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FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in attendance at a press conference in advance of Super Bowl LIII at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta
FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in attendance at a press conference in advance of Super Bowl LIII at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 30, 2019. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

March 21, 2019

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is seeking to suppress video evidence that authorities assert support the solicitation of prostitution charges filed against him, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Per the report, a motion was filed Wednesday by Kraft’s attorneys with intentions to make sure the video, which he said has been described as “graphic and damning,” never is released. The report calls the motion a “warning shot” to prosecutors that Kraft’s team will challenge that police had probable cause even to collect the video as evidence.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that prosecutors offered to defer prosecution for Kraft and the two dozen other men arrested in the case, but any defendant who accepts the offer must admit that there is enough evidence to lead to a conviction at trial, along with other stipulations. CNN reported Wednesday Kraft will reject the offer.

Kraft entered a not guilty plea after being charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at a day spa in Jupiter, Fla. The 77-year-old billionaire is alleged to have twice visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in January and received sex acts in exchange for money.

–Much of the New York Giants’ top brass — including head coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Mike Shula and senior vice president of player personnel Chris Mara — took Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins to dinner Tuesday night, then studied his on-field drills at the Buckeyes’ Pro Day the following day.

Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network summed up the action: “Strong workout for Haskins. Improved foot quickness, excellent anticipation and pace on the ball.”

Haskins could be the choice if New York is ready to try to draft the replacement for Eli Manning with the No. 6 overall pick, but there could be competition as other quarterback-needy teams assess their draft positions. Haskins said he would soon meet with the Oakland Raiders (who hold the No. 4 pick), the Denver Broncos (No. 10), the Miami Dolphins (No. 13) and the Washington Redskins (No. 15).

–Also in Columbus, potential No. 1 overall pick Nick Bosa did not participate in on-field drills after performing well in drill work at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

He said he had meetings scheduled with the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the No. 2 pick, and the Giants. He also interviewed with all the top teams at the combine, including Arizona, which picks first. Bosa had 29 tackles for loss, including 17.5 sacks, in 29 career games for the Buckeyes.

–Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin told Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle that “more surgeries (are) on the way, most likely,” while the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo cited a source in saying that Baldwin will meet with Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia in early April about a potential sports hernia.

Baldwin, 30, missed two games in September with a knee injury and a shoulder problem arose later in the campaign. He had surgeries to address both issues this offseason.

–The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added two women as assistant coaches, making them the first full-time female coaches in team history and making the Bucs the first NFL team with two female coaches on staff. Maral Javadifar will take on the role as assistant strength and conditioning coach as Lori Locust will be an assistant defensive line coach.

–Quarterback Trevor Siemian has agreed to a reported one-year deal worth $2 million with the New York Jets. Siemian spent all of last season on Minnesota’s active roster, although he did not play as Kirk Cousins’ backup after the Vikings acquired him in a trade with Denver last March. Siemian, 27, started 24 games for the Broncos over the 2016 and ’17 seasons, passing for 5,686 yards and 30 touchdowns against 24 interceptions.

–The Minnesota Vikings, in search of help at offensive guard, announced the signing of Josh Kline, who was released last week by the Tennessee Titans. The deal is for three years and $15.75 million, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. … The Chicago Bears re-signed punter Patrick O’Donnell and backup quarterback Tyler Bray.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Burial ceremony of the victims of the mosque attacks in Christchurch
Relatives and other people arrive to attend the burial ceremony of the victims of the mosque attacks, at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch, New Zealand March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 21, 2019

By Tom Westbrook and Charlotte Greenfield

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – The bullet-riddled Al Noor mosque in Christchurch was being repaired, painted and cleaned ahead of Friday prayers, as grieving families buried more victims of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that Friday’s call to prayers for Muslims will be broadcast nationally and there will be a two minute silence.

Armed police have been guarding mosques around New Zealand after 50 people were killed last Friday by a lone gunman who attacked worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch.

“We will have a heightened presence tomorrow in order to provide reassurance to people attending the Friday call for prayers,” police said in a statement on Thursday.

“Police have been working relentlessly, doing everything in our power to gather all appropriate evidence from what are active crime scenes so we can allow people to return to the mosques as quickly as possible.”

Both mosques attacked, the Al Noor and nearby Linwood mosque, plan to be reopened. Thousands of worshippers are expected at the Al Noor mosque, where the majority of victims died.

Most victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, has been charged with murder following the attack.

He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

The first victims were buried on Wednesday and burials continued on Thursday, with the funeral of a school boy.

Families of the victims have been frustrated by the delay as under Islam bodies are usually buried within 24 hours.

A mass burial is expected to be held on Friday. Body washing will go on through the day and night to have the dead ready for burial, said one person involved in the process.

Police have identified and release to the families the bodies of some 30 victims.

Twenty nine people wounded in the attacks remained in hospital, eight still in intensive care.

Many have had to undergo multiple surgeries due to complicated gunshot wounds. The gunman used semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, with large magazines, and shotguns.

Ardern as vowed to change gun laws in the wake of the attack, possibly banning semi-automatic weapons. An announcement will be made before the next cabinet meeting on Monday.

The gunman broadcast his attack live on Facebook and it was quickly distributed to other platforms, prompting Ardern and others to rebuke technology companies and call for greater efforts to stop violence and extremist views being aired on social media.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Charlotte Greenfield in CHRISTCHURCH, Praveen Menon in WELLINGTON.; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

It is truly unclear what exactly was going through a car chase suspect’s mind when police finally caught up with him and in response he began breakdancing.

It all went down in San Fernando Valley when CHP officers were involved in a slow speed car chase—yes, you read that correctly—from Calabasas through southern California to catch an alleged reckless driver who failed to stop when asked to do so by authority, per ABC 7 Chicago on Wednesday.

All the excitement was captured on video and shared on YouTube. Check it out. (RELATED: Driver Refuses To Pull Over For Cops, Says Car Chase Was On His ‘Bucket List’)

WATCH:

During the pursuit, which never reached faster than 60 mph, the suspect lead cops from the 101 freeway to the 118 East. At one point, he slowed his car down to 20 mph. While he reportedly never made any evasive maneuvers, he refused to pull over as well.

The police chase finally came to an end after officers were able to spin out his car using a PIT maneuver (Pursuit Intervention Technique).

Once his car was stopped, the man exited his vehicle and then started to show off his rather impressive 1980s breakdancing moves as police pointed guns at him. (RELATED: Man Films High-Speed Car Chase Then The Car Hit Him)

Clearly, from the overhead video taken from the chopper ahead, the suspect seemed completely unfazed by the police or the weapons pointed at him as he completed his dance routine.

Once the show was finally over, authorities were able to take him into custody without further incident.

Definitely one for the books!

Source: The Daily Caller

Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Pro-choice students at the University of Michigan were caught on video Friday allegedly vandalizing a pro-life display created by the Students for Life organization.

Though Students for Life had the university’s permission to set up their display, a women with purple hair and a black trench coat—along with several others—proceeded to collect pink crosses that were stuck in the ground. The display was comprised of 1,000 pink crosses, that were arranged at 9 a.m. Friday.

The video shows them putting the crosses in trash bags and claiming that they were “just cleaning up garbage on the school’s campus,” when confronted by Students For Life organizers. (RELATED: New York Passes Bill On Roe v. Wade Anniversary Casting Abortion As A Woman’s Right)

The pink crosses were a part of Students For Life’s #PlannedParenthoodTruth Tour, in which the pro-life organization tours college campuses to spread the word about “Planned Parenthood’s poor track record on helping women,” according to the Students for Life website.

At around 12:50 p.m., Kaylena Wiederhold, Students for Life’s Michigan regional coordinator, approached the people who were vandalizing the arrangement, asking why they were stealing Students for Life’s property. (RELATED: Supreme Court Legalized Abortion 46 Years Ago. Here’s A Look At Abortion Across The US)

“Is there a reason why you’re doing this?” Wiederhold asked the purple-haired girl.

“Because we disagree with it,” she said plainly.

She then continues to contest the fact that the crosses in the display are Students for Life’s property, refusing to stop throwing them away.

She only complies after being instructed by campus police to stop what she is doing and return the crosses to Students for Life. In response, she dumps her trash bag full of crosses on the ground and walked away, refusing to put the crosses back where she found them.

Source: The Daily Caller

Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Pro-choice students at the University of Michigan were caught on video Friday allegedly vandalizing a pro-life display created by the Students for Life organization.

Though Students for Life had the university’s permission to set up their display, a women with purple hair and a black trench coat—along with several others—proceeded to collect pink crosses that were stuck in the ground. The display was comprised of 1,000 pink crosses, that were arranged at 9 a.m. Friday.

The video shows them putting the crosses in trash bags and claiming that they were “just cleaning up garbage on the school’s campus,” when confronted by Students For Life organizers. (RELATED: New York Passes Bill On Roe v. Wade Anniversary Casting Abortion As A Woman’s Right)

The pink crosses were a part of Students For Life’s #PlannedParenthoodTruth Tour, in which the pro-life organization tours college campuses to spread the word about “Planned Parenthood’s poor track record on helping women,” according to the Students for Life website.

At around 12:50 p.m., Kaylena Wiederhold, Students for Life’s Michigan regional coordinator, approached the people who were vandalizing the arrangement, asking why they were stealing Students for Life’s property. (RELATED: Supreme Court Legalized Abortion 46 Years Ago. Here’s A Look At Abortion Across The US)

“Is there a reason why you’re doing this?” Wiederhold asked the purple-haired girl.

“Because we disagree with it,” she said plainly.

She then continues to contest the fact that the crosses in the display are Students for Life’s property, refusing to stop throwing them away.

She only complies after being instructed by campus police to stop what she is doing and return the crosses to Students for Life. In response, she dumps her trash bag full of crosses on the ground and walked away, refusing to put the crosses back where she found them.

Source: The Daily Caller

Alec Schemmel | Contributor

The Mississippi police officer who left her three-year-old daughter strapped in a hot car so she could have sex with her supervisor pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday.

Former Mississippi Gulf Coast officer Cassie Barker left her daughter, Cheyenne, inside her patrol car for four hours on Sept. 30, 2016 after falling asleep post-sex, she admitted Monday. Authorities say the infant’s body temperature rose to 107 degrees and died. (RELATED: Six hours later, toddler dead after Dallas teacher left her in sizzling car)

Barker pleaded down to reduced charges of manslaughter after she was first indicted for second degree murder.

“I don’t know what I could ever do to you that could be worse than what you’ve already experienced,” Harrison County Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois told Barker. “You will forever be entombed in a prison of your own mind.”

Barker and the other officer, Clark Ladner, who was her supervisor at the time, were immediately fired following Cheyenne’s death. Ladner claimed he was unaware Cheyenne was in the car and was consequently not charged in her death.

This was not the first time Barker had left Cheyenne in the car alone, the Sun Herald reported. Ryan Hyer, Cheyenne’s father, believes Mississippi Child Protective Services and the police department failed to act appropriately to protect his daughter and filed lawsuits against the organizations.

“As a parent, you are supposed to protect your child, and Cheyenne is gone because her mother didn’t protect her, not once but twice,” Hyer said. “May God have mercy on her soul.”

The Hancock County sheriff’s department told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Barker will be sentenced on April 1, and can receive up to 20 years in prison.

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

Source: The Daily Caller

Graeme Gallagher | Contributor

Kenyan police and detectives seized a personal safety deposit box containing more than $20 million in counterfeit money Tuesday, according to CNN.

Made up of fake $100 dollar bills, the deposit box was reportedly found at a Barclays Bank branch in Nairobi, the nation’s capital.

“Six people were arrested … by DCI detectives in connection with fake currency amounting slightly over $20 million at Barclays Kenya Queensway Branch,” said Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in a statement on Twitter. (RELATED: First Lady Melania Trump Visits Children In Nairobi, Kenya)

Among those arrested was the owner of the deposit box, Erick Adede, and two bank officials, Boaz Ochich and Charles Manzi.  A person who would have been defrauded by the suspects was already collaborating with the investigation, added the DCI.

Additionally, the bank, which is a subsidiary of the South African Absa Group, said they were working with police in the investigation and that the contents of the deposit box were only known to the owner. The bank also said the money was not part of its deposit and it went “against the bank’s rules and regulations.” (RELATED: Conservative Under Consideration For World Bank President)

“The customer had concealed fake currency in his personal safe deposit box against the bank’s rules and regulations which include restrictions of items which can be held in the safe deposit box,” said Barclays Bank Kenya in a statement.

The large seizure of funds transpires as lawmakers in the east African country are pushing for a policy that removes current strict banking laws requiring financial institutions to “declare the source, purpose and beneficiaries” when moving transactions more than $10,000.

However, Patrick Njoroge, the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), believes that the new law would put Kenya in danger of being “blacklisted” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The task force, of which Kenya is a member, is an intergovernmental body that sets standards to promote legal and operational measures against money laundering and corruption. (RELATED: Who’s Paying For This $5 Billion Nuclear Plant In Kenya?)

“Kenya’s banking sector will be blacklisted internationally and the country will most likely be blacklisted by the FATF,” said Njoroge while in front of the finance committee in February.

“The adverse effects of the amendment on the banking sector, would be immediate termination of relationships by foreign correspondent banks and closure of accounts of Kenyan banks,” insisted the CBK governor while in front of the finance committee in February.

Source: The Daily Caller

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

Arizona police said a YouTube star allegedly threatened her seven adopted kids if they did not appear in her videos, with abuses ranging from pepper spraying the children to forcing them to take ice baths.

Authorities arraigned Machelle Hackney, 48, Tuesday and booked her into Pinal County Jail for child molestation, child abuse, unlawful imprisonment and child neglect counts, ABC News reported Wednesday.

The mother said she disciplined her kids by spanking, grounding or having them stand in a corner, but denied abusing them, NBC News reported.

Hackney runs the channel “Fantastic Adventures,” which has close to 800,000 subscribers and 250 million views. It was started on June 17, 2012.

YouTube confirmed that they stopped monetizing Hackney’s channel once they found out about her arrest. (RELATED: Teacher On Leave After Alleged Link To Punishing Preschoolers By Having Them Stand Naked In A Closet)

Officers were first tipped about the alleged abuse by Hackney’s biological daughter, who was not named, NBC reported. The adopted children allegedly told the biological daughter about the abuse.

The children allegedly “appeared to be malnourished, due to their pale completion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight, and they stated they were thirsty and hungry” upon a welfare check by police, according to ABC.

Pictured is a scared child. SHUTTERSTOCK/ Dean Drobot

Pictured is a scared child. SHUTTERSTOCK/ Dean Drobot

Police reportedly found one child wearing a pull-up diaper in an unlocked closet, according to NBC. The children’s ages were not released.

One child claimed she was in pain for days after getting pepper sprayed between her legs, according to ABC.

“I either get beat with a hanger or belt,” “or a brush,” “or get pepper sprayed from head to toe,” a second child said, ABC reported.

