilities Forced To Release 100,000 Illegal Aliens In Past Three Months)

Singleton’s comments are technically correct. Over 960 people have illegally crossed the U.S.-Canada border in 2018, according to government data, representing a 91 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. However, that number remains a minuscule fraction of the apprehensions taking place on the U.S.-Mexico border, where border officials expect to find nearly 100,000 foreign nationals in the month of March alone.

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FILE PHOTO: CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends CDU party meeting in Potsdam
FILE PHOTO: CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends meeting of Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Potsdam, Germany, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt -/File Photo

March 22, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s credibility with its NATO partners is at stake unless lawmakers commit to increase military spending, German conservative leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Friday, as divisions widen within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.

Merkel’s cabinet approved a budget plan on Wednesday that would boost defense spending to 45.1 billion euros, or 1.37 percent of gross domestic product, in 2020, but allow that percentage to drop in subsequent years.

The plan, which must be finalised by parliament, drew sharp criticism this week from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, who questioned Germany’s commitment to meeting the target for NATO members to spend 2 percent of GDP on the military.

The defense spending row has added to tensions within a coalition government already at odds over tax rates, social spending and an embargo on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Kramp-Karrenbauer told Der Spiegel magazine that Germany needed to live up to its commitments and called on lawmakers to “correct” the four-year budget plan prepared by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat.

Merkel said on Thursday that Germany will meet an undertaking to NATO allies to spend 1.5 percent of economic output on defense by 2024.

A separate push by Scholz’s Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, to extend an embargo on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia by six months has meanwhile strained ties with Britain.

The embargo is holding up London’s efforts to finalize a 10 billion pound sale of Eurofighter combat jets to Riyadh. German components account for about a third of the jet’s content.

France has also warned it will not proceed with several large Franco-German weapons development programs unless Germany agrees to a binding accord that would allow the countries to block each other’s future exports only when “direct interests or national security are compromised”.

“If you want a European security and defense policy, then you have to agree on European rules — and they will not be as strict as the German ones,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told Der Spiegel.

Matthias Wachter, defense expert at the BDI Federation of German Industry, said extending the Saudi arms embargo created uncertainty for German companies, who face a growing risk of contractual penalties for not shipping arms ordered by Riyadh.

“Companies have to evaluate legal options, since they might be liable to their shareholders by law,” he said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar played on her phone in the back of the chamber as the House of Representatives voted on the resolution that was intended as a reprimand for the congresswoman’s anti-Israel comments, according to a report published Friday.

The House passed a resolution March 7 that initially served to condemn a series of anti-Israel statements Omar made, but was subsequently “watered down” to condemn hatred in all forms. The resolution was in response to the ages-old canards about Jews that Omar had asserted over Twitter, including a claim that Republicans’ support for Israel is bought by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Many also interpreted her comments as Jews having a “dual loyalty” to the U.S. and Israel.

The text of the resolution, which passed 407-23, did not mention Omar by name. (RELATED: Minnesota Democrats Reportedly Want Ilhan Omar Out — She Blames Trump)

During the vote, Omar was reportedly playing on her phone and was “seemingly oblivious to the remarkable rebuke being leveled at her,” according to Politico. She was reportedly standing alone in the back of the room until fellow Democrat Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington entered the chamber, where they “embraced and soon doubled over in laughter.”

“She came up to me on the floor, and she gave me a big hug,” Jayapal told Politico. “I told her that some of my gray hair was [from her] over the last week.”

Omar, along with fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, became America’s first Muslim congresswomen when sworn into office in January. Both congresswomen’s time in office has been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism — Omar has defended the anti-Israel statements, such as ones invoking Allah to expose Israel’s “evil doings,” and she is on record suggesting Israel is not a democracy. She also gave an interview to a host that referred to Israel as the “Jewish ISIS” and mocked how Americans speak about al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

Following the resolution’s passage, Omar issued a statement saying she was “tremendously proud” of the anti-hate bill.

“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 read.

Omar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Multiple Democrat presidential candidates said Thursday that they won't attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference in Washington next week.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, are among the 2020 contenders who have decided not to attend. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for president, will also avoid the AIPAC conference.

It comes as the liberal advocacy group MoveOn has called on Democratic presidential candidates to skip this year's policy conference, saying AIPAC had tried to thwart the Iran nuclear deal and had employed "anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric." By not attending, the Democratic candidates can demonstrate their progressive bona fides in an increasingly crowded 2020 field.

But it also gives President Donald Trump an opportunity to highlight his ties to the Israeli government. As the Democrats distance themselves from AIPAC, Trump said Thursday that it is time for the United States to recognize Israel's control over the disputed Golan Heights.

AIPAC declined to comment on the 2020 candidates but noted that presidential candidates have attended the conference in the past. Indeed, several Democrats seeking the presidency, including Harris, Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have spoken at the group's annual conference before.

Sanders' policy director Josh Orton confirmed his plans and said Sanders is "concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution."

Gillibrand's senior adviser, Glen Caplin, said, "Senator Gillibrand was not planning to speak at the policy conference and will not be attending. As she does every year, she will meet separately with her New York constituents."

The intense differences among the Democratic ranks over the U.S.-Israeli relationship came to a head last month when freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, one of the first Muslim women in Congress, insinuated that lobbyists with AIPAC were paying lawmakers to support Israel. Her remark drew bipartisan criticism and a rebuke from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Omar ended up apologizing for her comments.

One 2020 Democratic candidate, John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman, said he would not attend AIPAC because of a scheduling conflict, and an aide said he was "disappointed" to miss it.

"He's attended the conference every year since he's been in Congress, and he very much looks forward to being back next year," said deputy press secretary Ahmed Elsayed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit the White House next week, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu is to appear at this year's conference, as are a number of Democratic political leaders, including Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Top Republicans are also expected to participate.

Source: NewsMax

No matter how loudly Democrats deny it, the national security crisis on our southern border isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.

Just recently, several dozen Central American migrants tried to rush an international port of entry near Laredo, Texas — a move that forced U.S. authorities to shut down an entire bridge tp vehicle traffic for several hours.

The migrants occupied the vehicle lane and attempted to breach the border, apparently in hopes of claiming asylum, but were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents who erected a temporary barrier across the bridge, highlighting the exact reason President Trump found it necessary to take executive action in order to fund the border wall.

The president’s most important duty is to protect and defend American citizens, but obstructionist Democrats in Congress have refused to provide the resources he needs to do so, leaving President Trump with no other option than to use his statutory authority to reallocate various funding necessary to construct a barrier on our border.

Though some of us have objected for years to bills that do not have enough specificity, the trouble is that Congresses have passed and recent presidents have signed into law various spending bills with a significant amount of discretion on how those dollars are spent. Presidents really have had a great deal of leeway in how dollars are spent. Another bill Congress passed back in the 1970’s with far too much discretion for the president was the National Emergency Act.

President Clinton used the National Emergency Act in aid of U.S. involvement in Bosnia. Now the Democrats get upset because the National Emergency Act is used to protect our OWN borders instead of those of foreign countries. Is that political hypocrisy, or just very poor judgment? Sometimes it is difficult to tell.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 22,000 minor children crossed our southern border illegally in December alone, with 25 percent of them unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. In February, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border hit an 11-year high, as Border Patrol agents interdicted more than 76,000 illegal immigrants.

While Congress played games and allowed the partial government shutdown to drag on for over a month, they ignored the fact that in 2017, more Americans died from illegal drugs — most of which are smuggled in through the southern border — than were killed during all the years of the entire Vietnam War.

More than 48,000 Americans died of opioid-related overdoses alone in 2017, the same year that U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 900 pounds of heroin from smugglers trying to cross the border.

Meanwhile, thousands of the illegal immigrants currently incarcerated by ICE have been convicted of violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder.

Despite these very real threats to our country, though, the U.S. House of Representatives has now passed legislation to overturn the President’s emergency declaration, and now the Senate seems poised to force him into issuing his first-ever veto.

The concerns expressed by some conservatives about expanding executive power sound genuine, but they’re also misplaced. The problem is not how President Trump is using his power to protect our sovereignty, but that Congress ever gave that much power to Presidents to begin with. President Obama vastly exceeded the powers he was given, as he himself even noted before creating the DACA program without ever passing a law. That was unlike President Trump’s emergency declaration because the Obama actions had absolutely no grounding in laws previously passed by Congress.

Meanwhile, open-borders Democrats are doing everything they can to prevent President Trump from protecting our country’s border as he attempts to seize control back from the drug cartels. The most discerning Americans are beginning to recoil from the radical obstructionist efforts by Democrats who seem to care less about their own constituents than they do about the border crisis.

Even suburban women, who are widely credited with helping Democrats secure their House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, are becoming increasingly supportive of the President’s actions. It is ironic that the most compassionate, caring action the U.S. could take to help those in Mexico and Central America would be to completely secure our southern border cutting off the tens of billions of dollars that flow across to the drug cartels every year. Securing our southern borders means ending the reign of terror by the cartels against our southern neighbors, which would allow them to develop thoroughly vibrant economies.

According to a new Zogby Analytics poll, the president’s recent executive actions to fund construction of the border wall are even more popular among suburban women than they are among likely voters in the broader population. A plurality of suburban women — 45 percent — support President Trump’s executive actions, and 50 percent back his decision to declare a state of emergency.

Keeping America safe shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the Democrat Party has embraced a radical, open-borders agenda that is anathema to most Americans.

The threats and harm that are created by our porous southern border should be precisely the type of issue that brings all Americans together. After all, most Democrats in Congress have previously supported much of what our president is trying to do to secure our border. Unfortunately, too many Democrats are letting their President Trump Derangement Syndrome keep them from doing what is best for our nation’s people.

Louie Gohmert has represented Texas as a Republican in the House of Representatives since 2005.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

No matter how loudly Democrats deny it, the national security crisis on our southern border isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.

Just recently, several dozen Central American migrants tried to rush an international port of entry near Laredo, Texas — a move that forced U.S. authorities to shut down an entire bridge tp vehicle traffic for several hours.

The migrants occupied the vehicle lane and attempted to breach the border, apparently in hopes of claiming asylum, but were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents who erected a temporary barrier across the bridge, highlighting the exact reason President Trump found it necessary to take executive action in order to fund the border wall.

The president’s most important duty is to protect and defend American citizens, but obstructionist Democrats in Congress have refused to provide the resources he needs to do so, leaving President Trump with no other option than to use his statutory authority to reallocate various funding necessary to construct a barrier on our border.

Though some of us have objected for years to bills that do not have enough specificity, the trouble is that Congresses have passed and recent presidents have signed into law various spending bills with a significant amount of discretion on how those dollars are spent. Presidents really have had a great deal of leeway in how dollars are spent. Another bill Congress passed back in the 1970’s with far too much discretion for the president was the National Emergency Act.

President Clinton used the National Emergency Act in aid of U.S. involvement in Bosnia. Now the Democrats get upset because the National Emergency Act is used to protect our OWN borders instead of those of foreign countries. Is that political hypocrisy, or just very poor judgment? Sometimes it is difficult to tell.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 22,000 minor children crossed our southern border illegally in December alone, with 25 percent of them unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. In February, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border hit an 11-year high, as Border Patrol agents interdicted more than 76,000 illegal immigrants.

While Congress played games and allowed the partial government shutdown to drag on for over a month, they ignored the fact that in 2017, more Americans died from illegal drugs — most of which are smuggled in through the southern border — than were killed during all the years of the entire Vietnam War.

More than 48,000 Americans died of opioid-related overdoses alone in 2017, the same year that U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 900 pounds of heroin from smugglers trying to cross the border.

Meanwhile, thousands of the illegal immigrants currently incarcerated by ICE have been convicted of violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder.

Despite these very real threats to our country, though, the U.S. House of Representatives has now passed legislation to overturn the President’s emergency declaration, and now the Senate seems poised to force him into issuing his first-ever veto.

The concerns expressed by some conservatives about expanding executive power sound genuine, but they’re also misplaced. The problem is not how President Trump is using his power to protect our sovereignty, but that Congress ever gave that much power to Presidents to begin with. President Obama vastly exceeded the powers he was given, as he himself even noted before creating the DACA program without ever passing a law. That was unlike President Trump’s emergency declaration because the Obama actions had absolutely no grounding in laws previously passed by Congress.

