Rallies

Paul Ingrassia | Contributor

Former Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is reportedly mulling another bid for statewide office.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Walker is “not ruling anything out” for 2022 and has his sights set on running for a senate seat or the governorship should an opportunity arise.

Current Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers just last year defeated Walker for the office. Based on the results of a Marquett poll from January, Evers enjoys strong support for a bevy of his key budget and policy priorities, which include expanding Medicaid through federal funding, increases in education spending, and legalizing recreational marijuana.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) is welcomed to the stage by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during a campaign rally at the W.L. Zorn Arena November 1, 2016 in Altoona, Wisconsin. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) is welcomed to the stage by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during a campaign rally at the W.L. Zorn Arena November 1, 2016 in Altoona, Wisconsin. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Yet Walker has not ruled out a potential rematch in 2022:

“As you know, I think six months is a lifetime in politics,” Walker told the Post. “I’m not ruling anything out. My wife … told me, ‘Don’t pretend you wouldn’t ever running again.’”

Walker also has his eyes set on another office: the US senate seat currently occupied by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who has strongly hinted at not seeking a third term in 2022.

“I would defer to him,” Walker said of Ron Johnson’s decision to seek reelection. “If he chose to run again, I wouldn’t run.”

In the meantime, Walker has used his time as a private citizen to barnstorm across the country campaigning in various states to enact a federal balanced-budget amendment by a constitutional convention.

The former governor chairs a nonprofit group that seeks to replicate his success as governor in calling for an unprecedented convention to amend the U.S. Constitution for a balanced-budget amendment in 2017, across other states. Walker intends to visit Idaho, Montana, Kentucky, and Virginia this summer.

Walker got heat from Wisconsin Democrats before departing office last year when he signed legislation that curbed the power of the newly elected Democratic governor and attorney general during a lame-duck session.

Wisconsin was one of the “blue wall” states to go red in 2016 that ultimately lead to victory for President Donald Trump. The state is poised to be a key battleground again come 2020. Earlier this month, it was reported that Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. (RELATED: It’s Official: DNC To Host Annual Convention In A Place Hillary Passed Over)

Walker was one of 17 major candidates to launch a presidential campaign in 2016. After dropping out in September 2015, he endorsed Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Since then, he has appeared at rallies in support of Trump.

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

March 20, 2019

By Rajendra Jadhav and Sankalp Phartiyal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being a Modi supporter himself makes it easier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIMITED OVERSIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

Supporters of Pheu Thai Party attend an election campaign in Ubon Ratchathani Province
FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Pheu Thai Party attend an election campaign in Ubon Ratchathani Province, Thailand, Februray 18, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

March 20, 2019

By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Nearly five years after Thailand’s 2014 military coup, the populist movement that the army has overthrown twice in a decade is contesting an election on Sunday that its leaders say is rigged against it.

Yet, the Pheu Thai party linked to ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is hoping it can beat the system, just as the former telecommunication tycoon’s loyalists have won every general election since 2001.

This time, Pheu Thai has shifted strategy by dividing its forces to capture new votes and to seek a “democratic front” with other parties to overcome junta-written electoral rules that give a huge advantage to the party seeking to retain junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister.

Sunday’s election has 81 parties competing, but the race has shaped up as one between Pheu Thai and “democracy front” allies versus the pro-army Palang Pracharat party that nominated Prayuth as prime minister.

Polls indicate that Pheu Thai will again be the top vote-winner, and it hopes with its allies to make up the largest bloc in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

But that may not matter, because the new constitution written by the junta allows parliament’s upper house, the 250-seat Senate, to vote with the lower house to choose the prime minister – and the Senate is entirely appointment by the junta.

That means pro-junta parties need to win only 126 lower house seats on Sunday to choose the next government, while Pheu Thai and allies, who can’t count on any support in the Senate, need 376 – three-quarters of the total up for grabs.

Despite the disadvantages, Sudarat Keyuraphan, Pheu Thai’s main prime ministerial candidate, said a democratic front could keep the military from controlling the next government.

“I still believe in the heart of the people and we have seen election upsets in many places around the world,” Sudarat told Reuters in an interview.

“Now, they have created a new structure that enables them to hold on to power in a semi-democratic structure,” she said of the military. “So we have to tell people about this and to put an end to this once and for all.”

‘GET RID OF THAKSIN’

However, the complex rules governing the election make it all but impossible for pro-Thaksin parties to form a government on their own as they have in previous elections.

Since he burst onto the political scene in 2001, Thaksin has dominated Thai politics, inspiring devotion among his mostly rural supporters for his pro-poor policies and revulsion from mostly middle-class and establishment opponents who decry him as a corrupt demagogue.

The rivalry has brought intermittent violent protests over almost 15 years. Twice, the military has stepped in, the first time in 2006 to oust Thaksin after he won a second term and again in 2014 to topple a government that had been led by his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thaksin now lives in self-imposed exile to escape a 2008 corruption sentence. He is officially banned from politics but has been hosting a weekly podcast since January discussing global affairs and politics.

His son, Panthongtae Shinawatra, 38, has made cameo appearances at Pheu Thai rallies, bringing loud cheers in party strongholds in the north and northeast.

Worry that a pro-Thaksin party might yet again win the election was one reason why the post-coup constitution made changes giving the junta a strong say in who will be prime minister, said Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of the faculty of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University.

“The establishment have had a strong determination to get rid of Thaksin once and for all,” Titipol told Reuters.

PRO-DEMOCRACY FRONT

While the rewritten electoral rules give junta leader Prayuth’s party an advantage in choosing the next government, they are by no means a guarantee.

In recent weeks, talk of a “democracy front” has gained ground, with speculation different parties in the House of Representatives might muster the 376 votes needed to choose the prime minister.

That strategy took a hit when Thai Raksa Chart, a key pro-Thaksin ally of Pheu Thai, was disqualified from the election this month.

The constitutional court ruled that the party had broken the electoral law by nominating the sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, as its prime ministerial candidate, crossing the traditional boundary between monarchy and politics.

Still, Pheu Thai has other allies – including Pheu Chart party and Pheu Tham – while politicians from the dissolved Thai Raksa Chart campaign for the democratic front.

Other parties like the youth-oriented Future Forward Party, while not seen as “pro-Thaksin”, could join forces to keep the military out of politics.

The leader of another main party, the Democrats, has also said he won’t support keeping junta leader Prayuth as prime minister, though it is unclear if the staunchly anti-Thaksin Democrats would join any front with Thaksin loyalists.

Even if they unite, it’s unclear whether anti-junta parties can muster enough votes, but Pheu Thai’s Sudarat said Prayuth’s declaration as a prime ministerial candidate has had a galvanizing effect.

“For 10 years the military has been acting as a referee,” she said.

“But now they have reveal themselves and have become a player so this could lead to a new end game … now it is up to the people.”

(Editing by Kay Johnson, Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Sacramento Kings
Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell (1) defends Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (5) during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored the winning layup with 0.8 seconds remaining as the Brooklyn Nets overcame a 25-point, fourth-quarter deficit to post a stunning 123-121 victory over the host Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

D’Angelo Russell scored 27 of his career-high 44 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets outscored the Kings 45-18 to improve to 1-3 on a seven-game road trip.

Hollis-Jefferson scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and drove through the lane to convert the winning basket. Jarrett Allen scored 13 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie added 10 for Brooklyn.

Marvin Bagley III scored 28 points, and De’Aaron Fox had 27 points and nine assists for Sacramento. Harrison Barnes scored 17 points, Nemanja Bjelica had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 10 points for the Kings.

Rockets 121, Hawks 105

Clint Capela posted his sixth straight double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds, and visiting Houston topped Atlanta to extend its winning streak to three games.

James Harden added 31 points, sinking 11 of 12 from the line, and had 10 assists and eight rebounds. Danuel House Jr. came off the bench to score 19, including six 3-pointers. Chris Paul scored 13 and had 11 assists.

Atlanta got 21 points and 12 assists from Trae Young, plus 20 points and 10 rebounds from John Collins. Taurean Prince added 16 points, and Vince Carter hit five 3-pointers and scored 15.

Warriors 117, Timberwolves 107

Stephen Curry scored 22 of his 36 points in the third quarter, and Klay Thompson added 28 points to lead Golden State past Minnesota at Minneapolis.

Minnesota trailed 59-47 entering the third quarter before going on a 14-2 run, tying the game at 61-all. That’s when Curry took over, scoring eight points in a 94-second span as the Warriors wrested control of the game.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points and grabbed 21 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who saw their six-game home win streak end.

Bucks 115, Lakers 101

Khris Middleton matched his season high with 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Milwaukee padded its lead atop the Eastern Conference with a win over visiting Los Angeles.

Playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) and Malcolm Brogdon (foot), the Bucks extended their lead over the second-place Toronto Raptors to three games with 11 left for both teams. Brook Lopez matched his season high with 28 points, and Nikola Mirotic scored 23 while starting in place of Brogdon.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot 8-for-14 from 3-point range and scored a season-high 35 points off the bench for Los Angeles. The Lakers, who played without leading scorer LeBron James (groin), lost their fourth straight game and ninth in the past 10.

76ers 118, Hornets 114

Ben Simmons scored 28 points, and JJ Redick had 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as Philadelphia earned its fifth straight victory, beating host Charlotte.

Tobias Harris hit three free throws in the final 8.2 seconds, and the Hornets missed a chance to tie the game when Jeremy Lamb was off target on a drive in the lane with two seconds remaining.

Jimmy Butler added 23 points for the Sixers, who completed a four-game season sweep of the Hornets. Their five-game winning streak is a season high. Charlotte has lost nine of its past 12.

Clippers 115, Pacers 109

Danilo Gallinari scored 24 points, and Montrezl Harrell added 20 as host Los Angeles improved its playoff prospects with a win over Indiana.

Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 17 points as the Clippers moved into a tie with the Utah Jazz for seventh place in the Western Conference. The Clippers and Jazz are just 2 1/2 games out of third place in a crowded Western Conference field.

After scoring just two points in the first half, Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 19 as the Pacers lost their third consecutive game, keeping their playoff-clinching celebration on hold. Tyreke Evans also scored 19.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta
Indonesia’s presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto (not pictured) in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

March 20, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A new Indonesian election survey shows President Joko Widodo’s big lead over his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, is narrowing, just weeks ahead of next month’s vote in the world’s third-largest democracy.

The April 17 election will be a rerun of the 2014 race, in which Widodo beat out Prabowo by almost six percentage points.

A survey by pollster Litbang Kompas, which is part of Indonesia’s biggest newspaper Kompas, shows Widodo likely to win 49.2 percent of the vote, surpassing 37.4 percent for Prabowo.

Although still a double-digit lead, the electability gap in the survey between February 22 and March 5 was narrower than the Kompas survey in October that gave Widodo a 19.9-percentage point lead over his rival.

Opinion polls in January by other pollsters, including Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting and Australian-based Roy Morgan, put Widodo at an advantage of about 20 percentage points over Prabowo.

The president’s campaign team is confident he will still win by a big margin, spokeswoman Meutya Hafid said in a statement.

“There’s a number of indications why votes for Jokowi will be higher than in 2014,” she said, referring to the president by a popular nickname.

“Jokowi will be able to grab votes from places that are normally the stronghold of candidate number two (Prabowo), such as West Java,” Hafid said, referring to Indonesia’s most populous province.

The latest Kompas survey showed Widodo’s support may be shrinking among mature millennials aged between 31 and 40, as well as baby boomers.

After a slow beginning, the six-month campaign has picked up pace, with televised debates between the candidates and rallies held across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.

Some analysts say the debates were a missed opportunity for Prabowo, who has struggled to land any big blows against Widodo, while the president has appeared workman-like in projecting his achievements in areas such as infrastructure while in office.

But the challenger’s running mate, private equity tycoon Sandiaga Uno, has appeared to generate a buzz on the campaign trail while proving popular online, especially with women and young voters.

Uno attacked Widodo’s track record on education and healthcare last weekend, saying his government would be able to solve Indonesia’s problems in education and large deficits in health insurance.

Last week, the anti-graft agency named a prominent politician backing Widodo’s re-election campaign a suspect in a bribery case, which could further dent his campaign.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Clarence Fernandez)

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Turkish President Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul,
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul, Turkey March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

March 19, 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the gunman who killed 50 people at two Christchurch mosques, warning that Turkey would make the attacker pay for his act if New Zealand did not.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at the two mosques during Muslim Friday prayers.

“You heinously killed 50 of our siblings. You will pay for this. If New Zealand doesn’t make you, we know how to make you pay one way or another,” Erdogan told an election rally of thousands in northern Turkey. He did not elaborate.

He said Turkey was wrong to have abolished the death penalty 15 years ago, and added that New Zealand should make legal arrangements so that the Christchurch gunman could face capital punishment.

“If the New Zealand parliament doesn’t make this decision I will continue to argue this with them constantly. The necessary action needs to be taken,” he said.

Erdogan is seeking to drum up support for his Islamist-rooted AK Party in March 31 local elections. At weekend election rallies he showed video footage of the shootings which the gunman had broadcast on Facebook, as well as extracts from a “manifesto” posted by the attacker and later taken down.

That earned a rebuke from New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said he told Turkey’s foreign minister and vice president that showing the video could endanger New Zealanders abroad.

Despite Peters’ intervention, an extract from the manifesto was flashed up on a screen at Erdogan’s rally again on Tuesday, as well as brief footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.

Erdogan has said the gunman issued threats against Turkey and the president himself, and wanted to drive Turks from Turkey’s northwestern, European region. Majority Muslim Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, is split between an Asian part east of the Bosphorus, and a European half to the west.

Erdogan’s AK Party, which has dominated Turkish politics for more than 16 years, is battling for votes as the economy tips into recession after years of strong growth. Erdogan has cast the local elections as a “matter of survival” in the face of threats including Kurdish militants, Islamophobia and incidents such as the New Zealand shootings.