The second child said that Hackney grabbed his “privates,” and pinched him until he bled, according to ABC.

Hackney allegedly wore a mask while using the pepper spray, NBC reported. Police found two cans of pepper spray in the mother’s room.

A probable cause statement said the children were not in school “for years” due to filming purposes, according to ABC. Hackney’s adult sons Logan Hackney and Ryan Hackney were also taken into custody for not reporting the abuses even when they knew about them on March 15.

Ryan Hackney secretly gave the children food when they were locked inside the closet. Logan Hackney admitted to officers that he knew about the pepper spray and ice bath incidents and also heard the kids scream and cry, ABC reported.

The YouTube channel could be terminated if Machelle Hackney pleads guilty or is convicted, according to YouTube.

Machelle Hackney has a preliminary hearing set for March 26, ABC reported.

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

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Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

The White House is strongly condemning New York City after it says sanctuary city policies led to the release of an illegal immigrant who later bit off the finger of an ICE agent trying to apprehend him.

“New York’s dangerous ‘sanctuary’ policies are directly responsible for the egregious and violent harm suffered by this courageous ICE officer,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement to The Daily Caller.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman explained to The Daily Caller that Dominican national Christopher Santos Felix “entered the United States on a visitor’s visa in June 2015, but failed to leave within the required timeframe.” Felix then racked up a litany of criminal charges, including driving while intoxicated, before he was arrested for assault by the New York City Police Department on Sept 29, 2018. (RELATED: NYC Council Passes ‘Abolish ICE’ Resolution)

The ICE spokeswoman continued that they requested a detainer be put on Felix so that he could be taken into federal custody, but as a result of New York City’s sanctuary city policies, he was then let go.

“On March 3, 2019, Santos Felix was arrested by ERO for immigration violations. At the time of the arrest, Santos Felix allegedly assaulted an ERO officer and is now facing federal prosecution,” the spokeswoman said.

ICE agent’s hand

The spokeswoman added, “the officer’s injury was the direct, foreseeable and entirely avoidable result of New York’s criminal alien sanctuary policies. Proponents of sanctuary policies claim they make communities safer, but in many cases they are causing more harm than good.”

The criminal complaint against Felix reviewed by the Caller notes that he attacked ICE officers after his handcuffs were temporarily removed so that he could put on some clothing. Officers quickly moved to secure Felix and while they were restraining him, he bit the officer’s finger.

Source: The Daily Caller

The wrecakge of a burnt out bus is seen on a road in Milan
The wreckage of a bus that was set ablaze by its driver in protest against the treatment of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, is seen on a road in Milan, Italy, March 20, 2019. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

MILAN (Reuters) – A bus full of schoolchildren was hijacked and set on fire by its own driver on Wednesday in an apparent protest against migrant drownings in the Mediterranean, Italian authorities said.

All 51 children managed to escape unhurt before the bus was engulfed in flames on the outskirts of Milan, Italy’s business capital. Police named the driver as Ousseynou Sy, a 47-year-old Italian citizen of Senegalese origin.

“He shouted, ‘Stop the deaths at sea, I’ll carry out a massacre’,” police spokesman Marco Palmieri quoted Sy as telling police after his arrest.

A video posted on Italian news sites showed the driver ramming the bus into cars on a provincial highway before the fire took hold. Children can be seen running away from the vehicle screaming and shouting “escape”.

One of the children told reporters that the driver had threatened to pour petrol over them and set them alight. One of group managed to call the police, who rushed to the scene and broke the bus windows to get everyone to safety.

Palmieri said some children were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure because they had bruises or were in a state of shock, but none suffered serious injuries.

A teacher who was with the middle school children was quoted by Ansa news agency as saying that the driver had said he wanted to get to the runway at Milan’s Linate airport.

An unnamed girl was also quoted as saying that Sy blamed deputy prime ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio for the deaths of African migrants at sea.

The United Nations estimates that some 2,297 migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2018 as they tried to reach Europe.

A Libyan security official said on Tuesday that at least 10 migrants died when their boat sank off the Libyan coast near the western town of Sabratha.

The Italian government has closed its ports to charity rescue ships that pick up migrants off the Libyan coast. Salvini says this has helped reduce deaths because far fewer people are now putting to sea.

Human rights groups say deaths might have increased with hardly any boats now searching for the would-be refugees.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi and Crispian Balmer; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

Alec Schemmel | Contributor

A Federal District Court judge sentenced Kellen Michael Sorber on Monday to 44 months in federal prison for setting fire to a GOP headquarters in Laramie, Wyoming.

On the early morning of Sept. 6, the Laramie Fire Department responded to a report of a small building fire located at 214 E. Ivinson Avenue, the headquarters for Albany County Republicans. (RELATED: Wyoming GOP Office Set On Fire Less Than Two Days After Opening — Police Say It Was Intentional)

At the scene, detectives found cinder blocks used to gain entrance, as well as a cigarette butt, both of which contained DNA evidence that linked back to Sorber, according to an article by K2 Radio.

“The arson in this case appears to have been motivated by animosity toward a political party,” said United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming, Mark A. Klaasen.

“Regardless of viewpoint or cause, such political violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Klaassen. “We must continue to find ways to engage in healthy public discourse and debate over ideas without our differences devolving into the sort of disdain that leads to violence.”

Sorber is charged with one count of using fire to commit a felony, according to the complaint filed by federal agents.

“This senseless criminal act by Mr. Sorber caused thousands of dollars in damage to property and could have endangered the lives of other occupants of the building. I commend the excellent law enforcement investigation that led to this arrest and conviction.”

The Albany County Republican Party could not be reached for comment.

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

Source: The Daily Caller

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft arrives for the 89th Academy Awards Oscars Vanity Fair Party in Beverly Hills
FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft arrives for the 89th Academy Awards Oscars Vanity Fair Party in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

March 20, 2019

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will reject a conditional plea deal offered by Florida prosecutors on charges of soliciting prostitution, sources told CNN on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon that prosecutors offered to defer prosecution for Kraft and the two dozen other men arrested in the case, but any defendant who accepts the offer must admit that there is enough evidence to lead to a conviction at trial.

Additionally, any defendant who accepts the deal must complete an education course about prostitution, perform 100 hours of community service, be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and pay court costs, according to the Journal.

Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, told CNN the offer was standard for first-time offenders, and that none of the people charged had accepted as of Wednesday morning.

Kraft entered a not guilty plea after being charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at a day spa in Jupiter, Fla. The 77-year-old billionaire is alleged to have twice visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in January and received sex acts in exchange for money.

Jupiter police have said Kraft was caught on surveillance video on both occasions, Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.

Kraft is scheduled to be arraigned March 28 in Palm Beach County, Fla.

The charges came in a police sting that law enforcement said was aimed at stopping human trafficking through massage parlors in Florida.

If Kraft chooses to go to trial and is convicted, he could receive one year in jail, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Edmondson told CNN, however, that those misdemeanor charges generally result in no more than a 60-day sentence in county jail.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

Olivia Jade, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin, allegedly didn’t fill out any of her own college applications.

The federal police claim someone else filled them out for her, according to Page Six. Loughlin has been accused of paying $500,000 in bribes in order to secure her daughters’ admissions to the University of Southern California. (RELATED: Olivia Jade’s Classmate ‘Couldn’t Believe’ Olivia Got Into USC)

In an email to college admissions scammer Rick Singer obtained by the feds, Loughlin wrote, “[Our youngest daughter] has not submitted all of her colleges [sic] apps and is confused on how to to do so. Can you tell us how to proceed?”

The criminal complaint says Singer responded “by directing an employee to submit the applications on behalf of the Giannulli’s younger daughter.”

So, not only did Olivia not really meet any eligibility requirement to get into USC, but she allegedly didn’t even fill out her own applications?

Don’t get me wrong — college applications are brutal, but if you basically were going to get into the university based on no merit, then the least you could do would be to fill out your own college app.

Yes, applications take time to fill out, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to list your grades and extracurricular activities.

Source: The Daily Caller

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

New Zealand police who apprehended the Al Noor Mosque shooter Friday said they believe he planned to attack a third location before his arrest.

The 28-year-old Australian gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killed 50 people and wounded nearly 30 others while broadcasting on Facebook live before police brought an end to his rampage within 21 minutes of the first emergency calls concerning the shooting. Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Wednesday that authorities believe they arrested the shooter while he was making his way to a third location that he planned to attack. (RELATED: Women’s March Fundraises Off Of New Zealand Mosque Attack)

A mourner on wheelchair leaves Memorial Park cemetery after attending a funeral for victims killed in the March 15 twin mosque massacre, in Christchurch on March 20, 2019. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

A mourner on wheelchair leaves Memorial Park cemetery after attending a funeral for victims killed in the March 15 twin mosque massacre, in Christchurch on March 20, 2019. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

“We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to a further attack, so lives were saved,” Bush said, according to The Washington Post.

Bush did not name the third location, but it may have been a mosque in Alberton mentioned in the gunman’s manifesto, in which the gunman expressed white supremacist ideology and explained that he viewed Muslims as foreign invaders, much the same way ISIS militants have said they view westerners.

Police finished their investigation of the crime scene at Al Noor Mosque on Tuesday, allowing for repairs to begin in preparation for the upcoming Friday service. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the country will observe two minutes of silence on Friday in mourning over the shooting and that officials are planning a national memorial service in Christchurch for the victims.

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

Graeme Gallagher | Contributor

Four men were arrested Wednesday for placing secret cameras in hotels across South Korea to film and live-stream around 1,600 unknowing guests, according to BBC.

The scandal took place in 42 rooms in 30 hotels over 10 cities around the country. Cameras were hidden inside digital TV boxes, wall sockets and hairdryer holders. South Korean police do not have reason to believe that the hotels were not complicit in the live-streaming project.

The four men who were arrested set up 1-mm-lens cameras in the hotels in late August and then created the site in November. Overall, the site posted more than 800 videos to over 4,000 members, in which users can pay to see full videos or can watch 30-second clips for free. (RELATED: Virginia Man Accused Of Filming Dozens Of Young Girls In Mall Dressing Rooms)

Opened door of hotel room with key in the lock. (Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com)

Opened door of hotel room with key in the lock. (Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com)

The men said that 97 of these members wanted access to extra features, such as the ability to replay specific live streams, and paid a monthly fee of $44.95 to do so. The streaming service and the men raked in upward of $6,000 between November 2018 and this month, the police reported.

“There was a similar case in the past when illegal cameras were installed in (hotels) and were consistently and secretly watched,” police said to CNN, “but this is the first time the police caught where videos were broadcast live on the internet.”

This is not the first instance of hidden filming in South Korea, as cases of illicit filming have escalated in recent years. Secret camera “porn” or “molka” arrests have jumped from 1,110 to 6,600 between 2010 and 2014, posing as a serious threat to public spaces. Of the more than 5,400 people arrested for illicit filming related crimes in 2017, however, fewer than 2 percent were jailed. (RELATED: Starbucks Launches Inquiry Over Hidden Camera Placed Over Bathroom Baby Changing Station)

Last year, thousands of women wearing masks in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, protested the lack of action and prosecution from the government concerning the crisis, adopting the slogan “My Life is Not Your Porn.”

Female protesters shout slogans during a rally against 'spy-cam porn' in central Seoul on August 4, 2018. (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Female protesters shout slogans during a rally against ‘spy-cam porn’ in central Seoul on August 4, 2018. (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

In an effort to tackle the problem, Seoul implemented female patrol squads to inspect restrooms and changing rooms for hidden recording devices. Using handheld equipment meant for discovering potentially hidden devices, these women scan everywhere — from doorknobs, toilet paper holders and air ducts — to find any of these cameras.

“It’s my job to make sure there’s no camera to film women while they relieve themselves,” said a member of one of the squads. “This is necessary to help women feel safe.”

Not just limited to restrooms and changing rooms, molka crimes include “up-skirt” photos and videos, as well.

The co-owner of a South Korean “revenge porn” site was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $1.26 million last January, indicating increased push back from the country on the issue. The women, surnamed Song, started the site Soranet, which was a popular site for uploading hidden camera photos and videos. The site was shut down last year.

“It is immeasurable how much harm (the site) had caused on our society,” said the judge. “Song worked with her husband and others to operate Soranet and let its members upload pornographic material.”

However, the toll taken on the unknowing victims of these hidden filmings is drastic. Lee Ji-soo, a computer specialist who runs a company that helps women take down images of them taken without consent, has seen the effects it takes on these people. (RELATED: Hidden Camera Spooks Maryland School District)

“The most common things that the clients are saying — and they are quite heartbreaking — are ‘I want to die’ or ‘I cannot leave my house,’” said Ji-s00 to CNN last year, “Especially the victims of spy cam or illegally taken videos say that when they encounter people on the street, they feel like they would be recognized.”

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Steinhoff's former Chief Executive Markus Jooste appears in parliament to face a panel investigating an accounting scandal that rocked the retailer in Cape Town
FILE PHOTO: Steinhoff’s former Chief Executive Markus Jooste appears in parliament to face a panel investigating an accounting scandal that rocked the retailer in Cape Town, South Africa, September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

March 20, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The suspended former chief financial officer of Steinhoff is helping authorities with investigations into $7 billion-plus accounting fraud at the South African retailer, he said on Thursday.

Ben la Grange is one of eight individuals named in an investigation of what an independent report by auditor PwC said was a complex scheme in which intercompany deals worth 6.4 billion euros ($7.3 billion) were wrongly recorded as external income to prop up profits and hide costs in underperforming subsidiaries.

“I am cooperating with all government agencies,” said La Grange, who was suspended last August but remains on the Steinhoff payroll as a consultant.

Former CEO Markus Jooste, who could not reached for comment via his lawyer, is among the eight executives named in the 15,000-word report conducted by PwC over the past 15 months. Jooste has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Steinhoff is under investigation by South Africa police, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority capital markets watchdog and exchange operator JSE.

The state prosecutor in Oldenburg, Germany, has also been investigating the company for suspected accounting irregularities since 2015.

Steinhoff first disclosed the hole in its accounts in December 2017, shocking investors who had backed its reinvention from a small South African business to a multinational retailer at the vanguard of the European discount furniture retail industry.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini speaks in the upper house of the Italian parliament, in Rome
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini speaks in the upper house of the Italian parliament, in Rome, Italy March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

March 20, 2019

By Gavin Jones

ROME (Reuters) – The Italian parliament on Wednesday blocked prosecutors from pursuing an investigation into Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini for abuse of power and kidnapping migrants.

Salvini, who is interior minister and leader of the right-wing League party, has declared Italy’s ports closed to illegal migrants and asylum seekers since he formed a ruling coalition last year with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

In August, he blocked an Italian coastguard ship with 150 migrants aboard for almost a week off the coast of Sicily before finally letting it dock after Albania, Ireland and Italy’s Catholic Church agreed to house them.

Magistrates subsequently put him under investigation and asked parliament to strip him of his immunity from prosecution, but on Wednesday the upper house, the Senate, threw out the request and said he had been acting in the national interest.