Meanwhile, open-borders Democrats are doing everything they can to prevent President Trump from protecting our country’s border as he attempts to seize control back from the drug cartels. The most discerning Americans are beginning to recoil from the radical obstructionist efforts by Democrats who seem to care less about their own constituents than they do about the border crisis.

Even suburban women, who are widely credited with helping Democrats secure their House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, are becoming increasingly supportive of the President’s actions. It is ironic that the most compassionate, caring action the U.S. could take to help those in Mexico and Central America would be to completely secure our southern border cutting off the tens of billions of dollars that flow across to the drug cartels every year. Securing our southern borders means ending the reign of terror by the cartels against our southern neighbors, which would allow them to develop thoroughly vibrant economies.

According to a new Zogby Analytics poll, the president’s recent executive actions to fund construction of the border wall are even more popular among suburban women than they are among likely voters in the broader population. A plurality of suburban women — 45 percent — support President Trump’s executive actions, and 50 percent back his decision to declare a state of emergency.

Keeping America safe shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the Democrat Party has embraced a radical, open-borders agenda that is anathema to most Americans.

The threats and harm that are created by our porous southern border should be precisely the type of issue that brings all Americans together. After all, most Democrats in Congress have previously supported much of what our president is trying to do to secure our border. Unfortunately, too many Democrats are letting their President Trump Derangement Syndrome keep them from doing what is best for our nation’s people.

Louie Gohmert has represented Texas as a Republican in the House of Representatives since 2005.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Working with Democrats on the nation's infrastructure over the next two years would be the "easiest thing" because both sides want it, President Donald Trump said in an interview airing Friday, but he wants work done on the immigration laws.

"[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi told me very strongly they want to do infrastructure, but we have other things we can do," Trump told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo.  "Immigration is a total disaster for this country…people are pouring in."

Border Patrol officials are going an "incredible job," he added, but continue construction is needed on the nation's border wall.

"We are building a lot of wall right now," Trump said. "We are building the wall and it's going up fast, big, strong, looks good, not the horrible thing they were building before I got here."

Without a wall, you don't have border security, he added, and there is going to be a "lot of wall built pretty soon."

His comments came as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Thursday that immigration arrests fell at the end of 2018, compared to the same time period last year, while authorities said there is a need to deal with "alarming rates" of migrant families hoping to cross the border.

ICE also reported that enforcement resources were stretched thin inside the country, while agents work to deal with the overflow at the U.S.-Mexico border, with record numbers of immigrants from Central America arriving to seek asylum.

Source: NewsMax

Voters are giving seemingly contradictory answers when asked about which characteristics they’re looking for in a candidate and which candidate they are currently leaning towards, FiveThirtyEight reports.

More than have of respondents to a Morning Consult poll of Democrats said they want a candidate that has decades of political experience, but almost the same amount want a candidate under 70, which FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich notes are “two characteristics that might be hard to find in a single candidate.”

One such candidate, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a 68-year-old former congressman, is trailing far behind less experienced candidates like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was first elected to public office in 2012, in another Morning Consult poll released this week.

Rakich also refers to a Pew Research Center poll from March 2015, which is as far out from the 2016 election as this month is from the 2020 election. In that poll, more than half of Republican and GOP-leaning voters said they wanted a candidate with experience and a proven record, and just over a third said they wanted a fresh approach. Six months later, and 65 percent wanted someone new with a different approach.

“In short, voters’ ideas of what they want may be theoretical,” he notes.

“Alternatively, voters’ interpretations of a candidate’s brand may be hard to pin down… If nothing else, this is yet another warning that commonly discussed ideological ‘lanes’ may not accurately reflect how voters approach the primary.”

Source: NewsMax

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump revealed who he would like to run against in the 2020 presidential election, in a Friday morning interview on the Fox Business Network.

“I mean, I’d love to have Biden. I’d love to have Bernie, I’d love to have Beto. I mean, Beto seems to be the one the press has chosen. The press seems to have chosen Beto,” Trump said, adding that he believes Democrats are “saying a lot of weird things.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: Former U.S. Vice president Joe Biden speaks at the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference addresses issues including firefighter mental health, funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and collective bargaining. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: Former U.S. Vice president Joe Biden speaks at the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference addresses issues including firefighter mental health, funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and collective bargaining. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Trump focused much of his attention on Congressman Beto O’Rourke when asked about whether the election is a referendum on socialism vs. capitalism, saying:

When I watch Beto, I say we could dream about that. But whatever it is — no, I think it’s competence. I think it’s somebody — look. When I first ran, I was never a politician — I ran, I ran on a certain platform. I’ve done far more than I said I was going to do. When you look at the tax cuts, when you look at the regulation cuts — more than any other president, when you look at all — and it’s the biggest tax cut.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 04: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) addresses a campaign rally at the Pan American Neighborhood Park November 04, 2018 in Austin, Texas. As Election Day approaches polls have shown the gap narrow between O’Rourke his opponent, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Trump’s nonchalant attitude comes during the early days of the Democratic primary to see who will face off against him in the 2020 presidential election. Trump has generally pursued a policy of non-intervention in the primary, occasionally weighing in when asked about specific policy issues, but noting consistently that he does not see any candidate who he believes will beat him. (RELATED: WITNESS: Beto Tried To Flee Drunk Driving Scene After Causing High Speed Crash)

Trump said during the interview in particular that he did not want to speak too critically of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal, saying, “you look at this Green New Deal. It’s the most preposterous thing. Now I don’t want to knock it too much right now, because I — I really hope they keep going forward with it.  You know, frankly, because I think it’s going to be very easy to beat.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg poked fun at Democrats running for office Thursday night while explaining his reason for not jumping into a crowded presidential race.

One of the prerequisites for running in 2020 is the need to go on an apology tour, Bloomberg said during a Bermuda Executive Forum in New York. The billionaire businessman gave former Vice President Joe Biden and Former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke as examples of politicians willing to prostrate themselves.

“Joe Biden went out and apologized for being male, over 50, white, and he apologized for the one good piece of legislation that is an anti-crime bill,” Bloomberg said, referring to a crime bill Biden helped pass in the 1990s. He then turned his fire on O’Rourke, who the former mayor described as too wet behind the ears.

“Beto, whatever his name is. He’s apologized for being born,” Bloomberg said to laughs from the audience. He also cited his age, 77, as the primary reason for not announcing a White House bid despite flirting for months with the idea. (RELATED: Michael Bloomberg Plans To Run For 2020 Democratic Nomination)

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke speaks during a campaign stop at Consuelo's Taqueria in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke speaks during a campaign stop at Consuelo’s Taqueria in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bloomberg previously considered running for president in 2016 as an Independent but ultimately decided to endorse and campaign for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He is committed to spending $500 million this election year to defeat President Donald Trump, despite passing on a presidential run.

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

Some liberal Democratic lawmakers are urging their colleagues to demand President Donald Trump’s business tax returns, Politico is reporting.

The move comes as top Democratic lawmakers prepare to request Trump’s personal tax returns. Democrats are planning to use a nearly century-old statute in an attempt to get his returns.

However, the president has more than 500 partnerships and other types of business, Politico said citing Trump’s financial disclosures. Each of the entities is likely to have its own tax filing.

And Politico said the business returns are more likely to indicate conflicts of interest and other possible malfeasance the Democrats are looking to uncover.

Some of the liberals want House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., to probe everything with Trump’s name on it in the hope of discovering criminal actions. But that could prove unmanageable.

“Strategically, you’re better off with a narrow, well-targeted first request,” said John Buckley, a former longtime Democratic tax aide on the Ways and Means Committee. “The first request doesn’t mean that’s all you’re ever going to ask for.

"'We’re going to get there, we’re just not going to get there in one step’ — that’s what Neal needs to say.”

Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is urging all 2020 presidential candidates to release their tax returns for the past 10 years. So far only Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. have done so.

Source: NewsMax

Several candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 have vowed to reenter the nuclear agreement with Iran that President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year.

The candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as well as less-known contenders like Florida mayor Wayne Messam and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, all told Al-Monitor that they will seek to rejoin the agreement if elected.

A spokesperson for Warren said that “as long as Iran continues to abide by the terms of the deal, she would return to it as president in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

A Sanders aide said that, “as president, Sen. Sanders would rejoin the JCPOA and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should’ve done instead of simply walking away. Rejoining the JCPOA would mean meeting the United States’ commitments under the agreement, and that includes sanctions relief.”

Harris’ spokesperson said that the senator “would rejoin the Iran deal if the US could verify Iran is not cheating and is complying with the strict requirements detailed in the agreement.”

However, other Democrats like Sens. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke failed to respond to Al-Monitor’s question.

Source: NewsMax

On the Friday edition of the Daily Daily Caller Podcast, we take a look at President Donald Trump’s executive order about free speech on college campuses, but that was not the most important part of what he did Thursday.

Democrats cave to their radical anti-Semitic wing yet again, and a large percentage of Americans have no idea what the First Amendment is. Plus, in our video interview, we talk with Tim Carney from the American Enterprise Institute on his new book, “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.” The audio of the interview is included in the audio version of the whole show, too.

Trump signed an executive order Thursday requiring colleges and universities to protect the First Amendment rights of students and invited speakers if those institutions want to continue to receive federal research grant money. Tens of billions of dollars are at stake, but that’s not the most important aspect of the president’s order.

He’s also requiring the publication of data on the average income of different majors from colleges so students thinking about majoring in various, less-employable fields of study can see exactly what they’re getting into. This could also undercut much of the Democrats’ push for “free college.”

If students know what they’re getting themselves into and willingly take out massive loans for degrees with low-wage jobs awaiting them — if they can find jobs at all — there’s no justification for student loan forgiveness, let alone cost-free tuition.

Democrats have caved, yet again, to their extreme wing of anti-Semitic “progressives.” Every Democrat running for president has announced they will not attend the AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

MoveOn, the left-wing activist group, called on all candidates to boycott the annual meeting of the Jewish group and everyone stepped up to heed the call. Things have changed significantly since the party balked at condemning the anti-Semitism of Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar just a few weeks ago.

A new survey showed a sadly small percentage of Americans have any idea what the First Amendment is. An even larger percentage have no idea what the Bill of Rights is. It’s a damning testament to the state of public education and why Democrats still win election.

Then we talk to Tim Carney about the role big government played in destroying communities across the country, even in times to economic boom. The answers in his new book will surprise you.

Please help spread the word about The Daily Daily Caller Podcast. Please take a minute to rate and review on iTunes, share on social media and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode:

The Daily Daily Caller Podcast is a daily look and mocking of the news from a conservative perspective. Hosted by Derek Hunter, it is available in audio form Monday-Thursday and will have a video option on Fridays.

Derek Hunter is a columnist and contributing editor for The Daily Caller and author of “Outrage, INC: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood” from HarperCollins, available nowPick Up a copy, or several copies, here. Send compliments and complaints to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @derekahunter.

Source: The Daily Caller

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives are scheduled to meet former President Barack Obama on Monday during an introduction event hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi is gathering her caucus’s new members to “celebrate the freshman class of the 116th Congress” and meet the party’s former leader, according to an invitation obtained by Politico. The reception is invitation-only.

Obama has largely stayed out of the spotlight since he left office, though he has been working behind the scenes meeting with prospective and declared candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Obama was instrumental in convincing former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke to launch his own bid for the presidency. Other Democrats that he has sat down with include defeated Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Speculation has been mounting that Obama’s two-term running mate former Vice President Joe Biden will be jumping into the presidential race and is expected to do so as early as April. While he has not formally declared his presidency, he has been polling as the top contender for the Democratic nomination. Biden’s age and his race are seen as a drawback by the left wing of the party, and an endorsement from Obama would boost his candidacy. (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Sees Herself In Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And Ilhan Omar)

The freshman celebratory meet-and-greet will be held at the home of Esther Coopersmith, who most notably served as representative to the United Nations under former President Jimmy Carter.

