VICE

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

A report from Nate Silver’s statistics site FiveThirtyEight revealed Wednesday that the media discussed former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders much more often than some of the more diverse candidates.

“Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke saw dramatic peaks in cable news mentions after their 2020 announcements. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren saw modest bumps. Pete Buttigieg, John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee saw molehills,” the news site wrote in a tweet about the story.

The report noted that the number of mentions wasn’t even for all candidates for all networks. MSNBC strongly appeared to favor O’Rourke in terms of total mentions, while Fox News focused more on Sanders.

Reporter Dhrumil Mehta surveyed total mentions on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News and used Internet Archives’ Television News Archive to find the data. Mehta recovered data on mentions from 10 days before each candidate’s announcement through 20 days after each announcement. (RELATED: Biden Gets Four-Point Bump In Latest Poll)

Two news items that could affect the coverage are increased polling in the 2020 Democratic primary, in which Sanders took up second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden, and the fact that O’Rourke launched an ambitious campaign that crisscrossed Iowa, reached into Michigan and ended Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Source: The Daily Caller

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

A report from Nate Silver’s statistics site FiveThirtyEight revealed Wednesday that the media discussed former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders much more often than some of the more diverse candidates.

“Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke saw dramatic peaks in cable news mentions after their 2020 announcements. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren saw modest bumps. Pete Buttigieg, John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee saw molehills,” the news site wrote in a tweet about the story.

The report noted that the number of mentions wasn’t even for all candidates for all networks. MSNBC strongly appeared to favor O’Rourke in terms of total mentions, while Fox News focused more on Sanders.

Reporter Dhrumil Mehta surveyed total mentions on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News and used Internet Archives’ Television News Archive to find the data. Mehta recovered data on mentions from 10 days before each candidate’s announcement through 20 days after each announcement. (RELATED: Biden Gets Four-Point Bump In Latest Poll)

Two news items that could affect the coverage are increased polling in the 2020 Democratic primary, in which Sanders took up second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden, and the fact that O’Rourke launched an ambitious campaign that crisscrossed Iowa, reached into Michigan and ended Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Source: The Daily Caller

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

A report from Nate Silver’s statistics site FiveThirtyEight revealed Wednesday that the media discussed former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders much more often than some of the more diverse candidates.

“Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke saw dramatic peaks in cable news mentions after their 2020 announcements. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren saw modest bumps. Pete Buttigieg, John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee saw molehills,” the news site wrote in a tweet about the story.

The report noted that the number of mentions wasn’t even for all candidates for all networks. MSNBC strongly appeared to favor O’Rourke in terms of total mentions, while Fox News focused more on Sanders.

Reporter Dhrumil Mehta surveyed total mentions on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News and used Internet Archives’ Television News Archive to find the data. Mehta recovered data on mentions from 10 days before each candidate’s announcement through 20 days after each announcement. (RELATED: Biden Gets Four-Point Bump In Latest Poll)

Two news items that could affect the coverage are increased polling in the 2020 Democratic primary, in which Sanders took up second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden, and the fact that O’Rourke launched an ambitious campaign that crisscrossed Iowa, reached into Michigan and ended Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Source: The Daily Caller

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

March 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during a Google keynote address announcing a new video gaming streaming service named Stadia at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco
Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during a Google keynote address announcing a new video gaming streaming service named Stadia that attempts to capitalize on the company’s cloud technology and global network of data centers, at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

March 21, 2019

By Paresh Dave

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A Google executive offered new details on Wednesday about the company’s upcoming video game streaming service, telling Reuters that game makers may use competing cloud providers and must avoid some inappropriate content.

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, unveiled Stadia on Tuesday, saying the service launching this year would make playing high-quality video games in an internet browser as easy as watching a movie on its YouTube service.

The game would operate on Google’s servers, receiving commands from a user’s controller and sending video streams to their screen. Player settings, leaderboards, matchmaking tools and other data related to the game would “not necessarily” have to reside on Google’s servers, Phil Harrison, a Google vice president, said in an interview.

Hosting the data elsewhere, however, could lead to slower loading times or less crisp streaming quality, he said.

“Obviously, we would want and incentivize the publisher to bring as much of their backend as possible” to Google servers, he said. “But Stadia can reach out to other public and private cloud services.”

The approach could limit Google’s revenue from Stadia. It has declined to comment on the business model for the new service, but attracting new customers to Google’s paid cloud computing program is one of Stadia’s aims.

If a game publisher was using Amazon for some tools, “the first thing I would do is introduce you to the Google Cloud team,” Harrison said.

In addition, Stadia will require games to follow content guidelines that build upon the system of Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a self-regulatory body, he said.

“We absolutely will not have A-O content,” Harrison said, referring to the ESRB’s moniker for the rare designation of a game as adult-only because of intense violence, pornography or real-money gambling.

He said Stadia’s guidelines would not be public.

Asked about growing public concerns about game addiction, Harrison said Stadia would empower parents with controls on “what you play, when you play and who you play with.”

Google views Stadia as connecting its various efforts in gaming, including selling them on its mobile app store, Harrison said. But game streaming, he said, is an opportunity to tackle among the most complex technical challenges around and potentially apply breakthroughs to other industries.

“We think we can grow a very significant games market vertical,” he said. “And by getting this right we can advance the state of the art of computing.”

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Former Vice President Joe Biden's recent meeting with Stacey Abrams, a former lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives, has sparked speculation the two could team up for a presidential run in the upcoming election.

Biden has yet to publicly announce his candidacy for president, but stories in recent days have claimed he is preparing to launch a campaign.

Last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Biden and Abrams met in Washington, D.C., about their political futures — Biden for president and Abrams potentially for the Senate — following her failed campaign to serve as Georgia governor last fall.

The Associated Press reported Biden requested the meeting.

CNN reported earlier this week, meanwhile, Biden is looking to choose a running mate early in his campaign, making his meeting with Abrams more notable. A Biden aide told the network that bringing a running mate onboard earlier than normal would show voters Biden is serious about unseating President Donald Trump.

The Journal-Constitution also reported Abrams has met with other Democrats who are already confirmed presidential candidates as she ponders what is next in her political life.

Source: NewsMax

  • Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories. 
  • Tribe has amplified conspiracies about President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia teaming up to expose Jeff Bezos and Russia orchestrating a plane crash to cover up collusion, among others.
  • Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t kept media outlets from promoting him on TV and in news articles.

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has habitually spread conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t prevented him from maintaining a presence in the national media.

Tribe was among several high-profile figures to amplify a false conspiracy theory in February that President Donald Trump had teamed up with Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman to leak Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer.

“Are Donald Trump and the murderous Saudi Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos as owner of the Washington Post? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York,” Tribe wrote on Twitter, where he has more than 492,000 followers. (RELATED: Majority Of Democrats Believe A Straight-Up Conspiracy Theory)

His conspiratorial post was shared thousands of times across Twitter.

Screenshot/Twitter

Screenshot/Twitter

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Enquirer had paid the brother of Bezos’s mistress $200,000 for text messages between the two lovers, confirming a Daily Beast report that identified the brother — not the Saudis — as the Enquirer’s source. Tribe’s tweet was still up as of Wednesday evening.

The Harvard Law professor has made a habit of spreading baseless conspiracy theories, seemingly without repercussion.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Attorney Laurence H. Tribe attends The ACLU of Southern California’s 2011 Bill of Rights Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on Dec. 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

In one instance, Tribe implied that a Russian plane crash in February 2018 was a cover-up of collusion between Trump and Russia.

His tweet, which again received thousands of retweets, read: “Among those killed in the tragic plane crash yesterday: Sergei Millian, a Papadopoulis [sic] friend who had emailed Kushner and is said to be behind one of the most salacious claims in the dossier on Trump’s involvement with Russia. Probably just coincidence. .”

He sarcastically added that the “coincidence” “[s]ounds plausible.”

Tribe’s viral claim was nowhere close to the truth. Millian wasn’t on the plane.

In December 2018, Tribe shared a left-wing blog post titled “Mueller Hints That Mike Pence May Be Indicted Soon.” There is no evidence to support that headline, and the vice president has not been indicted.

“The title of this piece gets well ahead of its skis in terms of actual substance,” Tribe conceded, before continuing “but the evidence described provides rich food for thought. And if Pence is truly in Mueller’s cross-hairs, that’s a huge game-changer.”

No reporting to date supports the claim that Pence is “in Mueller’s cross-hairs.” The blog Tribe cited, PoliticusUSA.com, has a track record of spreading misinformation.

In January, Tribe cited the same blog to say that Trump’s announcement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to travel to Afghanistan during the government shutdown bordered on “treason” by giving “aid and comfort” to the Taliban.

Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t prevented national media outlets from elevating his profile, quoting him in their articles and hosting him on their panels.

Tribe has appeared on MSNBC five times this year, according to a transcript search on the media monitoring service Grabien.

The Washington Post cited Tribe in an article Monday about Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King, who shared a meme on Facebook saying that Republican states would win in a civil war because they have “8 trillion more bullets.” King deleted the post after criticism.

The Post quoted a tweet from Tribe, who said that King “isn’t actually COMMITTING treason, but he is fomenting and inciting it.” Tribe said King’s meme provided the House of Representatives “[a]mple reason to expel him.”

Tribe’s media appearances have continued long after a May 2017 BuzzFeed report noted his established track record of spreading anti-Trump conspiracy theories.

In one instance BuzzFeed documented, Tribe shared an article from the Palmer Report, a left-wing blog known for spreading misinformation, that claimed Trump had paid then-Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz “$10 million in Russian money” in advance of the 2016 election.

The only source for the conspiracy theory was a tweet from an anonymous Twitter user.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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

People are reflected in a puddle as they pass by a mural near the EU headquarters in Brussels
People are reflected in a puddle as they pass by a mural near the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

March 21, 2019

By Robin Emmott and Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will discuss a more defensive strategy on China on Thursday, potentially signaling an end to the unfettered access that Chinese business has enjoyed in Europe but which Beijing has failed to reciprocate.

Caught between a new U.S.-Chinese rivalry for economic and military power, EU leaders will try to find a middle path during a summit dinner in Brussels, the first time they have discussed at the highest level how to deal with Beijing.

“We are fully open,” European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said of the EU’s economy. “China is not, and it raises lots of questions,” Katainen told Reuters, arguing that the world’s second-largest economy could no longer claim special status as a developing country.

Meeting as Chinese President Xi Jinping starts a tour of France and Italy, EU leaders – who have often been divided over China – want to present a united front ahead of an EU-China summit on April 9.

According to a draft April summit statement seen by Reuters, the EU is seeking to set deadlines for China to make good on trade and investment pledges that have been repeatedly pushed back, although Beijing must still agree to the final text.

That was a message delivered to State Councillor Wang Yi by EU foreign ministers on Monday. It marked a shift toward what EU diplomats say is a more “assertive and competitive mindset”.

“In the past, it has been extremely difficult for the EU to formulate a clear strategy on China, and past policy documents have not been strategically coherent,” said Duncan Freeman at the EU-China Research Centre at the College of Europe. “There is now a clear effort to do that.”

In a document to prepare the EU summit, the European Commission called China a “systemic rival”.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign to warn against Huawei telecommunications equipment in next-generation wireless networks has accelerated EU discussions about its position.

The deepest tensions lie around China’s slowness to open up its economy, a surge of Chinese takeovers in critical sectors and an impression that Beijing has not stood up for free trade.

GERMANY IS KEY

With over a billion euros a day in bilateral trade, the EU is China’s top trading partner, while China is second only to the United States as a market for European goods and services.

