Party

Crock-Pots are the best! I use mine all of the time. It comes in handy in feeding a family of five. I also use it for parties and other gatherings. Need to bring a hot dish to a school function? Take your Crock-Pot. Doing a celebratory luncheon at work? Bring your Crock-Pot. Hosting a potluck with your friends? Get out your Crock-Pot. You get the idea. The best part about using a Crock-Pot, you can set it up hours before you need it and then let the food slow cook while you do other things. I use mine for spaghetti sauce, chili, meatballs, soups and stews, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, spareribs, casseroles, chocolate fondue, even oatmeal. I actually have four different Crock-Pots. I have two 6-quart that I use for large gatherings, a 3-quart for a single meal, and a 1.5-quart for sauces and dips. When I say I use them all the time, I’m not kidding.
If you have never used a Crock-Pot and want to try it out, now is the time. Amazon has the 6-quart Crock-Pot on sale for an amazing price! This larger version of the slow cooker retails for $49.99. Amazon has it deep discounted now for only $20.66. Yes, you read that correctly – only $20.66. That is a 59% percent savings. Do you need to replace yours or add another one? At that price, you can buy an extra one. Also, think about who else you know who might need one. Are you going to any wedding showers this summer? Do you have any family members or friends just starting out in their home or apartment. This makes a great gift! Anyone can use one. They even come with simple recipe suggestions. Plus, their are tons of recipes online. I love cooking, but the the truth is you don’t have to even know how to cook. You can stick a bag of frozen meatballs in one with a couple of jars of store bought sauce, buy some rolls and shredded cheese, and presto meatball subs. You have an instant meal.
In today’s microwave society, you might not think of a slow cooker being advantageous. That’s not true. In my opinion, it is a huge time saver to get the food going first. For example, when I am hosting a party there are always a million little last minute details I need to attend to. This way, I can get the food going and clean up the kitchen before I tend to everything else. I highly recommend using a Crock-pot. I’ve been using them for years and I can’t imagine not having one.
(Photo via Amazon)

(Photo via Amazon)

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Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson
FILE PHOTO: Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Mississippi’s Republican governor signed one of America’s strictest abortion bills on Thursday banning women from obtaining an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can often occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Dubbed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ this is the second legislative attempt in less than a year aimed at restricting abortions in a state with a single abortion clinic.

In a tweet earlier this week, Governor Phil Bryant thanked the state’s legislature for “protecting the unborn” by passing the bill and sending it to him for his signature.

The Mississippi law joins a wave of similar Republican-backed measures recently introduced in Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.

Conservative Republican proponents say these bills are intended to challenge Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

U.S. states are jostling for a showdown on abortion rights in 2019, with all eyes on the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

Just last November, a U.S. federal judge struck down a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, ruling that it “unequivocally” violates women’s constitutional rights.

The new Mississippi bill prohibits the abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat, before the point where a woman may be aware she are pregnant.

It also states that any physician who violates the restriction is subject to losing the license to practice medicine.

The law makes exceptions for women whose health is at extreme risk. It is a victory for anti-abortion groups, but abortion rights advocates have promised to pursue legal action to overturn it.

“This ban is one of the most restrictive abortion bans signed into law, and we will take Mississippi to court to make sure it never takes effect,” Hillary Schneller, staff attorney at the global abortion rights advocacy group Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

“This ban — just like the 15 week ban the Governor signed a year ago — is cruel and clearly unconstitutional.”

A fetus that is viable outside the womb, usually at 24 weeks, has widely been considered the threshold in the United States to prohibit an abortion.

Last week, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat abortion law. An Iowa judge overturned that state’s heartbeat law in January after declaring it violated the state’s constitution.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Nick Carey and Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

The Democratic National Committee made a “bad decision” in refusing to hold a primary debate on Fox News, presidential candidate and former Rep. John Delaney said Thursday.

The Maryland Democrat gave an interview on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Thursday, where he said he didn’t know why his fellow candidates for the Democratic nomination have avoided his show.
“I don’t know,” Delaney said. “It’s the same reason why the DNC made, in my judgment, a bad decision not to allow Fox to do a debate.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez announced earlier this month that the party would not hold a debate on Fox News in light of a report from The New Yorker that outlined the close relationship between the network and the Trump administration.

“Because, listen, I think we have to talk to everyone,” Delaney said when asked why he thinks the DNC made a bad decision. “And in many ways, we have a much bigger obligation to talk to those who we don’t agree with on things, right?”

He added later that he thinks abolishing the Electoral College is “such a waste of time,” because “it is never going to happen, so why not spend time talking about what we do to lower drug prices, how we improve the health care system, what we do to make sure we create jobs in parts of this country that have been left behind with huge concentration of investment in a relatively small number of places.”

Related Stories:

Delaney: Electoral College Should Go, But Other Priorities Exist

The Top Democratic Contenders and Also-Rans of the 2020 Election

Source: NewsMax

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Lori Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade is reportedly “really angry” with her parents and feels as though “they ruined everything” following their arrest in the national college admission scam.

“Bella [Giannulli] and Olivia [Jade Giannulli] are suffering in their own ways from the fallout of their parents’ decisions,” a source shared with Entertainment Tonight Wednesday(RELATED: Lori Loughlin’s Daughter Bragged About Going To School To Party)

Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin and Isabella Rose Giannulli attend The Women's Cancer Research Fund's An Unforgettable Evening Benefit Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 28, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin and Isabella Rose Giannulli attend The Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s An Unforgettable Evening Benefit Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 28, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“[Olivia] is really angry with her parents because she told them she did not want to go to college and she was pushed,” the source added. “She has been passionate about her career and wanted to work and was doing well, but that wasn’t enough.” (RELATED: Lori Loughlin Released After Paying $1 Million Bond)

The source continued, “Her parents said she would have to juggle college and her career. Now she’s devastated because everything she built imploded before her eyes. She feels they ruined everything.”.(RELATED: Report: Felicity Huffman Deletes Post About Being A ‘Good Enough’ Mom Following College Admission Scam Arrest)

Since the “Full House” actress and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were arrested and accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughter’s into the University of Southern California (USC), Olivia Jade has lost her partnership with the beauty line Sephora — and shortly thereafter, TRESemme cut ties with her as well. (RELATED: REPORT: 7 FBI Agents Arrested Felicity Huffman At Gunpoint)

Loughlin and her husband have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was later released on $1 million bond.

Sources close to Olivia Jade and her sister have said that they will not be returning to USC for fear of being “terribly bullied.”

As previously reported, Loughlin and her daughters reportedly feel like they are living in a “terrible nightmare.”

“Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman was also named in the college admission scheme and is accused of paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT scores. She was arrested and later released on 250,000 bond.

The two stars were among dozens of parents accused of paying up to $6.5 million to get their kids into elite universities.

Source: The Daily Caller

People take part in a protest against government's plans to overhaul the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, on the Chain Bridge in Budapest.
People take part in a protest against government’s plans to overhaul the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, on the Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, March 21, 2019. The banner reads “Free academy”. REUTERS/Tamas Kaszas

March 21, 2019

By Gergely Szakacs

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Around 1,000 people rallied outside the Hungarian Academy of Science (HAS) on Thursday to protest against government moves to overhaul the institution, which scientists say is the latest threat to academic independence.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who took power in 2010, has tightened controls over Hungarian public life, including the courts, the media and the economy, as well as education and now scientific research.

The European Parliament’s main center-right bloc voted on Wednesday to suspend Orban’s Fidesz party amid concerns it has violated European Union principles on the rule of law.

Some of the protesters on Thursday carried EU flags and waved banners saying “Thinking does not harm your health”.

“The Hungarian Academy of Science is a trustee of the preservation and development of Hungarian culture and science,” the Forum of Academy Workers, a movement founded by HAS research staff, said on its Facebook page.

“Yet, our nearly 200-year-old national institution is left fighting for its survival.”

OVERHAUL

The second protest against Orban’s reforms in as many months followed an accord between the ministry overseeing the overhaul and leaders of the academy to separate the science research network from the academy’s teaching institutions.

The research arm would be run by a new management body, with members selected by the government and the academy, according to a joint letter of intent signed early this month.

But HAS staff said the accord, reached as a result of what they called government “blackmail”, was unacceptable.

The academy is solely funded by the government but self-managing, with a network of scientific research bodies employing about 5,000 people.

The rally was due to march to the Innovations and Technology Ministry to wave red cards at minister Laszlo Palkovics, architect of the reform, which is due to take effect at the start of next year.

Orban’s government says the aim of the reform is to reap more economic benefits from scientific research.

“My actions are driven solely by the desire to make the Academy and the entire Hungarian research ecosystem more efficient,” Palkovics told private broadcaster atv.hu.

The demonstrators rejected that argument.

“This is a pretty dangerous tendency when we talk about the need for science to turn a profit immediately and manage scientific life solely according to economic interests,” said 19-year-old student Milan Szabo.

Concerns over the erosion of academic freedom and other democratic rights in Hungary have triggered several anti-government demonstrations in recent months.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Caribbean tour
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, attend a reception at the Prime Minister’s official residence, in Kingstown, St Vincent and Grenadines, March 20, 2019. Jane Barlow/Pool via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) – Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrive in Cuba on Sunday as part of a Caribbean tour, the first British royals to visit the Communist-run nation even as ally the United States seeks to isolate the country.

The royal couple were asked by the UK government to add Cuba to their tour of former and current British territories in hopes of boosting commercial relations and political influence.

The plans were made before the Trump administration intensified efforts this year to end what it views as Latin America’s “troika of tyranny”: the socialist governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. It has warned foreign companies away from doing business with Cuba, continuing its reversal of Trump predecessor Barack Obama’s detente with the island.

“The visit shows a fresh willingness by the UK to engage with Cuba in the Diaz-Canel era,” said Paul Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba who lectures at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.

“The UK has long seen the U.S. trade embargo as the wrong way to produce greater openness and tolerance of new ideas in Cuba,” he said.

The visit will be welcomed on the island, which has seen a decline in high-profile visits since the likes of Pope Francis, then-U.S. President Obama and the Rolling Stones graced its shores just a few years ago.

“This visit means a lot because it shows the world that Cuba is a safe country and at the same time, in spite of economic and political adversities, it continues as a country of social interest,” culture ministry employee Mariela Gonzalez, 42, said on the streets of Havana.

The royal couple will dine with Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Raul Castro a year ago. They first met last November on Prince Charles’ 70th birthday, when the Cuban president was visiting London.

There are no plans for Charles to meet Raul Castro, who remains head of the Communist Party, though that could change, according to Britain’s embassy.

The royals’ schedule through Wednesday, when they depart for the Cayman Islands, includes a tour of Havana’s restored colonial district, visits to community and green energy projects, a meeting with young entrepreneurs, reviewing a parade of antique British cars, and various cultural activities.

Former Royal Ballet star Carlos Acosta, who returned to his native land in 2015 to start a dance company, termed the visit “great” and said he hoped it would strengthen relations.