A senior Turkish security source said Tarrant entered Turkey twice in 2016 – for a week in March and for more than a month in September. Turkish authorities have begun investigating everything from hotel records to camera footage to try to ascertain the reason for his visits, the source said.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans and Nick Tattersall)

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Palestinian diorama artist Majdi Abu Taqeya works on miniature figures he carves from remnants of Israeli ammunition collected from the scenes of border protests along the Israel-Gaza border, in the central Gaza Strip
Palestinian diorama artist Majdi Abu Taqeya works on miniature figures he carves from remnants of Israeli ammunition collected from the scenes of border protests along the Israel-Gaza border, in the central Gaza Strip March 11, 2019. Picture taken March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

March 19, 2019

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) – One year on from the start of Gaza’s border protests, the weekly clashes with Israeli soldiers have become part of the texture of life in the Palestinian enclave, providing inspiration and even raw materials for local artists.

Diorama artist Majdi Abu Taqeya spends hours creating three-dimensional miniature replicas of the protest scenes, with figures carved from remnants of Israeli ammunition collected from the landscape along the frontier.

Wool and cotton are turned into the white and black smoke that swirls over the five protest camps that have been set up along the fortified frontier since the protests began on March 30, 2018.

Elsewhere on Abu Taqeya’s wooden boards, Palestinian protesters, ambulances, Israeli troops and tanks and even the wire fence itself are all created in miniature. He uses empty shells of bullets, tear gas canisters and sometimes shrapnel of Israeli missiles.

A bullet triggered the idea, the artist said. At the first day of the protests, Abu Taqeya’s youngest brother was shot in his leg and doctors took out the bullet, which he then brought home.

“I turned it into a small statue of a soldier and I gave it to him,” he told Reuters.

“It was then when I got the idea to start recycling the remnants of the occupation,” said Abu Taqeya, a 38-year-old retired naval policeman.

Gaza health authorities said some 200 people have been killed by Israeli fire since Palestinians launched the protests a year ago. They are demanding the right to return to land from which their ancestors fled or were expelled during fighting that accompanied Israel’s founding in 1948.

An Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper along the frontier.

Israel says it uses lethal force to defend the frontier from militants trying to destroy its border fence and infiltrate under cover of the protests. On Monday, U.N. war crimes investigators urged Israel to rein in its troops at the border. [nL8N21549L]

In Nusseirat refugee camp, where Abu Taqeya lives, some neighbors who had been wounded gifted the artist bullets extracted from their bodies.

“This bullet was taken from a girl’s body, I turned it into a bullet with a butterfly on the top,” said Abu Taqeya.

On Thursday, organizers of the protests called for mass rallies on March 30 to mark the anniversary, raising concerns of possible heavy casualty toll. Abu Taqeya urged demonstrators to steer clear of the fence.

“We must not give the occupation any pretext to open fire. These protests must be peaceful,” he said, using a Palestinian term for Israel.

Israel pulled its soldiers and settlers out of Gaza in 2005. Citing security concerns, it still maintains tight control of the Hamas Islamist-run territory’s borders.

(Writing by Nidal Almughrabi, editing by Stephen Farrell and Alexandra Hudson)

Source: OANN

Protest against Serbian President Vucic in Belgrade
Demonstrators clash with riot police officers at a protest against Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his government outside the presidential building in Belgrade, Serbia, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

March 17, 2019

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Thousands of anti-government protesters staged a rally outside President Aleksandar Vucic’s residence on Sunday to press their demands for greater media freedom and free and fair elections, a day after they briefly broke into the state television building.

Riot police used pepper spray against a small group of the protesters after they tried to bring a truck with loudspeakers closer to the residence, a Reuters photographer said.

The protesters, who have been staging such rallies every weekend for more than three months, blew whistles and shouted “resign!” as Vucic gave a news conference inside the building.

“We shall continue the blockade of the presidency and we will not leave until our demands are met or unless we get firm guarantees that our demands will be met,” Borko Stefanovic, an opposition activist, told reporters.

“There are no independent media here in this country,” said Srdjan Vuksa, a businessman from the town of Kovin near Belgrade. “I came here to express my dissatisfaction with that.”

The protests have spread to other cities and towns, though numbers outside Belgrade have remained small.

On Saturday evening the protesters briefly occupied the state television building, angered by what they say is scant coverage of their demonstrations by state media.

Anti-government demonstrators last stormed the state TV building, known as the government mouthpiece, on October 5, 2000, bringing down the regime of strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Commenting on Saturday’s incident at the state TV building, Vucic said at his news conference: “I am not afraid.”

Vucic has previously said he would not bow to opposition demands for electoral reform and increased media freedom “even if there were five million people in the street”, but said he was willing to test his party’s popularity in a snap vote.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Additional reporting by Marko Djurica; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

Demonstrators march during civic protest in Podgorica
Demonstrators march during civic protest in Podgorica, Montenegro, March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

March 16, 2019

By Aleksandar Vasovic

PODGORICA (Reuters) – Thousands marched through Montenegro’s capital Podgorica on Saturday, the fifth such rally in two months, to demand the resignation of President Milo Djukanovic and his government over allegations of abuse of office, graft and cronyism.

Crowds of protesters led by civic and student activists walked through the center of the city chanting “Milo thief” and “We are the state.”

The protests started after Dusko Knezevic, a businessman and a former ally of Djukanovic, accused the country’s long-serving president and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of abuse of office and murky financial deals.

Both Djukanovic and the DPS have denied the allegations but have said the protests are legitimate unless they turn violent.

Djukanovic, 57, has ruled the tiny Adriatic country for three decades, serving either as prime minister or president. The country, with a population of only 650,000, is a NATO member and a candidate for European Union membership.

“We want changes and after 30 years, I think that every citizen understands … that the last dictator must leave,” said protester Ana Vujosevic, 45, from Podgorica.

Montenegrin prosecutors accused Knezevic of fraud and money laundering and issued an international arrest for the fugitive banker who fled to Britain.

Knezevic has said he will produce more evidence about alleged high-level corruption by Djukanovic and his allies.

Before it joins the EU, Montenegro must first root out organized crime, corruption, nepotism, bureaucracy and red tape.

Montenegrin protesters said they wanted opposition parties to stay away from the rallies, said Dzemal Perovic, a civic activist and a protest leader, citing what he called their frequent bickering and what he described as the misgivings of people about the opposition.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by William Maclean)

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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said Friday that he's not ready to release the amount of money he has raised since entering the 2020 race a day earlier.

When asked outside a campaign stop in Fairfield, Iowa, when he'd share his fundraising numbers, he said, "Soon."

"I don't have a definite plan," he added. "We're not ready to release them now."

The former Texas congressman entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday after months of speculation. He raised an eye-popping $80 million in grassroots donations last year in his failed U.S. Senate race in Texas against Republican Ted Cruz, all while largely avoiding money from political action committees. His early fundraising numbers will be an initial signal of whether his popularity during the Senate campaign will carry over to his White House bid.

So far, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has set the pace for grassroots donations in 2020, pulling in $6 million during his first day as a candidate.

Asked if he thought he would top Sanders, O'Rourke said only, "We'll see."

But his reception during his first Iowa swing was overwhelmingly positive, even as O'Rourke launched his campaign by hitting a handful of counties that had shifted from supporting Democrat Barack Obama to backing Republican Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Most of the towns O'Rourke visited during his first two days in the state were small and rural, manufacturing or farming towns. He kicked off his bid in Keokuk, population 10,300, dropped by a private home in Fairfield, a town about the same size, and jumped atop a coffee shop counter to address the crowd in Mount Pleasant, population 8,500.

The strategy set O'Rourke apart from the rest of the field, many of whom have focused their early swings on the state's population centers or on the traditionally blue counties that make up the bulk of the Democratic primary electorate.

Norm Sterzenbach, who's advising O'Rourke in Iowa, said the strategy came out of the Texan's desire to do more intimate events in his first swing through Iowa.

"He didn't want to do big rallies or big events. He wanted to get into communities and really talk to Iowans, and he wanted to go to smaller towns, smaller communities, and . places that had been neglected" by politicians, he said.

It was an approach reminiscent of his Texas Senate bid, where O'Rourke hit every one of the state's 254 counties, even the most rural areas, some of which hadn't been visited by Democratic candidates in years. O'Rourke didn't commit to visiting all of Iowa's 99 counties — what's locally known as the "Full Grassley," after Iowa's senior Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, who's famous for doing the full swing — but he said he planned to visit as much of Iowa as possible.

And like he did during his Texas Senate bid, O'Rourke didn't back down from some of his most liberal policy positions, telling an audience in Burlington, Iowa, that he was open to reconfiguring the Supreme Court, and a crowd in Mount Pleasant that he supports a "baby bond, an investment made in every single American dependent on your means" to help alleviate inequality, an idea first proposed by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, another presidential contender.

That go-everywhere, speak-to-everyone strategy brought him within 3 points of defeating Cruz in Texas, the nation's largest red state.

In Mount Vernon, Iowa — a town of 4,500 people — David Osterberg, a retired professor, was among a crowd of about 15 people outside the restaurant where O'Rourke spoke listening to his remarks on speakers blaring outside. While Mount Vernon sits in a Democratic county, Osterberg said he hadn't seen any presidential candidates come through yet, until O'Rourke did.

"It demonstrates that you care enough to come to a small town," Osterberg said. "Especially if you want to start breaking in to some of what happened in the last election, with many rural roads full of Trump signs, you want to come to places that are smaller, rather than larger."

In Fairfield, as a crowd of about two dozen gathered in a living room to eat lunch and see the candidate, O'Rourke was asked by a voter how he planned to defeat Trump.

"That depiction of Donald Trump as being unqualified was certainly not enough to win," he said. "So showing profound respect for the people that I want to serve by showing up first, by listening to them, by not writing them off by their party affiliation or how rural or urban their community is, is fundamental not just to winning but building the coalition, the consensus and the movement to get this stuff done long term."

Source: NewsMax

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics
Mar 14, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) takes a free throw during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

March 15, 2019

Kyrie Irving scored six of his team-high 31 points during a fourth-quarter spurt that allowed the Boston Celtics to build a lead they were able to retain en route to a 126-120 victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

After trailing for much of the first three quarters, the Celtics led just 104-103 following a Willie Cauley-Stein dunk for Sacramento with 6:20 to go. Irving countered immediately with a floater and, after a three-point play by Marcus Morris, added two jumpers in a 9-0 flurry that opened a 113-103 advantage with 4:33 remaining.

Irving wound up with his second career triple-double, complementing his 31 points with 10 rebounds and a game-high 12 assists. His only previous triple-double came for Cleveland against Utah in February 2014.

Sacramento’s Buddy Hield led all scorers with 34 points, connecting on 6 of 10 3-point attempts. His Kings teammates, however, made just 5 of 24 3-point shots.

Raptors 111, Lakers 98

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, grabbed eight rebounds and added four assists as Toronto defeated visiting Los Angeles.

Norman Powell added 20 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who have won their past nine games against the Lakers dating to 2015. Pascal Siakam scored 16 points, and Marc Gasol contributed 15 points for Toronto.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 29 points. Alex Caruso added 16 points, Rajon Rondo had 13 points and eight assists and JaVale McGee contributed nine points and nine rebounds.

Pacers 108, Thunder 106

Wesley Matthews’ tip-in with 1.8 seconds left lifted Indiana over host Oklahoma City.

Indiana ended the game on a 23-10 run to finish off a big comeback. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 26 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 23.

Russell Westbrook had a chance to win the game for the Thunder in the last second, but his 3-pointer from the top of the key hit the front of the rim and bounced away. Westbrook finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his second consecutive triple-double, and Paul George finished with a game-high 36 points.

Magic 120, Cavaliers 91

Aaron Gordon had 21 points as Orlando got a much-needed blowout against visiting Cleveland.

Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and D.J. Augustin had 20 points and seven assists for the Magic. The win came at an important time for Orlando, which had dropped four of its last five games.

Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 23 points, and Jordan Clarkson added 15 points off the bench.

Jazz 120, Timberwolves 100

Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points and dished out six assists to lead Utah past Minnesota at Salt Lake City.

Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors each finished with double-doubles for the Jazz. Favors had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Gobert tallied 10 points and 13 boards. Jae Crowder added 18 points off the bench.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points and collected 12 rebounds before fouling out with 4:13 left. Andrew Wiggins added 14 points. Tyus Jones chipped in 12 points and nine assists.

Nuggets 100, Mavericks 99

Nikola Jokic drained a 9-foot leaner as time expired, and host Denver rallied to beat Dallas.

Jokic one-upped Dallas rookie Luka Doncic, whose dunk with 5.8 seconds left gave Dallas a one-point lead. But Denver called timeout, then got the ball to Jokic, and he hit a floater around Dwight Powell.

Jokic finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, and Paul Millsap had a season-high 33 points for Denver. Doncic had 24 points and Jalen Brunson scored 20 for the tired Mavericks, who didn’t arrive in Denver until 9 a.m. Thursday because of the blizzard slamming much of the middle of the country.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Citing President Donald Trump’s continued criticism of the press, Democrats have reintroduced the Journalist Protection Act, The Washington Times is reporting.

The bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally assault a journalist “in the course of reporting or in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering.” The proposed legislation was offered by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. And Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the newspaper said.

“We must protect journalists in every corner of our country if they are attacked physically while doing their job, and send a strong, clear message that such violence will not be tolerated,” Swalwell said. “That is what my bill, the Journalist Protection Act, would do.”

And in a tweet, Swalwell added: “From tweeting #FakeNews to proclaiming his contempt for the media during campaign rallies, the President has created a hostile environment for members of the press. We must protect journalists from violence by sending a strong, clear message that attacks will not be tolerated.”