Follow Molly @mollyfprince

Send tips to [email protected]

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

Democrat Party's candidate Anwar Salae campaigns at a market in Pattani province
Democrat Party’s candidate for Member of Parliament Anwar Salae campaigns at a market in Pattani province, Thailand, March 16, 2019. Picture taken March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Panu Wongcha-um

March 22, 2019

By Panu Wongcha-um

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) – Pateemoh Poh-itaeda-oh, 39, has lost four family members to violence in Thailand’s deep south, where a Muslim separatist movement has fought against rule from Bangkok for 15 years.

Now, she is running for a parliamentary seat in a general election on Sunday, hoping to have a hand in making government policies for the restive region.

Sunday’s vote is broadly seen as a battle between allies of the military junta leader seeking to stay in power and supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a former telecommunication tycoon whose loyalists have won every general election since 2001.

But that divide has a different dynamic in the three southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, which are 80 percent Muslim, while the rest of Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist.

A separatist insurgency has dragged on since 2004, killing more than 6,900 people. In January, two Buddhist monks were shot dead in a suspected insurgent attack.

In previous elections, the deep south was not much courted by politicians seeking national power. But the arrival of several new parties on the political scene, along with stalled peace talks, have stirred interest in the campaign in the south – and enthusiasm to participate among newly minted candidates.

Pateemoh, a Muslim who is a candidate for the pro-junta Action Coalition for Thailand party (ACT), said she got involved because she felt for the first time there was a chance for the concerns of the south to be heard and – possibly – bring an end to the conflict.

“For a long time many Thais have looked at problems in the deep south as a marginal border issue, but this election I have seen changes,” she told Reuters at her party headquarters in Yala province.

Ending the insurgency is deeply personal to her. Three of her brothers and one sister have been shot dead since 2004 in suspected attacks by insurgents, who often target teachers and local officials for working with central government.

“I really want to be a voice in forming policy and solving the conflict issue in the deep south, and people have to remember that women’s voices need to matter in this process,” she said.

SELF-DETERMINATION

The three provinces, and a small part of neighboring Songkhla, were historically part of a Malay Muslim sultanate annexed by Thailand in 1909. Separatist tensions have simmered ever since.

A peace process between the Thai government and insurgent groups has made little headway, with violence still occurring even though the military has been directly in charge of security in the region for 15 years.

In February, Mara Patani, an umbrella organization representing many insurgent groups, said it has suspended all dialogue with Bangkok until after the election.

For decades, the deep south’s small tally of seats – 11 out of 350 being contested in this election – were seen as a reliable bloc for the Democrat Party, the country’s oldest political party that is officially non-aligned in the campaign but could prove crucial in post-vote coalition-building.

But the fresh attention being paid to the region by new parties has stoked pent-up desire for a say among both the pro-government and pro-autonomy camps there, said Samart Thongfhua, a political analyst at Prince of Songkla University in Pattani.

“Generally, people in the deep south are enthusiastic from all sides because they will feel that they can gain justice through democracy,” he said.

RELIGIOUS TENSIONS

This is the first election that a Malay Muslim from the deep south, Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, 74, is a prime ministerial candidate.

Matha, a former house speaker and the leader of Prachachart Party, is a key ally to Thaksin who could help capture votes for the “democratic front” of anti-junta parties in the deep south. Pro-Thaksin parties have in the past performed badly in the region, where he was widely blamed for exacerbating the conflict with harsh tactics when he was in power from 2001 to 2006.

Prachachart has been campaigning greater people’s participation in the region’s governance and peace process.

Analysts predict that no single party will dominate the region, with the Democrats, ACT, Bhumjaithai Party, and two anti-junta parties, Prachachart and Future Forward, all seen as competitive.

All are campaigning for greater autonomy to a varying degree for the restive region, a sensitive issue for the Thai military.

Even talking about greater autonomy alarms the region’s Buddhist minority, and coincides with the emergence on the national stage of the Buddhist nationalist Pandin Dharma Party.

“There is a sentiment that Buddhism is under threat and this has been appealing to many Buddhists here,” Ruckchart Suwan, 54, of the Buddhist Network for Peace told Reuters.

Muslim politicians say more needs to be done to improve relationship between Buddhists and Muslims.

“It is good to hear real grievances from the Buddhists so we can address it properly,” said Worawit Baru, 67, a candidate for Prachachart Party in Pattani province.

“The security forces have brought Buddhists and Muslims together over meals many times and say this represent successful reconciliation,” Worawit said. “These window-dressing approaches must stop and we need the people to speak up.”

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Kay Johnson and Alex Richardson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Sanders speaks in Concord
FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Pete Schroeder and Anna Irrera

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boosting access to the U.S. banking system is emerging as a prominent theme as Democrats tap discontent over income inequality ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, many banks pulled back from their poorest customers. The shift has had lasting costs for millions of Americans now struggling to access mainstream financial services such as checking accounts and credit cards.

Ten years later, Democrats, driven by progressive firebrands like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, see financial inclusion as a draw for voters.

The three Democrats, along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, have advocated for the U.S. Postal Service to provide banking services. Senator Cory Booker has said he wants to ban overdraft fees and Senator Kamala Harris has called for a crackdown on payday lenders.

Gillibrand, Booker, Harris, Sanders and Warren are all running for president.

Humu Issifu, an African-American school worker from Chicago, said overdraft debt led her to close her checking account. Issifu, who now has a savings account, said she felt lawmakers do not care about struggles like hers but they should.

“I think more young students, more people would vote,” Issifu, 26, said.

Unlike other liberal issues such as affordable housing, gun-control and taxing the rich, financial inclusion resonates among two key demographic groups: minorities and the rural Americans who powered Donald Trump into the White House, experts say.

“Candidates … are looking for ways to raise issues that are inherently about racial justice. They want to make sure they are mobilizing black and Latino voters,” said Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director of Action Center on Race & the Economy.

“But they are also looking for things that are common themes for people living in rural communities. Financial inclusion is one of those things that ties together those people.”

Nearly 85 million Americans, predominantly from low-income, rural and minority backgrounds, do not have a bank account or only have access to basic banking services, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation data compiled in 2017.

[See graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ogvxwj]

Both “unbanked” and “underbanked” households spend on average 10 percent of their annual income – as much as the average household spends on food – to access basic services like check cashing or credit, according to a 2014 government study.

“It’s expensive to be poor,” Warren told Reuters in a statement. “We need a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that cracks down on payday lenders … And we need postal banking so people in every community in America have easy and convenient access to basic banking products,” she added.

Beyond overdraft charges, many Americans cannot afford minimum balances, annual fees and ATM fees associated with many bank accounts. The cost of accessing financial services exacerbates the gap between the rich and the poor, a source of rising anger among voters which Democrats have seized upon.

DISCONNECT

“The paradox is that the economy is doing great but there is a disconnect between households and the economy,” said Ida Rademacher, executive director of nonprofit the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program. “A country’s financial system is a key determinant of whether an economy is fair or just.”

A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found 63 percent of U.S. adults believe the economy is unfairly tilted toward the rich and powerful.

“Closing the wealth gap and helping underbanked Americans achieve financial security are top priorities for Senator Gillibrand,” her campaign spokesman said.

Josh Orton, an adviser to Sanders’ campaign, said Sanders had long fought to curb payday lenders and introduce postal banking.

Representatives for Ocasio-Cortez, Booker and Harris did not respond to requests for comment.

Progressives like Warren and Sanders have pushed financial inclusion for years but the issue is getting more traction as progressives gain sway in the Democratic Party, said Mehrsa Baradaran, professor at the University of Georgia who has advised several campaigns.

Nationally, the unbanked and underbanked population has declined since the crisis, driven mainly by wage gains spurred by economic growth, the FDIC found. That improvement has been uneven, with the percentage of unbanked in a dozen states growing between 2013 and 2017, and could reverse if the economy slumps.

While rural households are more likely to encounter barriers accessing financial services, many cities have higher rates of unbanked than the national average, the data shows.

“I could see our life was getting harder and harder because I didn’t have an account,” said Dasan King, 19, a San Francisco movie-theater worker who spent up to 5 percent of his paychecks cashing them until he was able to open a bank account.

King said he was angry about the fees but was skeptical politicians would address the problem.

(Reporting Pete Schroeder in Washington and Anna Irrera in New York; writing and additional reporting by Michelle Price; editing by Neal Templin and Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

Students walk between classes at North Carolina A&T University just to the west of the line that divides Congressional Districts 13 and 6 on campus in Greensboro
FILE PHOTO: Students walk between classes at North Carolina A&T University just to the west of the line that divides Congressional Districts 13 and 6 on campus in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

March 22, 2019

By Marti Maguire

GREENSBORO, N.C. (Reuters) – Before the Republican-led state legislature divided their city and even their college campus into two different districts in a bid to boost the party’s election chances, students like recent graduate Vashti Smith could vote for the Democratic U.S. congressional candidate and know that person could win.

Thanks to partisan gerrymandering – a practice the Supreme Court will examine on Tuesday in two cases that could impact American politics for decades – that is no longer the case. A U.S. House of Representatives district that once covered heavily Democratic Greensboro was reconfigured in 2016, with the voters in the city of 290,000 people inserted into two other districts spanning rural areas with reliable Republican majorities.

In adopting the electoral map, the legislature partitioned the campus of North Carolina A&T State University, the nation’s largest historically black public college, into two separate districts.

“We had one person representing us who shared our beliefs. Now we have two people who don’t really represent us,” said Smith, 24, a 2017 graduate who works with voting-rights group Common Cause, which is among the plaintiffs challenging the new districts.

After decades of electing Democrats to the state’s 12th U.S. House district by wide margins, Greensboro now has been represented by two Republicans, in the redrawn 6th and 13th district seats, since 2016.

Republicans and Democrats over the years have engaged in gerrymandering, manipulating electoral boundaries to entrench one party in power. Critics have said the practice has now become far more effective and insidious due to computer technology and precise voter data, warping democracy.

The reworked districts that helped President Donald Trump’s party gain House seats in North Carolina are part of the historic U.S. Supreme Court fight, along with a single Democratic-drawn House district in Maryland that resulted in a Republican seat flipping to a Democrat.

In separate lawsuits, federal courts in Greensboro and Baltimore last year sided with the challengers in North Carolina and Maryland, ruling that the contested districts violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, the right to free speech and association, or constitutional provisions governing elections.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, due by the end of June, could profoundly impact American elections by either letting courts curb partisan gerrymandering or not allowing them to stop it.

‘THE SYSTEM WE HAVE’

Some Republicans and conservative advocacy groups have rallied behind the North Carolina legislators, arguing there is no constitutional right for a political party’s seat count to be proportional to its percentage of the statewide vote.

“That isn’t the system we have,” said Edward Greim, an attorney specializing in election law who filed a Supreme Court brief on behalf of a national Republican organization.

Centrist Republicans including former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Maryland Governor Larry Hogan are gerrymandering critics, filing a brief to show how the practice “amplifies the voices of partisans and drowns out the voices of moderates.”

In creating the 2016 map, North Carolina’s Republican leaders were open about maintaining a House delegation of 10 Republicans, joking that they would have preferred to make it 11 Republicans if possible in the state’s 13 districts. “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” state House Representative David Lewis said at the time.

Using those words as evidence, more than two dozen Democratic voters, the North Carolina Democratic Party and two groups that advocate for fair elections sued.

For Smith, the new line dividing her campus along Laurel Street meant that each time she walked from her apartment to the library she entered a new district. It also meant, she said, that her vote was drowned out by her new district neighbors.

North Carolina A&T political science professor Derick Smith, whose window looks across the district line, said the boundaries were designed to disrupt a community known for its progressive politics, dating back even before the Greensboro sit-ins that were a key moment in the civil rights movement.

“They’re breaking up a community of common interest to create a partisan advantage for the party drawing the maps,” Smith said.

The Supreme Court last year failed to issue decisive rulings on partisan gerrymandering in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland.

Liberal and conservative justices alike have criticized gerrymandering as a form of partisan skullduggery. But for decades the Supreme Court has been uncertain about federal courts’ authority to curb this inherently political act.

North Carolina’s Republican legislators have said judges are not equipped to determine how much politics is too much in line-drawing. The plaintiffs said closing courthouse doors would embolden map-makers to be even more ruthlessly partisan.

