Security

Vice President Mike Pence criticized Democratic presidential candidates who opted not to attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference during his speech at the event Monday.

A number of Democrats vying for the party’s nomination announced their intention not to attend the event last week after a progressive organization, MoveOn, called on politicians to boycott the committee.

Pence stated, “As I stand before you, eight Democratic candidates for president are actually boycotting this very conference.”

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the AIPAC annual meeting in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the AIPAC annual meeting in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

“So let me be clear on this point: Anyone who aspires to the highest office in the land should not be afraid to stand with the strongest supporters of Israel in America. It is wrong to boycott Israel, and it is wrong boycott AIPAC,” he continued. “President Trump and I are proud to stand with all of you — today, tomorrow and always — to strengthen the ties that bind America and Israel.”

The Democratic presidential candidates who opted to skip this year’s conference include South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete ButtigiegMassachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenVermont Sen. Bernie SandersFormer Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Harris, Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have all spoken at AIPAC events previously, with Klobuchar and Harris attending last year’s conference. None of their names, however, will appear this year. While Klobuchar has not made an appearance at this year’s conference, she also never made an official statement saying she would not go. (4 Democratic Presidential Candidates Have Spoken At AIPAC Before – None Will This Year)

MoveOn cited four reasons for the boycott:

  • AIPAC advocated against the Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • One of the speakers is Netanyahu, who was indicted earlier this year.
  • AIPAC has “been known to peddle anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while giving platforms to Islamophobes.”
  • AIPAC “has refused to condemn the antisemitism of Republicans,” and they specifically called out Steve Bannon.

It’s not clear that the candidates’ decision not to attend the conference is related to the boycott.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Islamic state militant and women walk as they surrendered in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province
FILE PHOTO: Islamic state militant and women walk as they surrendered in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah/File Photo

March 25, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Kurdish-led administration that runs much of northern Syria called on Monday for an international tribunal to be set up in their region to try the thousands of suspected Islamic State members they are detaining.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday proclaimed the capture of Islamic State’s last territory in Syria, but no clear international policy has emerged yet about how to deal with the militants it captured there and at other strongholds of the group.

“We call upon the international community to establish a special international tribunal to prosecute Islamic State terrorists in northern and eastern Syria,” the statement said.

Thousands of suspected Islamic State members and fighters from Syria, Iraq and other countries are now in the of custody by the U.S.-backed group.

Its statement argued that the jurisdiction of the courts should be where the criminal act happened and where the offenders were captured in order for there to be a fair trial in line with international law and human rights conventions.

The Kurdish-led administration said it had appealed to the international community to take responsibility for the detainees, especially for nations to take back their own citizens.

“Unfortunately, there was no response or initiatives in this respect,” the statement said.

The people who left the final enclave at Baghouz, near the Iraq border, have been sent to camps in northeast Syria. One of those, al-Hol, was already overcrowded with uprooted Syrians and Iraqis and camp officials have said they do not have enough tents, food, or medicine. Aid workers warn of spreading disease, and dozens of children have died on the way there.

Many foreign governments see the detained suspected militants as a security threat and have been loath to accede to SDF entreaties to repatriate them.

(Writing by Lisa Barrington, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

An Israeli Apache helicopter releases flares as it flies over the Gaza Strip
An Israeli Apache helicopter releases flares as it flies over the Gaza Strip March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

March 25, 2019

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli military said on Monday it had begun carrying out strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after a Palestinian rocket hit a house near Tel Aviv.

Reuters witnesses heard explosions in Gaza.

The military said in a statement that it had “begun striking Hamas terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip.”

One position hit was a Hamas naval position west of Gaza City, and a another was a large Hamas training camp in northern Gaza, Palestinian security officials and Hamas media outlets said.

Both positions were likely to have been evacuated, as Hamas had hours of notice that Israeli strikes were coming.

Witnesses said three missiles hit the northern target.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised a strong response to the rocket attack earlier in the day that injured seven Israelis.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Nidal al-Mughrabi, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

Source: OANN

Peter Biar Ajak, the South Sudan country director for the London School of Economics' International Growth Centre based in Britain, arrives at the courtroom in Juba
Peter Biar Ajak, the South Sudan country director for the London School of Economics’ International Growth Centre based in Britain, arrives at the courtroom in Juba, South Sudan March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

March 25, 2019

NAIROBI (Reuters) – A former World Bank economist whose detention in South Sudan has caused an international outcry was one of seven men charged on Monday with insurgency and sabotage, more than seven months after his arrest.

Peter Biar Ajak, who is country director for his native South Sudan for the International Growth Centre which studies emerging economies at the London School of Economics, had been held since last July.

He had not appeared in court until last Thursday, despite months of calls by U.S. senators and other international figures for him to be charged or released.

Biar’s lawyer and lawyers for the other defendants denied the charges against them, which were brought on Monday under anti-terrorism and security laws.

Appearing in court on Monday, Biar repudiated a document that was presented as his statement.

“The investigation was conducted under gunpoint to my head,” he said.

His lawyer, Monyluak Kuol, asked for the case to be dismissed, telling the court Biar was a civilian with no connection to the charges against him.

Ajak Mayol Bior, lawyer for one of the other defendants, businessman Kerbino Wol, said no act of terrorism had been committed and charges of arms possession were fabricated.  

A childhood refugee from the long war that ended with South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011, Biar fled to the United States as a youth, was educated at Harvard and Cambridge and later worked at the World Bank. His supporters say he was promoting South Sudan’s peace process when he was arrested.

South Sudan has been in a state of civil war since 2013, two years after its founding, after political disagreements between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy, Riek Machar, degenerated into a military confrontation.

At its peak, the conflict uprooted a quarter of the country’s population of 12 million and devastated its oil-dependent economy. A regionally brokered deal last year, which had Machar return to government again as Kiir’s deputy, ended the fighting although pockets of violence remain in some parts.

(Writing by George Obulutsa)

Source: OANN

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks at AIPAC in Washington
Israel’s Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks at AIPAC in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest election challenger, Benny Gantz, called on Monday for unity and moderation in a speech to a major pro-Israel U.S. lobby group that has been uneasy at Netanyahu’s courting of far-rightists.

Gantz’s appearance at AIPAC was overshadowed by a rocket strike on Israel from Gaza that prompted Netanyahu to cancel his own speech at the event so he could return and oversee retaliation.

Gantz, a retired army general who is a centrist newcomer to politics, went briefly off-script to commend Netanyahu’s decision, before delivering veiled censure of the conservative premier’s electioneering, which has included dismissive rhetoric about Israel’s Arab minority and appeals to ultranationalists.

“The divisive dialogue tearing our strong nation apart may serve – I doubt it, but it may serve – political purposes, but is shredding the fabric that holds us together,” he said.

If he succeeds Netanyahu after the April 9 election, Gantz said, “there will be no Kahanists running our country, there will be no racists leading our state institutions, and there will be no corruption leading our ways – no corruption whatsoever.”

Netanyahu forged a pre-election alliance last month with Jewish Power, an ultranationalist party that includes adherents of the late anti-Arab rabbi, Meir Kahane.

In a rare reprimand AIPAC, which is the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby, called Jewish Power “a racist and reprehensible party.”

The four-term premier also faces criminal charges in three corruption cases, pending a review hearing after the election. Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing and described himself as the victim of liberal media bias and judicial overreach.

U.S. Jews, a largely Democratic constituency, have at times fretted over Netanyahu’s alignment with President Donald Trump’s Republican administration, and Gantz talked up AIPAC’s bipartisan strategy.

Gantz called Trump “a true partner and ally of Israel,” but added: “We want all of America, Republicans and Democrats, to move forward in the spirit of true bipartisanship that served so well in the past.”

After the speech, Gantz met Vice President Mike Pence, who also addressed the gathering.

Posting a photo of himself shaking hands with Pence, Gantz wrote on Twitter: “I thanked him for his unequivocal support for Israel and for everything they are doing for us.”

Netanyahu, who opinion polls show running neck and neck with Gantz, has dismissed his rival as a “weak leftist,” accusing him of allowing Iran to hack his cellphone. Gantz outlined national security policies that were not significantly different from the prime minister’s, and laughed off the alleged breach.

Iran has denied targeting Gantz. Gantz has said he had been informed by Israel’s domestic security service of a breach but there was no sensitive information on the device.

Alluding on Monday to his military exploits against Iranian threats while in uniform, Gantz directed a warning toward Tehran: “You know me, and not only from my cellphone.”

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Logos of Taiwanese multinational computer hardware and electronics company Asus are seen during the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei
FILE PHOTO: Logos of Taiwanese multinational computer hardware and electronics company Asus are seen during the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

March 25, 2019

(Reuters) – Hackers targeted “hundreds of thousands” of Asustek computer owners by pushing a backdoor update software tool from the computer maker’s own servers, cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab said on Monday.

The attack took place between June and November 2018, according to Kaspersky.

The hackers were surgically targeting an unknown pool of users, who were identified by their network adapters’ MAC addresses.

More than 57,000 Kaspersky users installed the backdoor version of ASUS Live Update, the report said.

Asus did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)

Source: OANN

There have been no conversations about President Donald Trump issuing pardons for any of his associates who have been charged or pleaded guilty as part of the U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the White House said Monday.

There has been "no discussion that I'm aware of" regarding pardons, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. Fellow White House spokesman Hogan Gidley also told MSNBC in an interview that the White House has not had any conversations about such pardons.

Gidley said he did not know whether any lawyers for Trump's associates had approached the White House counsel about pardons.

Mueller's team finished up work on Friday and submitted its findings to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who issued a four-page summary on Sunday. Barr said the Special Counsel's Office had found no evidence of criminal collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia in the 2016 election but had left open the issue of whether Trump had tried to obstruct justice.

Still, Mueller's investigation led to charges and guilty pleas against dozens of people, including a series of Russian nationals and companies as well as several top Trump advisers, such as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former adviser Roger Stone.

"We have a very rigorous process that relates to pardons," Gidley told MSNBC.

Source: NewsMax

Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was cutting his trip to the U.S. short after a rocket strike from Gaza hit a home just north of Tel Aviv and injured several people, according to Reuters.

“In light of the security events I decided to cut short my visit to the U.S.,” he told Reuters.

Netanyahu, who had only arrived Sunday for a four-day visit, will still meet with President Donald Trump today before boarding his return flight to Israel this afternoon.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 5: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands withIsrael Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The prime minister is on an official visit to the US until the end of the week. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 5: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

The rocket from Gaza landed on a home in the small agricultural town of Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv, in early morning. A military spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that Israel’s Iron Dome rocket interception system had not been deployed in the area and was unable to bring down the rocket.

It left one house destroyed in addition to the surrounding damage. Reuters reported one infant, a 3-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman were among those being treated for injuries.

Gazan officials have not claimed responsibility for the rocket, but are reportedly preparing for retaliation.

“There was a criminal attack on the state of Israel and we will respond forcefully,” Netanyahu said in a video statement sent to the Wall Street Journal.

The border along Israel and Gaza recently marked one year of continued border protests. President Trump recently expressed support for Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and is reportedly planning to make that statement official by signing a decree during today’s meeting, according to Reuters.

Netanyahu is running for an unprecedented fifth term. His main political rival, former Chief of the Israeli General Staff Benny Gantz, immediately issued a statement accusing Netanyahu of having “bankrupted national security” by permitting such attacks.

The election will be held April 9. (RELATED: Israel Holding Early Elections As Bribery Allegations Engulf Netanyahu)

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Source: The Daily Caller

  • Carter Page is speaking out for the first time in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that nobody on the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.
  • Page was Prime Suspect #1 in the government’s collusion investigation. He was a target of illegal government leaks to the media.
  • But Page said he was “not even slightly” worried he would face indictments by Mueller.

Carter Page insists he was never worried about being indicted in the special counsel’s probe, which ended on Sunday with more of a whimper than a bang.

“Not even slightly,” the former Trump campaign adviser insisted to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Sunday when asked if he ever expected to be charged in the investigation.

“That’s why I laughed at this stuff all along,” he said.

Page, 47, was at one point in time a major focus of the Russia investigation, which was led by special counsel Robert Mueller and played out in the media.

In a letter to Congress, Attorney General William Barr said Mueller found no evidence that President Donald Trump, Trump associates or members of his campaign conspired with Russia to sow disinformation or release emails stolen from Democrats. (RELATED: Mueller Finds No Collusion)

The letter exonerates Trump. It also exonerates Page, who was a volunteer national security adviser for Trump’s team.

Page was one of four initial targets of that counterintelligence investigation, which was formally opened by the FBI on July 31, 2016. Dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation started with George Papadopoulos, another young Trump aide who joined the campaign at the same time as Page.

During the probe, Page faced perhaps the most intrusive media and government scrutiny other than Trump himself. He faced it all without the base of support enjoyed by Trump, or his financial means.

Page was placed under government surveillance, was targeted by at least one FBI informant, and was the subject of a series of leaks by government officials to the media. He was also the target of public ridicule, allegations that he was a Russian agent and the death threats that accompanied such an explosive charge. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cambridge Prof With CIA, MI6 Ties Met With Trump Campaign Adviser During Campaign, Beyond)

FBI Director Robert Mueller III testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Dec.14, 2011 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Page, a Naval Academy graduate, dispels the idea that he’s a victim.

He says Trump was the true target and that he was collateral damage.

Page has said he had interactions over the years with the FBI and CIA, largely because of his work in Moscow, where he worked as a consultant during the 2000s. He landed back on the U.S. government’s radar just after he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey and other U.S. officials discussed Page after he joined Trump’s team. The FBI deployed a longtime informant, Stefan Halper, to make contact with Page in July 2016.

The pair met at an event held at Cambridge University on July 11-12, 2016 where the upcoming U.S. election was the topic of discussion. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was in attendance, as was Sir Richard Dearlove, a former chief of MI6.

Halper, a colleague of Dearlove at Cambridge, approached Page at the conference, and the pair remained in contact through September 2017, the same month the FBI’s fourth and final Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant expired.

It is still unclear what information the FISA warrants and Halper recovered from Page. But Page’s absence on the roster of indictees in the Mueller investigation suggests they didn’t find much.

The FBI appears to have applied for the first FISA against Page in September 2016, around a month before obtaining the warrant on Oct. 21, 2016.