The Society of Professional Journalists welcomed the bill.

It tweeted: "SPJ applauds @SenBlumenthal, @Senator Menendez and @ericswalwell for reintroducing the Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to knowingly assault a reporter engaged in the act of newsgathering.”

Swalwell and Blumenthal had first introduced the act in 2018, but the effort died in the Republican-controlled Congress, The Washington Times noted.

Source: NewsMax

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

March 14, 2019

CAIRO (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters chanting anti-government slogans took to the streets of several neighborhoods in the Sudanese capital on Thursday, eyewitnesses said, while President Omar al-Bashir said he would seek dialogue with the opposition for the sake of stability.

In Khartoum’s Burri neighborhood, one group of protesters that included children chanted “the revolution is the choice of the people,” a live video on Facebook showed. A few were drumming while others ululated.

Some wore masks as protection from tear gas in the latest in what have become near-daily protests in Sudan since Dec. 19.

In eastern Khartoum, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who had gathered outside a private university, witnesses said. More than 200 also marched in one of Khartoum’s main streets, drawing tear-gas volleys from police.

Bashir, facing the most sustained challenge to his rule since he took power in a military coup three decades ago, promised during a swearing-in ceremony for a new cabinet that he would engage in dialogue with the opposition.

The wave of protest was triggered by price increases and cash shortages.

“Securing peace and silencing the sound of the rifle is our most important priority for the country and we will communicate with the forces who reject dialogue for the sake of political stability,” Bashir said, according to a presidency statement.

In a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, Bashir appointed at least 15 new ministers.

Last month he declared a state of emergency, dissolved the central government, replaced state governors with security officials, expanded police powers and banned unlicensed public gatherings.

That has not stopped the protesters, who have held several demonstrations since the new measures came into effect.

As part of the emergency measures, courts have been trying protesters in evening sessions, sparking more rallies outside court buildings.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region, which he denies. He has been lobbying for Sudan to be removed from a list of countries Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism.

The listing has blocked the investment and financial aid that Sudan was hoping for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.

Sudan has been rapidly expanding its money supply in an attempt to finance its budget deficit, causing spiraling inflation and a steep decline in the value of its currency.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Lena Masri; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives gathered outside the Capitol Building on Wednesday to announce the party’s strategy to bring anti-infanticide legislation to the floor after House Democrats rejected a vote 17 times.

“There are some issues you really can’t believe that you have to have a debate about and this is certainly one of those,” GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney told the crowd. “The idea that we would not protect babies after they are born — the idea that we have one party now in this Congress that refuses to put a bill on the floor to stop infanticide — it’s really unbelievable.”

Cheney and six of her Republican colleagues joined pro-life activists in condemning the Democrats’ 17 attempts over the past 40 days to avoid voting on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require medical care for babies who survive abortions. A similar bill failed in the Senate in February by a vote of 53 to 44.

As a way to bypass Democrats’ refusal to bring the legislation from committee to the House floor, Minority Whip Steve Scalise announced a discharge petition would be available in the coming weeks, which would allow the House to vote with only an absolute majority. (RELATED: House GOP Rallies Against Anti-Gun Legislation: Democrats Are ‘Perpetuating A Fraud’ Over Americans)

“I’m calling on every member of Congress to sign the discharge petition when it ripens in a few weeks so that we can bring this bill to the floor, have this debate where all the country can see that this process, this grisly process, barbaric process of murdering babies when they are born alive is legal in many states and, in fact, needs to be stopped,” Scalise said.

WATCH:

Republican Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson requested unanimous consent Tuesday to allow a vote on the aforementioned bill, however, Democrats ruled the request out of order. Johnson’s microphone was abruptly cut off after attempting to speak further.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is not about Republicans or Democrats — this is about life. This is about a child who survives an abortion, just the same as any newborn being able to survive. They need care,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at the press conference. “We shouldn’t have to be talking about this, but we look at what’s moving across the country, the extreme of what the Democrats have moved to.”

“Last night on the floor, for the 17th time, we asked to bring up the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. For the 17th Time, the Democrats refused,” he continued. “Every time, those in the chair say it’s not agreed upon on both sides. There’s no objection on the Republican side to bring the bill up, it’s only on one side.”

Following the press conference, Republican Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup offered the unanimous consent request to consider the Born Alive bill and the legislation was rejected for the 18th time. House Republicans reportedly plan to ask Democrats again Thursday.

Follow Molly @mollyfprince

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Source: The Daily Caller

A demonstrator offers a flower to a police officer as teachers and students take part in a protest demanding immediate political change in Algiers,
A demonstrator offers a flower to a police officer as teachers and students take part in a protest demanding immediate political change in Algiers, Algeria March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

March 13, 2019

By Lamine Chikhi and Hamid Ould Ahmed

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria’s government on Wednesday declared itself ready for talks with protesters seeking rapid political change, saying it sought a ruling system based on “the will of the people” after opposition groups rejected proposed reforms as inadequate.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday reversed a decision to seek a fifth term in the face of weeks of mass rallies by protesters fed up with authoritarian rule and decades of economic and political stagnation.

But the initiative by Bouteflika, who also delayed elections and said a conference would be held to discuss political changes, has failed to satisfy many Algerians who continue to want power to move to a younger generation with fresh ideas.

“Dialogue is our duty. Our top priority is to bring together all Algerians,” deputy prime minister Ramtane Lamamra told state radio.

“The new system will be based on the will of the people,” he said, adding participants in a conference to write a new constitution would include mainly young people and women.

Earlier, Armed Forces Chief of Staff and deputy defense minister Ahmed Gaed Salah told Ennahar TV the army would preserve Algeria’s security “in all circumstances and conditions”.

Tens of thousands of people from all social classes have demonstrated over the last three weeks against corruption, unemployment and a ruling class dominated by the military and veterans of the 1954-62 independence war against France.

The protests have shaken up a long moribund political scene marked by decades of social and economic malaise and behind-the-scenes power broking by an influential military establishment.

CRITICISM FROM CELEBRATED WAR VETERAN

In an unusual sign of a rift within the political elite, a prominent independence war veteran described Bouteflika’s plan for reform and political transition as a “coup d’etat.”

Former guerrilla fighter Djamila Bouhired said Algeria’s post-independence governments had continued to be subject to what she called France’s tutelage, something she said was illustrated by French President Emmanuel Macron’s support for Bouteflika’s initiative.

“The latest revealing sign of these perverse links of neocolonial domination, the support of the French president for the coup d’etat programmed by his Algerian counterpart is an aggression against the Algerian people…,” she wrote in a letter to El Watan daily.

Young Algerians have no bond with the independence war except through their grandparents. Their priorities are to find jobs and better services that the North African country is failing to provide despite its oil and gas.

In an illustration of the disconnect between the aging Bouteflika and restless young Algerians, the president announced his transition plan in a letter to a nation where people vent frustrations through social media.

“When you read the letter closely, it is very crafty. He says ‘I’m retiring’, but the further you read on, the clearer it becomes that it’s a ruse, that he’s side-stepping and hedging,” said Kader Abderrahim, analyst at Sciences Po university in France.

“It’s about extending his fourth mandate into eternity. It took Algerians only a few hours to realize what was going on and to understand what he was up to.”

The pressure on Bouteflika — who has ruled for 20 years but has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013 — is unrelenting.

A mass protest is planned in Algiers for Friday.

On Wednesday, school teachers held a strike in several cities and were joined by other Algerians.

“We want to uproot the system,” said 25-year-old student Messaoud Meki.

(Additional by Sophie Louet in Paris; Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

A picture of Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is seen next to a candidate of Palang Pracharat party on an election campaign poster in Bangkok
A picture of Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is seen next to a candidate of Palang Pracharat party on an election campaign poster in Bangkok, Thailand, March 9, 2019. Picture taken March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

March 13, 2019

By Panu Wongcha-um

BANGKOK (Reuters) – When Thai voters go to polls on March 24 in the first elections since a military coup, there will be at least three parties on the ballot openly campaigning to keep the military in power through democracy.

At a recent rally of the pro-army Palang Pracharat party, a speaker laid out the case for electing junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power from an elected government when he was army chief in 2014 in the second coup in a decade.

“Throughout his time in power, the country has been at peace and he has worked for the people,” party co-founder Suriya Juangroongruangkit told thousands of supporters in Samut Prakan, a province south of Bangkok

“This kind of dictatorship, the kind that benefits the people, do you all want him? Do you want him to stay in power?” Suriya asked.

The crowd enthusiastically shouted approval. And they could get their way in the general election.

After two coups and years of military rule, it might seem counterintuitive that a significant segment of Thai voters would want to enshrine military rule with a democratic stamp of approval, a sort of hybrid, martial democracy.

But pro-military parties have a built-in advantage under new electoral rules written by the junta.

They have also made powerful campaign appeals invoking traditional Thai values of loyalty to the monarchy and seeking harmony instead of conflict.

Thai politics has been anything but harmonious in the past 15 years, with both opponents and supporters of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra taking to the streets and at times paralyzing government and commerce.

Polarization between the largely rural-based “red shirt” supporters of Thaksin and mainly urban-based “yellow shirts”, who support the royalist military establishment, has resulted in outbreaks of violent protests, judicial intervention to oust governments and the two coups.

Thaksin himself lives in self-imposed exile after being toppled in a 2006 coup and convicted of corruption. Parties loyal to his populist policies have kept on winning elections.

The upcoming election marks the first time that anti-Thaksin parties have so directly campaigned for an army-linked government.

“This election is in a way a referendum on the military government and the military coup over the four and a half years,” Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University told Reuters.

NATION, BUDDHISM, KING

As the junta leader, Prayuth has not officially campaigned for Palang Pracharat, but he has made references to staying on in his job.

“Could I have the love and unity back? Could there be no more conflicts? Promise me and the country. I will bring the country forward,” a smiling Prayuth told supporters in northeastern Khon Kaen province as he visited a new train station.

“Who is still with me?” he asked at another point, prompting applause. He later posed for selfies with supporters.

Palang Pracharat, which was formed last year, has been using nationalism, which is centered on the three pillars of nation, Buddhism and the monarchy, as a device to promote Prayuth as well as to tarnish their opponents.

Some party rallies have recently started playing not only the national anthem but also the anthem of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is to be officially crowned just six weeks after the election after taking the throne upon the death of his revered father in 2016 after a 70-year reign.

Thailand ended absolute monarchy in 1932, but reverence for the king is deep-rooted and the military portrays itself as the guardian of the monarchy.

Palang Pracharat groups former cabinet ministers of the military government as well as veteran politicians from established parties. It argues that it can close the chapter on the Thaksin era and rid the nation of conflict.

In arguing for keeping Prayuth in power, it gives an alternate vision to anti-Thaksin voters who have previously supported the pro-establishment Democrat Party.

‘PARLIAMENTARY DICTATORSHIP’

Conservative Thais who filled the ranks of the yellow shirt protests abhor the confrontational-style and what they see as profligate policies of the former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin, who they accuse of buying election victories with handouts.

“Before the coup, there were lots of problems in parliament and also many protests,” Suporn Atthawong, 54, a former pro-Thaksin activist now running for a constituency seat for Palang Pracharat in northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima told Reuters.

“They called it democracy, but in reality it was a parliamentary dictatorship,” he said.

In questioning the efficacy and cultural value of democracy, Thailand’s pro-military parties hint at a throwback to old-style “strong man” government in a region that has seen a new authoritarianism, characterized by Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodia’s Hun Sen.

Prayuth can count on the support of at least two other newly created parties – the People’s Reform Party and the Action Coalition for Thailand Party.

Perhaps most importantly, he stands to benefit from electoral rules that allow the junta to appoint the entire 250-seat upper house Senate, which would give him a big head start in the race to 376 votes in parliament – 50 percent of seats in both houses, plus one – needed to choose the prime minister.

But the pro-military parties are by no means guaranteed an election win.

The main pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai party, which was ousted from power in 2014 and in 2006, retains solid support.

Pheu Thai’s main prime ministerial candidate, Sudarat Keyuraphan, said her party was contesting despite the military dominance of the process because it thinks it can gain enough seats to form a coalition with other parties seeking to end military rule.

“There are many new parties. But in the end, there are only two choices – a choice extending Prayuth’s rule … and the other choice is those parties that want to end the dictatorship,” Sudarat said.

(Additional report Panarat Thepgumpanat in Bangkok and Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Khon Kaen; Editing by Kay Johnson and Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Officials attend the meeting of Xinjiang delegation on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC), at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
(L-R) Nayim Yasen, deputy director of the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the National PeopleÕs Congress (NPC), Shewket Imin, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang Chairman Shohrat Zakir, and Sun Jinlong, party secretary of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Production and Construction Corps, attend the meeting of Xinjiang delegation on the sidelines of the NPC at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 12, 2019

By Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is running boarding schools not concentration camps in the far western region of Xinjiang, its governor said on Tuesday, as the United States called conditions there “completely unacceptable”.

China has faced growing international opprobrium for what it says are vocational training centers in Xinjiang, a vast region bordering central Asia that is home to millions of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

Activists say there is a network of mass detention camps there holding more than a million people, part of a crackdown that Beijing says is needed to stem the threat of Islamist extremism.

The U.S. government has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including on the Communist Party boss there, Chen Quanguo, who as a member of the powerful politburo is in the upper echelons of China’s leadership.

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir, the region’s most senior Uighur official who ranks below Chen, said that there had not been any violent attacks in more than two years and three months since the government adopted “a series of measures” to combat terror and extremism.

“Some international voices say Xinjiang has concentration camps and re-education camps,” Shohrat Zakir told a briefing on the sidelines of China’s annual largely rubber-stamp parliament.

“These kinds of statements are completely fabricated lies, and are extraordinarily absurd,” he said.