PACKING AND CRACKING

Legislative districts across the country are redrawn to reflect population changes determined by the federal census each decade. In most states, redistricting is done by the party in power, though some assign the task to independent commissions in the interest of fairness.

Gerrymandering is carried out by cramming as many like-minded voters as possible into a small number of districts – called “packing” – and spreading the rest in other districts too thinly to form a majority – called “cracking.”

Greensboro has been at the center of several high profile lawsuits since Republicans won control of the state legislature in 2010, ending nearly a century of Democratic-led redistricting that often riled Republicans.

Republicans adopted a new map in 2011 and won nine or 10 of the state’s 13 House seats in every election since, unreflective of an electorate closely divided between the two parties. Seats were more evenly distributed in the past. In 2010, Democrats captured seven seats to six for the Republicans.

Last year, even though Democrats won roughly half the statewide vote, they won only three of the 13 House seats. Officials ordered a new election for one seat after allegations of ballot fraud favoring the Republican candidate.

The North Carolina case focuses on a 2016 map adopted after a court found that Republican legislators unlawfully used race as a factor when redrawing certain U.S. House districts after the 2010 census.

(Reporting by Marti Maguire; Writing by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

Farmer holds rice in his hand in Khon Kaen province
A farmer holds rice in his hand in Khon Kaen province in northeastern Thailand March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Patpicha Tanakasempipat

March 22, 2019

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panu Wongcha-um

KHON KAEN/SONGKHLA, Thailand (Reuters) – In the rice-growing heartland of Thailand’s northeast, Kamol Suanpanya, 80, meets in the off season with fellow farmers at a community center, where they discuss Sunday’s election, the first after nearly five years of military rule.

Like most in the area, Kamol will vote for Thailand’s largest party, Pheu Thai, whose government was overthrown in 2014. He is loyal because of policies like subsidies and low-cost health care pioneered by ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

“I can tell you I will vote for Pheu Thai again,” said Kamol. “I haven’t changed my mind and I never will.”

Some 1,400 km (870 miles) to the south, a longtime stronghold of the anti-Thaksin Democrat party, rubber farmer Gorneena Pae-arlee isn’t so sure about her vote.

She has voted for the Democrats in the past, but says she will not do so again. Nor does she want junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain prime minister, as the new pro-military Palang Pracharat party is campaigning for.

“I want to vote for change,” said Gorneena, 52, who owns a big rubber plantation in Songkhla province.

Sunday’s general election has been cast as a struggle between democracy and military rule, with Thaksin’s Pheu Thai leading the charge for a “democratic front” against Palang Pracharat, the party backing Prayuth.

The pro-establishment Democrats are seen as a possible kingmaker.

But from north to south, farmers complain about hard times and growing mountains of debt since the military took over.

Many look to the election as a way out for what they say is an economy that seems to be growing but leaving them behind.

NORTH AND SOUTH

Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rubber and second-largest of rice. Farming accounts for 30 percent of the work force, though only about 10 percent of the economy.

The rice-growing northeast and rubber-tapping south reflect the deep divide in Thailand’s polarized politics of the last 15 years.

Thaksin’s “red-shirt” supporters are mostly from the rice-growing northeast and north, whereas southern rubber farmers have come up to Bangkok at different times over the years to join anti-Thaksin “yellow-shirt” protests of middle-class voters who support the military and royalist establishment.

The unrest has led to bloodshed and two military coups, the first toppling former telecoms tycoon Thaksin in 2006, and the last one overthrowing a government that had been led by his sister, Yingluck.

The siblings live in self-exile to avoid convictions – corruption for Thaksin and negligence for Yingluck – handed down after they were ousted. They denied wrongdoing and said the charges were politically motivated.

After almost five years under a junta led by former army chief Prayuth, the rice-and-rubber divide still exists.

But while the north and northeast remain as pro-Thaksin as ever, some southerners said their support for the Democrat Party may be wavering.

LOW CROP PRICES

With new political parties on the scene and the price of rubber languishing, some farmers, like Gorneena, are considering the options.

“Rubber prices have suffered a lot, and nothing has improved under the military. I really want the new government to help fix this,” Gorneena said.

Thai benchmark rubber smoked sheets were trading at around 56.60 baht per kilogram this week, a far cry from a record 198.55 baht in 2011, according to Refinitiv data.

While the south’s rubber farmers are generally better off than their rice-growing counterparts, monthly income in the south declined by 2 percent to 26,913 baht ($850) per household from pre-coup 2013 to 2017.

That contrasts with average national income that grew roughly 7 percent, government data showed.

While several other rubber farmers interviewed said they would stick by the Democrats, a poll by Prince of Songkla University published last week signaled a weakening of their grip.

The poll showed 27 percent preferring the new, progressive Future Forward Party, compared with 24 percent for the Democrat Party, with Pheu Thai coming in at 19 percent and Palang Pracharat at 12 percent. It provided no margin of error.

HIGH DEBT

The plight of farmers from north to south comes as a stark contrast with Thailand’s top 1 percent, who own 66.9 percent of the country’s wealth, according to Credit Suisse’s 2018 Global Wealth Databook.

That makes Thailand the most unequal country in the world.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expanded 4.1 percent in 2018, the fastest in six years. This year, the state planning agency predicts growth of 3.5-4.5 percent.

At the same time, household debt soared to a record 12.56 trillion-baht in the third quarter of 2018, or 77.8 percent of gross domestic product, central bank data showed.

For many Pheu Thai supporters, hard times have led to borrowing and left them pining for the party’s populist policies.

In the northeastern city of Khon Kaen, June Kit-Udom, who at 61 is the sole provider for her family of three, said she quit rice farming a few years ago because prices plunged following the 2014 coup.

She now works seven days a week at a recycling factory for 325 baht ($10.26) a day, but she says the tough work has resulted in spiking hospital bills.

“Life was better under Yingluck’s government. She helped us a lot with cash subsidy. This government gave us nothing,” June said.

Some 3.6 million households in the northeast are in debt, accounting for more than a third of the total, according to data by the National Statistics Office.

The northeast has the highest average debt per household of 179,923 baht ($5,680), and the lowest average income per capita at 6,656 baht ($210) per month.

Addressing inequality should be high on the agenda of the next government, said Thomas Parks, country representative of the Asia Foundation, a non-profit group focusing on development.

“Inequality and regional disparities are one of Thailand’s most fundamental challenges,” he said.

“We expect that any government, regardless of the election outcome, will make this a serious priority.”

(Additional reporting by Orathai Sriring in BANGKOK; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Kay Johnson and Robert Birsel.)

Source: OANN

Farmer holds rice in his hand in Khon Kaen province
A farmer holds rice in his hand in Khon Kaen province in northeastern Thailand March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Patpicha Tanakasempipat

March 22, 2019

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panu Wongcha-um

KHON KAEN/SONGKHLA, Thailand (Reuters) – In the rice-growing heartland of Thailand’s northeast, Kamol Suanpanya, 80, meets in the off season with fellow farmers at a community center, where they discuss Sunday’s election, the first after nearly five years of military rule.

Like most in the area, Kamol will vote for Thailand’s largest party, Pheu Thai, whose government was overthrown in 2014. He is loyal because of policies like subsidies and low-cost health care pioneered by ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

“I can tell you I will vote for Pheu Thai again,” said Kamol. “I haven’t changed my mind and I never will.”

Some 1,400 km (870 miles) to the south, a longtime stronghold of the anti-Thaksin Democrat party, rubber farmer Gorneena Pae-arlee isn’t so sure about her vote.

She has voted for the Democrats in the past, but says she will not do so again. Nor does she want junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain prime minister, as the new pro-military Palang Pracharat party is campaigning for.

“I want to vote for change,” said Gorneena, 52, who owns a big rubber plantation in Songkhla province.

Sunday’s general election has been cast as a struggle between democracy and military rule, with Thaksin’s Pheu Thai leading the charge for a “democratic front” against Palang Pracharat, the party backing Prayuth.

The pro-establishment Democrats are seen as a possible kingmaker.

But from north to south, farmers complain about hard times and growing mountains of debt since the military took over.

Many look to the election as a way out for what they say is an economy that seems to be growing but leaving them behind.

NORTH AND SOUTH

Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rubber and second-largest of rice. Farming accounts for 30 percent of the work force, though only about 10 percent of the economy.

The rice-growing northeast and rubber-tapping south reflect the deep divide in Thailand’s polarized politics of the last 15 years.

Thaksin’s “red-shirt” supporters are mostly from the rice-growing northeast and north, whereas southern rubber farmers have come up to Bangkok at different times over the years to join anti-Thaksin “yellow-shirt” protests of middle-class voters who support the military and royalist establishment.

The unrest has led to bloodshed and two military coups, the first toppling former telecoms tycoon Thaksin in 2006, and the last one overthrowing a government that had been led by his sister, Yingluck.

The siblings live in self-exile to avoid convictions – corruption for Thaksin and negligence for Yingluck – handed down after they were ousted. They denied wrongdoing and said the charges were politically motivated.

After almost five years under a junta led by former army chief Prayuth, the rice-and-rubber divide still exists.

But while the north and northeast remain as pro-Thaksin as ever, some southerners said their support for the Democrat Party may be wavering.

LOW CROP PRICES

With new political parties on the scene and the price of rubber languishing, some farmers, like Gorneena, are considering the options.

“Rubber prices have suffered a lot, and nothing has improved under the military. I really want the new government to help fix this,” Gorneena said.

Thai benchmark rubber smoked sheets were trading at around 56.60 baht per kilogram this week, a far cry from a record 198.55 baht in 2011, according to Refinitiv data.

While the south’s rubber farmers are generally better off than their rice-growing counterparts, monthly income in the south declined by 2 percent to 26,913 baht ($850) per household from pre-coup 2013 to 2017.

That contrasts with average national income that grew roughly 7 percent, government data showed.

While several other rubber farmers interviewed said they would stick by the Democrats, a poll by Prince of Songkla University published last week signaled a weakening of their grip.

The poll showed 27 percent preferring the new, progressive Future Forward Party, compared with 24 percent for the Democrat Party, with Pheu Thai coming in at 19 percent and Palang Pracharat at 12 percent. It provided no margin of error.

HIGH DEBT

The plight of farmers from north to south comes as a stark contrast with Thailand’s top 1 percent, who own 66.9 percent of the country’s wealth, according to Credit Suisse’s 2018 Global Wealth Databook.

That makes Thailand the most unequal country in the world.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expanded 4.1 percent in 2018, the fastest in six years. This year, the state planning agency predicts growth of 3.5-4.5 percent.

At the same time, household debt soared to a record 12.56 trillion-baht in the third quarter of 2018, or 77.8 percent of gross domestic product, central bank data showed.

For many Pheu Thai supporters, hard times have led to borrowing and left them pining for the party’s populist policies.

In the northeastern city of Khon Kaen, June Kit-Udom, who at 61 is the sole provider for her family of three, said she quit rice farming a few years ago because prices plunged following the 2014 coup.

She now works seven days a week at a recycling factory for 325 baht ($10.26) a day, but she says the tough work has resulted in spiking hospital bills.

“Life was better under Yingluck’s government. She helped us a lot with cash subsidy. This government gave us nothing,” June said.

Some 3.6 million households in the northeast are in debt, accounting for more than a third of the total, according to data by the National Statistics Office.

The northeast has the highest average debt per household of 179,923 baht ($5,680), and the lowest average income per capita at 6,656 baht ($210) per month.

Addressing inequality should be high on the agenda of the next government, said Thomas Parks, country representative of the Asia Foundation, a non-profit group focusing on development.

“Inequality and regional disparities are one of Thailand’s most fundamental challenges,” he said.

“We expect that any government, regardless of the election outcome, will make this a serious priority.”

(Additional reporting by Orathai Sriring in BANGKOK; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Kay Johnson and Robert Birsel.)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag is pictured at the Tiergarten park with autumnal trees in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: The Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag is pictured at the Tiergarten park with autumnal trees in Berlin, Germany, November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By John O’Donnell and Michael Nienaber

BERLIN (Reuters) – A political rift has emerged in Berlin over whether Germany should put its financial muscle behind a merger of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, politicians and officials said, complicating a bid to create Europe’s third-largest bank and fund it.