Applications that have been declassified and released show the Steele dossier was a major component of the investigation. Compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats, the dossier makes several serious allegations against Page, all of which he denies.

Steele claimed in his 35-page report that Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to conspire with the Russians. It was also Page’s idea to release emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee through WikiLeaks, Steele’s sources said.

The dossier also alleges that Page met with two sanctioned Kremlin insiders, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin, during a trip to Moscow he made just before his Cambridge visit. During an alleged conversation with Sechin, the dossier says that Page offered to lobby against Russian sanctions in exchange for a brokerage stake on a deal involving Rosneft, the Russian oil giant.

Steele, a former MI6 officer, shared those allegations with reporters, including Michael Isikoff at Yahoo! News. On Sept. 23, 2016, Isikoff published an article laying out the claims about Page. It would later be revealed that Isikoff was one of a handful of reporters who Steele met with at the behest of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Trump.

Republicans in Congress have investigated the FBI’s applications for the FISA warrants. They say that bureau officials withheld key evidence from FISA Court judges regarding the provenance of the Steele dossier, which remains unverified.

That investigation is expected to intensify now that Mueller has closed his investigation. Page is among those supporting the probe.

Page was also targeted with a series of damaging media leaks that he believes were tied to his decision to speak out publicly about the dossier’s allegations. His first television appearance was with PBS’s Judy Woodruff on Feb. 15, 2017, a month after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed.

Fusion GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson listens as his lawyer, Joshua Levy, speaks to members of the media following a meeting with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee in the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill on October 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Fusion GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson on Capitol Hill on Oct. 16, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

On April 3, 2017, a story broke in BuzzFeed that Page was targeted for recruitment in 2013 by two Russian spies. Page was not accused of wrongdoing in the case. One of the Russian spies was recorded calling Page an “idiot.” Nevertheless, Page’s contacts with Russian operatives fit into the prevailing narrative that he had illicit ties to Russia. James Wolfe, a senior staffer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has since been identified as leaking information to BuzzFeed for the report. He pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with the BuzzFeed reporter, who he was dating at the time.

A bigger bombshell landed a week after the BuzzFeed report.

On April 11, 2017, The Washington Post broke the news that Page was the target of a FISA application. In order to be targeted with that type of surveillance, the FBI and Justice Department would have had to present probable cause that Page was working clandestinely as an agent of Russia.

The source for that leak of classified information has yet to be identified.

“I think it’s all interrelated, right?” Page said when asked whether the leaks were a response to his media appearances. “It’s all retribution.”

The Washington Post leak had its intended effect, Page argues.

The argument at the time was that if the FBI felt that Page was a Russian agent, then surely he must have been. That thesis has since come under scrutiny as it became clear the FBI relied heavily on the Democrat-funded dossier to meet that probable cause standard.

Even Halper, the FBI-CIA informant, hinted to Page that collusion was a non-starter.

“It seems attention has shifted a bit from the ‘collusion’ investigation to the ‘contretempts’ [sic] within the White House,” Halper wrote in a July 28, 2017 email to Page.

“I must assume this gives you some relief,” he continued, urging Page to “be in touch when you have the time. Would be great to catch up.”

Twenty-six months after its publication, none of the major allegations in the dossier have been verified. There is strong reason to doubt many of its claims.

Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer, has denied one of the dossier’s most serious collusion allegations under oath. On Feb. 27, he told Congress that he has never visited Prague, which is where the dossier claims Cohen visited in August 2016 to pay off Russia-linked hackers.

The dossier has other inaccurate information about Cohen. The source who provided information to Steele was also an intermediary for allegations about Page.

Page is vague when asked about his dealings with the FBI and the Mueller team. He has recently — albeit reluctantly — acknowledged he testified to Mueller’s grand jury on Nov. 1, 2017. He told TheDCNF that he was informed that he was not a target of the investigation.

“I was never even asked any question which comes anywhere near the zone of illegality. Not by a long shot,” he said.

He hinted he was informed during the course of the investigation that he was not a target. Federal prosecutors place individuals involved in investigations into three separate categories: witness, subject and target.

Page made an analogy to salsa: “mild, medium or hot.”

“I was the mildest of the mild,” he said.

Page concedes that if he has one regret, it’s not speaking out forcefully against allegations that began trickling into the press about him in the run-up to the 2016 election. He said if he had not been so easy-going in the face of allegations he was a Russian agent, he could have avoided further surveillance and media attention.

“If I had fought about the witch hunt earlier, all of this stuff wouldn’t have transpired,” he said, noting his relative obscurity made him an easy target for investigators, in the media and in government.

“It’s a lot easier to paint a picture on a blank slate,” he added.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A caravan of mostly Central Americans began its trek toward the United States over the weekend, setting the stage for what will likely be another showdown between border enforcement officials and migrants.

Around 1,200 migrants formed a caravan in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas and, following the same route as numerous groups before them, started their journey northward Saturday, according to Reuters. The U.S.-bound group is made of mostly Central Americans from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, but also includes Cuban migrants.

The National Migration Institute — a department within the government of Mexico that tracks immigration — said the migrants were already within the country before they decided to assemble into a caravan near the country’s southern border with Guatemala.

The latest caravan will likely further inflame tensions between these Central American countries and the White House. President Donald Trump, who has made increased immigration enforcement a hallmark of his executive agenda, has threatened Central American governments with repercussions for allowing migrants to freely make their way to the U.S.

“… Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of U.S. for years!” Trump tweeted in late December upon the news of a 15,000-person caravan heading northward.

The number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged in recent months, with the Department of Homeland Security predicting nearly 100,000 apprehensions by the end of this month — which would mark the highest number in over a decade.

A group of Central American migrants surrenders to U.S. Border Patrol Agents south of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A group of Central American migrants surrenders to U.S. Border Patrol Agents south of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Unlike in the early 1990s and early 2000s, the migrants getting apprehended today are mostly Central American and unaccompanied children, individuals who cannot be as easily deported as adult Mexican nationals. Border enforcement resources have been stretched thin because of this, forcing overcrowded Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities to release about 100,000 illegal aliens in the past three months. (RELATED: Central American Migrants Are Sending Billions Back To Their Home Countries)

The vast number of migrants are also submitting so many asylum requests that border checkpoints have buckled under the weight. Officials with the El Paso Border Patrol sector revealed that they temporarily closed their highway checkpoints due to the record amount of asylum requests.

The Trump administration has begun implementing what is known as the “remain in Mexico” policy in response to the immigration and asylum surge, The directive calls for foreign nationals who claim asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to remain within the Mexican interior as their case runs through the U.S. immigration court system. The new policy is meant to curb abuse by asylum seekers who do not show up to their court date and simply disappear in the U.S. after making their claim.

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

Source: The Daily Caller

Attorney General William Barr told Congress Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, destroying two years of media speculation and bad reporting.

The obsession to prove collusion has dampened the media’s journalistic abilities, leading to a seemingly endless list of corrections, retractions and apologies.

In light of Mueller concluding his investigation, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst media screwups in the history of Russia theories.

1. CNN Accuses Don Jr. Of Wikileaks Collusion

Last December, CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Wikileaks emailed Donald Trump Jr. to give him access to stolen documents a full 10 days before they were released to the public.

Unfortunately for CNN, it turns out their sources gave them the wrong date. Don Jr. actually received an email with access to the stolen docs on Sept. 14, 2016, after they had already been released publicly.

2. ABC Tanks Stock Market With Fake Flynn News

ABC was forced to suspend Brian Ross after he falsely reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians.

The stock market dropped a few hundred points at the news — but it turned out to be fake.

ABC clarified that Flynn was actually prepared to testify that Trump asked him to contact Russia while the administration was transitioning into office. Pretty standard preparation for an incoming president.

3. The Mooch Is NOT Under Investigation

CNN earns another spot on this list for their shoddy reporting about former Trump adviser Anthony, “The Mooch,” Scaramucci. In June, CNN relied on a single unnamed source to claim that Scaramucci was under investigation for a meeting he took with a Russian banker prior to Trump’s inauguration.

The Mooch denied the story and CNN later gave him a much-deserved apology. Oh … and three CNN employees resigned over the botched piece.

4. Bloomberg’s Dirty Deutsche Bank Scoop

Bloomberg initially reported in December that special counsel Robert Mueller had “zeroed in” on Trump by subpoenaing Deutsche Bank records for the incoming president and his family.

Bloomberg later admitted that Mueller was looking for records relating to “people affiliated” with Trump.

5. Sessions Exonerated

Last May, CNN was sure that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had botched protocol when he didn’t list meetings he had with the Russian ambassador on his security clearance forms. To CNN and other establishment media outlets, this was proof that Sessions was hiding something related to Russia.

A little over six months later, CNN quietly walked back the scandal, explaining the FBI sent emails informing Sessions’ aide that he did not need to disclose the meetings on his forms because they were carried out in the course of his duties as a senator.

6. Russians Aren’t Just Hacking The Election — They’re Hacking Our Power Grid

The Washington Post claimed in January 2017 that Russians were hacking the U.S. power grid through a company in Vermont, only to change the story to say that only one laptop was infiltrated. It turns out that one laptop was never even connected to the power grid.

7. Republicans Funded The Dossier! 

A number of news outlets have consistently claimed that Republicans initially paid for the anti-Trump Steele dossier, failing to note that Steele wasn’t even contracted by Fusion GPS until after the GOP donors pulled funding. The Republican donors say they paid Fusion for standard opposition research and that they have zero connection to the dossier.

The media has perpetuated this falsehood so consistently that even former FBI director James Comey was confused, repeating the lie in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier.

8. CNN Gets Comey Prediction Wildly Wrong

Prior to former FBI director James Comey’s congressional testimony last June, CNN asserted that Comey was prepared to contradict a key claim by President Trump — that Comey told him he was not under investigation.

Sadly for them, Comey’s prepared testimony was released with the line, “During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower … I offered that assurance [that he was not under investigation].”

9. The ’17 Intel Agencies’ Lie

The media perpetuated a false claim from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for months, insisting that all 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The New York Times, for example, rated that claim as true only to later say the exact opposite.

Only four intelligence agencies ultimately deemed Russia responsible for meddling because the other 13 have no business making judgments on the claim. As The NYT succinctly explained, “The rest were doing other work.”

10. Manafort Notes Are A Nothing Burger

NBC botched its big scoop claiming that Paul Manafort’s notes from a meeting with a Russian lawyer included the word “donations” near a reference to the Republican National Committee.

Turns out, not only did the word “donations” not appear in Manafort’s notes, but the word “donor” didn’t, either. POLITICO had to correct the NBC report, leaving the legacy network looking awfully embarrassed.

11. NBC Issues Cohen Correction

NBC issued a major correction in May on a story about wiretaps and Michael Cohen.

NBC initially claimed that federal investigators were listening in on Cohen’s phone calls, but it turns out they had what’s called a “pen register warrant,” which means they could see who Cohen spoke to on the phone but could not hear what was said.(RELATED: MSNBC Issues HUGE Correction To Michael Cohen ‘Wiretap’ Story)

12. Did Cohen Go To Prague?

A McClatchy report stated that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence that Michael Cohen visited Prague in the summer of 2016, which seemed to corroborate the portion of the Steele dossier claiming Cohen visited Prague at that time to meet with a Kremlin official.

However, no other outlets ever confirmed the report and Cohen told Congress during an open hearing in February that he has never been to Prague. (RELATED: Here’s Why You Should Be Skeptical Of That Michael Cohen Prague Story)

13. Busted BuzzFeed 

The special counsel’s office disputed a 2019 report by BuzzFeed claiming that Trump directed his lawyer to lie about a potential business deal in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The BuzzFeed report was used to float impeachment proceedings and obstruction of justice charges against the president, but Mueller’s team disputed the core premise of the reporting.

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

14. Lanny Davis Obliterates CNN’s Trump Tower Story

CNN reported in July that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that the president had knowledge in advance of a Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians.

ut Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in August that CNN’s reporting got “mixed up” and that Cohen had no information related to the Trump Tower meeting. Cohen said the same to Congress on two separate occasions.

CNN doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on its reporting, despite a series of issues with the report.

15. NPR Accuses Don Jr. Of Perjury

NPR published a report in November insisting that Donald Trump Jr. lied to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow because his statements conflicted with those of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

However, NPR failed to realize that the piece of Trump Jr.’s testimony they quoted was about a different project.

“Trump Jr.’s statements about work on a Trump Tower Moscow that ended in 2014 referred to negotiations with Aras Agalarov,” The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Chuck Ross explained. “Felix Sater, a businessman with links to Cohen and Russian officials, tried to make a Trump Tower Moscow happen in 2015.”

16. Mic Claims Russian Spy Infiltrated The Oval 

Shortly after it was revealed that a Russian spy was attempting to infiltrate right-wing networks, Mic writer Emily Singer claimed that same Russian spy was present during an Oval Office meeting with Russian diplomat Sergey Lavrov.

Singer claimed Russian spy Maria Butina was spotted in a photo of the meeting, citing the fact that she has red hair like the woman in the photo.

The woman in the photo is actually NSC staffer Cari Lutkins. 

This story was originally published in May 2018 but has been updated with additional information regarding the delivery of Mueller’s report to Attorney General Bill Barr. 

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights March 11, 2019 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Samia Nakhoul

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights was manna from heaven for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an election.

For many Arabs, it crushed any hope that there will one day be a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and increased doubts that Washington is an impartial arbiter.

But allies and enemies can agree on one thing: Trump’s statement last Thursday was a turning point in U.S. policy over territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in 1981, in a move the U.N. Security Council declared unlawful.

“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel when Trump made his announcement on Twitter, told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview.

Netanyahu, who has thanked Trump for the announcement, is seeking re-election on April 9 but faces a tough battle and possible indictment in three corruption cases in which he denies wrongdoing.

He was due to meet Trump on Monday on a trip highlighting what Netanyahu calls the strongest ever bond between an Israeli leader and a U.S. president, though Trump has said his decision on the Golan Heights was not connected with the election.

But Trump’s decision, following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, could tempt other powers to annex land, undermine the roll-out of a U.S. Middle East peace plan and tilt Israel back into conflict with its Arab neighbors, Middle East analysts say.