“I hope no one in this chamber … has any difficulty in understanding the concept of nation and national sovereignty,” Salvini told lawmakers ahead of the vote.

“This is why Italians pay my salary: to defend our borders and to maintain the security of our country.”

With voting still under way, Senator Maurizio Gasparri, who heads the panel charged with considering Salvini’s case, said it was already clear that a large majority had voted in his favor.

The issue has sown division within the government and particularly within 5-Star, which has in the past criticized parliamentary maneuvering to halt judicial proceedings against lawmakers.

5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio held an online ballot last month among members, who voted 59-41 percent to protect Salvini.

However, two 5-Star senators said they would ignore that ballot and vote against their coalition ally. These are expected to be expelled from the movement, which would reduce the government’s already slim Senate majority.

An Italian-led push to disrupt smuggling networks and boost Libyan coastguard interceptions helped to reduce the number of migrants who successfully crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Italy by around 80 percent last year, to about 23,000, according to the International Organization for Migration. Some 1,300 died in the attempt.

In the latest of a series of stand-offs involving charity rescue ships, an Italian vessel carrying 49 African migrants was escorted into the port of Lampedusa by police on Tuesday, with Salvini calling for the crew to be arrested.

Prosecutors on Wednesday ordered the ship to be seized and opened an investigation into the captain on suspicion of aiding and abetting human trafficking.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A view of a burnt carriage of Samjhauta Express train in Deewana near Panipat town
FILE PHOTO: A view of a burnt carriage of Samjhauta Express train in Deewana, near Panipat town, February 19, 2007. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Aftab Ahmed

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court on Wednesday acquitted four Hindu men accused of bombing a train between India and Pakistan in 2007 that killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, citing a lack of evidence, defense lawyers said.

The ruling comes weeks after a sharp escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan after a suicide car bomb in Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitary police. Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.

The court in the northern state of Haryana gave its verdict after dismissing a petition filed last week by the daughter of a Pakistani victim who wanted to get her statement recorded as a witness.

“Prosecution has failed to prove the case so the court acquitted all of them,” lawyer Mukesh Garg told reporters outside the court. “The court first rejected the application from a Pakistani lady.”

One of those declared not guilty is Swami Aseemanand, a self-styled Hindu holy man and former member of the nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent of India’s ruling party.

Aseemanand was jailed in 2010 after admitting his involvement in the attack on the train near Panipat, a city about 100 km (62 miles) north of Delhi. He later said he was tortured to give a false statement.

Two coaches of the Samjhauta Express, a bi-weekly train that runs between New Delhi and Lahore in Pakistan, caught fire late on Feb. 19, 2007, after two Improvised Explosive Devices exploded, according to a charge-sheet filed by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2013.

In all, the NIA had accused eight men of conducting what it described as a “dreadful terrorist act”. It said the group had been “angry with attacks on Hindu temples by jihadi terrorist activities”. One of the accused was murdered in December 2007 and three others absconded from justice.

Pakistan earlier questioned what it called India’s lack of action against the accused. India had responded by accusing Pakistan of failing to act against militant groups behind attacks in Mumbai in 2008, in which 166 people were killed.

Asaduddin Owaisi, an Indian lawmaker and prominent Muslim leader, criticized Wednesday’s verdict.

“68 dead and nothing to account for them, nothing to say that justice has been done,” he said in a tweet.

(This story corrects to say northern state of Haryana not Himachal Pradesh in paragraph 3)

(Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Krishna N. Das and Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

U.S. Border Patrol agents nabbed three criminal illegal aliens Tuesday — two trying to enter the United States through Arizona and a third at a California crossing.

Avilia Rosales, one of the two illegal border crossers caught in Arizona, has a criminal record for child molestation. The other, Arturo Benjamin Avila Torres, has been convicted for assault with a firearm and for “lascivious acts with a minor under 14,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) as reported by the Washington Examiner.

TIJUANA, MEXICO - JANUARY 10: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents stand guard on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border during a 'large-scale operational readiness exercise' on January 10, 2019 as seen from Tijuana, Mexico. President Trump is visiting the southern border in Texas today. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents stand guard … (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Both men will be prosecuted for illegal immigration, according to the CPB. Border patrol agents are increasingly using biometric assessments of suspects to “ensure illegal aliens with criminal histories are positively identified.” (RELATED: Illegal Arrested In Murder Case Had Long Criminal Record But Was Not Deported)

The third criminal illegal, Alberto Martinez Flores, was stopped at the Calexico, California, border crossing. According to a CBP news release, Flores has a long criminal record dating back a decade. He was convicted of assault, strangulation and unlawful imprisonment and sent to jail. In 2017, Flores was again convicted for vehicular assault and sent to prison for 13 months. Flores has been deported at least once.

Flores said he intended to travel to Los Angeles and live there if he had successfully eluded capture, according to the CBP.

“Our agents were able to arrest Martinez without incident,” said Assistant Chief Patrol Agent David Kim. “This man’s criminal history clearly shows how dangerous he is and now he’s off the streets thanks to our agents’ hard work and diligence.” (RELATED: San Jose Police Officer: Sanctuary Laws Need To Be Changed Immediately)

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen greets a member of the U.S. Border Patrol at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Facility in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen greets a member of the U.S. Border Patrol … REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The arrests underline the increasing activity at the U.S.-Mexico border and why the  Trump administration maintains that the current environment can be characterized as a crisis. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost agrees with this assessment. President Donald Trump remains committed to building a wall to contain the illegal entry of illegals.

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Source: The Daily Caller

A Nirav Modi showroom is pictured in New Delhi
FILE PHOTO: A Nirav Modi showroom is pictured in New Delhi, India, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

March 20, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Fugitive billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi had been arrested in London on behalf of the Indian authorities, British police said on Wednesday.

India had asked Britain in August to extradite Modi, one of the main suspects charged in the $2 billion loan fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), India’s biggest banking fraud.

Police said Modi, 48, had been arrested in the Holborn area of central London on Tuesday and was due to appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Source: OANN

Police officers and workers in protective suits are seen at a checkpoint on a road leading to a farm owned by Hebei Dawu Group where African swine fever was detected, in Xushui
Police officers and workers in protective suits are seen at a checkpoint on a road leading to a farm owned by Hebei Dawu Group where African swine fever was detected, in Xushui district of Baoding, Hebei province, China February 26, 2019. Picture taken February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Hallie Gu

March 20, 2019

By Dominique Patton

BAODING, China (Reuters) – When pigs on the Xinda Husbandry Co. Ltd breeding farm in northern China began dying in growing numbers in early January, it looked increasingly likely that the farm had been struck by the much feared African swine fever, an incurable disease that has spread rapidly across the country since last year.

But after taking samples from some pigs, local officials in the Xushui district of Baoding city, about an hour’s drive from Beijing, said their tests came back negative, said Sun Dawu, chairman of Hebei Dawu Agriculture Group, the farm owner.

As hundreds of pigs began dying daily on the 20,000-head farm, the company obtained a test kit that showed some positive results for the virus. But after further lobbying by Xinda, officials just offered the company subsidies for farm buildings and other investments, said Sun.

Sun’s account of events and pictures taken by farm staff of dead pigs lying in rows and a pile outside the farm could not be independently verified.

Xushui district said in a faxed response to Reuters on Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into the case, adding that it had found some “discrepancies” with the reported version of events.

“If there is illegal behavior, relevant departments will handle it according to the law,” added the statement from the local government’s investigative committee.

Farmers and other industry insiders told Reuters that China’s African swine fever epidemic is far more extensive than official reports suggest, making the disease harder to contain, potentially causing pork shortages and increasing the likelihood that it will spread beyond China’s borders.

“Our full expectation is that the number of cases is under-reported,” said Paul Sundberg, executive director at the Swine Health Information Center in Ames, Iowa, which is funded by American pork producers.

“And if there’s so much of that virus in the environment in China, then we are at increased risk of importing it.”

China does not permit the commercial sale of African swine fever test kits, though many are now available. Official confirmation must come from a state-approved laboratory.

“Public confirmation of disease is the government’s job,” Sun told Reuters at his company headquarters in Xushui in late February.

Frustrated by the lack of action and mounting losses from the disease, Sun eventually published details of the suspected outbreak on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo on Feb. 22.

Two days later, it became the first African swine fever case in Hebei province, one of the north’s top pig producing regions, to be reported by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, about seven weeks after the company says it had alerted local authorities.

By then, more than 15,000 pigs on the Xinda farm had already died, said Sun, and the company even sold on thousands of pigs – potentially spreading the disease further.

Sun said officials did not explain why their first test had been negative, though he suggested it may have been because they took samples from live pigs on the farm and did not test the dead ones.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs did not reply to a faxed request for comment on the case.

The agriculture ministry has warned against covering up outbreaks of the disease, and in January highlighted two large farms that had tried to conceal outbreaks.

UNCONFIRMED OUTBREAKS

Detailed accounts of unconfirmed outbreaks shared with Reuters by two other farm company managers suggest Sun’s experience is not unique.

In one case in northern China last year, local officials declined to even carry out a test. In another case in Shandong province, official test results came back negative, despite clinical symptoms that strongly pointed to African swine fever and a positive test result obtained by the company itself.

Neither manager was willing to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Once an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) is confirmed, all pigs on the farm, as well as any within a 3-km (1.8-mile) radius, must be culled and disposed of, according to Chinese law, and farmers should be paid 1,200 yuan ($180) per pig culled.

For some cash-strapped county governments, avoiding compensation payments could be an incentive not to report disease, said a senior official with a major pig producer.

When the disease hit one of the company’s 6,000-head sow farms in the northeast in November, local authorities did nothing, the official said.

“It was never tested by the government. We couldn’t do the test because we didn’t have the capability. But there’s no question it was ASF, based on the symptoms and lesions,” he told Reuters, declining to be identified because of company policy.

A county official in northeastern Liaoning province told Reuters in January that the local government had poured so much money and resources into preventing and controlling African swine fever that it risked bankrupting the county.

But wealthy Shandong province, northern China’s biggest producer of hogs, has only confirmed one case of the disease, on Feb. 20.

Insiders at one company said four of its farms in the province had suffered swine fever infections, however, suggesting more unconfirmed outbreaks may have occurred.

After the company’s first outbreak in early January the local government tested and the results came back negative, said an executive, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Shandong province’s animal husbandry bureau did not respond to a fax seeking comment on unreported cases.

‘SPATIAL RANDOMNESS’

There is no cure or vaccine for African swine fever and it kills about 90 percent of infected pigs.

Analysts forecast pig production in China, which eats about half of the world’s pork, will fall more than during the 2006 ‘blue ear’ epidemic, one of the worst disease outbreaks in recent years, with some expecting a decline of around 30 percent in 2019.

That would send meat prices soaring and trigger huge demand for imports.

The agriculture ministry said last week the pig herd in February had dropped 16.6 percent year-on-year, and sow stocks were down more than 19 percent.

China also has a patchy record of reporting disease. Details of the blue ear outbreak, which infected more than 2 million hogs, did not emerge until months after the damage had already been done, and the number of pigs that died is still disputed.

Like blue ear, African swine fever does not harm people. But it is classified a reportable disease by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), a global body that promotes transparency, and member country China is obliged to report each outbreak.

“You need to move faster than the virus, it’s a very simple equation of how to control disease,” said Trevor Drew, director of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at the national research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. “If you don’t know where the virus is, you can’t stop it.”

Since August 2018, Beijing has reported 112 outbreaks in 28 provinces and regions. The increase has slowed considerably in 2019 and the agriculture ministry said earlier this month the situation was “gradually improving”.

But some suspect the disease is worse than the official data suggest.

“I am very much hoping that I am wrong, but if I consider the epidemiological characteristics of this virus disease, I would have to be extremely skeptical,” said Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of veterinary epidemiology at the City University of Hong Kong.

He pointed to the “spatial randomness” of the reported outbreaks, unusual for an infectious disease, which normally develops in clusters.

The high rate of detection of the virus in food products carried from China to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia, as well as domestically, also indicated a much higher presence of the virus in Chinese pigs than reported, said Pfeiffer and others.

LARGE FARMS, LARGE LOSSES

With extremely high density of pigs, raised largely on low-biosecurity farms, tackling disease is widely recognized as a major challenge for China.

But the disease has hit both small farms and large producers, say industry insiders, despite better hygiene and training at factory farms.

“The large producers have not been spared,” said a manager with a company that supplies several of China’s top pig producers. “Everyone is trying really hard on biosecurity, but they’re still getting outbreaks, and they’re frustrated and losing hope.”

He said he knew of eight large breeding farms that had experienced outbreaks, including two on very large, 10,000-head sow farms. None were officially reported.

He declined to be named or to reveal the names of the producers because of client confidentiality.

Beijing has not officially reported any swine fever on the farms of large listed producers, whose shares are trading at record levels as investors bet the big producers will benefit from tighter supplies.

Qin Yinglin, chairman of China’s No.2 producer, Muyuan Foods Co Ltd, which raised 11 million pigs for slaughter last year, said most large companies were likely to be infected.

“If you checked carefully, testing one-by-one, then for sure everyone has it,” he told Reuters in an interview. “This is a high probability event.”

He said it was “not yet known” if his firm had been hit.

(For a graphic on ‘African swine fever in China’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2QMhmzL)

(Reporting by Dominique Patton and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Tony Munroe and Alex Richardson)

Source: OANN

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

  • Second Amendment advocacy groups are denouncing a state court decision allowing families of several Sandy Hook victims to sue a gun manufacturer.
  • The manufacturer, Bushmaster Firearms, produced and marketed the XM15, which shooter Adam Lanza used to kill more than 20 people. 
  • The Connecticut Supreme Court said the plaintiffs can try and convince a jury that Bushmaster’s marketing campaign for the weapon broke state law. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling allowing victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to sue gun manufacturer Bushmaster Firearms left Second Amendment groups bewildered.

The 4-3 decision found that the plaintiffs — the families of nine victims — can sue Bushmaster under state unfair trade practices law, despite a federal statute that protects the gun industry from most lawsuits.

“This is like suing Ford or General Motors because a car they sold was stolen and used to run over a pedestrian all because the car manufacturers advertised that their car had better acceleration and performance than other vehicles,” said the Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb.

“This ruling strains logic, if not common sense,” Gottlieb added. “The court dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit’s allegations, but appears to have grasped at this single straw by deciding that the advertising is somehow at fault for what Adam Lanza did that day in December more than six years ago.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which filed an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief sporting Bushmaster, said the court was exploiting a narrow exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) that shields gunmakers from civil liability in most instances.

“In a strongly worded and well-reasoned dissent, Chief Justice Robinson rejected the majority’s overly broad interpretation of the scope of the limited exception, which is contrary to legislative text, canons of statutory interpretation and the legislative history of the PLCAA,” NSSF said in a statement. “The majority’s decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception.”