Germany’s two top banks have struggled to recover since the financial crisis and government officials, led by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, are pushing for a merger to create a national banking champion and end questions over their future.

But a dispute is unfolding between the two political parties who govern Germany in coalition, a row that could reduce political momentum for a deal and derail any future agreement on whether or how Berlin should financially underpin a merged group.

One senior German official said that Scholz, a Social Democrat, had “gone it alone” in pushing for the deal without first securing the backing of Christian Democrats (CDU) in the coalition.

That official, who asked not to be named, said some Christian Democrats opposed Scholz’s drive because it could involve the state giving a guarantee on funding or contributing to a capital increase for a merged bank. That would mean Berlin, which already has a 15 percent stake in Commerzbank after a crisis-era bailout, would be on the hook again.

Scholz was the first to publicly reveal the merger talks earlier this month but he has since sought to distance himself from the process, insisting it is up to the companies to decide.

A spokesman said Scholz had “not voiced any position on the merger talks”, declining to comment on possible future government action.

But his stance and the idea of merging the banks have prompted criticism.

“The taxpayer cannot be made liable,” Eckhardt Rehberg, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats bloc, told Reuters. “I’m calling on finance minister Scholz to hold back.”

Within the Social Democrat (SPD) party, attempting to reposition itself closer to regular working Germans as its support dwindles, some oppose a tie-up that trade unions fear will result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

“It is not clear for me how putting two sick banks together will result in a healthy one,” Cansel Kiziltepe, a Social Democrat lawmaker, told Scholz in a closed-door meeting this week, she said.

50:50

Through its stake in Commerzbank, the German government would become a top shareholder in a merged group, playing a central role in any fusion.

Berlin, which pushed the merger talks in the first place, could pull the plug if it believes a deal would be politically unpalatable.

Germany’s continued support is important because it could be called on to contribute to a capital increase for a combined bank.

The bank may need more funds because a tie-up could legally trigger an adjustment in the value of Italian government bonds owned by Commerzbank, to reflect their depleted worth, a second German official has said.

With Berlin as a shareholder, the merged bank would be seen as having an implicit government guarantee of its creditworthiness, cutting its cost of funding.

However, in order for Germany to row in behind Deutsche Bank, there must be political agreement among the two parties, who are at loggerheads on a range of issues.

Gains by the far-left and far-right in Germany have undermined its traditionally consensus-driven politics, with the SPD and CDU now trying to establish a clear distinction between each other.

Regional elections in the coming months could heighten tensions in government further or even trigger a change of parties in charge, further complicating any future state support.

“The finance minister can not give political presents to promote a merger,” Otto Fricke, a parliamentarian from the pro-business FDP party that could become a junior partner in a future coalition government, told Reuters.

Merkel, who will have the final say in Berlin on whether the government should openly support a merger, has kept her cards close to the chest.

Her chief of staff has hinted at one potential hurdle, describing the prospect of thousands of job cuts in a recent interview as difficult.

Harald Christ, a director at the Wirtschaftsforum business lobby group, which has close links to the SPD, said he saw the chances of a merger at “50:50.”

(Additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi and Tom Sims in Frankfurt, Holger Hanson and Andreas Rinke in Berlin; writing By John O’Donnell. Editing by Carmel Crimmins)

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Conservative commentator Mark Levin visited Sean Hannity’s show on Thursday evening to discuss the possibility of 16-year-olds voting and adding justices to the Supreme Court.

“The greatest threat to our constitution and economic system isn’t any foreign power, it’s the Democratic Party,” Levin reacted. “It’s the leftists in the Democratic Party because they use our liberty in our Constitution to destroy our liberty and our Constitution.”

Levin first attacked the “court-packing” advocated by many on the left, which would increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court. “They want to pack the Supreme Court,” he said. “Why? Because they want to fix the outcome! They want to fix the outcome of elections, they want to fix the outcome of court decisions, this is very good banana republic of the Democratic Party.”

The firebrand host then decided to excoriate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to reduce the voting age to 16. “They want to lower the voting age to 16, why not lower it to 12? Or 14? Or 15? How stupid is that? They raised the age for booze, they raised the age for tobacco at 21, but at 16 you’re going to help pick our president? Why are they doing that? Because they indoctrinate all these kids in high school and so forth and they know how they are going to vote.” (RELATED: Poll: Only 17 Percent Support Lowering The Federal Voting Age To 18)

Pelosi advocated lowering the voting age to 16 at her weekly press conference Thursday.

“I myself, personally, I’m not speaking for my caucus, I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” Pelosi said. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government to be able to vote.”

Five candidates in the 2020 Democratic Primary advocated for increasing the number of seats on the Supreme Court in an effort to “depoliticize” the justice approval process.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign was quick to shut down the movement, asserting to The Daily Caller News Foundation that “this is just what the Democrats always do. When they lose, they try to change the rules. This is no different from when they attack the Electoral College every time they lose the White House. Now it’s court-packing. They want to change our institutions to fit their own political desires.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell said that freshman Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “does not represent the Democratic Party” in an interview that aired Thursday night on “Erin Burnett OutFront”.

The clip of the former Pennsylvania governor aired during a story about Keystone State voters, which included interviews with residents from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

WATCH:

“I think, all of a sudden, the 2020 election went from a slam dunk for Democrats to something where we’re going to have trouble beating this guy because he’s going to make democratic socialism swing to the left, which I don’t think is real, but he’s going to make it into the issue,” Rendell stated before adding that “AOC does not speak for the Democratic Party.”

Rendell recently criticized Democratic Party leadership for passing the anti-hate resolution in response to comments made by Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar that many considered to be anti-Semitic. (RELATED: Omar’s Experiences Are ‘More Personal’ Than Children Of Holocaust Survivors)

“I think it should have focused on the anti-Semitism,” Rendell stated on Laura Ingraham’s show earlier this month. “It should have said that Omar made a mistake. Because she did make a mistake. As an American Jew, I can tell you the thing that’s most cutting to me is when people talk about Jews, the money, the benjamins, and us being sneaky people who control things by our money.”

Follow Mike on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

There were some tense moments during an interview President Donald Trump did with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo regarding his continued bashing of the late Sen. John McCain.

Bartiromo sat down with Trump on Thursday for an interview that will air Friday morning. The network released snippets of the interview, including a part about Trump's ongoing feud with McCain — the Republican senator, war hero, and former POW who died last August following a battle with brain cancer.

"You spent a good portion of your time in Ohio the other day trashing John McCain," Bartiromo said. "Sen. John McCain is dead. Why are you doing this?"

Trump replied, "It's not a good portion of my time, it's a very small portion. But if you realize, about three days ago, it came out that his main person gave to the FBI the fake news dossier. It was a fake, it was a fraud, it was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They gave it to John McCain, who gave it to the FBI for very evil purposes. That's not good.

"And the other thing, he voted against repeal and replace [Obamacare]. Now, he's been campaigning for years for repeal and replace. I'm not a fan. After all of this time, think of this. Repeal and replace. We would've had great healthcare."

Bartiromo then pushed back, reiterating the point McCain is no longer living.

"But Mr. President, he's dead. He can't punch back. I know you punch back, but he's dead," she said.

Trump then got more defensive, saying, "I don't talk about it. People ask me the question. I didn't bring this up. You just brought it up. You asked the question."

Bartiromo interjected and replied, "You talked about it this week."

Trump then repeated his point about the press asking him about McCain rather than him bringing up the topic — despite the fact Trump tweeted disparaging remarks about McCain last weekend and also spoke ill of him, unprompted, during a speech Wednesday.

"You asked me the question. When I went out yesterday to the [press] scrum, they asked me the question. When they ask me the question, I answer the question. But you people bring it up, I don't bring it up," Trump told Bartiromo.

"I'm not a fan, he was horrible what he did with repeal and replace. What he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people that could've had great healthcare was not good. So I'm not a fan of John McCain, and that's fine."

Source: NewsMax

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

ICE detainment centers have become so overwhelmed with illegal aliens that the agency has been forced to release over 100,000 migrant family members in the past three months.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nathalie Asher, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, revealed that her agency has had to reallocate resources as it deals with a “crushing” surge of illegal aliens on the country’s southern border. ICE has not only been forced to reduce its activity in the interior of the U.S., but the agency’s overcrowded detainment centers have released 107,000 migrant family members in the past three months, averaging more than 1,000 illegals a day.

“What you’re looking at is our interior arrests have been affected,” Asher said, explaining why ICE arrests have dropped in the past few months. She said her agency is redirecting manpower to their first priority: “addressing what has been occurring and continues to occur at an alarming rate at the border.”

ICE arrests have dropped 12 percent between Oct. 1 and Dec. 29 of last year, according to the agency’s latest statistics released Thursday. Agents arrested 34,546 during this time period.

At the same time, an overburdened ICE has released thousands of detainees into the country by the week, requiring only some of them to carry GPS tracking devices or a summons to appear in court.

The number of border apprehensions have been climbing, with the Department of Homeland Security expecting March to be their highest in over ten years.

“I want to cut through the politics today to tell you loud and clear: There is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our southern border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday during a speech at George Washington University. “The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis, to a national emergency, to a near system-wide meltdown.”

The Wider Image:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Immigration enforcement officials arrested about 75,000 foreign nationals in February, and expect to apprehend nearly 100,000 by the end March, which would be the highest number of apprehensions since 2007. (RELATED: The Amount Of Meth Pouring Across The US Southern Border Is Skyrocketing)

“The system is breaking, and our communities, our law enforcement personnel, and the migrants themselves are paying the price,” Nielsen continued on Monday.

The comments from Nielsen and Asher are in stark contrast to a number of Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump who have argued that the border crisis is “manufactured.”

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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

ICE detainment centers have become so overwhelmed with illegal aliens that the agency has been forced to release over 100,000 migrant family members in the past three months.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nathalie Asher, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, revealed that her agency has had to reallocate resources as it deals with a “crushing” surge of illegal aliens on the country’s southern border. ICE has not only been forced to reduce its activity in the interior of the U.S., but the agency’s overcrowded detainment centers have released 107,000 migrant family members in the past three months, averaging more than 1,000 illegals a day.

“What you’re looking at is our interior arrests have been affected,” Asher said, explaining why ICE arrests have dropped in the past few months. She said her agency is redirecting manpower to their first priority: “addressing what has been occurring and continues to occur at an alarming rate at the border.”

ICE arrests have dropped 12 percent between Oct. 1 and Dec. 29 of last year, according to the agency’s latest statistics released Thursday. Agents arrested 34,546 during this time period.

At the same time, an overburdened ICE has released thousands of detainees into the country by the week, requiring only some of them to carry GPS tracking devices or a summons to appear in court.

The number of border apprehensions have been climbing, with the Department of Homeland Security expecting March to be their highest in over ten years.

“I want to cut through the politics today to tell you loud and clear: There is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our southern border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday during a speech at George Washington University. “The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis, to a national emergency, to a near system-wide meltdown.”

The Wider Image:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Immigration enforcement officials arrested about 75,000 foreign nationals in February, and expect to apprehend nearly 100,000 by the end March, which would be the highest number of apprehensions since 2007. (RELATED: The Amount Of Meth Pouring Across The US Southern Border Is Skyrocketing)

“The system is breaking, and our communities, our law enforcement personnel, and the migrants themselves are paying the price,” Nielsen continued on Monday.

The comments from Nielsen and Asher are in stark contrast to a number of Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump who have argued that the border crisis is “manufactured.”

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc entered a guilty plea Thursday after being accused of subjecting multiple high-profile Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump to pipe bomb scares in 2018.

Sayoc had previously pleaded not guilty, reported NBC News.

“I know that these actions were wrong and I’m sorry,” Sayoc said as he entered his new plea in front of a federal judge in Manhattan. (RELATED: Woman Who Climbed Statue Of Liberty To Protest Trump Sentenced To 5 Years Probation)

The 57-year-old Florida man could spend the rest of his life in prison after allegedly making more than a dozen IEDs from PVC pipes packed with explosive material and shards of glass. He’s accused of sending them to national figures, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The package scares occurred in October 2018.