“They are the same as boarding schools,” he said, adding that the personal freedoms of the “students” were guaranteed.

Chen, who attended what was one of the most eagerly anticipated briefings of China’s parliamentary session by foreign media, did not answer questions on the camps.

POSSIBLE SANCTIONS

Former detainees, however, have described to Reuters being tortured during interrogation at the camps, living in crowded cells and being subjected to a brutal daily regimen of party indoctrination that drove some people to suicide. (https://tinyurl.com/y9zzouss)

Some of the sprawling facilities in the region are ringed with razor wire and watch towers.

U.S. officials have said China has made criminal many aspects of religious practice and culture in Xinjiang, including punishment for teaching Muslim texts to children and bans on parents giving their children Uighur names.

Academics and journalists have documented grid-style police checkpoints across Xinjiang and mass DNA collection, and human rights advocates have decried martial law-type conditions there.

Chen made his mark swiftly after taking the top post in Xinjiang in 2016, with mass “anti-terror” rallies conducted in the region’s largest cities involving tens of thousands of paramilitary troops and police.

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is seeking access to China to verify continuing reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly of Muslims in Xinjiang.

U.S. ambassador for religious freedom Sam Brownback, speaking from Taipei on a teleconference call with reporters, said the situation in Xinjiang was “completely unacceptable” and that sanctions against Chinese officials under the Global Magnitsky Act remained a “possibility”.

That act is a federal law that allows the U.S. government to target human rights violators around the world with freezes on any U.S. assets, U.S. travel bans and prohibitions on Americans doing business with them.

Brownback added that dialogue between Washington and Beijing on the issue had made little headway thus far, calling discussions “more of a dual monologue”.

“The monologue back from China initially was that they denied the (detention camps) even existed and then the statement was that these are vocational training facilities which the people are appreciative of, which we just don’t agree with,” he said.

China has warned that it would retaliate “in proportion” against any U.S. sanctions.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Philip Wen; Additional reporting by Lusha Zhang)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi speaks to the media after Security Council consultations at the United Nations headquarters in New York
FILE PHOTO: UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi speaks to the media after Security Council consultations at the United Nations headquarters in New York May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

March 12, 2019

ALGIERS (Reuters) – A veteran Algerian diplomat and protest groups will join a conference planning the country’s future after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika yielded to mass demonstrations and agreed not to run again, a government source said on Tuesday.

Lakhdar Brahimi, a former foreign minister and U.N. special envoy, is expected to chair the conference, the source told Reuters. It will oversee the transition, draft a new constitution and set the date for elections.

Bouteflika, 82, abandoned his bid for a fifth term in power on Monday, bowing to weeks of rallies against his 20-year rule by people demanding a new era of politics in a country dominated by an old guard.

Crowds celebrated late into Monday night and were back on the streets of central Algiers on Tuesday chanting: “We want this system to go”.

“The whole system must disappear immediately. Our battle will continue,” said Noureddine Habi, 25.

After meeting the president on Monday, Brahimi praised protesters for acting responsibly, saying on state television that it was necessary to “turn this crisis into a constructive process”.

Algerians have grown tired of the ailing leader and other veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France who have dominated a country with high unemployment, poor services and rampant corruption.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Bouteflika’s decision opened a new chapter and called for a “reasonable duration” to the transition period.

Algeria’s powerful military is expected to play a behind-the-scenes role during the transition and is currently considering several civilians as candidates for the presidency and other top positions, political sources said.

One of them includes a prominent lawyer and activist Mustafa Bouchachi, who has gained a wide following on Facebook during the protests.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi, Hamid Ould Ahmed; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Heavens)

Source: OANN

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta
Indonesia’s presidential candidate Joko Widodo speaks during a debate with his opponent Prabowo Subianto (not pictured) in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

March 12, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – With just over a month to go to an Indonesian election, President Joko Widodo holds a double-digit lead over his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, according to an opinion poll released this week.

The April 17 election in the world’s third-largest democracy will be a re-run of the 2014 race, which saw Widodo beat Prabowo by almost six percentage points.

Widodo appears to be enjoying an advantage as the incumbent this time, with several recent surveys showing him likely to win about 55 percent of the vote, while Prabowo – as he is known in Indonesia – trails with about 32 percent.

The number of undecided voters had dwindled to about 13 percent from nearly 25 percent a few months ago, Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) said in a survey conducted at the end of January and released this week.

“There is no element of surprise that’s hard to quantify in this election. The economy, politics and security are stable so it’s hard to see any significant game changer in the next month,” said Djayadi Hanan, a researcher at SMRC.

Several other pollsters, including Populi Center, Cyrus Network, and Australia-based Roy Morgan, also showed Widodo with a similar lead over his rival based on surveys conducted in January.

The six-month campaign began slowly but has picked up pace in recent weeks with televised debates between the candidates and rallies across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.

Some analysts have said the debates have been a missed opportunity for Prabowo, who has struggled to land any big blows against the president, who has appeared workman-like and sought to stress the achievements in areas such as infrastructure construction while in office.

The challenger’s running mate, private equity tycoon Sandiaga Uno, has appeared to generate a buzz on the campaign trail while also proving popular online, especially among young voters and women.

Widodo saw a strong lead nearly wiped out in the last election amid a smear campaign of false accusations that he was not a Muslim and the son of Chinese communists – both sensitive issues in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

To bolster his religious credentials, Widodo has picked as his running mate a senior Muslim cleric, Ma’ruf Amin.

“The opposition has found it hard (but not impossible) to use identity politics attacks against Jokowi in this election, following the selection of the Islamist Ma’ruf Amin as the president’s running mate,” Eurasia Group said in a note, referring to the president by his nickname.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Jewish millennials who say they are tired of the Democratic Party's "blatant disregard for anti-Semitism" have launched a movement called "Jexodus" that encourages Jews to support Republicans, The Jewish Voice has reported.

While many Jexodus members have beliefs that are more aligned with Democrats, they say anti-Israel agendas and even anti-Semitism are becoming more prominent in the party.

For decades, Democrats has often taken Jewish support for granted, with the party winning at least the plurality of the Jewish vote in every presidential election since the State of Israel was founded more than 70 years ago, according to The Daily Wire.

But the Democratic Party has faced recent backlash following Rep. Ilhan Omar's, D-Minn., anti-Semitic comments, according to The Jewish Voice. Even though the party largely criticized her statements, it failed to push through a resolution in the House specifically condemning Omar's anti-Semitism, passing instead a watered-down version that focused on many types of bigotry, including anti-Muslim hatred.

In a press release at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference last Friday, the group said "We reject the hypocrisy, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism of the rising far-left. Progressives, Democrats, and far too many old-school Jewish organizations take our support for granted . . . We're done standing with supposed Jewish leaders and allegedly supportive Democrats who rationalize, mainstream, and promote our enemies."

Jexodus national spokeswoman Elizabeth Pipko told The Daily Wire that "We need to help encourage and support young Jews to feel safe and proud enough to feel unafraid to stand up for themselves and their beliefs."

Jexodus, a play on words relating to the Jewish people's exodus from Egyptian slavery, will begin holding rallies in April in New York and Florida around the time of Passover, the holiday which commemorates the biblical event.

Source: NewsMax

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures during his daily news conference at National Palace in Mexico City
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures during his daily news conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

March 10, 2019

By Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Three months into his presidency, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has already spent more time facing the press corps than his predecessor did in his entire six-year term.

And the people love it.

Standing at the center of a stage for his news conferences at 7 a.m. every weekday, Lopez Obrador has used the platform to swat at initial skepticism from financial markets and cement his hold on Mexico after a landslide election win last summer.

The president’s approval rates are soaring. But if in time things go wrong, he will still be out in front on his own.

Dictating debate much as U.S. President Donald Trump has via Twitter, the news conferences have muscled aside breakfast news programming and reduced other political leaders, including his own cabinet, to bystanders at Lopez Obrador’s parade.

“There’s nothing between him and the people, not even oxygen,” said Jesus Ortega, an erstwhile ally who ran the 2006 presidential campaign that Lopez Obrador lost by a whisker.

As promised, the veteran leftist has slashed public sector pay, given up presidential perks and launched one welfare program after another at rallies around the country, replacing existing social security schemes with more direct transfers.

Throughout, he has kept a steady stream of verbal fire trained on dissenting voices or checks on his power, including critical media, civil society groups or independent regulatory bodies – while reaffirming his belief in free speech and transparency.

Relentlessly hammering home his commitment to end Mexico’s chronic inequality, he has often used his media gatherings to denounce previous “neo-liberal” administrations he accuses of ruining Mexico, such as that of his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto, who very rarely faced reporters at live news conferences.

Voters have lapped it up.

“He’s doing well,” said Joel Carrillo, a 52-year-old car valet in Mexico City who supports Lopez Obrador. “He’s taking away lots of privileges from the politicians.”

In his July election, Lopez Obrador triumphed with 53 percent of the vote. Now, as his administration reaches the 100-day mark on Sunday, the president has the support of almost four out of five Mexicans, according to one recent opinion poll.

“For the moment, he is completely invulnerable and completely indestructible,” said Agustin Barrios Gomez, a former lawmaker and board member of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI). “He owns the country.”

Financial markets are not impressed.

Rating agencies have issued a series of warnings that Mexico’s creditworthiness may be downgraded if Lopez Obrador cannot turn around state oil firm Pemex, which ended 2018 with more than $100 billion of financial debt.

Lopez Obrador said the agencies were punishing Mexico for failed policies from the “neo-liberal” era. Still, a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the president was more concerned than he let on about the agencies’ views.

If economic problems do arise, Lopez Obrador would struggle to evade blame, said car valet Carrillo.

“He’s not taking help from his ministers,” he said. “He’s taking all the responsibility on himself.”

ACHILLES’ HEEL

Diplomats, politicians and members of his own government tend to agree the economy is Lopez Obrador’s Achilles’ heel.

The president has pushed consumer confidence to its highest level since at least 2001. But that has yet to translate into tangible gains for the economy. Forecasters are paring back their growth expectations for 2019.

Car sales dropped in February by over 5 percent. By Friday, Mexico’s main share index had fallen for 10 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the latest data for Mexican retail sales and fixed capital investment showed significant declines in December.

Business leaders were furious when Lopez Obrador scrapped a part-built, $13 billion new Mexico City airport and triggered billions of dollars of losses on Mexican markets. His steps to undo measures by Pena Nieto aimed at luring private capital to the oil and gas industry further soured sentiment.

Lopez Obrador argued the airport was tainted by corruption. And he has long espoused the belief Mexico must keep its own oil – even if he has yet to entirely rule out continuing the auctions of oil and gas fields that Pena Nieto started.

The problem for Mexico, said Barrios Gomez at COMEXI, is that the rhetoric of Lopez Obrador and his more ideological allies have almost made investment a dirty word.

“When somebody says investment, in their minds they translate it as bourgeoisie getting rich,” he said.

And the more moderate aides were unlikely to pick a fight with Lopez Obrador over the economy because they owed him their jobs, noted Ortega, his former campaign chief.

For now, the president would continue to blame previous governments for economic difficulties, he added. But in due course, others would pay the price.

“When something goes wrong, he won’t hesitate to make heads roll,” said Ortega.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN

People shout slogans during a rally to protest against tightening state control over internet in Moscow
People shout slogans during a rally to protest against tightening state control over internet in Moscow, Russia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

March 10, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow and two other cities on Sunday to rally against tighter internet restrictions, in some of the biggest protests in the Russian capital in years.

Lawmakers last month backed tighter internet controls contained in legislation they say is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs. But some Russian media likened it to an online “iron curtain” and critics say it can be used to stifle dissent.

People gathered in a cordoned off Prospekt Sakharova street in Moscow, made speeches on a stage and chanted slogans such as “hands off the internet” and “no to isolation, stop breaking the Russian internet”.

The rally gathered around 15,300 people, according to White Counter, an NGO that counts participants at rallies. Moscow police put the numbers at 6,500.

“If we do nothing it will get worse. The authorities will keep following their own way and the point of no return will be passed”, said 28-year-old protester Dmitry, who declined to give his full name.

Opposition activists said on Twitter that police had detained 15 people at the Moscow rally, confiscating their banners and balloons. Police have not announced any detentions.

The protests in Moscow, the southern city of Voronezh and Khabarovsk in the far east had all been officially authorized. A handful of activists in St. Petersburg took to the streets without the authorities’ consent.

Russia has in recent years attempted to curb internet freedoms by blocking access to certain websites and messaging services such as Telegram.

February’s bill passed in the Russian parliament on the first reading out of three.

It seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the state and proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The second reading is planned in March after which, if passed, the bill will need to be signed by the upper house of the parliament and then by President Vladimir Putin.

The legislation is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet segment.

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in recent years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

(Reporting by Maria Vasilyeva and Shamil Zhumatov; Writing by Andrey Kuzmin; Editing by Matthias Williams and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana
FILE PHOTO: The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

March 10, 2019

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Monday will ask the U.S. Congress for an additional $8.6 billion to help pay for the wall he promised to build on the southern border with Mexico to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking, officials familiar with his 2020 budget request told Reuters.

The demand is more than six times what Congress allocated for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 percent more than Trump has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year.

Democrats, who oppose the wall as unnecessary and immoral, control the U.S. House of Representatives, making it unlikely the Republican president’s request will win congressional passage. Republicans control the Senate.

The proposal comes on the heels of a bruising battle with Congress over wall funding that resulted in a five-week partial federal government shutdown that ended in January, and could touch off a sequel just ahead of a trifecta of ominous fiscal deadlines looming this fall.

Regardless of whether Congress passes it, the budget request could help Trump frame his argument on border security as the 2020 presidential race begins to take shape, with the president seeking re-election.