That exception cancels the gun manufacturer’s immunity if it knowingly breaks a law “applicable to the sale or marketing of the product.”

In other words, the plaintiffs believe that Bushmaster’s advertising scheme violated Connecticut’s unfair trade practices law, because it encouraged the use of its weapons for unlawful purposes. (RELATED: Supreme Court Takes Up First Gun Rights Case In A Decade)

Lanza used an AR-15 style rife called the XM15 during his rampage. The plaintiffs say Bushmaster glorified the weapon’s “militaristic and assaultive qualities,” tailoring a campaign with depictions of soldiers on patrol and promises of total dominance in combat. Such images appealed to disillusioned men, supplemented with slogans like “consider your man card reissued.”

This crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows a Bushmaster rifle in Room 10 at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage. (Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

This crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows a Bushmaster rifle in Room 10 at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage. (Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

Those appeals were especially effective with Lanza, they say, since he was an avid player of violent video games and aspired to a career as a special operator in the armed forces. Though Lanza had access to a cache of weapons — including handguns, shotguns, two rifles, and three swords — the plaintiffs said Bushmaster’s promotions prompted Lanza to choose the XM15 from his family’s stockpile, thereby making his shooting spree far more deadly.

However, Lanza did not himself buy the XM15 — he stole the gun from his mother, who purchased it lawfully from a retail gun dealership in March 2010. For that reason among others, the Connecticut Supreme Court acknowledged the plaintiffs will have a hard time proving their allegation.

“The plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ wrongful advertising magnified the lethality of the Sandy Hook massacre by inspiring Lanza or causing him to select a more efficiently deadly weapon for his attack,” the decision reads. “Proving such a causal link at trial may prove to be a Herculean task.”

Gottlieb went further, arguing there is no evidence connecting Lanza with Bushmaster’s practices.

“There is no evidence the killer was driven by any advertising whatsoever,” he said. “This is an affront to the First Amendment as well as the Second. Even hinting that the killer was motivated in some way by an advertising message is so far out in the weeds that it may take a map for the court to find its way back.”

The case need not reach a verdict to damage the firearms industry. The pre-trial discovery phase will give the plaintiffs access to Bushmaster’s internal communications and other sensitive records, which could itself prove harmful to the company.

An appeal could follow to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lanza killed 27 people Dec. 14, 2012. After murdering his mother, he stormed Sandy Hook elementary at 9:30 am, when he killed 20 students and six staff. Several others were wounded. The student victims were 6- and 7-year-olds in the first grade.

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Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

Two Head Start teachers are on paid administrative leave for their alleged involvement in punishing preschoolers by making them stand naked in a closet.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE) runs The Head Start program, which serves 4- and 5-year-old kids, KMOV4 reported Tuesday.

A 26-year-old teacher was accused of making the students strip, KMOV4 reported. A 41-year-old teacher was also put on leave after allegedly watching the incident and not telling officials.

“Children would misbehave in class and the teacher would have them disrobe and stand them, make them stand inside a closet for five or 10 minutes as their discipline,” SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said, according to KMOV4. “Then they would redress and join the class.”

Four out of 20 students allegedly went through this punishment, according to KMOV4.

Pictured is a sad girl. SHUTTERSTOCK/ Irina Kozorog

Pictured is a sad girl. SHUTTERSTOCK/ Irina Kozorog

The alleged punishment began as early as February, but police were notified Thursday by one of the victim’s parents, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

“The little boy who first reported it was very brave for coming forward,” Schmoll said, according to The Illinoisan. “That is how we were able to discover this in the first place.”

SIUE did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Flowers and cards are seen at the memorial site for the victims of Friday's shooting, outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch
Flowers and cards are seen at the memorial site for the victims of Friday’s shooting, outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 19, 2019

By Praveen Menon and Charlotte Greenfield

WELLINGTON/CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – New Zealand’s police chief said on Wednesday that the police were working with global intelligence agencies to build a profile of the shooter who killed 50 people at mosques in Christchurch last week.

“I can assure you this is an absolute international investigation,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said at a media briefing in the capital Wellington. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the suspect in the shooting had traveled around the world and was not a long-term resident.

Bush said the probe involved New Zealand police, the local intelligence community and partners around the world, including officials from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who were in the country and police and intelligence officials from Australia.

“We are also working very closely with other Five Eyes partners in terms of cooperation around the profile, travels etc, to build a comprehensive picture of this person that we will put before the court,” Bush said.

New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes intelligence network that includes the United States, Australia, Canada and Britain.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, has been charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

Giving details on the timeline of Friday’s attack, the police chief said first responders arrived within five minutes and 39 seconds of being informed of the incident and the shooter was caught within the building.

“We strongly believed the person was on his way for a further attack,” he said.

After days of mourning, preparations for the first burials were gathering pace in Christchurch on Wednesday, amid frustrations among family members who have complained about delays in handing over the bodies.

Burials are expected to start in Christchurch on Wednesday.

Commissioner Bush said as of Tuesday night 21 of the victims had been formally identified. They were ready to be reunited with family, he said, adding some already have been handed to the families.

The majority of the identifications would be completed by Wednesday night, he added. About 120 people were involved in the process, including dozens of pathologists and forensic experts.

Speaking of the delays, he said the police had to prove the cause of death to the satisfaction of the coroner and the judge handling the case.

“You cannot convict for murder without that cause of death. So this is a very comprehensive process that must be completed to the highest standard,” he said.

TRAGEDY FOR A SCHOOL

Ardern visited the Cashmere High School in Christchurch, whose students and parent community were among those most impacted by the attacks.

Two boys from the school – teenagers Sayyad Milne and Hamza Mustafa – were killed in the attacks. One former student, Tariq Omar, was also killed, while Khaled Mustafa, the father of Hamza, also died.

Another student as well as two other fathers are still being treated for gun shot wounds at the hospital.

About 200 children gathered at the school auditorium and listened to Ardern who spoke to them about racism and changes in gun laws. She said: “Never mention the perpetrator’s name … never remember him for what he did.”

The students performed an emotionally-charged haka, a ceremonial war dance, for Ardern.

As she was leaving, a little girl ran up to Ardern and hugged her. The prime minister hugged her back.

“The impact of this terror attack has been particularly cruel and tough for our school community,” the school Principal Mark Wilson said in a statement late on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook, Tom Lasseter and Edgar Sue in CHRISTCHURCH, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Thompson chairs hearing on border security on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) listens to testimony from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on “The Way Forward on Border Security” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts?

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Following the live-streaming on social media of the mass shooting in New Zealand, the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security wrote a letter to top executives of four major technology companies urging them to do a better job of removing violent political content.

In a letter dated Monday and released on Tuesday, Representative Bennie Thompson urged the chief executives of Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, which owns YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft to more swiftly remove content that would spawn political extremism.

The letter follows the fatal shootings of 50 worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch last week. The shooter, a suspected white supremacist, live-streamed the killings on social media, where it was widely shared.

“Your companies must prioritize responding to these toxic and violent ideologies with resources and attention,” Thomson wrote. “If you are unwilling to do so, Congress must consider policies to ensure that terrorist content is not distributed on your platforms, including by studying the examples being set by other countries.

“The video was widely available on your platforms well after the attack, despite calls from New Zealand authorities to take these videos down,” he wrote.

Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos showing the attack in the first 24 hours after it occurred.

Thompson also asked the companies for a briefing on the matter.

A Facebook spokesman said the company “will brief the committee soon.” Google, Twitter and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been critical of Facebook for privacy lapses, said on Tuesday that the government should tread carefully in reining in tech companies for fear of aiding dictators and other bad actors.

Wyden warned against revoking protections given in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that specifies tech companies are not responsible for what users say on their platform.

“If politicians want to restrict the First Amendment or eliminate the tools with which much of the world communicates in real time, they should understand they are also taking away the tools that bear witness to government brutality, war crimes, corporate lawlessness and incidents of racial bias,” Wyden said in a statement. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties in the digital world, cautioned policymakers last week not to rush to regulate speech on online platforms or else it could “disproportionately silence” the most vulnerable users, such as Egyptian journalist Wael Abbas, who was kicked off YouTube for posting videos on police brutality.

EFF also called for guidelines that urge social platforms to be transparent about how many posts and accounts they remove, and give users notice and a chance to appeal if one of their posts is taken down.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by David Shepardson and Sarah Lynch; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams
FILE PHOTO: NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots’ Julian Eddleman (R) and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrate with the Vince Lombardi trophy after winning the Super Bowl LIII. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – The owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots could be spared prosecution on charges of soliciting prostitution in Florida if he agrees to community service and other obligations, a spokesman for prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Robert Kraft, the National Football League team owner, is receiving the same offer from the Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County as the other first-time misdemeanor offenders caught up in the case last month, said Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the office. Edmondson declined to say if Kraft has agreed to the offer for avoiding prosecution.

Kraft, 77, a businessman who built the Patriots into the NFL’s most dominant franchise, was charged following a police sting targeting sex-trafficking in day spas and massage parlors. The operation has led to charges against hundreds of people.

An attorney for Kraft could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for the New England Patriots did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors would defer prosecution of Kraft if he agrees to 100 hours of community service, receives education on the harms of prostitution, undergoes screening for sexually transmitted diseases and pays court costs, Edmondson said by phone.

Prosecutors also generally require defendants avoiding prosecution in such cases to admit guilt or acknowledge that prosecutors would prevail in the case at trial, he said.

Kraft is one of 25 people who were charged in Palm Beach County with soliciting prostitution, a charge with a maximum sentence one year in jail if a person is convicted.

The New England Patriots play just outside Boston. Kraft lives in Massachusetts but owns property in Florida’s wealthy Palm Beach, 80 miles (130 km) north of downtown Miami.

Kraft is accused of visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa in the Palm Beach County community of Jupiter on two separate occasions to solicit sex and was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution.

Kraft, a friend and supporter of President Donald Trump, could face discipline from the NFL under a policy that applies to team owners and prohibits “conduct detrimental to the integrity” of the NFL.

In 2004, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was suspended six games and fined $500,000 after he pleaded guilty to driving while on drugs.

Kraft’s wife of many decades, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011 of ovarian cancer. He has not remarried.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands guard outside the FAA air traffic control center in Aurora, Illinois
FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands guard outside the FAA air traffic control center in Aurora, Illinois September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Karl Plume

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is expected nominate former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson to head the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as early as Tuesday, two people briefed on the matter said.

Reuters reported on March 8 that Trump was expected to soon nominate Dickson, who retired after 27 years at Delta BA.N in October as senior vice president of global flight operations, to run the 45,000-employee agency that oversees U.S. airspace.

The FAA is facing questions over its certification of the Boeing 737 MAX that has been involved in two fatal crashes since October. Last year, Reuters and other outlets reported that Trump was considering his longtime personal pilot, John Dunkin, to lead the FAA.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Sergio Rojas indigenous land activist is pictured during a interview in Salitre, Buenos Aires de Puntarenas
Sergio Rojas indigenous land activist is pictured during a interview in Salitre, Buenos Aires de Puntarenas, Costa Rica, October 2, 2015. Courtesy of La Nacion via REUTERS

March 19, 2019

By Alvaro Murillo

SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Unknown attackers shot dead a well-known Costa Rican activist who defended land for the Bribri indigenous people in the Central American country, the government said on Tuesday.

Sergio Rojas was at his home in the indigenous territory of Salitre, about 200 km (124 miles) south of the capital, San Jose, when the attack happened late on Monday, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said in a statement, calling the killing “regrettable.”

Costa Rica has 24 indigenous territories inhabited by eight ethnic groups, with occupation and encroachment on their land by ranchers causing conflict since the 1960s.

Rojas had survived at least one previous assassination attempt. In 2015, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the government to provide Bribri and Teribe people with protection, arguing they were at risk because of actions taken to recover their lands.

“He made a lot of enemies over the years,” said Sonia Suárez, a schoolteacher in Salitre.

In a statement, Costa Rica’s ombudsman said Rojas had requested further police protection on Friday after he and other members of his organization said they were shot at in connection with their “recovery” of a farm on Bribri land.

Salitre has experienced land conflicts for generations, with Bribri activists trying to remove non-indigenous farmers from the land in recent years.

Costa Rica’s 1977 Indigenous Law prohibits the sale of indigenous lands, but is not clear on what to do in cases where land within reserves was already farmed by outsiders.

(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Betsy Rothstein | Reporter

Police want to question Catholic UK journalist Carline Farrow for allegedly “misgendering” a transgender activist’s daughter on Twitter. If she doesn’t show up for a taped interview, she has been told she will be arrested.

Since receiving a message from Guildford police Monday night, she has been doxed, her children and husband have been sexually and violently threatened and she has been called names like “p*ssy” and “c*nt.” Enemies siding with the activist, Susie Green, have also signed her and her husband up for porn accounts. Farrow published the offending tweets back in September after appearing on Good Morning Britain, co-hosted by Piers Morgan, who has gotten himself in various pickles with the transgender community for not being sensitive enough back during interviews when he worked at CNN.

Back in 2014, Morgan had his nuts handed to him by Janet Mock, a transgender woman, after she appeared on his show to promote her book. She claimed he asked inappropriate questions. “Going to bed. What an annoying day,” Morgan tweeted just before 2 a.m. at the time. Mock claimed he mistreated her by stating that she’d been a male prior to the age of 18.

Farrow can relate.

“Had a message from Guildford police tonight about my tweets following an appearance on @GMN with Susie Green and Piers Morgan. Susie Green has reported me for misgendering her daughter,” Farrow tweeted Monday night.

Morgan replied, “WHAT????” (RELATED: Piers Morgan Wants To Be Trump’s Chief Of Staff) 

Farrow’s life has since turned into a pile of steaming roadkill.

“A man has published photos & identifying details of my kids, doxed my ex, talked about my ‘Catholic pu**y’ called me a slag, slut, c**t and scrubber together with sexually humiliating insults & gets away with it,” she wrote. “Whereas I use the wrong pronouns referring to a public figure.”

Farrow has tried to defend herself. “I have pointed out to the police that I am a Catholic journalist/commentator and it is my religious belief that a person cannot change sex,” Farrow explained. “That we are in the middle of a national conversation about what it means to be male and what it means to be female.”

Green runs an organization called Mermaids, a UK charity that raises money for children with gender variance.

“My daughter told me when she was four that she wasn’t a boy,” Green wrote in a first-person account for The Guardian in 2018. “I spent more than three years on suicide watch when she was a teen. Every phone call would strike fear into my heart – this might be the one to tell me that my daughter had been successful in her wish to die.”

Here’s the interview from Good Morning Britain.

Police tell Farrow they want to question her for cautionary reasons regarding Susie Green’s child.

She is standing strong to her belief that sex cannot be changed.

“I don’t even remember said tweets!” she wrote. “I probably said ‘he’ or ‘son’ or something. …This was in September! But I really not [sic] got give a flying toss. I have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and will happily do jail time for my right to say that people cannot change sex.”