Cesar Altieri Sayoc appears in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. in this August 31, 2005 handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 26, 2018. Hennepin County SheriffÕs Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS

Cesar Altieri Sayoc appears in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. in this August 31, 2005 handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 26, 2018. Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

A federal grand jury charged Sayoc on a 30-count indictment in November 2018. The charges include five counts of using a weapon of mass destruction, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, and five counts of interstate transportation of an explosive. Each of the latter counts could mean 20 years in prison.

Sayoc was living in a van “plastered with stickers praising Trump and attacking the media” when he was arrested in Florida, reported NBC News.

The intended recipients of the package included:

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Cesar Altieri Sayoc appears in a police booking photo
Cesar Altieri Sayoc appears in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. in this August 31, 2005 handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 26, 2018. Hennepin County SheriffÕs Office/Handout via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Florida man pleaded guilty on Thursday to criminal charges in connection with the mailing of bombs to prominent Democrats and other critics of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Cesar Sayoc, 57, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan federal court.

Among the charges were using a weapon of mass destruction, mailing explosives with an intent to kill or injure, and transporting explosives across state lines.

Sayoc, a part-time pizza deliveryman, grocery worker and former stripper, was arrested in October after a four-day manhunt.

At the time, Sayoc had been living in a white van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, the slogan “CNN SUCKS” and images of Democratic leaders with red cross-hairs over their faces.

Prosecutors accused Sayoc of mailing bombs through the U.S. Postal Service to Democrats such as former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

Other targets included actor Robert De Niro and former Central Intelligence Agency directors John Brennan and James Clapper, who have criticized Trump, and Democratic donors George Soros and Tom Steyer, prosecutors said. Trump is a Republican.

The bombs were sent in manila envelopes lined with bubble wrap and consisted of plastic 6-inch pipes packed with explosive material and wired to small clocks and batteries, according to prosecutors. All were intercepted before reaching their intended targets, and none exploded.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

The Maryland General Assembly voted Wednesday to approve a state $15 minimum wage, sending the bill to GOP Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for final approval, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Hogan has opposed raising the current $10.10 minimum wage by a nearly 50 percent increase. The bill passed Maryland’s legislature with enough votes to overcome an executive veto, all but ensuring the bill’s eventual implementation.

The bill would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour incrementally by Jan. 1, 2025, for employers with 15 or more workers. All other employers will have until July 1, 2026, before seeing the law’s full effect.

Implementing a $15 minimum wage would “harm our state’s economy,” Hogan said, noting that surrounding states with lower minimums might attract businesses out of Maryland and place “tens of thousands” of people out of work, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: Almost Three-Quarters Of Economists Say A $15 Minimum Wage Is A Bad Idea)

Some Democrats in the legislature say the law does not go far enough. The bill is a compromise and more progressive members of the assembly wanted to see a higher minimum and a quicker timeline. The bill also has some exemptions such as for tipped and agriculture workers.

“This bill is not perfect,” Democratic state Sen. James Rosapepe told the AP. “But the House and the Senate, working together, have come up with a big step in the right direction — that looks out for small businesses, that moves as fast as we can with the fact that we have to get the votes that we needed.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference on "Raise the Wage Act" legislation on Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference on “Raise the Wage Act” legislation on Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The $15 minimum wage gained popular support among Democratic politicians and progressive labor groups. Democratically run states and cities, such as Illinois and New York City, embraced the policy to give low-wage workers a livable wage.

Business groups and economists generally oppose minimum wage increases as a means to help people earning lower incomes or in poverty. The increased minimum makes each open job more competitive and harder to get by low-skilled workers. Employers are less likely train someone while paying such a high wage.

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Nick Sherman | Contributor

Several economists and researchers predict that President Donald Trump would win the 2020 election, according to a report by Politico.

The report, written by Politico’s Ben White and Steven Shepard, cited multiple economic models that claim Trump would “likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide.”

One researcher, Donald Luskin, who is the chief investment officer for TrendMacrolytics, said in an interview with Politico that “the economy is just so damn strong right now and by all historic precedent the incumbent should run away with it.”

Luskin predicted Trump’s win in 2016 based on his economic models. An economist, Ray Fair of Yale also predicted Trump’s victory in 2016 according to this type of economic model.

Fair predicts that Trump will win the 2020 election with 54 percent of the popular vote while the Democrats will only garner 46 percent, according to the Politico interview. (RELATED: Michael Moore Predicts Trump Wins In 2020 If Dems Run Politician Against Him)

Fair is a pioneer in this type of election forecasting, using a formula model to predict the outcomes of elections.

Fair’s model states that presidential incumbents have an advantage in an election and that the state of the economy also affects the outcome of an election. He also says that voters are less likely to vote for a party that has held the White House for two terms.

The report also included Mark Zandi, who is the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, who also predicted that Trump would win in 2020.

According to the Politico piece, Zandi tested 12 different economic models for the upcoming presidential race. He says Trump won all 12, and was “quite comfortable in most of them.”

Zandi has also been a critic of Trump stating that he thinks the U.S. economy under Trump “is a trainwreck waiting to happen,” and has criticized the president’s immigration policy. (RELATED: Economists Predict Recession Durin 2020 Election)

In Zandi’s models, he uses gas prices, unemployment, other political variables and popularity, as well as looking at economic factors on the state level to forecast the outcome of the election, as reported by Politico.

Source: The Daily Caller

Mary Margaret Olohan | Reporter

Christopher Scalia, son of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said packing the Supreme Court is partially unconstitutional and might be a Democratic ploy of intimidation.

“It’s pretty clear that one element of what some of the candidates are suggesting is just unconstitutional,” he said on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Wednesday.

Scalia was referencing the idea of packing the court: that the Supreme Court should have 15 members, five of whom would “only be seated by unanimous agreement of the other 10,” presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg previously told Fox.

Buttigieg, also a mayor from Indiana, along with 2020 Democratic hopefuls Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke, expressed some “openness” to expanding the Supreme Court, according to The Washington Post(RELATED: Court-Packing Emerges As Litmus Test In 2020 Democratic Primary)

WATCH:

The problem with packing the court, Scalia said, is that “Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution makes very clear that the president has the power and authority to nominate and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint Supreme Court justices. So, I mean, I don’t know what … these candidates are talking about, but they certainly can’t have justices appoint their colleagues.”

Scalia added justices appointing their colleagues would require a constitutional amendment.

“I just don’t think [it] has a snowball’s chance anywhere of being ratified,” he said.

Scalia suggested Democrats might be copying a strategy used by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was trying to introduce the New Deal — that of intimidating the Supreme Court into doing what they want.

“When FDR did that — or when he tried to do that — it didn’t go over very well,” Scalia said.

“So he didn’t get more justices, but he did get a lot of what he wanted done, done. It’s possible that the Democrats, just by raising this threat of packing the Court, are trying to do something similar.”

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  • Robert Mueller is widely believed to be close to turning over a report of his Russia investigation to the Justice Department.
  • The report will be the culmination of perhaps the most closely watched investigation in U.S. history.
  • Will the report be made public? When will it drop? Here is a primer on what happens next.

With the Mueller report expected to drop any day, here is a guide to what the special counsel investigated and how this heavily anticipated document will be released.

Spoiler alert: A lot of questions about the report’s release and its contents have no clear answer. That’s largely a function of the lack of leaks from the special counsel’s office and the stoic approach Mueller has taken during the 22-month investigation.

When will the report be finished?

All signs point to Mueller nearing the very end of the investigation.

Several top prosecutors working on the investigation are leaving the special counsel’s office, including Andrew Weissmann and Zainab Ahmad. Weissmann was the lead prosecutor on Mueller’s case against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was sentenced to prison on charges related to his work for the Ukrainian government.

Reporters have also seen Mueller team members removing boxes of files from their offices in Washington, D.C.

The grand jury Mueller used in the investigation has also reportedly not heard from witnesses since Jan. 24, the same day Trump confidant Roger Stone was indicted.

What happens when Mueller finishes the report?

Once Mueller finalizes his report, he is expected to notify Attorney General William Barr. What happens then is up in the air.

Barr could announce that he has received the report, or he could provide portions of it directly to leaders on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

William Barr testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general of the United States on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Congressional sources familiar with those committees’ business say they are as in the dark as anyone else about how the process will unfold. Barr could announce he has the Mueller document before or after he informs Congress. He could avoid a public announcement and inform Congress that Mueller concluded the investigation.

What will be in the report?

As with most questions about Mueller’s findings, it is unclear what he will actually say in the document provided to Barr.

Barr testified at his confirmation hearing that under the current statute governing special counsels, Mueller will be required to provide a summary of his findings to the Justice Department along with a rationale for any decisions to decline specific prosecutions.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation since its inception May 17, 2017, recently laid out what information Barr is legally required to share with Congress.

“If the special counsel proposes to take an action and is overruled by the attorney general … we’re required to report that to the Congress,” he said at an event Feb. 25.

The report might also be hindered by legal restrictions against indicting sitting presidents. But Mueller could, if he sees fit, suggest areas where Trump could face impeachment proceedings.

What will the public see? 

That also remains unclear.

Barr could release as much of the report as he wants, but he is first expected to write a summary of Mueller’s findings.

Whatever documents are eventually made public are likely to contain redactions for classified information. It is also unlikely that the report will contain any information gleaned from grand jury testimony.

Legal observers cautioned the public against expecting Mueller to lay out all of the details of his investigation. But they also said it is unlikely Mueller and Barr can completely avoid explaining whether or not Trump colluded with Russia or obstructed justice.

Congressional Democrats vowed to subpoena the report if Barr withholds it. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff also pledged to subpoena Mueller if details of the report are withheld from Congress.

What will Trump do?

The answer to that question likely hinges on what the report says.

Trump has given mixed signals about how he will handle Mueller’s findings. He said Wednesday that the public should see the document, but he added that he would like to review it beforehand.

“Let it come out. Let people see it,” he said, before adding that the final decision is up to Barr.

The Republican has long decried the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”

What has Mueller investigated?

Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017, eight days after President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director. A former FBI director himself, Mueller inherited “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s code name for the counterintelligence investigation into Trump campaign associates’ possible ties to Russia.

FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016. The probe targeted Trump aides George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Manafort and Michael Flynn.

After Comey’s firing, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe expanded the probe to include Trump himself. McCabe ordered an investigation into whether Trump himself was a Russian agent as well as whether he obstructed justice by firing Comey.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to sign an executive order on veterans suicide prevention in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to sign an executive order on veterans suicide prevention in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Mueller’s investigation has expanded in numerous directions since its beginning.

He indicted or secured guilty pleas from 34 individuals, including six Trump associates. But so far, none of the indictments have involved coordination between Trump associates and Russians.

Mueller indicted 25 Russian operatives accused of hacking Democrats’ emails or planting disinformation on social media networks.

Four Trump associates — George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and Michael Cohen — pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation.

Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, was indicted Jan. 24 on seven counts related to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. Mueller’s team alleges Stone lied about his communications with associates and Trump campaign officials regarding WikiLeaks. (RELATED: Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted In Mueller Probe)

Manafort was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on a variety of charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine.

Mueller also secured guilty pleas from Alex van der Zwaan and Richard Pinedo, both of whom appear to have no direct links to Trump. Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner suspected of having links to Russian intelligence, was also indicted on witness tampering charges.

Has Mueller found any evidence of collusion?

Most of what Mueller has found in his investigation remains secret, but some clues have come out through the numerous indictments and guilty pleas secured during the probe.

And so far, none of those cases revealed evidence that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russians to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The source of the collusion conspiracy theory — the Steele dossier — has come under intense scrutiny since it was published in January 2017.

The dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and Russian government, accused Page, Cohen and Manafort of conspiring with Kremlin officials to influence the election. The dossier also alleged that the Russian government was blackmailing Trump with video of him with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.

Circumstantial evidence has cut against the Steele dossier. Page has appeared before Mueller’s grand jury, but has not been charged with any crimes. Prosecutors have never accused Manafort of conspiring with Russia, even though he has already been sentenced in two cases brought by Mueller’s team.