Chinese trade restrictions are more severe than EU barriers in almost every economic sector, according to research firm Rhodium Group and the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Unlike the United States, which has a naval fleet based in Japan to wield influence over the region, the EU lacks any military power to confront China, so its approach is technical.

But any new EU policies could prove complicated to implement, as EU capitals continue to court Chinese investment. Italy plans to join China’s multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure project, while free-traders Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands are wary of any restrictions on commerce.

Germany’s views will be important as Berlin has at times pressed for a tougher response to unfair competition from Chinese rivals but also championed a closer relationship with Beijing.

“Their position needs to stabilize. At the moment it changes on almost every day of the week,” the senior envoy said.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has fascinated the public with his love of standing on restaurant counters, but little attention has been paid to the unsung heroes of O’Rourke’s campaign — the baristas and bartenders forced to wipe down the counters after the former congressman’s departure.

O’Rourke, who has kicked off his campaign by visiting various small businesses in Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, has generated jokes and memes about his constant need to address crowds from atop an elevated surface. Politicos and verified Twitter users have opined on the cleanliness — or lack thereof — of O’Rourke’s dirty shoes trampling the same surface used to serve customers. (RELATED: On The Road Again — Beto Takes Road Trip To Meet America)

“People from cultures where shoes are considered very dirty and not worthy of being in the house get grossed out when politicians walk all over counters,” journalist Yashar Ali tweeted.

Dan O’Sullivan, who has written for Vice and Rolling Stone, expressed sympathy for the employees who have to “disinfect the counter after Beto hops his stupid horse body up on top of it.”

Employees at the coffee shops and bars visited by O’Rourke on the campaign trail did have to wipe down the counters after the candidate’s countertop speeches, according to four people who spoke to The Daily Caller.

Suann Wells, the owner of Beancounter Coffeehouse & Drinkery in Burlington, Iowa, somewhat proudly told the Caller that “he started that here,” referencing O’Rourke’s infamous counter-hopping.

Suann asserted that “of course” an employee cleaned the counter, adding that “in [O’Rourke’s] defense, it was very crowded.”

An unnamed employee who answered the phone at Central Park Coffee in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, similarly said “of course” when asked if the counters were cleaned off after O’Rourke’s visit on Friday but declined to comment further about the politician’s visit.

MOUNT PLEASANT, IOWA - MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke stands on a counter top as he talks with voters during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination at Central Park Coffee Company March 15, 2019 in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. After losing a long-shot race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old O'Rourke is making his first campaign swing through Iowa after jumping into a crowded Democratic field this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

MOUNT PLEASANT, IOWA – MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke stands on a counter top as he talks with voters during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination at Central Park Coffee Company March 15, 2019 in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

O’Rourke made another stop in Iowa to the Sing-A-Long Bar and Grill, where he ditched the coffee counter for a spot next to the register by the bar. Annette from Sing-A-Long told the Caller that they offered O’Rourke a step stool to ease his climb to the counter, which an employee later cleaned with sanitizer.

“We brought out a step stool to make sure he was safe,” she explained.

MOUNT VERNON, IOWA - MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke answers questions from voters during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination at The Sing-A-Long Bar and Grill March 15, 2019 in Mount Vernon, Iowa. After losing a long-shot race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old O'Rourke is making his first campaign swing through Iowa after jumping into a crowded Democratic field this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

MOUNT VERNON, IOWA – MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke answers questions from voters during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination at The Sing-A-Long Bar and Grill March 15, 2019 in Mount Vernon, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

An unnamed employee at Cargo Coffee in Madison, Wisconsin, explained that normally employees at the shop would use “a sanitizer that is still safe for humans to ingest” on dirty countertops, but they took extra steps to ensure cleanliness after O’Rourke’s Sunday visit.

Photos only show O’Rourke standing on a chair at Cargo Coffee, but the employee said O’Rourke stood on the counter as well.

“Yes, we made sure the counter was clean,” she told the Caller. “This time, we used bleach because his feet were on it.”

Interviews with Suann and Annette revealed that O’Rourke does have at least one healthy habit: asking for permission.

“The crowd was so deep that no one could see him,” Suann said. “His staffer asked if he could [get up on the counter].”

Annette said, “He definitely asked for permission.”

Baristas from other establishments told The Daily Beast that they would prefer O’Rourke stay off their counters if he happens to visit, noting the potential sanitary and safety issues.

“I would understand standing on the counter because the crowd was so big, although organizing it would be better. But he’s kneeled down. It seems like a photo op that wasn’t necessary. His feet are right by the cups,” Josh Wilson, owner of Cohesive Coffee in Greenville, South Carolina, said.

Connor Finnegan, who manages a coffee shop in Brooklyn, New York, said he would not allow O’Rourke to stand on his counter.

“He can be heard and seen perfectly well standing on the ground,” Finnegan said.

Follow Amber on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Guns and Gear | Contributor

By Larry Keane

Memories are short in Washington, D.C. That is, at least, when it’s convenient for a presidential bid.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) visited New Hampshire voters last week, trying to make her mark in a crowded Democratic primary field. As a tactic, she decided to demonize firearms manufacturers. We’re not going to stay quiet.

Facts be damned. The junior senator from New York went full bore, leveling unfounded accusations, issuing factually nonsensical indictments and using the familiar buzz words of revisionist history that ring bells for those politicians seeking to burnish their gun-control bona fides with voters they can confuse.

And Now For Something Completely False

“Unfortunately, because the gun manufacturers only care about gun sales, they oppose the common sense reform that can save lives,” Sen. Gillibrand told her audience. “They want to oppose universal background checks because they want to sell an assault rifle to a teenager in a Walmart or to someone on a terror watch list or to someone who is gravely mentally ill with a violent background or to someone with a criminal conviction for a violent crime.”

All of this is patently false.

Sen. Gillibrand was one of 78 co-sponsors of the Fix NICS legislation that overwhelmingly passed the Senate and President Trump signed into law. The federal legislation was modeled on the National Shooting Sports Foundation® initiative of the same name that worked to get states to submit all disqualifying criminal and adjudicated mental health records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS). Let’s be clear: the same gun industry she has chosen to attack to try to attract Democratic primary voters was getting laws changed in 16 states before Congress even took up the matter.

Sen. Gillibrand signed her name to the bill – and voted for – legislation brought by the very manufacturers she claims want to sell guns to everyone. She knows better.

Maybe Sen. Gillibrand has conveniently forgotten that the firearms industry was the originator of the point-of-sale instant background check, to ensure that only those who could be legally entrusted to possess a gun could buy them.

The senator also should know that so-called universal background checks are aimed at private gun sales, not the sales by retailers to private citizens that are already subject to background checks. The truth is she wants to make illegal the transfer of firearms between private parties. The firearms industry, however, cannot support making a criminal of an individual selling a friend a keepsake firearm or lending a shotgun for a duck hunt.

Trafficking In Untruth

The senator’s end-run on the truth didn’t stop there, though.

“They want to sell those things, no matter what, to anybody,” Sen. Gillibrand continued. “It is why they will not do common sense things like have an anti-trafficking law. In a state like New York, our number one problem is guns used in crimes get trafficked from out of state right into the hands of gang members. They will not support an anti-federal gun trafficking law.”

The senator should have a staffer call ATF or the Department of Justice. Federal laws now on the books already cover those offenses. We bring to the Senator’s attention this case from less than a year ago involving the arrests of three individuals attempting to move 40 guns from Virginia to, you guessed it, her state of New York. The guns were recovered on the street.

Moreover, Department of Justice surveys shows guns used in crimes are obtained through theft and the black market. It’s another reason her quest for a universal background check bill is ill-conceived. Criminals aren’t stopping for background checks when they steal dozens of guns at a time in smash-and-grab thefts.

Those thefts are trending down, the rapid response and continuing cooperation between federal and regional law enforcement assisted by a highly cooperative industry making that possible. Operation Secure Store®, a partnership between ATF and the firearms industry to help retailers improve security and reduce thefts from their stores, is contributing to this effort.

No Co-sponsorship For FFL Protection Act

More can be done. Sen. Gillibrand had a chance in the last Congress to co-sponsor the Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act, S. 1854,introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). It would have set a minimum sentence of three years for burglaries of firearms retailers and five years for robberies. The firearms industry supported this legislation because we know stolen guns move onward for use in other crimes. This legislation is still a priority for the firearms industry, but not for Sen. Gillibrand, apparently. She’s yet to agree to sign on to a bill that would take and keep gun traffickers off the street.

At one time, Sen. Gillibrand supported gun manufacturers. A decade ago, she announced she kept “two guns under her bed.” While not the wisest storage option, she was aligning herself with law-abiding gun owners. That changed for her when faced with political headwinds and rising ambitions. More recently, she said she’s embarrassed by her previous stance.

While memories are short in Washington D.C., the rest of America remembers.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Source: The Daily Caller

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

March 20, 2019

By Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

UPDATE: Despite closing up their campaign, due to high demand Bonfire has chosen to reopen their shirt sales for 6 days. Get your’s while you still can!

President Donald J. Trump delivered an inspiring message during his speech on the current crisis in Venezuela, a message that was later echoed by Vice President Mike Pence at CPAC: put simply, “[The United States] will never be a socialist country!”

Yet as Donald Trump uttered those very words reflective of how many Americans feel given the massive history of violence that has accompanied socialism in other countries, self-proclaimed socialists like Senator Bernie Sanders and congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez continue to try and re-brand socialism as a cool and hip solution to some of the policy problems that exist today.

If it didn't work under Stalin or Che... why would it work today? (Photo via Bonfire)

If it didn’t work under Stalin or Che… why would it work today? (Photo via Bonfire)

Show off to everyone you know that socialism wasn't cool then, and it isn't cool now (Photo via Bonfire)

Show off to everyone you know that socialism wasn’t cool then, and it isn’t cool now (Photo via Bonfire)

Source: The Daily Caller

Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter

Attorney and election expert Tara Ross said the Electoral College has nothing to do with slavery during an interview with “Fox & Friends” Wednesday.

“You hear today that it’s just about slavery and the southern slave-owning states wanted to have an Electoral College. Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said.

“If you look at the discussions, it was large versus small. Some of the large were northern states. Some of the large were southern states. And vice versa. It was about the size of the states. It was not about slavery at all. It was about, ‘let’s have a presidential candidate who addresses the needs of the whole country.’”

Ross said small states were concerned about being left out of the fold, which led to a compromise and the current system in place today.

“The small states were terrified that they would be run over by the large state delegates if anything like that were to happen,” she said earlier in the interview. (RELATED: Electoral College Was ‘Conceived In Sin’ And Meant To Keep Black People Down, Says Steve Cohen)

WATCH:

“There are so many memorable quotes of small state delegates sitting on the floor of the constitutional convention, thundering at the large state delegates next to them, ‘we do not trust you’ … The small states were very scared,” Ross added. “And so of course we ended up with this compromise, a Constitution that blends many kinds of principles together so that we can balance power between the large and the small states.”

She also criticized the idea of awarding electoral votes to the popular vote winner and specifically highlighted states like New York and Illinois.

“It’s crazy. And Illinois has to do that by the way, even if the candidate did not appear on Illinois’ ballot at all. They would agree that the will of the nation trumps what Illinois voters say,” Ross said.

“Now 12 states, plus D.C. have signed on to this compact. That’s 181 electors. There are two other states — New Mexico, Delaware — that have legislative approval there, but the governors have not yet signed. That would be 189 electors on board. They need 270 to put their compact into effect.”