“I was formed here and for many years I was in the UK and built my career, so these two nations are very important to me,” said the world-renowned Acosta, who will take over direction of England’s Birmingham Royal Ballet next year.

BREXIT AND TRUMP

Britain has worked through its embassies worldwide to strengthen bilateral commercial relations since a referendum three years ago to exit the European Union. 

Plans for high-level officials to accompany the Prince of Wales were scuttled by the political drama playing out in London over how best to leave the EU before a March 29 deadline.

British trade with Cuba was less than $100 million last year. However, some 200,000 British tourists vacation there annually.

Insurer Lloyds of London and British-based accounting firm Ernst and Young do a brisk business on the island, as do lubricants manufacturer Castrol and Aberdeen Standard Investments, which manages Cuba-focused real estate firm CEIBA Investments Ltd

A handful of well-known British corporations have investments in Cuba through subsidiaries, for example Imperial Brands Plc, British-American Tobacco Plc and Unilever.

These and other British companies may eventually become targets of lawsuits by Cuban-Americans if Washington presses ahead with a tougher stance on foreign investment.

The Trump administration has threatened to activate a dormant law as soon as next month that allows American citizens to go to court against foreign companies “trafficking” in their nationalized and confiscated properties taken at the time of Cuba’s 1959 Revolution.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

  • FACT, an ethics watchdog group, filed a complaint with the IRS against Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit organization founded by Stacey Abrams. 
  • FACT says Fair Fight is violating its tax-exempt status by promoting Abrams’ political career instead of solely focusing on its stated goal of promoting voting rights. 
  • After losing her 2018 gubernatorial bid, Abrams openly considered a 2020 run for Senate and the White House. 

An ethics watchdog group filed a complaint with the IRS against Stacey Abrams’ nonprofit organization, Fair Fight Action, alleging it violated federal law.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) — a government watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. — is saying Fair Fight is working to promote Abrams’ political career in lieu of promoting voting rights, which, if accurate, it says would be in violation of its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.

Originally founded in 2014 as Voter Access Institute, Abrams changed the name to Fair Fight Action in December 2018. Fair Fight’s stated goal is the promotion of voter rights, and it advocates for a number of different election reforms. However, under its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, it cannot provide “support for an individual’s personal political activities.”

In its complaint to the IRS, FACT argues Abrams used Fair Fight to promote her own political ambitions.

The complaint says since Abrams lost her gubernatorial election, Fair Fight has helped pay for Abrams’ statewide speaking tour, Facebook ads that attacked Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and promoted herself, a Super Bowl ad, hosted watch parties for supporters to “cheer” for Abrams as she gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union, and accepted donations from a “Stacey Abrams Fundraiser.”

These activities have gone on as Abrams openly mulled a 2020 Senate candidacy and even a presidential bid. Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly considering Abrams as his running mate, should he run and win the Democratic presidential nomination. Any political run for office by Abrams, experts argue, would elevate concerns over Fair Fight’s activities.

“It is extremely concerning that Stacey Abrams appears to be abusing our nation’s tax laws for her personal political gain,” Kendra Arnold, the executive director of FACT, said in a statement Tuesday. “The IRS has on numerous occasions ruled against groups trying to advance personal interests, and it is imperative the IRS investigate Fair Fight Action’s conduct.”

Abrams’ team hit back against the complaint.

“We know the playbook for Trump and his allies. They’re going to do whatever it takes to undermine our movement to ensure free and fair elections. We have to fight back now,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo — Abrams’ 2018 campaign manager who runs Fair Fight — in an email to supporters.

Groh-Wargo called the complaint “baseless” and said her group was not promoting Abrams.

Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams walks on stage and waves at the audience for a campaign rally at Morehouse College with Former US President Barack Obama on Nov. 2, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 02: Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams walks on stage and waves at the audience for a campaign rally at Morehouse College with Former US President Barack Obama on November 2, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Obama spoke in Atlanta to endorse Abrams and encourage Georgians to vote. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

FACT pushed back against the accusation that it is a partisan organization, pointing out that it filed similar complaints with Republicans as well.

“Whoever we identify with questionable behavior, they fail to respond to the actual legitimacy of the complaint and just try to characterize us in one way or another,” Arnold told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We have filed complaints against every type of candidate and elected official. We do not consider party affiliation.” (RELATED: House Oversight Committee Opens Investigation Into Alleged Georgia Voter Suppression)

This is not the first time a nonprofit led by Abrams received negative headlines.

Third Sector Development, a nonprofit launched by Abrams that focuses on registering black voters, has been hit with seven different tax liens over the past few years for unpaid employment contributions. Georgia state regulators filed three tax liens against the group in the past year, and the Georgia Department of Labor filed four tax liens between 2014 and 2016. Abrams blamed the issues on clerical errors.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon President Michel Aoun addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon President Michel Aoun addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

March 21, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah are harming Lebanon as a whole, President Michel Aoun said on Thursday ahead of a visit to the country by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The United States deems the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah group a terrorist organization and has been steadily increasing financial sanctions against it as part of efforts to counter Iran.

Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah has a large armed militia that has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his eight-year war against rebels, but it is also a political party in Lebanon with seats in the parliament and cabinet.

“Lebanon is within the siege that has been imposed on others, particularly on Iran. And it is passing, as a result of that, through a big crisis,” Aoun told Russian media in Lebanon, the Lebanese Presidency office said.

Sanctions against Hezbollah introduced since 2016 raised fears among Lebanese that U.S. correspondent banks might deem Lebanese banks too risky to do business with, harming a major part of Lebanon’s economy.

However, Lebanon’s Central Bank has repeatedly said that the banking sector is fully compliant with sanctions and that foreign institutions are satisfied with how it implements regulation.

“We don’t expect more measures against the banks,” Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, said.

But he said the “negative impact of the siege on Hezbollah afflicts all Lebanese, as it does the Lebanese banks”.

“Every Lebanese bank has uncertainty about dealing with a depositor, fearing that he has a link with Hezbollah … This mutual fear does not build an economy and sound trade relations,” he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo is due to visit Lebanon on Friday and Saturday after trips to Kuwait and Israel. In Israel, Pompeo described Iran-backed Hezbollah as a risk to the Lebanese.

Aoun is scheduled to visit Russia over March 25-26 after being invited by President Vladimir Putin, Aoun’s office said.

(Writing by Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

Actress Kate Beckinsale is taking her relationship with comedian Pete Davidson to the next level.

The newly confirmed couple was spotted Tuesday at Nobu in Malibu, California, along with Beckinsale’s mom, Judy Loe, and her step-father, Roy Battersby. The group was photographed leaving the restaurant with Davidson driving.

Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of the death of the 45-year-old actress’s father. Actor Richard Beckinsale died of a heart attack in 1979. Beckinsale was 5-years-old at the time.

The “Serendipity” actress shared a post honoring her father to Instagram as well. Beckinsale wrote, “40 years is a lot of missing. Thank you so much to everyone who has been kind. Lots of love xx.”

The pair was first spotted together at a Golden Globes party back in January. Since then, they have been out together frequently, including an outing to the Rangers vs. Capitals hockey game in early March. (RELATED: Pete Davidson Talks About The Age Gap Between Him And Kate Beckinsale)

Davidson has openly talked about his relationship with Beckinsale and their 20 year age difference on “Saturday Night Live.”

“Apparently, people have this crazy fascination with our age difference, but it doesn’t really bother us,” Davidson told his co-host on “SNL.”

I have to give major props to Davidson to securing this relationship. I honestly doubted he’d be able to make it last when they first got together. If he’s meeting the parents, I’m sure the pair will be around for a while.

Source: The Daily Caller

Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper questioned why female 2020 candidates weren’t being asked if they would consider male running mates.

Asked by Dana Bash if he would vow to put a woman on his presidential ticket, John Hickenlooper replied, “Of course,” and then said, “How come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’” #CNNTownHall pic.twitter.com/AC7hWtyZ7D

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Hickenlooper at a presidential town hall Wednesday, “Governor, some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?” (RELATED: Former Colorado Governor Joins Growing List Of 2020 Dem Hopefuls)

“Of course,” Hickenlooper replied. He then proceeded to ask Bash a question of his own: “How come we’re not asking more often the women: ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’”

His question was met with silence from the audience.

“When we get to that point, I’ll ask you that question,” Bash responded.

A spokesperson for Hickenlooper, Lauren Hitt, addressed criticism towards the Hickenlooper’s question on Twitter, attempting to clarify Hickenlooper’s intended arguement, “Making the point that the media too often discounts the chances of women winning the nomination themselves.” (RELATED: Is There A Place For Moderate John Hickenlooper In A Democratic Party That Embraces The Green New Deal?)

Several other male Democratic 2020 presidential candidates have encountered the same question regarding their vice president selection.

When asked if he would consider a female running mate, former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said, “That would be my preference.”

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed that he will be looking for a young female candidate upon announcement of his 2020 presidential bid.

“I think we would look for somebody who is maybe not of the same gender that I am, and maybe someone who might be a couple of years younger than me, and somebody who can take the progressive banner as vice president and carry it all over this county,” Sanders said to the Young Turks. “I’m not going to box myself in, but should I become [the presidential nominee], you know I’ll be looking to women first.” Sanders continued.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker stated outright that “there will be a woman on the ticket,” to reporters last week.

Source: The Daily Caller

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

A New Zealand bookstore stopped selling Dr. Jordan Peterson’s book in light of the Christchurch mosque shootings, but continues offering “Mein Kampf.”

Management at Whitcoulls, one of the largest bookstores in New Zealand, said it would be wrong to support Peterson by selling “12 Rules For Life: An Antidote For Chaos” in light of “some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during and after the Christchurch attack,” according to an apparent customer service email, likely referencing a photograph in which Peterson embraced a fan wearing an “I’m A Proud Islamaphobe” t-shirt. The store, however, continues to offer Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Albert Cooper’s “Why Islamic Society Is Not Compatible With American Society,” according to its website. (RELATED: New Zealand Attacker Wasn’t Finished When He Was Apprehended, Police Say)

Peterson, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, advocates for self-improvement and has not promoted bigotry in his writings or lectures. The book in question only makes one reference to Muslims, which is not derogatory.

ACT Party leader David Seymour criticized Whitcoull’s decision to remove Peterson’s book, saying that restricting books was an ineffective way to combat neo-Nazism.

“You don’t fight neo-Nazism by suppressing reading and books. Anyone who knows any history knows that’s the opposite of how you fight these kind of ideas,” Seymour told Newshub.

“A self-help book is an incredibly strange thing to suppress. I think Whitcoulls have made the wrong decision, but I respect they’re a private company, it’s their right.”

Whitcoulls did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment by the time of publication.

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: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum
FILE PHOTO: Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, Sudan February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

March 21, 2019

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has appointed ruling party head Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), as an assistant, a presidency statement said on Thursday.