Despite the stress of having her life turned upside-down, Farrow insists she’s OK.

“For those wondering if I am upset or hoping I am. Nope. I have 5 kids. Might catch up on a bit of sleep in the clink!” she tweeted.

Green’s daughter was born a man but identifies as a woman.

“Thing is, I try really hard not to misgender people,” Farrow reasoned. “So if I did so it was inadvertent and Freudian. I can’t help think of a teenager who is having their penis and testicles removed, as male. Mea maxima culpa. ….Except this child is now an adult and is in their twenties. Their mother made a documentary when they were a teen exposing every intimate detail about them and has gone on to build a career off the back of projecting her experience on to others.”

Farrow says she’s being flooded with media requests. Meanwhile, she has worries about her own family. For instance, her daughter is scheduled to sing Vivaldi.

“I am overwhelmed by media requests but I need to concentrate on a parent consultation about how my son is getting on in pre-school (he has a speech delay) and tonight my daughter is singing the solo in a choral society production of Vivaldi’s Gloria & is a bag of nerves.” she wrote.

Also, this: “Had one hour’s sleep so husband has volunteered to do school run as I am too shattered to drive. He is 100% behind me and believes far from suffering genuine anxiety, I am being targeted by a professional activist seeking a test case.”

The journalist suffered a bout of insomnia Monday night.

“I can’t sleep I am so furious,” she wrote. “According to the police I ‘misgendered’ which implies that I used the wrong pronouns/nouns and this potentially constitutes a criminal offence [British spelling of ‘offense’]. Let that sink in.”

Yeah, sweet dreams.

Source: The Daily Caller

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner attends a ceremony at the Police Prefecture in Paris
FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner attends a ceremony at the Police Prefecture in Paris, France, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

March 19, 2019

By Julie Carriat

PARIS (Reuters) – Opposition leaders accused French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, an ally of President Emmanuel Macron, of incompetence after he said on Tuesday he was unaware of policing decisions made during rioting on the Champs Elysees.

After another flare-up of violence in Saturday’s yellow vest protest, which left the landmark Paris avenue looking like a battleground, calls for heads to roll have grown in France, despite its traditional tolerance for street protests. Rioters set fire to a bank and ransacked stores.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe sacked Paris police chief Michel Delpuech on Monday and two other officials, his chief of staff Pierre Gaudin and Frederic Dupuch of the local police force, a police source said on Tuesday.

But politicians piled pressure on Castaner who has been in the job for five months. He was booed in parliament on Tuesday, before an expected grilling from lawmakers.

“The Paris police chief is only a fall guy supposed to cover for Castaner’s blatant incompetence,” Jordan Bardella, far-right Marine Le Pen’s candidate for European elections said on Twitter.

Castaner faced criticism from opposition politicians after a video of him dancing in a trendy Paris nightclub on the night of the violence surfaced in French media.

Castaner told French radio a tougher police approach, decided after rioters looted shops on the Champs Elysees in early December, had not been applied on March 16 as he had ordered.

He said he was only made aware that senior police officials had instructed their teams on the ground to hold back on using flash-balls when he visited a police station near the Champs Elysees on Sunday.

France has long taken a tolerant approach to protests, farmers have poured manure in front of ministries and trade unions have held creative demonstrations.

But the violent, balaclava-clad protesters among the yellow vest demonstrators for such a sustained period has forced the government to introduce increasingly tough policing tactics.

This month, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for an investigation into the possible excessive use of force by police during the protests, adding to criticism from the European Parliament and national human rights bodies.

This criticism had contributed to “inhibiting” police ranks, Castaner suggested.

“There was a form of inhibition. Some officials in the hierarchy, some police officers have doubts. Such doubt is not acceptable when you’re faced with ultra-violent behavior,” Castaner said.

Macron’s office and Castaner denied French media reports that the president had threatened to fire his minister.

What began as a movement against a since-scrapped fuel tax hike and the high cost of living, the yellow vest protests have become a broader movement against Macron, his reforms and elitism.

Even before Saturday’s destruction, insurance companies had registered 170 million euros of damage since the start of the yellow vest weekly marches in mid-November.

(Additionnal reporting by Sarah White, Emmanuel Jarry, Marine Pennetier and Simon Carraud, Editing by Michel Rose and Janet Lawrence)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 19, 2019 REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

March 19, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU member states should be empowered to scrutinize each other’s democratic track record, Germany and Belgium said on Tuesday, in an attempt to beef up the bloc’s defenses against nationalist, populist governments flouting its key principles.

The proposal, made at a meeting of EU ministers, coincides with high-profile EU investigations against Poland and Hungary for undermining the independence of their courts and media, while Romania is accused of rolling back on anti-graft reforms.

Germany and Belgium say their proposal would create space for member states to flag rule-of-law concerns early on rather than wait – as at present – for problems to escalate enough in a given country to trigger the EU’s existing mechanism – the complex and multi-stage Article 7.

The EU has invoked Article 7 to investigate concerns that Poland’s nationalist government has undermined the rule of law. The process could theoretically lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the EU, but it has now lain largely dormant for months.

EU states have been unable to agree since last autumn on how to proceed with a similar inquiry into Hungary.

Acknowledging the hurdles their proposal is likely to face, Germany and Belgium suggested the new screening procedure would only be voluntary and carry no sanction.

“The EU is a union of values. It is not only about the single market,” Germany’s EU minister Michael Roth said in presenting the plan for an annual peer review. “Everybody has to adhere to those values, they are not just nice-to-have.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said he hoped the new mechanism would be fleshed out by the end of the year. It was swiftly backed by the Netherlands.

The health and resilience of EU democracies are in focus ahead of European Parliament elections in May, in which pro-EU parties face off against eurosceptics who promote nationalist and populist policies that at times go against the liberal democratic values of the bloc.

The EU’s main center-right group, the European People’s Party, is due to decide on Wednesday whether to expel the Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban over his anti-EU, anti-immigration campaigns.

Both Warsaw and Budapest have sometimes yielded to EU pressure, offering concessions in their push to centralize more powers. But the EU has been largely unsuccessful in preventing them from tightening controls on the judiciary, media and civil society groups.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Peter Maushagen, Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

William Davis | Contributor

A pro-life activist was punched in the face last Thursday outside a Massachusetts abortion facility, according to police.

The Brookline Police Department reported the incident that occurred Thursday morning outside Women’s Health Services on Harvard Avenue. The woman allegedly responsible for the assault was issued a summons. (RELATED: Beto On Third Trimester Abortions: ‘Should Be A Decision That The Woman Makes’)

At 9:33 a.m., according to the report, “police were dispatched to Women’s Health Services on Harvard Street for a disturbance. A woman believed a man, who was standing out front of the address, was videotaping her. The two exchanged words, the woman struck the man in the face then left the area. Police were able to identify the woman and summoned her to court for assault and battery.”

Pro-life marchers rally at the Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, U.S., Jan. 18, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Pro-life marchers rally at the Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, U.S., Jan. 18, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Patch.com described the suspect as a young female patient and quotes a witness who allegedly saw the incident as it occurred. The witness, Sonia Powell, expressed sympathy for the woman: “I can just imagine what she was going through, to maybe come outside for some air or something and then this man said something. I hope she’s okay, though.”

Women’s Health Services performs first- and second-trimester abortions.

The alleged incident continues a trend of alleged violence toward conservative activists in recent weeks. Conservative activist Hayden Williams was punched in the face while tabling for Turning Point USA at the University of California Berkely. (RELATED: Supreme Court Legalized Abortion 46 Years Ago. Here’s A Look At Abortion Across The US)

In January, a pro-life sidewalk counselor was brutally beaten outside of an abortion facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

Follow William Davis on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

A policeman gestures outside Brynseng School after an attacker armed with a knife injured a teacher and three other staff, in Oslo
A policeman gestures outside Brynseng School after an attacker armed with a knife injured a teacher and three other staff, in Oslo, Norway March 19, 2019. Jon Eeg/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.

March 19, 2019

OSLO (Reuters) – An attacker armed with a knife injured a teacher and three other staff at a school in Oslo on Tuesday, police said.

Police said they apprehended the attacker and the motive was not immediately clear.

The four victims, all school employees, were taken to hospital with minor injuries, police told Norwegian news agency NTB.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: OANN

Al Noor mosque shooting survivor Farhid Ahmed poses with a photo of his wife Husna, who was killed in the attack, after an interview with Reuters in Christchurch, New Zealand
Al Noor mosque shooting survivor Farhid Ahmed poses with a photo of his wife Husna, who was killed in the attack, after an interview with Reuters in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019. Picture taken March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

March 19, 2019

By Charlotte Greenfield and Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Reuters) – Husna Ahmed was 19 when she arrived in New Zealand from Bangladesh on her wedding day. Waiting to meet her was Farid, the man she would marry in a few hours, as their families had agreed.

A quarter of a century later, the life they had built together was torn apart at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch when a gunman walked into the building, firing on worshippers at Friday prayers.

Husna encountered the gunman on his way out of the mosque. He shot her on the footpath. She fell and he fired two more shots, killing her instantly.

Farid, who uses a wheelchair after an earlier accident, was talking to a friend and was delayed from joining worshippers at his usual spot at the front of the mosque, instead praying in a small side room.

He managed to escape when he heard the shooting begin, returning when the gunman left, to find many of his friends and community members dead and comfort those who were dying.

Farid found out about his wife’s death when a detective he knew called his niece as they waited outside the mosque.

She passed the phone: “I don’t want you to wait the whole night, Farid. Go home, she will not come,” Farid said the detective told him.

“At the moment I hear that, my response was I felt numb,” Farid told Reuters. “I had tears but I didn’t break down.” His niece crumbled.

A total of 50 people were killed in the rampage, with as many wounded, as the gunman went from Al Noor to another mosque in the South Island city.

Most victims were migrants or refugees from countries including Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Syria, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Husna was one of five members of a growing but tight-knit Bangladeshi community killed, according to the Bangladesh consul in New Zealand, Shafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan. Four others were wounded, one critically, he added.

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team, in town for a test match against New Zealand, narrowly avoided the carnage, turning up at the Al Noor mosque soon after the attack took place.

Based on what eyewitnesses told him, Farid said instead of hiding, Husna helped women and children inside the mosque and ran to the front of the building to look for him.

“She’s such a person who always put other people first and she was even not afraid to give her life saving other people,” Farid said.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with murder. He entered no plea and police said he is likely to face more charges.

The slaughter has rocked Christchurch, and New Zealand, to its core, blanketing the city in grief and driving Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to promise swift gun law reform.

Farid said he had forgiven his wife’s killer.

“I want to give the message to the person who did this, or if he has any friends who also think like this: I still love you,” Farid said. “I want to hug you and I want to tell him in face that I am talking from my heart. I have no grudge against you, I never hated you, I will never hate you.”

LIKE A MOTHER

A few hours after the massacre as evening fell, the front room of Farid’s home in a sleepy Christchurch suburb where he runs a homeopathy business was full with survivors and friends grieving for a woman many described as like a mother to them.

Husna was born on 12 October in 1974 in Sylhet, a city on the banks the Surma River, in northeastern Bangladesh. She was so fast that Shahzalal Junior High School would only let her run three races, to give her rivals a chance, Farid said.

She moved to New Zealand in 1994.

Thin, nervous and overwhelmed by leaving everyone she knew for a new life in an alien country, she burst into tears when her husband-to-be picked her up from Auckland airport.

He comforted her on the long drive back to Nelson, where he was living, and where she quickly found her feet.

With almost no other Bangladeshis in the small city, Husna made English-speaking friends and learned the language within six months. Farid said she spoke it with more of a Kiwi accent than he did.

When Farid’s workmates at a meatpacking plant agreed to work half an hour longer on Fridays so he could take a break to pray, she cooked them a feast every week in thanks.

And when Farid was partially paralyzed after being run over by a car outside his house, after four years of marriage, she moved with him to Christchurch and became his nurse.

“Our hobby was we used to talk to each other. A lot. And we never felt bored,” he said.

REBUILDING CHRISTCHURCH

When Christchurch was razed by a deadly earthquake in 2011, Husna helped settle an influx of Bangladeshi migrants – qualified engineers, metalworkers and builders – who came to assist the rebuilding of the shattered city.

Mohammad Omar Faruk, 36, was one of the new arrivals. Faruk was working as a welder in Singapore but leapt at the opportunity to come to New Zealand where working conditions were better and permanent residency was possible.

Faruk was also killed at Al Noor mosque.

His employer, Rob van Peer, said he had allowed his team to leave early last Friday after they finished a job by lunchtime, meaning Faruk could attend Friday prayers.

Van Peer said Faruk was loved by his colleagues for his loyal and friendly personality and fast, precise welds.

Zakaria Bhuiyan, a welder at another engineering firm, also died. Newly married, he was waiting for a visitor visa so his wife could travel from Bangladesh.

Mojammel Haque worked as a dentist in Bangladesh and was studying in New Zealand for an advanced medical qualification when he was killed.

All three men knew Husna, said Mojibur Rahman, a welder and former flatmate of Faruk.

“It’s really hard because we are a little community but everyone’s living here in unity, we know each other, we share everything with each together,” he said. “Now I don’t know what’s going to happen, how we become normal.”

The fifth Bangladeshi victim was Abus Samad, 66, a former faculty member of Bangladesh Agriculture University who had been teaching at Christchurch’s Lincoln University.

CUSTOMS AND CARE

Many new workers to Christchurch brought young families, or were starting them and Husna took it upon herself to care for women through their pregnancies, often waking Farid at all hours so he could drive her to the births.

“We think she’s like a mother…if there’s something we needed, we go to Husna,” said Mohammed Jahangir Alan, another welder.

Husna guided his wife, then 19, to a midwife and a doctor and joined her in the delivery room as she gave birth to a baby girl, Alan said.

A few days later Husna shaved the infant’s head, an Islamic ritual which she did for dozens of children in the community. She was so gentle the baby fell asleep while she pulled the razor over the soft skin.

Husna would also lead the customary washing and prayer ritual for women who died. She was due to lead a workshop the day after her death to teach other women the process.

Now, Husna’s devastated female family members will wash her for her funeral, expected later this week.

“We know she would just want us to be a part of it, to wash her,” said her sister-in-law Ayesha Corner.

After the burial, Farid says he wants to continue the work he and his wife used to do and to care for their 15-year-old daughter.

When the lockdown at her school lifted on Friday, their daughter returned home, knowing only her mother was missing and asking where she was.

“I didn’t miss a second, I said: ‘She is with God,’” Farid said.

“She said: ‘You are lying’. She said: ‘Are you telling me I don’t have a mother?’”

“I said: ‘Yes, but I am your mother now and I am your father…we have to change the roles.”

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Tom Westbrook in CHRISTCHURCH; Additional reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller, examining potential conspiracy between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, is leading the latest in a series of U.S. investigations conducted by prosecutors outside usual Justice Department channels in recent decades.