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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

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

March 20, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

Chris White | Energy Reporter

European Union regulators fined Google a hefty $1.7 billion Wednesday on the basis that the Silicon Valley giant violated various anti-trust laws, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Google engaged in “illegal practices” in a bid to “cement its dominant market position” in advertising markets, Margrethe Vestager, EU’s top competition commissioner, said in a press statement announcing the penalty. Additional criticisms and possible fines were still to come, she added.

Vestager has been a real headache for Google. She has now fined the tech giant more than $9 billion for antitrust violations.  U.S. regulators have so far avoided slapping fines on Google, though President Donald Trump flirted with the idea in November 2018. (RELATED: Trump’s Looking At Antitrust For Silicon Valley ‘Very Seriously’)

REUTERS/ Stephen Lam

A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/ Stephen Lam

Google has already made “a wide range of changes to our products to address the [European] Commission’s concerns,” Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president of global affairs, said in a statement. Google has not yet disclosed whether it will consider appealing the E.U.’s decision.

Trump, for his part, has a long and sordid relationship with big tech, which he views as antithetical to conservative free expression. He told The Daily Caller in a 2018 interview that he believes Facebook and Google are interfering in the U.S. election on behalf of the Democratic Party.

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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

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

March 20, 2019

By Paul Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROBUST CONSUMPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Axel Bugge)

Source: OANN

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

As the U.S. economy continues to produce positive employment numbers, some Democratic presidential contenders are saying more people than ever are working more than one job to sustain their livelihoods.

But that appears to be more of a political talking point than economic reality, as a Washington Post fact-checker revealed Tuesday. The number of people who have to work more than one job is actually shrinking in Trump’s economy, and in January,  applications for unemployment insurance fell to 1969 levels.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 5: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence look on as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence look on as U.S. President Donald Trump … (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

But that hasn’t stopped California Democratic Rep. Kamala Harris from putting her own data out there for voters to consider. (RELATED: February Jobs Report: 20,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment 3.8 Percent)

“[They say,] ‘The economy is great. It is doing great for everybody.’ And then you ask them, ‘Well, how is that?’ Well, they’ll point to the stock market. Well, that’s fine if you own stocks. Then you’ll ask them, what’s your other measure? And they’ll talk about well, the unemployment rate is down. That’s fine,” the Post quotes Harris as saying.

“Yeah, well, I’ve been traveling our country. People are working. They’re working two and three jobs to pay the bills. It’s not working for working people,” she continued, offering anecdotal evidence. Harris also doesn’t talk about the black unemployment being the lowest in history under Trump.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks to her supporters during her presidential campaign rally launch … (Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

But the economy is working better than it was a year ago, with only 251,000 workers out of a total workforce of 156 million being forced to find a second full-time job. As the Post notes, that’s 100,000 fewer people than 2018 data shows. There are 7.8 million people who work full-time and supplement their income with another part-time position, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is also inclined to push the multi-job panic button when he speaks to supporters. Last week, he declared, “Millions of Americans are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.” (RELATED: The Key To Winning In 2020 Will Be Properly Explaining Socialism, Says Bernie Sanders)

Sanders did not mention that those millions comprise just 5 percent of all employed Americans, according to the Post report. Of that 5 percent, the majority have a secondary job that is part-time.

Former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, also running for his party’s presidential nomination, has painted a similar employment picture of over-worked Americans with little time for rest or relaxation.

“I have already shared with you that many are working second or third jobs. In fact, in Texas, half of your colleagues are working a second or third job just to put food on the table,” O’Rourke told an Iowa crowd, according to Fox News.

The Post fact checker, however, points out that O’Rourke and his team claimed that statistic of “half” the workforce in Texas is working two jobs was actually in regard to teachers only. But the U.S. Department of Education study that used a random sample of teachers showed that only 18 percent of teachers nationwide took up more than one job to earn more money.

Follow David on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Netflix Inc experiment that began with viewers picking a movie character’s breakfast cereal may expand to letting the audience choose the best on-screen date or the safest path to escape an ax murderer.

The world’s largest streaming service wants to try out more interactive entertainment following the response to science-fiction movie “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” executives told reporters this week.

The company is looking for possibilities across genres such as comedy, horror and romance, said Todd Yellin, Netflix’s vice president of product.

“Why can’t you have a romantic title where you get to choose who she goes out with?” Yellin said. “Or horror titles. Should you walk through that door, or should you dive out that window and get the heck out of there? You can make the choice.”

In “Bandersnatch,” the first decision viewers could make was whether a character would eat Sugar Puffs or Frosties for breakfast.

The idea was to give audiences a simple choice to encourage them to test the technology, which involved clicking via a remote or tapping on the screen to select an option. The movie kept playing even if the viewer did not choose.

The cereal scene became an Internet sensation when “Bandersnatch” was released last December.

“Like many of you, I got addicted to ‘Bandersnatch’ and trying to figure out what’s the significance of the cereal, and not the cereal, all the different options,” Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said.

The film provided feedback about how long people want to engage with interactive programming and how many choices they want to make, Hastings said. After the cereal decision, viewers selected things such as the type of music a character would play or whether they would jump off a building.

When viewers can direct a story, they feel “really with the character,” Yellin said. “You are more viscerally feeling what they are feeling. You just made the choice for them.”

That is why Yellin wants to try the format in other stories where characters face immense consequences. “Horror is life and death situations constantly,” he said. And in romances, “the emotional stakes are high.”

Yellin said the effort is in its early stages, and Hastings suggested he does not see interactive entertainment replacing traditional storytelling.

“I don’t know if I would do it every day,” Hastings said, “but as part of my viewing, it’s pretty exciting.”

Netflix already has produced a handful of interactive shows for kids, who were immediately receptive to the idea, Yellin said.

“Kids don’t have established rules,” he said. “They assume that’s the way the world should be and they’ll try it.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Combination photo of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos (L-R top row): U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, (L-R bottom row): U.S.Senator Kamala Harris, Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. REUTERS/Files

March 20, 2019

By Ginger Gibson

HEMINGWAY, S.C. (Reuters) – In the most polarized political environment in decades, Democratic voters want to know how their eventual nominee will match up against President Donald Trump in the November 2020 general election.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York appears willing to go the furthest yet, at least symbolically, in trying to prove she is ready to go toe-to-toe with the president.

On Sunday, she will deliver her campaign launch speech at a rally in view of one of Trump’s hotels in New York City, taking her “vision of restoring America’s moral integrity straight to President Trump’s doorstep,” her campaign said.

The backdrop for her speech underscores a defining theme of the Democratic nominating contest. Trump is present at every campaign stop – not physically, but as a constant topic of discussion, even if his name is not uttered by those seeking to defeat him.

Candidates are trying to convince voters in early primary states that they would provide the best Trump opposition. And in a large field with few variations on policy so far, each contender is using different tactics to make their case.

“Voters need to believe that a candidate can stand on stage, take a rhetoric punch from Trump and still look strong and viable,” said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 White House race.

Potential and declared candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders “have likely already passed that litmus test with voters,” Payne added. “Others who are less known to the public probably still have some proving to do.”

A February poll by Emerson College found every Democratic hopeful out-performed Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup, except when a third-party candidacy was added to the equation.

At campaign events in rural South Carolina this month, Senator Kamala Harris used a simple refrain to begin answers about complicated policy questions: “We need a new president.”

Harris, a former prosecutor, is seeking to convince voters that her courtroom experience prepared her to be able to successfully “prosecute” Trump on the debate stage, a campaign aide said.

But Harris does not plan to make her case using any demeaning nicknames for Trump, something the president did during the 2016 campaign to deride his opponents.

“They don’t want someone who is going to mimic his tactics,” the aide said of Democratic voters. “Democrats want someone who can confront from him.”

VOTERS FOCUSED ON ELECTABILITY

A February poll by Monmouth University found that 56 percent of Democrats would prefer a nominee who has a good shot at defeating Trump even if they do not agree on policy positions.

The poll found women voters – who turned out in droves during the 2018 midterm elections to help send a historic number of women to Congress – were even more inclined to prioritize electability over ideology with 61 percent putting their positions aside in favor of a candidate who can defeat the president, compared to 45 percent of men.

The high level of Democrats citing electability over “kitchen table” issues like jobs and the economy was surprising to Tim Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa.

But Hagle thinks it could be a product of the large field of Democrats, with voters looking for ways to whittle it down. Once the field narrows, policy issues such as immigration and jobs could again emerge as top concerns, he said.

“What is different this time is the intensity about wanting to defeat Trump,” Hagle said.

Even candidates who are inclined not to tussle with Trump directly still talk about him a lot.

In Mount Vernon, Iowa on Friday, Beto O’Rourke largely spoke of Trump in the context of using his campaign to try and bring people together. He criticized Trump – not using his name – for how the president talks about immigrants and Muslims.

“We’ve never been as divided as we are right now. And we’ve never seen the kind of rhetoric employed by this president in our history,” said O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman. “This is absolutely wrong. And there’s a consequence to this rhetoric and the policies employed by the president.”

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic hopeful, insists Trump can be defeated by a candidate who offers a calmer tone instead of attacks.

“I know there’s some ‘fight fire with fire’ people out there, and God bless ’em, if they become the nominee, I’m behind them,” Booker told a group of voters at a New Hampshire pub last week. “But I’m willing to die on this hill, because I believe that when we as Americans extend grace to one another, we’re not weaker, but stronger.

“My mom taught Sunday school, and she taught me to love my enemies,” Booker said. “I’m not going to let anybody drag me so low as to contort my soul and make me hate them.”

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Additional reporting by Joseph Ax in New Hampshire and James Oliphant in Iowa; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wave during a car parade in Pyongyang
FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wave during a car parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 18, 2018. Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – The breakdown at last month’s U.S.-North Korea summit has left South Korean President Moon Jae-in with little room to maneuver and exacerbated divisions within his government over how to break the impasse, three sources familiar with the issue said.

The weeks since the Hanoi summit have revealed how difficult it may now be for Moon to play his desired role as a mediator, as Pyongyang and Washington have hardened their stances, threatening to make his focus on engagement seem implausible.

Some U.S. officials were frustrated when Moon, during a call with President Donald Trump just a week before the summit, offered to “ease the burden” by reopening inter-Korean economic projects as a concession to the North, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

At the time, negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program were “hardly making progress,” one source said.

That offer also landed with a thud among some of Moon’s own administration, who said it made him appear desperate for North Korean sanctions relief.

“You don’t want to look desperate, especially when their talks are going nowhere and time is ticking,” said the source, who like the others spoke on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

Moon is eager to restart the joint projects, key to an initiative that he sees as a boost for a moribund economy and the worst job market in a decade.

WEEKS OF CONTROVERSY

Moon’s approval ratings have fallen to their lowest levels since taking office in May 2017, pollster Realmeter said on Monday, citing recent missile activity in North Korea and the stalemate in nuclear talks.

Since the summit, work at North Korea’s Sohae rocket test facility has been detected, while a senior Pyongyang official said last week that Kim may suspend talks with the United States and rethink its freeze on weapons tests.

Senior North Korean negotiators have not showed up for weekly talks with the South at their liaison office since the summit broke down, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. But there were “no problems” communicating with the North, a ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a recent U.S. State Department human rights paper criticized Seoul for pressuring North Korean defectors not to denounce Pyongyang. A separate U.N. report noted Seoul’s failure to declare its transfer of petroleum products used in the North, and published a photo of Moon and Kim riding in an “illicitly obtained” limousine in Pyongyang.