Bashir, who has faced more than three months of street protests against his rule, delegated the leadership of the National Congress Party to Haroun earlier this month.

Both Bashir and Haroun are wanted by the ICC over alleged crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson
FILE PHOTO: Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Mississippi’s Republican governor was due to sign one of America’s strictest abortion bills on Thursday banning women from obtaining an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can often occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Dubbed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ this is the second legislative attempt in under a year aimed at restricting abortions in a state with a single abortion clinic.

In a tweet earlier this week, Governor Phil Bryant thanked the state’s legislature for “protecting the unborn” by passing the bill and sending it to him for his signature.

The Mississippi bill joins a wave of similar Republican-backed measures recently introduced in Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.

Conservative Republican proponents say these bills are intended to challenge Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

U.S. states are jostling for a showdown on abortion rights in 2019, with all eyes on the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

Just last November, a U.S. federal judge struck down a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, ruling that it “unequivocally” violates women’s constitutional rights.

The new Mississippi bill prohibits the abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat, before the point where a woman may be aware she are pregnant.

It also states that any physician who violates the restriction is subject to losing their license to practice medicine.

The bill makes exceptions for women whose health is at extreme risk. It is a victory for anti-abortion groups, but abortion rights advocates have promised to pursue legal action if Bryant signs the bill.

“The term ‘heartbeat bill’ is a manipulative misnomer,” The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global abortion rights advocacy group, tweeted on Wednesday. “These bills actually rob women of their choice to have an #abortion before they even know they’re pregnant.”

The group added that it would sue Bryant if he signs the bill into law.

A fetus that is viable outside the womb, usually at 24 weeks, has widely been considered the threshold in the United States to prohibit an abortion.

Last week, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat abortion law. An Iowa judge overturned that state’s heartbeat law in January after declaring it violated the state’s constitution.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: The Daily Caller

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Corbyn and EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator Barnier meet in Brussels
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media after a meeting with European Union’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, Belgium March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

March 21, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – British Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said after meeting the EU’s Brexit negotiator that he will push ahead with Brexit and seek to renegotiate the terms of the divorce deal.

Corbyn’s meeting with Michel Barnier on Thursday came as Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to get her divorce deal through parliament and has asked the EU for an extension to negotiations.

“Our determination is to find an agreement, which means we prevent a no-deal Brexit, and that we have a future constructive relationship with the European Union that could be negotiated during an extension period,” Corbyn told reporters.

He added: “This morning’s meetings have been positive and we have done what I believe the government ought to be doing, which is instead of bringing back a twice-rejected deal to the British parliament, looking for a constructive alternative.”

(Reporting By Elizabeth Piper. Writing by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People carry national flags and banners during a protest calling on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit, in Algiers
FILE PHOTO: People carry national flags and banners during a protest calling on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit, in Algiers, Algeria March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) – One of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s few remaining allies in the face of mass protests, business leader Ali Haddad, is facing pressure to quit as head of Algeria’s main business association, a move that would further weaken the embattled head of state.

Bouteflika’s long-time strategic partners, from members of the governing FLN party to trade unionists, have abandoned the president, peeling away layers of his ruling elite.

The 82-year-old president also relied on influential figures like Ali Haddad, who has made billions through public works projects awarded by the government and investments in the media.

He also funded Bouteflika’s election campaigns and heads the FCE, a top business association whose leaders have been long-time supporters of the president.

The forum for entrepreneurs has been hit by a series of resignations from members who have turned their backs on Bouteflika since the protests began on Feb 22.

“Voices inside the FCE exist and they have publicly called for an extraordinary General Assembly to replace Ali Haddad,” said Laid Benamor, former vice president of the organization, who resigned from it after the demonstrations began.

“He is today associated with cronyism and favors. The union must return to its original purpose, an apolitical economic space, to regain credibility.”

Haddad was not immediately available for comment.

A second businessman, Ourahmoune Nabil, described Haddad as one of the symbols of Bouteflika’s system of rule and added that he must go, echoing public sentiment.

“There won’t be a real change if Bouteflika leaves and Haddad stays,” he said.

The FCE was not immediately available for comment.

NO CLEAR SUCCESSOR

Bouteflika, 82, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke five years ago, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to stand for a fifth term.

But he stopped short of stepping down and said he would stay in office until a new constitution is adopted, effectively extending his present term.

His move failed to placate Algerians, who want veterans of the 1954-1962 independence war against France who dominate the establishment to step aside so a new generation of leaders can create jobs, fight corruption and introduce greater freedoms.

Even if Bouteflika quits, Algerians could face a new crisis. There is no clear successor who has won the backing of the army and is younger than 70.

One option, experts say, is to create a high council of state that will set a date for general elections.

Bouteflika and his inner circle have built a multi-layered network of power over the years that includes the military — which often orchestrates politics from behind the scenes.

On Wednesday, army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah threw his weight behind protesters, saying they have expressed “noble aims”.

The ruling National Liberation Front party, known by its French acronym FLN, has also sided with the demonstrators, leaving Bouteflika more vulnerable than ever.

(Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young/Pool

March 21, 2019

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Hezbollah on Wednesday as a risk to Middle East stability and conferred with Israel about the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Lebanese group ahead of a trip to Beirut.

Pompeo, who has been on a regional tour to promote the Trump administration’s hard tack against Iran, received a warning from Israel which worries it may again be in the sights of Hezbollah forces winding down their intervention in Syria’s war.

Meeting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Pompeo listed Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and Yemen’s Houthis – all recipients of Iranian support – as “entities that present risks to Middle East stability and to Israel”.

“They are determined to wipe this country off the face of the planet and we have a moral obligation and a political one to prevent that from happening. You should know that the United States is prepared to do that,” Pompeo said in public remarks at the meeting.

For its part, Israel has carried out repeated air strikes on Hezbollah in Syria, where the Shi’ite Muslim militia – along with Russian air power – helped President Bashar al-Assad turn the tables against mainly Sunni Muslim rebels and militants.

In a speech broadcast on the Persian new year on Thursday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic had successfully resisted “unprecedented, strong” U.S. sanctions.

Iran has faced economic hardship since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sanctions.

Focusing his remarks on Lebanon, Rivlin told Pompeo that its prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, “cannot say to anyone that Lebanon is separate from Hezbollah” – a reference to the group’s political clout in Beirut where it has ministers in the government as well as lawmakers in parliament.

“If some(thing) will happen from Lebanon toward Israel, we will hold Lebanon as the responsible (party)”, Rivlin said, speaking in English.

Washington also has been increasingly voicing concern at Hezbollah power, echoing Israel, whose forces were fought to a standstill by the militia in a 2006 Lebanon war.

Pompeo’s visit to Jerusalem was widely seen in Israel as a boost for Netanyahu, who enjoys a close relationship with Trump, just three weeks before a closely contested Israeli election.

In a further signal of solidarity with Israel, Pompeo was later scheduled, accompanied by Netanyahu, to visit Judaism’s Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In May 2017, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the wall, but did not ask Netanyahu to join him.

Seven months later, Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, incensing Palestinians who claim the city’s eastern sector as the capital of a future state they seek.

Last May, Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Pompeo also visited the embassy on Thursday.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson MP speaks to media after the DUP annual party conference in Belfast
FILE PHOTO: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson MP speaks to media after the DUP annual party conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

March 21, 2019

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The small Northern Irish party that props up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is no closer to backing her EU divorce agreement as talks between the sides continue, the party’s Brexit spokesman said on Thursday.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) 10 lawmakers in London have twice opposed the agreement May struck with the European Union and their support is vital if she is to stand any chance of reversing two heavy defeats.

“No, we’re not yet. We will however continue to talk to the prime minister because we think it is our duty to try and undo some of the damage included in the Withdrawal Agreement,” the DUP’s Sammy Wilson told Irish national broadcaster RTE when asked if they were any closer to backing the deal.

“We have made it quite clear that unless there is a legal means by which Northern Ireland would not be treated differently from the United Kingdom, not just assurances or promises but acting legislation, we will not be supporting the Withdrawal Agreement.”

May made an impassioned appeal to British lawmakers to support her on Wednesday after the EU said it could only grant her request to delay Brexit for three months if parliament next week backed her plans for leaving.

Wilson described the plea, in a televised address, as an attempt by the prime minister to try to shift the blame from “her own incompetent negotiations” and said she seemed to lump all those who voted against the deal together.

In a bid to win over the DUP, May also said on Wednesday that she intended to put forward further domestic proposals to protect the internal market of the United Kingdom.

Wilson said any proposals to keep Northern Ireland aligned with the rest of the United Kingdom would also have to be acceptable to the faction of Brexit hardliners in May’s own Conservative Party who are opposed to her deal and want a clean break from the EU.

“There is no point in us agreeing to something that is not deliverable anyway, nor do we have any intention of doing so. That’s why there are a lot of gaps in the negotiations at present. We will continue to talk but time is running out,” he said.

“It seems that if the agreement ever comes back to the House of Commons next week, those matters are not going to be resolved.”

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Source: OANN

Slovakia's presidential candidate Caputova speaks after the first unofficial results at a party election headquarters in Bratislava
FILE PHOTO: Slovakia’s presidential candidate Zuzana Caputova speaks after the first unofficial results at a party election headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 16, 2019. REUTERS/David W Cerny

March 21, 2019

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Anti-corruption campaigner Zuzana Caputova was projected to win 60.5 percent of the vote in Slovakia’s presidential election run-off on March 30, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The Median agency poll for public broadcaster RTVS, the first since Caputova claimed a decisive first-round victory last weekend, put European Union commissioner and ruling party-backed candidate Maros Sefcovic at 39.5 percent in its voting model.

(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova, writing by Jason Hovet; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Police search the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan
FILE PHOTO: Police search the dorm room of Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, who was killed by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan April 14, 2017. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Jibran Ahmed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced two men, including a local government official, to life in prison on Thursday for their role in the brutal campus lynching two years ago of a university student accused of blasphemy.

Mashal Khan, 23, was attacked and killed by a mob on the campus of a university in Mardan, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, following a dormitory debate about religion.

In February last year the court convicted 31 people, sentencing one person to death, while acquitting 26 others.

A joint investigation team had later found the blasphemy allegations against Mashal Khan to be false.

Outrage over the killing raised concerns about the misuse of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, which stipulate the death sentence for insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.

On Thursday the court sentenced two more men to life imprisonment, while acquitting two others.

Arif Khan, a local government official who had been a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was convicted for provoking and participating in the lynch mob.

The court ruling noted two videos in which Khan is seen “torturing Mashal” and “congratulating his co-accused for committing the murder”.

Khan’s grave continues to be guarded by police, due to fears that it will be defaced by religious hardliners despite his name being cleared of blasphemy.

In a separate case in the eastern city of Bahawalpur, a college student was arrested and charged on Wednesday for stabbing his English professor to death. Police said the student was angered by a farewell party that the professor was organizing, believing it was un-Islamic as women would attend.

