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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during “A Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region” forum in Taipei, Taiwan March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

March 21, 2019

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will visit Hawaii next week on a tour of diplomatic allies in the Pacific, official media said on Thursday, a move likely to anger China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own amid tension across the strait.

China regards Taiwan as its sacred territory and regularly calls it the most sensitive and important issue in ties with the United States, complaining to Washington about transit stops by Taiwan presidents.

Tsai will transit Hawaii next Wednesday on her way home from an eight-day visit to three diplomatic allies, the official Central News Agency said.

Taiwan, which China deems ineligible for state-to-state relations, has formal ties with 17 countries, almost all small nations in Central America and the Pacific.

The island battles to keep its allies from switching their allegiance to China, which last year persuaded Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador to forge relations with Beijing.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers
Mar 20, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts on the bench in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

March 21, 2019

The Milwaukee Bucks played without All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo for a second consecutive game Wednesday night as he continues to nurse a sprained right ankle.

Antetokounmpo, a candidate for MVP, did not play in the Bucks’ road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. He also missed Tuesday’s victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without their own superstar, LeBron James (sore left groin).

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo before Wednesday’s game, “He’s making progress, he just can’t go tonight. It’s us hopefully being smart and being somewhat cautious, but it’s more than that. He can’t play. We’ll see how the next 24-48 hours go, and I’m hopeful he’ll be in a good place as we move forward.”

The NBA-best Bucks (53-19) fell 107-102 to the Cavaliers, who own the third-worst record in the league at 19-53. Milwaukee returns home Friday for a game against the Miami Heat.

–Bucks power forward Nikola Mirotic will miss two-to-four weeks with a “slight fracture” of his left thumb, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported.

The Bucks acquired Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans at the trade deadline to provide depth off the bench. The team confirmed the injury but did not update his status.

Since the trade, Mirotic has played in 14 games (three starts), averaging 11.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 22.9 minutes per game. Mirotic sustained the injury in the Bucks’ 115-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The injury likely will keep him out the rest of the regular season.

–The NBA Summer League will have an international flavor in 2019, as the Chinese and Croatian national teams will join all 30 NBA teams in participating in the league, which will be held July 5-15 in Las Vegas, the NBA announced.

Team China played in Las Vegas at the 2007 NBA Summer League, but Team Croatia is making its debut at the event, marking the first time the league will have two international teams.

Each of the 32 teams will play four preliminary games, with the top eight teams seeded into a tournament to determine the champion. Those that don’t make the championship bracket will play a consolation game.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Former President George W. Bush scored his first hole-in-one Wednesday at the Trinity Forest Golf Course, according to his Instagram page.

“With coaching from @thebushcenter CEO Ken Hersh and board members Mike Meece and Bill Hickey, I scored my first hole-in-one at the home of our Warrior Open and the @attbyronnelson. Next golf goal: live to 100 so I can shoot my age,” Bush said in the post. (RELATED: George W Bush Calls Immigrants A ‘Blessing And Strength’)

Bush was in the news Tuesday when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that he would much rather Bush were in office than President Donald Trump.

“[Bush] and I had our differences, but no one ever questioned his patriotism. Our battles were strictly political battles,” Reid said. “There’s no question in my mind that George Bush would be Babe Ruth in this league that he’s in with Donald Trump in the league,” he added. “Donald Trump wouldn’t make the team.”

Trump was quick to respond and attack Reid on Twitter, writing Monday, “Former Senator Harry Reid (he got thrown out) is working hard to put a good spin on his failed career. He led through lies and deception, only to be replaced by another beauty, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer. Some things just never change!”

Source: The Daily Caller

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Mar 10, 2019; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) grounds out against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

March 21, 2019

Reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts said Wednesday he doesn’t expect to sign a contract extension with the Boston Red Sox, instead planning to enter the 2019 season playing under his existing one-year, $20 million deal before becoming a free agent next offseason.

Betts confirmed to reporters he rejected an offer of eight years and $200 million following the 2017 season, as first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

With baseball’s brightest young stars now committed to monster deals — Manny Machado (San Diego, 10 years/$300 million), Bryce Harper (Philadelphia, 13 years/$330 million) and Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels, 12 years/reportedly $430 million) — Betts, 26, will command much more than $200 million if he remains on his career trajectory.

In 2018, Betts led the AL with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage and 129 runs. His .438 on-base percentage ranked second to Trout’s .460 mark. He displayed power and speed, with a career-high 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

–Without yet playing in a major league game, outfielder Eloy Jimenez agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $43 million with the Chicago White Sox, multiple outlets reported.

The deal, which also includes two option years, is a record in guaranteed money for a player already in a team’s system who had not logged a day of big league time. Jimenez, 22, has played in the White Sox organization since 2017 when he was acquired in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs.

Because the contract will take him into his initial free agency years, the White Sox can put Jimenez on the major league roster now without worrying about starting his free-agency clock. He is expected to be in the team’s Opening Day lineup.

–Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw threw a simulated inning as he continues his build-up process for the regular season, one day after it was announced that he would begin the season on the injured list.

Kershaw, who turned 31 on Tuesday, is working through shoulder inflammation that appeared at the start of spring training. He threw 22 pitches on a back field at the Dodgers’ spring training complex at Glendale, Ariz. He faced batters in the batter’s box, though none of them took any swings.

There is no timetable on Kershaw’s return, but if he pitches that first full inning against hitters in the next week or so, there is a chance he could rejoin the Dodgers at some point in the second half of April.

–Chuck Harmon, the Cincinnati Reds’ first African-American player, who has already been honored with a plaque outside Great American Ball Park, died on Tuesday, the team announced. He was 94. Seven years after Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Harmon took the field for the Reds in 1954. He played in 289 career games, 203 of those in three seasons with the Reds, batting .238 with seven home runs and 59 RBIs.

–New York Yankees guest instructor Lee Mazzilli, who turns 64 next Monday, was scheduled to spend the night in the hospital after being struck in the head by a ball during batting practice at Tampa, Fla., according to published reports. Mazzilli played 14 big league seasons and batted .259 with 93 homers and 460 RBIs, and played for the Yankees for 37 games in 1982.

–Right-hander Ryan Pressly signed a two-year extension reportedly worth $17.5 million with the Houston Astros that takes him through the 2021 season, the team announced. The deal also reportedly has a $10 million vesting option for the 2022 season. … The Tampa Bay Rays and prospect Brandon Lowe have agreed on a six-year, $24 million deal, according to a report by The Athletic. Lowe, 24, is No. 93 on Baseball America’s list of Top 100 prospects and can play both infield and outfield.

–Detroit right-hander Michael Fulmer, who turned 26 last week, has decided to proceed with Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. … The Baltimore Orioles decided to part ways with shortstop Alcides Escobar, granting the veteran his unconditional release. … The San Francisco Giants agreed on a minor league contract with Matt Joyce one day after the veteran outfielder was released by the Cleveland Indians.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Mar 10, 2019; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) grounds out against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

March 21, 2019

Reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts said Wednesday he doesn’t expect to sign a contract extension with the Boston Red Sox, instead planning to enter the 2019 season playing under his existing one-year, $20 million deal before becoming a free agent next offseason.

Betts confirmed to reporters he rejected an offer of eight years and $200 million following the 2017 season, as first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

With baseball’s brightest young stars now committed to monster deals — Manny Machado (San Diego, 10 years/$300 million), Bryce Harper (Philadelphia, 13 years/$330 million) and Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels, 12 years/reportedly $430 million) — Betts, 26, will command much more than $200 million if he remains on his career trajectory.

In 2018, Betts led the AL with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage and 129 runs. His .438 on-base percentage ranked second to Trout’s .460 mark. He displayed power and speed, with a career-high 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

–Without yet playing in a major league game, outfielder Eloy Jimenez agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $43 million with the Chicago White Sox, multiple outlets reported.

The deal, which also includes two option years, is a record in guaranteed money for a player already in a team’s system who had not logged a day of big league time. Jimenez, 22, has played in the White Sox organization since 2017 when he was acquired in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs.

Because the contract will take him into his initial free agency years, the White Sox can put Jimenez on the major league roster now without worrying about starting his free-agency clock. He is expected to be in the team’s Opening Day lineup.

–Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw threw a simulated inning as he continues his build-up process for the regular season, one day after it was announced that he would begin the season on the injured list.

Kershaw, who turned 31 on Tuesday, is working through shoulder inflammation that appeared at the start of spring training. He threw 22 pitches on a back field at the Dodgers’ spring training complex at Glendale, Ariz. He faced batters in the batter’s box, though none of them took any swings.

There is no timetable on Kershaw’s return, but if he pitches that first full inning against hitters in the next week or so, there is a chance he could rejoin the Dodgers at some point in the second half of April.

–Chuck Harmon, the Cincinnati Reds’ first African-American player, who has already been honored with a plaque outside Great American Ball Park, died on Tuesday, the team announced. He was 94. Seven years after Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Harmon took the field for the Reds in 1954. He played in 289 career games, 203 of those in three seasons with the Reds, batting .238 with seven home runs and 59 RBIs.

–New York Yankees guest instructor Lee Mazzilli, who turns 64 next Monday, was scheduled to spend the night in the hospital after being struck in the head by a ball during batting practice at Tampa, Fla., according to published reports. Mazzilli played 14 big league seasons and batted .259 with 93 homers and 460 RBIs, and played for the Yankees for 37 games in 1982.

–Right-hander Ryan Pressly signed a two-year extension reportedly worth $17.5 million with the Houston Astros that takes him through the 2021 season, the team announced. The deal also reportedly has a $10 million vesting option for the 2022 season. … The Tampa Bay Rays and prospect Brandon Lowe have agreed on a six-year, $24 million deal, according to a report by The Athletic. Lowe, 24, is No. 93 on Baseball America’s list of Top 100 prospects and can play both infield and outfield.

–Detroit right-hander Michael Fulmer, who turned 26 last week, has decided to proceed with Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. … The Baltimore Orioles decided to part ways with shortstop Alcides Escobar, granting the veteran his unconditional release. … The San Francisco Giants agreed on a minor league contract with Matt Joyce one day after the veteran outfielder was released by the Cleveland Indians.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo
An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo, Egypt, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

March 20, 2019

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The dollar nursed heavy losses in Asia on Thursday after the Federal Reserve stunned markets by abandoning all plans to raise rates this year, a signal its three-year campaign to normalize policy might be at an end.

Investors rushed to price in the prospect of rate cuts later this year, while benchmark Treasury yields dived to their lowest since early 2018.

The Fed’s swerve sent the dollar sliding to 110.67 yen, with its 0.6 percent loss overnight the biggest drop since the flash crash of early January.

The euro flew to a seven-week peak and was last trading at $1.1424, a world away from its recent low of $1.1177. That left the dollar down at 95.929 against a basket of currencies, having lost 0.5 percent overnight.

“Markets were universally poised for a very benign outcome and the Fed dutifully delivered, their message overall matching the most dovish of expectations,” said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac.

“The median 2019 projection is for no hikes, a strong majority of 11 among 17 at zero; a dramatic shift from just two members looking for no Fed hikes in 2019 back in December.”

It had previously tipped two hikes this year. The central bank also trimmed its forecasts for economic growth and inflation, while lifting that for unemployment.

Driving home the dovish shift, the Fed will now stop running down its balance sheet in September, some months earlier than many had expected.

Investors reacted by wagering the next move in rates would be down, with fund futures now implying around 11 basis points of easing by December.

Yields on two-year notes sank to 2.40 percent, dead in line with the effective funds rate, and five-year yields dropped even further to 2.33 percent.

The only solace for the dollar was that other central banks around the globe have also turned decidedly dovish in recent months as growth slowed pretty much everywhere.

That need for stimulus means many central banks will not want to see their currencies appreciate against the dollar, giving them reason to sound even more accommodative.

“The more cautious tone and downgraded U.S. economic outlook will limit dollar upside,” said CBA senior currency strategist Joseph Capurso.

“However, with similarly soft economic growth outlooks elsewhere including Europe, China, Australia and Japan it is questionable whether the dollar will depreciate to any significant extent.”

One currency with problems of its own was sterling, which retreated to $1.3192 after British Prime Minister Theresa May’s request to delay Brexit until June 30 faced resistance from parts of the European Union.

Faring better was the New Zealand dollar as data on domestic economic growth came in firmer than many bearish investors had expected.

Strong household spending and business investment lifted gross domestic product 0.6 percent in the December quarter, helping the kiwi climb to a seven-week top of $0.6923.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Houston Astros
FILE PHOTO: Mar 20, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) prior to a spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports – 12384288

March 20, 2019

Carlos Correa hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning and the Houston Astros went on to a 2-1 spring training victory over the New York Yankees at Kissimmee, Fla.

Astros starter Wade Miley gave up one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings as five Astros pitchers held the Yankees to four hits on the day.

Gary Sanchez drove in the only run for the Yankees on a double in the first inning.

Braves 8, Blue Jays 7

Andy Wilkins hit a home run and drove in two runs while Charlie Culberson and Ronald Acuna Jr. each also drove in two as Atlanta won at Dunedin, Fla. Kevin Pillar and Teoscar Hernandez each hit a home run for Toronto.

Tigers 3, Phillies 1

Josh Harrison hit a home run and Spencer Turnbull pitched five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts as Detroit won at Clearwater, Fla. Bryce Harper had a single and scored the only run for Philadelphia on an Odubel Herrera ground ball.

Marlins 6, Cardinals 0

Neil Walker hit a home run and Pablo Lopez gave up just two hits over six scoreless innings as Florida won at Jupiter, Fla. Drew Robinson had two of the three St. Louis hits.

Pirates 6, Twins 5

Colin Moran had a pair of RBI singles as Pittsburgh scored all six runs over the final two innings for the victory at Fort Myers, Fla. Jonathan Schoop hit a home run for Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Houston Astros
FILE PHOTO: Mar 20, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) prior to a spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports – 12384288

March 20, 2019

Carlos Correa hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning and the Houston Astros went on to a 2-1 spring training victory over the New York Yankees at Kissimmee, Fla.

Astros starter Wade Miley gave up one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings as five Astros pitchers held the Yankees to four hits on the day.