This week, the debate over whether Moon is too committed to engagement with North Korea boiled over in a controversy about a Bloomberg news report that called him a “top spokesman” for Kim Jong Un last year.

Moon’s office faced criticism from foreign media associations after ruling party officials used the racially charged term “black-haired foreigner” to personally single out the author of the Bloomberg story – who is South Korean – for being “almost treasonous.”

After days of pressure, the party apologized on Tuesday for using “black-haired foreigner,” while Moon’s office said it would take action if the reporter were “under real threat.”

CHANGING ROLES

Moon has vowed to act as a mediator between Trump and Kim, but that plan is in doubt in the wake of the summit’s collapse.

There was criticism in Washington that Seoul might have over-sold Kim’s denuclearisation commitment and gone too far in pushing for sanctions relief, according to another source who recently met with U.S. officials and academics.

On the other side, North Korea’s vice foreign minister told a news conference in Pyongyang last week that South Korea is only “a player, not an arbiter” because it is a U.S. ally, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. officials have said no sanctions will be lifted in exchange for partial steps toward denuclearisation, rejecting the incremental approach Pyongyang has sought.

But a senior aide to Moon on Sunday called for a small, step-by-step deal as a “realistic alternative” that would at least move toward dismantling the North’s nuclear facilities in return for sanctions relief.

“We need to reconsider the all-or-nothing strategy,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. State Department representative said that the United States remains prepared for a “constructive negotiation” but that North Korea was not yet ready.

The three sources say U.S. officials still think Moon’s administration can play a role in resuming talks the North, but they want it to focus more on pushing North Korea to denuclearise rather than advocating for sanctions relief.

“They do think South Korea could be a catalyst that helps the negotiations go in the right direction, but in a way that brings Kim’s commitments that deserve U.S. rewards,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Josh Smith and Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

Chinese President Xi Jinping claps at the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping claps at the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

March 20, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Misunderstandings over China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are “hard to avoid”, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Europe by President Xi Jinping during which Italy is set to join the multi-billion dollar trade scheme.

Italy has angered its EU partners by planning to sign infrastructure deals with China, pushing itself as a big backer of the initiative at the heart of Beijing’s foreign policy strategy that is Xi’s signature diplomatic and trade push.

“I think anything new will have a development process,” Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao told a news briefing when asked about recent controversy in Italy over the accord to be signed this month.

“It is hard to avoid misunderstandings occurring during the process of advancing the construction of the Belt and Road. Of course, the facts are the best proof,” Wang said.

More than 150 countries, regions and international groups have already signed BRI cooperation pacts bringing some benefits to all, he added.

Italy, which is expected to send a high-level delegation to the second Belt and Road summit in Beijing in late April, will be the first stop on Xi’s tour from March 21 to 26 that will also take in France and the tiny principality of Monaco.

With ports that offer easy gateways into Europe’s richest markets, Italy is a promising and prestigious prize for China.

Asked about China’s possible investment in a port in Italy, Wang said investment decisions by its companies would be based on market conditions.

Xi will hold talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, and visit the Sicilian capital of Palermo, Wang said.

The two sides will sign commercial pacts on infrastructure, machinery and finance, he added.

Italy’s drive to be the first Group of Seven industrialized nation to join the ambitious venture has upset Washington and alarmed Brussels, raising fears of a sellout of sensitive technology and the handover of critical infrastructure.

On Tuesday, Conte said the commercial and economic deals he will seal with China have no implications for Italy’s geo-political position, in a bid to reassure the European Union and the United States.

In France, Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron will witness the signing of cooperation agreements on energy, transportation, agriculture, finance, culture and science and technology, Wang said.

(Reporting by Tom Daly and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

A pump jack operates in front of a drilling rig owned by Exxon near Carlsbad
A pump jack operates in front of a drilling rig owned by Exxon near Carlsbad, New Mexico, U.S. February 11, 2019. Picture taken February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

March 20, 2019

By Jennifer Hiller

EDDY COUNTY, NEW MEXICO (Reuters) – In New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert, Exxon Mobil Corp is building a massive shale oil project that its executives boast will allow it to ride out the industry’s notorious boom-and-bust cycles.

Workers at its Remuda lease near Carlsbad – part of a staff of 5,000 spread across New Mexico and Texas – are drilling wells, operating fleets of hydraulic pumps and digging trenches for pipelines.

The sprawling site reflects the massive commitment to the Permian Basin by oil majors, who have spent an estimated $10 billion buying acreage in the top U.S. shale field since the beginning of 2017, according to research firm Drillinginfo Inc.

The rising investment also reflects a recognition that Exxon, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP Plc largely missed out on the first phase of the Permian shale bonanza while more nimble independent producers, who pioneered shale drilling technology, leased Permian acreage on the cheap.

Now that the field has made the U.S. the world’s top oil producer, Exxon and other majors are moving aggressively to dominate the Permian and use the oil to feed their sprawling pipeline, trading, logistics, refining and chemicals businesses. The majors have 75 drilling rigs here this month, up from 31 in 2017, according to Drillinginfo. Exxon operates 48 of those rigs and plans to add seven more this year.

The majors’ expansion comes as smaller independent producers, who profit only from selling the oil, are slowing exploration and cutting staff and budgets amid investor pressure to control spending and boost returns.

Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods said on March 6 that Exxon would change “the way that game is played” in shale. Its size and businesses could allow Exxon to earn double-digit percentage returns in the Permian even if oil prices – now above $58 per barrel – crashed to below $35, added Senior Vice President Neil Chapman.

Exxon’s 1.6 million acres in the Permian means it can approach the field as a “megaproject,” said Staale Gjervik, the head of shale subsidiary XTO Resources, whose headquarters was recently relocated to share space with its logistics and refining businesses. The firm also recently outlined plans to nearly double the capacity of a Gulf Coast refinery to process shale oil.

“It sets us up to take a longer-term view,” Gjervik said.

The majors’ Permian investments position the field to compete with Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil-producing region and solidifies the United States as a powerhouse in global oil markets, said Daniel Yergin, an oil historian and vice chairman of consultancy IHS Markit.

“A decade ago, capital investment was leaving the U.S.,” he said. “Now it’s coming home in a very big way.”

The Permian is expected to generate 5.4 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2023 – more than any single member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) other than Saudi Arabia, according to IHS Markit. Production this month, at about 4 million bpd, will about double that of two years ago.

Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP now hold about 4.5 million acres in the Permian Basin, according to Drillinginfo. Chevron and Exxon are poised to become the biggest producers in the field, leapfrogging independent producers such as Pioneer Natural Resources.

Pioneer recently dropped a pledge to hit 1 million bpd by 2026 amid pressure from investors to boost returns. It shifted its emphasis to generating cash flow and replaced its chief executive after posting fourth quarter profit that missed Wall Street earnings targets by 36 cents a share.

Shell, meanwhile, is considering a multi-billion dollar deal to purchase independent producer Endeavor Energy Resources, according to people familiar with the talks. Shell declined to comment and Endeavor did not respond to a request.

Chevron said it would produce 900,000 bpd by 2023, while Exxon forecast pumping 1 million barrels per day by about 2024. That would give the two companies one-third of Permian production within five years.

SMALLER PRODUCERS GET SQUEEZED

At first, the rise of the Permian was driven largely by nimble explorers that pioneered new technology for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling to unlock oil from shale rock, slashing production costs.

The advances by smaller companies initially left the majors behind. Now, those technologies are easily copied and widely available from service firms.

Surging Permian production has overwhelmed pipelines and forced producers to sell crude at a deep discount, sapping cash and profits of independents who, unlike the majors, don’t own their own pipeline networks.

Even as the majors have ramped up operations, the total number of drilling rigs at work in the Permian has dropped to 464, from 493 in November, as independent producers have slowed production, according to oilfield services provider Baker Hughes.

Shell, by contrast, plans to keep expanding even if prices fall further, said Amir Gerges, Shell’s Permian general manager.

“We have a bit more resilience” than the independents, Gerges said.

In west Texas, the firm drills four to six wells at a time next to one another, a process called cube development that targets multiple layers of shale as deep as 8,000 feet.

Cube development is expensive and can take months, making it an option only for the majors and the largest independent producers. Shell has used the tactic to double production in two years, to 145,000 bpd.

The largest oil firms can also take advantage of their volume-buying power even if service companies raise prices for supplies or drilling and fracking crews, said Andrew Dittmar, a Drillinginfo analyst.

“It’s like buying at Costco versus a neighborhood market,” Dittmar said.

The majors’ rush into the market means smaller companies are going to struggle to compete for service contracts and pay higher prices, said Roy Martin, analyst with energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

“When you’re sitting across the negotiating table from the majors, the chips are stacked on their side,” he said.

REBIRTH

The revival of interest in the Permian marks a reversal from the late 1990s, when production had been falling for two decades.

“All the majors and all the companies with names you’ve heard left with their employees,” said Karr Ingham, an oil and gas economist. “Conventional wisdom was this place was going to dry up.”

Chevron was the only major that stayed in the Permian. It holds 2.3 million acres and owns most of its mineral rights, too, but until recently left drilling to others.

But this month, Chief Executive Mike Wirth called the Permian its best bet for delivering profits “north of 30 percent at low oil prices.”

“There’s nothing we can invest in that delivers higher rates of return,” Wirth said this month at its annual investor meeting in New York.

‘HUNGER AND FEAR’

Matt Gallagher, CEO of Parsley Energy Inc, calls the majors’ investments “the best form of flattery” for independents operating here.

Parsley holds 192,000 Permian acres – most of which was snatched up on the cheap during oil busts – and sees its smaller size as an advantage in shale.

“We’re not finished yet,” Gallagher said. “We can move very quickly.”

The majors have greater infrastructure, but independents continue to innovate and design better wells, said Allen Gilmer, a co-founder of Drillinginfo.

“Nothing is a bigger motivator than, ‘Am I going to be alive tomorrow?’” Gilmer said. “Hunger and fear is something that every independent oil-and-gas person knows – and that something no major oil-and-gas person has ever felt in their career.”

(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Additional reporting by David French; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Brian Thevenot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Joe Torre testifies before Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation on domestic violence in professional sports in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Joe Torre, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (MLB), testifies before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on domestic violence in professional sports in Washington December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

March 20, 2019

By Jack Tarrant

TOKYO (Reuters) – Major League Baseball is concerned at strikeouts surpassing the number of hits and needs more balls in play to arrest the dip in popularity, the league’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre said on Wednesday.

Last season was the first in the league’s history to feature more strikeouts than hits, leading to calls for changes to increase interest.

Average attendance for regular season games in 2018 fell four percent from the previous year to 28,830 per game, according to MLB, while the total number of fans who showed up at the ballpark fell below 70 million for the first time since 2003.

Speaking ahead of the MLB season opener in Tokyo on Wednesday, Torre said the league needs to create more balls in play.

“I am concerned with our game because whenever you go through a season and there are more strikeouts than hits, then it is a concern to me,” said Torre, who led the New York Yankees to four World Series titles as a coach.

“To me the excitement of baseball, to watch the game and manage the game, is to have enough balls in play and we don’t have enough balls in play.”

According to NBC Sports, hitters were sent back to the dugout 41,207 times and recorded 41,019 safeties in 2018.

“We need to put the ball in play more,” said the 78-year-old Torre, who works as liaison between the MLB and its 30 clubs.

“Everyone is throwing 98-99 mph, everyone is trying to strike people out… it is all a concern to me.”

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will start the new MLB season in the Tokyo Dome later on Wednesday and have been playing exhibition games as part of the league’s plan to spread the game in Asia.