In a video of his pre-interrogation released on social media, the student confessed to stabbing his professor Khalid Hameed, saying he “spoke against Islam” and that “it’s a good thing” he died.

He said he had not reported his professor to the authorities because “the law protects blasphemers”.

(Additional reporting and writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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 at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Dave Graham and Stefanie Eschenbacher

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – For two years, financiers at Mexico’s biggest annual banking bash issued veiled warnings about the risk of veteran leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador taking power.

Now he is president, they and industry bosses have changed tack, pledging support for the popular new leader and his plans to revive the economy from the bottom up.

Bank bosses have used the run-up to the banking convention in Acapulco beginning on Thursday to signal approval for Lopez Obrador’s plans to tackle chronic inequality via welfare handouts, ramp up financial inclusion and lift economic growth.

“The financial sector has been and will continue to be committed to Mexico’s development, which is why he celebrate and go along with the measures … announced by the Mexican government,” Marcos Martinez, head of the Mexican banking association (ABM), said at a recent event with Lopez Obrador.

Martinez and other bankers hope the president will meet pledges to tackle corruption and gang violence in Latin America’s No. 2 economy, buttressing growth with the rule of law.

Still, skepticism about his economic credentials is widespread in business circles. So far executives have reasoned they have more to gain by working with him than picking a fight with a president whose approval ratings run close to 80 percent.

Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, wiped billions of the value of Mexican financial assets when he canceled a new Mexico City airport on Oct. 29. Proposals floated by his MORENA party in Congress to curb bank fees also spooked markets.

Yet even as he rolls out welfare schemes across Mexico, he has promised to run a tight budget to protect the country’s investment-grade credit rating and says he can achieve average annual growth of 4 percent during his six-year term.

At this week’s conference in Acapulco, Mexico’s banks would likely deliver a clear message to the president that they will work with him to achieve his goals, said a senior financial industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

That could unlock funds for Lopez Obrador’s plan to create jobs via infrastructure spending, and complement the goal of employers’ federation COPARMEX to lift the spending power of the lowest paid by tripling the minimum wage by 2024.

Cooperating with Lopez Obrador to encourage an expansion of the Mexican middle class could become a major driver of growth, and help curb the president’s worst instincts, a senior industrialist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stating Mexico had “more financial resources than there are projects”, the new head of Mexico’s powerful CCE business lobby, Carlos Salazar, said last month it would work to end extreme poverty by the end of Lopez Obrador’s term.

By then, the ABM aims to get 30 million more people to use banking services – nearly three-quarters of those estimated to be without an account – and to support domestic demand by boosting lending to small businesses, homebuyers and families.

Deputy finance minister Arturo Herrera told Reuters the government would push hard on financial inclusion at the banking convention, where Lopez Obrador is due to speak on Friday.

However, for the president to make the most of the goodwill in boardrooms, he must work harder to undo the damage caused by poor decisions such as the scrapping of the airport, said Gustavo de Hoyos, head of employers’ lobby COPARMEX.

Business wanted to invest, but right now, the government scored only about “50 percent” on investor confidence, he added.

“If the president and his team can take advantage of these strengths,” de Hoyos told Reuters, “I think we could see really big progress in the course of this administration.”

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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 at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Dave Graham and Stefanie Eschenbacher

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – For two years, financiers at Mexico’s biggest annual banking bash issued veiled warnings about the risk of veteran leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador taking power.

Now he is president, they and industry bosses have changed tack, pledging support for the popular new leader and his plans to revive the economy from the bottom up.

Bank bosses have used the run-up to the banking convention in Acapulco beginning on Thursday to signal approval for Lopez Obrador’s plans to tackle chronic inequality via welfare handouts, ramp up financial inclusion and lift economic growth.

“The financial sector has been and will continue to be committed to Mexico’s development, which is why he celebrate and go along with the measures … announced by the Mexican government,” Marcos Martinez, head of the Mexican banking association (ABM), said at a recent event with Lopez Obrador.

Martinez and other bankers hope the president will meet pledges to tackle corruption and gang violence in Latin America’s No. 2 economy, buttressing growth with the rule of law.

Still, skepticism about his economic credentials is widespread in business circles. So far executives have reasoned they have more to gain by working with him than picking a fight with a president whose approval ratings run close to 80 percent.

Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, wiped billions of the value of Mexican financial assets when he canceled a new Mexico City airport on Oct. 29. Proposals floated by his MORENA party in Congress to curb bank fees also spooked markets.

Yet even as he rolls out welfare schemes across Mexico, he has promised to run a tight budget to protect the country’s investment-grade credit rating and says he can achieve average annual growth of 4 percent during his six-year term.

At this week’s conference in Acapulco, Mexico’s banks would likely deliver a clear message to the president that they will work with him to achieve his goals, said a senior financial industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

That could unlock funds for Lopez Obrador’s plan to create jobs via infrastructure spending, and complement the goal of employers’ federation COPARMEX to lift the spending power of the lowest paid by tripling the minimum wage by 2024.

Cooperating with Lopez Obrador to encourage an expansion of the Mexican middle class could become a major driver of growth, and help curb the president’s worst instincts, a senior industrialist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stating Mexico had “more financial resources than there are projects”, the new head of Mexico’s powerful CCE business lobby, Carlos Salazar, said last month it would work to end extreme poverty by the end of Lopez Obrador’s term.

By then, the ABM aims to get 30 million more people to use banking services – nearly three-quarters of those estimated to be without an account – and to support domestic demand by boosting lending to small businesses, homebuyers and families.

Deputy finance minister Arturo Herrera told Reuters the government would push hard on financial inclusion at the banking convention, where Lopez Obrador is due to speak on Friday.

However, for the president to make the most of the goodwill in boardrooms, he must work harder to undo the damage caused by poor decisions such as the scrapping of the airport, said Gustavo de Hoyos, head of employers’ lobby COPARMEX.

Business wanted to invest, but right now, the government scored only about “50 percent” on investor confidence, he added.

“If the president and his team can take advantage of these strengths,” de Hoyos told Reuters, “I think we could see really big progress in the course of this administration.”

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks with a man as he visits Lumphini Park ahead of the general election, in Bangkok
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks with a man as he visits Lumphini Park ahead of the general election, in Bangkok, Thailand, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

March 21, 2019

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand goes to the polls on Sunday under a new system that critics say the military government has devised to prevent the most popular political party, which has won every election since 2001, from returning to power.

The military government says the new rules will usher in stability after more than a decade of fractious, at times violent, politics.

After a government loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a 2014 coup, the military for years banned political activity, suppressed debate, restricted the media and detained dissidents.

Sunday’s general election will officially restore civilian rule but the military will retain a decisive role in politics under a new constitution, and the former army chief who led the 2014 coup, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, is hoping to stay on as head of an elected government.

Following are some details about the new system that supporters of the self-exiled Thaksin say is aimed at blocking them from winning.

THE SENATE

The 250-seat upper house Senate is entirely appointed by the ruling junta. Under the previous constitution, the Senate was only partially appointed.

The Senate will for the first time since 1978 vote along with the lower house, the 500-seat House of Representatives, to choose the new prime minister and government.

Previously, only members of the lower house voted for prime minister.

The magic number of seats parties or alliances need to secure to form a government is 376 – 50 percent plus one of the total number in the two houses of parliament.

With the military choosing all Senate members, including seats reserved for six heads of different armed forces branches, pro-military parties would likely need to win only 126 seats in the House of Representatives to win a majority in a combined vote.

Anti-junta parties, on the other hand, which can’t count on any Senate votes, would need to win 376 seats lower house seats to gain a majority.

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The makeup of the 500-seat House of Representatives is what will be decided on Sunday, but not all seats are directly elected.

Under the new constitution, the House of Representatives has 350 “constituency seats”, to which voters on Sunday will directly elect a candidate and, by default, their preferred party.

It also has 150 “party seats”, up from 125 previously.

THE FORMULA FOR PARTY SEATS

Party seats are allocated under a complicated system that big parties, like Pheu Thai, the main pro-Thaksin party, say is disadvantageous for them.

Party seats are distributed by a system that “caps” the total number of seats any one party can gain, based on their percentage of total votes cast nationwide.

The “value” one seat in the House of Representatives is assigned is based on a formula that takes the total number of votes cast and divides it by the 500 seats. So, if 40 million people were to vote on Sunday, the value of one House seat would be 80,000 votes.

A party cannot win more seats than it has “earned” in total votes nationwide. And if a party has already reached or is close to its cap in constituency seats, then it cannot get any more party seats than that cap allows.

If a party wins more constituency seats than its cap, then it keeps those seats but cannot be awarded any party seats even if it was the top vote getter.

The system leaves a bigger pie of party seats for smaller parties to divide up. This will likely result in numerous smaller parties that normally would not have won any seats, awarded one or more party seats.

To illustrate the impact of the new rules, Pheu Thai won the last election, in 2011, with 204 constituency seats and then 61 party seats – awarded under a directly proportional system – as it won 48 percent of the total vote. That gave it a majority of 265 seats in the House of Representatives.

If it were to win the same number of votes this time, the new rules would mean it would end up with 42 fewer seats, which would leave it short of a majority.

CHOOSING PRIME MINISTER

A party must have at least 25 seats in the House of Representatives to nominate a candidate for prime minister.

After that, it will take the support of 376 out of 750 members of the combined houses to become prime minister.

Because the junta will have already chosen all 250 seats of the Senate, the main Palang Pracharat party allied to the military needs to gain only 126 more votes in the lower house.

That’s a huge advantage, though not a guarantee.

If no coalition can agree on prime minister, the new constitution also allows for an “outside” prime minister who is not a member of parliament.

(Writing by Chayut Setboonsarg and Kay Johnson; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte of the VVD Liberal party and Dutch far-right politician Wilders of the PVV Party take part in a meeting at the Dutch Parliament after the general election in The Hague
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R) of the VVD Liberal party and Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders of the PVV Party take part in a meeting at the Dutch Parliament after the general election in The Hague, Netherlands, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

March 21, 2019

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – An upstart populist party shocked the Dutch political establishment by winning the most votes in provincial elections after a preliminary count in the early hours of Thursday, boosted by a possible terrorist attack this week in the city of Utrecht.

The result shows the enduring strength of far-right populism in the Netherlands, coming nearly two decades after the assassination of populist Pim Fortuyn in 2002 led to a similar upset in parliamentary elections.

The most important short term impact is that Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right coalition will be forced to seek outside support to win Senate approval for laws passed by parliament. Provincial votes determine the composition in the Senate, where Rutte’s government has lost its majority.

The big winner in the vote was the Forum for Democracy party, led by 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, which holds just two seats in parliament after entering politics in 2016. On current projections it will have an equal number of seats in the Senate as Rutte’s VVD.

In a speech to supporters peppered with literary allusions, Baudet said the arrogance of the elites had been punished.

“We are standing in the rubble of what was once the most beautiful civilization in the world,” he said.