“Build the wall” was one of his signature campaign pledges in his first run for office in 2016. “Finish the wall” is already a feature of his re-election campaign, a rallying cry plastered across banners and signs at his campaign rallies.

“It gives the president the ability to say he has fulfilled his commitment to gain operational control of the southwest border,” an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of the budget request.

“We have provided the course of action, the strategy and the request to finish the job. It’s a question of, will Congress allow us to finish the job,” a second administration official said.

Funding legislation needs to be passed before Oct. 1 – the start of the 2020 federal fiscal year – or the government could shut down again. If Congress and the White House fail to agree to lift mandatory spending caps set in a 2011 law, steep automatic cuts in many programs would kick in. Around the same time, Trump and lawmakers must agree to lift the debt ceiling, or risk a default, which would have chaotic economic fallout.

722 MILES OF WALL

Trump’s wall request is based off a 2017 plan put forward by Customs and Border Protection officials to build or replace 722 miles (1,162 km) of barrier along the border, which in total is estimated to cost about $18 billion.

So far, only 111 miles (179 km) have been built or are underway, officials said. In fiscal 2017, $341 million in funding was allocated for 40 miles (64 km) of wall, and in 2018, another $1.375 billion was directed to 82 miles (132 km).

For fiscal 2019, Trump demanded $5.7 billion in wall funds, but Congress appropriated only $1.375 billion for border fencing projects.

Following the rejection of his wall funding demand, Trump declared the border was a national emergency – a move opposed by Democrats and some Republicans – and redirected $601 million in Treasury Department forfeiture funds, $2.5 billion in Defense Department drug interdiction funds and $3.6 billion from a military construction budget, for total spending of $8.1 billion for the wall.

The administration has not estimated how far the 2019 funds will go, but officials said average costs are about $25 million per mile (1.6 km).

Trump’s $8.6 billion in proposed wall funding for fiscal 2020 would include $5 billion from the Department of Homeland Security budget and $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction budget. The budget proposal will also include another $3.6 million in military construction funding to make up for any projects delayed by the wall, officials said.

The Department of Homeland Security is one of a few priority areas to get a boost in Trump’s budget plan, which seeks to slash funding to many non-defense programs.

Trump will propose an overall 5 percent increase to the Department of Homeland Security budget over fiscal 2019 appropriations, including $3.3 billion, or 22 percent more, for Customs and Border Protection, and $1.2 billion more for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a 16 percent hike, officials said.

The budget proposal includes a plan to hire more than 2,800 law enforcement and support personnel for the agencies, and 100 immigration judge teams, officials said.

Trump faces both political and court battles to free up the money he wants for the current fiscal year. Many lawmakers accused Trump of overstepping his constitutional powers by declaring an emergency to free up the funds. The House has already voted to revoke the emergency, and the Senate is likely to do the same this week. Trump is expected to veto the resolution.

A coalition of state governments led by California has sued Trump to block the emergency move, though legal experts have said the lawsuits face a difficult road.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

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

March 8, 2019

By Khalid Abdelaziz

CAIRO (Reuters) – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir on International Women’s Day on Friday ordered the release of all women arrested in connection with anti-government demonstrations, hours after protesters marched in the two largest cities.

Sudan has seen near-daily protests against Bashir since Dec. 19. The demonstrations were triggered by price increases and cash shortages but developed into the most sustained challenge to Bashir since he took power in a military coup three decades ago.

During a meeting on Friday, Bashir told the head of the security and intelligence service to release all women who have been detained in connection with the protests, according to a presidency statement. Anti-government activists estimate that more than 150 women are currently in prison for participating in protests.

Earlier, hundreds of protesters chanted anti-government slogans after leaving Friday prayers at a major mosque linked to the opposition Umma party in the city of Omdurman, near Sudan’s capital, drawing tear-gas volleys from police, eyewitnesses said.

Crowds also gathered in several areas of the capital Khartoum after prayers, witnesses said. In the neighborhood of Burri, dozens chanted “the revolution is the choice of the people” and “fall, that’s it”, to send the message that their only demand is Bashir’s departure. Police later fired tear gas and chased protesters through side streets to disperse them.

Last month Bashir declared a state of emergency, dissolved the central government, replaced state governors with security officials, expanded police powers and banned unlicensed public gatherings.

That has not stopped the protesters, hundreds of whom also demonstrated on Thursday under a women’s day theme.

Since the emergency measures came into effect last month, courts have been trying protesters in evening sessions, sparking more rallies outside court buildings.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region, which he denies. He has been lobbying for Sudan to be removed from a list of countries Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism.

The listing has blocked the investment and financial aid that Sudan was hoping for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.

Sudan has been rapidly expanding its money supply in an attempt to finance its budget deficit, causing spiraling inflation and a steep decline in the value of its currency.

(Additional reporting by Hesham Hajali; Writing by Lena Masri; editing by William Maclean and Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders asserted that the U.S. Senate starves little children and bombs buses full of kids in an official campaign video released Friday.

The video was created with actress Sarah Silverman, and it starts with the senator saying that no one is allowed to use “bad words” in the Senate chamber. After Silverman acts shocked that she can’t use bad words in the Senate, Bernie follows up.

“No, no, this is the U.S. Senate — we just starve little children, we go bomb houses and buses of children, and we give tax breaks to billionaires, but we don’t use dirty words!” Sanders chided.

Surprisingly, this is a video put out by Bernie’s campaign committee, People for Bernie. The group also sent a tweet afterward that attempted to fundraise off the video, saying “put $2.70 in the swear jar.” (RELATED: Bernie Locks Up The Socialist Vote Before The Primary Even Starts)

Sanders recently announced he would run for president as a Democrat in the 2020 election. He held multiple rallies in New York and Iowa to kick off his race.

Source: The Daily Caller

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

March 8, 2019

CAIRO (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters chanted anti-government slogans after leaving prayers at a major mosque near Sudan’s capital on Friday, drawing tear-gas volleys from police, eyewitnesses said.

The demonstration in the city of Omdurman, which started outside Al-Sayed Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi mosque that has ties to the opposition Umma party, was the latest in a series of protests against President Omar al-Bashir.

The protests, which started on Dec. 19, have developed into the most persistent challenge to Bashir’s rule since he took power 30 years ago.

Crowds also gathered in several areas in the capital Khartoum after prayers, witnesses said. In the neighborhood of Burri, dozens chanted “the revolution is the choice of the people” and “fall, that’s it”, to send the message that their only demand is Bashir’s fall.

Last month Bashir declared a state of emergency, dissolved the central government, replaced state governors with security officials, expanded police powers and banned unlicensed public gatherings.

Emergency courts have since been trying protesters in evening sessions, sparking more rallies outside court buildings.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region, which he denies. He has been lobbying for Sudan to be removed from a list of countries Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism.

The listing has blocked the investment and financial aid that Sudan was hoping for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.

Sudan has been rapidly expanding its money supply in an attempt to finance its budget deficit, causing spiraling inflation and a steep decline in the value of its currency.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, writing by Lena Masri, editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Protesters take part in a demonstration during a nationwide feminist strike on International Women's Day in Madrid
FILE PHOTO: Protesters take part in a demonstration during a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in Madrid, Spain, March 8, 2018. The banner reads: Equality!”. REUTERS/Susana Vera -/File Photo

March 8, 2019

By Sabela Ojea and Belén Carreño

MADRID (Reuters) – Global campaigners are showcasing events to mark Women’s Day on Friday with the slogan ‘a balanced world is a better world’ – but in Spain the gender equality debate is sowing divisions that appear deeper than ever.

Last March 8, hundreds of thousands joined the country’s first women’s strike in protest at inequality between the sexes. One year on, the mood is different.

In a society where the emergence since then of Vox, a new far-right party, is tapping into pockets of nostalgia for a staunchly traditionalist past, women’s rights have become a pivotal topic in campaigning for national elections due on April 28.

Vox opposes a landmark law on gender violence that Spain passed in 2004.

In a video it posted on social media, some of its female supporters compared feminism to an “ideological burqa” and brandished “Don’t speak in my name” placards in protest at the strikes, rallies and other events planned for Friday.

A smaller, ultra-conservative group this week drove buses around Spain flanked with the slogan #StopFeminazis.

Both groups say the 2004 law, which protects women from violence from partners or ex-partners, discriminates against men. They want it scrapped and replaced with legislation covering all forms of domestic violence.

“We won’t take part in the March 8th feminist strike because it denigrates women by treating them as weak and helpless people,” tweeted Vox.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s outgoing Socialist government, meanwhile, wants the law reinforced, while opinions in the mainstream conservative People’s Party (PP) opposition are divided.

‘REACTING AGAINST FEMINISM’

Opinion polls expect Vox, which also opposes abortion, to become the first far-right party to win seats in the lower parliamentary house – possibly up to one in seven – in four decades.

Part of its success is down to the way it has tapped into resentment in some quarters against years of focus on women’s rights and violence against women. Some 70 percent of its backers are men, a GAD3 poll published in January showed.

“Vox is a community of voters that is reacting against feminism,” said Belen Barreiro, director of the 40DB research institute.

Killings of women at the hands of current or ex-partners systematically get prominent coverage in Spanish media, and hundreds of thousands took part last year in protests over a court’s ruling on a gang rape that many judged too lenient.

A Metroscopia survey in February showed 77 percent of Vox voters consider that Spain’s gender violence laws have left men vulnerable. That compares with a still eye-catching 44 percent of voters of all political stripes.

CONFRONTATION?

On the other side, the Socialists have made the fight for gender equality a top priority in their campaign. Days after calling the election – in which no single party is forecast to win a workable majority – Sanchez’s government adopted measures to boost gender equality, including increasing paternity leave.

The PP’s position is less clear, and the question of gender equality could potentially be an issue if PP, Vox and the center-right Ciudadanos were to try and form a coalition government after the election.

PP leader Pablo Casado said the party would not take part in Women’s Day protests because it considers far-left parties are seeking to use them to stir confrontation between the sexes.

“I don’t want a country that opposes my daughter to my son,” Casado told supporters on Thursday.

Some PP officials have publicly criticized previous comments by Casado calling for curbs on abortion – a move he said would make it easier to plug Spain’s pension deficit.

PP official Marta González told Reuters there were many different views on this issue in the party, saying the conservatives stood for equality between men and women.

Opinion polls show Sanchez’s Socialists leading voting intentions for April 28, with the PP and Ciudadanos next and Vox and far-left Podemos vying for fourth spot.

The GAD3 poll showed Sanchez’s Socialists and Casado’s PP as attracting the biggest proportion of women’s votes, at 53.2 percent and 53.3 percent respectively. A CIS poll showed there were more undecided voters among women than men.

(Writing and additional reporting by Ingrid Melander; editing by John Stonestreet)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A signboard is seen outside the premises of Supreme Court in New Delhi
FILE PHOTO: A signboard is seen outside the premises of Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo

March 8, 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Supreme Court appointed an arbitration panel on Friday to mediate in a decades-long dispute over a controversial plan to build a Hindu temple on the ruins of a 16th-century mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya.

With a general election looming in coming months, conservative Hindu allies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have ratcheted up their longstanding demand for the construction of a temple.

In 1992, a militant Hindu mob tore down the mosque triggering riots that killed about 2,000 people in one of the worst instances of communal violence in India since the 1947 partition of the country.

While holding control over the controversial site in Uttar Pradesh State, the Supreme Court has been weighing petitions from both communities on what should be built there.

On Friday, the court appointed former judge F. M. Kalifulla to head an arbitration panel that includes spiritual guru Ravi Shankar and senior lawyer Sriram Panchu.

The process of mediation should start within a week and the panel should be able to wrap up its work in eight weeks, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

India is due to hold a general election by May.

Earlier, a five-judge panel, headed by Gogoi, had asked both Hindu and Muslim groups involved in the case to explore the possibility of resolving their dispute through mediation.

Hindu groups say there was a temple at the site before the mosque was built by a Muslim ruler in 1528, and the dispute has fueled ill-feeling between India’s majority Hindus and minority Muslims, who make up around 14 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

Groups affiliated to the BJP had also called for a legislation to allow a temple to be built, bypassing the Supreme Court. But Modi has told Asian News International, a video news agency and partner of Reuters, that the judicial process should be allowed to take its course.

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the World Hindu Council, has led the campaign over the past three decades to build a temple on the site of what Hindus say is the birthplace of Lord Ram, one of their most revered deities.

Over the past few months, the VHP has organized rallies of tens of thousands of monks, activists and other supporters, to press its case.

The resurrection of the issue in the run-up to the election has raised the risk of communal violence. Just ahead of the 2014 general election, about 65 people were killed during religious riots in Uttar Pradesh, and thousands more, most of them Muslims, were forced to flee their homes.

A court in February this year sentenced seven Muslim men to life in prison for killing two Hindu men during the riot.

(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty and Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

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

March 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

A host of Republican congressional members gathered outside the Capitol Building on Tuesday to express opposition to a pair of anti-gun pieces of legislation that House Democrats are poised to bring to the floor for a vote.

“They’re bills that [Democrats are] putting on the floor under the guise of saying that they’re going to address issues related to gun violence — neither one of these bills would have done anything to stop some of the tragedies that we have seen,” Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney told a crowd, referring to the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (HR 8) and the Enhanced Background Checks Act (HR 1112).

WATCH: 

The House is expected to vote on HR 8 and HR 1112 by Friday, which would require a background check for nearly every firearm purchase and a 10-day waiting period for firearms sales, respectively. While neither bill specifically calls for a national gun registry, GOP lawmakers argue neither could be enforced without a federal database in place. (RELATED: Steve Scalise Says Democrats Wouldn’t Allow Him To Testify At House Gun Violence Hearing)

“H.R. 8 is taking the fears and concerns of a nation over gun violence and perpetrating a fraud over them,” said Republican Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. “[Democrats are] praying upon the very victims that they’re wanting to supposedly help by putting a bill out there that will not help them, by constantly bringing up the mass violence instances such as at schools and theaters and others — they’re saying this will help.”