“Donald Trump has made sure that Israel will be in a perpetual state of war with its Arab neighbors for many decades to come,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and author of the book Making the Arab World.

“What Trump has done is to hammer a deadly nail in the coffin of the peace process and Arab-Israeli reconciliation. This is a fundamental turning point. There is nothing left to discuss anymore.”

RESHAPING THE MIDDLE EAST

Trump’s move is, according to many analysts, partly intended to boost his own chances of re-election in 2020, by targeting the vast pool of U.S. evangelical Christians. Many of them voted for his in 2016 and they are championed in his administration by Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and others.

The announcement on the Golan Heights was the latest in a flurry of decisions that are widely seen as intended to redraw the contours of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Most have ticked the wish-list of Israel’s right-wing government and met longstanding demands of its U.S. supporters, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital. The Arab east of the city was occupied by Israel and then annexed after 1967 in a move that is legally repudiated internationally.

White House officials say the decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights acknowledge the reality on the ground, which they say must be the basis for legitimate peace negotiations.

Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said it was inconceivable Israel “would allow the Golan to be controlled by the state of Syria or by any of the rogue actors operating in the areas, including Iran.”

But with Sunni Arab leaders dealing with crises in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Sudan and Qatar, and their standoff with non-Arab Shi’ite Iran, they are less focused on Israel.

 

ARABS IN DISARRAY

Trump’s aides have indicated privately that they believe his moves on Jerusalem have provoked a less severe reaction in the Arab world than experts had predicted, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

In particular, they did not appear to have blocked behind-the-scenes security contacts developed in recent years between Israel and the United States’ Gulf allies over their common enemy Iran, the person said.

Aides’ advice to Trump on recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was that Washington could again weather the storm, the same person said.

Support for the move in the Trump administration had gained momentum over the past year as Israel increasingly expressed concern about Iranian forces and their proxies taking up positions in southwestern Syria, the official said.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and one of the administration’s leading Iran hawks, was an important proponent of the policy shift, the official said.

But skeptics say the move will also give Iran and its local ally Hezbollah what they would see as justification for new attacks on Israel and hamstring anti-Iranian Arab leaders if they are seen to accept the U.S. move.

The Trump administration has identified Iran as its main target in the Middle East, and withdrew from the deal signed by Tehran, the United States and other world powers in 2015 on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

MORE TO COME

But after the moves on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Iran and Hezbollah may feel better able to present themselves as the only steadfast allies of the Palestinian cause.

They could also play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by helping him in his portrayals of Israel and the United States as enemies.

“This will give further power to the Iran axis of resistance between Iran-Hezbollah-Assad against Israel and the U.S.,” said Galip Dalay, visiting fellow at Oxford University and a fellow at Brookings Doha. “This axis has just been given a very strong symbolic victory and this will give them the high ground.”

He said Arab leaders could not publicly support Trump’s decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights because it would threaten their popularity, in some cases already low.

“From the Arab standpoint, this makes them more hesitant to be supportive because the political space they need to maneuver has been eroded,” said Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East negotiator. “Each move by this administration has put Arab states on the defensive.”

Ross also suggested that U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights could embolden the Israeli right-wing to step up its push for annexing settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“I worry that the right in Israel can say ‘they recognized this. It will be a matter of time before we can annex all or part of the West Bank’,” he said. “That would be the end of the two-state solution.”

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights March 11, 2019 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Samia Nakhoul

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights was manna from heaven for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an election.

For many Arabs, it crushed any hope that there will one day be a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and increased doubts that Washington is an impartial arbiter.

But allies and enemies can agree on one thing: Trump’s statement last Thursday was a turning point in U.S. policy over territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in 1981, in a move the U.N. Security Council declared unlawful.

“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel when Trump made his announcement on Twitter, told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview.

Netanyahu, who has thanked Trump for the announcement, is seeking re-election on April 9 but faces a tough battle and possible indictment in three corruption cases in which he denies wrongdoing.

He was due to meet Trump on Monday on a trip highlighting what Netanyahu calls the strongest ever bond between an Israeli leader and a U.S. president, though Trump has said his decision on the Golan Heights was not connected with the election.

But Trump’s decision, following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, could tempt other powers to annex land, undermine the roll-out of a U.S. Middle East peace plan and tilt Israel back into conflict with its Arab neighbors, Middle East analysts say.

“Donald Trump has made sure that Israel will be in a perpetual state of war with its Arab neighbors for many decades to come,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and author of the book Making the Arab World.

“What Trump has done is to hammer a deadly nail in the coffin of the peace process and Arab-Israeli reconciliation. This is a fundamental turning point. There is nothing left to discuss anymore.”

RESHAPING THE MIDDLE EAST

Trump’s move is, according to many analysts, partly intended to boost his own chances of re-election in 2020, by targeting the vast pool of U.S. evangelical Christians. Many of them voted for his in 2016 and they are championed in his administration by Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and others.

The announcement on the Golan Heights was the latest in a flurry of decisions that are widely seen as intended to redraw the contours of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Most have ticked the wish-list of Israel’s right-wing government and met longstanding demands of its U.S. supporters, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital. The Arab east of the city was occupied by Israel and then annexed after 1967 in a move that is legally repudiated internationally.

White House officials say the decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights acknowledge the reality on the ground, which they say must be the basis for legitimate peace negotiations.

Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said it was inconceivable Israel “would allow the Golan to be controlled by the state of Syria or by any of the rogue actors operating in the areas, including Iran.”

But with Sunni Arab leaders dealing with crises in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Sudan and Qatar, and their standoff with non-Arab Shi’ite Iran, they are less focused on Israel.

 

ARABS IN DISARRAY

Trump’s aides have indicated privately that they believe his moves on Jerusalem have provoked a less severe reaction in the Arab world than experts had predicted, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

In particular, they did not appear to have blocked behind-the-scenes security contacts developed in recent years between Israel and the United States’ Gulf allies over their common enemy Iran, the person said.

Aides’ advice to Trump on recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was that Washington could again weather the storm, the same person said.

Support for the move in the Trump administration had gained momentum over the past year as Israel increasingly expressed concern about Iranian forces and their proxies taking up positions in southwestern Syria, the official said.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and one of the administration’s leading Iran hawks, was an important proponent of the policy shift, the official said.

But skeptics say the move will also give Iran and its local ally Hezbollah what they would see as justification for new attacks on Israel and hamstring anti-Iranian Arab leaders if they are seen to accept the U.S. move.

The Trump administration has identified Iran as its main target in the Middle East, and withdrew from the deal signed by Tehran, the United States and other world powers in 2015 on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

MORE TO COME

But after the moves on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Iran and Hezbollah may feel better able to present themselves as the only steadfast allies of the Palestinian cause.

They could also play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by helping him in his portrayals of Israel and the United States as enemies.

“This will give further power to the Iran axis of resistance between Iran-Hezbollah-Assad against Israel and the U.S.,” said Galip Dalay, visiting fellow at Oxford University and a fellow at Brookings Doha. “This axis has just been given a very strong symbolic victory and this will give them the high ground.”

He said Arab leaders could not publicly support Trump’s decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights because it would threaten their popularity, in some cases already low.

“From the Arab standpoint, this makes them more hesitant to be supportive because the political space they need to maneuver has been eroded,” said Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East negotiator. “Each move by this administration has put Arab states on the defensive.”

Ross also suggested that U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights could embolden the Israeli right-wing to step up its push for annexing settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“I worry that the right in Israel can say ‘they recognized this. It will be a matter of time before we can annex all or part of the West Bank’,” he said. “That would be the end of the two-state solution.”

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Source: OANN

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Personal attorney to President Donald Trump and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says the Democrats who said accused Trump of “collusion” with the Russians should apologize.

Giuliani called the Democratic leadership “shameless” as they continue to suggest the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation leaves doubt about Trump’s innocence.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani talks to Fox & Friends about the release of the Mueller report, March 25, 2019. Fox News screenshot.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani talks to Fox & Friends about the release of the Mueller report, March 25, 2019. Fox News screenshot.

“I think they’re shameless,” Giuliani told Fox & Friends Monday morning. “You would think they would have the decency to say, ‘I was wrong. I made a mistake.’” (RELATED: Top Ranking Democrat Says The Mueller Report Doesn’t Matter: ‘We Know There Was Collusion’)

The former mayor declared that Trump has “been absolved, vindicated, exonerated — you pick the word.”

After listening to a string of Democrats who all indicated they believed beyond a doubt that Trump had colluded with Russia to win the 2016 president leadership, Giuliani noted, “These people are unhappy with the finding. Shame on them! Shame on them!”

On Sunday, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded “the whole damn report,” even though significant portions cannot be released due to security and privacy concerns.

Just some of the Democrats who were certain that President Trump was guilty of collusion with the Russians. Fox News screenshot

Just some of the Democrats who were certain that President Trump was guilty of collusion with the Russians. Fox News screenshot

Commenting on the Mueller probe and how they sent SWAT teams to arrest people in their homes, the presidential lawyer said, “They conducted this investigation as if this were a terrorism … or organized crime case.”

Referring to some of the members of Mueller’s team as “rabid partisans” Giuliani said, “If they can’t find [proof], it’s not there. There was no obstruction of justice. There was no collusion.” (RELATED: CNN Forced To Admit Mueller Report Vindicates Trump)

He insisted, “Every American should breathe a sigh of relief” over the release of the Mueller probe and its indication that the president did not commit “these crimes.”

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Source: The Daily Caller

U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his house after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election in McClean, Virginia
U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his house after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election in McClean, Virginia, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 25, 2019

By Makini Brice and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Monday it was up to the U.S. Justice Department to decide if detailed findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation would be made public, a day after the attorney general said President Donald Trump had been cleared of any collusion.

Mueller wrapped up his investigation after nearly two years on Friday and submitted his findings to Attorney General William Barr, who on Sunday released a four-page summary saying there was no evidence of criminal collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. Mueller’s report left unresolved whether Trump obstructed justice.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin on Monday said President Vladimir Putin was ready to improve ties with the United States following the release of Barr’s summary and called on the United States to formally recognize there was no collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

Trump last week openly backed the public release of the report from the investigation, which he had repeatedly lambasted as a “witch hunt.”

The Barr summary handed Trump a political victory ahead of his 2020 re-election effort, even as Democratic challengers and lawmakers vowed to press on with other investigations into his business and personal dealings.

Democrats also called for the full findings from Mueller to be released to Congress and the public and vowed to call Barr to appear before lawmakers to answer questions.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that while Trump wanted the special counsel’s report to come out, it was not up to him.

“I think that the president is doing exactly what he should and that’s leaving that decision into the hands of the attorney general and we’ll see what decision he makes on that front,” Sanders said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program on Monday.

Sanders declined to comment on whether Trump would invoke presidential privilege to withhold any information. But Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said it “would be very inappropriate” to release the president’s written answers to the special counsel, saying they were confidential. Despite lengthy negotiations, Mueller never obtained an in-person interview with the president.

“As a lawyer, you don’t waive privileges and you don’t waive investigative detail absent either a court order or an agreement between the parties,” Sekulow told CNN in an interview, adding that Barr would make the final decision.

Trump embraced the summary’s findings, retweeting Barr’s assessment and related headlines news media despite years of decrying the “fake news” as #ReleaseTheFullMuellerReport trended nationwide on social media.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in a on a conference call with reporters, called on Washington to make the first move to reset ties and repeated Moscow’s denial of any interference in U.S. elections and internal affairs or those of any other country.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said the allegations of election meddling against a number of Russians were politically motivated.

Mueller’s investigation led to charges and guilty please against dozens of people, including a series of Russian nationals and companies as well as several advisers to President Donald Trump, including this former campaign chairman and national security adviser.

(The story was refiled to add the dropped word “said” in the first paragraph)

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Makini Brice; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar
FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Serajul Quadir

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh is not in a hurry to relocate Rohingya refugees to a Bay of Bengal island, a minister told Reuters on Monday, after the United Nations sought more details on the government’s plan, criticized by some human rights groups.

Bangladesh wants to move 100,000 of the nearly 1 million Rohingya Muslims sheltered in cramped camps in its southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar to the remote island, known as Bhasan Char http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/MYANMAR-ROHINGYA/010060Z21XP/index.html, which it has been developing for the past two years.

The United Nations is making plans to help Bangladesh with the move, Reuters reported last week.

But in a statement on Monday, the world body called for a thorough assessment to ensure the viability of the move, saying it was discussing “critical protection and operational issues” ahead of any relocation.

“We’re also examining the potential operational implications of setting up a humanitarian response on Bhasan Char, including the requirements, time frames and costs involved,” it said.

Bangladesh is in talks with U.N. humanitarian bodies, and working on their observations, said Enamur Rahman, the junior minister for disaster management and relief.”So we are going a little slow. There’s no exact date to relocate,” he added.

“We are not in a hurry and it will start only when all these U.N. bodies and Rohingya people feel the area is ready.”

Rahman said the government was working to build more cyclone shelters on the island, which is hours from the mainland by boat. Many Rohingya have opposed the transfer plan.

A World Food Programme document shows the U.N.’s food agency supplied Bangladesh with detailed plans, including a timeline and a budget, on providing for thousands of Rohingya taken to the island within weeks.

The March 12 plans show how the agency and its partners “may facilitate the identification, staging, forward movement, reception, and sustainment of refugees” on the island, based on an initial appeal for donor funds from $9 million to $19 million.

Densely-populated Bangladesh says it has been grappling with the large refugee numbers.

The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has swelled since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that U.N. investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent” prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has denied almost all accusations of atrocities made by refugees, saying its security forces engaged in a legitimate counterterrorism operation.

GRAPHIC: A remote home for the Rohingya – http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/MYANMAR-ROHINGYA/010060Z21XP/index.html

(Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Kosovo's Prime Minister Haradinaj talks during an interview withe Reuters in Pristina
FILE PHOTO: Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj talks during an interview withe Reuters in Pristina, Kosovo, October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Hazir Reka/File Photo

March 25, 2019

PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has fired the country’s ethnic Serb deputy justice minister after she called NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign against Serbia a “planned genocide”.

Deputy minister Vesna Mikic comes from Kosovo’s Serb minority which accounts for about 5 percent of the country’s population of 1.8 million.