“What has been great about the exhibition games here is that there has been a lot going on; players on bases, running the bases and that is exciting to me,” continued Torre.

“That is when the game is going to pick up pace, when we dare the hitters to hit the ball as opposed to trying to get them to miss the ball.”

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Source: OANN

Scott Morefield | Reporter

Joe Biden reportedly has told several supporters that he wants to run for president in 2020, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday.

However, the former vice president told the supporters his concerns about being able to raise the necessary cash at the same pace as his competitors, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

It took O’Rourke just one day to raise over $6.1 million after his Thursday presidential bid announcement, and Sanders raised $10 million in just a week after he announced in February. Fundraising being key to what is considered the “money primary,” Biden reportedly expressed his desire to “announce a large fundraising number after his candidacy is official,” according to the WSJ.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence (L) talks with former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden during the state funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at the National Cathedral December 05, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Biden chief strategist Steve Ricchetti said his boss was around 95 percent committed to tossing his hat into the ring, the New York Times reported, but the former vice president did express concern about the fact that President Donald Trump is unlikely “to stop at anything” to defeat his Democratic opponent. (RELATED: Biden Gets Four Point Bump In Latest Poll)

Meanwhile, top Democratic fundraiser Philip Levine told the WSJ that it was “highly likely” he would back Biden were he to announce.

“I think he would be a great nominee. In order to win the general election, we must have an experienced centrist,” said Levine. “Progressives win districts. Centrists win states.”

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport in Washington
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight from Los Angeles approaches for landing at Reagan National Airport shortly after an announcement was made by the FAA that the planes were being grounded by the United States in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 20, 2019

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co, facing its biggest crisis in years following deadly crashes of its flagship 737 MAX aircraft, has brought in a new vice president of engineering while dedicating another top executive to the aircraft investigations, a company email showed on Tuesday.

The management reshuffle comes as Europe and Canada said they would seek their own guarantees over the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX, further complicating plans to get the aircraft flying worldwide after they were grounded in the wake of crashes that killed more than 300 people.

John Hamilton, formerly both vice president and chief engineer in Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division, will focus solely on the role of chief engineer, the unit’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin McAllister told employees on Tuesday in an email seen by Reuters.

“This will allow him to fully dedicate his attention to the ongoing accident investigations,” McAllister said, adding that the staffing changes were needed as “we prioritize and bring on additional resources for the ongoing accident investigations.”

Lynne Hopper – who previously led Test & Evaluation in Boeing’s Engineering, Test & Technology group – has been named vice president of Engineering, McAllister said.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment but confirmed the authenticity of the email.

The shakeup showed how the world’s largest planemaker was freeing up engineering resources as it faces scrutiny during crash investigations while also maintaining production of its money-spinning 737 single-aisle aircrafts.

Previously, Hamilton served as the vice president of engineering for Boeing Commercial Airplanes from April 2016 through March 2019, according to a biography on Boeing’s website.

From July 2013 through March 2016, Hamilton served as the vice president of Safety, Security and Compliance and oversaw the Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization – a program that takes on specific safety certification duties on behalf of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Lawmakers and safety experts are questioning how thoroughly regulators vetted the MAX model and how well pilots were trained on new features.

For now, global regulators have grounded the existing fleet of more than 300 MAX aircraft, and deliveries of nearly 5,000 more – worth well over $500 billion – are on hold. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

A man walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo
A man walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

March 20, 2019

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares got off to a cautious start on Wednesday, holding close to six-month highs on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will stick to a dovish stance and unveil a plan to stop cutting bond holdings later this year.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked down 0.1 percent from a six-month high touched the previous day. Japan’s Nikkei was also down 0.1 percent.

Wall Street shares were narrowly mixed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 losing 0.01 percent and the Nasdaq adding 0.12 percent.

The Federal Reserve, which is wrapping up its two-day policy review later on Wednesday, is expected to lower its policymakers’ rate projections from December, when their median expectations were for two rate hikes this year.

Since the beginning of year, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank would be patient – interpreted as code word for holding off on a rate hike – on signs of slowing economic growth in the United States and many parts of the world.

Financial markets have gone even further by pricing in a rate cut this year. Fed funds futures point to about a 30 percent chance of a cut by the end of year.

The Fed is also expected to lay out a plan to stop shrinking its $4 trillion balance sheet, or so-called quantitative tightening. Many policy makers have suggested the Fed is likely to conclude the process and stabilize its bond holdings by the end of this year.

“I think market consensus centers around an end in September but we expect the Fed to end its balance sheet rolloff in June, at around $3.85 trillion yen, based on our calculations on the amount of excess reserves the Fed will need,” said Shuji Shirota, head of macroeconomic strategy at HSBC Securities in Tokyo.

Expectations of a dovish Fed have dented the U.S. dollar, which has already been under pressure this year after Powell all but signaled a pause to the tightening cycle at the previous meeting.

The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies hit 2 1/2-week low of 96.288 on Tuesday and last stood at 96.390.

The euro traded at $1.1354, near Tuesday’s two-week high of $1.1362.

The dollar fetched 111.41 yen, slipping from Friday’s nine-day high of 111.90.

The British pound remained hostage to headlines on Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to ask the European Union to delay Brexit by at least three months after her plan to hold a third vote on her deal was thrown into disarray by a surprise intervention from the speaker of parliament.

May had earlier warned parliament that if it did not ratify her deal, she would ask to delay Brexit beyond June 30, a step that Brexit’s advocates fear would endanger the entire divorce.

On the other hand, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said an extension would only make sense if it increased the chances of May’s deal being ratified by Britain’s House of Commons.

Sterling last stood flat at $1.3265, off its nine-month peak of $1.3380 hit a week ago.

Market players held on to hopes of a trade deal between Washington and Beijing as officials from both sides remained locked in negotiations.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel to China next week for another round of trade talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a Trump administration official said on Tuesday.

Oil prices held close to four-month highs on expectations that OPEC would continue production cuts through the end of the year and after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed a surprise draw-down on crude inventories.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures stood flat at $59.02 per barrel after touching its highest since November at $59.57 on Tuesday.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Workers at Tesla’s only electric car factory in California took about three times as many sick days in 2018 than in the year before, Bloomberg reports.

When the increase in the size of the workforce is accounted for, the average time each employee spent off the job doubled in 2018. In total, employees spent 22,454 days off work on sick leave in 2018 versus just 7,619 days in 2017, according to a company report viewed by Bloomberg.

The rate of injuries per hour worked stayed roughly the same, suggesting that each injury sustained in 2018 might have been more severe on average than those that happened in 2017, according to former Occupational Safety and Health Administration chief of staff Deborah Berkowitz.

“The most important metric is fatalities, and our number is zero,” Tesla vice president Laurie Shelby told Bloomberg. “It was a big ramp year for Model 3, so there were a lot more hours worked, more production staff and more potential for incidents. We really focused on making sure we had our safety team out in the area as we ramped.”

Shelby also disputed the theory that injuries were more severe. (RELATED: Tesla Plans Price Hikes To Keep Struggling Stores Open)

Tesla’s workforce is in flux. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in January the electric car manufacturer is cutting 7 percent of its workforce. The cuts amount to roughly 3,150 jobs across Tesla’s staff.

A Tesla Model 3 car is displayed during a media preview at the Auto China 2018 motor show in Beijing, China April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

A Tesla Model 3 car is displayed during a media preview at the Auto China 2018 motor show in Beijing, China April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Musk and Tesla rode through a tumultuous 2018 as Musk continued to increase Tesla’s Model 3 production goals to bring the price per car down to $35,000.

Musk told his followers on Twitter in August 2018 that he had secured funding to take the electric car manufacturer private at $420 a share. The announcement prompted an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly making the announcement to boost Tesla’s share price.

Musk and Tesla settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay separate fines of $20 million each. Musk also agreed to step down as chairman of the carmaker.

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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

Kim Guilfoyle | Contributor

Congress tried to veto reality.

Instead, President Trump vetoed Congress.

When Congress voted to block President Trump’s emergency declaration on the southern border, the president vetoed their measure.

No matter how hard Congress tries to ignore, deny and dodge reality, we have a humanitarian, security and enforcement crisis at the border. As Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen said, it is beyond a national emergency — it’s a total meltdown of our immigration system.

Sadly, their willful ignorance, ideological blindfold and hatred of President Trump prevent Congress from acknowledging it.

Illegal immigrant apprehensions on our southern border are at the highest level in a decade. But even that statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.

The number of migrant families with young children is higher than ever. In the first five months of this year, over 136 thousand were apprehended — that’s almost a third higher than were apprehended all of last year. (RELATED: Guilfoyle: President Trump’s State Of The Union Was A Grand Slam)

Human traffickers have put the word out in Central America that bringing a child provides a free pass to enter our country.  Business is so brisk smugglers are now offering a volume discount and using luxury express buses to take migrants from Guatemala to the U.S. with children traveling free, the Washington Post reports.

Once at the frontier, migrants don’t try to evade the Border Patrol. They willingly surrender, often in groups of a hundred or more, lining up in an orderly fashion as if they were entering our country legally.

So far this year, over 268,000 immigrants were apprehended on our southwestern border. Another 100,000 could cross in March. On one night alone in early March, agents took in 700 migrants just in El Paso.

At the current rate, one million of the poorest people on Earth could show up at the Rio Grande this year.  Once they are released into our country, as courts dictate, they will compete against the most vulnerable Americans for jobs on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Many of the arriving migrants have medical issues and require emergency care. Kevin K. McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, sayson a typical day the United States Border Patrol refers 50 individuals to a hospital or medical provider. All children receive medical screening.

As a former prosecutor who fought for justice for women and children who were victims of sexual assault, it gives me chills when I hear CBP must screen every female over 10 years of age for rape. Doctors Without Borders reports more than 30 percent of women migrants it interviewed are sexually assaulted on the way north.

At the same time Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer deny there is an emergency at the border, they asked for nearly a half billion dollars from taxpayers to provide medical care and food for illegal immigrants showing up at the border. (RELATED: Guilfoyle: Americans Can Have A Merry Christmas Thanks To President Trump)

But there’s more to the emergency than migrants. The same criminal gangs that traffic people also traffic drugs. They will use migrants to divert Border Patrol agents in order to bring drugs across.

Drug overdoses are now the number one cause of death for Americans under the age of 55.

Over 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017.  The Centers for Disease Control reports the sharpest increase in deaths came from fentanyl, cheap synthetic heroin that is flooding our country.

Fentanyl is made in China and smuggled into America by Mexican cartels.  One load of fentanyl seized by customs agents on the Mexican border in January was enough to kill more than 115 million people.

By any measure of objective reality, there is a national emergency at the southern border.

There’s also another national emergency. It’s in Washington where Congress refuses to recognize reality or do anything about it.

The president took an oath to preserve and protect our country.

He takes that oath seriously.

Congress must take off its blindfold and work with President Trump to end the immigration crisis threatening our nation.

Kimberly Guilfoyle (@KimGuilfoyle) is vice chairwoman of America First Policies, a nonprofit organization supporting key policy initiatives that will work for all citizens in our country and put America first.


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

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Tuesday was named a board member of Fox Corporation, the new parent company of Fox News.