“The problem with this bill, and [Democrats] they just exposed it to themselves, is the Obama administration’s Department of Justice said if you’re going to at least try universal background checks you have to have a registry,” Collins continued.

WATCH: 

Republican Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe, an Army veteran, noted H.R. 1112’s language is “ambiguous” and “vague” and would result in second amendment rights being stripped away from both civilians and veterans without due process.

“These bills turn law-abiding citizens into criminals and it is one more step towards federalized gun registration and ultimately gun confiscation,” Minority Whip Steve Scalise said. “That’s been the intention of many [Democrats] for a long time — they want true gun control and this is the first step, it’s surely not the last.”

Scalise was notably the subject of an assassination attempt after a left-wing activist opened fire while Republicans were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game in 2017. He was shot in the hip and gravely injured during the attack. (RELATED: Liz Cheney Calls Out Kamala Harris For The ‘Fundamental Fraud’ She Espouses: ‘You Can’t Be For The People’)

Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz further criticized Democrats for trying to impose anti-gun legislation that “fails to protect vulnerable people” while simultaneously voting against GOP-sponsored, “common sense” measures like notifying Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) when an illegal immigrant fails a background check.

“This isn’t really about public safety,” Gaetz said. “It’s about blood lust that Democrats have to take away guns from law-abiding citizens.”

While the legislation is likely to pass the House, the White House suggested President Donald Trump may wield his veto if the bills reach his desk.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks to the media in the area of a warehouse where humanitarian aid for Venezuela has been collected in Cucuta
FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country’s rightful interim ruler speaks to the media in the area of a warehouse where humanitarian aid for Venezuela has been collected in Cucuta, Colombia, February 23, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello

February 27, 2019

By Brian Ellsworth and Sarah Marsh

CARACAS (Reuters) – First he declared a rival presidency. Then he made a play for Citgo. Last weekend he flouted a court travel ban. Now, Juan Guaido says he is headed back home to Venezuela in another challenge to President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido, recognized by most Western nations as the country’s legitimate leader, slipped into neighboring Colombia last week to lead an ultimately failed effort to bring humanitarian aid into the crisis-stricken country.

After meeting with regional leaders including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Bogota, Guaido is expected to come back through the porous border in the coming days and resume his political activities in open defiance of a Supreme Court order.

“I’m going to return to Caracas this week,” Guaido said in an interview with NTN24 broadcast on Tuesday. “My role and my duty is to be in Caracas despite the risks.”

He traveled last week from Caracas across the country in a caravan and then slipped into Colombia via back roads along the 2,200 km (1,367 miles) border, according to Colombian local media. Guaido said he received help from members of Venezuela’s armed forces.

Representatives for Guaido declined to disclose a timetable for his return or whether he will return the same way. To return via an official route would pose an even more brazen challenge to Maduro’s authority.

Maduro has faced regional condemnation this week for violently driving back the opposition’s attempts to bring in humanitarian aid. He denies there is a crisis despite overseeing a hyperinflationary economic meltdown that has spawned widespread food and medicine shortages.

Guaido’s return will force Maduro to decide whether to risk even greater international outrage by attempting to arrest the 35-year old congress chief or to allow him to openly disregard state institutions linked to the ruling Socialist Party.

“Trying to manage the Guaido situation has become a real problem for the government because (Guaido) has grown so much politically,” said Luis Salamanca, a political scientist and constitutional law professor at Venezuela’s Central University.

Guaido invoked articles of the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, declaring Maduro a usurper following his 2018 re-election in a vote widely boycotted by the opposition.

State institutions including the chief prosecutor’s office, the Supreme Court, and the comptroller’s officer – all openly allied with Maduro – responded by opening investigations of Guaido.

But no state institution has sought his arrest or even formally accused him of a crime. So far authorities have only frozen his local bank accounts and prohibited foreign travel.

The ruling Socialist Party has in the past clipped the wings of opposition politicians, particularly charismatic challengers, by accusing them of irregularities in managing state funds.

Maduro said in an ABC News interview released on Tuesday that Guaido’s fate was up to the justice system: “He can’t just come and go. He will have to face justice, and justice prohibited him from leaving the country. I will respect the laws.”

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Guaido said his team had a strategy should he be detained, without giving details on what that was.

“A prisoner doesn’t do anyone any good but neither does an exiled president so we are in uncharted waters here,” he said.

KEEPING UP MOMENTUM

Many Venezuelans credit Guaido, a fresh face, with capturing the international community’s attention through his bold move to swear himself in as interim president, galvanizing a once-fractured and weary opposition.

Maduro, who has described his rival as a U.S.-backed puppet, now faces severe international pressure including U.S. sanctions meant to cripple the OPEC nation’s vital oil industry.

“I hope he returns because he has shown himself to be a politician with strength, who has given us hope,” said Martha Sanchez, 65, a receptionist who has lost a third of her weight due to hyperinflation that has left her struggling to buy food on a minimum wage equivalent to less than $10 per month.

Guaido’s attempt to bring humanitarian aid into the country had in particular fueled her hope as she has been unable to find hypertension pills for sale over the past two months.

“No other candidate called for humanitarian aid before,” she said.

To be sure, Guaido’s team also faces a conundrum after that effort failed, allowing Maduro to declare victory even as the images of troops firing tear gas on convoys carrying aid sparked anger around the world.

Guaido’s team has won control over crucial offshore assets including U.S.-based refiner Citgo, but still does not control the ports or central bank, or, most crucially, the armed forces.

“If he doesn’t keep up momentum, he will end up being another failed leader of the opposition,” said Jesus Barreto, a 21-year old student. “He needs to keep challenging the government.”

Maduro’s government has largely allowed him to carry out political activities including rallies and press conferences, and appears unwilling to imprison him – even now that he has openly flouted a legal restriction placed upon him.

“I think they will hold off because it is much more sustainable over time to make your opponent seem ineffective than making yourself appear more like a dictator, especially when there is so much focus on you,” said Raul Gallegos, an analyst with the consultancy Control Risks.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Corina Pons and Vivian Sequera; Editing by Christian Plumb and Phil Berlowitz)

Source: OANN

2019 presidential election in Nigeria
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari talks to the media as he arrives to cast a vote in Nigeria’s presidential election at a polling station in Daura, Katsina State, Nigeria, February 23, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

February 26, 2019

By Alexis Akwagyiram

ABUJA (Reuters) – Muhammadu Buhari, who has secured four more years as Nigeria’s president according to a Reuters tally of election results, proved wrong those who doubted he could survive the blows of recession, militant attacks on oilfields, and Islamist insurgency that blighted his first term.

The former military ruler showed that his pledge to fight corruption remained popular, particularly when combined with promises to extend social welfare programs aimed at feeding the poor and helping young people find work.

Experts had forecast a tough race against his main rival, Atiku Abubakar, a businessman and former vice president who sought to tap into discontent at unemployment and inflation by vowing to create jobs and double the size of Africa’s biggest economy.

Buhari’s comfortable victory caps a remarkable turnaround just two years after many thought the 76-year-old might not survive an undisclosed illness that had forced him to spend nearly half of 2017 being treated in Britain.

He did not respond when asked for comment after a Reuters tally showed he had an unassailable lead over Atiku, having previously stated that he would not discuss the outcome until the electoral commission declared a winner.

Atiku’s party rejected the tallies announced so far as “incorrect and unacceptable”.

But a message posted on Twitter, which had Buhari smiling and surrounded by applauding staff at his campaign office, hinted at celebration.

“I met the very hardworking members of our team, many of them young people, and was briefed on the performance of our party so far in the Presidential Elections. I am very proud of what has been accomplished,” he said.

Buhari’s win came after the opposition People’s Democratic Party had accused the government of election-rigging, which it denied.

MAKING HISTORY

Buhari made history in 2015 as the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box.

That victory marked a fresh chapter for a man who described himself as a “converted democrat” after years in the political wilderness following a stint as the head of a military regime in the early 1980s.

Born on Dec. 17, 1942 in Daura in Katsina state in the north, Buhari spent his career in the army. He seized power in 1983 as military ruler, promising to clean the stables of a mismanaged country but was removed after 18 months by another army general.

As military ruler, Buhari took a tough line on everything from the conditions sought by the International Monetary Fund to unruliness in bus queues, which he brought into line with soldiers armed with whips.

Three decades later, that intransigence emerged again in policies that prevented Nigeria from making a swift recovery from its first recession in 25 years, a slump caused by a collapse in oil prices and attacks on energy facilities by armed gangs looking for a slice of the country’s hydrocarbon wealth.

The euphoria that saw his first election victory greeted by both Muslims and Christians – in a country split almost equally between the two religions – quickly turned to disappointment as the hoped-for injection of discipline failed to emerge.

Voters were prepared to overlook his advanced age and the admission that he was no economic expert, but they were less forgiving when he failed to seek expert advice to combat Nigeria’s first recession in a generation.

Cuts to an amnesty package for former militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta, followed by the deployment of troops to the region, prompted a new round of attacks on energy facilities in 2016 that reduced oil production on which the country depended.

Faced with a slowing economy, Buhari applied the same tools to drag Nigeria out of recession that had failed when he was in power in the 1980s – keeping the currency artificially high as a matter of national pride.

That forced the closure of many businesses that relied on imported goods. His economic policies also meant international investors kept their distance from Nigeria.

His critics also called into question his strongest political asset, his military credentials, when Nigeria was hit by a series of security challenges: the Niger Delta oil attacks, an upsurge in clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the central states, and a resurgence in the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the north.

His re-election campaign had an inauspicious start when he was forced to deny rumors that he had died and been replaced by a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril.

However, even though his appearances at campaign rallies were often restricted to brief moments on stage when he waved to supporters but said little, audiences were large.

The crowds were particularly big in Buhari’s northern heartland, where his anti-corruption message showed he retained the common touch that his tycoon opponent lacked.

That ability to mobilize his base proved to be crucial in carrying him to victory.

“One good term deserves another,” said one of Buhari’s campaign billboards. His victory suggests that, despite the travails of his first term, enough voters agreed with that message.

(Editing by James Macharia and Giles Elgood)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference on Yemen resolution
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference on Yemen resolution on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

February 26, 2019

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three of the top media strategists for Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders stepped away from his 2020 campaign on Tuesday, citing creative differences over their vision for his fledgling White House run.

Prominent consultants Tad Devine, Mark Longabaugh and Julian Mulvey, who played leading roles in Sanders’ insurgent 2016 presidential campaign, said they would not work on the Vermont senator’s 2020 bid for the Democratic nomination, which was launched last week.

“We are leaving because we believe that Senator Sanders deserves to have media consultants who share his creative vision for the campaign,” the three said in a joint statement.

The three are partners in a media consulting firm that produced 275 television, radio and digital ads for the Sanders campaign in the 2016 race. It also put together the video that Sanders used to launch his 2020 campaign, and advised Sanders on his announcement schedule and rollout, Longabaugh said.

In 2016, Devine also served as a top political strategist and frequent spokesman for Sanders, while Longabaugh was a senior adviser and Mulvey was creative director for the ad campaigns. Many of the firm’s 2016 ads drew wide notice and critical acclaim during the campaign.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have worked for Senator Sanders in his historic 2016 campaign for president,” the strategists said in their statement.

According to Federal Election Commission records, the Sanders campaign paid the firm about $5.3 million during the 2016 cycle for its services.

“The campaign appreciates all the good work DML has done and wishes them well,” Sanders’ new campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said in a statement, using an acronym for the firm run by the three.

As he launches his second run, Sanders has been under pressure to bring in a more diverse set of advisers than the largely white inner circle that ran his 2016 bid.

Sanders has already proven to be a fundraising juggernaut in the first week of his presidential run. His campaign said on Tuesday he had raised about $10 million from nearly 360,000 donors in the first week.

He will make his first campaign trail appearances this weekend with rallies in Brooklyn, where he was born and raised, and Chicago.

The split comes after Devine drew attention last year for his connections to former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Devine worked with Manafort to help elect pro-Russian Victor Yanukovich president of Ukraine in 2010.

Manafort has been convicted of multiple felony counts by Special Counsel Robert Mueller related to his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Devine testified at Manafort’s trial, but was not accused of wrongdoing.

Russia has denied meddling in the election. Republican President Donald Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt.

(Reporting by John Whitesides; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Paul Ingrassia | Contributor

First daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump tore into New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” in an interview with Fox News’ Steve Hilton that will air Sunday.

“I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something,” Trump said. “I’ve spent a lot of time traveling around this country over the last four years. People want to work for what they get.”

WATCH:

When prodded by Hilton about her thoughts on the sweeping resolution, which seeks to combat climate change through measures such as investing in high-speed rail and upgrading every building, Trump said:

“So, I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job. They want the ability to live in a country where’s there’s the potential for upward mobility.”

For Trump, this was a rare display of confrontation aimed squarely at progressive Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez. Unlike her father and brothers, the first daughter has largely eschewed contentious policy matters to date, instead choosing to focus her energies on bipartisan areas like women’s economic empowerment and criminal justice reform.

Trump, alongside her husband, Jared Kushner, who also serves as senior adviser to the president, has garnered a reputation as someone willing to reach across the aisle.

These attributes were credited for the successful passage of the First Step Act late in 2018, which was the most comprehensive criminal justice reform bill passed by the Congress in decades. The bill works to achieve prison reform by lowering rates of recidivism. (RELATED: Senate Passes Trump-Backed Criminal Justice Reform Bill)

In addition to these accomplishments, Trump has been a strong advocate of her father’s work on the economy. She resolutely hit on this theme in her interview with Hilton.