The release of the findings by previous investigators analogous to Mueller has been handled differently over the years, sometimes with voluminous reports and other times with no reports or with key elements kept under wraps for months and even years.

Mueller is preparing to submit a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on his findings, including Russia’s role in the election and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election interference.

Barr already is coming under pressure from lawmakers to make the entire document public quickly, though he has wide latitude in what to release.

Here is an explanation of some past high-profile U.S. investigations and how their findings were made public.

WATERGATE SCANDAL

The Justice Department named a special prosecutor to investigate the Watergate scandal that eventually forced Republican Richard Nixon in 1974 to become the only U.S. president to resign from office. At the time, no specific regulations or laws governed special prosecutors.

Attorney General Elliot Richardson, as a condition of his Senate confirmation, appointed Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to examine the 1972 break-in by Republican operatives at Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington.

Cox found himself at odds with Nixon over subpoenas to obtain taped White House conversations. Nixon ultimately ordered the firing of Cox, and several top Justice Department officials resigned in protest including Richardson, in an event dubbed the Saturday Night Massacre.

Leon Jaworski, subsequently named as the new Watergate special prosecutor, prepared a report with his findings, known as the “road map,” to assist Congress with possible impeachment proceedings to remove Nixon from office.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee used it as a basis for hearings and passed articles of impeachment, though Nixon quit before the full House could act. The “road map” remained under seal by a federal court for 55 years until it was released by federal archivists in 2018.

IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR

The job of independent counsel, with broader powers, was created by Congress after the Watergate scandal. In 1986, Lawrence Walsh was named as independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair involving illegal arms sales to Iran under Republican President Ronald Reagan, with the proceeds diverted to fund rebels in Nicaragua called Contras.

The probe lasted nearly seven years and led to criminal charges against 14 people. The convictions of some prominent officials – Oliver North and John Poindexter – were overturned on appeal. In 1992, Republican President George H.W. Bush pardoned others.

Walsh submitted his final report to a federal court in 1993, which had the power to release it publicly but was not required to do so. Its release was delayed after people named in the report sued to keep it suppressed. A federal appeals court ruled in 1994 that it should be released in the public interest. Walsh then unveiled it at a news conference.

WHITEWATER AND LEWINSKY SCANDALS

Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994 appointed Robert Fiske as a independent counsel to investigate allegations of impropriety by Democratic President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton regarding real estate investments in the Whitewater Development Corporation. Fiske’s probe was expanded to include reviewing the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, which police had ruled a suicide.

Fiske, who was not subject to the independent counsel law because it had temporarily lapsed, publicly released a 200-page interim report in 1994 clearing White House officials of wrongdoing in the Whitewater affair and confirming that Foster’s death was a suicide unrelated to Whitewater.

On that same day, Clinton signed a law reauthorizing the independent counsel statute, which paved the way for a federal court to replace Fiske as independent counsel with Kenneth Starr. Starr turned in a report on Foster’s death to federal courts in 1997, also finding no foul play. It remained under seal for three months before being released.

Starr’s probe expanded into other areas, including a sexual affair between Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky and alleged improprieties in the White House travel office. His expansive 445-page report, containing explicit details on Clinton’s sexual affair, was sent to Congress in 1998. Two days later, lawmakers voted to release it publicly. Its findings triggered an unsuccessful Republican effort to remove Clinton from office through the impeachment process.

Congress let the independent counsel law expire, with some lawmakers believing Starr went too far. The Justice Department in 1999 wrote regulations creating the new job of special counsel, with more limited powers.

FEDERAL RAID AT WACO

Reno in 1999 appointed John Danforth as special counsel to investigate the 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas. The FBI used tear gas and a fire broke out, killing more than 70 people including cult leader David Koresh.

Danforth was the first person appointed under the 1999 regulations, the rules that now apply to Mueller. Under those rules, a special counsel must submit a confidential report to the attorney general, who then has discretion to publicly release some or all of it. The attorney general must weigh the public interest. But he also must consider thorny issues such as secrecy of grand jury testimony, protecting classified information, communications with the White House possibly subject to the principle of executive privilege shielding certain information from disclosure, and safeguarding confidential reasons for why some individuals were not charged.

Reno specifically instructed Danforth to prepare two versions of his report, a confidential one and another for public release. Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, gave no such instruction to Mueller when he appointed him in May 2017.

In 2000, Danforth held a news conference to publicly release his report, exonerating federal agents and Justice Department officials of any wrongdoing.

OUTING OF CIA AGENT PLAME

In 2003, James Comey, then the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel to investigate how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s cover was blown through media leaks. Fitzgerald was not appointed under the 1999 regulations and was not bound by them.

Fitzgerald held a 2005 news conference to announce that a grand jury had returned a five-count indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. Fitzgerald never published a final report on his findings.

A jury convicted Libby. Republican President George H.W. Bush commuted his sentence in 2007. Trump gave Libby a full pardon in 2018.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

Police officers are seen in front the building where the main suspect of the shooting has been arrested in Utrecht
Police officers are seen in front the building where the main suspect of the shooting has been arrested in Utrecht, Netherlands, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

March 19, 2019

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Flags flew at half mast on government buildings across the Netherlands on Tuesday, a day after a gunman opened fire on a tram on the outskirts of Utrecht, killing three people.

A suspect – 37-year-old Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis – was detained after a seven-hour manhunt on Monday, and by Dutch law must be brought before a judge by Thursday.

Authorities said they were still trying to establish the motive for the attack in the quiet residential neighborhood which also wounded five people.

Regional police commissioner Rob van Bree said on a late night talk show that there was no connection known yet between the suspect and the victims, while Prime Minister Mark Rutte said “terrorist” motives could still not be ruled out.

But in an evening press conference, Utrecht’s top prosecutor, Rutger Jeuken, said family issues could also be involved.

The suspect had previously been arrested, Jeuken told reporters, without giving further details.

There was no immediate comment from Tanis or any lawyer representing him.

Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad identified one of the victims as a 19-year-old woman who worked in a cafe and another as a local football coach who was the father of two young children. Both have Dutch surnames.

The third victim has not been identified by police or press. Utrecht police did not answer telephone calls early on Tuesday but said in a Tweet they would issue a press statement “in the course of the morning.”

Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth largest city with a population of around 340,000, is known for its picturesque canals and large student population. Gun killings are rare there, as elsewhere in the Netherlands.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: OANN

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives to greet the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Manila
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives to greet the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Manila, Philippines, Thursday, February 28, 2019. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

March 19, 2019

AMSTERDAM/MANILA (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said on Monday her examination into possible crimes against humanity committed in the Philippines would go on, despite its withdrawal from the court.

The Philippines’ withdrawal from the Hague court was formalized on Sunday.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement the ICC continued to have jurisdiction over possible crimes committed during the period the country was a member.

Bensouda has been examining whether thousands of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs are sufficient to warrant a formal investigation.

Duterte’s spokesman said the ICC had no basis to continue its preliminary examination and the government would not cooperate with it.

“They cannot enter here if that is their purpose, to investigate. You are already intruding into our sovereignty,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a regular news conference on Tuesday.

More than 5,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed in police anti-narcotics operations since Duterte took office in June 2016.

Rights groups and critics say some of the killings were summary executions. Police deny such allegations, saying they had to use deadly force because the suspects were armed and resisted arrest.

The Philippines unilaterally withdrew from the ICC in March 2018 over what Duterte called “outrageous” attacks and violations of due process by it.

“We have already pointed out that in this country we have a judicial system that is robust and functional and very effective,” Panelo said.

The ICC procedure was “political persecution” of Duterte, he said.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A taxi driver holds a flag reading
FILE PHOTO: A taxi driver holds a flag reading “No more Uber” during a nationwide strike to protest against Uber Technologies in Santiago, Chile July 30, 2018. To match Insight UBER-CHILE/ REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Aislinn Laing

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – The Uber driver pulled up to the international airport outside Chile’s capital. As his passenger jumped into his gleaming Suzuki, he glanced around furtively for signs of trouble.

“Working in the airport isn’t easy,” he told a Reuters reporter, a rosary on the rearview mirror swaying as he raced towards the motorway. “Uber in Chile isn’t easy.”

That is because Uber drivers can be fined or have their vehicles impounded if caught by authorities ferrying passengers. Chile has yet to work out a regulatory framework for ridesharing.

“This (Uber) application is not legal,” Chile´s Transport Minister Gloria Hutt said last year. “It does not at present comply with Chilean legislation to carry paying passengers.”

Uber’s unregulated status in fast-growing markets such as Chile poses a potential risk for the firm as it prepares for a much-anticipated IPO.

It has also launched a cat-and-mouse game of sometimes comical proportions in this South American nation. Drivers warn each other of pick-up and drop-off points where police officers and transport department inspectors are lurking.

They also enlist passengers as accomplices. Riders are routinely instructed to sit in the front seat and memorize a cover story – just in case.

“If anyone asks, I’m your friend’s Uncle Diego,” one so-named Uber driver told Reuters on another recent run.

Another, 41-year-old Guillermo, told Reuters his standard alibi for male passengers is that they are his football mates. He and other drivers declined to give their surnames for fear of being identified by authorities.

Uber’s app and website make no mention of its unsettled legal status in Chile, where it now boasts 2.2 million monthly users and 85,000 drivers since its launch here in 2014.

The company advertises prominently on billboards around Santiago and through promotional emails as if nothing were amiss.

Veronica Jadue, the company’s spokeswoman in Chile, insisted Uber was legal. She cited a 2017 Supreme Court ruling that thwarted efforts by Chilean taxi firms and unions looking to halt the service in the northern city of La Serena. The court cited legislation introduced in 2016 by the government of former President Michelle Bachelet to regulate ride-hailing services. “The intention is to regulate it, not to prevent its development,” the three-judge panel said.

That legislation, nicknamed the Uber law, is still pending as the government, powerful taxi unions and app-based startups try to strike a deal.

Jadue declined to confirm whether the company knew that drivers in Chile were coaching passengers to help them mislead transit officials. “We have stressed the importance of cooperating with authorities,” she said.

A series of scandals has already damaged Uber’s reputation. The company has been excoriated for its frat-house culture, sharp-elbowed business tactics and pitched battles with regulators worldwide. While the San Francisco-based start-up has been valued at as much as $120 billion, its growth has slowed. [uL1N20925L]

Clearing up its status in Chile and elsewhere will help. Still, would-be shareholders likely will be more interested in Uber’s ability to maintain its dominance in Latin America and other places where rivals such as China’s Didi Chuxing are moving in, according to Nathan Lustig, managing partner of Magma Partners, a Santiago-based seed stage venture capital fund.

“They’ll be more bothered by market share and whether Uber can be profitable in places…where there´s competition,” Lustig said.

PARKING LOT RENDEZVOUS

In a statement to Reuters, Uber said it is “working diligently” to ensure that ridesharing regulation moves forward in Chile.

In the meantime, penalties keep piling up. Since 2016, inspectors from Chile’s Ministry of Transport have issued 7,756 fines ranging from $700 to $1,100 to Uber drivers. Local cops have doled out thousands of citations as well.

Drivers told Reuters Uber reimburses them the cost of their fines to keep them rolling. Uber said it does so “on a case by case basis.”

The company’s technology is helping too. For example, Santiago-area riders had complained on social media that drivers were frequently cancelling rides to and from the airport, a hot zone for citations.

The solution: a special category of service on Uber’s Chilean app known as UberX SCL, named for the code for the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport. Those runs are handled by daring souls willing to run the risk of getting fined, drivers told Reuters.

Securing a driver can be only half the battle. On its Chilean website, Uber instructs passengers who are leaving the airport to meet their drivers in a short-term parking lot. Drivers told Reuters they use the Uber app´s messaging system to switch meeting points if they suspect citation writers are hovering.

Uber declined to discuss the reasons for its tailored communication in Chile. Spokeswoman Jadue said Uber’s Chile products “are designed to deliver a positive experience to riders and drivers.”

Matias Muchnick, a member of Chile’s vibrant start-up community, said the “chaos” is embarrassing. The country touts its orderliness and sophistication to foreign investors, who might not see the adventure in ducking transit cops after stepping off their international flights.

“People get a bad first impression,” the artificial intelligence entrepreneur said at a December investment conference in Santiago.

But David Brophy, professor of finance at the University of Michigan, said such tales could be a selling point for some IPO investors.

“The key thing is that people want to use it, even though it’s not comfortable if you´re stopped by the cops,” he said.

EVEN POLICE USE UBER

Uber has tangled with regulators across the globe, including in other parts of Latin America.

In Argentina, for example, the company remains unregulated years after entering the market. Lawmakers in Buenos Aires have largely sided with taxi drivers, who complain Uber charges artificially low fares while avoiding all the overhead born by cabbies.

But the region’s commuters are hooked on the price and convenience, while car owners see opportunity. Uber says it has 25 million active monthly riders in Latin America and one million drivers.

In country after country, it has found success by following a familiar playbook: expand quickly in a legislative vacuum, then leverage popularity and market power to shape regulation.

Still, some local governments are reasserting their authority. In the United States, for example, New York City last year capped the number of rideshare vehicles on its streets. Los Angeles is contemplating a ride-hailing tax to reduce road congestion.

In Chile, negotiations on the Uber Law have been slow.

Taxi unions want lawmakers to limit the number of rideshare drivers and ensure their fares do not undercut those of cabs. Transport startups, led by Uber, have run their own energetic lobbying efforts. Riders have voted with their smartphones; many have little sympathy for “taxi mafias” that long kept prices high and delivered patchy service.

Caught in the middle are Chilean officials. Hutt, the transport minister, admitted publicly that her children used the app and that she had too until she took her post last year. Uber drivers told Reuters that public servants – including police officers – are frequent customers.

In an interview in his Santiago office, Jose Luis Dominguez, the country’s subsecretary for transport, acknowledged his agency’s dilemma.

“(Uber) shouldn’t be operating. Passengers shouldn’t be using it,” Dominguez said. “But…ignoring that it exists would be like trying to block out the sun with your finger.”

(Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Additional reporting by Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires and Helen Murphy in Bogota; Editing by Christian Plumb and Marla Dickerson)

Source: OANN

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and China's Premier Li Keqiang leave after a signing ceremony in Beijing
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and China’s Premier Li Keqiang leave after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Pool

March 19, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China played a “constructive role” in reducing tension between Pakistan and India, the foreign ministry said, after the nuclear-armed rivals almost came to blows last month following an attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in disputed Kashmir.

The sparring threatened to spiral out of control and only interventions by U.S. officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, headed off a bigger conflict, five sources familiar with the events have told Reuters.

At one stage, India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes “three times over”, said Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.

A Pakistani minister said China and the United Arab Emirates also intervened to lessen tension between the south Asian neighbors.

In a faxed statement to Reuters late on Monday, responding to a question on China’s role in reining in the crisis, its foreign ministry said peaceful coexistence between Pakistan and India was in everyone’s interest.