Ryan will be one of seven board of directors, according to a press release from the company. He will serve alongside Rupert Murdoch, the founder of Fox, and Lachlan Murdoch, the company’s chief executive and chairman. News of Ryan’s appointment comes after Murdoch sold 21st Century Fox — the former parent company of Fox News — to Walt Disney. Fox Corporation was established in its place.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new colleagues to the FOX board. We look forward to working with and being guided by them as we begin a new chapter, steadfastly committed to providing the best in news, sports and entertainment programming,” Lachlan Murdoch, the son of Rupert, said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

It’s not immediately clear how much Ryan will make at Fox Corporation, but, according to SEC filings, 21st Century Fox board members earned around $300,000 in cash and equity annually.

The position, which marks Ryan’s first gig since leaving Congress, will require him to periodically meet with other board members and offer advice to the company.

After serving in House of Representatives for two decades, Ryan declined to run for re-election in 2018, citing a need to spend more time with family in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. He chaired the Budget Committee and the prestigious Ways and Means Committee during his congressional career. He was the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, and ended his congressional tenure as the speaker of the House. (RELATED: Paul Ryan Wants ‘To Be Clear’ About Statement Suggesting Democrats Could Beat Trump In 2020)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump meets with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day president-elect Trump met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump meets with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day president-elect Trump met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The Wisconsin Republican had a notably rocky start to his relationship with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Ryan said he wasn’t “ready to do that” when asked about endorsing then-presumptive GOP nominee Trump in May 2016. Trump returned fire shortly after, saying he was “not quite there yet” on supporting the speaker.

However, the two later warmed to each other, with one high-point being Trump’s passage of tax reform in December 2017, a long-sought goal by Ryan for years. The president offered Ryan strong praise in a tweet that congratulated his successor in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.

“Congratulations to Bryan Steil on a wonderful win last night,” Trump tweeted in August 2018. “You will be replacing a great guy in Paul Ryan, and your win in November will make the entire State of Wisconsin very proud.”

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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

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

March 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during an event to introduce the
FILE PHOTO: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2017” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday said he is hiring a well-known liberal journalist with a history of sharply criticizing other Democratic presidential candidates, including Beto O’Rourke.

Sanders’ campaign said it is bringing in David Sirota, whose work has appeared in The Guardian and Newsweek, among other outlets, as a senior adviser and speechwriter.

The move could stoke tensions within the Democratic field since Sirota has previously targeted O’Rourke, a former U.S. congressman from Texas who entered the presidential race last week, and other rivals.

Sirota on Twitter and in published articles has accused O’Rourke of siding with President Donald Trump and Republicans while a member of the House of Representatives, as well as being overly friendly with the oil and gas industry.

Sirota’s criticism of O’Rourke in December drew a warning from Neera Tanden, a top ally of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and president of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank.

“A supporter of Bernie Sanders attacking a Democrat,” Tanden tweeted. “This is seriously dangerous. We know Trump is in the White House and attacking Dems is doing Trump’s bidding.”

The conflict was a reminder of the bad blood between the Clinton and Sanders camps when they battled for the Democratic nomination ahead of the 2016 presidential race and the mistrust between the party’s moderate and progressive wings.

Sirota also has slammed presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, as well as former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, for being overly cozy with corporate interests.

Sanders’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Sirota’s hiring.

Sirota worked for Sanders as a press secretary when Sanders was a member of the House of Representatives in the early 2000s.

An article Sirota wrote in 2013 for the liberal news website Salon praising the economic record of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s late socialist president, also attracted criticism on social media from Sanders’ Democratic Party critics and conservatives alike.

Sanders recently refused to label Venezuela’s current president, Nicolas Maduro, a dictator or recognize the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the country’s rightful leader – the current U.S. position.

Guaido invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, saying Maduro’s re-election was not legitimate.

O’Rourke said while campaigning in Iowa last week that he supported Guaido’s claim on Venezuela’s presidency.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; editing by Colleen Jenkins and G Crosse)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in briefing on southern U.S. border in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a briefing on “drug trafficking on the southern border” in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that U.S. trade talks with China were going well as two top American officials reportedly plan a visit to China next week for a fresh round of talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expect to fly to Beijing the week of March 25 to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will pay a return trip to Washington the following week, the Wall Street Journal said, citing Trump administration officials.

Talks between China and the United States are in the final stages, with a target date for a deal by the end of April, according to the report.

“China’s going very well. Talks with China are going very well,” Trump said in response to a shouted question at the end of his White House news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Washington and Beijing have slapped import duties on each other’s products that have cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, roiled markets and disrupted manufacturing and supply chains.

Representatives of the U.S. Treasury and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative could not be immediately reached for comment. The White House had no immediate comment.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer listens as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He talks while they line up for a group photo at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, listens as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He talks while they line up for a group photo at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China February 15, 2019. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

March 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Top U.S. and China negotiators are planning new rounds of talks starting next week to end a trade dispute between the two nations, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expect to fly to Beijing the week of March 25 to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will pay a return trip to Washington, D.C. the following week, the report said, citing Trump administration officials.

Talks between China and the United States are in the final stages, with a target date for a deal by the end of April, according to the report https://www.wsj.com/articles/lighthizer-mnuchin-to-travel-to-beijing-11553015413?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1.

Washington and Beijing have slapped import duties on each other’s products that have cost the world’s two of the largest economies billions of dollars, roiled markets and disrupted manufacturing and supply chains.

Representatives of the U.S. Treasury and Office the U.S. Trade Representative could not be immediately reached for comment. The White House had no immediate comment.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru)

Source: OANN

Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren are trying to find "any way they can" to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, including eliminating the Electoral College that resulted in his win, Trump senior campaign adviser and daughter-in-law Lara Trump said Tuesday.

"It is clear people are still upset on the left that their chosen candidate did not win in 2016," Trump told Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "They want to find any way they can to beat Donald Trump because I think they know it's going to be incredibly hard, almost impossible to beat this president and the 2020 election so they are looking for anything they can."

Warren said during a CNN town hall in Jackson, Mississippi that the president should be chosen by a popular vote because the Electoral College disenfranchises voters who live in a state dominated by one of the parties.

"This is a system we've had in place for hundreds of years," Trump argued. "It's been working, it's always worked the way it's supposed to."

Several of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls say they're in favor of expanding the Supreme Court, and Trump said that's because they're in "panic mode."

"Democrats are upset when Republicans picked somebody and generally vice versa but anything this president does, whether it's the Supreme Court, the wall, anything he does, they're going to go against no matter how in favor they were a bit in the past," said Trump.

Source: NewsMax

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

  • A new book claims the number of polar bears may have quadrupled in the last 50 years despite melting Arctic sea ice.
  • Scientists predicted massive polar bear population declines as sea ice retreated, but that hasn’t happened, the book says.
  • “It’s a wonderful conservation success story,” said zoologist and author Susan Crockford.

Polar bear numbers may have quadrupled in the last 50 years, according to a new book critiquing the alarmist predictions of polar bear population collapse.

“My scientific estimates make perfect sense and they tally with what the Inuit and other Arctic residents are seeing on the ground,” Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist, said in a statement Tuesday on her book’s release.

Crockford’s book, “The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened,” argues that, in contrast to the dire predictions made by experts over a decade ago, polar bears are thriving. In fact, she argues polar populations may have quadrupled since the 1960s from roughly 10,000 to 40,000.

“Almost everywhere polar bears come into contact with people, they are much more common than they used to be. It’s a wonderful conservation success story,” said Crockford, who’s also an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Crockford, through her personal blog, has criticized those dire predictions. Crockford says polar bear populations have risen or stabilized in the last 15 years or so despite the fact that sea ice levels declined faster than experts predicted.

A female polar bear cub is seen together with 9 year-old mother Tonja during her first official presentation for the media at Tierpark Berlin zoo in Berlin

A female polar bear cub, born on December 1, 2018, is seen together with 9 year-old mother Tonja during her first official presentation for the media at Tierpark Berlin zoo in Berlin, Germany, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Officially, polar bear numbers are estimated to be 25,000 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG). But that represents a “reasonable range in numbers,” according to PBSG, and is not a firm figure.

Crockford’s book critiques that estimate and argues it’s likely much higher. Crockford claims polar bear experts have tried to obfuscate and low-ball abundance estimates — obviously this argument hasn’t earned her many friends in the scientific community. (RELATED: Alarmists Blame Historic Midwest Floods On Global Warming. That’s Incorrect)

In fact, a group of scientists, including polar bear experts Steven Amstrup and Ian Stirling, published a study personally attacking Crockford, labeling her as part of a web of “deniers” that spread misinformation about science — the study considered disagreeing with its authors as misinformation.

The study issued corrections once it was pointed out its authors got basic factual information wrong, and other researchers ripped into the study’s methodology and data.

“A few unscrupulous people have been trying to destroy my reputation,” Crockford said in a statement. “But the facts are against them, and they have failed.”

A polar bear cub comes outside for the first time at the Copenhagen Zoo

A polar bear cub comes outside for the first time at the Copenhagen Zoo, Copenhagen, Denmark, Feb. 28, 2019. Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen/via REUTERS

Former Vice President Al Gore featured polar bears swimming for their lives in his 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth,” sparking widespread fear that Arctic sea ice melt would bring bears to the brink of extinction.

Such concerns spurred the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list polar bears as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2008, making it the first species to be listed over future worries about global warming.

Polar bear experts predicted in 2007 that polar bear populations could decline nearly 70 percent from projected Arctic ice melt in the mid-century. But when sea ice declines outpaced model projections, polar bear numbers didn’t dramatically drop off.

Indeed, recent studies found polar bear populations are doing fine. A 2016 study by Canadian researchers, for example, found “no reliable evidence to support the contention that polar bears are currently experiencing a climate crisis.”

Norwegian researchers found in 2015 the Barents Sea polar bear population grew 42 percent over the previous 11 years, despite diminishing ice cover.

A polar bear cub eats meat at a zoo in Krasnoyarsk

A polar bear cub, which is about 10 months old and was recently found in the Arctic settlement of Dikson on the Taymyr Peninsula, eats meat inside an adaptation cage at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Oct. 19, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Likewise, there’s evidence polar bears survived ice-free periods over the last 1.5 million years — that’s according to a 2016 study by U.S. Geological Survey and University of Alaska-Fairbanks researchers.

Amstrup, a Crockford critic, has called into question claims that polar bear populations were lower in the 1960s because of the lack or records — though he also admitted that about half of modern population estimates were “educated guesses.”

“But the most important point is that whatever happened in the past is really irrelevant,” Amstrup wrote on Polar Bears International’s website. “Polar bear habitat is disappearing due to global warming. Even the most careful on-the-ground management doesn’t matter if polar bears don’t have the required habitat.”

Crockford’s book was published on March 16 by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a U.K.-based think tank chaired by Lord Nigel Lawson, who served in former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.

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Doug Schoen, pollster and Democratic strategist, blasted President Donald Trump's approach to foreign policy and said it projects an image of the U.S. abdicating its role as "democracy's standard-bearer."

Schoen made his comments in a column posted by Fox News website Tuesday.

Schoen referred to former Vice President Dick Cheney recently pressing Vice President Mike Pence about Trump's foreign policy during a closed-door event.

"Despite often opposing Vice President Cheney, I largely agree with him that the Trump administration's foreign policy lacks direction and discipline," he said.

"I remain concerned that President Trump's nationalistic, isolationist 'America First' approach to foreign policy projects an image of the United States as abdicating our role on the world stage as democracy's standard-bearer."

Schoen claimed many of the "more reasoned voices" on Trump's national security team have left, notably former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

"While I may not have wholeheartedly agreed with Secretary Mattis on everything, we share an understanding of the role that the United States should play on the world stage: the role of a global leader who champions democracy and stands up for our allies," he said.