Gary Sanchez drove in the only run for the Yankees on a double in the first inning.

Braves 8, Blue Jays 7

Andy Wilkins hit a home run and drove in two runs while Charlie Culberson and Ronald Acuna Jr. each also drove in two as Atlanta won at Dunedin, Fla. Kevin Pillar and Teoscar Hernandez each hit a home run for Toronto.

Tigers 3, Phillies 1

Josh Harrison hit a home run and Spencer Turnbull pitched five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts as Detroit won at Clearwater, Fla. Bryce Harper had a single and scored the only run for Philadelphia on an Odubel Herrera ground ball.

Marlins 6, Cardinals 0

Neil Walker hit a home run and Pablo Lopez gave up just two hits over six scoreless innings as Florida won at Jupiter, Fla. Drew Robinson had two of the three St. Louis hits.

Pirates 6, Twins 5

Colin Moran had a pair of RBI singles as Pittsburgh scored all six runs over the final two innings for the victory at Fort Myers, Fla. Jonathan Schoop hit a home run for Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Tennis: BNP Paribas Open-Day 9
FILE PHOTO: Mar 12, 2019; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts after being defeated in her fourth round match against Belinda Bencic (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – Serena and Venus Williams usually get top billing at the Miami Open but this year there is another sister act vying for the spotlight with world number one Naomi Osaka showing older sibling Mari the ropes.

The Williams sisters have hoisted the Miami trophy 11 times between them and all those victories were celebrated at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne.

But this year the tournament has moved to the suburbs and Hard Rock Stadium is Osaka country with Naomi and Mari growing up three miles away and learning to play tennis almost in the shadow of the Hard Rock home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, who are part-owned by the Williams sisters.

Naomi will be joined in the draw by her 338th-ranked sibling who needed a wildcard to get a place in the tournament.

“It is a bit weird that I have to give her advice and she is my older sister,” Naomi told reporters on Wednesday. “But she has been doing like newbie mistakes.

“Yesterday it rained out all day but she came here at 11 o’clock and her match was the fourth on.

“I mean, like, what are you doing? Stuff like that I have to talk to her about.”

The 21-year-old U.S.-based Japanese player has taken the tennis world by storm, winning the last two Grand Slams and amassing $10.8 million in prize money while Mari, one year older, tries to claw her way up the rankings with $58,000 in career earnings.

While Naomi now holds sway over her older sister, that was not always the case.

“Up until I was 15 she was 6-0ing me, it was ridiculous,” the Australian and U.S. Open champion said. “In the win-loss record she is up by a million or something.”

Naomi gets a first-round bye while Mari starts her campaign on Thursday against another wildcard in American Whitney Osuigwe.

On opposite sides of the draw, the only way the sisters could meet in Miami would be in an all-Osaka final.

Even if Mari’s stay ends up being short, however, Naomi is enjoying having her sister by her side.

“It’s nice because you can give each other advice especially if you have played the opponent,” Naomi said. “I really enjoy having her around, most of the time we don’t play the same tournaments.

“For me I don’t really talk to that many people and she is sort of the nicer one in this relationship.”

Mari Osaka’s focus will be getting past the first round and advancing any further would be considered a wild success but Naomi will have loftier objectives.

“I actually drove past this (stadium) a lot when I was a kid,” she said. “I grew up watching all these great players winning it so just to come from being a kid in the audience to being the one holding the trophy would mean a lot.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

A boy walks past a sign with voting instructions on his way to school in Honiara
A boy walks past a sign with voting instructions on his way to school in Honiara, Solomon Islands, March 11, 2019. Picture taken March 11, 2019. ISHMAEL AITOREA/Handout via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

By Charlotte Greenfield and Tom Westbrook

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – As politicians hit the hustings across the Solomon Islands two weeks out from a general election in the South Pacific archipelago, the loyalty of one of Taiwan’s few remaining allies is in the balance.

Some Solomons’ candidates are promising to review lucrative, but loosening, ties with Taipei that if broken, could trigger a reshaping of diplomatic relations in a region home to a third of Taiwan’s shrinking list of allies.

Although Pacific island states offer little economically to either China and Taiwan, their support is valued in global forums such as the United Nations and as China seeks to isolate Taiwan. China see the democratically ruled island as a renegade province with no right to state-to-state ties.

In the Solomons, where two-thirds of exports go to China, many politicians are questioning whether diplomatic ties with Taiwan are still in their best interests.

“Sooner or later, when we see our country hasn’t been able to grow out of this relationship, we are at liberty to review our relations and to explore other avenues,” said former Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, who is contesting the election.

Lilo’s views, echoed in the rival ruling Democratic Alliance Party policy manifesto, and by other candidates, have caught Taipei’s attention.

Taiwan this month sent its deputy foreign minister to the tropical capital of Honiara shore up the alliance.

President Tsai Ing-wen is also touring the South Pacific this week, visiting other allies Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands to “deepen ties and friendly relations”.

Already five countries have switched recognition to China since Tsai took office in 2016, leaving just 17 mostly small, undeveloped countries that formally recognize Taiwan.

Four of the six Pacific island nations aligned with Taiwan have elections this year, putting its Pacific stronghold under increasing pressure.

The elections also come at a time when traditional regional powers from the West and Japan have been boosting their presence in the Pacific due to unease at China’s growing influence there.

Last week, the new U.S. ambassador to Australia said China was using “pay-day loan diplomacy” to exert influence in the Pacific.

“The West is watching the outcome of the election in the Solomon Islands very closely. There is no doubt that there are some Solomon Islands lawmakers who would like to align with China,” said a senior U.S. diplomatic source.

“There is a legitimate worry that it will have a domino effect.”

FLASHPOINT OR CASHPOINT?

Acknowledging that China takes the position that there is “one China” and Taiwan is part of it is the “common consensus of international society”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“The Chinese government, under the one China policy and the principles of peaceful coexistence, develops friendly cooperation with countries across the world,” he said, without elaborating.

Shifting allegiances are nothing new in the South Pacific.

Vanuatu flirted with recognizing Taiwan in 2004 but ultimately stuck with Beijing, while Kiribati and Nauru have each switched sides in the past.

The Solomons have recognized Taiwan since 1983.

The chain of islands stretching across some 600,000 sq km (232,000 sq miles) of ocean is a strategic gateway to the South Pacific and was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in World War II.

It is the largest of Taiwan-aligned Pacific countries, with access to the airfields and deepwater ports the conflict left behind.

The Solomons’ situation is further complicated by an unpredictable coalition building process after the vote, expected to last weeks before a government is formed.

FUNDING CRITICISMS

Taiwan is fighting to retain its ties.

“I think China is trying everything they can do to replace us in our diplomatic allies,” Taiwan’s deputy chief of mission to the Solomons, Oliver Liao, told Reuters in a phone interview.

He said Taipei was cautiously optimistic of retaining Honiara’s friendship because it has a long history of rural-development donations.

“Many friends here continue to share with us how much they appreciate Taiwan’s support and how they appreciate the flexibility this budgetary support allows – politicians and also the citizens.”

Its strategy, though, has come under fire.

Taiwan’s support of around $9 million a year is paid directly into a government account which lawmakers tap for projects in their far-flung provinces, with little oversight.

“In the rural areas there is no tangible development,” said Andrew Fanasia, politics reporter at the Solomon Star newspaper.

“Mostly these people blame their leaders and this fund.”

Anti-graft agency Transparency Solomon Islands says “vote buying” with cash linked to development funds is by far the most common complaint it fields, according to data it collected in 2017 and 2018.

Lawmakers say there are successes, and the government’s rural development website lists health and sanitation projects, community buildings, and text-message testimonies from citizens about improvements to their lives.

But even Taiwan’s Liao – and former prime minister Lilo – say economic progress has not been fast enough.

And in the capital, patience with the incumbents charged with disbursing Taiwan’s largesse is in short supply.

“Most students would really like to see a change in the leadership and style,” said law student Ishmael Aitorea, 25, on the phone from the student association office of the University of the South Pacific in Honiara.

“The perception is that if the old parliament members go back, nothing will change.”

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON, Tom Westbrook and Colin Packham in SYDNEY, Yimou Lee in TAIPEI and Philip Wen in BEIJING; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

A boy walks past a sign with voting instructions on his way to school in Honiara
A boy walks past a sign with voting instructions on his way to school in Honiara, Solomon Islands, March 11, 2019. Picture taken March 11, 2019. ISHMAEL AITOREA/Handout via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

By Charlotte Greenfield and Tom Westbrook

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – As politicians hit the hustings across the Solomon Islands two weeks out from a general election in the South Pacific archipelago, the loyalty of one of Taiwan’s few remaining allies is in the balance.

Some Solomons’ candidates are promising to review lucrative, but loosening, ties with Taipei that if broken, could trigger a reshaping of diplomatic relations in a region home to a third of Taiwan’s shrinking list of allies.

Although Pacific island states offer little economically to either China and Taiwan, their support is valued in global forums such as the United Nations and as China seeks to isolate Taiwan. China see the democratically ruled island as a renegade province with no right to state-to-state ties.

In the Solomons, where two-thirds of exports go to China, many politicians are questioning whether diplomatic ties with Taiwan are still in their best interests.

“Sooner or later, when we see our country hasn’t been able to grow out of this relationship, we are at liberty to review our relations and to explore other avenues,” said former Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, who is contesting the election.

Lilo’s views, echoed in the rival ruling Democratic Alliance Party policy manifesto, and by other candidates, have caught Taipei’s attention.

Taiwan this month sent its deputy foreign minister to the tropical capital of Honiara shore up the alliance.

President Tsai Ing-wen is also touring the South Pacific this week, visiting other allies Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands to “deepen ties and friendly relations”.

Already five countries have switched recognition to China since Tsai took office in 2016, leaving just 17 mostly small, undeveloped countries that formally recognize Taiwan.

Four of the six Pacific island nations aligned with Taiwan have elections this year, putting its Pacific stronghold under increasing pressure.

The elections also come at a time when traditional regional powers from the West and Japan have been boosting their presence in the Pacific due to unease at China’s growing influence there.

Last week, the new U.S. ambassador to Australia said China was using “pay-day loan diplomacy” to exert influence in the Pacific.

“The West is watching the outcome of the election in the Solomon Islands very closely. There is no doubt that there are some Solomon Islands lawmakers who would like to align with China,” said a senior U.S. diplomatic source.

“There is a legitimate worry that it will have a domino effect.”

FLASHPOINT OR CASHPOINT?

Acknowledging that China takes the position that there is “one China” and Taiwan is part of it is the “common consensus of international society”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“The Chinese government, under the one China policy and the principles of peaceful coexistence, develops friendly cooperation with countries across the world,” he said, without elaborating.

Shifting allegiances are nothing new in the South Pacific.

Vanuatu flirted with recognizing Taiwan in 2004 but ultimately stuck with Beijing, while Kiribati and Nauru have each switched sides in the past.

The Solomons have recognized Taiwan since 1983.

The chain of islands stretching across some 600,000 sq km (232,000 sq miles) of ocean is a strategic gateway to the South Pacific and was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in World War II.

It is the largest of Taiwan-aligned Pacific countries, with access to the airfields and deepwater ports the conflict left behind.

The Solomons’ situation is further complicated by an unpredictable coalition building process after the vote, expected to last weeks before a government is formed.

FUNDING CRITICISMS

Taiwan is fighting to retain its ties.

“I think China is trying everything they can do to replace us in our diplomatic allies,” Taiwan’s deputy chief of mission to the Solomons, Oliver Liao, told Reuters in a phone interview.

He said Taipei was cautiously optimistic of retaining Honiara’s friendship because it has a long history of rural-development donations.

“Many friends here continue to share with us how much they appreciate Taiwan’s support and how they appreciate the flexibility this budgetary support allows – politicians and also the citizens.”

Its strategy, though, has come under fire.

Taiwan’s support of around $9 million a year is paid directly into a government account which lawmakers tap for projects in their far-flung provinces, with little oversight.

“In the rural areas there is no tangible development,” said Andrew Fanasia, politics reporter at the Solomon Star newspaper.

“Mostly these people blame their leaders and this fund.”

Anti-graft agency Transparency Solomon Islands says “vote buying” with cash linked to development funds is by far the most common complaint it fields, according to data it collected in 2017 and 2018.

Lawmakers say there are successes, and the government’s rural development website lists health and sanitation projects, community buildings, and text-message testimonies from citizens about improvements to their lives.

But even Taiwan’s Liao – and former prime minister Lilo – say economic progress has not been fast enough.

And in the capital, patience with the incumbents charged with disbursing Taiwan’s largesse is in short supply.

“Most students would really like to see a change in the leadership and style,” said law student Ishmael Aitorea, 25, on the phone from the student association office of the University of the South Pacific in Honiara.

“The perception is that if the old parliament members go back, nothing will change.”

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON, Tom Westbrook and Colin Packham in SYDNEY, Yimou Lee in TAIPEI and Philip Wen in BEIJING; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Jenny McCarthy opened up about her time as a co-host on “The View” with Barbara Walters and compared the former ABC daytime host to Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.”

“Hopefully, I get the Barbara Walters who is nice,” the 46-year-old actress recalled telling herself every day at the studio during her time on the daytime talk show, according to an excerpt shared Wednesday by Vulture from Ramin Setoodeh’s book “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View.‘”  (RELATED: Jenny McCarthy Just Revealed When She’s Posing Nude Next)

Nick Cannon, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke attend the FOX's "The Masked Singer" Premiere in Los Angeles, California, on December 13, 2018. (Photo credit:LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)

Nick Cannon, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke attend the FOX’s “The Masked Singer” Premiere in Los Angeles, California, on December 13, 2018. (Photo credit:LISA O’CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)

“You know the movie ‘Mommie Dearest’? I remember as a child watching that movie and going, ‘Holy cow,’” she added. “I’ve never seen a woman yell like that before until I worked with Barbara Walters.”(RELATED: Joy Behar: Female Trump Voters Don’t Know The Difference Between A Predator And A Protector)

McCarthy continued, “Imagine a woman like Barbara Walters. It’s her last year and she doesn’t want to leave. Think about that. And I’m the new bitch there.”