Cohen, who is a cooperating witness for Mueller, undercut the dossier’s most specific allegation about collusion during congressional testimony in February.

The former Trump fixer testified under oath Feb. 27 that he has never visited Prague. The dossier claims Cohen visited there in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials to discuss paying off Russian hackers.

Are more indictments on the way?

This is another question that remains to be seen. Trump critics have held out hope that Mueller will issue a barrage of indictments against Trump family members like Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner just as he submits his report to the Justice Department.

Mueller has investigated a variety of areas that have so far not resulted in indictments. Mueller’s prosecutors also offered a plea deal to Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist who was in close contact with Stone during the 2016 campaign. Corsi has said Mueller believes he might have had contact during the campaign with WikiLeaks, the group that published emails stolen from Democrats.

Mueller’s grand jury heard testimony from Corsi’s stepson on the same day the indictment against Stone was handed down.

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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A number of renewable energy executives and leaders have not completely embraced the Green New Deal, fearing the divisive proposal would cause more harm than good.

Despite a seemingly huge benefit to their bottom line if the resolution were to be implemented, numerous executives working in the renewable energy sector expressed reservations when speaking to Reuters about the Green New Deal. The proposal, they argued, lacks feasibility and openly supporting it would likely upset half of the country.

“If you just broadly endorse the Green New Deal, you are liable to upset one side of the aisle or the other. And that’s not constructive,” stated Tom Werner, the CEO of one of the country’s largest solar power companies, SunPower Corp. “The idea that you could go 100 percent (clean energy) in 10 years would require a lot of things happening perfectly, simultaneously.”

Werner was far from the only renewable energy executive to draw distance from New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s signature proposal.

“We love the enthusiasm the Green New Deal has brought to the climate issue … but we need to operate in political reality,” stated Dan Whitten, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s vice president of public affairs. His association serves as the main lobby group for solar companies.

The president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Greg Wetstone, said the deal is controversial because it “creates controversy and complexity, tying this to issues that are not in our sphere.” Westone took umbrage with the fact the resolution encompasses more than renewable energy, such as a job guarantees for everyone.

Alex McDonough, Sunrun’s vice president of public policy, lauded the Green New Deal for sparking an “important conversation” but refrained from explicitly endorsing the resolution. Other clean energy executives expressed reservations about the controversy that comes with the Green New Deal brand.

Employees work at Veolia’s solar panel recycling plant in Rousset

Employees work at Veolia’s solar panel recycling plant in Rousset, France, June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

The big factor, many solar and wind executives argue, is the bipartisan appeal renewable energy is gaining across the country.

Solar and wind technology, no longer confined to the liberal enclaves of California and New England, is spreading across more Republican-leaning states within the heartland. Endorsement for such a contentious resolution could agitate local GOP lawmakers who are needed to promote clean energy legislation.

Republicans in Washington, D.C., have lampooned the Green New Deal since it was revealed in February. The plan calls for a 100 percent shift to renewal energy within a few years’ time and elimination of the fossil fuel industry. It supports a number of other progressive initiatives that have nothing to do with the energy industry. Numerous Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are not supportive of the proposal. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Promises To Offset CO2 From His Private Jet Flights)

Despite questions over feasibility, a number of Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed the Green New Deal, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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In a time when the Democratic Party has been increasingly caving to the far-left outrage mobs online, why is a candidate like Robert O’Rourke even trying?

Sure, he has the mainstream media in a love fest, and he’s raking in the donations, but the current state of the Democratic Party is based on a totem-pole of victimhood. White men are at the bottom, and widely mocked and despised for their perceived “lack of oppression.”

The day before his announcement, O’Rourke received a glowing cover story in Vanity Fair that was easily worth a million dollars in free press. It was all there in the photoshoot, the cute dog, the pick up truck. He’s “every man.” He’s the good guy from Texas that you want to have a barbeque with and whose children play on your kid’s soccer team.

This may have been a grand slam political strategy in the 1990s, even early 2000s, but does he have a chance now?

It turns out that while some reporters are eating out of O’Rourke’s very white hand, many in the increasingly identity-obsessed pundit class are not as impressed.

For instance, on CNN last week, the network hammered the Texan for his “white maleness” 52 times in one day. Their race-baiting coverage on the first full day after his announcement that he is running was glaring.

“This is seen as a moment by some where Democrats want to nominate either a woman or a minority. Beto O’Rourke is neither of those things,” CNN’s New Day co-host John Berman explained. Later in the same show, his co-host Alisyn Camerota expressed a similar sentiment, saying “one of the big debates is whether 2020 is the year of the white man.”

CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin, in a show later that day, moaned that O’Rourke’s comments about how he was “born” to be in the race “sort of drips of white, male privilege.”

There has been far less discussion of his policies, such as supporting abortion until birth, than about the color of his skin and what is in between his legs.

During AC360, Anderson Cooper seemed like he was finally about to discuss his policies, saying “O’Rourke is, if you look at his record, a moderate,” before adding, “he is also a white male.”

Not only is O’Rourke a white male, he’s also got “class privilege” going against him.

The Houston Chronicle reports that, “on the city council, he was accused of conflicts of interest in 2006 for pushing an urban renewal plan involving his wealthy father-in-law, a multi-national real estate investor once described as ‘the richest man in El Paso.’”

The report added that O’Rourke “has reported a net worth of about $9 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.” The man he unsuccessfully attempted to challenge, Senator Ted Cruz, has a net worth of about $3.8 million.

In his early life, O’Rourke went to Woodberry Forest School, a private, all-male boarding school in the Virginia countryside. Notable alumni include George H.W. Bush’s son.

Despite being seeped in privilege, and having half the media fawning over him and half upset that a white man would dare to run for office, O’Rourke managed to raise more money than any other Democratic presidential candidate in the first 24 hours after his official announcement. He raised a whopping $6.1 million in online donations, while Bernie Sanders, the previous populist-left darling raised $5.9 million and establishment-favorite Kamala Harris only raised $1.5 million in that time.

So what is the media to do, in an age of oppression Olympics? Surely, a rich white male can’t possibly become the nominee — no matter how popular he may be.

Things are looking so glib for him that he had to spend both his second and third day on the campaign trail apologizing. It was so bad that the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The identity left is carving him up like a Texas steak before he gets to Donald Trump.”

First O’Rourke was forced to apologize for joking that his wife has been raising their three kids “sometimes with my help.” Next, he had to apologize for saying that he was “born to be in it,” which was seen as further proof of his “white male privilege.” Soon, he was apologizing for fictional pieces that he wrote as a teenager. Imagine apologizing for writing weird fiction as a teenager?

He’s being forced to apologize for everything by the social justice mobs and it makes him look weak.

One thing is certain: it will be interesting to watch as the Democratic Party attempts to balance both their identity politics obsessed base and their desire to boost this new white version of President Obama.

Adam Weiss is the CEO of AMW PR, a New York political strategy and communications firm. His firm has represented Kimberly Guilfoyle, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Anthony Scaramucci and more.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is urging all 2020 presidential candidates to release their tax returns for the past 10 years.

"Four years after Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president, we have still not seen his tax returns, despite reporting that suggests that those returns may show evidence of criminality and despite the fact that releasing them would be one of the best ways to illuminate potential conflicts of interest," the watchdog group said in a statement on its website.

CREW called on all presidential candidates to release their returns from at least the past 10 years "so that all Americans can compare what each candidate has released and read the returns themselves."

The group is tracking which 2020 candidates have released their returns.

CREW's call for tax returns was detailed in a report by The Hill. It noted so far only two Democrats have released at least 10 years of returns – Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Meanwhile, The Hill reported House Democrats plan to try to get Trump's tax returns by requesting them from the Treasury Department.

Source: NewsMax

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is urging all 2020 presidential candidates to release their tax returns for the past 10 years.

"Four years after Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president, we have still not seen his tax returns, despite reporting that suggests that those returns may show evidence of criminality and despite the fact that releasing them would be one of the best ways to illuminate potential conflicts of interest," the watchdog group said in a statement on its website.

CREW called on all presidential candidates to release their returns from at least the past 10 years "so that all Americans can compare what each candidate has released and read the returns themselves."

The group is tracking which 2020 candidates have released their returns.

CREW's call for tax returns was detailed in a report by The Hill. It noted so far only two Democrats have released at least 10 years of returns – Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Meanwhile, The Hill reported House Democrats plan to try to get Trump's tax returns by requesting them from the Treasury Department.

Source: NewsMax

FILE PHOTO: Middle East summit in Warsaw
FILE PHOTO: White House adviser Jared Kushner looks on during the Middle East summit in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic head of a U.S. congressional investigative panel on Thursday pressed the White House for information on whether President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, used the unofficial WhatsApp messaging tool to communicate sensitive or classified information with foreign leaders.

U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings made the request in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, which was seen by Reuters.

In the letter, Cummings noted that Kushner’s lawyer had told Congress in December that Kushner used WhatsApp as part of his official duties but did not say whether such messages included classified information.

The congressman also said the lawyer told his committee that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife, continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal email account.

Cummings said in his letter that a law governing presidential records prohibits top White House officials, including the president and vice president, from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

Cummings said that when it was under Republican control in March 2017, his committee started investigating whether White House officials were using personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.

He said that Trump’s White House had so far failed to provide documents and information and was “obstructing” his committee’s efforts to investigate possible violations of White House policy and the presidential records law.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Lighthizer testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testifies at a House Ways and Means Committee on U.S.-China trade in Washington U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 21, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s plans for trade negotiations with the United States fall far short of what is required and any idea of delaying formal talks would not work, the U.S. ambassador to the EU said on Thursday.

The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals on behalf of the 28 EU countries, has presented two negotiating mandates to governments for approval, one on reducing tariffs on industrial goods, the other on making it easier for companies to clear their products for sale on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The mandate that is being circulated falls far short of what even (Commission) President Juncker and President Trump discussed in July in Washington. The idea was to have a wide-ranging conversation about all aspects of our relationship,” Gordon Sondland told an AmCham business conference in Brussels.

The EU and the United States ended months of standoff in July when President Donald Trump agreed with Jean-Claude Juncker not to hit EU car imports with extra tariffs while the two sides worked on improving economic ties.

EU governments have failed so far to agree on launching formal trade talks, Germany pressing for a quick start, and France bidding for more time.

Stalling, said Sondland, would have consequences.

“The more the EU leadership plays the delay game the more we will have to use leverage to realign the relationship,” he said.

Some in Europe, he said, believed they could simply wait for a new U.S. president, but this tactic would not work.

“The (U.S.) Democrats disagree with President Trump on many issues…. but when it comes to fixing our trade imbalance with the EU there is no daylight between (us), none,” he said.

A key part of the July agreement was to remove import duties on “non-auto industrial goods”. The EU has said cars should be included and rejected Washington’s demand that agriculture should feature in talks too.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that discussions were at a “complete stalemate”.

The EU says progress has been made – its two negotiating mandates, discussions of possible regulatory cooperation and the doubling of U.S. soybean imports into Europe since July, although mainly because they are cheaper than rival imports.

Sondland repeated the U.S. line that agriculture had to be part of trade discussions, but acknowledged that the two sides could build up deals piece by piece, as long as they did move though the issues.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

The Oklahoma sheriff who resigned Monday over dangerous conditions in the county jail, including carbon monoxide buildup, was replaced with an interim sheriff Wednesday.

Former Nowata County Sheriff Terry Sue Barnett resigned after a judge mandated she reopen the jail, something Barnett characterized as “just wrong” in a statement, according to NBC News. County commissioners named Mirta “Mickey” Hallett, a retired major with the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office, as Barnett’s interim replacement Wednesday, reported the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise.

Four sheriff’s office employees were sent to the emergency room in late February due to high levels of carbon monoxide at the jail, reported NBC News. Inmates were transferred to neighboring Washington County, where they remained as of Wednesday. (RELATED: Democrats Want To Investigate Former Operator Of The Spa Entangled In Robert Kraft Scandal. The Reason Why Is Not What You’d Think)

“I’ve said from the beginning that if I became sheriff, I would serve the citizens by standing up and doing the right things,” Barnett said in a statement. “This is just wrong, and I wasn’t going to put human beings in that jail until we knew what was going on.”