“The NATO alliance committed a deliberately planned genocide against a sovereign country that fought Albanian terrorism inside its own borders,” Mikic said on her Facebook account on Sunday, marking the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing.

NATO carried out air strikes in 1999 against the now defunct Yugoslavia, comprised of Serbia and Montenegro, to halt a brutal crackdown against Kosovo Albanians by Serbian security forces.

After 78 days of bombing, under the terms of an armistice, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ordered his troops to withdraw from Kosovo and be replaced with NATO control.

Mikic’s post sparked criticism in the predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo where most people praise NATO for halting the two-year war and clearing the way for its independence in 2008. As many as 4,000 NATO peacekeepers are still deployed.

Mikic was not immediately available for comment.

Haradinaj dismissed the deputy minister with immediate effect.

“In Kosovo government there will be no place for individuals, despite their ethnicity, to denigrate our common euro-Atlantic values,” Haradinaj said in a statement.

More than 13,000 thousand people, mainly local Albanians, were killed in the 1998-99 war.

Kosovo has earned recognition from the United States and most EU countries, but Serbia and its major allies Russia and China remain adamantly opposed to Kosovo’s independence.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade, editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code
A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

March 25, 2019

By Paul Day and Paresh Dave

MADRID/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – An independent study lead by an academic group in Spain has shown that what personal information can be collected by pre-installed programs on new Android mobile devices is expansive and faces little oversight.

The investigation by the public Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, IMDEA Networks Institute and Stony Brook University looked at apps pre-installed on Android devices from 2,748 users, spanning 1,742 unique devices from 214 vendors across 130 countries.

The study did not look at whether the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation laws would bring greater oversight to pre-installed apps on Android devices.

Though Alphabet Inc’s Google owns Android, its open source nature enables device makers to customize the operating system and package other apps with the operating system before delivering them to users.

The study found the setup posed a potential threat to users’ privacy and security because the pre-installed apps request access to data that similar apps distributed through Google’s Play app store cannot reach.

Pre-installed apps often cannot be uninstalled, and Google may not be performing as rigorous security checks of them as it does for app store versions, the researchers found.

“There is a lack of regulation and transparency and no one seems to be monitoring what these stakeholders and apps do,” said co-author of the study Juan Tapiador.  

Google said it provides tools to equipment manufacturers which helps them make sure their software does not violate Google’s privacy and security standards.

“We also provide our partners with clear policies regarding the safety of pre-installed apps, and regularly give them information about potentially dangerous pre-loads we’ve identified,” a Google spokesperson said.

Pre-installed apps recently have drawn increased scrutiny. A U.S. Department of Justice criminal probe into Facebook, which worked with hardware makers to ensure its app would be on users’ devices, is examining those partnerships, the New York Times reported last week.

The authors of the study noted their paper did not focus on any software developers in particular but was a rather a study in the lack of regulation and transparency that surrounded pre-installed apps found on new devices.

Facebook, which has said it is cooperating with multiple government investigations into its handling of users’ private data, said partnering with mobile operators and device manufacturers on pre-installations immediately give users the best experience on its social network.

(Editing by David Evans)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is pictured as he speaks with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe during a dinner at the Hotel de Matignon in Paris
FILE PHOTO – Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is pictured as he speaks with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (not pictured) during a dinner at the Hotel de Matignon in Paris, France November 21, 2018. Lucas Barioulet/Pool via REUTERS

March 25, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi’s crown prince approved on Monday 5.6 billion dirhams ($1.52 billion) for research and development surrounding water scarcity and food security over the next five years.

“We have directed the Executive Committee to form global partnerships that seek innovative solutions in these vital areas,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan wrote on Twitter.

(Reporting by Alex Cornwell, Writing by Nafisa Eltahir)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 25, 2019

(Reuters) – One interest rate hike this year “at most” still makes sense given strong U.S. economic conditions, a Federal Reserve official said on Monday, despite risks that keep him in “wait-and-see mode” for now.

Strong economic growth and a positive outlook could still keep a rate hike on the table this year and another in 2020, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said in London. He also said the Fed will not be making “any drastic change in the near future” to the kinds of bonds it keeps on its $4 trillion balance sheet.

Harker’s colleagues on the central bank’s policymaking committee on Wednesday abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year, citing signs of an economic slowdown.

Harker participates in Fed policy discussions but does not have a vote until next year. Markets regard the Fed’s next likely move as a rate cut.

Inflation is “edging slightly downward” and business confidence has declined, Harker said, factors causing him to see risks tilting “very slightly to the downside” and supporting the Fed’s pause after nine hikes since 2015 have brought the Fed’s target rate to between 2.25 and 2.5 percent.

“I continue to be in wait-and-see mode,” Harker said in a speech prepared for delivery to the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum. “My current view is that, at most, one rate hike this year, and one in 2020, is appropriate, and my stance will be guided by data as they come in and events as they unfold.”

NEUTRALITY, FLEXIBILITY FOR FED BALANCE SHEET

Harker also offered an update on the Fed’s balance sheet. On Wednesday the Fed said it would halt the steady decline of its bond holdings in September but left open questions of exactly what bonds the Fed would like to keep in the long run and how quickly it would try to get there.

The Fed will not go back to holding primarily Treasuries “for some time,” according to Harker. The Fed bought mortgage-backed securities in an unusual step after the financial crisis to help stabilize the housing market and economy.

Yet over time Harker said the central bank should seek to once again hold bonds that would have a neutral effect and give the central bank flexibility to again use bond buying if rates fall near zero and the economy needs stimulus.

To achieve that, Harker said the Fed should avoid cornering the market on any particular security or auction. The Fed could hold bonds of maturities of the same proportion as the broader Treasuries market, he said, or the central bank could favor holding bonds due in a year or less to give them more flexibility to buy longer-term bonds to provide stimulus.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)

Source: OANN

The booth of Britain is seen during the International Tourism Trade Fair ITB in Berlin
The booth of Britain is seen during the International Tourism Trade Fair ITB in Berlin, Germany, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 25, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will miss Britain in terms of trade and the economy, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, adding that Brexit would cost jobs and weaken the European Union when it comes to foreign and security policy.

“Without the strong Britons, the EU will also be weaker in terms of foreign and security policy,” the ministry said on Twitter. “That’s why we’re trying to continue coordinating as closely as possible. It also concerns our own security.”

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Tassilo Hummel)

Source: OANN

Israeli policemen and soldiers inspect a damaged house that was hit by a rocket north of Tel Aviv Israel
Israeli policemen and soldiers inspect a damaged house that was hit by a rocket north of Tel Aviv Israel March 25, 2019. REUTERS/ Ammar Awad

March 25, 2019

By Tova Cohen

MISHMERET, Israel (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he will cut short his trip to the United States after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv wounded seven people.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the projectile was fired from Gaza, an enclave controlled by the militant Hamas group, and Netanyahu said Israel would respond forcefully.

Netanyahu, who arrived in Washington on Sunday for a four-day visit ahead of an April 9 Israeli election, said he would fly home immediately after meeting President Donald Trump at the White House, as planned, later on Monday.

The early morning attack on Mishmeret, an agricultural town north of Tel Aviv, came at a time of high tension ahead of the anniversary of Gaza border protests at the weekend, and Trump’s expression of support for Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

“In light of the security events I decided to cut short my visit to the U.S.,” Netanyahu said, calling the rocket fire a “heinous attack”.

In Mishmeret one house was completely destroyed, and at least one other house and cars were left badly damaged.

Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said it was treating seven people, including an infant, a 3-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman who was suffering from blast injuries, burns and shrapnel wounds.

The strike came minutes after the Israeli military activated air raid sirens in the area and said one rocket had been launched out of the Gaza Strip, a coastal territory 50 miles (80 km) away where Hamas and other factions possess such weapons.

Smadar Castelnovo, a Mishmeret resident who lives opposite the destroyed house, said they were woken up shortly after 5 a.m.

“We heard the siren and we didn’t think it was anything, but my daughter made us go into the reinforced room,” said Castelnovo, still in her pajamas.

“My daughter was upset because we had left the dog out. We went out to get the dog and as soon as we went back in there was a very loud boom.”

Police sealed off streets, and emergency services were working at the scene, as Israeli politicians visited to talk to media crews.

GAZA BRACING

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Gaza, where Palestinians were preparing for Israeli retaliation.

Israel told Palestinian officials it was closing all Gaza crossings as well as access to the sea from the blockaded territory.

Yahya Sinwar, the head of the Islamist militant group Hamas in the coastal enclave, canceled a planned public meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon, with Hamas officials citing “developments.”

Netanyahu said his decision to return to Israel was made after he consulted with Israeli military and intelligence chiefs. He had been due to address AIPAC, the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby, on Tuesday.

But early on Monday he said: “In a few hours, I will meet President Trump and immediately after that I will return to Israel to direct our actions close-hand.”

His chief rival in next month’s election, centrist ex-general Benny Gantz, issued a statement accusing the rightist premier of having “bankrupted national security” by permitting such attacks. Gantz, who is also in Washington to address AIPAC, had urged Netanyahu to return home.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, and outlying communities had last come under a long-range rocket attack that caused casualties during the 2014 war with Hamas.

Two rockets were launched at Tel Aviv on March 14 but caused no injuries or damage. Israel blamed those rocket launches on Hamas, though a security official later said the salvo had been set off by accident.

The latest attack follows disturbances involving Palestinian prisoners in southern Israel. Palestinian officials said 20 prisoners in Israel’s jail in the Negev were injured during violence inside the prison in the wake of “humiliating searches” by prison guards. Israeli officials said two guards were stabbed and wounded.

(Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell and Dan Williams in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

March 25, 2019

By Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

The two ships were identified as the Navy Curtis Wilbur destroyer and the Coast Guard Bertholf cutter, a U.S. military statement said.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said.

“The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” it added.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom of navigation patrols.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help defend the island nation and is its main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate the island internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said trade negotiations with China were progressing and a final agreement “will probably happen,” adding that his call for tariffs to remain on Chinese imported goods for some time did not mean talks were in trouble.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

The prevailing media narrative was that the Mueller report was going to damage President Donald Trump — but as the details began to roll out, many criticized the media as being hardest hit.

Attorney General William Barr delivered a summary of Mueller’s conclusions to Congress on Sunday, and the takeaway was that the special counsel had found no evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice.

Many were quick to pile on, blaming media personalities for perpetuating a narrative that now appears to be based wholly on faulty premises.

Donald Trump Jr. jumped into the fray as well, taking direct aim at specific outlets and challenging “honest journalists” to hold them accountable. (RELATED: Trump Jr. Lays Into ‘Sick And Twisted Conspiracy Theories’ Of ‘Collusion Truthers’)

A few people then pointed out that the Washington Post and the New York Times won Pulitzers “for their supposed stellar reporting on Trump’s treasonous activity with Russia.”

Trump Jr. responded with a plan to make a quick correction. “They should convert those Pulitzer’s to #fakenews awards,” he said.

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Source: The Daily Caller

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

March 24, 2019

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday the state had in the past been the main violator of human rights in the country, as he blamed violence and disappearances on his predecessors’ “neo-liberal” economic policies.

“There was a time in which the main violator of human rights was the state. It was the violator par excellence of human rights. That’s over,” Lopez Obrador said at an event in which his government set out plans to end disappearances in Mexico.

“I, as president, and at the same time as commander of the country’s armed forces, will never give the order to massacre, to repress the people of Mexico,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people are registered as disappeared in Mexico, where fighting between drug cartels and their clashes with security forces have been blamed for more than 200,000 deaths since late 2006.

The violence has been punctuated by mass killings, some of which have drawn international condemnation of the Mexican authorities. Most notorious was the 2014 disappearance of 43 student teachers in the southwestern city of Iguala.

The government said the youths were massacred after corrupt police handed them to a local drug gang, who incinerated their bodies. But many questions remain about the teachers’ fate, and the incident did lasting damage to the reputation of Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto.

Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has sought to present his presidency as a complete break with previous administrations, and said he would not back a policy of “an eye for an eye” that tried to tackle “violence with violence.”

Homicides have remained close to record levels since the veteran leftist took power.

The event set out plans to increase coordination between authorities, relatives and emergency services under a “national search system” designed to track down the disappeared.

Lopez Obrador said the government would spare no expense in its efforts to find the missing, and to put names on some 26,000 unidentified bodies currently in storage.

During his address, which was attended by relatives of some of the many disappeared, the president again attacked the economic policies of previous governments, saying they were corrupt, had impoverished Mexico and encouraged violence.

“This is what we’re suffering from,” he said, “the rotten fruit of neo-liberal economics prescribed for 36 years.”

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A record number of asylum requests and border crossings has forced the El Paso Border Patrol sector to temporarily close its highway checkpoints.

“We were told to go ahead and close down all the checkpoints,” a Border Patrol official told Texas Monthly. Agents who typically work at the checkpoints will instead be used to transport and process asylum seekers for an indefinite amount of time. “It’s really out of control. It’s bad,” the official continued.

These checkpoints are used to inspect cross-border cargo, where agents work to stop the flow of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, marijuana and methamphetamine from reaching the U.S. interior.

The surge in asylum requests comes as the U.S.-Mexico border is experiencing the highest levels of border crossings in over a decade. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Monday that her department expects to apprehend nearly 100,000 migrants by the end of March, which would be the highest number of apprehensions since 2007.

“I want to cut through the politics today to tell you loud and clear: There is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our southern border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Nielsen said Monday at George Washington University.

The surge in illegal immigration primarily stems from Guatemalan and Honduran nationals, who have fled their home countries in droves to escape poverty and gang-related crime. The number of Guatemalans and Hondurans who have fled to the U.S., in comparison to their countries’ populations, is striking. Between October and February, one out of every 155 Honduran nationals has been apprehended while crossing the U.S. southern border. For Guatemalans, that ratio is one out of 211, according to an analysis by Texas Monthly.

Immigration enforcement officials have detailed why the border crossings seen presently constitute an emergency.

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas sprayed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nov. 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas sprayed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nov. 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Unlike the 1990s and early 2000s, where illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border annually exceeded one million, the illegals of today are primarily not Mexican or Canadian, and many of them are children. The demographics make it difficult for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to quickly deport them, leaving detention facilities filled to the brim. (RELATED: Central American Migrants Are Sending Billions Back To Their Home Countries)

ICE detainment facilities have become so overwhelmed with illegal aliens, an agency spokesman revealed on Thursday that her agency has been forced to release over 100,000 migrant family members in the past three months alone.