The “Masked Singer” judge also said that besides being brought on the show from 2013-2014 to talk pop culture, she was told they couldn’t “do pop culture anymore because [Walters] doesn’t know who the people are” and would have to learn political issues.

“I panicked because I don’t consider myself a political person,” McCarthy explained. “Now I had to figure out, ‘Am I coming out as a Republican or a Democrat? Where do I stand on all the social issues and political issues?’”

“I was going to work crying. I couldn’t be myself,” she added. “My fans were telling me, ‘Where’s Jenny? They aren’t letting you be you.’”

McCarthy continued, “Every day I went home and I was miserable. It really was the most miserable I’ve been on a job in my 25 years of show business. I kicked myself for not taking the CBS job, of course.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Jenny McCarthy opened up about her time as a co-host on “The View” with Barbara Walters and compared the former ABC daytime host to Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.”

“Hopefully, I get the Barbara Walters who is nice,” the 46-year-old actress recalled telling herself every day at the studio during her time on the daytime talk show, according to an excerpt shared Wednesday by Vulture from Ramin Setoodeh’s book “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View.‘”  (RELATED: Jenny McCarthy Just Revealed When She’s Posing Nude Next)

Nick Cannon, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke attend the FOX's "The Masked Singer" Premiere in Los Angeles, California, on December 13, 2018. (Photo credit:LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)

Nick Cannon, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke attend the FOX’s “The Masked Singer” Premiere in Los Angeles, California, on December 13, 2018. (Photo credit:LISA O’CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)

“You know the movie ‘Mommie Dearest’? I remember as a child watching that movie and going, ‘Holy cow,’” she added. “I’ve never seen a woman yell like that before until I worked with Barbara Walters.”(RELATED: Joy Behar: Female Trump Voters Don’t Know The Difference Between A Predator And A Protector)

McCarthy continued, “Imagine a woman like Barbara Walters. It’s her last year and she doesn’t want to leave. Think about that. And I’m the new bitch there.”

The “Masked Singer” judge also said that besides being brought on the show from 2013-2014 to talk pop culture, she was told they couldn’t “do pop culture anymore because [Walters] doesn’t know who the people are” and would have to learn political issues.

“I panicked because I don’t consider myself a political person,” McCarthy explained. “Now I had to figure out, ‘Am I coming out as a Republican or a Democrat? Where do I stand on all the social issues and political issues?’”

“I was going to work crying. I couldn’t be myself,” she added. “My fans were telling me, ‘Where’s Jenny? They aren’t letting you be you.’”

McCarthy continued, “Every day I went home and I was miserable. It really was the most miserable I’ve been on a job in my 25 years of show business. I kicked myself for not taking the CBS job, of course.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro takes part in wreath laying at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro arrives during ceremonies to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery during his visit to Washington in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The government of Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has seen its popularity plummet since he took office in January, with just a third of those asked approving of its performance, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

Despite easily winning October’s election, Bolsonaro’s government has the worst approval rating of any administration at this early stage since Brazil returned to democracy three decades ago.

Pollster Ibope said 34 percent of those surveyed found the Bolsonaro government doing a “great/good” job, compared to 49 percent in mid-January. The government’s “bad/terrible” rating rose 13 percentage points to 24 percent, Ibope said.

Bolsonaro spent the week cosying up to U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, without receiving much in return, sparking frustration among trade officials.

Back home, criticism of Bolsonaro is growing just as he has put before Congress his fiscally crucial but highly unpopular plan to reform the pension system. Most economists agree the system must be overhauled to shore up public finances and foster growth.

Brazil’s Congress is typically not particularly responsive to public opinion, but if the pension reforms were to spark street protests, the pressure on lawmakers to balk at the bill could have an impact.

Those surveyed who said they trusted Bolsonaro in the role dropped 13 percentage points from January to 49 percent. Those who say they have no trust in him jumped 13 points to 44 percent.

Bolsonaro’s strongest approval ratings are among higher income Brazilians, while the lowest ratings were registered in large cities, and in the poorer Northeast region, Ibope said.

Evangelical Christians were the social group that most trust in Bolsonaro, the poll showed.

Ibope surveyed 2,002 people between March 16-19 across Brazil. The poll’s margin of error is 2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Brad Brooks and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

  • Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro sat down with American media after his meeting with President Donald Trump Tuesday.
  • He discussed his desire to “make Brazil great” and how he owes his life “to God” after being stabbed on the campaign trail. 
  • Brazil had been ruled by politicians from the left for years, and Bolsonaro is the country’s first conservative leader in its democratic era.

Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, wants to “make Brazil great” and says he owes his life “to God” after being stabbed on the campaign trail, according to his interview with American media following his meeting with President Donald Trump Tuesday.

The U.S. and Brazil have had a fraught relationship in the past, but Bolsonaro and Trump want to turn over a new leaf. They have not, for example, ruled out cooperating in military action in Venezuela, where socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro’s regime is in turmoil.

“To a large extent, I support what Trump does; he wants to make America great, I also want to make Brazil great. I also have concerns about the indiscriminate entrance of foreigners without any criteria. But beyond this, we are both Christians and we are God-fearing men,” Bolsonaro told Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in an interview published Wednesday. (RELATED: Democrats Who Won’t Support Ousting Venezuela’s Socialist Dictator Pile On Brazil’s Democratically Elected Leader)

Bolsonaro’s election marked a turn in his home country as well. Brazil had been ruled by politicians from the left for years, and Bolsonaro is the country’s first conservative leader in its democratic era, reported CBN.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a Brazil national soccer team jersey Number 10 for striker position at the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a Brazil national soccer team jersey Number 10 for striker position at the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

“It is time to overcome old resistances and explore the very best potential between Brazil and the United States. After all, it is fair to say that today, Brazil does have a president who is not anti-American,” Bolsonaro said in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday, according to CBN.

Bolsonaro is only three months into his first term and has been nicknamed “Trump of the Tropics” for his brash rhetoric and desire to bring conservative reform to Brazil. Bolsonaro’s critics claim he uses “misogynistic and homophobic” rhetoric and wants to take away land rights from indigenous people.

The Brazilian politician also discussed the stabbing that almost cost him his life when he was a leading candidate in his country’s presidential election in 2018. The man who allegedly stabbed him was a former member of a socialist political party and sympathizer of radically left leaders.

“Doctors who attended to me said that for every 100 stabbings of the kind I endured, only one person survives. So, I am a survivor and owe my life to God. It was His will for me to live,” Bolsonaro told CBN.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared iterim president Juan Guaido and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speak during a press conference at Palace Itamaraty on February 28, 2019 in Brasília, Brazil. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared iterim president Juan Guaido and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speak during a press conference at Palace Itamaraty on February 28, 2019 in Brasília, Brazil. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

Prompted by Bolsonaro’s White House visit, progressive U.S. lawmakers piled on criticism of the Brazilian leader after decrying U.S. action in Venezuela against Maduro.

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter Tuesday that Bolsonaro has “praised torture,” “called refugees ‘scum of the world,’” “compared same-sex adoption to pedophilia,” “expressed admiration for Brazil’s military dictatorship” and “called for extrajudicial killings.”

“We must call out human rights abuses worldwide,” concluded Omar, who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

This was not the first time Democratic lawmakers expressed concerns about Bolsonaro. California Rep. Ro Khanna, former Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (whom Omar succeeded) and 16 others wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling Bolsonaro a “far-right extremist” before his election, reported Politico. They also claimed Bolsonaro said he would not accept defeat should he lose the election.

Brazil recognized Guaido over Maduro in January. Maduro compared Bolsonaro to former German dictator Adolf Hitler in a speech on Jan. 14 after he questioned the integrity of Venezuela’s elections.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day
FILE PHOTO: Feb 21, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (74) poses for a photo on photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Without playing in a major league game, outfielder Eloy Jimenez agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $43 million with the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, multiple outlets reported.

The deal, which also includes two option years, is a record in guaranteed money for a player already in a team’s system who had not logged a day of big league time. Jimenez has played in the White Sox’s organization since 2017 when he was acquired in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs.

Including the options, Jimenez’s contract would be worth $77 million, according to ESPN.

Jimenez, the White Sox’s top prospect, had already been assigned to Triple-A Charlotte to start the upcoming season, but the deal means that he is now expected to be in the team’s Opening Day lineup on March 28 at Kansas City.

Because the contract will take him into his initial free agency years, the White Sox can put Jimenez on the major league roster now without worrying about starting his free-agency clock. If he played three weeks in the minor leagues to start this season, it would have delayed his move into free agency by one year. The new contract eliminates that scenario.

Jimenez, 22, batted .337 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games last season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is a .311 hitter in five minor league seasons with 65 home runs.

The previous record in guaranteed money for a player already in an organization was the six years and $24 million the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to with Scott Kingery last March. The previous record before that was the $10 million guarantee between Jon Singleton and the Houston Astros in 2014.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day
FILE PHOTO: Feb 21, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (74) poses for a photo on photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Without playing in a major league game, outfielder Eloy Jimenez agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $43 million with the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, multiple outlets reported.

The deal, which also includes two option years, is a record in guaranteed money for a player already in a team’s system who had not logged a day of big league time. Jimenez has played in the White Sox’s organization since 2017 when he was acquired in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs.

Including the options, Jimenez’s contract would be worth $77 million, according to ESPN.

Jimenez, the White Sox’s top prospect, had already been assigned to Triple-A Charlotte to start the upcoming season, but the deal means that he is now expected to be in the team’s Opening Day lineup on March 28 at Kansas City.

Because the contract will take him into his initial free agency years, the White Sox can put Jimenez on the major league roster now without worrying about starting his free-agency clock. If he played three weeks in the minor leagues to start this season, it would have delayed his move into free agency by one year. The new contract eliminates that scenario.

Jimenez, 22, batted .337 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games last season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is a .311 hitter in five minor league seasons with 65 home runs.

The previous record in guaranteed money for a player already in an organization was the six years and $24 million the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to with Scott Kingery last March. The previous record before that was the $10 million guarantee between Jon Singleton and the Houston Astros in 2014.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Tennis: BNP Paribas Open-Day 9
FILE PHOTO: Mar 12, 2019; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts after being defeated in her fourth round match against Belinda Bencic (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – World number one Naomi Osaka arrived at the Miami Open on Wednesday to face questions about a multi-million dollar lawsuit for allegedly failing to honor a contract with a former coach.

According to the lawsuit filed in Florida’s state court on Feb. 7 and seen by Reuters, Christophe Jean says he began coaching Osaka and older sister Mari in 2011.

Jean says he entered into a services contract with their father Francois in March 2012 that would pay him 20 percent of Osaka’s future earnings.

Osaka’s attorney Alex Spiro described the lawsuit as a “false claim” that has no merit.

Osaka, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise and won the last two grand slams to reach number one in the world, has career earnings of $10.8 million and has made millions more in endorsements.

Jean says that he signed a contract that would pay him a share of Osaka’s future earnings as her family were unable to pay the going rate for coaching.

Asked about the lawsuit during her pre-tournament news conference Osaka, who grew up less than three miles from Hard Rock Stadium, the new home of the Miami Open, said: “I’m not allowed to say anything. I am unable to make a comment.”

Spiro, however, said Jean was an opportunist looking to cash in.

“While it comes as no surprise that Naomi’s meteoric rise as an international icon and inspiration would lead to some false claim, this silly “contract” that Naomi never saw or signed — which purports to give away part of herself at the age of 14 — is particularly absurd,” Spiro told Reuters in an email. “This case has no merit and we will move past it.”

The 21-year-old U.S.-based Japanese player raised eyebrows last month when she announced she was parting with coach Sascha Bajin, who guided her to the Australian and U.S. Open titles.

That split, however, appeared amicable with both Osaka and Bajin wishing each other the best for the future.

(Additional reporting by Jack Tarrant in Tokyo and Frank Pingue in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

Betsy Rothstein | Reporter

The White House soap opera continues.

And the plot twist is super juicy: Kellyanne Conway is choosing President Trump over her husband.

On Wednesday afternoon, Kellyanne fiercely defended her boss, who called her hubby, conservative lawyer George Conway, a “total loser.” Conway has been pushing a narrative that Trump is a narcissist who has lost his marbles.

In a new, brief phone interview with Politico‘s Daniel Lippman, Kellyanne sided with Trump, saying he could fire her for her husband being such a distraction and tell her to go home and be with her kids. Instead he isn’t. Instead, her boss is just calling her husband a “whack job” and a “husband from hell.” Trump told reporters Wednesday on the White House grounds, “I think he’s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful woman.”

“You think he should take that sitting down?” Kellyanne asked of Trump, sounding like she was rooting for her boss to successfully clobber her husband.

She said her husband — “respectfully” — is no psychiatrist. It’s the only time where she uses the “word” respect in association with her husband. The couple have four children. They’ve been married for 18 years. (RELATED: Ann Coulter Has Advice For Trump On The Conways) 

Kellyanne’s characterization that this is a “distraction” might be putting it mildly.

By backing Trump’s smackdown of her own husband, isn’t she basically agreeing with Trump that her husband is a loser?

In what could be the most talented acting performance of the year, Conway and Conway are acting like something out of War of the Roses. As Trump publicly shreds her husband, Conway continues pushing the narrative that the president has a mental order straight out of the DSM.

In her defense, George started it. Wouldn’t a supportive husband not try to blow up his wife’s job?

Kellyanne told CNN’s Dana Bash that her husband, who Trump unaffectionately calls “Mr. Kellyanne Conway,” says her other half was initially “crying in his MAGA hat” with joy over Trump’s presidency.

“I believe if I were Kellyanne, I’d be upset with my husband,” political analyst Gloria Borger said Wednesday on CNN.

But she also said Trump has a “pot kettle” issue by calling George the “husband from hell.”

Who knows where the plot goes from here. But one thing is for certain: We want MORE.

“Where do I buy the Conway book?” TV host Michael Smerconish asked, sitting on a panel this afternoon alongside Borger on Brooke Baldwin‘s show.

Source: The Daily Caller

Betsy Rothstein | Reporter

The White House soap opera continues.