“I think fundamentally if you ask yourself the question, ‘Are we better today than we were yesterday or we were 2 years ago?’ the answer is, undoubtedly, yes,” Trump said, hitting on a favorite policy point of President Donald Trump at rallies.

“So, as an American, families sitting down and thinking about their financial situation relative to a month ago or a year ago, America is doing very well and it stands in quite sharp contrast to the rest of the world,” she added .”So, not only are we doing well, much of the world has slowed down in terms of the pace of their growth.”

The complete interview can be seen Sunday on “The Next Revolution” at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Fox News.

Follow Paul Ingrassia on Twitter

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

Source: The Daily Caller

Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaign is experiencing a major shakeup, with several top advisers heading for the exits, just one week after the Vermont senator launched his second bid for the White House.

Three of the top advisers who helped propel the senator’s 2016 White House bid — Tad Devine, Julian Mulvey, and Mark Longabaugh — are parting ways with Sanders, the campaign confirmed Tuesday.

EX-SANDERS SPOKESMAN CALLS HILLARY CLINTON TEAM CHOICE WORDS IN INTERVIEW

Sanders 2020 campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement to Fox News that "the campaign appreciates all the good work DML has done and wishes them well." DML is the name of the political consulting firm headed up by Devine, Mulvey and Longabaugh.

"The entire firm has stepped away. We’re leaving the campaign … We just didn’t have a meeting of the minds,” Longabaugh told NBC News, which was first to report the departure of the senior strategists.

Devine, a veteran political strategist who was a top adviser to the presidential campaigns of then-Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and then-Sen. John Kerry in 2004, served as Sanders’ chief strategist and leading surrogate in 2016. Longabaugh steered the campaign’s game plan for winning delegates and negotiating with the Democratic National Committee. Mulvey played a large role in creating the campaign’s television and digital ads.

Sanders, once a longshot for the 2016 Democratic nomination, crushed Hillary Clinton by 22 percentage points in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, launching him into a marathon battle with the eventual nominee that didn’t end until after the primary and caucus calendar concluded.

BERNIE SANDERS BOASTS OF ‘HISTORIC’ MILESTONE, SAYS 1 MILLION VOLUNTEERS SIGNED UP FOR CAMPAIGN

But this time, Sanders is running in a crowded field with several other liberal Democrats, like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris, with others expected to join the race.

On Monday, Sanders’ campaign sought to demonstrate the enthusiasm for his campaign by reporting that 1 million people had already signed up to volunteer. As of Monday, six days after his campaign launch, the senator also had raised an eye-popping $10 million from over 359,914 donors. Those numbers put him far ahead of his rivals for the nomination in the race for campaign cash.

But Sanders has also drawn fire from former aides to Clinton, who leaked details about Sanders’ use of private jets in 2016 to attend campaign rallies on her behalf. That provoked Sanders’ 2016 campaign spokesman, Michael Briggs, to tell Politico that Clinton’s staff are the "biggest a–holes in American politics," adding that Clinton is “one of the most disliked politicians in America.”

Meanwhile, during a CNN town hall on Monday night, Sanders promised to release his taxes soon but downplayed the unveiling by saying “they’re very boring tax returns.”

Sanders faced some criticism for not releasing his taxes during his marathon 2016 primary battle with Hillary Clinton. He said Monday he would have done so had he beat Clinton.

“If we had won the nomination, we would have done it,” Sanders said.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

ATP 500 - Dubai Tennis Championships
Tennis – ATP 500 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 26, 2019 Japan’s Kei Nishikori in action during his first round match against Benoit Paire of France. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

February 26, 2019

(Reuters) – Kei Nishikori was made to work hard by ailing Frenchman Benoit Paire before winning 6-4 6-3 to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The world number six, making his debut in Dubai, saved seven break points in the first set before taking full advantage of Paire’s troublesome right knee and prevailing in 81 minutes.

“It’s never easy playing Benoit. He has a great serve and a great backhand,” Nishikori said.

“I think the key was the longest game at 2-1 in the first set. I was able to get the game. I was more confident. If he broke back, anything could have happened. It was a good match.”

Top seed Nishikori will next take on Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz who beat another Frenchman in Corentin Moutet 6-3 7-5.

The seeds continued to tumble as Daniil Medvedev and Marin Cilic crashed out in the opening round.

World number 113 Ricardas Berankis stunned eighth seed Medvedev 6-3 6-3 while Frenchman Gael Monfils knocked out third seed and former U.S. Open champion Cilic 6-3 4-6 6-0.

“I was feeling good today. I’m really happy with my game,” 28-year-old Berankis said. “The plan was to stay as close as possible and not to get in his game, which is to get into those long rallies which he loves.”

The Lithuanian qualifier, who won his 11th ATP Challenger title last month in Rennes, faces Denis Kudla next after the American rallied past Matteo Berrettini 2-6 7-5 7-5.

Twice finalist Tomas Berdych faced a stern test from lucky loser Ilya Ivashka before prevailing 6-4 4-6 7-6(4) in two hours and 30 minutes.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

Police try to disperse students who are protesting against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plan to extend his 20-year rule by seeking a fifth term in Algiers
Police try to disperse students who are protesting against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to extend his 20-year rule by seeking a fifth term in Algiers, Algeria, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

February 26, 2019

By Hamid Ould Ahmed and Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Thousands of Algerian students protested in the capital and other cities for a fifth day running on Tuesday against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to extend his 20-year rule by seeking a fifth term, witnesses said.

Despite the rare outpouring of public dissent, Bouteflika’s campaign manager said the president would file formal papers for re-election on March 3, 15 days before the vote.

“It is (his) right to be a candidate,” Abdelmalek Sellal told a crowd in televised remarks.

It was the fifth day of demonstrations but the first covered by state media after its journalists called on their employers to allow them to cover the protests.

Students were demanding that Bouteflika, 81, drop his intention to seek re-election in the April 18 presidential vote.

Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013, has been seen in public only a few times since and has given no known speeches in years.

Protesters, who chanted “peaceful, peaceful”, were also asking for government steps to provide jobs: more than a quarter of Algerians under 30 are unemployed.

“Many young people got their university degree but they are still unemployed,” said a student who gave his name as Djahid.

Dozens marched in central Algiers while hundreds of students held rallies inside faculties as police sought to prevent them leaving the university to link up with counterparts in the streets.

Rallies drawing up to hundreds of people were also held in towns including Bejaia, Tizi Ouzou, Blida and Bouira, residents there told Reuters by telephone.

The state news agency APS said the protesters were demanding “change and reform”.

Bouteflika has not directly addressed the protests. The authorities announced earlier this week that he would be traveling to Geneva for unspecified medical checks, although there was no official confirmation he had left.

TABOO ON OPEN DISSENT BROKEN?

Many Algerians for years avoided politics in public, fearing trouble from the omnipresent security services, or having simply stopped caring as the country has been run by the same group of veterans since the 1954-1962 independence war with France.

Bouteflika himself has ruled since 1999 and is credited with ending a decade-long Islamist insurgency early in his rule. Many Algerians have long tolerated a political system with little space for dissent as a price to pay for peace and stability.

But the new protest waves appears to have broken the long taboo on public discussion of politics.

According to Bouteflika’s opponents, there is no evidence he is in fit enough health to lead the country and that it is being ruled in his name by advisers. Authorities say he retains a firm grip on public affairs despite the rarity of his appearances.

A weak and divided opposition faces high hurdles in mounting an electoral challenge. Since the long-ruling FLN party again picked Bouteflika as its presidential candidate, several parties, trade unions and business groups have endorsed him.

Lower oil prices in recent years have damaged Algeria’s economy, rekindling discontent.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign spokesman unloaded on Hillary Clinton and her team on Monday, calling them the "biggest a–holes in American politics," after former members of Clinton’s campaign leaked details this week about Sanders’ use of private jets to attend campaign rallies on her behalf.

Speaking to Politico, the spokesman, Michael Briggs, proceeded to call Clinton’s staff "total ingrates," given that Sanders claims he billed the Clinton-Kaine campaign for private air travel in order to attend events that he otherwise would have needed to skip.

“You can see why she’s one of the most disliked politicians in America," Briggs said, referring to Clinton. "She’s not nice. Her people are not nice. [Sanders] busted his tail to fly all over the country to talk about why it made sense to elect Hillary Clinton and the thanks that [we] get is this kind of petty stupid sniping a couple years after the fact.”

Briggs added: “It doesn’t make me feel good to feel this way but they’re some of the biggest a–holes in American politics."

"She’s not nice. Her people are not nice."

— Bernie Sanders 2016 spokesman Michael Briggs

FIVE THINGS BERNIE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT SOCIALISM

Several former Clinton staffers, also speaking to Politico, reported that Sanders’ frequent requests for private planes from the campaign became “a running joke in the office" — in part because Sanders is a socialist, and also because he has pushed for the elimination of carbon-generating heavy aircraft in favor of high-speed rail networks. In all, Sanders reportedly billed the Clinton-Kaine campaign approximately $100,000 for air travel.

Some bad blood remains between the Clinton and Sanders camp, according to insiders, in part because of Sanders’ harsh criticisms of Clinton during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

Talking to the liberal “Pod Save America” podcast in 2017, Clinton said she "couldn’t believe" that, because of Sanders, she was forced into "basically defending President Obama in a Democratic primary." And in her book, the election retrospective "What Happened," Clinton slammed Sanders’ ideas as unrealistic and decried him for using “innuendo and impugning my character” such that she suffered “lasting damage" into the general election.

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks aggressively at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane - D1BEULPJOPAC

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks aggressively at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane – D1BEULPJOPAC

GREEN NEW DEAL WOULD COST UP TO $92 TRILLION, STUDY SAYS — THAT’S APPROX. $600G PER HOUSEHOLD

Sanders spokesperson Arianna Jones, though, maintained that Sanders put everything he had into helping Clinton once she had secured the Democratic nomination. Jones said it was physically impossible for Sanders to get to all of the Clinton event locations in such a short period of time without chartered flights, especially since the senator was traveling to many smaller markets with limited commercial air travel options.

“That’s why chartered flights were used: to make sure Sen. Sanders could get to as many locations as quickly as possible in the effort to help the Democratic ticket defeat Donald Trump,” Sanders spokeswoman Arianna Jones told Politico. "Sen. Sanders campaigned so aggressively for Secretary Clinton, at such a grueling pace, it became a story unto itself, setting the model for how a former opponent can support a nominee in a general election.”

Jones reported that in the three months prior to the November 2016 election, Sanders supported Clinton by attending 39 rallies in 13 states.

Sanders stunned the Democratic establishment in 2016 with his spirited challenge to Clinton, and his campaign helped lay the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the era of President Trump.

Sanders’ campaign said earlier this month that he raised more than $4 million in the 12 hours since announcing his 2020 presidential bid. Previously, the biggest first-day fundraiser in the race had been California Sen. Kamala Harris, who raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours of her campaign. And this week, Sanders announced he has already signed up a historic 1 million volunteers.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field of Democrats who embrace many of his policy ideas and who are newer to the national political stage — and whether Sanders can survive with the evident lingering resentment from members of the Democratic Party establishment.

This single family house built on 1981 and located in Burlington, Vermont, is listed to Bernard and Jane Sanders. (Google Maps)

This single family house built on 1981 and located in Burlington, Vermont, is listed to Bernard and Jane Sanders. (Google Maps)

"Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump," the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist said in an email to supporters announcing his srun. "Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice."

As for whether Sanders — who has pushed for the Green New Deal, which would strive to greatly reduce air travel — would be flying commercial for upcoming campaign trips this year, Jones told Politico he "will be flying commercial whenever possible," and that the "campaign will consider the use of charter flights based on a variety of factors, including security requirements, logistics, and media interest in traveling with the senator.”

Also causing headaches for Sanders’ socialist, penny-pinching image: His high-end income and multiple houses.  Notably, he owns three houses. In 2016, he bought a $575,000 four-bedroom lake-front home in his home state. This is in addition to a row house in Washington D.C., as well as a house in Burlington, Vermont.

“The Bern will keep his home in Burlington and use the new camp seasonally,” Vermont’s Seven Day’s reported in 2016.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign spokesman criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her team Monday, responding to former Clinton staffers revealing that Sanders demanded to fly private while campaigning for her in 2016.

“You can see why she’s one of the most disliked politicians in America, she’s not nice. Her people are not nice,” Michael Briggs told Politico. “[Sanders] busted his tail to fly all over the country to talk about why it made sense to elect Hillary Clinton and the thanks that [we] get is this kind of petty stupid sniping a couple years after the fact.” (RELATED: Bernie Sanders, Climate Hawk, Spends Nearly $300K On Private Jet Travel In A Month)

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) speaks directly to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they discuss issues during the Democratic presidential candidates debate sponsored by MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo FROM THE FILES PACKAGE "THE CANDIDATES" - SEARCH CANDIDATES FILES FOR ALL 90 IMAGES - S1AEULPBJRAB

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) speaks directly to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they discuss issues during the Democratic presidential candidates debate sponsored by MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

“It doesn’t make me feel good to feel this way but they’re some of the biggest assholes in American politics,” he added.

Sanders agreed to campaign on Clinton’s behalf in 2016 after he lost the Democratic primary to her. He reportedly requested that the Clinton campaign charter private jets to get him to rallies, costing about $100,000 in total in the last two months prior to the election.

Multiple former Clinton staffers reportedly labeled Sanders’ demand to fly privately unnecessary.