ICE officials, much like the employees at El Paso Border Patrol, have been forced to forgo their typical duties in response to the influx of illegal immigrants coming from the southern border.

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Charles Kolb | Deputy Assistant to George H.W. Bush

If only Christopher Hitchens were still alive!

The Vanity Fair and former Nation journalist died of esophageal cancer at age 62 in December 2011. He would have a field day with today’s strange new world: the 2016 election, the Clintons (whom he detested), Trump’s presidential antics, Brexit (born a Brit, Hitchens became an American citizen), social media, artificial intelligence, and the 2020 presidential candidates.

Hitch was a great debunker. His irreverence was exceeded only by his intelligence, his eclectic reading, and his remarkable memory. He seemed to know just about everything, and his book titles trumpeted his strong verdicts. Bill Clinton was skewered in “No One Left to Lie To,” and his slim, scathing volume about Mother Teresa was titled “The Missionary Position.” There was, however, one unassailable Hitchens Hero: novelist and essayist George Orwell.

Hitchens’s 2002 book, “Why Orwell Matters,” is worth reading today. Hitchens praised Orwell as a relentless champion of liberty and equality whose vision embraced “a society of free and equal human beings.” Orwell despised communism and fascism, and his novels “Animal Farm” (1946) and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”(1949) warned about the danger of “Big Brother” governments that adopt authoritarian tactics against the governed.

Orwell never knew the Internet, but he surely would have been concerned about how social media platforms operate, with business models heavily reliant on algorithms that maximize profits by freely mining individual data at the expense of privacy. And that’s the problem: a Faustian bargain that says “give us your personal data in exchange for free services.” Governments now justify enhanced surveillance in exchange for enhanced security. As Hitchens wrote, Orwell believed deeply that “there should be no utilitarian tradeoff between freedom and security.”

To her credit, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recognizes the dangers described by Orwell, and that is why she pledges to break up the big data-driven tech companies if she becomes president. Warren is not alone. The pushback is already starting: the European Union has adopted internet rules (the General Data Protection Regulation) that strengthen individual privacy, is pursuing vigorous antitrust enforcement, and has levied substantial fines against Facebook and Google. We can expect continued congressional hearings that will examine these firms’ business practices, their privacy protections, and their profits.

Hitchens probably would have panned Warren’s fake populism (“I’m a gonna get me a beer”) and her ludicrous Cherokee-heritage claims (“my papaw had high cheekbones”). But the irreverent journalist and the consumer-oriented senator probably would have agreed on curbing social media platforms, enforcing antitrust laws, and forcing changes to existing business models that mine “free data” while offering inadequate privacy guarantees. Warren deserves credit for pressing these issues.

Machines governed by algorithms (mathematical problem-solving formulas that impose a set of rules designed to seek, identify, and capture patterns) now impact increasing aspects of contemporary life. This development is not inherently bad. Algorithms drive a significant portion of daily stock-market trading. Driverless cars use algorithms to process information faster than human brains. Algorithms now fly planes and track our Internet activity, including our daily movements based on our cellphone locations.

Edward Snowden’s massive data dump revealed that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress when he told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) that the government was not collecting personal data on American citizens. The government was scooping up everything it could find and relying on algorithms to search that information for potential terrorist threats.

When algorithms become linked with the brave new emerging world of artificial intelligence, however, there is the potential for both good (health care, fraud prevention, driverless cars, airport facial recognition) and bad (China’s plans to use AI for political monitoring through a “social credit system” that tracks citizens and bolsters Communist one-party political control).

Along with Hitchens and Orwell, Elizabeth Warren worries about tradeoffs between freedom and security. We need to tame the use of algorithms and make them work for us, not against us. What makes us human is our personal interaction with other humans, not with machines.

“Orwellian” is now applied to situations involving official government deception, extensive secret surveillance, and evading reality through lies and misleading information. George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens are no longer with us, so we need crusaders like Elizabeth Warren (and others) to ensure that our world remains governed by humans and not by machines responding to impersonal mathematical formulas.

Charles Kolb served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy in the Bush White House from 1990-92.


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

Source: The Daily Caller

Andrew Wilford | National Taxpayers’ Union Foundation

Newly-announced presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has been criticized in recent weeks for being light on policy specifics. Of course, it’s hard to blame him for holding back on policy specifics when his primary electorate is hammering him for acknowledging some pretty basic realities about our debt crisis back in 2012.

Back in 2012, when he was in the middle of a primary challenge against then-incumbent Rep. Silvestre Reyes, O’Rourke stated that the size of the federal government was “extravagant” with an “out-of-control debt” and that “significant” spending cuts were necessary. That was true then, and it’s only become even more accurate as spending discipline has continued to slip.

It’s true that we are running trillion-dollar annual deficits and that the national debt has blown past $22 trillion in total debt. Unfortunately, that’s small potatoes compared to what’s on the horizon. Social Security and Medicare are going to blow our short-term budget problems out of the water as the baby boomer generation retires — these two programs alone are projected to run a deficit of $82 trillion over the next 30 years.

That’s a huge crisis in two programs that Americans contribute to from their paychecks and count on for their retirement. Unfortunately, it’s next to impossible for politicians to propose meaningful reforms to Social Security and Medicare without needing to look for work come next election cycle.

Instead, it’s become a common refrain on the left that the debt only became an issue on December 22, 2017, when President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law. That ignores the clear reality that we are in a debt crisis because our government overspends, not because we are undertaxed.

Even if the TCJA had never passed, our debt-to-GDP ratio would have gone from 76.65 percent in 2017 to 111.23 percent in 2027; with the tax reform law, the debt-to-GDP ratio was projected to increase just 3 percent by 2027, to 114.2 percent. An easy way to spot a dishonest partisan is when they blame the $1.43 trillion TCJA for our current debt crisis, but are mum on the $1.66 trillion bipartisan spending bill signed just a couple months later.

O’Rourke deserves praise for making tough statements while running for Congress in 2012. The candidate has been under attack from more extreme elements of the left due to his habit of taking positions that go against the tenets of democratic socialism — for example, refusing to back Elizabeth Warren’s tech breakup plan, making positive statements about capitalism and the power of the market, and seeming hesitant to endorse a single-payer plan. All of these heresies have led many on the left to suggest that O’Rourke doesn’t actually believe anything, a refrain that has been dutifully parroted by mainstream outlets.

Unfortunately, because of this pressure from the left, his spokesman has since felt the need to walk those statements back somewhat. For a primary electorate obsessed with denial of impending crises, the irony of a major candidate being savaged for acknowledging that Medicare and Social Security are in danger of not being solvent by the time millennials are ready to receive benefits from them is thick enough to choke on.

Beto O’Rourke was right to point to the need for Social Security and Medicare reform. It’s too bad that he’s stuck with an electorate that would rather engage in “deficit denial.”

Andrew Wilford (@PolicyWilford) is a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fiscal policy analysis and education at all levels of government.


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

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Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that there is compelling evidence that President Donald Trump colluded with Russian interests during the 2016 presidential election.

The accusation comes as special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation without charging any U.S. citizen with a collusion-related crime, though six Trump associates were charged for unrelated criminal offenses.

“There’s a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy,” Schiff told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“I have trust in [Mueller’s] prosecutorial judgment,” Schiff added. “But that doesn’t mean, of course, that there isn’t compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people.”

Schiff listed several episodes as substantiating the collusion charge, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Kremlin-aligned lawyer, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s post-election conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and erstwhile Trump confidant Roger Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks.

The conduct underlying those widely reported episodes did not result in criminal indictments, though Flynn and Stone were charged with various process crimes. Mueller’s investigation, at Schiff’s urging, of Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince and Jared Kushner for lying to Congress also concluded without indictments. (RELATED: Tucker Calls For Roger Stone Pardon)

WATCH the interview:

Attorney General William Barr will deliver a top line summary of Mueller’s report to Congress on Sunday. It is not yet clear whether Congress or the public will have access to Mueller’s report in full. In a Friday letter to relevant committee chairmen, Barr said he would make decisions as to disclosure consistent with the law and DOJ practice.

“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible,” Barr wrote.

A related dispute as to executive privilege may follow. The White House may wish to shield portions of the report that relate to communications within the executive branch, among other subjects. Such a move is sure to draw fierce criticism from Democrats.

Whatever the particulars of the special counsel’s report, Schiff indicated that the House Intelligence Committee would continue its investigations, Mueller’s own conclusions notwithstanding.

“We have an independent obligation to share the facts with the American people,” Schiff said. “We in the Intelligence Committee have a particular obligation to determine whether there is evidence that the president may be compromised in any way, whether that is criminal or not.”

The House Judiciary Committee is separately undertaking its own wide-ranging investigation of the president.

Mueller submitted his final report to Justice Department leadership on Friday.

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

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Democrats are pressing for full disclosure of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation and vowing to use subpoena powers and other legal means if necessary to get it.

Attorney General William Barr was expected to release his first summary of Mueller's findings on Sunday, people familiar with the process said, on what lawmakers anticipated could be a day of reckoning in the two-year probe into President Donald Trump and Russian efforts to elect him. Since receiving the report Friday, Barr has been deciding how much of it Congress and the public will see.

Democrats are on a hair trigger over the prospect that some information may be withheld.

"I suspect that we'll find those words of transparency to prove hollow, that in fact they will fight to make sure that Congress doesn't get this underlying evidence," Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on ABC's "This Week."

His plan: Ask for information and if that's denied, "subpoena. If subpoenas are denied, we will haul people before the Congress. And yes, we will prosecute in court as necessary to get this information."

At his resort in Florida, Trump stirred from an unusual, nearly two-day silence on Twitter with the anodyne tweet Sunday morning: "Good Morning, Have a Great Day!" Then followed up: "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Democrats won't be willing to wait long for the Justice Department to hand over full information on the probe into whether Trump's 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election and whether the president later sought to obstruct the investigation.

"It won't be months," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Asked if he still believes Trump obstructed justice, he indicated there has been obstruction but "whether it's criminal is another question."

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversaw much of his work, analyzed the report on Saturday, laboring to condense it into a summary letter of main conclusions.

The Russia investigation has shadowed Trump for nearly two years and has ensnared his family and close advisers. And no matter the findings in Mueller's report, the probe already has illuminated Russia's assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.

Barr has said he wants to release as much as he can under the law. That decision will require him to weigh the Justice Department's longstanding protocol of not releasing negative information about people who aren't indicted against the extraordinary public interest in a criminal investigation into the president and his campaign.

Democrats are citing the department's recent precedent of norm-breaking disclosures, including during the Clinton email investigation, to argue that they're entitled to Mueller's entire report and the underlying evidence he collected.

Even with the details still under wraps, Friday's end to the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump's orbit who had feared a final round of charges could target more Trump associates or members of the president's family.

The White House sought to keep its distance, saying Sunday it had not been briefed on the report. Trump, who has relentlessly criticized Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt," went golfing Saturday and was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter. Not so one of his guests, musician Kid Rock, who posted a picture with the president and the tweet, "Another great day on the links!" He added: "What a great man, so down to earth and so fun to be with!!"

The conclusion of Mueller's investigation does not remove legal peril for the president.

He faces a separate Justice Department investigation in New York into hush money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him years before the election. He's also been implicated in a potential campaign finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Trump asked him to arrange the transactions. Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been investigating foreign contributions made to the president's inaugural committee.

As for Mueller, absent the report's details it was not known whether he concluded the campaign colluded with the Kremlin to tip the election in favor of the celebrity businessman. A Justice Department official did confirm that Mueller was not recommending any further indictments, meaning the investigation had ended without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy, or of obstruction of justice by the president.

In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the congressional judiciary committees, Barr noted on Friday that the department had not denied any request from Mueller, something Barr would have been required to disclose to ensure there was no political interference. Trump was never interviewed in person by Mueller's team, but submitted answers to questions in writing.

In a conference call Saturday about next steps, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a warning for his fellow Democrats, some of whom have pinned high political hopes on Mueller's findings: "Once we get the principal conclusions of the report, I think it's entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters."

A number of Trump associates and family members have been dogged by speculation of possible wrongdoing. Among them are Donald Trump Jr., who helped arrange a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller's prosecutors.

All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet.

Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, said Saturday that the case of former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will be handed off to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Gates was a key cooperator in Mueller's probe and court papers show he continues to help with several other federal investigations.

Justice Department legal opinions have held that sitting presidents may not be indicted. But many Democrats say Trump should not be immune from a public accounting of his behavior. Though the department typically does not disclose negative information about people who are not indicted, officials have at times broken from that protocol.

Former FBI Director James Comey famously held a July 2016 news conference in which he criticized Clinton as "extremely careless" in her use of a private email server but said the FBI would not recommend charges. The Justice Department also took the extraordinary step of making available to lawmakers the details of a secret surveillance warrant obtained on a Trump campaign aide in the early days of the Russia probe.

Source: NewsMax

General view of Duqm Port in Oman
General view of Duqm Port in Oman, August 22, 2017. REUTERS/ Nawied Jabarkhyl

March 24, 2019

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States clinched a strategic port deal with Oman on Sunday which U.S. officials say will allow the U.S. military better access the Gulf region and reduce the need to send ships through the Strait of Hormuz, a maritime choke point off Iran.

The U.S. embassy in Oman said in a statement that the agreement governed U.S. access to facilities and ports in Duqm as well as in Salalah and “reaffirms the commitment of both countries to promoting mutual security goals.”

The accord is viewed through an economic prism by Oman, which wants to develop Duqm while preserving its Switzerland-like neutral role in Middle Eastern politics and diplomacy.

But it comes as the United States grows increasingly concerned about Iran’s expanding missile programs, which have improved in recent years despite sanctions and diplomatic pressure by the United States.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal was significant by improving access to ports that connect to a network of roads to the broader region, giving the U.S. military great resiliency in a crisis.

“We used to operate on the assumption that we could just steam into the Gulf,” one U.S. official said, adding, however, that “the quality and quantity of Iranian weapons raises concerns.”

Tehran has in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route at the mouth of the Gulf, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.