And the plot twist is super juicy: Kellyanne Conway is choosing President Trump over her husband.

On Wednesday afternoon, Kellyanne fiercely defended her boss, who called her hubby, conservative lawyer George Conway, a “total loser.” Conway has been pushing a narrative that Trump is a narcissist who has lost his marbles.

In a new, brief phone interview with Politico‘s Daniel Lippman, Kellyanne sided with Trump, saying he could fire her for her husband being such a distraction and tell her to go home and be with her kids. Instead he isn’t. Instead, her boss is just calling her husband a “whack job” and a “husband from hell.” Trump told reporters Wednesday on the White House grounds, “I think he’s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful woman.”

“You think he should take that sitting down?” Kellyanne asked of Trump, sounding like she was rooting for her boss to successfully clobber her husband.

She said her husband — “respectfully” — is no psychiatrist. It’s the only time where she uses the “word” respect in association with her husband. The couple have four children. They’ve been married for 18 years. (RELATED: Ann Coulter Has Advice For Trump On The Conways) 

Kellyanne’s characterization that this is a “distraction” might be putting it mildly.

By backing Trump’s smackdown of her own husband, isn’t she basically agreeing with Trump that her husband is a loser?

In what could be the most talented acting performance of the year, Conway and Conway are acting like something out of War of the Roses. As Trump publicly shreds her husband, Conway continues pushing the narrative that the president has a mental order straight out of the DSM.

In her defense, George started it. Wouldn’t a supportive husband not try to blow up his wife’s job?

Kellyanne told CNN’s Dana Bash that her husband, who Trump unaffectionately calls “Mr. Kellyanne Conway,” says her other half was initially “crying in his MAGA hat” with joy over Trump’s presidency.

“I believe if I were Kellyanne, I’d be upset with my husband,” political analyst Gloria Borger said Wednesday on CNN.

But she also said Trump has a “pot kettle” issue by calling George the “husband from hell.”

Who knows where the plot goes from here. But one thing is for certain: We want MORE.

“Where do I buy the Conway book?” TV host Michael Smerconish asked, sitting on a panel this afternoon alongside Borger on Brooke Baldwin‘s show.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Joe Biden speaks to fire fighters in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden poses for a selfie after addressing the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden has begun building a presidential campaign ahead of an expected announcement next month that he will vie for the Democratic nomination in 2020, sources familiar with his plans said on Wednesday.

Biden has told supporters and former staff that he will run, according to one source who has knowledge of discussions. Biden and his aides also have reached out to donors and potential bundlers – people who volunteer to raise money on behalf of the candidate – to assess support, according to another source.

A third source with direct knowledge of Biden’s plans offered a caveat, saying the former vice president was very close to running, but “it’s not 100 percent.”

“We’re leaning into that moment” when Biden gives the green light, the source said. Biden, the source said, feels “a very strong sense of responsibility to make sure Donald Trump is not president for a second term.”

The sources asked to remain anonymous because of the confidential nature of the ongoing discussions.

Biden all but gave away his plans last weekend when he spoke at a fundraiser in his home state of Delaware. After referring to himself as part of the field of presidential hopefuls, he corrected himself, saying instead that he could run.

An official bid by Biden could profoundly shake up the sprawling Democratic field, with more than a dozen candidates already seeking to challenge President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

After 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years as vice president under former President Barack Obama, Biden will position himself as the Democratic standard bearer for a party that has moved more to the left than the last time his name appeared alone on a ballot.

Public opinion polls have him as an early favorite, with nearly every measure of early support showing him leading.

But he also will enter the race as Democrats debate the future of the party, with some calling for a fresh-faced liberal to move the party forward and others hoping for a centrist who can heal national divisions. At 76, Biden will be the second oldest candidate in the Democratic primary, after Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden made two unsuccessful bids for the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1988 and 2008.

Waiting until after March 31 to announce his bid will allow Biden to avoid an April 15 deadline for candidates to submit fundraising disclosures about how much money they have raised so far.

If Biden does jump into the race in the final days of March, he would be behind those who have already posted large fundraising totals, like Sanders and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, who each raised about $6 million their first day in the contest.

The delay in launching also could be to allow Biden time to secure staff.

Mark Putnam, a Democratic advertising and video maker who worked for Obama and several of last year’s successful congressional candidates, was seen last weekend surveying scenes outside Biden’s childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, according to the political news website Politico. He would be a top-tier hire for Biden.

Putnam crafted an ad for the unsuccessful “Draft Biden” movement that tried to convince Biden to run in 2016. His office did not respond to a request for comment about whether he is working for Biden now.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Foreign nationals from three Central American countries that send some of the highest numbers of illegal immigrants to the U.S. are sending back a record amount of money to their home countries.

Immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras sent back a record $120 billion in remittances this decade, according to an immigration expert who spoke to the Washington Examiner using U.N. and Latin American banking statistics. The numbers are expected to keep rising, with immigrants from these three nations having sent $17 billion in 2018 alone, and Central American bank data indicates that the trend will keeping going.

“The sums of money involved are huge, particularly as a share of GDP and personal income in the Central American countries,” Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert with the Center for Immigration Studies, said to the Examiner. “It offers a big clue as to why these countries are giving only token efforts to stem the tide of migrants to the United States, especially El Salvador and Honduras.”

The issue of remittances — money sent to the home countries of immigrants living and working in the U.S. — has remained a hot topic of debate. U.S. lawmakers have, in the past, proposed legislation that would tax remittances.

One proposal that did not make it through Congress would have taxed these payments at seven percent. If such a tax was levied on the $138 billion all immigrants sent in remittances in 2016, the revenue would have paid for President Donald Trump’s border wall within three years’ time.

However, the enormous size of the remittances play a significant role in the Central American economies — creating an incentive for their governments to not seek reform. Remittances to Honduras and El Salvador made up over 20 percent of their economies, with over 90 percent of remittances sent to these countries originating from the U.S.

Migrants are hit by tear gas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after attempting to illegally cross the border wall into the U.S. in Tijuana, Mexico

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after attempting to illegally cross the border wall into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

While the Trump administration has threatened to withhold millions of dollars in aid to Central American nations for their continued toleration of migrant caravans into the U.S., the aid is just a fraction of the billions in remittances that are sent annually. (RELATED: More Than 400 Illegals Were Caught By Border Patrol In Five Minutes)

At the same time, people from Central America are making up a significant portion of the migrants attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost, while speaking to a congressional committee in February, said the influx of Central American migrants and unaccompanied children — who cannot be quickly deported — has strained her agency’s resources.

Follow Jason on Twitter.

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

Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced Wednesday that his record-smashing $6.1 million first-day haul came from just 128,000 unique contributors, giving an average of $47 each, and it looks like fellow contender Bernie Sanders’s prediction was right.

O’Rourke, who announced his bid for president March 14, revealed the numbers in remarks to reporters after a campaign stop in New Hampshire, according to Politico. They are significant when compared to the Sanders campaign, which wasn’t far behind at $5.9 million raised in the first 24 hours, but needed 225,000 contributors to get there due to the lower average donation of $27.

DUBUQUE, IOWA - MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke shakes hands as he arrives at a packed St. Patrick's Day party at the home of County Recorder John Murphy March 16, 2019 in Dubuque, Iowa. After losing a long-shot race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old O'Rourke is making his first campaign swing through Iowa after jumping into a crowded Democratic field this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

DUBUQUE, IOWA – MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke shakes hands as he arrives at a packed St. Patrick’s Day party at the home of County Recorder John Murphy March 16, 2019 in Dubuque, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The different in total number of contributors came as no surprise to Sanders, who predicted the scenario before the contribution details were made public, explaining to supporters in an email sent out Monday and obtained by The New York Times:

“Here is the truth: this morning, Beto O’Rourke announced that he raised more money than us on the first day of his presidential campaign. The good news is, we more than likely had a lot more individual donations than he did. But what that means is if we are going to avoid getting outspent, it’s going to take lots and lots of people making individual donations to catch up.”

The Sanders campaign asked supporters to keep donating, and acknowledged the importance of early fundraising.

“This first FEC report is going to send a message about who is the best candidate to beat Trump.”

Sanders announced his presidential bid Feb. 19. (RELATED: Poll: Bernie Sanders Leading Democrats In New Hampshire)

The 2020 Democratic presidential field is one of the largest ever, and small donor contributions are important to campaigns not only for their actual value, but for the information collected about a candidate’s base and the opportunity to further engage supporters.

Follow Whitney on Twitter

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

Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced Wednesday that his record-smashing $6.1 million first-day haul came from just 128,000 unique contributors, giving an average of $47 each, and it looks like fellow contender Bernie Sanders’s prediction was right.

O’Rourke, who announced his bid for president March 14, revealed the numbers in remarks to reporters after a campaign stop in New Hampshire, according to Politico. They are significant when compared to the Sanders campaign, which wasn’t far behind at $5.9 million raised in the first 24 hours, but needed 225,000 contributors to get there due to the lower average donation of $27.

DUBUQUE, IOWA - MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke shakes hands as he arrives at a packed St. Patrick's Day party at the home of County Recorder John Murphy March 16, 2019 in Dubuque, Iowa. After losing a long-shot race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old O'Rourke is making his first campaign swing through Iowa after jumping into a crowded Democratic field this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

DUBUQUE, IOWA – MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke shakes hands as he arrives at a packed St. Patrick’s Day party at the home of County Recorder John Murphy March 16, 2019 in Dubuque, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The different in total number of contributors came as no surprise to Sanders, who predicted the scenario before the contribution details were made public, explaining to supporters in an email sent out Monday and obtained by The New York Times:

“Here is the truth: this morning, Beto O’Rourke announced that he raised more money than us on the first day of his presidential campaign. The good news is, we more than likely had a lot more individual donations than he did. But what that means is if we are going to avoid getting outspent, it’s going to take lots and lots of people making individual donations to catch up.”

The Sanders campaign asked supporters to keep donating, and acknowledged the importance of early fundraising.

“This first FEC report is going to send a message about who is the best candidate to beat Trump.”

Sanders announced his presidential bid Feb. 19. (RELATED: Poll: Bernie Sanders Leading Democrats In New Hampshire)

The 2020 Democratic presidential field is one of the largest ever, and small donor contributions are important to campaigns not only for their actual value, but for the information collected about a candidate’s base and the opportunity to further engage supporters.

Follow Whitney on Twitter

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

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell holds news conference following two-day policy meeting in Washington
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady on Wednesday and its policymakers abandoned projections for further rate hikes this year as the U.S. central bank flagged an expected slowdown in the economy.

In a major shift in its perspective, the Fed also now expects to raise borrowing costs only once more through 2021, and no longer anticipates the need to guard against inflation with restrictive monetary policy.

Market reaction:

Stocks: The S&P 500 reversed losses to turn 0.3 percent higher. The Dow turned 0.1 percent higher. Bonds: The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield fell to 2.5405 percent and the 2-year yield fell to 2.4003 percent.

Forex: The dollar index reversed slight gains and was off 0.63 percent.

Comments:

Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist, Wells Fargo Asset Management, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“I didn’t think they’d do it, but they came across as more dovish than what was expected. Wrapping up the balance sheet run-off by the end of September rather than the end of December was the biggest surprise. Beginning in October they will keep allowing the MBSs to run-off, but replace them with Treasuries. There was also more consensus on ‘no hikes for 2019’ than I thought there would be.

“While the ECB’s dovish tilt was taken as a bearish omen for the Eurozone economy, the Fed’s dovish tilt is viewed as much more bullish. The key difference was in the messaging. The ECB’s was couched in terms of weakness. The Fed’s is couched in terms of caution.”

Danielle Hale, chief economist, Realtor.com, Washington

“It’s no surprise that the Fed decided to hold rates steady today, given its January pledge of taking a patient approach to reviewing data and making interest rate decisions. But today’s meeting also gives us clues about the road ahead for mortgage rates, which are influenced by both short-term rates and the longer-term economic outlook. Despite current short term rate increases, recent economic forecasts have been less certain, which has caused mortgage rates to slip recently.

“With today’s downgrade of the forecast for 2019 and 2020 from the Fed and lowered expectations for the median Fed Funds rate in this time, we expect this trend to continue with steadiness or even further potential declines in mortgage rates. While a plus for home buyers, if concerns about the economic outlook rattle consumer and home buyer confidence, it could offset the benefit of lower mortgage rates.”

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser, Allianz, Newport Beach, California

“The Federal Reserve continued its move to a significantly more dovish policy stance, delivering to bullish investors exactly what they were hoping and betting for in terms of the outlook for interest rates and balance sheet.”

Doug Ramsey, chief investment officer, Leuthold Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“It sounded like to me as if I were listening to the (European Central Bank.) I had to read the Fed statement twice. It was a surprise. I think we are on the cusp of that – Does the Fed know something we don’t? What I found most interesting is more of the change in tone than substance by the Fed at this point. We are cautious on the stock market and moderately bullish on the bond market. We continue to forecast an economic slowdown. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rate cut later this year – around the fourth quarter. And I wouldn’t necessarily take that as a bullish thing.”  

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist, Spartan Capital Securities, New York

“It’s very dovish, obviously. They talked about the balance sheet (reductions)… and it does appear now they have abandoned raising rates for the remainder of the year. But that came also with lower economic activity, not by much, but they lowered some of their forecasts. Basically, this should be positive for stocks and hard assets as well.

“If rates go down, it’s less of a headwind for stocks. It doesn’t mean we’ll turn into a super bull market.”

Andre Bakhos, managing director, New Vines Capital LLC, Bernardsville, New Jersey

“The markets are viewing the fact that there will be no more rate hikes this year positively and it creates a risk-on scenario and if we can get a trade deal done in this stabilizing environment it could set up very nicely down the line.

“The markets have rallied very strongly on the news and that type of strong move is indicative of a sigh of relief and what one would deem as the best case scenario. In other words, a slowing economy is good as it keeps rates low, it shows that we can have growth even though the economy is slowing down and that helps markets.”

“This is going to create a good trading environment, and net-on-net this is a sigh of relief for traders and something the markets could focus on in the nearer term while we wait for a better visibility in China.”