Mirta Hallett was appointed interim sheriff of Nowata County in Oklahoma on Feb. 20, 2019. YouTube screenshot/KJRH-TV

Mirta Hallett was appointed interim sheriff of Nowata County in Oklahoma on Feb. 20, 2019. YouTube screenshot/KJRH-TV

Barnett was not the only member of the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office to resign over reportedly uninhabitable jail conditions, including black mold and exposed wiring near the showers, according to NBC News. Twelve people resigned (including K-9 officer Ranger, who signed his resignation letter with a paw print), and now the office is down to just five people on staff.

Nowata District Judge Carl Gibson had told Barnett last week she would be held in contempt of court if she did not return more than 12 inmates to the county jail. She refused, in part because no one has gotten to the bottom of the high carbon monoxide level, which Barnett said was nearly lethal on Feb. 28, according to NBC News.

Barnett’s county is the third poorest in Oklahoma.

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Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Sen. Bernie Sanders pledged to offset carbon emissions from his 2020 presidential campaign travel by donating contributions to renewable energy projects.

“Bernie Sanders is a champion in the fight for climate justice and, like him, we know we need to address our emissions through action, not just rhetoric,” Sanders’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir told HuffPost in a statement. “We are proud to lead the way in the fight against climate change by acting boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable energy sources.”

The pledge follows a March 15 announcement that Sanders’s campaign would be the first presidential campaign to unionize under organized labor. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Campaign Will Be The First To Unionize)

Sanders has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to travel across the country on private jets during past campaigns. During his 2018 Senate re-election campaign, the Vermont senator spent roughly $300,000 on private jets alone. After losing the 2016 presidential primary to Hillary Clinton, Sanders spent about $100,000 from Clinton’s campaign funds on private jet travel to stump for the Democratic nominee.

Sanders is touting his progressive bona fides in an increasingly crowded Democratic primary field. Sanders is making early attempts to lock up his base against fellow Democrats who are increasingly showing favor to progressive positions.

Democratic presidential candidates Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have all expressed openness to packing the Supreme Court with liberal justices to influence decisions.

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Source: The Daily Caller

William Davis | Contributor

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke joined the chorus of Democrats and Republicans criticizing President Donald Trump for his renewed attacks on the late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Trump has sharply criticized McCain in recent days for his decision to turn over the unverified Steele dossier to the FBI in 2016 — as well as his decisive vote against a bill to repeal Obamacare in 2017. Trump said of the Senate icon, “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.” (RELATED: Lou Dobbs Defends Trump Against GOP Critics Over McCain Comments)

O’Rourke responded on the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Thursday, praising McCain for sticking up for then-Senator Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign after a woman made racist comments against the Democratic Nominee. (RELATED: The Media Is Lavishing Praise On McCain After His Passing, But Look At What It Had To Say When He Ran Against Obama)

“I just keep going back to Sen. McCain himself and the example that he set for all of us, running for the presidency in 2008,” O’Rourke said. “That kind of dignity and civility, and mutual respect in our politics is missing right now.”

“The bar was really set by Sen. McCain,” O’Rourke said. “He really was extraordinary in that way.”

Elected officials from both parties have taken Trump to task for his attacks on McCain, and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently announced his intentions to reintroduce a bill to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after the 6-term Arizona Senator.

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Source: The Daily Caller

John Lott | President, Crime Prevention Research Center

Ever since the 2016 campaign, Democrats and the media have asserted that President Trump has failed to distance himself from white nationalists and neo-Nazis. The fact that White House staffers must answer these questions shows how far out of kilter the discussion has gone.

A Monday headline in the Washington Post read: “Trump’s top staffer doesn’t believe his boss is a white supremacist. Many Americans disagree.” Acting White House Chief of staff Mick Mulvaney left no equivocation: “The president is not a white supremacist.”

On the Sunday edition of CNN’s State of the Union, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) claimed that President Trump “needs to do better” at condemning white nationalism. “The leadership, the administration — when they continue to stay silent, it’s going to increase,” said Tlaib.

Host Jake Tapper agreed: “I don’t think moderate Republicans are doing enough to hold President Trump accountable for his rhetoric.”

Last August, Bloomberg ran the headline, “Trump Still Fails to Condemn Racism a Year After Charlottesville.” The article went on to claim, “He has refused to distance himself from white supremacists like Duke.”

These media depictions are so extreme that they are easily proven false. If Trump “stayed silent” and really “refused to distance himself,” there shouldn’t be any statements to the contrary. Yet, there are dozens of them.

Take this exchange with a reporter a couple of days after the Charlottesville riots in 2017.

TRUMP: Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. . . . I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.  

REPORTER: I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?  

TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. . . .

So what exactly is unclear? It’s hard to see how any rational person could think that Trump wasn’t condemning neo-Nazis. Was “very bad people” not strong enough? Should he have said, “very, very bad people”?

Or how about another Trump statement in the aftermath of the riots? “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”  

No matter how many times Trump specifically singles out white supremacists, his other blanket condemnations of bigotry convince the media that he really supports racists. This tweet from August didn’t pass the media smell test: “The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”  

How many times does Trump have to disavow David Duke and others like him before the media will concede the point?

“David Duke is a bad person, who I disavowed on numerous occasions over the years,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” in March 2016. “I disavowed him. I disavowed the KKK. Do you want me to do it again for the 12th time? I disavowed him in the past, I disavow him now.”

After the election, the New York Times asked Trump about the “alt-right.” The president-elect replied, “I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn.”

On CBS’ 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl asked Trump about reports of his supporters using racial slurs and making personal threats against blacks, Latinos and gays. Trump replied, “I am very surprised to hear that.” When Stahl asked if he had a message for these offenders, Trump was firm: “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”

The media is factually wrong about Trump. At this point, there can be no doubt that journalists who claim that Trump has failed to condemn white supremacists are wildly inaccurate. If people read the full transcripts of Trump’s statements on Charlottesville or David Duke, the media will have no credibility left.

John R. Lott is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author, most recently, of “The War on Guns.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller

Source: The Daily Caller

Some Democrats are pushing for a complete overhaul of the U.S. government – from lowering the voting age to expanding the size of the Supreme Court, CNN is reporting.

The list of reforms being proposed by prominent Democrats goes far beyond climate change and healthcare, the news network said in an analysis posted Thursday.

Here are some of the changes being floated by the Democrats:

  • Overhauling the election system:  Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a presidential candidate, has endorsed abandoning the Electoral College.
  • Expanding the size of the Supreme Court: Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Warren – all presidential candidates — told Politico they would consider increasing the number of justices on the high court.
  • Addition of a new state: CNN noted every Democrat making a bid for the White House, who serves in the House or Senate, has endorsed making Washington D.C. a state.
  • Lowering the voting age: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has endorsed lowering the voting age to 16, which would require a constitutional amendment.

    CNN noted the idea have little or no chance of becoming reality in the near future. And President Donald Trump commented on the proposals on Wednesday calling the Democrats "strange" for pushing them.

Source: NewsMax

Voters in Wisconsin recognize Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez more than they recognize most of the Democrats running for president in 2020.

An Axios report revealed that Sen. Bernie Sanders was recognized by voters more than all other 2020 candidates in the survey, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Every other candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary was known less than Ocasio-Cortez.

Description Official portrait of Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.Andrew Cutraro, White House Photographer

Official portrait of Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. Andrew Cutraro, White House Photographer

They didn’t just know her name, either. Members of the focus group in the study could recall past campaign slogans, as well as major policy stances, such as her efforts in environmental issues, as well as her efforts to combat inequality. The researchers noted the words “Green New Deal” did not come up. (RELATED: Poll: New Yorkers Consider Ocasio-Cortez A Villian In Amazon Pullout By Wide Margins)

Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris were each recognized at about the same rate, all with a recognizability score of 2.5 out of 10. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke earned a score of 1 out of 10, and the rest of the candidates running for office fell well short of that score according to the report.

Axios surveyed an unknown number of “swing voters” for the Wisconsin focus group. Members of the group were shown a photo of one of the politicians and asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 on how confident they were in identifying that person.

Source: The Daily Caller

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Former Vice President Joe Biden is considering naming Stacy Abrams as his running mate for a potential 2020 presidential bid, according to a report published Thursday.

Biden’s top advisers have discussed adding Abrams to the top of the ticket in an attempt to show Americans that the former vice president “isn’t just another old white guy,” reported Axios.

After her unsuccessful run for governor in 2018, Abrams has openly mulled a second run for the position when Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s term expires in 2022. However, she is also considering a run for Senate against Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue in 2020.

Abrams is well-known for her consistent accusations of widespread voter suppression during the 2018 election cycle, which she further claims is racially motivated. Following Abrams’s loss, she appeared regularly on cable news shows and at private events repeating those assertions. There has been no evidence to corroborate Abrams’s claims.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Stacey Abrams during a town hall style event at the Cobb Civic Center. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey interviews Stacey Abrams during a town hall style event at the Cobb Civic Center. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Abrams sued the state of Georgia in November over allegations of voter suppression. Interestingly, the lawsuit condemned legislation that Abrams herself helped pass. (RELATED: Stacey Abrams Is Not Holding Virginia Democrats To The Same Standard As Brett Kavanaugh)

While Biden has not formally revealed if he will run for president, he has been polling as the top contender for the Democratic nomination, though his age and his race are seen as a drawback by the left wing of the party.

Rev. Al Sharpton told Axios that Abrams may also bolster support from women and the African-American community which, he asserts, are still resentful over Biden’s questioning of Anita Hill during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings.

While Abrams has never held statewide or federal office, the Democrats see her as a rising star within the party. She gave the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union in February maker her the first black woman and the first non-sitting public official to give the rebuttal.

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Source: The Daily Caller

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

The chairwoman of the Tennessee Democratic Party admitted this week that she “used a poor choice of words” when she dismissed her state as “racist.”

In her apology, published by the Tennessean newspaper of Nashville, Mary Mancini suggested Republicans in Tennessee are guilty of “bigotry, misogyny and homophobia.”

Mancini wandered into the political minefield earlier this month at a meeting with County Coffee Democrats when she mused about the candidates that Tennessee Democrats were nominating — supposedly not selecting enough people of color, millennials  or members of the LGBTQ community.

Thousands celebrate the annual LGBTQ Capital Pride parade in Washington June 10, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

Thousands celebrate the annual LGBTQ Capital Pride parade in Washington June 10, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

“We have a little bit of a problem in this state, and I’m just going to say it outright,” Mancini said, according to Fox News. “This is a racist state.” (RELATED: Taylor Swift’s Political Outreach Falls Short And Political Commentators Let Her Know It)

Mancini reportedly repeated the smear again, this time referring to Tennessee as “a very racist state.”

The chairwoman’s comments did not resonate well, even within her own party — so she issued a half-hearted apology that suggested only Republicans are bigoted.

“In the heat and the frustration of seeing and hearing the constant drumbeat of bigotry, misogyny and homophobia coming from the Republicans at the state legislature, I used a poor choice of words and vented my frustration and I apologize,” Mancini wrote in her statement. (RELATED: Tennessee Senate Candidate Advocated For Taxpayers To Fund Down Syndrome Abortions)

In response to her frustration, Tennessee Republican Chairman Scott Golden told the Tennessean that Mancini’s words only hurt the image of the state while insisting Republicans are committed to “lift all Tennesseans up,” through education and employment.

In the November midterm elections, Republican Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman senator, replacing outgoing GOP Sen. Bob Corker.

In the lead-up to that election, a Democratic communications officer said the “idiots” who voted for President Donald Trump “aren’t listening” to other viewpoints.

US President Donald Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee on November 4, 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump arrives for a “Make America Great Again” campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Nov. 4, 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

Mancini made her initial comments about race when she suggested a black candidate couldn’t win his state constituency because there are few minority voters and “two out of the three counties in that area are extraordinarily racist,” Mancini told the County Coffee Democrats, according to Fox.

“I wasn’t the only one who was told that we need to run someone who is not African-American in that district, because (some believed) an African-American cannot win in that district because white people will not vote for an African-American,” Mancini told the Tennessean.

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