Still, the U.S. official noted that the agreement would expand U.S. military options in the region for any kind of crisis.

Duqm is ideal port for large ships. It is even big enough to turn around an aircraft carrier, a second official said.

“The port itself is very attractive and the geostrategic location is very attractive, again being outside the Strait of Hormuz,” the official said, adding that negotiations began under the Obama administration.

COMPETITION WITH CHINA

For Oman, the deal will further advance its efforts to transform Duqm, once just a fishing village 550 km (345 miles) south of capital Muscat, into a key Middle East industrial and port center, as its diversifies its economy beyond oil and gas exports.

The deal could also better position the United States in the region for what has become a global competition with China for influence.

Chinese firms once aimed to invest up to $10.7 billion in the Duqm project, a massive injection of capital into Oman, in what was expected to be a commercial, not military, arrangement.

“It looks to me like the Chinese relationship here isn’t as big as it appeared it was going to be a couple of years ago,” the second official said.

“There’s a section of the Duqm industrial zone that’s been set aside for the Chinese … and as far as I can tell so far they’ve done just about nothing.”

Still, China has in the past shown no qualms about rubbing up against U.S. military facilities.

In 2017, the African nation of Djibouti, positioned at another geostrategic choke-point, the strait of Bab al-Mandeb, became home to China’s first overseas military base. The U.S. military already had a base located just miles away, which has been crucial for operations against Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of “ordering and committing the crime.” The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed until he was sacked then sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, is not on trial and has not appeared at any of the four court sessions convened since January, said seven sources, who are familiar with the proceedings but have not attended the trial.

Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

The Saudi public prosecutor said in November that Qahtani had coordinated with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become a vocal critic of the crown prince’s policies following years as a royal insider.

The prosecutor said Qahtani had met the operatives charged with Khashoggi’s repatriation ahead of their journey to Istanbul. When Khashoggi resisted, the lead negotiator decided to kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Asiri is on trial, the seven sources told Reuters.

Three of the sources said that Maher Mutreb, the lead negotiator, and Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, are also on trial and could face the death penalty.

The sources said the defendants have legal counsel and have defended themselves in court by claiming they did not intend to kill Khashoggi or were merely carrying out orders.

The public prosecutor, the government media office, Qahtani and Asiri did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the trial. Reuters could not reach Mutreb, Tobaigy or any of the defendants’ lawyers.

Saudi Arabia wants to move on from the global outcry sparked by Khashoggi’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October, which tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, prompted some investors to pull out, and intensified criticism of the country’s human rights record.

A credible investigation and trial are among Western demands to restore Saudi Arabia’s standing after the killing. But Riyadh has refused to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry, rejecting it as interference in its internal affairs.

It is unclear what evidence, if any, has been presented in court. Khashoggi’s remains have not been discovered, and Riyadh says it has not received evidence requested from Ankara, which says it has recordings related to the killing in which Qahtani features prominently.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara had shared all the necessary information with Saudi Arabia but that the cooperation had not been reciprocated. Turkey wants Riyadh to answer questions including where Khashoggi’s body is and who the Saudis standing trial in Riyadh are.

Three of the sources said a representative for the Khashoggi family attended at least one session to ask for an update on the public prosecutor’s investigation into Qahtani and for him to be brought before the court.

Qahtani has continued to wield influence in the crown prince’s inner circle and remains active on behalf of the royal court, Western, Arab and Saudi sources with links to the royal court told Reuters in January.

A Saudi official denied that at the time and said Qahtani remains under investigation and banned from travel.

Access to the trial has been limited to diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Turkey who are summoned on short notice and barred from bringing interpreters.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of “ordering and committing the crime.” The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed until he was sacked then sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, is not on trial and has not appeared at any of the four court sessions convened since January, said seven sources, who are familiar with the proceedings but have not attended the trial.

Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

The Saudi public prosecutor said in November that Qahtani had coordinated with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become a vocal critic of the crown prince’s policies following years as a royal insider.

The prosecutor said Qahtani had met the operatives charged with Khashoggi’s repatriation ahead of their journey to Istanbul. When Khashoggi resisted, the lead negotiator decided to kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Asiri is on trial, the seven sources told Reuters.

Three of the sources said that Maher Mutreb, the lead negotiator, and Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, are also on trial and could face the death penalty.

The sources said the defendants have legal counsel and have defended themselves in court by claiming they did not intend to kill Khashoggi or were merely carrying out orders.

The public prosecutor, the government media office, Qahtani and Asiri did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the trial. Reuters could not reach Mutreb, Tobaigy or any of the defendants’ lawyers.

Saudi Arabia wants to move on from the global outcry sparked by Khashoggi’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October, which tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, prompted some investors to pull out, and intensified criticism of the country’s human rights record.

A credible investigation and trial are among Western demands to restore Saudi Arabia’s standing after the killing. But Riyadh has refused to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry, rejecting it as interference in its internal affairs.

It is unclear what evidence, if any, has been presented in court. Khashoggi’s remains have not been discovered, and Riyadh says it has not received evidence requested from Ankara, which says it has recordings related to the killing in which Qahtani features prominently.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara had shared all the necessary information with Saudi Arabia but that the cooperation had not been reciprocated. Turkey wants Riyadh to answer questions including where Khashoggi’s body is and who the Saudis standing trial in Riyadh are.

Three of the sources said a representative for the Khashoggi family attended at least one session to ask for an update on the public prosecutor’s investigation into Qahtani and for him to be brought before the court.

Qahtani has continued to wield influence in the crown prince’s inner circle and remains active on behalf of the royal court, Western, Arab and Saudi sources with links to the royal court told Reuters in January.

A Saudi official denied that at the time and said Qahtani remains under investigation and banned from travel.

Access to the trial has been limited to diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Turkey who are summoned on short notice and barred from bringing interpreters.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of “ordering and committing the crime.” The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed until he was sacked then sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, is not on trial and has not appeared at any of the four court sessions convened since January, said seven sources, who are familiar with the proceedings but have not attended the trial.

Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

The Saudi public prosecutor said in November that Qahtani had coordinated with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become a vocal critic of the crown prince’s policies following years as a royal insider.

The prosecutor said Qahtani had met the operatives charged with Khashoggi’s repatriation ahead of their journey to Istanbul. When Khashoggi resisted, the lead negotiator decided to kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Asiri is on trial, the seven sources told Reuters.

Three of the sources said that Maher Mutreb, the lead negotiator, and Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert specialized in autopsies, are also on trial and could face the death penalty.

The sources said the defendants have legal counsel and have defended themselves in court by claiming they did not intend to kill Khashoggi or were merely carrying out orders.

The public prosecutor, the government media office, Qahtani and Asiri did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the trial. Reuters could not reach Mutreb, Tobaigy or any of the defendants’ lawyers.

Saudi Arabia wants to move on from the global outcry sparked by Khashoggi’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October, which tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, prompted some investors to pull out, and intensified criticism of the country’s human rights record.

A credible investigation and trial are among Western demands to restore Saudi Arabia’s standing after the killing. But Riyadh has refused to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry, rejecting it as interference in its internal affairs.

It is unclear what evidence, if any, has been presented in court. Khashoggi’s remains have not been discovered, and Riyadh says it has not received evidence requested from Ankara, which says it has recordings related to the killing in which Qahtani features prominently.

A senior Turkish official said Ankara had shared all the necessary information with Saudi Arabia but that the cooperation had not been reciprocated. Turkey wants Riyadh to answer questions including where Khashoggi’s body is and who the Saudis standing trial in Riyadh are.

Three of the sources said a representative for the Khashoggi family attended at least one session to ask for an update on the public prosecutor’s investigation into Qahtani and for him to be brought before the court.

Qahtani has continued to wield influence in the crown prince’s inner circle and remains active on behalf of the royal court, Western, Arab and Saudi sources with links to the royal court told Reuters in January.

A Saudi official denied that at the time and said Qahtani remains under investigation and banned from travel.

Access to the trial has been limited to diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Turkey who are summoned on short notice and barred from bringing interpreters.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

Sister of Owais Malik, a suspected militant, displays her phone with the picture of Malik, at her home in south Kashmir's Kulgam district
Sister of Owais Malik, a suspected militant, displays her phone with the picture of Malik, at her home in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Zeba Siddiqui

March 24, 2019

By Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari

KULGAM, India (Reuters) – Kashmiri farmer Yusuf Malik learned that his son Owais, a 22-year old arts student and apple picker, had become an armed militant via a Facebook post.

Days after Owais disappeared from his home in this picturesque valley below the Himalayan ranges, his picture appeared on the social network, posted by a user the family said they did not recognize. The short, thin, curly-haired young man in casual jeans and a T-shirt stared resolutely at the camera, both hands clutching an AK-47 rifle.

In blood red font on the photo was scribbled his new allegiance: the Hizbul Mujahideen, or ‘The Party of Warriors’, the largest of the militant groups fighting to free the mostly-Muslim Kashmir from Indian rule.

“He was a responsible kid who cared about his studies,” said Yusuf, 49, staring down at the carpeted floor of his brick home where he sat on a recent winter morning, clasping his folded hands inside his traditional pheran cloak.

The family said it has not heard from Owais since.

Owais is one of a rising number of local militants fighting for independence of Kashmir – an insurgency being spread on social media amid India’s sustained, iron-fisted rule of the region.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and armed police are stationed in this lush region at the foot of the Himalayas. India and rival Pakistan have always disputed the area and in the past three decades, an uprising against New Delhi’s rule has killed nearly 50,000 civilians, militants and soldiers, by official count.

Historically, that insurrection has largely been led by militants from Pakistan, who have infiltrated into the valley.

But now, an increasing number of locally-born Kashmiris are picking up arms, according to Indian officials. About 400 local Kashmiris have been recruited by militants since the start of 2016, nearly double the number in the previous six years, according to government data. India says Pakistani groups continue to provide training and arms – a claim Islamabad rejects. 

Just a month before Owais Malik showed up on Facebook, another young man, Adil Ahmad Dar, left his home in a nearby part of Kashmir to join a militant group. This February, his suicide attack on a paramilitary convoy killed 40 Indian policemen, and took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

After Dar’s attack, Indian security forces launched a major crackdown, searching Kashmiri homes and detaining hundreds of supporters, sympathizers and family members of those in armed groups. At least half a dozen gunbattles broke out between Indian police and militants.

The families of Dar and other young militants, as well as some local leaders and political experts, say run-ins between locals and security forces are one of the main reasons for anger and radicalization. After the recent crackdown, they expect more young people to take up arms.

“FREEDOM, MARTYRS”

Outside the narrow lane that leads to the Malik family home in Kulgam in southern Kashmir, children walk to school past shuttered shopfronts and walls spray-painted with the word “azadi”, the local word for “freedom”. The graveyard at the end of the lane has an area for militants, who are remembered as “martyrs”.

Dar’s family claims he’d been radicalized in 2016 after being beaten up by Indian troops on his way back from school for pelting stones at them.

“Since then, he wanted to join the militants,” said his father Ghulam Hassan Dar, a farmer.

India’s home and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

In news conferences since the suicide bombing, Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, India’s top military commander in Kashmir, has dismissed allegations of harassment and rights abuses by Indian troops as “propaganda”. He said the recent crackdown by security forces has resulted in the killing of the masterminds of the attack, and militant recruitment has dipped in recent months.

Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired army general who has served in Kashmir for over 20 years, said the rise in homegrown fighters does not surprise him. 

“Those who were born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the conflict started, have now come of age,” he said. “This is a generation that has only seen the jackboot. The alienation of this generation is higher than the alienation of the previous generation.”

A 17th century Mughal emperor called Kashmir “paradise on earth”. But violence has ebbed and flowed in the valley since the subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947.

The question of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, was never resolved, and it has been the catalyst for two wars and several violent clashes between the countries.

Tensions have risen after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in New Delhi in 2014. Modi promised a tougher approach to Pakistan and gave security forces the license to retaliate forcefully against the insurgency.

CULT FOLLOWING

Around that time, many young Kashmiris started rallying around Burhan Wani, who had left home at the age of 15 to join the insurgency. Wani had a large following on social media, where he appeared in videos dressed in military fatigues and armed with an assault rifle, calling for an uprising against Indian rule. 

He and his brother were beaten by security forces when they were teenagers, his family told local media. Wani was 22 when he was killed by security forces in 2016 and thousands attended his funeral despite restrictions on the movement of people and traffic.

The United Nations said in a report last year that in trying to quell mass protests in Kashmir since 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to between 130 and 145 killings, according to civil society estimates.

Thousands were injured, including around 700 who sustained eye injuries from the use of pellet guns by security forces, it said. Thousands of people had simply disappeared since the insurgency began, it said.

The Indian government has rejected the report as false. Indian forces have long been accused of rights abuses and torture in custody in Kashmir, but officials routinely deny the charges.

Instead, India points the finger at Pakistan. Officials say the rebellion in Kashmir is being funded and organized by Pakistan and if they cut off those resources, the insurgency will weaken and it can then focus on building Kashmir’s economy. The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group claimed responsibility for the latest attack, which was the deadliest in the insurgency.

Pakistan says it only provides moral support to the Kashmiri right to self-determination.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Muslim spiritual leader of Kashmir who is considered a moderate separatist, contests that India has true plans to engage politically with the people of Kashmir.

“In the past five years we have seen that the government of India has only spoken to Kashmiris through the barrel of the gun, that’s it. There is no political approach,” he said.

“Nobody is dying in Kashmir for lack of roads, electricity and water.” 

LOSING ANOTHER SON

A few miles south of Owais Malik’s home in Kulgam lives Masuma Begum, who said her son and brother had been called in to an army camp two days after the latest bombing and have been held since then.

A military spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Behind the glass panes of a wall shelf above her were photos of a smiling young man, an assault rifle slung on his shoulder.

“That’s my other son, Tausif,” Masuma Begum said. The 24-year-old had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013 and been killed by the army the same year, she said. “I don’t want to lose another son.”

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari in KULGAM; Editing by Martin Howell and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan
FILE PHOTO: With Xinjiang’s fabled Tianshan mountains in the background, what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre is seen in Turpan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

March 24, 2019

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – “Highly choreographed” tours to Xinjiang organized by the Chinese government are misleading and propagate false narratives about the troubled region, a U.S. official said, after China announced plans to invite European envoys to visit.