Leslie Falconio, senior strategist, UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office, New York

“We anticipated the Fed removing one dot in 2019 and leaving one dot. They’ve removed both hikes in 2019. They’ve removed two hikes in 2020, leaving only one hike. That’s a bit dovish which is pushing yields down.

“They came out a bit more dovish than what the market was anticipating and what we were anticipating. The yield curve is therefore steepening. The long end is underperforming a little in Treasuries. When it comes to the balance sheet, although we were anticipating for the balance sheet (runoff) to cease we needed confirmation for exactly when they’d do that.”

“The market had already priced that the fed wouldn’t raise this year. That’s why you’re not getting as big a move. The market was right. It was pricing out two hikes this year and from what the Fed gave us the market was correct.”

Luke Tilley, chief economist, Wilmington Trust, Wilmington, Delaware

“The Fed moved in a much more dovish direction than anticipated on the rate hikes. That should be pretty supportive to the market. The action on the balance sheet is also supportive of markets.”

“We are not concerned that the Fed has downgraded its GDP forecast. Our forecast has been about 2 percent growth for 2019 for quite some time, so the Fed is coming down closer to our expectation. The dovishness on rates is less about anticipated growth and more about the fact that we simply don’t have any signs of inflation picking up.”

Chuck tomes, associate portfolio manager, Manulife Asset Management, Boston

“Overall it seems the Fed was able to solidify their dovish view as there are no rate hikes priced in for this year and only one rate hike for 2020. That was more dovish than people were expecting at the margin, even though the market was looking for a dovish Fed today.

“The dollar has come under pressure against a large number of currencies around the world.”   

Josh Bivens, director of research, the Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

“This is a welcome pause from the too-regular increases of the past couple of years. It is also a pause warranted by the economic data. There are clear signs that past rate increases are slowing spending growth through traditional transmission channels – slower residential investment growth and lower net exports – and 2019 will see the fiscal boost from tax cuts and higher spending levels fade rapidly. While wage growth is clearly healthier in recent years, productivity has also staged what looks increasingly like a durable, if unspectacular, rebound. This productivity rebound has helped keep price inflation firmly within – or even under – the Fed’s long-run targets. At this point, the key challenge facing the Fed in coming years is likely not going to be how to keep inflation in check, instead it will be how to keep the recovery going as long as possible to let workers finally eke out some significant gains. Indications that the Fed is unlikely to raise rates this year suggest they realize this.” 

Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rate strategist, TD Securities, New York

“It’s fairly dovish I’d say, given that there were 11 dots going to zero hikes in 2019, which is certainly quite a move lower. The fact that they’ve announced balance sheet runoff ending I think is certainly quite dovish as well. In a sense I think this is quite a bit more dovish than the market was priced for and that’s why you’re seeing Treasuries rally and equities rally as well. I think the expectation in the markets was a lowering to one dot. I think that was really the consensus and the fact that we’ve had 11 at zero, so effectively no hikes this year, sends a pretty dovish signal to the market.”

Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst, Western Union Business Solutions, Washington

“The Fed exceeded markets’ dovish expectations which took a toll on the greenback. The Fed did a big about-face on policy. The fact that the Fed threw in the towel on a 2019 rate hike was particularly dovish. Still, with the Fed erring more on supporting growth, it could reduce the chance of a rate cut in the months ahead. As for the timing on the end of balance sheet normalization, September is the early side of expectations.”

Evan Brown, head of macro asset allocation strategy, UBS Asset Management, New York

“It definitely skewed on the dovish side of expectations. The main surprise is that the Fed projects zero hikes in 2019. Whereas our broad expectation, and the expectation of consensus, was for them to leave in at least one hike in 2019. So, they’re effectively saying they’re done for the year.

“There’s one hike projected for 2020 but there’s a long time between now and then and so the market is effectively taking the view that the Fed is done tightening.  

“The balance sheet rolloff information is coming in in line with expectations. The main surprise is having no hikes in 2019 for the median dot projection – and there was a surprisingly high number of FOMC members who were in favor of that.”

Walter Todd, chief investment officer, Greenwood Capital, Greenwood, South Carolina

“The market had already priced in no hikes for 2019, but the Fed kind of validated that with the dots. That’s somewhat significant. The clarification on when they are going to end the balance sheet, maybe that was sooner than people anticipated, end of September. That’s the two things that the market is maybe reacting to at this point.”

(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
FILE PHOTO: Mar 10, 2019; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) takes the field prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts said Wednesday he doesn’t expect to sign a contract extension with the Boston Red Sox.

He told Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald he’s firm that he will enter the 2019 season playing under his existing one-year, $20 million deal.

“That’s exactly what I expect,” the outfielder said. “Didn’t expect anything to happen until I’m a free agent.”

Betts confirmed to reporters he rejected an offer of eight years and $200 million following the 2017 season, first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Betts can become a free agent after the 2020 season.

With baseball’s brightest young stars now committed to monster deals — Manny Machado (San Diego, 10 years/$300 million) Bryce Harper (Philadelphia, 13 years/$330 million) and Mike Trout (finalizing a reported 12-year, $430 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels) — Betts will command much more than $200 million if he remains on his career trajectory.

And he knows it.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold,” Betts, a 26-year-old Tennessee native, told reporters. .”.. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

In 2018, Betts led the AL with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage and 129 runs. His .438 on-base percentage ranked second to Trout’s .460 mark. He displayed power and speed, hitting 32 home runs and stealing 30 bases.

In 644 career games over four-plus seasons with the Red Sox, Betts has a .303 career batting average, 110 home runs, 110 stolen bases and 390 RBIs.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Netflix lit up the internet Wednesday when it dropped the official trailer for Season 3 of “Stranger Things,” and it’s fair to say fans are freaking out.

In the nearly three-minute-long trailer, we got a sneak peek at all our favorite characters as classic music from the 80s played in the background.

Soon we are introduced to at least one of the creatures from the infamous upside-down that the people in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, will have to deal with once again. (RELATED: Watch The Trailer For Tom Hanks’ Latest Film ‘Inferno’ [VIDEO])

WATCH:

The clip shared on YouTube starts out with Eleven (played by Millie Bobbie Brown) using her powers to give one of the guys, Dustin, a good scare as the gang welcomes him home while Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” played.

There is a return of fan favorites like Chief Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), just to name a few. At one point, we hear Mike played by Finn Wolfhard saying, “We’re not kids anymore. I mean what did you think? We are just going to sit in my basement all day?”

Everything seems like life has moved on since we last saw all of them, but soon, it becomes clear that danger still lurks. (RELATED:  ‘Stranger Things’ Is Coming Back For A Second Season [VIDEO])

There are very quick flashes of things like men wielding guns and a large monster-like creature, among so many other things.

The highly anticipated third season follows the surprising hit of 2016 when the streaming site launched “Stranger Things.” The sci-fi series follows the adventures of a group of teenagers and one supernatural girl as they battle monsters from the upside-down.

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see their favorite show as it hits Netflix July 4.

Source: The Daily Caller

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Netflix lit up the internet Wednesday when it dropped the official trailer for Season 3 of “Stranger Things,” and it’s fair to say fans are freaking out.

In the nearly three-minute-long trailer, we got a sneak peek at all our favorite characters as classic music from the 80s played in the background.

Soon we are introduced to at least one of the creatures from the infamous upside-down that the people in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, will have to deal with once again. (RELATED: Watch The Trailer For Tom Hanks’ Latest Film ‘Inferno’ [VIDEO])

WATCH:

The clip shared on YouTube starts out with Eleven (played by Millie Bobbie Brown) using her powers to give one of the guys, Dustin, a good scare as the gang welcomes him home while Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” played.

There is a return of fan favorites like Chief Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), just to name a few. At one point, we hear Mike played by Finn Wolfhard saying, “We’re not kids anymore. I mean what did you think? We are just going to sit in my basement all day?”

Everything seems like life has moved on since we last saw all of them, but soon, it becomes clear that danger still lurks. (RELATED:  ‘Stranger Things’ Is Coming Back For A Second Season [VIDEO])

There are very quick flashes of things like men wielding guns and a large monster-like creature, among so many other things.

The highly anticipated third season follows the surprising hit of 2016 when the streaming site launched “Stranger Things.” The sci-fi series follows the adventures of a group of teenagers and one supernatural girl as they battle monsters from the upside-down.

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see their favorite show as it hits Netflix July 4.

Source: The Daily Caller

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Netflix lit up the internet Wednesday when it dropped the official trailer for Season 3 of “Stranger Things,” and it’s fair to say fans are freaking out.

In the nearly three-minute-long trailer, we got a sneak peek at all our favorite characters as classic music from the 80s played in the background.

Soon we are introduced to at least one of the creatures from the infamous upside-down that the people in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, will have to deal with once again. (RELATED: Watch The Trailer For Tom Hanks’ Latest Film ‘Inferno’ [VIDEO])

WATCH:

The clip shared on YouTube starts out with Eleven (played by Millie Bobbie Brown) using her powers to give one of the guys, Dustin, a good scare as the gang welcomes him home while Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” played.

There is a return of fan favorites like Chief Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), just to name a few. At one point, we hear Mike played by Finn Wolfhard saying, “We’re not kids anymore. I mean what did you think? We are just going to sit in my basement all day?”

Everything seems like life has moved on since we last saw all of them, but soon, it becomes clear that danger still lurks. (RELATED:  ‘Stranger Things’ Is Coming Back For A Second Season [VIDEO])

There are very quick flashes of things like men wielding guns and a large monster-like creature, among so many other things.

The highly anticipated third season follows the surprising hit of 2016 when the streaming site launched “Stranger Things.” The sci-fi series follows the adventures of a group of teenagers and one supernatural girl as they battle monsters from the upside-down.

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see their favorite show as it hits Netflix July 4.

Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

The Los Angeles Rams paid way too much money to sign Clay Matthews.

According to Mike Garafolo, Matthews got a two-year deal with a max value north of nearly $17 million. Yes, the Rams actually handed him that kind of money. (RELATED: Ndamukong Suh Not Expected To Re-Sign With The Rams)

It’s straight-up pure madness.

I’ve thought this for a long time, but Clay Matthews is one of the most overrated players that I’ve ever seen in the NFL.

He runs around, gets loud, consistently misreads offenses and doesn’t do much of anything to make me believe he’s worthy of the hype.

I will never understand why Packers fans loved him so much. It makes less than zero sense to me. I get the fact that he’s marketable, but starring in ads doesn’t make you a great player in the NFL. (RELATED: Sean Payton Spent Three Days Eating Ice Cream And Watching Netflix After NFC Championship Game Loss)

I wouldn’t have paid him a fraction of this money. He’s old and isn’t as good as people think. The Rams, a team that made the Super Bowl, should have a much better eye for talent.

The Rams are going to be reading this article next season, and they’re going to regret not listening to me. I can’t prove it, but I just know it to be so.

The Rams had such a bright future, but I don’t know how long that will last if they’re throwing this kind of money around at guys like Clay Matthews.

What an awful decision.

Source: The Daily Caller

David Hookstead | Reporter

The Los Angeles Rams paid way too much money to sign Clay Matthews.

According to Mike Garafolo, Matthews got a two-year deal with a max value north of nearly $17 million. Yes, the Rams actually handed him that kind of money. (RELATED: Ndamukong Suh Not Expected To Re-Sign With The Rams)

It’s straight-up pure madness.

I’ve thought this for a long time, but Clay Matthews is one of the most overrated players that I’ve ever seen in the NFL.

He runs around, gets loud, consistently misreads offenses and doesn’t do much of anything to make me believe he’s worthy of the hype.

I will never understand why Packers fans loved him so much. It makes less than zero sense to me. I get the fact that he’s marketable, but starring in ads doesn’t make you a great player in the NFL. (RELATED: Sean Payton Spent Three Days Eating Ice Cream And Watching Netflix After NFC Championship Game Loss)

I wouldn’t have paid him a fraction of this money. He’s old and isn’t as good as people think. The Rams, a team that made the Super Bowl, should have a much better eye for talent.

The Rams are going to be reading this article next season, and they’re going to regret not listening to me. I can’t prove it, but I just know it to be so.

The Rams had such a bright future, but I don’t know how long that will last if they’re throwing this kind of money around at guys like Clay Matthews.

What an awful decision.

Source: The Daily Caller

A statue is pictured next to the logo of Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: A statue is pictured next to the logo of Germany’s Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 20, 2019

By Matt Scuffham

(Reuters) – Deutsche Bank AG’s merger talks with Commerzbank AG has put its 10,000 U.S. workers on edge, three employees told Reuters, with some concerned a deal could pressure Deutsche to further shrink or even dispose of its U.S. businesses.

The future of the bank’s U.S. trading and investment banking presence had already been in question, with some shareholders calling for further cuts on top of ones announced last year, and speculation has intensified following confirmation of the merger talks on Sunday.

The German government, which has a 15 percent stake in Commerzbank, is expected to retain a stake in the combined business if a deal materializes. Some employees fear that could pressure the bank to focus on its home market.

Both banks have cautioned that the outcome of the talks remains uncertain, and the process could drag on for months. In the meantime key employees could decamp to rival Wall Street banks and hedge funds, further weakening a business that has underperformed for years. Several executives have left the bank’s U.S. operations in recent months.

“We don’t know what’s going on. Everything is up in the air,” said one senior employee within the bank’s U.S. equity sales business, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Chief Executive Christian Sewing reiterated in a memo to staff on Sunday that Deutsche aimed to remain a “global bank with a strong capital markets business,” and a source familiar with the matter said the merger would not change the bank’s commitment to a strong U.S. presence.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Wednesday.

German finance minister Olaf Scholz, reportedly a proponent of the merger, has previously stressed the need for Germany’s banking sector to support German companies who want to go abroad to export.

After the 2007-2009 financial crisis, Deutsche maintained a large presence on Wall Street, even as European rivals like Credit Suisse Group AG made big cuts to U.S. investment banking operations.

Deutsche Bank’s U.S. business has brought in around half of revenue for its overall investment banking unit, which includes corporate and investment banking as well as trading, even though it came with a relatively high cost of capital.