“As a friendly neighbor of both India and Pakistan, China pro-actively promoted peace talks and played a constructive role in easing the tense situation,” it said.

“Some other countries also made positive efforts in this regard,” the ministry added.

China is willing to work with the international community to continue to encourage the neighbors to meet each other half way and use dialogue and peaceful means to resolve differences, it said, without elaborating.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, is set to meet Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Beijing later on Tuesday.

The Feb. 14 attack that killed at least 40 paramilitary police was the deadliest in Kashmir’s 30-year-long insurgency, escalating tension between the neighbors, who said they shot down each other’s fighter jets late last month.

China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather” friends, but China has also been trying to improve ties with New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held an informal summit in China last year agreeing to reset relations, and Xi is expected to visit India sometime this year, diplomatic sources say.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

A general view of green zone in Kabul, Afghanistan
A general view of green zone in Kabul, Afghanistan March 13, 2019. Picture taken March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

March 19, 2019

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Rod Nickel and Rupam Jain

KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Kabul’s green zone is a place where diplomats fly in cheesecake from New York and cases of wine from Europe, but many of those residing inside the heavily fortified enclave are not allowed to walk without an armed guard even for a distance of 100 meters.

The walled-off compound of embassies and newsrooms, which is set to expand dramatically, imposes extreme limitations on its sheltered residents and stokes resentment among Afghans living outside.

“The best possible argument to be in Afghanistan is to be a sort of introvert,” said Czech Republic Ambassador Petr Stepanek. “You don’t expect a blossoming social life.”

Kabul’s central green zone is set in the affluent Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood. Trees pre-dating decades of war still stretch above the razor-wire topped walls that line once-tony streets patrolled by police and private security.

It grew from a cluster of fortified embassies after the Taliban’s 2001 overthrow by U.S.-led forces. In 2017, a truck bomb near the German embassy, one of the green zone’s entry points, killed or wounded hundreds, prompting further enlargement.

Its rapid expansion reflects the Taliban’s increasing attacks on Kabul in recent years, in a strategy shift to counter its disadvantages against U.S.-backed air power outside the capital.

Kabul police commander Sayed Mohammad Roshandil said in an interview that the green zone has been a major success.

Since the Germany embassy attack, there have been no security breaches of the zone, which spans three police districts, he said. A maximum of 150 trucks are allowed inside per day, with drivers verified by biometric scanners.

EXPANSION PLAN

Police are now preparing to create a “blue zone” to surround the green zone, stretching the fortified area by between 1.5 and four kilometers, said Roshandil.

The number of closed-circuit cameras throughout Kabul would more than double to 800 within the same period, he said, helped by a $42 million contribution from the Australian government.

But beyond the grey concrete “T-walls” that surround the green zone, some Afghans resent the dangers and hassles they say such secure enclaves create.

Taxi driver Mohammad Taher, 37, avoids the area around the green zone because of police checkpoints that grind traffic to a halt, though he adds that Afghans working in the foreign offices collect “huge salaries”, giving the economy a much-needed boost.

“Sometimes I feel that they are living a life completely different from us,” said Tamim, 28, a shopkeeper, of the “western style of life” inside the green zone.

Afghans living near the Green Village compound in eastern Kabul, another fortified zone that is home to international companies and charities, bore the brunt of casualties and damage after a bomb-laden car blew up nearby in January.

“We villagers cannot tolerate this camp here because our lives are in danger,” said Noor Alam, 46, a shopkeeper and resident of nearby Qala-e-Chaman Qabelbay. “The presence of foreign camps close to the common residential area is like a death threat to the people.”

But Roshandil, the police commander, said residents near green zones were better off.

“So far, people are welcoming this plan,” he said. “When people are living in an area with security restrictions, they should accept that. Overall, (residents) are happy.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the green zone provided government and foreign officials mere “psychological relief”.

“The green zone is not that safe as they think,” he said, adding that past Taliban attacks on it have succeeded. If the militant group agrees to a peace deal and fighting stops, the Taliban would insist that its walls were removed, Mujahid said.

The development of the green zone, including NATO’s military base, in the middle of a crowded city demonstrated “sheer disrespect” for the security of local people, said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think-tank.

RARE COMFORTS

For those on the inside, the green zone features comforts that are rare elsewhere in Kabul. Generators fire up during the city’s frequent power cuts, living quarters are well-heated in winter and, during hot summers, swimming pools offer relief.

In an officially dry country, liquor flows at most embassies. Pet peacocks stroll the grounds of a United Nations compound.

But green zone embassies offer little of the freedom common to most diplomatic postings.

“Even though I get out almost every day, the places we can go are limited. It’s very difficult to get a feeling” for what regular Afghans think, said German ambassador to Afghanistan Peter Prügel. Embassies only host those Afghans who pass the green zone’s security requirements, further narrowing expats’ contacts with the country.

Even travel within the zone is regulated. Security details forbid some diplomats from walking to neighboring embassies, making necessary absurdly slow, short-distance drives through internal gates and over speed bumps.

“We are in a total bubble here,” a Canadian diplomat said. “There is a bit of an illusion here that what you see in Kabul is common to the rest of the country.”

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Rod Nickel and Rupam Jain in Kabul; additional reporting by John Davison in Baghdad; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NFL: NFL Honors-Red Carpet
FILE PHOTO: Feb 2, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tyreek Hill during red carpet arrivals for the NFL Honors show at the Fox Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports – 12098140

March 19, 2019

The investigation into allegations of battery against Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill remains open.

Steve Howe, the district attorney in Johnson County, Kan., acknowledged in a written statement Monday that his office “has received numerous requests for information” about the status of the investigation into Hill but could provide no additional details.

“While we understand the public’s concern, the investigation is still ongoing. It would be irresponsible to make definitive ‘official’ statements before the investigation is complete,” according to the statement.

The 25-year-old Hill has not been charged with any crimes.

Hill is under investigation for an alleged battery incident involving a juvenile, according to multiple published reports. The Kansas City Star reported that Hill’s 3-year-old son suffered a broken arm in the incident.

The report from police in Overland Park, Kan., where Hill lives, is dated March 14. It is unclear if the incident occurred that day.

Overland Park police also responded to the same address on March 5 to investigate a report of child abuse or neglect. Hill’s name is listed on the report.

His fiancee, Crystal Espinal, is listed on the March 14 report under the category of “others involved.” The Star reported that Espinal is pregnant with twins and that she is the mother of the 3-year-old whose arm was broken.

Hill reportedly choked and punched Espinal when she was pregnant in December 2014. Hill was arrested and dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team.

Hill later pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation and received three years’ probation.

The Chiefs issued the following statement last week regarding Hill:

“The club is aware of the investigation involving Tyreek Hill,” the Chiefs said in a statement to The Kansas City Star. “We’re in the process of gathering information and have been in contact with the league and local authorities. We’ll have no further comment at this time.”

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

People visit a memorial site for victims of Friday's shooting, in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch
People visit a memorial site for victims of Friday’s shooting, in front of the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 18, 2019

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – After days of intense grieving for New Zealand’s worst-ever mass shooting, attention began to turn to how the country’s gun laws need to change and what warning signs might have been missed ahead of a gunman’s attack on two mosques that killed 50 people.

Bodies of the victims of Friday’s attacks in Christchurch were being washed and prepared for burial in a Muslim ritual process, with teams of volunteers flown in from overseas to assist with the heavy workload.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her Cabinet had made in-principle decisions on changes to gun laws which she would announce next Monday, saying now was the time to act on tightening access to firearms.

Simon Bridges, leader of the opposition National Party, said he wanted to get details of the changes to see if there could be bipartisan support in Parliament. The National Party draws support from rural areas, where gun ownership is higher than in urban areas.

“We know that change is required. I’m willing to look at anything that is going to enhance our safety – that’s our position,” Bridges told TVNZ.

In addition to the 50 killed, dozens were wounded at the two mosques in the South Island city during Friday prayers.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, was charged with murder on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, where police said he was likely to face more charges.

Andrew Little, the minister who oversees New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, said monitoring of online activity had been stepped up in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

“There are people who have been online making statements who have been interviewed by the police; that will continue. There is a level of intervention, there is a heightened level of monitoring,” Little said on TVNZ on Monday night.

Ardern said there would be an inquiry into what government agencies “knew, or could or should have known” about the alleged gunman and whether the attack could be prevented.

“We have to know whether there have been failings, whether there have been gaps,” Little said on TVNZ. “We have to leave no stone unturned to not only deal with the perpetrator and ensure the criminal justice system gets to deal with him, but to understand how this could have happened in this country.”

More than 250 New Zealand police staff are working on the inquiry in the attacks, with staff from the U.S. FBI and Australia’s Federal Police working with local investigators.

In the wake of the deadly attack, other incidents were drawing scrutiny. A gun club in the northern town of Kaitaia burned down early on Tuesday morning, and police were treating the blaze as suspicious. A bomb hoax that closed Dunedin Airport on Sunday night and caused some flights to be diverted was under investigation, police said.

A black laptop bag was thought to have been bought onto the airfield by someone climbing over fences around the Dunedin airport. Police found a note written by the person who left the “hoax device,” which was dealt with by defense force experts.

“The insensitive nature of this act in light of recent events cannot be overstated,” police said in a statement.

(Writing by John Mair; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida
FILE PHOTO: A police boat patrols in front of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 18, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic congressional leaders have asked the FBI to investigate the founder of a Florida massage parlor chain who is an alleged acquaintance of President Donald Trump, according to a letter released on Monday.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said they want investigators to look into “public reports about alleged activities by Ms. Li ‘Cindy’ Yang and her apparent relationship with the president.”

A chain of massage parlors founded by Yang is “suspected of involvement” in human trafficking and prostitution which involves female immigrants being forced to serve as “sex workers,” the two leaders said in the letter to the FBI and other federal investigative agencies.

Pelosi and Schumer said Yang also reportedly created a business called GY US investments which they allege “may be selling access to the president and members of his family to clients from China.”

Michelle Merson, a Florida lawyer who says she is representing Yang, could not immediately be reached for comment. On a website, Merson posted a video in which she said Yang is scared and in hiding.

Merson said Yang denies the allegations made against her. “Ms. Yang is not concerned because she feels she’s speaking the truth and the truth will free her,” Merson said in the video.

The Democratic leaders said Yang’s website, which has been taken down, once offered clients the “opportunity to interact” with Trump and other political figures as well as participation in White House and Capitol Hill dinners.

Schumer and Pelosi said that, if proven, such allegations “raise serious counterintelligence concerns.”

They asked if Yang has been the focus of earlier federal or state probes and for an assessment of “counterintelligence risks” which Yang’s activities might have posed.

The Democrats also asked if other individuals have used Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Palm Beach estate, to offer foreigners access to Trump or people around him, as well as whether Yang or her foreign clients have had access to Trump or U.S. officials at the White House, Mar-a-Lago, or other Trump properties.

The FBI had no comment on the legislators’ letter. The White House, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the Secret Service did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Audrey Conklin | Reporter

A Connecticut public school employee resigned Sunday after a viral video of her spewing racist slurs at a black man by the checkout lines of a RiteAid made its way through the internet.

The woman, Corinne Terrone, can be seen in the video yelling the N-word three times and spitting twice at the recorder, an unnamed black man, who appears to be accompanied by a black woman, the New Haven Register reports. The Hamden Public School District has confirmed that she was a clerk in the central office.

The incident was filmed Friday at an East Haven ShopRite. It starts with Terrone taunting the recorder and pulling out her own phone to record, saying, “Go ahead, I will . . . . Don’t you dare talk to me that way, motherf*****r. . . . Put your hands on me, come on. Put ’em on me. Come on.”

The man, in turn, appears to knock the woman’s phone from her hand after she calls him the N-word but does not make further physical contact based on what can be seen in the video. Terrone then spits in the direction of the man before yelling, “F**k you, n****r.”

Terrone’s two young daughters, who are accompanying their mother in the video, appear scared. One woman can be seen guiding them away from their mother and toward the checkout.

Terrone’s neighbor, a black man who declined to be identified by name, says “he’s never seen Terrone exhibit racist behavior and that his grandchildren often play with her kids,” the New Haven Register reports.

“She’s in a bad situation,” he told the register, adding, “She’s always been the sweetest woman in the world.”

Hamden school administrators filed a Department of Children and Families (DCF) because of the fact that Terrone’s two daughters were present during the incident, according to WFSB News.

The Hamden School district posted a statement that reads:

We have become aware of video footage that appears to show an employee in our district engaged in abhorrent conduct. Specifically, the video appears to show the employee repeatedly calling an African-American man the N-word in a supermarket in East Haven.

The video also appears to show the Hamden employee spitting at the aforementioned African-American male as he was walking away from the employee. It also appears that the employee’s children witnessed her conduct. Because her children were present, school administrators filed a DCF report.

While it appears as though this happened after work hours on Friday evening, the Human Resource Director contacted the employee and arranged an investigatory meeting with her. Shortly after final arrangements were made for the investigatory meeting, the employee rendered her resignation effective immediately.

East Haven Police Lt. Joseph Murgo responded to the incident in a statement, saying:

The East Haven Police Department is aware of this disturbing video and the hate speech contained in it. We are in touch with ShopRite and are looking to get a better understanding of what took place last night. At this time, we have not been contacted by anybody directly involved in this matter.

We are urging any potential victims of last night’s incident to contact us so we can investigate this matter further. Speech like this has no place in today’s society and nobody deserves to be spit at or called racist names. So far, no charges have been filed because as of [Monday] nobody has come forward as a complainant or a victim.

We are currently in consultation with the States Attorney’s Office and are awaiting the final outcome of the DCF’s investigation before we are able to explore criminal charges.

Hamden Mayor Curt B. Leng said, “What I saw was vile and shocking. While I am disgusted and disheartened seeing such hateful behavior, wildly unacceptable anywhere, I am thankful for the swift and effective actions taken by our school system to address this head on and make clear that hate and violence will not be tolerated.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Organizers of the St. Patrick’s Days celebration in Wright Square in Savannah, Georgia, posted pictures on Facebook of the carnage left by partyers over the weekend.

The images show trash completely covering the ground with city workers and volunteers working to clean up the mess. The post from the “City of Savannah Government St. Patrick’s Festival Info” Facebook page has been shared 1,500 times as of Monday. (RELATED: Why Do Americans Eat Corned Beef On St. Patrick’s Day?)

As many as 300,000 people were expected to have attended the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade this year, which was first hosted in the city in 1824.

The city of Savannah attempted to crack down on the amount of litter produced by the St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year, upping the police presence at Chippewa Square, which was the epicenter of the trash problem in recent years. As a result, partyers simply moved to neighboring Wright Square to cause just as much destruction.

Local officials are already making plans to thwart littering at next year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. “We know what to do now,” Susan Broker, City Hall’s chief planner for St. Patrick’s Day stated. “We will be implementing some rules throughout the parade area and enforcing those next year. We have 364 days to get this right, and we’re going to.”