Following the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump, Baudet opposes immigration and emphasizes “Dutch first” cultural and economic themes. He opposes the euro and thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union.

Baudet had continued campaigning when other parties stopped after Monday’s attack in Utrecht, in which a gunman shot three people dead on a tram. Baudet blamed the incident on the government’s lax immigration policies.

A 37-year-old Turkish-born man has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the shooting. Prosecutors have not determined a motive, though they say it may have been terrorism.

Pollsters had for weeks predicted Rutte’s center-right coalition would lose its Senate majority. But experts, including pollster Maurice de Hond, said the Utrecht attack boosted turnout most among opponents of immigration.

The Dutch economy has been one of Europe’s best performers under successive Rutte-led governments, but resentment over early 2010s austerity programs lingers. Recent debate has focused on funding the government’s plans to meet international goals on climate change.

GOING GREEN

Left-leaning voters feel not enough is being done and supported the pro-environment Green Left party, which also booked big gains nationwide on Wednesday, including taking nearly a quarter of the vote in Amsterdam.

Rutte is expected to look to the Green Left or Labour parties for outside support once the new Senate is seated in May, though there are other possibilities in the increasingly fragmented political landscape, which include religious parties and a party focused on voters older than 50.

Rutte said he would be looking for support from “constructive” parties on either the left or the right. Baudet ruled out any cooperation.

“This means drinking a lot of coffee and making even more phone calls” Rutte told supporters.

“So I’m counting on it that the country will remain well manageable with this result.”

Parliamentary elections are due by March 2021.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

People are seen in a traditional alleyway on a polluted day in central Beijing
People are seen in a traditional alleyway, or Hutong, on a polluted day in central Beijing, China March 2, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 21, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s average concentrations of lung-damaging particles known as PM2.5 rose by 5.2 percent in the first two months of the year, the environment ministry said on Thursday, casting doubt over the country’s ability to meet winter targets.

The nation’s average PM2.5 readings came in at 61 micrograms per cubic meter for January and February, according to a Ministry of Ecology and Environment survey of 337 cities, with only 83 reaching the national standard of 35 micrograms.

Levels of PM2.5 at 28 cities in the key pollution control region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei soared 24 percent over the two-month period from the same time a year ago to an average of 108 micrograms, more than 10 times 10 micrograms recommended as safe by the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, PM2.5 levels in the 11 cities of the Fenwei Plain, another major smog control zone, surged by 26.6 percent over the period, hitting an average of 119 micrograms.

China forced smog-prone northern cities to implement special emissions restrictions from October 2018 to March 2019 in order to offset rising levels of coal combustion from state heating systems during the winter.

But Reuters calculations based on official data showed that PM2.5 readings in the 39 key northern cities still rose 13 percent over the October-February period.

The 39 cities are under pressure to make year-on-year PM2.5 cuts of around 3 percent from October to March, but Reuters calculations show that only three – Changzhi and Luliang in Shanxi province, and Jining in Shandong – were on course to meet their targets at the end of last month.

The government has previously blamed unfavorable weather conditions for the poor air quality over the period, saying that “a weak El Nino effect” and a subsequent increase in temperature and humidity has made it harder to disperse emissions.

The ministry has promised to crack down on regions that fail to meet targets, regardless of weather conditions, but it remains unclear what punishments they will face.

The provinces of Hebei and Shanxi, where eight of China’s smoggiest cities were located in 2018, have established a “punishment and reward system” in which the worst-performing districts pay fines to regions that have performed the best.

On Wednesday, Hebei published a list of 14 districts that failed to meet 2018 targets, including major industrial zones in Tangshan, China’s biggest steel-producing city.

Communist Party bosses from each of the 14 districts were summoned to the provincial environmental protection bureau to receive public criticism, the provincial government said in a notice.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue and Richard Pullin)

Source: OANN

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media outside New Zealand House in London
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the media outside New Zealand House, following Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, in London, Britain March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will travel to Brussels on Thursday to discuss an “alternative” Brexit plan with European Union (EU) leaders, including the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, his party said in a statement.

Corbyn will express confidence that an alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal can be agreed in the UK parliament, the Labour Party said.

Corbyn will also meet the Secretary-General of the European Commission, Martin Selmayr, and hold talks with prime ministers of seven EU countries including Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore
Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A coalition of political parties backing Indonesian President Joko Widodo is on course to win more than half of the votes in next month’s elections, giving them control of parliament, according to a new survey released on Thursday.

Indonesia is holding simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on April 17.

Ten political parties backing Widodo are expected to get 52.3 percent of votes, while the coalition backing his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, trail with 29.5 percent, according to a survey by pollster Litbang Kompas.

Nearly 20 percent of voters remain undecided, said the pollster, which is part of Indonesia’s biggest newspaper Kompas.

The survey was conducted between the end of February and early March.

Widodo formed a minority government when elected in 2014, but Golkar, the country’s second-biggest political party, jumped ship in early 2016 to support the president.

The president has since held a majority in the house of representatives, making it easier for him to pass legislation.

The survey showed that the two leading parties were benefiting from their association with the president and his opponent.

The Democratic Party of Struggle, of which Widodo is a member, is likely to remain by far the largest party, but Prabowo’s Greater Indonesia Movement is on course to grab second position from Golkar, the Kompas survey results showed.

In the presidential race, Widodo’s big lead over Prabowo has been cut to below 12 percentage points from around 20, according to another Kompas survey published this week.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore
Indonesian President Joko Widodo leaves after visiting former first lady Ani Yudhoyono at a hospital in Singapore February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A coalition of political parties backing Indonesian President Joko Widodo is on course to win more than half of the votes in next month’s elections, giving them control of parliament, according to a new survey released on Thursday.

Indonesia is holding simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on April 17.

Ten political parties backing Widodo are expected to get 52.3 percent of votes, while the coalition backing his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, trail with 29.5 percent, according to a survey by pollster Litbang Kompas.

Nearly 20 percent of voters remain undecided, said the pollster, which is part of Indonesia’s biggest newspaper Kompas.

The survey was conducted between the end of February and early March.

Widodo formed a minority government when elected in 2014, but Golkar, the country’s second-biggest political party, jumped ship in early 2016 to support the president.

The president has since held a majority in the house of representatives, making it easier for him to pass legislation.

The survey showed that the two leading parties were benefiting from their association with the president and his opponent.

The Democratic Party of Struggle, of which Widodo is a member, is likely to remain by far the largest party, but Prabowo’s Greater Indonesia Movement is on course to grab second position from Golkar, the Kompas survey results showed.

In the presidential race, Widodo’s big lead over Prabowo has been cut to below 12 percentage points from around 20, according to another Kompas survey published this week.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Tennis: Miami Open
Mar 19, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Fans walk outside stadium court at Hard Rock Stadium during a rain delay in the first round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March 21, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – Rain again spoiled the Miami Open party wiping out the evening session on Wednesday and adding to what has been a soggy and dejecting kickoff to a tournament looking for a new start.

A move from the cramped Crandon Park on picturesque Key Biscayne to the wide open spaces at Hard Rock Stadium was hoped to provide the Miami Open with a bright future.

But so far dark storm clouds have cast a wet shadow over proceedings.

Prior to the start of the tournament, officials had boasted a 25 percent jump in ticket sales but the stands have been mostly empty through two days with only one of four sessions completed.

Organisers have now been left with a backlog of matches to schedule and sending out refunds.

Canadian teen sensation Bianca Andreescu, who claimed a stunning victory at Indian Wells on Sunday, was to be the headliner on the opening day but never made it onto the 13,800-seat stadium court to face Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

Following a ceremonial ribbon cutting earlier in the day under sunny skies involving Serena Williams, Roger Federer and world number ones Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, action got underway with three-time Miami champion Victoria Azarenka defeating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 3-6 6-4 to christen the venue.

All of the 29-year-old Belarusian’s titles were celebrated at Crandon Park but the move to Miami suburbs did not have any affect on Azarenka as the twice Australian Open champion pounded 41 winners past her Slovak opponent.

“I think the stadium is beautiful. I think the logistics here work out pretty well,” said Azarenka, a former world number one. “I feel the expansion of the tournament was, first of all, really necessary.

“There is a lot more room. There is a lot better facilities. So I’m pretty happy.”

Before the rain began 17-year-old American hope Amanda Anisimova gave the small crowd something to cheer about as she romped into the second round with 6-4 6-3 decision over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

Before Andreescu grabbed the spotlight Anisimova had appeared to be the teenager to watch after she started 2019 with a run to the quarter-finals in Auckland and a fourth round appearance at the Australian Open.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

Tennis: Miami Open
Mar 19, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Fans walk outside stadium court at Hard Rock Stadium during a rain delay in the first round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March 21, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – Rain again spoiled the Miami Open party wiping out the evening session on Wednesday and adding to what has been a soggy and dejecting kickoff to a tournament looking for a new start.

A move from the cramped Crandon Park on picturesque Key Biscayne to the wide open spaces at Hard Rock Stadium was hoped to provide the Miami Open with a bright future.

But so far dark storm clouds have cast a wet shadow over proceedings.

Prior to the start of the tournament, officials had boasted a 25 percent jump in ticket sales but the stands have been mostly empty through two days with only one of four sessions completed.

Organisers have now been left with a backlog of matches to schedule and sending out refunds.

Canadian teen sensation Bianca Andreescu, who claimed a stunning victory at Indian Wells on Sunday, was to be the headliner on the opening day but never made it onto the 13,800-seat stadium court to face Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

Following a ceremonial ribbon cutting earlier in the day under sunny skies involving Serena Williams, Roger Federer and world number ones Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, action got underway with three-time Miami champion Victoria Azarenka defeating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 3-6 6-4 to christen the venue.

All of the 29-year-old Belarusian’s titles were celebrated at Crandon Park but the move to Miami suburbs did not have any affect on Azarenka as the twice Australian Open champion pounded 41 winners past her Slovak opponent.

“I think the stadium is beautiful. I think the logistics here work out pretty well,” said Azarenka, a former world number one. “I feel the expansion of the tournament was, first of all, really necessary.

“There is a lot more room. There is a lot better facilities. So I’m pretty happy.”

Before the rain began 17-year-old American hope Amanda Anisimova gave the small crowd something to cheer about as she romped into the second round with 6-4 6-3 decision over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

Before Andreescu grabbed the spotlight Anisimova had appeared to be the teenager to watch after she started 2019 with a run to the quarter-finals in Auckland and a fourth round appearance at the Australian Open.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

Tennis: Miami Open
Mar 19, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Fans walk outside stadium court at Hard Rock Stadium during a rain delay in the first round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March 21, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – Rain again spoiled the Miami Open party wiping out the evening session on Wednesday and adding to what has been a soggy and dejecting kickoff to a tournament looking for a new start.

A move from the cramped Crandon Park on picturesque Key Biscayne to the wide open spaces at Hard Rock Stadium was hoped to provide the Miami Open with a bright future.