However, encumbered by litigation and regulatory investigations into past misconduct, the business has struggled to compete with Wall Street rivals.

Deutsche had said last May that it would reduce its global headcount to well below 90,000 from 97,000. That included a 25 percent cut in equities sales and trading jobs, a significant number of which were in New York, where it has lagged rivals.

Cutting more jobs in the United States would not provoke the same political pushback that the two banks would face if they axe jobs in Germany, banking analysts say.

PAY CONCERNS

Even if Deutsche Bank keeps its U.S. operations largely intact following a Commerzbank deal, some staff fear pay and bonuses would decline because the combined entity would face a backlash from German taxpayers if its remuneration was seen as excessive.

Commerzbank, which is focused on personal and commercial lending, typically pays its staff less than Deutsche Bank. If the German government were to retain a stake in a combined entity, lawmakers would likely argue that it should keep a tight rein on pay.

Traders at Deutsche Bank’s U.S. equities business have already felt a squeeze, with some receiving substantially smaller bonuses for 2018, the sources said.

That has contributed to a decline in morale, which has been exacerbated by the departure of senior staff including Brad Kurtzman, co-head of equities trading in the Americas, who is leaving at the end of this month, the sources said.

A recent focus on recruiting college graduates, held up by senior management as an affirmation of the bank’s long-term commitment to the trading division, has done little to quell concern, they added.

One employee, who asked not to be named, said further defections are considered likely as staff look to pre-empt further cuts should the Commerzbank deal go through.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Source: OANN

A statue is pictured next to the logo of Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: A statue is pictured next to the logo of Germany’s Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 20, 2019

By Matt Scuffham

(Reuters) – Deutsche Bank AG’s merger talks with Commerzbank AG has put its 10,000 U.S. workers on edge, three employees told Reuters, with some concerned a deal could pressure Deutsche to further shrink or even dispose of its U.S. businesses.

The future of the bank’s U.S. trading and investment banking presence had already been in question, with some shareholders calling for further cuts on top of ones announced last year, and speculation has intensified following confirmation of the merger talks on Sunday.

The German government, which has a 15 percent stake in Commerzbank, is expected to retain a stake in the combined business if a deal materializes. Some employees fear that could pressure the bank to focus on its home market.

Both banks have cautioned that the outcome of the talks remains uncertain, and the process could drag on for months. In the meantime key employees could decamp to rival Wall Street banks and hedge funds, further weakening a business that has underperformed for years. Several executives have left the bank’s U.S. operations in recent months.

“We don’t know what’s going on. Everything is up in the air,” said one senior employee within the bank’s U.S. equity sales business, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Chief Executive Christian Sewing reiterated in a memo to staff on Sunday that Deutsche aimed to remain a “global bank with a strong capital markets business,” and a source familiar with the matter said the merger would not change the bank’s commitment to a strong U.S. presence.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Wednesday.

German finance minister Olaf Scholz, reportedly a proponent of the merger, has previously stressed the need for Germany’s banking sector to support German companies who want to go abroad to export.

After the 2007-2009 financial crisis, Deutsche maintained a large presence on Wall Street, even as European rivals like Credit Suisse Group AG made big cuts to U.S. investment banking operations.

Deutsche Bank’s U.S. business has brought in around half of revenue for its overall investment banking unit, which includes corporate and investment banking as well as trading, even though it came with a relatively high cost of capital.

However, encumbered by litigation and regulatory investigations into past misconduct, the business has struggled to compete with Wall Street rivals.

Deutsche had said last May that it would reduce its global headcount to well below 90,000 from 97,000. That included a 25 percent cut in equities sales and trading jobs, a significant number of which were in New York, where it has lagged rivals.

Cutting more jobs in the United States would not provoke the same political pushback that the two banks would face if they axe jobs in Germany, banking analysts say.

PAY CONCERNS

Even if Deutsche Bank keeps its U.S. operations largely intact following a Commerzbank deal, some staff fear pay and bonuses would decline because the combined entity would face a backlash from German taxpayers if its remuneration was seen as excessive.

Commerzbank, which is focused on personal and commercial lending, typically pays its staff less than Deutsche Bank. If the German government were to retain a stake in a combined entity, lawmakers would likely argue that it should keep a tight rein on pay.

Traders at Deutsche Bank’s U.S. equities business have already felt a squeeze, with some receiving substantially smaller bonuses for 2018, the sources said.

That has contributed to a decline in morale, which has been exacerbated by the departure of senior staff including Brad Kurtzman, co-head of equities trading in the Americas, who is leaving at the end of this month, the sources said.

A recent focus on recruiting college graduates, held up by senior management as an affirmation of the bank’s long-term commitment to the trading division, has done little to quell concern, they added.

One employee, who asked not to be named, said further defections are considered likely as staff look to pre-empt further cuts should the Commerzbank deal go through.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Source: OANN

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

“The View” co-host Joy Behar took a swipe at President Donald Trump Wednesday, claiming he jumped into a Twitter feud with George Conway because “he likes separating families.”

WATCH:

Conway, who is married to Senior White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway, has repeatedly attacked Trump on Twitter — leading some to question how the couple gets along at home is he really feels so strongly about his wife’s job and her boss. Trump has responded to Conway, leading still more to question why he would get involved.

Co-host Whoopi Goldberg, who is back on the ABC program after a lengthy illness, kicked off the segment saying, “So, you-know-who also had time to lash out at the continuing attacks from George Conway, calling him ‘Mr. Kellyanne Conway,’ like that’s an insult, claiming that he didn’t get a job at the White House and that he’s, quote, ‘a stone cold loser and husband from hell.’” (RELATED: Trump Rips George Conway: ‘Total Loser’)

Behar jumped right in, arguing that it made perfect sense for Trump to insert himself into the conversation. “It makes sense that he would — Trump would get in the middle of this because he likes to separate families, if you noticed, at the border at the wherever else he can do it,” she claimed.

Fox News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume took a more philosophical approach, suggesting that there was little to gain for the president in attacking someone “no one has ever heard of.”

There are, however, a number of people — who happen to have national platforms — who have elevated Conway’s criticisms of the president to the point that he may no longer qualify as “someone most Americans have never heard of.”

What none of those elevating Conway to the level of “Twitter Ph.D.” mention is the fact that, in real life, he is an attorney.

Follow Virginia on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter

A mother whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant demanded justice Wednesday after the killer was given a light sentence.

“My son, he was a very … he loved life. He lived life as if every day was the last day. And I didn’t intend for his last day to come so soon,” Cameo Robinson said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.”

Jamar Beach was riding his motorcycle in North Carolina on Sept. 1, 2018 when Cruz Carmona failed to yield and crashed into Beach’s bike. Beach was then decapitated, and Carmona kept driving.

“At that point, yes, it was an accident,” Robinson said. “However, Mr. Cruz Carmona never stopped. He decapitated my son and kept going with his body lodged in the side of the van. And so for me, that’s not an accident. That was a choice at that point.”

Carmona only received 20-33 months in prison after prosecutors said they couldn’t pursue further charges without evidence, according to WRAL. He could be released in as little as 14 months with credit for time served.

WATCH:

“For me it comes to mind that you had no type of caring or empathy for life itself,” Robinson said. (RELATED: Supremes To Decide If States Can Prosecute Illegal Immigrants For Identity Theft)

“Because, for you to drive away with a body lodged in a van and you were not alone. You had friends in the van. So for a van-load full of people to have a body come across them, they had to move my son and then you parked the van in a parking space … because I did look at the crime scene pictures. You parked in a parking space and walked 20 feet home or wherever you went to. And at that point, you never called the paramedics, the ambulance, or anything at that point.”

Robinson said Carmona should be deported along with any illegal immigrant who commits a major crime.

“Him being in the country illegally, that is — there’s so much of that going on nowadays. Especially down in North Carolina, but his punishment should be deportation,” she said.

“And although he will probably return, that still should be his punishment because he’s committed a crime, so therefore, he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to live in the land of the free. Because he should have been at home taking care of his family. He is married, with two young children himself. So, for him to be here, making money and sending it home to Mexico, either you stay in Mexico or you come here and get yourself legal and then start your life in the land of the free.”

You can Follow Nick on Twitter

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

Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter

A mother whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant demanded justice Wednesday after the killer was given a light sentence.

“My son, he was a very … he loved life. He lived life as if every day was the last day. And I didn’t intend for his last day to come so soon,” Cameo Robinson said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.”

Jamar Beach was riding his motorcycle in North Carolina on Sept. 1, 2018 when Cruz Carmona failed to yield and crashed into Beach’s bike. Beach was then decapitated, and Carmona kept driving.

“At that point, yes, it was an accident,” Robinson said. “However, Mr. Cruz Carmona never stopped. He decapitated my son and kept going with his body lodged in the side of the van. And so for me, that’s not an accident. That was a choice at that point.”

Carmona only received 20-33 months in prison after prosecutors said they couldn’t pursue further charges without evidence, according to WRAL. He could be released in as little as 14 months with credit for time served.

WATCH:

“For me it comes to mind that you had no type of caring or empathy for life itself,” Robinson said. (RELATED: Supremes To Decide If States Can Prosecute Illegal Immigrants For Identity Theft)

“Because, for you to drive away with a body lodged in a van and you were not alone. You had friends in the van. So for a van-load full of people to have a body come across them, they had to move my son and then you parked the van in a parking space … because I did look at the crime scene pictures. You parked in a parking space and walked 20 feet home or wherever you went to. And at that point, you never called the paramedics, the ambulance, or anything at that point.”

Robinson said Carmona should be deported along with any illegal immigrant who commits a major crime.

“Him being in the country illegally, that is — there’s so much of that going on nowadays. Especially down in North Carolina, but his punishment should be deportation,” she said.

“And although he will probably return, that still should be his punishment because he’s committed a crime, so therefore, he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to live in the land of the free. Because he should have been at home taking care of his family. He is married, with two young children himself. So, for him to be here, making money and sending it home to Mexico, either you stay in Mexico or you come here and get yourself legal and then start your life in the land of the free.”

You can Follow Nick on Twitter

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

Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter

A mother whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant demanded justice Wednesday after the killer was given a light sentence.

“My son, he was a very … he loved life. He lived life as if every day was the last day. And I didn’t intend for his last day to come so soon,” Cameo Robinson said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.”

Jamar Beach was riding his motorcycle in North Carolina on Sept. 1, 2018 when Cruz Carmona failed to yield and crashed into Beach’s bike. Beach was then decapitated, and Carmona kept driving.

“At that point, yes, it was an accident,” Robinson said. “However, Mr. Cruz Carmona never stopped. He decapitated my son and kept going with his body lodged in the side of the van. And so for me, that’s not an accident. That was a choice at that point.”

Carmona only received 20-33 months in prison after prosecutors said they couldn’t pursue further charges without evidence, according to WRAL. He could be released in as little as 14 months with credit for time served.

WATCH:

“For me it comes to mind that you had no type of caring or empathy for life itself,” Robinson said. (RELATED: Supremes To Decide If States Can Prosecute Illegal Immigrants For Identity Theft)

“Because, for you to drive away with a body lodged in a van and you were not alone. You had friends in the van. So for a van-load full of people to have a body come across them, they had to move my son and then you parked the van in a parking space … because I did look at the crime scene pictures. You parked in a parking space and walked 20 feet home or wherever you went to. And at that point, you never called the paramedics, the ambulance, or anything at that point.”

Robinson said Carmona should be deported along with any illegal immigrant who commits a major crime.

“Him being in the country illegally, that is — there’s so much of that going on nowadays. Especially down in North Carolina, but his punishment should be deportation,” she said.

“And although he will probably return, that still should be his punishment because he’s committed a crime, so therefore, he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to live in the land of the free. Because he should have been at home taking care of his family. He is married, with two young children himself. So, for him to be here, making money and sending it home to Mexico, either you stay in Mexico or you come here and get yourself legal and then start your life in the land of the free.”

You can Follow Nick on Twitter

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

The United States must have a policy of "sustained presence" in order to confront Islamic extremism abroad, former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus told CBS News and Intelligence Matters on Wednesday.

"This is a generational struggle at the least," said Petraeus, who led coalition forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. "I understand fully why presidents want to end wars rather than to start them, why they want to get out of wars and do nation-building at home. But we do have to stay with this. We need a sustained presence, a sustained commitment."

Petraeus also stressed four additional major points needed to create an effective strategic approach to combatting Islamic extremism, some of which are in marked contrast to recent policy decisions made by the Trump administration, which has started a troop withdrawal process from Syria and Afghanistan that some have criticized as premature.  

Petraues emphasized that the U.S. must do something to make sure there are not ungoverned spaces in the Muslim world that will be exploited by Islamist extremists," and that the American military msut take the lead in these efforts, because "Our capabilities are so vastly greater than all of our allies put together."

The general also said that a “comprehensive approach” is needed, and not just fighting terrorists, in order to counter extremism, which only stresses the importance of a sustained commitment.

Petraeus said the U.S. had already "figured out" from its experiences in Iraq and Syria, how to lessen its own long-term costs while enabling host countries step up to take on most of the burden of rebuilding and fighting on the front lines.

Source: NewsMax

The United States must have a policy of "sustained presence" in order to confront Islamic extremism abroad, former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus told CBS News and Intelligence Matters on Wednesday.

"This is a generational struggle at the least," said Petraeus, who led coalition forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. "I understand fully why presidents want to end wars rather than to start them, why they want to get out of wars and do nation-building at home. But we do have to stay with this. We need a sustained presence, a sustained commitment."

Petraeus also stressed four additional major points needed to create an effective strategic approach to combatting Islamic extremism, some of which are in marked contrast to recent policy decisions made by the Trump administration, which has started a troop withdrawal process from Syria and Afghanistan that some have criticized as premature.  

Petraues emphasized that the U.S. must do something to make sure there are not ungoverned spaces in the Muslim world that will be exploited by Islamist extremists," and that the American military msut take the lead in these efforts, because "Our capabilities are so vastly greater than all of our allies put together."

The general also said that a “comprehensive approach” is needed, and not just fighting terrorists, in order to counter extremism, which only stresses the importance of a sustained commitment.