And Schoen said Trump's lack of foreign policy direction has been particularly troubling.

"For America to truly succeed, we must renew our commitment to global leadership in a way that is informed by an idealistic, moral, yet also practical outlook toward the international community," he said.

Source: NewsMax

U.S. and EU flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

March 19, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Tuesday that Washington’s “selfish” approach to trade was not sustainable, but it was too early to say that EU-U.S. trade talks were doomed to fail.

The Trump administration has imposed stiff tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum and set off a trade war with China in a bid to redress what it sees as unfavorable terms that contribute to a U.S. trade deficit of over half a trillion dollars a year.

The Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the 28-nation European Union, has been in talks with U.S. authorities since last July, seeking to clinch a deal on industrial goods trade.

EU governments are now discussing the details of a negotiating mandate for the Commission, while Washington has until mid-May to decide whether to make good on President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imports of European cars.

“It is too early to say that our trade discussions are doomed to fail,” Katainen told a regular news briefing.

“There are discussions going on on several levels and … we can end up having some sort of an agreement with the U.S. on trade, but let’s not go deeper than this,” he said, adding that the scope of negotiations had to be clear and that a deal would require a lot of good will and political capital on both sides.

Asked about a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Katainen said it was problematic and that attempts to get it done were like pushing a rope.

“Japan, China and the EU are willing to reform the WTO, the U.S. has not been that interested, but they are willing to cooperate,” he said.

“Even though the U.S. authorities may think that selfishness is better than cooperation, it is not a sustainable way of thinking. We need better, rules-based trade in the future where the international community sets the rules,” he said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that the WTO was using an “out of date” playbook despite dramatic changes including the rise of China and the evolution of the internet.

He said Washington was nonetheless working “diligently” to negotiate new WTO rules to address these problems.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN

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

March 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

Former Vice President Joe Biden experienced a four-point bump over his previous standing with potential Democratic challengers should he join the 2020 presidential race, in a Morning Consult poll released Tuesday.

Biden leads with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who garnered 27 percent of the vote. Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke were tied for third place with 8 percent. (RELATED: Biden Claims He Was A Desegregationist Despite Sordid History On Race)

US Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders in Conway NH on August 24th 2015 by Michael VadonUS Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders in Conway NH on August 24th 2015 by Michael Vadon

US Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders in Conway NH on August 24th 2015 by Michael Vadon

The Morning Consult poll is released each week, and Biden increased his standing by four percentage points. Despite a wide-reaching media and ground campaign, O’Rourke only experienced a 1 percent increase in support in the poll. Harris lost two points in the poll this week.

Biden is not officially in the race, but he appeared to indicate his interest Saturday during a Democratic Party event in Dover, Delaware.

“I have the most progressive record of anyone running,” Biden said to raucous applause before correcting himself. “Anybody who would run — I didn’t mean it. Anybody who would run.”

Morning Consult polled 13,551 registered Democrats who self-reported they may vote in a Democratic primary or caucus in their state. The poll ran from March 11 through March 17 and had a margin of error of 1 percentage point in either direction.

Source: The Daily Caller

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

March 19, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch

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

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

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

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

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

WATERGATE SCANDAL

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

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

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

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

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

IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR

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

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

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

WHITEWATER AND LEWINSKY SCANDALS

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

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

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

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

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

FEDERAL RAID AT WACO

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

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

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

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

OUTING OF CIA AGENT PLAME

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

Container cranes are pictured at the Port of Singapore
FILE PHOTO: Container cranes are pictured at the Port of Singapore, June 10, 2018. REUTERS/Feline Lim

March 19, 2019

By Jonathan Saul and Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) – More ports around the world are banning ships from using a fuel cleaning system that pumps waste water into the sea, one of the cheapest options for meeting new environmental shipping rules.

The growing number of destinations imposing stricter regulations than those set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are expected to be a costly headache for cruise and shipping firms as they face tough market conditions and slowing world trade. They might have to pay for new equipment and extra types of fuel and adjust their routes.

Singapore, China and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates have already banned the use of the cleaning systems, called open loop scrubbers, from the start of next year when the new IMO rules come into force.

Reuters has learned that individual ports in Finland, Lithuania, Ireland and Russia, have all banned or restricted such equipment, according to interviews with officials and reviews of documents by Reuters. One British port has occasionally imposed restrictions.

Norway is also working on open loop scrubber bans around its world heritage fjords, an official with the climate and environment ministry told Reuters. A ban on all types of scrubbers is also proposed, the official added.

The IMO rules will prohibit ships from using fuels with sulfur content above 0.5 percent, unless they are equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems. The open loop scrubbers wash out the sulfur and some industry experts believe they are the cheapest way to meet the new global rules.

Companies that invested in open loop scrubbers will be unable to use them while sailing through those port waters. They also fear the IMO rules could change again and ban open loop scrubbers altogether.

The world’s top cruise operator Carnival Corporation has invested over $500 million to deploy the devices.

Carnival’s Mike Kaczmarek, senior vice president for marine technology and refit with oversight of the group’s scrubbers program, said the port moves were “very troubling”.

“The more ports that participate in this, the greater the (economic) impact,” he said.

“A lot of people out there…in good faith have made significant investments.”

Ships with open loop scrubbers docking or sailing through those ports would need to store waste in tanks until it could be discharged elsewhere or avoid the ports.

The other option is to use a scrubber with a “closed loop”, which stores the waste until it can be treated on land. There are also hybrid scrubbers with a loop that can be open or closed.

Ship owners could also choose another energy source such as low sulfur fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Some experts say there will be enough low sulfur fuel available to avoid fitting scrubbers.

Data from Norwegian risk management and certification company DNV GL shows there will be a total of 2,693 ships running with scrubbers by the end of 2019 – based on current orders – and over 80 percent of them will be open loop devices, compared with 15 percent using hybrid scrubbers and 2 percent opting for closed loop scrubbers.

REGULATORY UNCERTAINTY

Initial research to date into the environmental impact of open loop scrubbers has produced a range of results. The ports and authorities that have banned them have acted in anticipation of studies that conclusively show the discharge is harmful, environmental groups say.

International regulation often lags local action and the IMO rules were agreed in 2016 after years of tense discussions.

An official with Sweden’s Gothenburg port said it recommended shipowners in their waters not to use open loop scrubbers as a precautionary principle to “avoid discharges of scrubber wash water in coastal waters and port areas”.

Businesses are waiting to see if the IMO rules will change.

“What is terrible for business is uncertainty in regulation and changes which are not broadcast well in advance,” said Hamish Norton, president of dry bulk shipping group Star Bulk Carriers, among the biggest investors in scrubbers.

Jurisdictions that have not imposed restrictions are also watching closely.

The IMO encouraged member states in February to research the impact of scrubbers on the environment. An IMO spokeswoman said it was up to countries to make any proposal to tighten scrubber regulation, which would need consensus approval by its 174 member states.

The 28 European Union countries submitted a paper to the IMO which said the use of open loop scrubbers was “expected to lead to a degradation of the marine environment due to the toxicity of water discharges”. It said it wanted to see “harmonization of rules and guidance”.

A separate paper submitted to the IMO, commissioned by Panama – the world’s top ship registration state – and conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said more scientific investigation was needed.

THE FRONT PAGE TEST

A number of jurisdictions without bans, including Gibraltar, South Korea and Australia said they were investigating.

“We will study to find out how harmful it is to oceans and then consider what actions we can take,” said an official with South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

“If the IMO sets out a guideline on this, we will comply.”

Others are pushing back. Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, said it concluded in research last year that there was little impact on the marine environment from scrubber water discharges.

Carnival said a study it commissioned concluded that scrubbers were safe and discharges were over 90 percent lower than maximum allowable levels in various waters.

Nevertheless, many in the industry expect the rules to change.

Ivar Hansson Myklebust, chief executive with Hoegh Autoliners, said at a recent Marine Money conference the vehicle transporter was not ordering any scrubbers.

“The (open loop) scrubbers have a hard time passing the front page test taking pollutants from the air and dumping it into the sea,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston, Gederts Gelzis in Riga, Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore, Esha Vaish in Stockholm, Jane Chung in Seoul, Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo, Gus Trompiz in Paris, Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow and Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; editing by Anna Willard)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo of Offutt Air Force Base and the surrounding areas affected by flood waters in Nebraska
FILE PHOTO: Offutt Air Force Base and the surrounding areas affected by flood waters are seen in this aerial photo taken in Nebraska, U.S., March 16, 2019. Courtesy Rachelle Blake/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS

March 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence is due to travel to Nebraska on Tuesday to tour the devastation left by floods in the Midwest which have killed at least three people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Media reports including CNN say that 74 of Nebraska’s 93 counties had declared states of emergency by early Tuesday.

“This is clearly the most widespread disaster we have had in our state’s history,” in terms of sheer size, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told reporters on Monday afternoon.

Ricketts will join Pence as he surveys the damage, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter late on Monday. Pence is traveling at U.S. President Donald Trump’s request, she said.

The flood water have been driven by snow melt from heavy rains last week and warm temperatures said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“Most of the snow pack in Nebraska is now gone, but up river in North and South Dakota, there’s significant snow pack of up to 20 plus inches and it’s melting,” he said.

The Missouri River, the longest in North America, has flooded much of Nebraska between Omaha and Kansas City at the Missouri state line.

The river was expected to crest at more than 47 feet (14.5 meters) on Tuesday, breaking the previous record, set in 2011, by more than a foot, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said in the latest bulletin on its web page.

At least one person was missing on Monday in addition to the three reported deaths.

State officials said Monday that 290 people had been rescued by the Nebraska State Patrol, National Guard troops, and urban search and rescue teams.

Damage to the state’s livestock sector was estimated at about $400 million, while the full impact on the spring planting season was not yet clear, said Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

The state’s highway system suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, said Kyle Schneweis, director of the state Department of Transportation.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Gina Cherelus in New York, and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

  • Google barred a Christian video on same-sex marriage from advertising on YouTube after backlash from employees, internal communications show.
  • The video said gay people are welcome as Christians but are called to follow Christian teachings on sex and marriage.
  • A Google VP agreed the video was too offensive to air as an advertisement.
  • Google HR highlighted the video and response in an internal newsletter dedicated to policing “microaggressions.”

Google banned a video explaining Christian teaching on same-sex marriage from advertising on YouTube after backlash from upset employees, according to internal Google communications reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The video was flagged in June 2018 in an internal listserv, “Yes at Google,” which is run by Google’s human resources department, according to those communications and other internal documents, which a source shared with TheDCNF on the condition of anonymity.

The listserv has more than 30,000 members and is devoted to policing “microaggressions” and “micro-corrections” within the company, according to its official internal description.

The internal backlash to the video grew large enough to merit a response from a Google vice president, who said the video would no longer be eligible to run as an advertisement, the human resources team announced to the listserv. (RELATED: ‘Disrespectful’: Google Employees Melt Down Over The Word ‘Family’)

REUTERS/ Stephen Lam

A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S. REUTERS/ Stephen Lam

Christian radio host Michael L. Brown argues in the video that gay people are welcome as Christians but that, like every other person, they are called to follow Christian teachings on sex and marriage.

Brown has spoken out in the past against “homo-hatred” and “ugly rhetoric” directed at gay and lesbian people by fringe groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

In the video, he describes same-sex relationships as “like other sins, but one that Jesus died for.”

The belief that sex is meant to take place in the context of a male-female marriage — as argued by Brown — is central to most major Christian denominations’ marital teachings.