But so far dark storm clouds have cast a wet shadow over proceedings.

Prior to the start of the tournament, officials had boasted a 25 percent jump in ticket sales but the stands have been mostly empty through two days with only one of four sessions completed.

Organisers have now been left with a backlog of matches to schedule and sending out refunds.

Canadian teen sensation Bianca Andreescu, who claimed a stunning victory at Indian Wells on Sunday, was to be the headliner on the opening day but never made it onto the 13,800-seat stadium court to face Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

Following a ceremonial ribbon cutting earlier in the day under sunny skies involving Serena Williams, Roger Federer and world number ones Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, action got underway with three-time Miami champion Victoria Azarenka defeating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 3-6 6-4 to christen the venue.

All of the 29-year-old Belarusian’s titles were celebrated at Crandon Park but the move to Miami suburbs did not have any affect on Azarenka as the twice Australian Open champion pounded 41 winners past her Slovak opponent.

“I think the stadium is beautiful. I think the logistics here work out pretty well,” said Azarenka, a former world number one. “I feel the expansion of the tournament was, first of all, really necessary.

“There is a lot more room. There is a lot better facilities. So I’m pretty happy.”

Before the rain began 17-year-old American hope Amanda Anisimova gave the small crowd something to cheer about as she romped into the second round with 6-4 6-3 decision over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

Before Andreescu grabbed the spotlight Anisimova had appeared to be the teenager to watch after she started 2019 with a run to the quarter-finals in Auckland and a fourth round appearance at the Australian Open.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

Former Tallahassee mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, calling his state "unorganized," on Wednesday told Politico he plans to launch a massive voter registration effort to register 1 million new voters before the 2020 presidential election.

"We're looking at a target of 1 million – we've got over 3 million people eligible to vote, and that's to say nothing of the 1.4 million returning citizens,” he said in reference to the former felons who will have their voting rights restored following a constitutional amendment approved by voters last year.

"Voter registration is red flag No. 1," he added.

Gillum on Wednesday also told The New York Times during a wide-ranging interview that Democrats have not been disciplined in Florida and organizing is key to defeating President Donald Trump.

"When you don't have a governor who can raise money for a party in 24 years, it's very difficult for you to expect that party to turn on a dime and pull rabbits out of the hat," he said. "I'd say it's a failure, writ large, of how people have treated Florida when it comes to organizing. It's a state to go to when you want a presidential win, but outside of that? Good luck."

Gillum told The Daily Beast he plans to pull from his list of supporters and volunteers to help register new voters.

"We're going to be a major player and deliver Florida to whoever the Democratic nominee is," he told the news outlet.

Source: NewsMax

Scott Morefield | Reporter

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs criticized Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and other Republican critics of President Donald Trump’s latest comments about late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Speaking with former Reagan’s campaign director Ed Rollins on Wednesday evening about the president’s recent positive polling within the Republican Party, Dobbs gave GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel “great credit” before ripping Trump’s GOP critics.

WATCH:

“These are better numbers than Reagan had and Nixon had when they both had 49 state victories,” Rollins said, referring to the fact that 78 percent of Republicans are enthusiastic about Trump. “I am not predicting that, but I’m simply predicting there are a lot of Republicans out there ready for the fight. They are proud of this president. They want this president reelected.”

“We’re starting to see some movement within the party,” Dobbs noted. “And by the way, I think Ronna McDaniel deserves great credit, the chair of RNC, for holding the line and supporting this president with full support, when there are people like, say, Mitt Romney for example, undercutting this president because he made some nasty remarks about John McCain. There is a reason for those nasty remarks. There is a history between those two men. And the people who are attacking him, including Mitch McConnell attacking the president for his views on John McCain, is asinine.” (RELATED: Trump Says John McCain Put Him In ‘Jeopardy’ By Giving Dossier To FBI)

Romney tweeted Tuesday his criticism of Trump’s McCain comments, writing:

Dobbs and Rollins ended the segment with a discussion about McCain’s Obamacare vote and the “bad history” between Trump and the late senator.

“I knew John well, and liked him over the years,” said Rollins. “But the reality is Trump did what he had to do and won a big, big election …”

Follow Scott on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls have so far proposed or signaled willingness to discuss at least four major policy ideas that would require the U.S. Constitution to be amended.

  • Lowering the voting age to 16
  • Introducing term limits for Supreme Court justices
  • Dissolving the Electoral College and adopting a National Popular Vote
  • Reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment

As more and more Democrats enter the rapidly expanding field, each vying for the chance to challenge President Donald Trump’s re-election bid, it is becoming apparent that most of them are looking for ways to change the status quo — even if that means changing the Constitution as well.

Lowering the voting age to 16.

In order for the voting age to be lowered to 16, Congress would have to pass an amendment to an amendment. The 26th Amendment, ratified in 1971, lowered the national voting age from 21 to 18. A new amendment would have to be ratified that would supersede the 26th.

Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar have not given this particular policy their full-throated endorsement, but all three have said that they are at least willing to have the conversation. (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Says She Personally Supports Lowering The Voting Age To 16)

Introducing term limits for Supreme Court justices.

Article III, Section I of the Constitution states that, “The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour …” Unless they are impeached, judicial appointments are for life or until the appointee retires.

But Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has suggested that Supreme Court justices should be subject to term limits and that every president should have the opportunity to make three high court appointments during his or her term in office.

Several Democratic candidates, including former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have said that they were open to changes on the court. Buttigieg and O’Rourke have voiced support for a new court with 15 justices — five chosen by Democrats, five chosen by Republicans and five chosen by unanimous approval of the other 10 justices.

Dissolving the Electoral College and adopting a National Popular Vote

In order to replace the Electoral College with a National Popular Vote, which would allow the president to be elected directly by the people, an amendment superseding Article II, Section I (clauses 2 and 3), as well as the 12th Amendment, would be necessary.

Democrats have been calling for a move to a popular vote, arguing that it’s the only way to make sure that “every vote counts.” A number of states have already attempted to side-step the Electoral College by opting to give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote. Renewed calls came from many in the party after the 2016 presidential election, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College.

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, called for the change almost immediately following Clinton’s 2016 loss.

Warren planted her flag on this particular issue during a Monday town hall in Mississippi, saying, “Every vote matters.”

O’Rourke and Buttigieg — along with former HUD Secretary Julian Castro — have also voiced support for a move to the popular vote. “We ought to actually be a place where the person who gets the most votes for president gets to win the election,” Buttigieg explained.

Reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Proponents argue that it would make it easier to enforce equal pay laws, protect access to abortion and help to protect women from harassment.

The ERA has been around for decades without ever getting enough states on board to ratify it. Ratification of this amendment would be a priority for Harris.

The 2020 primary is just getting underway and at least a few more candidates are expected to declare their intentions in the coming weeks, so this may just be the tip of the iceberg with regard to radical policy proposals and possible changes to the Constitution.

Follow Virginia on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Guatemalan Attorney General Aldana participates in a news conference in Guatemala City
FILE PHOTO: Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana participates in a news conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – A Guatemalan presidential candidate known for tackling high-profile corruption as attorney general said on Wednesday that she would return from neighboring El Salvador within days despite an arrest warrant.

A judge on Monday ordered the arrest of Thelma Aldana, a former attorney general who helped topple and imprison a former president on corruption charges and investigated current President Jimmy Morales, who has largely dismantled the country’s U.N.-backed anti-corruption investigative body known as CICIG.

The country’s electoral tribunal confirmed her candidacy in the June presidential election on Tuesday, shortly after news reports circulated of the order.

Aldana said if she wins, she would make government efficient and transparent as well as strengthen CICIG, adding that the accusations against her were politically motivated to undermine her bid for top office.

“No, I’m not scared. They’re the ones who are scared,” Aldana told Reuters in an interview in El Salvador’s capital, where she had previously scheduled activities. “When I go back to Guatemala… I’ll do it with complete calm, I’ll do it without a single problem.”

The arrest order includes charges of embezzlement, lying and tax fraud. Aldana said she plans to return to Guatemala on Thursday or Friday and had not been notified of the warrant. Under Guatemalan law, she holds immunity as a presidential candidate.

In January, Morales’ government said it was terminating CICIG, after already banning the group’s head from the country.

Aldana had worked with CICIG to investigate President Jimmy Morales for campaign financing violations. She and CICIG previously led the probe into former President Otto Perez Molina that triggered his impeachment and ousted him from office. He remains in custody on charges of involvement in a customs corruption ring.

If she wins, Aldana said she would ask the United Nations to formally expand the anti-corruption mandate of the CICIG, which was originally formed to investigate illegal security forces.

“Clandestine security bodies embedded in the state motivated the Guatemalan government 10 years ago to go to the United Nations … but they’re still there,” she said.

Aldana added that she is against a law proposed by Morales’ party that would free military officials convicted of human rights crimes during the Central American country’s 36-year civil war, which has sparked criticism from international rights groups.

“Without a doubt, it’s a proposal that could generate impunity and obviously I’m not in favor of approving it,” she said.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

U.S. Senator Rubio arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) arrives for the weekly Republican Party caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 21, 2019

By Ezequiel Abiu Lopez

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio met on Wednesday with the Haitian president and members of parliament and discussed the formation of a new Cabinet following the ouster this week of Jean Henry Ceant as prime minister.

The Florida Republican lawmaker arrived in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, following crippling nationwide protests and a political crisis touched off by the dismissal of Ceant in a vote of no confidence by the country’s legislative body on Monday.

Haiti has had several prime ministers in recent years. President Jovenel Moise remains in office.

Rubio wrote on his Twitter account that he discussed the formation of a new government in his meeting with Gary Bodeau, head of the lower house, and Carl Cantave, president of the Senate.

Ceant took office in September as thousands of demonstrators were streaming through the streets in the main cities of the impoverished island nation.

In renewed protests since Feb. 7, many called for Moise to step down because of ballooning inflation, a weakening currency and allegations of misused funds from a Venezuelan oil subsidy scheme called PetroCaribe.

Ceant, who has likewise been blamed for the rampant inflation and protests, has insisted his dismissal on Monday was unconstitutional and that he is still the head of government.

Moise said on Twitter that he spoke with Rubio about security and holding parliamentary elections.

Rubio heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues.

His visit comes days before Moise and four other Caribbean leaders attend a meeting on Friday with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela and China’s commercial expansion.

(Reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez; Editing by Delphine Schrank and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement about Brexit in Downing Street in London
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement about Brexit in Downing Street in London, Britain March 20, 2019. Jonathan Brady/Pool via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

By Gabriela Baczynska

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday to give Prime Minister Theresa May an offer to delay Brexit beyond March 29, on condition that she can finally win over her many opponents in parliament next week.

Nearly three years after Britons narrowly voted in a referendum to leave the EU, May has been unable to unite her divided cabinet, parliament or nation behind her exit plan.