Sanders frequently criticizes wealthy individuals for not flying commercially because there’s additional carbon emissions produced. When he announced his 2020 presidential campaign earlier this month, he specifically called out the fossil fuel industries for contributing to climate change.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: A cyclist drives pasts a campaign poster for President Muhammadu Buhari in a street after the postponement of the presidential election in Kano
FILE PHOTO: A cyclist drives pasts a campaign poster for President Muhammadu Buhari in a street after the postponement of the presidential election in Kano, Nigeria February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

February 22, 2019

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday urged Nigerians “to go out and vote”, promising that there would be adequate security for Saturday’s postponed election that pits him in a tight race with businessman Atiku Abubakar.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced a week’s delay to voting in the early hours of last Saturday, just as some of Nigeria’s 72.8 million eligible voters were preparing to go to polling stations.

In a televised morning address on the eve of the vote, Buhari asked Nigerians to “cast aside doubt and have faith that INEC will rise to the occasion” on Saturday.

“Do not be afraid of rumors of violence and unrest. Our security agencies have worked diligently to ensure that adequate security measures are in place,” he said.

The Boko Haram militant group and its offshoot, Islamic State in West Africa Province, have carried out deadly sporadic raids in the northeast’s Borno state. Boko Haram has warned people not to vote.

Buhari’s rival Atiku, a former vice president who is representing the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), made a similar appeal to voters through his Twitter feed on Thursday night.

“This Saturday, a vote for PDP is a vote to get Nigeria working again. Come out, vote and #DefendYourVote,” Atiku said in a tweet accompanied by a video of his rallies.

Buhari, a former military ruler who was later elected president in 2015, was criticized on Monday for saying that anyone trying to intimidate voters or interfere with the voting “will do it at the expense of his own life”.

Atiku’s party said Buhari’s comments were a call for “jungle justice”.

Members of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party and those of Atiku’s PDP have accused each other of being behind the delay and colluding with the electoral commission.

Neither party has publicly provided evidence to back up their allegations.

The INEC’s chairman Mahmood Yakoob has insisted that the vote will go ahead on Saturday. He blamed logistical reasons for the postponement, and said there had been no external pressure.

Buhari faces a close contest against Atiku to lead a country that has Africa’s largest economy and is its top oil producer, but is plagued by corruption and wide gaps between rich and poor.

The election has been fought over Buhari’s handling of the economy amid fragile growth and growing unemployment as the country recovers from a recession in 2016.

(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Nigeria's President Buhari greets his supporters after Friday prayers in his hometown Daura
FILE PHOTO: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari greets his supporters after Friday prayers in his hometown Daura, in Katsina State, ahead of the country’s presidential election, Nigeria February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

February 21, 2019

By Felix Onuah and Alexis Akwagyiram

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his closest rival Atiku Abubakar made their final appeal for votes on the last day of campaigning on Thursday ahead of a tight contest in a presidential election on Saturday that was delayed by a week.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the delay in the early hours of last Saturday citing logistical reasons, just as some of Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters were preparing to head to the polls.

The stakes are high as Buhari, who took office in 2015 and is seeking a second term, is locked in a race against businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar to lead a country that is Africa’s top oil producer.

The election has largely been fought on how to jump-start growth in the country with Africa’s largest economy which has seen low growth since emerging in 2017 from its first recession in 25 years. Security, amid an increase in Islamist attacks in the northeast, and corruption have also been campaign issues.

So far, there are no further public rallies planned by either man, with the unexpected extra week of campaigning stretching resources and stamina. They made their pitches for votes in a statement and via social media.

Buhari, who is campaigning on an anti-corruption platform, touted his economic record in a statement issued by his spokesman Femi Adesina.

Nigeria’s 2.4 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 gave “lots of cause to cheer”, the statement said.

Gross domestic product grew by 1.93 percent last year, up from 0.82 percent in 2017.

“Those who do not see any good in something not initiated by them toil endlessly to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that nothing good is happening on the economic front,” the statement said.

Buhari’s economic reforms are focused on infrastructure development and extending a social welfare program to create jobs and lift the poorest Nigerians out of poverty.

Atiku, candidate of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), urged voters to remove Buhari from office in a video on his Twitter feed.

“If you do not vote you will be accepting that the next four years will be like the last,” said Atiku, who has criticized Buhari’s handling of the economy.

Atiku has promised to create jobs, privatize the state oil company and double the size of the economy to $900 billion by 2025, in large part by handing a larger role to the private sector.

Buhari became the first opposition candidate to unseat a Nigerian president at the ballot box.

Atiku, who backed Buhari’s last election bid but left the president’s ruling party in late 2017, asked his supporters to replicate Buhari’s unprecedented 2015 election victory.

“This Saturday we will have the opportunity to do so again,” Atiku said.

(Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by James Macharia and Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

Visitors look at a stock quotation board at Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo
Visitors look at a stock quotation board at Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo Japan, October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

February 21, 2019

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares held near 4-1/2-month highs on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve minutes affirmed it would be “patient” on interest rate rises and risk assets got a lift from hopes of further progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were steady in early trade, hovering just off their highest since early October.

Australian shares gave up early gains, last trading 0.1 percent lower, but the Australian dollar rallied in the wake of strong full-time jobs figure.

Japan’s Nikkei was down 0.3 percent after closing at a two-month high during the previous session.

Investors eyed signs of progress in the latest round of trade negotiations between the United States and China, amid expectations that U.S. President Donald Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next month to strike a deal.

Trump said on Tuesday that trade negotiations were going well and suggested he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying March 1 was not a “magical” date.

“We’ll see the Asian market start on the front foot, but we’ll need another catalyst, another driver, to take us to strong moves to the top side,” said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities Australia in Sydney.

“We’ve got the Fed Minutes out of the way. They were a big event risk for a lot of (participants in) the market. They’ve come in largely in expectation with what the market was thinking.”

On Wall Street, all three major U.S. equity indexes ended in positive territory on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed’s Jan. 29-30 meeting indicated policymakers see little risk to leaving rates alone, for now.

“The bar to restarting rate hikes in the near term seems to be quite high, with several participants arguing that rate increases would be necessary “only if inflation outcomes were higher than in (the) baseline outlook”, Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

“The upshot is we now expect the Fed to leave rates unchanged throughout this year, before a further deterioration in economic growth forces it to cut rates by a total of 75 basis points in 2020,” he said.

The Fed signaled it will soon lay out a plan to stop letting go of $4 trillion in bonds and other assets, though policymakers are still debating how long their newly adopted “patient” stance on U.S. rates policy will last.

AUSSIE JUMPS, EURO STEADY

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was in the spotlight after Australia added more full-time employment in January as expected.

The Aussie rallied more than half a percent to a two-week high of $0.72075 after the release of the figures, which showed Australia added 65,400 in full-time employment in January, with the unemployment rate steady at 5.0 percent.

The euro held steady at $1.1341. Purchasing manager indexes for the euro zone are due on Thursday and investors are also eying the release of minutes from the European Central Bank’s January meeting later in the day.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was about 0.1 percent lower at 110.70 yen, moving off a seven-week peak of 111.13 reached last week.

The offshore Chinese yuan was steady at 6.7174 per dollar after touching its highest in about three weeks during the previous session.

The United States is seeking to secure a pledge from China it will not devalue its yuan as part of an agreement intended to end the countries’ trade war, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

In the commodity market, crude prices rose more than 1 percent on Wednesday to their highest in 2019 on hopes that oil markets will balance later this year. [O/R]

Oil prices were also helped by output cuts from top producers and U.S. sanctions on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members Iran and Venezuela.

U.S. crude was last up nearly 0.1 percent, or 5 cents, at $57.21 per barrel. Brent was steady at $67.08.

Gold rose 0.2 percent on the day to $1,341.20, crawling its way back up to a 10-month peak of $1,346.70 scaled on Wednesday.

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron visits a Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron looks at a grave vandalised with a swastika during a visit at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, France February 19, 2019. Frederick Florin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

February 20, 2019

By Luke Baker

PARIS (Reuters) – A French TV channel said on Wednesday it had been forced to cut short a live Facebook broadcast from a desecrated Jewish cemetery in eastern France because of an onslaught of anti-Semitic commentary.

France 3 said it went live from the cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim on Tuesday as President Emmanuel Macron was visiting to pay his respects after more than 90 graves were vandalized with swastikas and anti-Semitic abuse.

But as it broadcast footage online to its more than 1.3 million Facebook followers, the feed was inundated with anti-Semitic commentary and abuse.

“We are talking about explicit death threats, comments that were openly anti-Semitic and racist, including “Heil Hitler”, “dirty Jew” or “dirty Jews”, comments that were addressed at Emmanuel Macron and representatives of the Jewish community,” the channel said in a statement explaining its decision.

“Within minutes, the number of vile and illegal comments had gone well beyond our capacity to moderate them,” it explained, adding that it would have taken 10 or 20 staff to handle the onslaught. “We refuse to traffic in hatred.”

ALARM

The attack on the cemetery is the latest in a series of incidents across France in recent weeks that have alarmed the Jewish community and prompted calls for harder hitting legislation against those responsible.

During his visit to the cemetery, Macron spoke to members of the local community and promised a tough line.

“Whoever did this is not worthy of the French republic and will be punished,” he said. “We’ll take action, we’ll apply the law and we’ll punish them.”

On Tuesday evening, some 20,000 people, joined by politicians from all parties, gathered at the Place de la Republique in central Paris to denounce anti-Semitism. Similar rallies were held in cities across the country.

While France is home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, with a community of around 550,000 people, there continues to be a steady drip-feed of anti-Semitic attacks. Commentators have blamed incitement not only from the far-right but from the far-left and fringe Islamists.

In 2018, the number of anti-Semitic incidents increased by 74 percent nationwide, figures released last week showed, despite having fallen somewhat in previous years.

(Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

Trump Declares Emergency for Border Wall, First Lawsuit Filed

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval, an action Democrats vowed to challenge as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Republican president's move to circumvent Congress represented an escalation in his efforts to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a wall to halt the flow into the country of illegal immigrants, who Trump says bring crime and drugs.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit on Friday challenging the declaration aimed at freeing up billions of dollars to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said.

The lawsuit, brought in federal court in the District of Columbia, claims the south Texas landowners were told by the U.S. government that it would seek to build a border wall on their properties if money for the project were available in 2019, Public Citizen said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee said it had launched an investigation into the emergency declaration.

In a letter to Trump, committee Democrats asked him to make available for a hearing White House and Justice Department officials involved in the action. They also requested legal documents on the decision that led to the declaration, setting a deadline of next Friday.

"We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system," said the letter signed by Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other top Democrats on the panel.

Trump on Friday also signed a bipartisan government spending bill that would prevent another partial government shutdown by funding several agencies that otherwise would have closed on Saturday.

The funding bill represented a legislative defeat for him since it contains no money for his proposed wall – the focus of weeks of conflict between him and Democrats in Congress.

Trump made no mention of the bill in comments to reporters in the White House's Rose Garden.

He had demanded that Congress provide him with $5.7 billion in wall funding as part of legislation to fund the agencies. That triggered a historic, 35-day December-January government shutdown that hurt the U.S. economy and his opinion poll numbers.

By reorienting his quest for wall funding toward a legally uncertain strategy based on declaring a national emergency, Trump risks plunging into a lengthy legislative and legal battle with Democrats and dividing his fellow Republicans – many of whom expressed grave reservations on Friday about the president's action.

Fifteen Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate introduced legislation on Thursday to prevent Trump from invoking emergency powers to transfer funds to his wall from accounts Congress has already committed to other projects.

'EXCLUSIVE POWER'

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer swiftly responded to Trump's declaration.

"The president's actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution," they said in a statement. "The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

New York state's attorney general, Letitia James, said her office would also challenge Trump in court. California's governor, Gavin Newsom, also pledged to file suit.

"We won't stand for this abuse of power & will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal," James wrote on Twitter.

The president acknowledged his order would face a lengthy court fight.

"I expect to be sued. I shouldn't be sued … We'll win in the Supreme Court," Trump predicted.

Trump may have also undermined his administration's argument about the urgency of the situation when he told reporters, "I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster."

In their letter to Trump, House Judiciary Democrats said that language had left them "troubled."

Both the House and the Senate could pass a resolution terminating the emergency by majority vote. However, that measure would then go to Trump, who would likely veto it. Overriding the veto would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

Trump says a wall is needed to curb illegal immigrants and illicit drugs coming across the border. But statistics show illegal immigration via the border is at a 20-year low and that many drug shipments come through legal ports of entry.

Confronted with those statistics by reporters at the Rose Garden event, Trump said they were "wrong."

Also present were a half-dozen women holding poster-sized pictures of family members killed by illegal immigrants. Trump noted their presence in announcing the emergency declaration.

He estimated his emergency declaration could free up as much as $8 billion to pay for part of the wall. Estimates of its total cost run as high as $23 billion.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for the wall. It was one of his biggest applause lines at his campaign rallies. Mexico firmly refused to pay, and now Trump wants U.S. taxpayers to cover the costs.

REPUBLICANS CONCERNED

Some congressional Republicans expressed dismay following Trump's announcement.

Greg Walden, a senior House Republican, said on Twitter he was "deeply concerned about the precedent that this action sets."

Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina said in a statement that Trump' declaration was not a solution.

"It wouldn't provide enough funding to adequately secure our borders, it would likely get tied up in litigation, and most concerning is that it would create a new precedent that a left-wing president would undoubtedly utilize to implement their radical policy agenda while bypassing the authority of Congress," Tillis said.

Other Republicans, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, were supportive.

With an emergency formally declared, Trump left Washington to travel to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida for a holiday break.

Source: NewsMax Politics

DeSANTIS RALLY SETS THE STAGE FOR 2024 PRESIDENTIAL RUN By: Chrissy Piccolo and Paul Richardson    Ron DeSantis has been a powerful voice in Congress since 2013 and is currently amid the investigation into the Abuse of Power being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. Many may not realize DeSantis comes from blue collar roots, growing up in Dunedin, FL, he understood the rewards […]


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