WATCH: 

Google HR highlighted in the listserv a “representative” comment from an employee who took offense that Brown’s video had appeared as an advertisement on channels operated by gay and lesbian YouTubers, the documents show.

“I cannot see how this can be allowed when the specific idea of LGBT videos is to allow the creators to feel free to share their content and be comfortable that anti-LGBT advertisers would not be attached to their content,” the employee wrote. “This seems very counter to our mission, specifically around PRIDE 2018 timeframe.”

Google’s vice president for product management and ads, Vishal Sharma, agreed that the video was too offensive to air as an advertisement.

“Thank you for raising this very important issue. It means a lot to me personally and those of us working on this across the Ads and YouTube teams. YouTube is an open platform and we support the free expression of creators with a wide range of views,” Sharma wrote in his response, which was included in the listserv.

“But we don’t allow advertising that disparages people based on who they are – including their sexual orientation – and we remove ads that violate this basic principle,” Sharma continued.

“After careful and multiple reviews over the course of a few days, our teams decided to remove the ad in question here as it violates our policy. We’ve communicated this to the advertiser and have been in touch with creators who have been actively engaged on this issue,” Sharma added, again expressing his gratitude for the internal feedback.

Brown first noted in a June 2018 blog post that his video was barred from running on ads.

(JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

A man rides a bike past a Google sign and logo at the Googleplex in California. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The episode is indicative of the tension between Google’s liberal office culture and its public commitment to free expression.

Other internal documents previously obtained by TheDCNF showed Google employees melted down after an executive used the word “family” in a weekly, company-wide presentation.

Many Google employees became angry that the term was used while discussing a product aimed at children because it implied that families have children, those documents showed.

Then, too, the internal backlash caught the attention of executives at Google. A company vice president addressed the controversy and solicited feedback on how Google could become more inclusive.

Additional internal communications previously obtained by TheDCNF showed that Google employees debated whether to bury right-of-center media outlets in the company’s search function as a direct response to President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

The Daily Caller and Breitbart were singled out as outlets to potentially bury, those communications revealed. A Google spokeswoman said in response that the conversation did not lead to manipulation of search results for political purposes.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

Email Google-related tips securely to [email protected]

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

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: The ESPN logo is seen on an electronic display in Times Square in New York City
FILE PHOTO: The ESPN logo is seen on an electronic display in Times Square in New York City, U.S., August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

March 18, 2019

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The streaming digital sports service ESPN+ will become the exclusive distributor of pay-per-view events for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the United States, the companies announced on Monday.

The events will begin on April 13, almost exactly a year since parent company Walt Disney Co launched ESPN+ to retain viewers as traditional cable audiences started migrating to online services such as Netflix Inc.

ESPN+ lured 568,000 new subscribers when UFC debuted in January after the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts promoter, a unit of Endeavor, LLC, moved fights there from Fox Sports.

By the time Disney held its quarterly earnings call with investors in February, it said ESPN+ had signed up 2 million paying subscribers. It is the model for Disney+, a streaming service for family-friendly Disney content that is supposed to launch later this year.

The UFC deal takes the traditional pay-per-view (PPV) model to a new level, giving ESPN+ subscribers exclusive access to the “biggest and most important fights,” said Russell Wolff, ESPN+ executive vice president.

He would not say how many paying subscribers ESPN+ currently has.

The deal will also give the UFC something it has never had before: data about its PPV audience, including information about who is buying event access and viewers’ propensity to purchase goods, said UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein.

Fans will be able to access UFC content in one place, rather than having to jump to different platforms as they did in the past. The agreement does not impact UFC’s commercial sales to the thousands of U.S. bars and restaurants that air its fights, Epstein said.

Monday’s UFC deal is an expansion of its previous ESPN+ agreement, which covered media rights to UFC Fight Night and now runs through 2025 along with the PPV deal.

The expanded agreement covers 12 live PPV events per year that will be streamed in high definition in English and Spanish.

PPV UFC fights will cost $59.99 per event for current ESPN+ subscribers, slightly less than the $64.99 fans usually paid in the past. New subscribers will pay $79.99 for their first PPV event and get one-year of ESPN+ access.

(This story corrects name of UFC parent company to Endeavor, LLC in third paragraph)

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

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

March 18, 2019

By Phil Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELN EXPANSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Carlos Alfredo Vecchio leave the White House after their meeting in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (right) and Carlos Alfredo Vecchio, charge d’affaires appointed by Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido leave the White House after their meeting in Washington, U.S., January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

March 18, 2019

By Gershon Peaks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido have taken control of three of the country’s diplomatic properties in the United States, Guaido’s U.S. envoy said on Monday, as the opposition presses its bid to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The envoy, Carlos Vecchio, said the opposition had gained control of two buildings belonging to Venezuela’s defense ministry in Washington and one consular building in New York. He added that the group expects to take control of Venezuela’s embassy in Washington “in the days to come.”

The moves come after Guaido, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing that Maduro’s May 2018 re-election was illegitimate. He has been recognized as Venezuela’s rightful leader by most Western countries, including the United States.

“We are taking these steps in order to preserve the assets of the Venezuelans here in this country,” Vecchio said from one of the buildings, the office of Venezuela’s military attache to Washington, after removing a portrait of Maduro from the wall and replacing it with one of Guaido.

Maduro, who has branded Guaido a U.S. puppet seeking to oust him in a coup, broke off relations with Washington after it recognized Guaido, calling diplomatic and consular staff back to Caracas.

Of 55 staff members, 12 decided to remain in the United States and support Guaido, Vecchio said on Monday. He added that his staff would work out of the attache building, which is located in the upscale Kalorama neighborhood and has an assessed value of $2.2 million, according to Washington property records.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the opposition’s move to take possession of the properties.

Vecchio spoke alongside Colonel Jose Luis Silva, Venezuela’s military attache to Washington who recognized Guaido on Jan. 27. Few other high-ranking members of the military have heeded Guaido’s call to break with Maduro, who retains the support of the armed forces and control of state functions.

On Monday, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters an army general has defected and fled to Colombia. Vecchio said he was confident that Venezuela, which is undergoing an economic and humanitarian crisis, was in “an irreversible process of change” but that “it won’t come easily.”

The United States withdrew all its remaining diplomatic personnel in Venezuela last week.

(Reporting by Gershon Peaks in Washington; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand has garnered one endorsement from a sitting member of Congress since the New York lawmaker announced her 2020 run Sunday.

Democratic New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney is the only sitting member of Congress who had endorsed Gillibrand as of Sunday, reported The Hill.

“I am proud to endorse my friend Sen. Gillibrand to be our next President and the nation’s first woman President,” Maloney wrote on Twitter Sunday. “I saw her tenacity when we fought together to pass the 9/11 Health bill and know she has what it takes to defeat [President Donald] Trump.” (RELATED: Gillibrand’s Office Hit With Sexual Allegations, Aide Resigns In Protest)

Maloney’s endorsement comes as Gillibrand struggles to win over members of the congressional delegation in her home state, according to a Politico report in early March. Democratic New York Reps. Sean Maloney and Kathleen Rice opted to endorse Gillibrand’s rival, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, instead. O’Rourke announced his 2020 bid on March 14.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (4th L) speaks as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (3rd L) and former "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart (2nd L) listen during a news conference February 25, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (4th L) speaks as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (3rd L) and former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart (2nd L) listen during a news conference on Feb. 25, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris, a fellow Democratic 2020 contender, has secured endorsements from at least five House members from her home state of California, according to Politico.

Gillibrand has been trying to lock down New York support with lunches, drinks and phone calls, reported Politico. She will have to act fast in case Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio jumps into the 2020 race.

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declined to endorse Gillibrand so far, calling himself “a fan” of Gillbrand after seeming to favor potential 2020 candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Gillibrand made her 2020 bid official with a video Sunday and is planning to deliver a speech in front of the Trump International Hotel in New York City on March 24, reported Politico.

Gillibrand’s office came under fire in mid-March after new information emerged about a female staffer who resigned citing mishandling of her sexual harassment allegations against a male staffer, who was a favorite of Gillibrand.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

Former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Vice President Joe Biden dominate the Democratic 2020 presidential field in either fundraising or polling in the early days of the contest.

The dominance of the white, male trio has caused consternation among the Democratic faithful, who were initially emboldened by the diverse nature of the field including persons of color, women and LGBTQIA+ representation.

New York Times reporter Astead Herndon noted the trend on Twitter Monday, saying:

Herndon’s observation was quickly picked up by progressives. Rebecca Traister, NYMag writer and author of “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power Of Women’s Anger,” noted on Twitter that “being a white man” is “an extremely powerful polling [and] fundraising boon, as it has always, always been.

Prominent media critic Jeff Jarvis declared Sunday that “we have an amazing field of women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates. Speaking as an old white man, we don’t need more white men.”

O’Rourke, Biden and Sanders’ dominance has even spawned accusations of media bias with Democratic political consultant Anne Marsh, who told Politico, “I feel like the media is always captivated by the person they seem to think is a phenom: Bernie. Trump. Beto. But they always seem to be white men who are phenoms. In a year where we have more choices than ever, more women and more persons of color than ever, none of them seem to be deemed a phenom.”

O’Rourke announced Monday morning that his campaign brought in a record $6.1 million in online fundraising dollars within the first 24 hours of launching last week, more than any other announced Democrat. Sanders was the only candidate to come close to matching O’Rourke’s support, with $5.925 million raised within the first 24 hours after his announcement. (RELATED: Joe Biden Calls Mike Pence ‘A Decent Guy’ Then Backtracks)

O’Rourke and Sander’s initial 24-hour fundraising combined put them above the entirety of the rest of the Democratic field, including leaders like Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; Washington Governor Jay Inslee; and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The trio of Sanders, O’Rourke and Biden have either topped or dominated several Democratic national polls despite the wide field of candidates. Morning Consult’s latest analysis shows overwhelming support for Biden and Sanders amongst national Democrats with 58 percent of Democratic primary voters supporting them. Harris and O’Rourke trailed the pair with 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Biden also leads the entirety of the announced Democratic field in the most recent Des Moine Register poll in Iowa, with 27 percent support from likely caucus-goers, the site of the first presidential contest. Biden was trailed by only 2 percent of the vote by Sanders. The two Democrats held the plurality of support amongst likely caucus-goers with Warren, Harris, O’Rourke and others trailing behind.

Source: The Daily Caller

President Donald Trump on Monday referred to former Vice President Joe Biden as “another low I.Q. individual,” after he misspoke on Saturday and almost said he was running for president.

Biden, who is considering running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, said at the First State Democratic Dinner in Delaware that he has "the most progressive record of anybody running for the … anybody who would run" in 2020.

“Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for President,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual!”
Trump frequently references I.Q. to insult others. He called actor Robert De Niro a “very low-I.Q. individual,” to MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski and California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters as “low-I.Q.,” and challenged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to take an I.Q. test after the mayor criticized him as ignorant.

Source: NewsMax

President Donald Trump on Monday referred to former Vice President Joe Biden as "another low I.Q. individual," after Biden misspoke Saturday and almost said he was running for president.

Biden, who is considering running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, said at the First State Democratic Dinner in Delaware that he has "the most progressive record of anybody running for the . . . anybody who would run" in 2020.

"Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for president," Trump tweeted Monday morning. "Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual!"

Trump frequently references I.Q. to insult others. He called actor Robert De Niro a "very low-I.Q. individual," to MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski and California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters as "low-I.Q.," and challenged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to take an I.Q. test after the mayor criticized him as ignorant.

Source: NewsMax


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