Broker says that the city is planning to ban styrofoam coolers at next year’s celebration since they have a tendency to break down into impossibly small fragments difficult to clean. (RELATED: ‘Drink Responsibly’ — GOP Ripped After Dragging Beto O’Rourke In St. Patrick’s Day Tweet)

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said that his department made 19 arrests in downtown Savannah and 12 drunk driving arrests during the weekend celebration.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach thanked the volunteers and city employees who were responsible for cleaning up the mess: “You walked out here the next day and you didn’t even think anybody had been here.”

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: A Venezuelan flag hangs from a building near the national election board as acting President Maduro registered as a candidate for president in the April 14 election in Caracas
FILE PHOTO: A Venezuelan flag hangs from a building in Caracas March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo/File Photo

March 18, 2019

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the United States makes its biggest diplomatic push in Latin America in years to try to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the U.S. military is zeroing in on a byproduct of the crisis: a strengthening of Colombian rebels on both sides of Venezuela’s border.

U.S. Admiral Craig Faller, the head of the U.S. military’s Southern Command that oversees U.S. forces in Latin America, told Reuters the United States had sharpened its focus on the rebels and increased its sharing of intelligence with Colombian officials. 

U.S. officials see a growing threat from both Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) and factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that refuse to adhere to a 2016 peace agreement to end five decades of civil war.

The United States believes the rebels are taking advantage of Venezuela’s crisis to expand their reach in that country and the scope of long-standing illegal activities, including drug trafficking.

“Our principal role working with our Colombian partners is to assist in intelligence sharing. What we know, we share,” Faller said. Asked whether the intelligence sharing on the rebels had ramped up as Venezuela’s crisis deepened, Faller responded: “Absolutely.”

The risks from the insurgents on both sides of the Colombia-Venezuela border add another layer of complexity to the crisis in Venezuela, where U.S. President Donald Trump says all options are on the table to remove Maduro from office.

U.S. officials have uniformly emphasized diplomatic and economic tools to accelerate Maduro’s departure, like sanctions, but Faller acknowledged the U.S. military stood ready to provide options if needed.

At the same time, he noted that no U.S. allies in the region were seeking a military solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

“My job is to be ready, be on the balls of my feet, at all times. But we’ve been talking to our partners and no one, no one, thinks that a military option is a good idea,” Faller said.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido says the May 2018 vote in which Maduro won a second term was a sham and he invoked a constitutional provision on Jan. 23 to assume the interim presidency. Most Western nations including the United States have backed Guaido as head of state.

Maduro, a socialist who has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet seeking to foment a coup, retains the support of the armed forces and control of state functions.

Jeremy McDermott, a Colombia-based expert on the insurgencies and co-founder of the Insight Crime think tank, said he believed the Colombian insurgents were operating in Venezuela with at least the blessing of Maduro.

The rebels’ aim is to exploit Venezuela’s lawlessness for safe haven and for economic gain, he said. But he noted there could be an added benefit for Maduro.

“If the Americans invade, or if Colombia promotes a military intervention, then they (Maduro’s supporters) would be able to call upon an insurgent force with more than 50 years of combat experience,” McDermott said.

Asked whether the United States had any evidence of communications between Maduro and the guerrilla groups, Faller said: “I’d rather not discuss the details of the exact connections but we’re watching it very closely.”

Venezuela’s Information Ministry and ELN contacts did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Colombia’s ambassador to Washington, former Vice President Francisco Santos, said ELN and FARC factions had long been present in Venezuela but had grown stronger and more integrated into the country as a result of Venezuela’s crisis.

“They have become the paramilitary groups of the Maduro administration,” Santos told Reuters.

ELN EXPANSION

A Cuba-inspired Marxist insurgency formed in 1964, the ELN claimed responsibility for a January car bomb attack against a police academy in Bogota that killed 22 cadets. It was an escalation by insurgents who have kidnapped Colombian security forces, attacked police stations and bombed oil pipelines.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the ELN is increasingly using Venezuelan territory to carry out narco-trafficking and illegal mining of minerals like gold and coltan.

The Venezuelan security forces were believed to be getting kickbacks from the guerrillas, they said.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. collection of intelligence on the guerrilla groups had increased in recent weeks, including looking at the militants’ activities on the Venezuelan side of the border with Colombia.

Several U.S. officials said they believed senior leaders of both the ELN and the so-called FARC dissidents who do not adhere to the peace agreement were now located inside of Venezuela.

“Their leadership is there,” a second U.S. official said, who also declined to be named, without providing evidence.

An International Crisis Group report cited estimates that the ELN had been active in a minimum of 13 of Venezuela’s 24 states, “absorbing new recruits and shifting from a guerrilla force that embraced armed resistance against Colombia’s ruling elites to one with many core operations in Venezuela.”

Opposition lawmakers in Venezuela also regularly denounce growing ELN activities in Venezuela, but Reuters has been unable to independently verify the extent of its presence or its operations.

Faller declined to discuss any specifics about the collection of U.S. intelligence or identify which insurgent leaders were in Venezuela.

But he acknowledged the trend and added that the flow of illegal narcotics “from Colombia into Venezuela, and then from Venezuela out in the region, has risen as the misery of the Venezuelan people has risen.”

“It’s essentially a lawless region now inside Venezuela along the border and the FARC dissidents and the ELN have taken advantage of that,” Faller said, adding: “They operate with impunity inside Venezuela.”

Santos said the big concern for Colombia was that the strengthening rebel forces would upend efforts to crack down on narcotics trafficking.

“That’s a big worry because in this situation of chaos, obviously they are going to grow. They are growing,” he said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas and Helen Murphy in Bogota; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

  • Police arrested 24-year-old Anthony A. Comello Saturday after matching his fingerprints and an image of his face to the scene of Frank Cali’s murder.
  • Detectives are still investigating the crime but said it is possible Comello may have murdered Cali after Cali told him to stay away from a female relative.
  • Comello, who was arrested in New Jersey, is expected to return to Staten Island for his arraignment on murder charges. 

New York police arrested a 24-year-old man Saturday suspected of killing Gambino crime family leader Frank Cali, potentially over a love interest.

Police arrested Anthony A. Comello, who lives with his parents, at a home in Brick Township, New Jersey, after identifying him from surveillance camera footage that showed him pulling up to Cali’s home in a pickup truck, conversing with Cali at his front door, then returning to his car and firing a gun at Cali 12 times.

Investigators said the motive for the killing remains unclear, but that it is possible Comello may have shot Cali, 53, in anger after Cali told him to stay away from a female relative in whom Comello was romantically interested. (RELATED: Gambino Crime Boss Frank Cali Killed Outside His Home)

“Let me reiterate: This is far from over. We are at the beginning stages of this investigation,” Dermot F. Shea, New York City Police Department chief of detectives, said at a Saturday news conference, according to The New York Times.

Investigators initially thought the killing on March 13 to be a Mafia-style hit on Cali, but surveillance footage of the shooting showed it was far less sophisticated and does not appear to be the beginning of a conflict within or between mafia families. The investigation is ongoing.

“Was he acting alone? Was he acting for other people? What was the motive? I simply, standing here in front of you, do not have all the answers,” Shea added.

Police believe Comello drove a pickup truck to Cali’s home then backed it into Cali’s Cadillac Escalade and thereby knocked off its license plate. Comello then walked up to the front door of Cali’s home and rang the doorbell, allowing a surveillance camera to capture an image of his face. Cali answered and the two talked for approximately a minute — a conversation the surveillance camera also recorded. Cali then took the license plate, walked over to his car and placed it in the back.

That’s when the shooter drew a 9-millimeter pistol and fired at the crime family leader, striking him 10 times. Detectives matched Comello’s fingerprints to those found on the car license plate that the shooter handed to Cali, though they have not yet located the weapon.

Nieghbors of Comello’s parents in the Eltingville area of Staten Island in New York said that news of Comello’s suspected involvement in the killing shocked them.

“I would never imagine he could have done this. I was shocked,” neighbor Victor Ujeck told The NYT.

Didar Janid, who knew Comello for approximately eight years and works at a deli near Comello’s parents’ home, also said Comello didn’t appear to be a threat.

“He was a little bit aggressive, a little loud,” Janid said, adding: “I didn’t see nothing abnormal when I saw him. I can’t think even that he could be doing this.”

Comello did, however, exhibit behavior at a federal courthouse in recent years that prompted the United States Marshals Service to detain him and to ask NYPD’s Intelligence Division to see if Comello had any record of making threats of terrorism, according to two law enforcement officials. Comello had no criminal history at the time.

Comello is expected to return to Staten Island to be arraigned on murder charges.

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Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Tuesday’s special election for Iowa’s Senate District 30 has become a proving ground for Democratic 2020 Oval Office hopefuls.

Nine Democratic presidential candidates have appeared locally or publicly endorsed the campaign of Democratic candidate Eric Giddens, a Cedar Falls School Board member, in his race against former Republican state Rep. Walt Rogers.

“The whole thing is bizarre,” Giddens said in an interview with the Des Moines Register, referring to the attention generated by the special election.

The district turned out 33,322 votes in 2016 and includes the towns of Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Hudson, according to Ballotpedia.

WATERLOO, IOWA - MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke helps Iowa senate candidate Eric Giddens climb up into a pickup truck during a canvassing kickoff event March 16, 2019 in Waterloo, Iowa. After losing a long-shot race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old O'Rourke is making his first campaign swing through Iowa after jumping into a crowded Democratic field this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WATERLOO, IOWA – MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke helps Iowa senate candidate Eric Giddens climb up into a pickup truck during a canvassing kickoff event March 16, 2019 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Presidential contenders campaigning for Giddens include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who has not announced his candidacy. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sent her staff to Iowa to help get out the vote, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a get-out-the-vote email, according to Politico.

National press made the trip as well, with The Wall Street Journal, NBC’s “Meet the Press” and National Public Radio filing special reports. (RELATED: Beto O’Rourke Out-Raises All Candidates On First Day)

“Only in Iowa would a state Senate race attract all these national candidates,” Al Hays, a retired political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa, told the Register.

The seat was vacated by the abrupt resignation in February of Democrat Jeff Danielson, a four-term incumbent, and 20-year veteran of the Cedar Falls Fire Department, amid his objections to a city policy that replaced select firefighters with cross-trained police officers. He subsequently accepted a position with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) as a lobbyist, the Register reported.

Giddens’s opponent Rogers formerly represented the state’s 60th District. The past two elections have shown the district to be competitive. Danielson beat his opponent by 17 points in 2016, but the race in 2012 had only a 2-point margin.

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

The suspected gunman being sought in connection to a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht that left three people dead and five injured was arrested hours after the shooting, police said.

Dutch police had been searching for 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis, who was born in Turkey, in connection with the possible terrorist attack, reported BBC Monday.

Dutch authorities raised the threat alert to the highest level in Utrecht and surrounding areas before the suspect was found, reported NBC News(RELATED: Dutch Police Searching For Turkish Man After Tram Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 5 Injured)

Utrecht’s mayor, Jan van Zanen, called Tanis a suspect and said three of the injured have serious wounds.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L) and Right, Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the press at the Ministry of Justice and Security in The Hague, on March 18, 2019 following a shooting in a tram in Utrecht. (LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images)

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L) and Right, Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the press at the Ministry of Justice and Security in The Hague, on March 18, 2019 following a shooting in a tram in Utrecht. (LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images)

Policemen are at work on March 18, 2019 in Utrecht, near a tram where a gunman opened fire killing at least three persons and wounding several in what officials said was a possible terrorist incident. (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Policemen are at work on March 18, 2019 in Utrecht, near a tram where a gunman opened fire killing at least three persons and wounding several in what officials said was a possible terrorist incident. (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

“We are working on the assumption of a terrorist motive,” van Zanen said. “We think there is just one perpetrator, but we cannot exclude the possibly of there being several perpetrators.”

Authorities evacuated all mosques in Utrecht and security was upped at other mosques around the Netherlands, reported The New York Times. Authorities did not say whether the evacuations were due to a specific threat or were done to be extra careful after the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday.

Utrecht is a city of about 330,000 people located 25 miles from the Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam.

The Netherlands had a rocky 2018, during which seven men were arrested for conspiring to commit a major terrorist attack in the country and an Afghan man stabbed two Americans in a railway station.

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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Law enforcement officials are confiscating substantially larger amounts of methamphetamine as Mexican drug cartels increasingly push the drug into U.S. markets.

A drug-tracking system from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicates that a total of 347,807 law enforcement meth seizures were submitted to various labs across the country in 2017, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The number is a 118 percent hike from 2010 submissions.

U.S. meth-related deaths hit 6,762 in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is approximately 3.5 times the amount in 2011. While specific data beyond 2016 is not currently available, provisional data through July 2018 indicates that meth-related deaths are still climbing.

The flood of meth, a popular synthetic drug that is made in labs, has made it much more affordable for U.S. consumers and inflamed the drug overdose crisis currently plaguing the country.

“Everybody’s biggest fear is what’s it going to look like if meth hits us like fentanyl did,” said Jon DeLena of DEA’s New England office said to the Washington Post. Access to fentanyl, a dangerously potent synthetic opioid, has led to mass overdoses across the country. Many fear that the increased trafficking of meth could result in similar death rates.

DEA officials are blaming the situation on Mexican drug cartels, which are more aggressively pushing the drug into the U.S. interior as they attempt to rival South American-made cocaine. The synthetic stimulant is now becoming more prevalent in many regions — such as the U.S. Northeast — where meth was more-or-less scarce.

A member of the German Criminal Investigation Division (BKA) displays Crystal Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth) during a news conference at the BKA office in Wiesbaden November 13, 2014. Police found 4 kilograms of Crystal Meth and 2.9 tons of Chlorephedrine, a base substance to produce Crystal Meth, during a police raid in Leipzig on November 5 and November 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

A member of the German Criminal Investigation Division (BKA) displays Crystal Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth) during a news conference at the BKA office in Wiesbaden November 13, 2014. Police found 4 kilograms of Crystal Meth and 2.9 tons of Chlorephedrine, a base substance to produce Crystal Meth, during a police raid in Leipzig on November 5 and November 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Meth production in the U.S. has generally declined in the past 10 years, but this trend has been offset with an increase in supply from Mexico.

“They’re flooding it through tunnels, they’re flooding it through ports of entry, they’re flooding it between ports of entry,” stated DEA Special Agent Doug Coleman.

News of meth’s rise follows President Donald Trump’s ongoing battle with Congress to secure the U.S.-Mexico border with a massive wall.

Congress allocated just over $1.37 billion to finance 55 miles of border wall in Texas following gridlock between Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Trump accepted that funding in February, but he then declared a national crisis. The president has since requested an additional $8.6. billion for wall construction. (RELATED: Trump To Close Immigration Offices In Other Countries To Save Money)

Trump vetoed a Congressional resolution that disapproved of his emergency declaration — the first veto of his presidency. However, a number of lawsuits are still seeking to block the declaration in court.

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