Increasingly embattled, she asked the EU on Wednesday to postpone Brexit until June 30 to give her time to secure a deal in parliament and avoid an abrupt departure next week that could spell economic chaos.

“We could consider a short extension conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons,” summit chairman Donald Tusk said in a letter inviting all 28 EU national leaders to Brussels talks.

Any delay must be unanimously approved by all the other 27 national EU leaders, increasingly exasperated with Britain’s inability to find a way of a domestic political deadlock that is weighing heavily on the whole bloc.

Raising the stakes, France threatened to reject May’s request and the EU’s executive said Britain had to be out by May 23 to avoid having to take part in European Parliament elections.

May said in London late on Wednesday that she opposed any further postponement, telling parliament to pick between her deal, a no-deal divorce, or no Brexit.

“It is now time for MPs (lawmakers) to decide,” May said in a televised statement. “You want us to get on with it. And that is what I am determined to do.”

All 28 leaders assemble in Brussels at 1400 GMT. May will address her peers before leaving the room while they discuss the issue.

The 27 are then expected to agree what will amount to a technical extension, intended to give Britain time to pass the necessary exit legislation – if the House of Commons approves the divorce package before March 29.

EXIT DATE APPROACHING FAST

The chamber has already twice voted it down heavily, with some saying May’s deal would leave Britain too closely aligned with the EU, others arguing that it would not be close enough.

If Britain fails to ratify the deal in time, and with the legal exit date of March 29 approaching fast, Tusk could then call an emergency summit for late next week.

At stake would then be a “no-deal” Brexit or a much longer extension to give the British parliament time to find a notional consensus approach. Brexit’s backers fear that, with such a long delay, their project might never materialize.

EU supporters hope a longer delay could pave the way for a new vote in Britain or a reversal of May’s strategy to leave the EU’s single market and customs union, a policy that has exposed intractable differences over how to handle the Irish border.

But this would appear to require Britain to take part in European elections in late May that it had never expected to participate in – or present the EU with a painful constitutional conundrum.

The EU wants to avoid repeated Brexit delays or more renegotiations of the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement, put together in months of painstaking talks with London. It is designed to settle Britain’s bill with the EU, guarantee expatriates’ rights and provide a status-quo transition period after Brexit.

As Brexit is sapping EU resources, the leaders will also turn to other pressing issues on Thursday and Friday. These include the state of their economies, their ties with China, climate change and ringfencing the European elections from illegitimate interference.

Eyes will also be on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who will be meeting his EU peers a day after his Fidesz party was suspended from Europe’s main center-right alliance over a venomous campaign against EU institutions and migration policies.

(Reporting by Brussels, London and Paris bureaux; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

Late senator John McCain is honored during the 2018 Iran Uprising Summit in New York
Late senator John McCain is honored during the 2018 Iran Uprising Summit in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

March 20, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The widow and daughter of John McCain on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump and his online supporters for repeated attacks on the former U.S. senator, Republican presidential nominee and Vietnam War hero who was tortured during five and a half years spent as a prisoner of war.

Speaking on Wednesday to an employee at an Ohio factory that makes military tanks, Trump again hammered McCain.

“So I have to be honest, I’ve never liked him much,” Trump said. “I really probably never will. But there are certain reasons for it.”

Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late senator, spent the last few days defending her father and politely criticizing Trump. On Wednesday she said the president had reached “a new, bizarre low – attacking someone who is not here is a new low.”

She also said, “If I had told my dad … he would think it is so hilarious that our president was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death.”

Barely six months after McCain’s death, Trump started the latest exchange between himself and the McCain clan on Sunday in a blast of Tweets, including one that attacked “‘last in his class’ (Annapolis) John McCain.”

A spokeswoman for Meghan McCain said she was not immediately available for further comment.

Cindy McCain, the senator’s widow, sarcastically urged her Twitter followers to “see how kind and loving a stranger can be” and shared with them an online message from someone who described John McCain as a “traitorous piece of warmongering shit and I’m glad he’s dead.”

On Tuesday, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office while sitting next the president of Brazil, Trump added: “I never was a fan of John McCain, and I never will be.”

The tweets and soundbites triggered a swirl of anti-McCain attacks and pro-McCain appeals on social media, like the one Cindy McCain shared, and cable TV discussion.

Without rebuking Trump, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a Tweet: “Today and every day I miss my good friend John McCain. It was a blessing to serve alongside a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate.”

Republican Senator Johnny Isakson was more critical. In an interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting on Wednesday, he called Trump’s remarks about McCain “deplorable.”

The White House had no comment on Trump’s latest attacks.

Trump on Wednesday expressed concern about McCain’s role in the handling of a “dossier,” compiled before the 2016 U.S. presidential election by a former British spy and paid for by lawyers for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The dossier alleged Russian financial dealings with Trump and included salacious personal details that remain unconfirmed. After the election, a copy of the dossier was given to McCain, who gave it to the FBI, according to court documents that were made public last week.

Trump and his supporters have aggressively attacked the document ever since its contents became public.

“John McCain received a fake and phony dossier … He got it, and what did he do? He didn’t call me,” Trump said during his visit to the Ohio factory. “He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy and that’s not the nicest thing to do.”

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Dan Grebler and Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

A former operator of a spa that’s entangled in a prostitution investigation responded Wednesday to top Democrats’ call for the FBI to investigate her because of her ties to President Donald Trump and China.

“I’m Republican and I’m Chinese,” Li “Cindy” Yang told NBC News. “That’s the reason the Democrats want to check me.”

Yang sold Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, roughly seven years ago. Now the spa and its new operators are in the news after authorities charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in late February with soliciting a prostitute there. (RELATED: Brazil’s New President Says What He And Trump Have In Common: ‘We Are God-Fearing Men’)

Senate and House Democrats requested the FBI open criminal and counterintelligence investigations into Yang, reported ABC News. They point to media reports claiming Yang’s company GY Investments sells opportunities to get close to Trump to Chinese clients.

”Although Ms. Yang’s activities may only be those of an unscrupulous actor allegedly selling access to politicians for profit, her activities also could permit adversary governments or their agents access to these same politicians to acquire potential material for blackmail or other even more nefarious purposes,” the Democrats wrote in a March 15 letter according to NBC News.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates on Cambridge street during the New England Patriots Victory Parade on February 05, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates on Cambridge street during the New England Patriots Victory Parade on Feb. 5, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Yang told NBC News she has lived in the U.S. for roughly two decades and has not had contact with any Chinese government officials.

“I love Americans. I love our president. I don’t do anything wrong,” she said.

Yang has made numerous social media posts of photographs with Trump, including a selfie with the president at a Super Bowl party at the Trump International golf resort in Florida, reported NBC News. She is “part of a network of organizations pushing for Taiwan to return to Chinese control and that fall under the oversight of the Chinese government,” reported the Miami Herald.

Kraft is expected to reject a plea deal that would result in prosecutors dropping criminal charges against him for allegedly soliciting prostitutes, according to reports Wednesday. Many pundits have weighed in on the scandal, including CNN’s Michael Smerconish, who called investigating Kraft “the largest waste of resources since Jussie Smollett” on Feb. 23.

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

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

A former operator of a spa that’s entangled in a prostitution investigation responded Wednesday to top Democrats’ call for the FBI to investigate her because of her ties to President Donald Trump and China.

“I’m Republican and I’m Chinese,” Li “Cindy” Yang told NBC News. “That’s the reason the Democrats want to check me.”

Yang sold Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, roughly seven years ago. Now the spa and its new operators are in the news after authorities charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in late February with soliciting a prostitute there. (RELATED: Brazil’s New President Says What He And Trump Have In Common: ‘We Are God-Fearing Men’)

Senate and House Democrats requested the FBI open criminal and counterintelligence investigations into Yang, reported ABC News. They point to media reports claiming Yang’s company GY Investments sells opportunities to get close to Trump to Chinese clients.

”Although Ms. Yang’s activities may only be those of an unscrupulous actor allegedly selling access to politicians for profit, her activities also could permit adversary governments or their agents access to these same politicians to acquire potential material for blackmail or other even more nefarious purposes,” the Democrats wrote in a March 15 letter according to NBC News.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates on Cambridge street during the New England Patriots Victory Parade on February 05, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates on Cambridge street during the New England Patriots Victory Parade on Feb. 5, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Yang told NBC News she has lived in the U.S. for roughly two decades and has not had contact with any Chinese government officials.

“I love Americans. I love our president. I don’t do anything wrong,” she said.

Yang has made numerous social media posts of photographs with Trump, including a selfie with the president at a Super Bowl party at the Trump International golf resort in Florida, reported NBC News. She is “part of a network of organizations pushing for Taiwan to return to Chinese control and that fall under the oversight of the Chinese government,” reported the Miami Herald.

Kraft is expected to reject a plea deal that would result in prosecutors dropping criminal charges against him for allegedly soliciting prostitutes, according to reports Wednesday. Many pundits have weighed in on the scandal, including CNN’s Michael Smerconish, who called investigating Kraft “the largest waste of resources since Jussie Smollett” on Feb. 23.

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

Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes speaks with journalists after meeting with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the National Congress, in Brasilia
Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes speaks with journalists after meeting with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro at the National Congress, in Brasilia, Brazil March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

March 20, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s military would average just 1 billion reais ($265 million) in net savings per year over the next decade under an austerity proposal from the Economy Ministry unveiled on Wednesday, with higher pay consuming most pension savings.

The bill is the final piece of a social security overhaul proposed by President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, aimed at saving over 1 trillion reais in a decade.

Lawmakers have said they could not debate his pension bill, first presented a month ago, without details of his plans for the armed forces — and even Bolsonaro’s allies quickly questioned whether the military personnel were giving up enough.

The Economy Ministry’s proposal pointed to net savings of 10.4 billion reais over 10 years. That would result from 97.3 billion reais in savings on military pensions, partially offset by 86.9 billion reais in extra public spending on military pay.

Brazil’s currency, the real, reduced gains sharply as details of the proposal were made public. The benchmark Bovespa stock index extended losses to 1.6 percent – its biggest loss in two weeks.

“The bulk of this bearishness is the military proposal. Not the savings number per se, but the fact that the final proposal also included compensation, which is to say more spending,” said one fund manager in Sao Paulo. “It sends a bad signal for other government workers that will also want similar pay raises.”

Lawmaker Waldir Soares de Oliveira, leader of Bolsonaro’s party in the lower house of Congress, told journalists he thought it was not the moment to discuss higher military pay.

Government officials and military leaders defending the bill at a news conference said the salary hikes were making up for years of below-average adjustments to military compensation.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres and Ricardo Brito; Additional reporting and writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Khalilzad listens to speakers during a panel discussion on Afghanistan at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington
FILE PHOTO – Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, listens to speakers during a panel discussion on Afghanistan at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 12, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, will meet with Chinese, Russian and European Union diplomats on Afghanistan on Thursday as he tries to forge a peace deal with the Taliban to bring an end to America’s longest war.