Petraeus said the U.S. had already "figured out" from its experiences in Iraq and Syria, how to lessen its own long-term costs while enabling host countries step up to take on most of the burden of rebuilding and fighting on the front lines.

Source: NewsMax

Grover Norquist | President, Americans for Tax Reform

Politicians love to play with trains. And your money.

In Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” she suggests that high speed rail should be built out across the country and used in place of air travel. But California’s “bullet” train is just one of several examples that demonstrate why tax dollars should not be wasted on these types of projects.

California’s bullet train, which was intended to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco, was originally estimated to cost $33 billion. However, the one-party state of California recently decided to pull the plug on this undertaking due to the fact that after 11 years and basically nothing to show for it, the real cost of the bullet train had climbed to $98 billion in state and federal tax dollars.

A round-trip flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco can be purchased for $149, and the flight takes 90 minutes. The bullet train was an expensive non-solution in search of a problem.

Meanwhile, some politicians in Mississippi, a predominantly Republican state, think it just might be a good idea to shovel taxpayer money to a proposed passenger train in the Southeast. As in California, this proposal — formally known as the Gulf Coast Rail Project — would soon turn into a massive taxpayer boondoggle.

Unfortunately for taxpayers in Mississippi, the Gulf Coast Rail Project is shaping up to be the same disaster. Given the California example, it is much harder to pretend ignorance.

While the total cost for this project, which calls for two daily passenger trains to run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, is hidden, taxpayers will be on the hook for long-term operational and maintenance costs in addition to the infrastructure enhancements, including new train stations.

Estimates have shown that a one-way rail trip on these passenger trains would take more than 3 hours, and would require a subsidy of $180 per passenger. Today, a person wanting to travel between New Orleans and Mobile can get a ticket on Megabus, a 2.5-hour trip, for $14. For the $180 subsidy, the state could give 12 free bus tickets per passenger. In fact, hiring an Uber, a 2-2.5 hour trip, would often be less expensive than $180.

Recognizing the longer length of the train trip, it is reasonable to assume that it would be the least popular choice of commuters. In fact, the rail carrier’s own analysis projects the Gulf Coast Rail Project would attract just 26 riders per train. That is just two more than there are “blackbirds baked” in Mother Goose’s pie.

It gets worse. The Gulf Coast Rail Project would put jobs and potential new jobs at risk. The passenger trains would run on a line that is now being used by freight trains. Since passenger trains get preference over freight trains and the line is mostly single tracked, the Gulf Coast Rail project will interfere with freight traffic industries along the Mississippi Coast. How many companies would decide to build new factories along a hobbled freight rail line?

Mississippi lawmakers should learn from the California bullet train fiasco, as well as the lessons closer to home: similar state-supported trains that once ran between New Orleans and Mobile in the past were discontinued because they were slower, less reliable, and more expensive than other existing modes of transportation.

As Randal O’Toole, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Romance of Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need, has exposed:

Today, air travel is far less expensive than train travel, with airfares averaging under 14 cents a passenger mile, barely more than a third of Amtrak fares even though Amtrak receives much bigger subsidies, per passenger mile, than the airlines.

There is no justification for wasting millions of hard-earned tax dollars on yet another expensive, inflexible and unneeded train. Today planes, buses, Uber, and Lyft do much more, much better for much less.

Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) is president of Americans for Tax Reform.


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

People make their way past the National Bank of Greece headquarters in central Athens
FILE PHOTO: People make their way past the National Bank of Greece headquarters in central Athens, Greece, February 19, 2017. Picture taken February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis

March 20, 2019

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece is planning to submit a bill to parliament on Friday to protect borrowers from home foreclosures, a government official said on Wednesday, though it is yet to secure the agreement of its lenders on its terms.

A wrangle over rules governing loans that have pledged a primary home as collateral helped delay the release of about 1 billion euros from Greece’s lenders, including the European Union and the European Central Bank, earlier this month.

The lenders, who are still monitoring Greece’s progress after it emerged from an international bailout seven months ago, want stricter terms than those proposed by Athens.

“Talks between the government and the supervisory institutions over the clarification of technical details will continue until Friday,” the official said, without clarifying if the government would submit the bill without securing lenders’ consent.

To conclude its second-post bailout review and qualify for the cash, Athens needs to get the green light from lenders before the new framework passes into law.

The issue is set to be discussed at a meeting of euro zone deputy finance ministers on Monday. A Commission representative said on Wednesday he is optimistic a deal can be reached before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on April 5.

Greece has been working on a new framework to succeed a law protecting borrowers from home foreclosures to accelerate the clean-up of bad loans burdening its banking sector, while protecting those hit by the crisis.

Its latest disagreement with lenders hinges on the scope of the new legal framework, including ceilings on primary home market values, income criteria to qualify for protection and the inclusion of small corporate loans.

A banker told Reuters on Wednesday that talks had reached a stalemate. Greece wanted to include a total of 11 billion euros in sour loans in the new scheme, while the lenders had capped the amount to 6-7 billion, another banker said.

Sour loans account for about 45 percent of banks’ overall loan book. The country has promised regulators it will take steps to shrink bad loans by more than a third by the end of 2019.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Renee Maltezou and Jan Harvey)

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Yomiuri Giants
Mar 17, 2019; Tokyo, Japan; Seattle Mariners right fielder Domingo Santana (16) flips his helmet in the air after being picked off of second base during the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Tokyo Dome. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

TOKYO – Domingo Santana led an offensive barrage with an opposite field grand slam and the Seattle Mariners topped the Oakland Athletics 9-7 in the first game of the 2019 regular season in the Tokyo Dome.

A sellout crowd of 45,787 clamoring to see what is likely Ichiro Suzuki’s final pro appearance in Japan was treated to an offensive showcase in the first of a two-game series. The Mariners and A’s combined for 16 hits and five home runs, including a game-changing grand slam from Santana in his Mariners debut.

“Any time someone comes up with a big clutch hit, we score some runs, that’s a huge deal,” Mariners right-hander Marco Gonzales said. “You can see that once this team starts going, once we start firing it’s kind of a domino effect. Seeing him get things going for us in a big way.”

Santana inside-outed an 0-1 pitch, sneaking it inside the right-field foul pole to clear the bases and put Seattle on top 5-2 in the top of the third. The blast capped a five-run inning, and the Mariners would not relinquish the lead.

Khris Davis brought Oakland back within 5-4 on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the third, blasting a line-drive, two-run home to left-center field. It was Oakland’s second home run of the night after Stephen Piscotty opened the power show in the first inning.

The Mariners tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Tim Beckham crushed a two-run home run to left field the very next at-bat to eventually put Seattle ahead 9-4.

The bulb flashes of cameras started immediately when Ichiro walked to the on-deck circle in the top of the third. The crowd roared during his two plate appearances, and when he made his exit in the fourth inning, coming out with the position players only to turn around and return to the dugout. He was replaced by Daniel Vogelbach.

“Ichiro will play in the game tomorrow. Not sure if he will start but he will get out there at some point,” manager Scott Servais said. “With Ichiro’s situation coming into this series certainly wanted to give him an opportunity to play, but we also wanted to give other players an opportunity to get into the game and do what’s best for the team.”

Servais said the Mariners are going one day at a time deciding whether Ichiro would make the 25-man roster when the team returns to the U.S.

Matt Chapman brought Oakland back with a three-run home run, the game’s fifth homer, in the seventh inning off of Nick Rumbelow to make it 9-7.

Hunter Strickland finished off the A’s 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, fanning Chapman to earn the save in his debut for the Mariners.

Mike Fiers took the loss for the A’s. He lasted three innings in his debut as Oakland’s opening day ace, pitching through Seattle’s five-run third inning but not coming out for the fourth.

“It was not a good job by me,” Fiers said of his outing and giving up a 2-1 lead on Santana’s blast.

He faced only seven batters his first two innings and threw only 22 pitches, but faded in the third inning and was chased after 58 pitches.

Gonzales fared better on the other side in his debut as pitching staff ace for the Mariners, going six innings, giving up three earned runs, striking out four and walking one. He exited with the lead despite giving up runs each of the first three innings, but settling down and facing only 10 batters his final three frames.

–By Sean Kramer, Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

March 20, 2019

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican government is seeking a bilateral deal with the United States that includes a $10 billion development plan for Mexico and Central America aimed at addressing immigration, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday.

Lopez Obrador said the potential agreement, which would focus on generating employment so that more would-be migrants could find work at home, was discussed during a Tuesday night meeting with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

(Reporting by Miguel Angel Guteirrez; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a meeting in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman -/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union executive is urging EU leaders this week to get tough on trade with Beijing and use their 2.4 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) market in public tenders as leverage to pressure countries such as China to open up.

The bloc has sought to avoid taking sides in a multi-billion dollar trade war between Washington and Beijing, but has become increasingly frustrated by subsidies and state involvement in the Chinese economy, and what it sees as the slow pace of change.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told Reuters that the time was gone when China, the EU’s second largest goods trading partner, could argue that it needed to protect its developing economy.

“The old narrative is absolutely obsolete,” he said in an interview.

EU leaders will debate relations with China over dinner at a summit on Thursday.

The Commission now wants to revive a proposal that could lead to the bloc limiting foreign firms’ access to public tenders if there is discrimination against EU firms in their home procurement market.

In such cases, a penalty surcharge of up to 20 percent would be applied to the foreign bids.

The Commission proposed its International Procurement Instrument (IPI) in 2012 and 2016, largely at the instigation of France, but faced resistance from several EU countries.

However, it believes there is more willingness now to be firm with China, notably after EU members late last year backed a system of screening foreign investments for threats to strategic technologies and infrastructure.

“Once they saw concrete acquisitions, everybody started to back the (screening) proposal,” Katainen said. “The same thing will happen with IPI as it’s a way to improve reciprocity.”

Neither the screening law nor the public procurement proposal mention China by name, but the Commission mentioned both in its 10-point action plan on EU-China relations, published last week.

A German EU diplomat welcomed the paper as a whole, calling it “comprehensive and courageous”. However, the northern EU members that are most enthusiastic about free trade fear that the measure smacks of protectionism and could harm taxpayers by shutting out cheaper Chinese providers, for instance.

The Commission says Europe needs to take a coordinated approach and that EU companies face the most discrimination in public procurement worldwide, citing Global Trade Alert data.

Of the 10 countries most discriminated against, five are European, with Germany at the top. However, China comes second, and more than 40 percent of the restrictive measures are applied in or by the United States.

Commission officials said the proposal had in mind restrictions in India, Indonesia, Russia and Turkey, but they would not be drawn on the U.S. Buy American Act at a time when the EU is trying to ease trade tensions with Washington.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

A relative carries a portrait photograph of Ethiopian Airlines pilot Yared Getachew as he mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
A relative carries a portrait photograph of Ethiopian Airlines pilot Yared Getachew as he mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

March 20, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The dreams of the two young men soared as high as the Ethiopian Airlines planes they proudly flew.

Handsome, cosmopolitan Yared Getachew was to marry another plane captain this year. Studious, serious Ahmednur Mohammed rented his first apartment with his maiden paycheck in February.

Their lives, along with 155 others, ended when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plunged into a field moments after take-off in a still unexplained disaster.

Yared, 29, was captain; Ahmednur, 25, his first officer.

Yared was a popular and brilliant student who became the airline’s youngest ever captain at 27, said his father Getachew Tessema, a retired plastic surgeon and dentist.

He spoke to Reuters after a ceremony at the Kenyan embassy in Addis Ababa to honor the 32 Kenyan victims from the crash. Yared’s mother was Kenyan, making him a citizen of two nations.

“I’m very bitter,” 80-year-old Getachew said, sitting hunched with his head in his hand as he reflected on Yared’s shattered marriage plans.

“At least if he had had a child,” he trailed off painfully as friends nodded in understanding.

Yared’s brother Meno Getachew Tessema, 39, sat next to his father, sometimes putting an arm around him as the ceremony progressed. Yared visited Meno’s family in Toronto when the young pilot came to train on flight simulators in Miami twice in the past two years.

By the time of the crash, Yared had amassed 8,100 hours of flying experience, the airline said, unusual at his age but no surprise to the family. They remembered him as a committed student who shone at school as a child in his mother’s native Kenya and as a teenager in his father’s home country Ethiopia.

He went straight into Ethiopian Airlines’ Aviation Academy after high school. “His dream was to be a pilot,” said Meno, a corporate lawyer. “He was diligent, hardworking, he had a consistent work ethic … he was a rising star of Ethiopian Airlines.”

ARCHITECT TURNED PILOT

Sitting next to Yared in the cockpit on March 10 was Ahmednur Mohammed.

While the pair’s professionalism has been lauded, air safety experts fear they – and pilots in a similar crash in Indonesia in October – may not have been sufficiently versed in a new automated anti-stall system in the Boeing 737 MAX series.

The middle of three sons of a small business owner, friends from the sleepy eastern city of Dire Dawa remember Ahmednur as unusually driven to study when others would spend afternoons relaxing in the shade, chewing the narcotic leaf qat.

He spent five years at college studying his first love – architecture – where he earned the nickname 5-10 for his legendary 17-hour library stints, and received gentle ribbing for the neatness of his room.

Even as a student, Ahmednur’s skill earned him some small interior design commissions, friends said.

But the dutiful son feared he would not be able to make enough money as an architect to help his family, said his father Mohammed Omar, a white-haired 60-year-old in a carefully pressed worn suit.

So he switched to aviation school and completed two years of training. After school hours, he would visit a friend whose brother was a pilot and sit in the living room, running through cockpit checklists and motions on the couch, the friend said. He graduated with a commercial pilot’s license, the airline said.

“He would call me every three days. He would talk about his plans, he said that he was going to help his family,” his father told Reuters after Islamic prayers in Ahmednur’s memory at a relative’s house on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

Last Friday, mosques in both the capital and Dire Dawa held prayers for Ahmednur, the family said.

After a few months rest, he began working for Ethiopian Airlines, visiting other nations — Israel, South Africa, Burkina Faso — and earning his first salary.

He adored it, said his brother Menur Mohammed.

Ahmednur amassed 350 flying hours and had just started living alone for the first time when the family heard his plane had gone down.