China has been stepping up a push to counter growing criticism in the West and among rights groups about a controversial de-radicalization program in heavily Muslim Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

Critics say China is operating internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim peoples who live in Xinjiang, though the government calls them vocational training centers and says it has a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence.

China’s foreign ministry said late last week it would invite Beijing-based European diplomats to visit soon. Diplomatic sources said the so-far informal invitation had gone specifically to ambassadors and was planned for this week.

A U.S. government official, asked by Reuters if the U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, had been invited to visit Xinjiang, said there were no meetings or visits to announce.

“Highly choreographed and chaperoned government-led tours in Xinjiang have propagated false narratives and obfuscated the realities of China’s ongoing human rights abuses in the region,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The visit this month would be the first by a large group of Western diplomats to the region since international concern about Xinjiang’s security clampdown began intensifying last year. Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in recent years.

Several groups of diplomats from other countries have already been brought to Xinjiang on tightly scripted trips since late December to visit the facilities.

There have been two visits by groups including European diplomats to Xinjiang this year. One was a small group of EU diplomats, and the other by a group of diplomats from a broader mix of countries, including missions from Greece, Hungary and North African and Southeast Asian states.

A Reuters journalist visited on a government-organized trip in January.

The U.S. official described what was happening in Xinjiang as “a highly repressive campaign”, and said claims that the facilities were “humane job-training centers” or “boarding schools” were not credible.

“We will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies, free all those who have been arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of its Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China has rejected all foreign criticism of its policies in Xinjiang, and says it invites foreigners to visit to help them better understand the region.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang marked the worst human rights abuses “since the 1930s”.

The issue of Xinjiang adds another irritant to already strained ties between Washington and Beijing, who are trying to end a bitter trade war and have several other areas of disagreement, including the disputed South China Sea and U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

Late last year, more than a dozen ambassadors from Western countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the EU’s top envoy in Beijing, wrote to the government to seek a meeting with Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, to discuss their concerns about the rights situation.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including Chen.

Two diplomatic sources told Reuters on Saturday that government officials had said a meeting with Chen was not being offered to the European ambassadors, and that the trip was not to discuss human rights but to talk about China-Europe cooperation on President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road project.

It remains unclear whether they would accept the invitation, though the two sources said it was unlikely.

The European Union’s embassy in Beijing has declined to comment on the invitation.

Xi is currently in Europe on a state visit to Italy, Monaco and France. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang goes to Brussels next month for a China-EU summit.

EU leaders said on Friday the bloc must recognize that China is as much a competitor as a partner.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Eitan, who was involved in the capture of Eichmann, an architect of the Nazi Holocaust, sits during a ceremony at Israeli President Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem
FILE PHOTO: Rafi Eitan, who was involved in the capture of Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Nazi Holocaust, sits during a ceremony to mark 55 years since the Eichmann trial of at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s residence in Jerusalem January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

March 23, 2019

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Rafi Eitan, a former Israeli minister and veteran spy who led the operation to capture fugitive Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann, died on Saturday at the age of 92.

“We have lost a brave fighter whose contribution to Israel’s security will be taught for generations to come,” President Reuven Rivlin said.

Eitan died after being hospitalized in Tel Aviv, YNET news website and other Israeli media reported.

Eitan played an influential role in the early years of Israel’s intelligence agencies.

In 1960, he was in charge of the Mossad operation that led to the capture of Eichmann, an architect of the Nazi Holocaust, who was living in Argentina under an assumed identity. Eichmann was taken to Israel where he stood trial for crimes against humanity, was found guilty and hanged.

Eitan was also involved in the planning and implementation of the attack on the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

He then headed Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations, which was involved in the scandal surrounding Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. naval intelligence analyst arrested in 1985 and sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment for spying for Israel.

Israel has said Pollard was recruited in a rogue operation by the since-disbanded bureau. Eitan assumed responsibility for and resigned over the affair, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Eitan was elected to parliament in 2006 for three years and served as pensioners minister.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Source: OANN

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

GOP Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is preparing to introduce a “Green Real Deal” resolution to contrast with Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, according to Politico.

Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her resolution on Feb. 7 and immediately faced criticism for its scope and potential cost, which reached toward tens of trillions of dollars. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Bungled Green new Deal’s Release. Her Staff Took Its Webpage Offline)

A draft of Gaetz’s resolution, obtained by Politico, recognizes risks to the U.S. from climate change, citing Department of Defense reports that identify certain military assets and bases as at risk to rising sea levels and increasing severe weather events, such as hurricanes.

“Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth,” the draft says.

Energy lobbyists have seemingly received copies of Gaetz’s resolution are beginning to line up behind it in support.

“Congressman Gaetz deserves to be applauded for taking the lead in crafting a bold resolution that identifies actionable climate solutions that will benefit America’s economy, environment, and national security,” Heather Reams, executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, said in a statement.

Gaetz’s resolution pushes market-driven innovation and competition from companies developing green energy technology. It does not set any emission reduction goals.

The draft pledges “to reduce and modernize regulations so that clean energy technologies can be deployed, and compete.”

In contrast to the Green New Deal, the draft Green Real Deal resolution takes a positive view on nuclear energy. Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution did not mention the energy sector, causing some controversy among pro-nuclear energy experts.

Gaetz’s legislation takes a wide-ranging approach to cutting emissions through investing in fossil fuel carbon capture technology, new and updated nuclear and hydropower placements, making the power grid more efficient and granting energy companies improved access to public lands.

The resolution pledges to “empower individuals, states, and the marketplace” to develop and disseminate new technology that will cut the United States’ carbon emissions.

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Mason Thibault | Contributor

Are you interested in upgrading your home security? Staying hyper-connected for your security needs is the new norm, and LaView, a California based company is looking to set a new standard for premium home security.

LaView’s new ONE Link system features fantastic tech and specs for getting the job done, including HD 1080P wire-free battery cameras with easy magnetic mounting for flexible 360° angling and seamless portability. It is also very easy to use as the system comes with a Smart Station that plugs directly into the user’s router and employs a single-button synching process to connect all the wireless security cameras.

Why take a chance on home security? With LaViews ONE link, your entire security camera system can stay connected for up to six months without need for recharging!

Why take a chance on home security? With LaViews ONE link, your entire security camera system can stay connected for up to six months without need for recharging!

Why pay hundreds of dollars per camera that require constant maintenance or replacement? LaView’s OneLink system is cost effective and includes an entire WiFI ecosystem for home security 

Over the past year, LaView has developed the ONE Series – its collection of smart home- friendly, WiFi camera solutions. This series of DIY units is designed to address the one-off surveillance needs of their clients, while integrating into a single app. The ONE Link fits perfectly into this range of wireless home security cameras, promoting versatility and ease with its Smart Station.

The Smart Station is the brains of the operation for the ONE Link. Single-button synching with each wireless outdoor camera creates a secure ecosystem of WiFi coverage that doesn’t require users to reenter network credentials when connecting and disconnecting the cameras. Plus, linking via the Smart Station increases the wireless security cameras’ already long-lasting 3- month standby life to an unprecedented 6-month battery life per single charge.

The flexibility goes even further with multiple storage options. Each camera in the ONE Link system is equipped with an onboard micro SD slot that supports up to 128GB of data. That makes for easy, free recording and instant physical access to the HD footage. If local storage doesn’t suit the user, they can take advantage of LaView’s affordable cloud service for expanded data capacity and encrypted security. Or, users can choose both options to guarantee the safety and accessibility of their footage.

Thermal detection gives you unprecedented vision and mindfulness for your security needs

Thermal detection gives you unprecedented vision and mindfulness for your security needs

The ONE Link is all about giving users the freedom to change their minds. Magnetic mounting plates screw into any surface for simple installation, custom 360° angling and easy mobility. Users can place the wireless security cameras indoors, outdoors or take them on-the-go for coverage during a family vacation. Mobile versatility is a big focus for LaView as they continue to develop their ONE Series solutions. These wireless home security cameras let users have their security, their way, with the Smart Station as the link between them and the future of smart home surveillance.

Have a suggestion for a cool product or great deal that you think Daily Caller readers need to know about? Email the Daily Dealer at [email protected].

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Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends the opening of Baghdad International Fair in Baghdad
Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends the opening of Baghdad International Fair in Baghdad, Iraq, November 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

March 23, 2019

CAIRO (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle Islamist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.

After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.

His comments came as U.S.-backed forces said they had captured Islamic State’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.

Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the jihadist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.

Some Islamic State fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.

The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.

Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.

Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by an Islamic State affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.

(Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Helen Popper)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar
FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo

March 23, 2019

By Poppy McPherson

YANGON (Reuters) – The United Nations is making plans to help Bangladesh relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote island off its coast, documents seen by Reuters show, a move opposed by many refugees and that some human rights experts fear could spark a new crisis.

Bangladesh says transporting refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – will ease chronic overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, which are home to more than 1 million Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority who have fled neighboring Myanmar.

Humanitarian and human rights groups have criticized the relocation proposal, saying the island is flood-prone, vulnerable to frequent cyclones and could be completely submerged during a high tide.

A document drawn up by the World Food Programme (WFP), the U.N.’s food aid arm, shows the agency has supplied the Bangladesh government with detailed plans – including a timeline and budget – of how it could provide for thousands of Rohingya transported to the island within weeks. It stresses that any relocation should be voluntary and done “in accordance with humanitarian principles and code of conduct”.

The document, labeled as a “Concept of Operations” and dated March 12, outlines how the organization and its partners “may facilitate the identification, staging, forward movement, reception, and sustainment of refugees” on Bhasan Char, estimating an initial appeal for donor funding of between $8.6 and $19 million.

More detailed operational planning would be needed it says, noting the Concept of Operations had been “developed quickly and without the benefit of any recent on-site assessment”.

Gemma Snowdon, communications officer for WFP in Cox’s Bazar, said the organization was part of “ongoing discussions” with the government over the future of the refugee response.

“The viability of safely relocating people to Bhasan Char needs to be thoroughly assessed and WFP is investigating the potential operational needs, financial costs, and challenges in several areas that we traditionally support in emergencies: food security, emergency telecommunications and logistics,” she said.

REFUGEE INFLUX

The numbers of refugees in the Cox’s Bazar camps have grown dramatically since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that U.N. investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent” prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee. Myanmar has denied almost all allegations of atrocities made by refugees during what is says was a legitimate counterterrorism operation by its security forces.

Bangladesh says it is struggling to cope with the influx and wants to start relocating thousands of refugees to the island, which it says has been secured with flood defense embankments and cyclone shelters.

A senior U.N. official told reporters in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Thursday the organization welcomed the fact the government had “taken steps to identify alternative settlements”.

“As you also know if you have been to Kutapalong and the various camps in Cox’s Bazar area, it is clear that there is huge congestion,” said Volker Turk, Assistant High Commissioner for the U.N. refugee agency.

Mozammel Haque, the head of Bangladesh’s cabinet committee on law and order and a senior government minister, told Reuters in an interview the government planned to start moving refugees next month.

“We are in talks with U.N. agencies and they have agreed,” he said. “Now we are working on other things like how to move them and other strategies. We are the host country. We will decide where to keep them. And we are doing everything to ensure their safety and security.”

Abul Kalam, the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief based in Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters preparations were “still going on” and the site was not ready.

FLOOD-PRONE ISLAND

Bhasan Char, a flat and featureless island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago, has never been inhabited.

Humanitarians have not visited since a four-hour trip in September 2018, according to WFP. An internal report produced after that visit, also seen by Reuters, found a 1,500-acre area of the 13,000-acre island had been encircled by a nine-foot (3 meter) embankment, short of the 21-foot barrier recommended by WFP.

Housing with corrugated iron roofs and concrete floors and walls for about 70,000 people had been built, but there were only enough cyclone shelters for 17,000.

A U.N. human rights investigator who visited in January said earlier this month she feared a “new crisis” if Rohingya were taken to the island.

“There are a number of things that remain unknown to me even following my visit, chief among them being whether the island is truly habitable,” said Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

In Cox’s Bazar, local officials are compiling lists of the first refugees to be moved, District Administrator Mohammad Kamal Hossain told Reuters.

On Thursday, a poem by a Rohingya refugee titled ‘Do Not Send Me to the Island’ was posted to social media. “I’m a human being, I deserve all human rights,” it read.

“You know, we are refugees, surviving in refugee camp for two years,” the author, 22-year-old Mohammed Rezuwan, told Reuters in a message. “Still we are tolerating so much tragedies.”

(Reporting by Poppy McPherson; Additional reporting by Ruma Paul and Serajul Quadir in Dhaka; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Source: OANN

The Akorda, official residence of the Kazakhstan president, is seen amidst the city skyline in Astana
The Akorda (C), official residence of the Kazakhstan president, is seen amidst the city skyline in Astana September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

March 23, 2019

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kazakhstan renamed its capital Astana as Nur-Sultan on Saturday in honor of veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who unexpectedly resigned this week after almost 30 years in power.

It is the fourth time the city’s name has been changed within six decades, and some residents and opposition figures have protested against the latest renaming, which was made official on Saturday in a decree signed by interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The windswept city of one million people, where temperatures range from -40 degrees Celsius in winter to more than 40C during the summer, was previously called Akmolinsk, Tselinograd and Akmola before becoming Astana, meaning “capital”, after Nazarbayev moved the nation’s capital there from Almaty in 1997.

Authorities have said the many public buildings, events and companies with Astana in their titles will retain their names.

Saying a new generation of leaders was needed, Nazarbayev stepped down abruptly on Tuesday in what appeared to be the first step in a choreographed political transition that will see him retain considerable sway.

The 78-year-old former steel worker and Communist party apparatchik appeared alongside Tokayev at several events this week and the two spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone together.

Nazarbayev, who had ruled the vast oil and gas-rich Central Asian nation since 1989, when it was still part of the Soviet Union, remains the head of the security council and the ruling Nur Otan party.

Nazarbayev’s foe, fugitive banker and opposition politician Mukhtar Ablyazov, has accused him of planning a dynastic succession that would see his daughter succeed him.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Helen Popper)

Source: OANN

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

March 23, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. law enforcement official could release as early as Saturday the main findings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s confidential report on his 22-month-long inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by President Donald Trump.