“Discussion topics include international support for the Afghan peace process, the role each party can play in bringing an end to the war, and progress to date in peace talks,” the State Department said in a statement.

The meeting at the State Department will include Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan; Deng Xijun, his Chinese counterpart; and Roland Kobia, the EU’s special envoy.

Khalilzad will brief them on his recent talks in Doha, Qatar, with the Taliban, where the United States reported progress but no final deal on a withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces.

The Taliban rejects direct negotiations with the Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani, accusing it of being a U.S. puppet.

U.S. negotiators are pressing the Taliban to accept a ceasefire and talks on Afghanistan’s political future with representatives of Afghan society, including Ghani’s government. But the talks have primarily focused on the Taliban’s counter-terrorism assurances and a U.S. troop withdrawal.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Khalilzad listens to speakers during a panel discussion on Afghanistan at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington
FILE PHOTO – Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, listens to speakers during a panel discussion on Afghanistan at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 12, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, will meet with Chinese, Russian and European Union diplomats on Afghanistan on Thursday as he tries to forge a peace deal with the Taliban to bring an end to America’s longest war.

“Discussion topics include international support for the Afghan peace process, the role each party can play in bringing an end to the war, and progress to date in peace talks,” the State Department said in a statement.

The meeting at the State Department will include Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan; Deng Xijun, his Chinese counterpart; and Roland Kobia, the EU’s special envoy.

Khalilzad will brief them on his recent talks in Doha, Qatar, with the Taliban, where the United States reported progress but no final deal on a withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces.

The Taliban rejects direct negotiations with the Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani, accusing it of being a U.S. puppet.

U.S. negotiators are pressing the Taliban to accept a ceasefire and talks on Afghanistan’s political future with representatives of Afghan society, including Ghani’s government. But the talks have primarily focused on the Taliban’s counter-terrorism assurances and a U.S. troop withdrawal.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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

A growing number of Americans say immigration levels should remain the same or increase, according to a major U.S. survey, a shift that comes as the Trump administration has ramped up immigration enforcement.

At the same time, the latest data from the General Social Survey — a widely respected poll that has measured trends on American attitudes since the 1970s — shows a growing partisan divide on the topic over the past decade.

The 2018 survey was released this week and shows 34 percent of Americans want immigration levels to be reduced, down from 41 percent in 2016, according to an analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and GSS staff.

That's compared with 23 percent of Americans who want more immigration, up from 17 percent in 2016. Forty-one percent say they want immigration levels to stay the same.

It's the first time since the survey question was first asked in 2004 that more Americans want immigration to remain the same than to be reduced.

The survey is conducted every two years, and the question was last asked before President Donald Trump took office and made it harder for people to immigrate to the United States.

Trump — who made immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his election campaign — has repeatedly called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and his push for wall funding last year drove the federal government to a monthlong shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of government workers.

The administration enacted a travel ban for citizens of mostly Muslim countries, including Iran and Yemen, that has torn many families apart. And officials last year separated immigrant parents from their children to prosecute illegal border crossers, a move that sparked an international outcry.

"People are more tolerant of immigration than the president and the far right would have us believe," said Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

According to the survey, nearly three times as many Democrats as Republicans want more immigrants allowed into the country, while Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to favor less immigration.

But fewer Republicans want a reduction in immigration than did in 2016. In 2018, 52 percent of Republicans said they wanted less immigration, down from 62 percent two years earlier.

Forty-four percent of Democrats say they want immigration levels to remain the same, while 34 percent want an increase in immigration.

The survey — which does not distinguish between illegal and legal immigration — also looked at Americans' views on the issue by race. About 41 percent of whites want a decrease in immigration, while only 24 percent of blacks and 22 percent of Hispanics say the same.

Trump has made immigration an intensely political issue, and also an issue of race, said Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

"Trump is trying to create a Republican Party that's much more based in an older, white electorate in nonmetropolitan areas of the country," Pastor said. "The Democrats are trying to put together political coalitions that have a deep base in metropolitan areas, and that includes many more people of color."

The General Social Survey has been conducted since 1972 by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing.

Sample sizes for each year's survey vary from about 1,500 to about 3,000 adults, with margins of error falling between plus or minus 2.2 percentage points and plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The most recent survey was conducted April 12 through November 10, 2018 and includes interviews with 2,348 American adults. MARGIN OF ERROR?

Online: http://www.apnorc.org

Source: NewsMax

A growing number of Americans say immigration levels should remain the same or increase, according to a major U.S. survey, a shift that comes as the Trump administration has ramped up immigration enforcement.

At the same time, the latest data from the General Social Survey — a widely respected poll that has measured trends on American attitudes since the 1970s — shows a growing partisan divide on the topic over the past decade.

The 2018 survey was released this week and shows 34 percent of Americans want immigration levels to be reduced, down from 41 percent in 2016, according to an analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and GSS staff.

That's compared with 23 percent of Americans who want more immigration, up from 17 percent in 2016. Forty-one percent say they want immigration levels to stay the same.

It's the first time since the survey question was first asked in 2004 that more Americans want immigration to remain the same than to be reduced.

The survey is conducted every two years, and the question was last asked before President Donald Trump took office and made it harder for people to immigrate to the United States.

Trump — who made immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his election campaign — has repeatedly called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and his push for wall funding last year drove the federal government to a monthlong shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of government workers.

The administration enacted a travel ban for citizens of mostly Muslim countries, including Iran and Yemen, that has torn many families apart. And officials last year separated immigrant parents from their children to prosecute illegal border crossers, a move that sparked an international outcry.

"People are more tolerant of immigration than the president and the far right would have us believe," said Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

According to the survey, nearly three times as many Democrats as Republicans want more immigrants allowed into the country, while Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to favor less immigration.

But fewer Republicans want a reduction in immigration than did in 2016. In 2018, 52 percent of Republicans said they wanted less immigration, down from 62 percent two years earlier.

Forty-four percent of Democrats say they want immigration levels to remain the same, while 34 percent want an increase in immigration.

The survey — which does not distinguish between illegal and legal immigration — also looked at Americans' views on the issue by race. About 41 percent of whites want a decrease in immigration, while only 24 percent of blacks and 22 percent of Hispanics say the same.

Trump has made immigration an intensely political issue, and also an issue of race, said Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

"Trump is trying to create a Republican Party that's much more based in an older, white electorate in nonmetropolitan areas of the country," Pastor said. "The Democrats are trying to put together political coalitions that have a deep base in metropolitan areas, and that includes many more people of color."

The General Social Survey has been conducted since 1972 by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing.

Sample sizes for each year's survey vary from about 1,500 to about 3,000 adults, with margins of error falling between plus or minus 2.2 percentage points and plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The most recent survey was conducted April 12 through November 10, 2018 and includes interviews with 2,348 American adults. MARGIN OF ERROR?

Online: http://www.apnorc.org

Source: NewsMax

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends Arab league and EU summit, in Sharm el-Sheikh
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

March 20, 2019

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch governing coalition will lose its majority in the senate as a result of provincial elections in which a far right populist party booked major gains, according to an exit poll commissioned by national broadcaster NOS.

The vote came just two days after a Turkish-born man was arrested on suspicion of shooting three people dead in the central city of Utrecht, in an attack that may have given the anti-immigration Forum for Democracy party a boost.

If the projection conducted by polling firm Ipsos is accurate, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right governing coalition will need to seek support from additional parties to pass legislation.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Jon Brown | Associate Editor

The Washington Post offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a platform to express his opinion Tuesday for the second time in less than five months, despite the unparalleled number of journalists imprisoned by his government.

Sixty-eight journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, more than any other country in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Nevertheless, in an op-ed entitled “The New Zealand killer and the Islamic State are cut from the same cloth,” Erdogan used WaPo as a soapbox from which to scold Western nations for failing to adequately distinguish Islam from terrorism.

Likening the New Zealand mosque shooter to radical Islamic terrorists, Erdogan maintained that the shooter’s motives were a distortion of Christianity and admonished that the world “must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere.” (EXCLUSIVE: A Look Inside Andrew Brunson’s Harrowing Turkish Courtroom Experience)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony marking the 104th anniversary of Battle of Canakkale, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign, in Canakkale, Turkey March 18, 2019. Cem Oksuz/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

“Unfortunately, Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world,” he continued. “We cannot afford to allow this again. If the world wants to prevent future assaults similar to the one in New Zealand, it must start by establishing that what happened was the product of a coordinated smear campaign.”

Erdogan’s op-ed was a continuation of sentiments he expressed last week at the funeral of a Turkish minister, where he condemned the entire world — and the West, especially — for rising Islamophobia and racism.

“With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing,” he said, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. (RELATED: Erdogan Uses New Zealand Mosque Shootings To Condemn World For ‘Hostility’ To Islam)

The Post, which uses the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” also published Erdogan in a Nov. 2, 2018, op-ed that condemned Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist and WaPo columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

FILE PHOTO: Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

“Erdogan makes a solid point that all murderers or terrorists of innocent people should be treated alike and equally condemned,” said Jeffrey McCall, a communications professor at DePauw University who specializes in journalism ethics. “Letting Erdogan come off as all righteous, however, given his track record of curtailing free expression in his own country, is quite unnecessary.”

“It was a curious move when the Post gave Erdogan op-ed space last fall in the wake of the Khashoggi murder, but a case could be made at that time because the assassination took place in Turkey,” McCall continued. “There is no particular need now to give Erdogan a platform to broadly criticize other governments and suggesting the West is normalizing extremism.” (RELATED: Turkey’s Erdogan Wants Twitter To Silence American Critic)

“The Post, in a sense, seems to be giving Erdogan a legitimacy that is undeserved, given his own record on human rights and the many other measured voices that are available to weigh in on such a serious topic,” he added.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 19: Executive editor at The Washington Post, Martin Baron, (L) and Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison speak onstage during "A Newspaper Editor in the Spotlight" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Executive editor at The Washington Post, Martin Baron, (L) and Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison speak onstage … (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, WaPo executive editor Martin Baron used Erdogan as an example of the possible dangers that could befall American journalists under President Donald Trump. In remarks delivered at a Manhattan dinner party upon winning an award, Baron quoted CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, saying:

This is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdogan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al. … First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating—until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison — and then who knows?

“When the press is under attack, we cannot always count on our nation’s institutions to safeguard our freedoms—not even the courts,” Baron then warned, adding, “Many journalists wonder with considerable weariness what it is going to be like for us during the next four — perhaps eight — years. Will we be incessantly harassed and vilified? Will the new administration seize on opportunities to try intimidating us? Will we face obstruction at every turn? If so, what do we do?” (RELATED: Koppel: NYT And WaPo Not What They Used To Be Thanks To Trump Vendetta)

Baron went on to emphasize the importance of “holding the most powerful to account,” and that failing to do so raises the question, “If we do not do that, then what exactly is the purpose of journalism?”

WaPo did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

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Source: The Daily Caller


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