“It took us long to believe he was dead,” his cousin Imran Mohammed, 30, told Reuters.

“He was so excited to live on his own.”

The family wants the airline or government to build a bridge or a school, something tangible to commemorate Ahmednur: pilot, architect, son. “We want to see something in his name, to remember him,” his father said softly.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

Homes are seen in the Penn Estates development where most of the homeowners are underwater on their mortgages in East Stroudsburg
FILE PHOTO: Homes are seen in the Penn Estates development where most of the homeowners are underwater on their mortgages in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 20, 2018. Picture taken June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

March 20, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. mortgage applications to buy a home and to refinance one climbed to a two-month high last week as home borrowing costs declined to their lowest levels in over a year, data from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed on Wednesday.

The Washington-based industry group’s seasonally adjusted index on mortgage activity edged up 1.6 percent to 390.0 in the week ended March 15. This was the highest reading since 400.6 in the week of Jan. 18.

(GRAPHIC-U.S. mortgages applications link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2RnEpRD).

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

A Spanish flag flutters behind a red traffic light in Madrid
FILE PHOTO: A Spanish flag flutters behind a red traffic light at Plaza Colon square in Madrid, Spain, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

March 20, 2019

By Paul Day

MADRID (Reuters) – The Spanish economy expanded in early 2019 at a pace similar to its growth at the end of 2018, as stronger-than-expected domestic demand offset a slowdown in exports, the Bank of Spain said on Wednesday.

Spain’s growth contrasted with Germany’s, the euro zone’s largest economy, which came close to recession in the first quarter. Slower-than-expected expansion has put the European Central Bank on the defensive.

On Monday, ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said inflation and growth in the region would continue to slow this year, an outlook that has prompted investors to push back expectations for when interest rates would rise to late 2020 from mid-2020.

Spanish gross domestic product, meanwhile, grew 0.6 percent in the January to March period from a quarter earlier, according to central bank forecasts, after 0.7 percent at the end of 2018 and at a similar pace to the first three quarters of last year.

The National Statistics Institute will publish flash gross domestic product data on April 30.

“Spain has not been immune to exterior disturbances, which manifested itself at the end of last year as a notable loss of export strength,” the bank said in its annual report.

“However, the internal dynamism has compensated for the deterioration of external factors to the extent that it has not produced a deceleration in activity as seen throughout the euro zone,” it said.

ROBUST CONSUMPTION

Private consumption in Spain had been especially robust on the back of strong job creation and rising purchasing power thanks to low inflation and falling savings, it said.

The bank saw a continuation of the expansive phase in the medium term as foreign markets improved, noting a boost from the increased competitiveness of Spanish export businesses and good financing conditions amid an accommodative monetary policy.

The Bank of Spain reiterated its forecasts, published in December, for 2019 annual growth of 2.2 percent, 2020 growth of 1.9 percent and 2021 growth of 1.7 percent.

Risks to the forecasts include uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the EU, rising global protectionism and a possible Chinese economic slowdown.

At home, the bank noted that more efforts must be made to reduce the public deficit and debt to protect the economy against potential future shocks.

The bank said its forecast for this year’s public deficit had worsened to 2.5 percent of GDP from a previous forecast in December of 2.4 percent of GDP.

The Socialist government was forced to roll over the 2018 budget to this year after its 2019 budget proposal was defeated in parliament.

(Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Axel Bugge)

Source: OANN

The Wider Image: An immigrant's tale: Leaving Britain to escape Brexit hostility
Maria, 31, holds her baby daughter Ioana, who is less than a week old, at their home in London, Britain, February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Alecsandra Dragoi

March 20, 2019

By Alecsandra Dragoi

LONDON (Reuters) – A few months after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Maria was waiting to see a doctor at a London hospital when an elderly English woman told her to go back to her native Romania.

“You are a foreigner,” Maria, who was heavily pregnant at the time, recalls the woman saying. “Your place is not here.”

Maria was stunned. Until that moment, she had never faced direct abuse over her nationality in her 10 years in the country.

But ever since the 2016 Brexit campaign – when some Leave supporters said they wanted Britain to take more control of immigration – Maria said hostility toward EU nationals such as her has come into the open.

The 31-year-old, who asked to use just her first name, said she was now preparing to leave Britain later this year with her husband and two children, fed up with what she described as xenophobia, as well as the rising cost of living in London.

“After Brexit we could all feel the obvious feeling that we are not wanted here,” Maria said. “I don’t want my kids to grow up in this sort of environment.”

She worries about her children being bullied at school. Last year her Romanian nanny and two-year-old daughter were playing in a park when a woman publicly accused them of being thieves.

Huge uncertainty still hangs over Brexit – with politicians torn between a range of options, including calling the whole thing off. But many Europeans are already voting with their feet and choosing to move.

In the year to the end of June last year, 145,000 EU nationals quit Britain, an 18 percent increase on the previous year, while the number of people arriving has slowed.

Politicians from across the political spectrum regularly say they are proud of Britain’s diverse makeup. And the government has passed legislation to let EU citizens living in the UK apply to stay after the split.

But many EU immigrants, particularly those from the poorer eastern member states such as Poland and Romania, complain they are still made to feel unwelcome.

They say they find themselves accused of stealing jobs from Britons and driving down wages, even though unemployment is at a four-decade low, or of overburdening health services.

Official figures show hate crime in Britain surged to a record level last year, up by almost a fifth, with the Brexit vote cited as a significant factor.Maria came to Britain in 2008 to work in a care home and was hoping she would earn enough buy a car. She initially planned to stay for a year but then met her Romanian husband and decided to stay longer.

On a good month from their work at a removal company, they can save about 500 pounds, enough for them to buy a house back home in Romania. They live frugally in a tiny studio apartment in Hampstead, London, with their two daughters.

They share with their elder daughter a large double bed which takes up most of the flat. There is a small table in the corner of the room where they eat their meals.

“It is very difficult because if one of the children is crying they will wake up the other one,” she said. “You can’t socialize with many people because it is very small.”

Maria said she was initially following all the news about Brexit, but now finds it perplexing.

“I think Brexit is madness,” she said. “I don’t think they needed to come out of the EU. It is very sad that Brexit is destroying the UK.

“We have been affected by this uncertainty. There is so much uncertainty and we just wanted to go home.”

(Writing by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Stephen Addison and Andrew Heavens)

Source: OANN

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 20, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Cindy Silviana

ADDIS ABABA/JAKARTA (Reuters) – The world’s biggest planemaker Boeing faced growing obstacles to returning its grounded 737 MAX fleet to the skies on Wednesday, while chilling details emerged of an Indonesian crash with similarities to the Ethiopian disaster.

Experts suspect an automated system, meant to stop stalling by dipping the nose, may be involved in both cases, with pilots unable to override it as their jets plunged downwards.

The March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash has shaken the global aviation industry and cast a shadow over the flagship Boeing model intended to be a standard for decades to come, given parallels with the Lion Air calamity off Jakarta in October.

The twin crashes killed 346 people.

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k)

Chicago-headquartered Boeing has promised a swift update of the automatic flight software for the craft but major regulators in Europe and Canada want to be sure themselves, rather than rely on U.S. vetting.

As Ethiopian investigators pored over black box data from their crash, sources with knowledge of the doomed Lion Air cockpit voice recorder revealed how pilots scoured a manual in a losing battle to figure out why they were hurtling down to sea.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash want to know how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency.

Communications showed that in the final moments, the captain tried in vain to find the right procedure in the handbook, while the first officer was unable to control the plane.

“It is like a test where there are 100 questions and when the time is up you have only answered 75,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the cockpit recording that has not been made public. “So you panic. It is a time-out condition.”

At the end, the sources told Reuters, the Indian-born captain, 31, was quiet, while the Indonesian officer, 41, said “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) – an Arabic phrase to express excitement, shock, praise or distress. The plane then hit water.

U.S. “CREDIBILITY DAMAGED”

Boeing has said there was a documented procedure to handle the situation. A different crew on the same plane the evening before had the same problem but solved it after running through three checklists, though they did not pass on all that information to the doomed crew, the preliminary report by investigators released in November said.

Rowing back from previous reliance on U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) vetting, Canada and the European Union will now seek their own guarantees over the MAX planes, complicating Boeing’s hopes to get them flying worldwide again.

Regulators want to be absolutely sure of Boeing’s new automated flight control system, known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), and that pilots are fully trained to handle it.

“Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged,” wrote Chesley Sullenberger, a U.S. pilot famed for landing a jet on the Hudson River saving all 155 people on board a decade ago.

“Boeing and the FAA have been found wanting in this ugly saga that began years ago but has come home to roost with two terrible fatal crashes, with no survivors, in less than five months, on a new airplane type, the Boeing 737 Max 8, something that is unprecedented in modern aviation history,” he added in a scathing article on marketwatch.com.

(GRAPHIC: The grounded 737 Max fleet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI)

Facing such high-profile scrutiny, Boeing, one of the United States’ most prestigious exporters, reshuffled executives in its commercial airplanes unit to focus on the crash fallout.

(GRAPHIC: Boeing 737 Max deliveries in question – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

VOICE RECORDINGS

The FAA noted in a statement that its “robust processes” and “full collaboration with the aviation community” were key to safety worldwide. The regulator is due to have a new head soon, likely to be former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson.

U.S. President Donald Trump had apparently been considering his longtime personal pilot, John Dunkin, before leaning toward Dickson who had a 27-year career at Delta.

In Ethiopia, which is leading the investigation, experts were poring over the in-flight recording of Captain Yared Getachew and First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed’s voices.

As with the Indonesia flight, they radioed control problems shortly after take-off and sought to turn back, struggling to get their plane on track before it hit a field. However, there is no proven link and experts emphasize that every accident is a unique chain of human and technical factors.

For now, though, more than 300 MAX aircraft are grounded round the world, and deliveries of nearly 5,000 more – worth well over $500 billion – are on hold.

Development of the 737 MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 percent on fuel, began in 2011 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo. The 737 MAX entered service in 2017 after six years of preparation.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, David Shepardson in Washington, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Cindy Silviana in Jakarta; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Source: OANN

Ganesh Bhalerao, a cartoonist, draws a political cartoon inside his home in Pune
Ganesh Bhalerao, a cartoonist hired by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, draws a political cartoon inside his home in Pune, India, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Rajendra Jadhav

March 20, 2019

By Rajendra Jadhav and Sankalp Phartiyal

PUNE, India (Reuters) – Ganesh Bhalerao is a cartoonist hoping to go viral in the battle to secure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election when India votes over the next two months.

Hired by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to find amusing ways to lionize Modi or lampoon opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, Bhalerao is a social media warrior in an election campaign being fought online as never before.

“Political parties are realizing the importance of cartoons as they elicit a huge response,” the 29-year-old former art teacher told Reuters while feverishly sketching a piece glorifying the Modi government for ordering India’s recent air strikes against Pakistan.

Cartoons posted on BJP-run Facebook pages, Twitter handles and WhatsApp groups are shared hundreds of times and reach millions, Bhalerao told Reuters as he worked in his apartment in the western city of Pune.

“A cartoon conveys the message of a 500-1,000 word article in just a minute,” he said.

The scale of elections in India means voting is staggered, with the first regions going to vote on April 11, and the count to be completed on May 23.

Each day Bhalerao reads the local newspapers, watches the television news, and checks his WhatsApp messages, seeking ideas for an image or issue that might resonate with supporters of the Hindu nationalist BJP.

Being a Modi supporter himself makes it easier.

Like the BJP, Gandhi’s Congress Party and other rivals have their own armies of artists, video editors and journalists to create online content for the social media war.

Hired for the campaign season, they get paid a few hundred dollars a month, according to half a dozen party workers who spoke with Reuters.

Social media has made it a lot easier for political parties to get out their message to more voters. But nowadays, India’s masses want politics served with more pizzazz.

Nearly two-thirds of the population is under 35 years old. Most have little time or patience for attending political rallies, or wading through turgid party manifestoes.

“The larger audience is now more inclined to short videos, cartoons and visuals,” Dimptangshu Chowdhury told Reuters in Kolkata, where he heads the IT wing of Trinamool Congress, a powerful regional party in West Bengal.

(For an interactive graphic on social media presence, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Oa2V84)

(For an interactive graphic on social media users in India, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2FicEGn)

LIMITED OVERSIGHT

India is by far the world’s biggest democracy, but most of its 1.3 billion population belong to lower income groups. And, at a time when more mature democracies than India’s are grappling with the impact of social media, there are concerns about the electorate’s susceptibility to false messages spread online.

As more than two-thirds of Indians live in rural areas, political parties are trying to extend their social media reach through regional languages, to go beyond urban areas where Hindi and English are more commonly spoken.

When Modi’s BJP won a landslide victory in 2014, social media had not become as pervasive as it is today. Data plans were expensive and pricey smartphones were unaffordable for far more people.

Now there are more than 400 million smartphones users and consumers are able to access nearly 50 gigabytes of data for as little as $3 per month.

It all helps explain why social media platforms like Facebook, its messenger WhatsApp and micro-blogging site Twitter have become such fierce political battlegrounds.

In 2014, parties spent less than half a million dollars on digital advertising, but this time round it is likely to be closer to $26 million, according to a top media and marketing firm, which did not want to be named.

India’s Election Commission has asked candidates to report their spending on social media and it also requires them to seek approval for advertisements, but such rules can be bypassed by the use of proxies.

A code of conduct, which prohibits political campaigning 48 hours before voting in any area, will apply for online campaigns too, the commission said earlier this month.

But the new rule is unlikely to stop thousands of party workers from spreading messages on social media platforms.

Putting a cut-off on campaigning doesn’t have any effect anymore, as the Commission is unable to control what is posted online, according to Nikhil Pahwa, digital rights activist and editor of MediaNama, a Delhi-based publication.

“It just doesn’t know how to deal with the idea of content being available online in perpetuity,” Pahwa said.

(This story corrects date of vote count to May 23 in sixth paragraph, and spelling of Trinamool Congress official’s first name in paragraph 13)

(Additional reporting by Subrata Nag Choudhury in Kolkata and Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN


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