Attorney General William Barr, who received the report from the former FBI director on Friday, told U.S. lawmakers he may be able to inform them of Mueller’s “principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.” Under Justice Department regulations, Barr is empowered to decide how much to disclose publicly.

The big question is whether the report contains allegations of wrongdoing by Trump or exonerates him. Mueller investigated whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow to try to influence the election and whether the Republican president later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.

Mueller did not recommend any further indictments, a senior Justice Department official said, signaling there might be no more criminal charges against Trump associates arising from the investigation. Throughout his investigation, Mueller brought charges against 34 people and three companies, with prison sentences for some of Trump’s key former aides.

Lawmakers in both parties urged a quick release of the report, and Democrats in particular demanded that nothing be held back, saying they would issue subpoenas if necessary. Barr, who took office in February, was appointed by Trump after the president fired his predecessor Jeff Sessions in November.

“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review,” Barr told lawmakers in a letter.

By handing over the long-awaited report to Barr, Mueller marked the end of his work, with his spokesman saying the 74-year-old special counsel would conclude his service in the coming days.

Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election interference. Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and accusing Mueller of conflicts of interest. But he said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report.

Key Trump aides, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, national security adviser Michael Flynn and personal lawyer Michael Cohen, have already either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges brought by Mueller.

None of those charges, however, directly related to the question of collusion between the campaign and Moscow. The Justice Department has a policy that sitting presidents cannot face criminal charges.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – the two top Democrats in Congress – said it was “imperative” the full report be made public, that Barr not give Trump and his team a “sneak preview” of the findings and that the White House not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts are made public.

They said the investigation focused on questions that “go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation.”

The White House has not received or been briefed on the report, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, adding that “we look forward to the process taking its course.”

‘OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, said, “The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”

Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican and a strong ally of the president, expressed confidence the report would not find collusion with Russia.

“The reports that there will be no new indictments confirm what we’ve known all along: there was never any collusion with Russia. The only collusion was between Democrats and many in the media who peddled this lie because they continue to refuse to accept the results of the 2016 election,” Scalise said.

Even if the Mueller report exonerates Trump, that may not spell the end to his legal troubles. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations in a case overseen by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who said in court filings that Cohen carried out the crimes at the direction of Trump.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is also looking at the spending of Trump’s inaugural committee and business practices at the Trump Organization, the family’s company.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.

A small number of House Democrats have pushed for Congress to impeach Trump and remove him from office but the party’s leadership including Pelosi has urged caution. No president has every been removed from office via impeachment.

Several House committees in the meantime are conducting aggressive investigations of Trump and people around him.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Eric Beech, Makini Brice, Karen Freifeld, Susan Cornwell and Steve Holland in Washington, Nathan Layne in New York and Roberta Rampton in Florida; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN


People take part in the “March for Love” at North Hagley Park after the mosque attacks in Christchurch, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 23, 2019

By Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – About 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a ‘march for love’ early on Saturday, honoring the 50 worshippers massacred in the New Zealand city a week ago, as the mosques where the shooting took place reopened for prayers.

Carrying placards with signs such as, “He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, “Muslims welcome, racists not”, and “Kia Kaha” – Maori for ‘stay strong’, people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.

“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.

With armed police on site, the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, reopened on Saturday. Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque as well.

“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back, yeah,” Ashif Shaikh told reporters outside the Al Noor mosque. He said he was there on the day of the shooting in which two of his housemates were killed.

Most victims of the country’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

At Saturday’s march security was heavy, with dozens of armed police officers and buses parked sideways across city streets to close them off for the march.

Shila Nair, a migrant from India who works for a migrant advocacy group called Shakti, traveled from Auckland to take part in the march.

“The support gives us hope and optimism that migrant and refugee communities in this country can have a level playing field,” she said.

“We appreciate the solidarity, but it must be carried on. It cannot be allowed to fizzle out. This is how social change happens.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who swiftly denounced the shooting as terrorism and has participated in many of the tributes and funerals for the victims, has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles, some of the guns used by the shooter.

Ardern and New Zealand have been widely praised for the outpouring of empathy and unity and the response to the attacks. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum thanked her on Twitter late on Friday.

“Thank you @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world,” he said on Twitter.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s 4.8-million population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

On Friday the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide on television and radio and about 20,000 people attended a prayer service in the park opposite Al Noor mosque in a show of solidarity.

Many women have also donned headscarves to show their support.

In Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, a special prayer was held after the Friday sermon for the victims of the attack, according to the Saudi news website Sabq.

Most of the dead were laid to rest at a mass burial in Christchurch on Friday, when 26 victims were interred. Others have been buried at private ceremonies, or repatriated to their home countries for funerals.

Shahadat Hossain, whose brother Mojammel Haque was killed in the attack, told Reuters that she would bring his body back to Bangladesh.

“I don’t know when our family will be able to come out of this grief,” she said.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Joseph Campbell, Natasha Howitt and Jill Gralow in Christchurch, Hesham Hajali in Cairo, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Writing by Tom Westbrook and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN


People take part in the “March for Love” at North Hagley Park after the mosque attacks in Christchurch, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

March 23, 2019

By Tom Westbrook

CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) – About 3,000 people walked through Christchurch in a ‘march for love’ early on Saturday, honoring the 50 worshippers massacred in the New Zealand city a week ago, as the mosques where the shooting took place reopened for prayers.

Carrying placards with signs such as, “He wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, “Muslims welcome, racists not”, and “Kia Kaha” – Maori for ‘stay strong’, people walked mostly in silence or softly sang a Maori hymn of peace.

“We feel like hate has brought a lot of darkness at times like this and love is the strongest cure to light the city out of that darkness,” said Manaia Butler, 16, one of the student organizers of the march.

With armed police on site, the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 of the victims were killed by a suspected white supremacist, reopened on Saturday. Police said they were reopening the nearby Linwood mosque as well.

“It is the place where we pray, where we meet, we’ll be back, yeah,” Ashif Shaikh told reporters outside the Al Noor mosque. He said he was there on the day of the shooting in which two of his housemates were killed.

Most victims of the country’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

At Saturday’s march security was heavy, with dozens of armed police officers and buses parked sideways across city streets to close them off for the march.

Shila Nair, a migrant from India who works for a migrant advocacy group called Shakti, traveled from Auckland to take part in the march.

“The support gives us hope and optimism that migrant and refugee communities in this country can have a level playing field,” she said.

“We appreciate the solidarity, but it must be carried on. It cannot be allowed to fizzle out. This is how social change happens.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who swiftly denounced the shooting as terrorism and has participated in many of the tributes and funerals for the victims, has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles, some of the guns used by the shooter.

Ardern and New Zealand have been widely praised for the outpouring of empathy and unity and the response to the attacks. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum thanked her on Twitter late on Friday.

“Thank you @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world,” he said on Twitter.

Muslims account for just over 1 percent of New Zealand’s 4.8-million population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.

On Friday the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide on television and radio and about 20,000 people attended a prayer service in the park opposite Al Noor mosque in a show of solidarity.

Many women have also donned headscarves to show their support.

In Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, a special prayer was held after the Friday sermon for the victims of the attack, according to the Saudi news website Sabq.

Most of the dead were laid to rest at a mass burial in Christchurch on Friday, when 26 victims were interred. Others have been buried at private ceremonies, or repatriated to their home countries for funerals.

Shahadat Hossain, whose brother Mojammel Haque was killed in the attack, told Reuters that she would bring his body back to Bangladesh.

“I don’t know when our family will be able to come out of this grief,” she said.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Joseph Campbell, Natasha Howitt and Jill Gralow in Christchurch, Hesham Hajali in Cairo, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Writing by Tom Westbrook and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

Follow Jason on Twitter

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

Source: The Daily Caller

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

Follow Jason on Twitter

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

Source: The Daily Caller

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

Follow Jason on Twitter

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

Source: The Daily Caller

A man stands outside the Bandes bank headquarters in Caracas
A man stands outside the Bandes bank headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

March 22, 2019

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s development bank, Bandes, a day after the Trump administration warned there would be consequences for the arrest by Venezuelan authorities of opposition leader Juan Guaido’s top aide.

The U.S. Treasury said on Friday it was slapping the sanctions on Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, including its subsidiaries in Uruguay and Bolivia.

Congress head Guaido, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, has accused Bandes of being used by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to funnel money outside Venezuela.

The White House said in a statement it was committed to preventing Maduro’s government from stealing Venezuela’s resources and from arresting those pushing for political change.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, was detained in a pre-dawn raid on Thursday, sparking vows of reprisals from the United States, which along with most Western countries backs Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

“The United States will not tolerate the arrest of peaceful democratic actors, including members of the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly and those Venezuelans working with interim President Juan Guaido,” the White House said in a statement.

The U.S. Treasury said Maduro tried to move $1 billion out of Venezuela through Banco Bandes Uruguay in early 2019 as he came under increasing pressure from the United States and other countries in the region to step down.

Bandes has received billions of dollars over the past decade from the China Development Bank, in exchange for oil, which the Venezuelan government used to fund infrastructure projects.

Uruguay has stayed neutral on Venezuela’s political crisis and has called for dialogue, while China, Russia and regional ally Cuba have backed Maduro.

But the sanctions on Bandes could test Beijing’s ties with Caracas, since it would impede Venezuela from restructuring its $20 billion debt with China, opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado said on Friday.

“That makes it even less likely that China will step in to save Maduro,” Alvarado wrote on Twitter. Guaido and his allies have repeatedly argued that China and Russia are more likely to collect on their loans to Venezuela with Maduro out of office.

The sanctions freeze assets belonging to the bank and its subsidiaries, and prevent U.S. citizens from any dealings with Bandes. They follow a raft of other sanctions imposed by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump in recent months against Maduro, top government officials, and state oil firm PDVSA.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton tweeted: “BANDES bank is to Venezuela’s financial sector what PDVSA is to its oil sector. This action will severely affect any attempted currency movements by Maduro and his cronies moving forward. Do not test the resolve of this Administration.”

Maduro’s government accuses Washington of waging a “economic war” to force them from power and has said that the sanctions only harm regular Venezuelans.

The United States also on Friday imposed sanctions on other state-owned Venezuelan banks, including Banco de Venezuela and Banco Bicentenario. It said that Visa, Mastercard and American Express would be prohibited from facilitating transactions involving those banks, beginning in March 2020.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, additional reporting by Angus Berwick and Luc Cohen in Caracas, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

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

March 22, 2019

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twelve days after being named special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Robert Mueller delivered a speech to his granddaughter’s high school graduating class at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts.

In this rare public appearance in May 2017, Mueller did not bring up President Donald Trump or the investigation, but offered a clear message stressing the importance of honesty and integrity.

“You could be smart, aggressive, articulate, indeed persuasive, but if you are not honest, your reputation will suffer,” Mueller said. “And once lost, a good reputation can never, ever be regained. The saying goes: If you have integrity, nothing else matters, and if you do not have integrity, nothing else matters.”

On Friday, Mueller handed in the long-awaited report on his investigation.

Mueller, a 74-year-old decorated Vietnam War veteran and former FBI director known for his tough, no-nonsense leadership style, has faced unremitting attacks by Trump on his integrity as the Republican president has tried to discredit the investigation and the special counsel himself. Trump declined to sit for an interview with the special counsel’s team.

Mueller has remained silent about the inquiry but has spoken loudly through court filings and the indictments of 34 people, including several key Trump aides as well as Russian intelligence officers and three Russian companies.

Mueller, a longtime Republican, was named by the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over the Russia investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency had led the probe. Mueller has looked into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president has unlawfully tried to obstruct the investigation.

Trump, facing political peril from the inquiry, has used Twitter, campaign-style speeches and comments to news media to assail Mueller, accusing him of running a politically motivated, “rigged witch hunt;” going “rogue;” surrounding himself with “thugs” and having conflicts of interest.

“It’s all a big hoax,” Trump said on Friday.

Mueller has been a fixture in American law enforcement for decades and is considered the architect of the modern FBI, serving as its director from 2001 to 2013. He was first appointed to the post by Republican President George W. Bush, then his appointment was extended by Bush’s successor, Democrat Barack Obama.

Mueller took over as Federal Bureau of Investigation director a week before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants that killed about 3,000 people. By the time Mueller left the position, his tenure was exceeded only by J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year stint.

‘BOBBY THREE STICKS’

Mueller was known by some as “Bobby Three Sticks” because of his full name – Robert Mueller III – a moniker that belies his formal bearing and sober approach to law enforcement.

He was credited with transforming the premier U.S. law enforcement agency after Congress and an independent government commission determined the FBI and CIA had failed to share information before the Sept. 11 attacks that could have helped prevent them. Mueller revamped the FBI into an agency centered on protecting national security in addition to law enforcement, putting more resources into counterterrorism investigations and improving cooperation with other U.S. agencies.

He put his career on the line in 2004 when he and Comey, then the deputy attorney general, threatened to resign when White House officials sought to reauthorize a domestic eavesdropping program that the Justice Department had deemed unconstitutional. The two rushed to a Washington hospital and prevented top Bush aides from persuading an ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft, recovering from gall bladder surgery, to reauthorize the surveillance program.

Comey succeeded Mueller as FBI director in 2013.

After graduating from Princeton University, Mueller served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, leading a rifle platoon and receiving commendations including the Bronze Star. His became a federal prosecutor in 1976 and remained in public service until his FBI retirement, with the exception of a couple of short stints with law firms.

He became a U.S. assistant attorney general in 1991 and was a key player on high-profile federal prosecutions such as the 1992 convictions of former Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega and New York Mafia boss John Gotti and the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Mueller’s Russia investigation already has yielded a series of guilty pleas and a conviction in the only trial held to date.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight charges and pleaded guilty to two others, receiving a 7-1/2-year prison sentence. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos have entered guilty pleas. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges.

The big question is whether Mueller will present evidence of criminal conduct by Trump himself. Such findings could prompt the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to begin the congressional impeachment process laid out in the U.S. Constitution for removing a president from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

While Trump has hammered away at Mueller, others have defended the special counsel’s integrity, including some formerly associated with the president such as former White House attorney Ty Cobb.

“I think,” Cobb said in an ABC News podcast interview, “Bob Mueller is an American hero.”

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN


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