WASHINGTON

U.S. President Trump departs on travel to Florida from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs the White House to depart on travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 22, 2019

PALM SPRINGS, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that U.S.-backed forces had dislodged the Islamic State militant group from its last holdout in Syria.

“Here’s ISIS on Election Day. And here’s ISIS right now,” Trump said, using the acronym for the group, as he displayed a before-and-after map to reporters, with the “before” portion full of red dots and the after-map empty.

“You guys can have the map. Congratulations,” Trump said. “I think it’s about time.” The president has previously displayed a map illustrating the diminution of Islamic State.

Trump has said Islamic State no longer holds territory several times over the past few weeks. But U.S. officials told Reuters that fighting still continued late into Thursday between U.S.-backed forces and Islamic State militants in the last remaining territory it holds.

Earlier on Friday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Islamic State no longer held any territory in Syria and that U.S. acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had briefed the president on the milestone as he was traveling to Florida on Air Force One.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battled Islamic State militants holed up in the Baghouz area overnight, supported by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, the SDF said, seeking to defeat the last pockets of jihadist resistance.

The SDF has been battling for weeks to defeat Islamic State in the Baghouz enclave in southeastern Syria at the Iraqi border, all that remained of the territory the militants ruled, which once spanned a third of Syria and Iraq.

While the U.S.-backed SDF has captured most of the area, Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, told Reuters SDF fighters were clashing late on Thursday with IS militants in more than two positions where they were refusing to surrender.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Idrees Ali; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

  • In congressional testimony in 2018, former FBI general counsel James Baker said that the bureau was aware that the founder of Fusion GPS was shopping the infamous dossier around Washington, D.C., prior to the 2016 election.
  • Baker also said that his friend, the liberal reporter David Corn, was “anxious” to provide him with the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
  • Baker’s testimony reveals new details about the full court press to put the unverified dossier onto the FBI’s radar.

James Baker, the former general counsel for the FBI, told Congress last October that the bureau was aware that the founder of Fusion GPS was spreading the Steele dossier “to a lot of different” people in government and the media in an effort to “elevate” the document’s profile.

Baker also told lawmakers in his Oct. 3, 2018 testimony that his longtime friend, the liberal reporter David Corn, was “anxious” to provide him with the dossier.

Baker’s testimony, which was first detailed by The Wall Street Journal and has been confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation, sheds new light on what the FBI knew about efforts before the election to spread the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.

Republicans have criticized the FBI for failing to disclose those efforts in applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who is a major target of the Steele report. Some GOP lawmakers have asserted that the FBI should have been leery of Steele and Fusion’s opposition research of Trump. (RELATED: FBI’s Former Top Lawyer Acknowledged ‘Unusual Steps’ In Early Days Of Russia Probe)

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

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

Page has vehemently denied Steele’s allegations that he served as the Trump team’s backchannel to the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.

As has been previously reported, Simpson served as a PR man of sorts for the dossier, setting up meetings with reporters from numerous news outlets in an effort to get Steele’s reporting into the media bloodstream.

Both Steele and Simpson were also in contact with U.S. government officials, including the Justice Department’s Bruce Ohr and the State Department’s Jonathan Winer. Steele shared some of his findings with both officials, as well as his FBI handler, Michael Gaeta.

In his testimony, Baker said that the FBI was aware of Simpson’s full court press on the Steele report.

“My understanding at the time was that Simpson was going around Washington giving this out to a lot of different people and trying to elevate its profile,” said Baker.

He also said that the FBI was aware of “various copies of the dossier floating around Washington.”

Baker also addressed his interactions with Corn, the reporter at Mother Jones who published a report on Oct. 31, 2016 that quoted Steele.

“I know that David was anxious to get this into the hands of FBI. And being the person at the FBI that he knew the best, he wanted to give it to me,” Baker testified.

The FBI severed ties with Steele after Corn’s report on the grounds that the former spy improperly revealed that he was a confidential source for the bureau.

Corn’s contact with Baker has been previously reported. The journalist has said that nothing improper occurred and that he shared the dossier with Baker after the election in hopes of authenticating the document.

“I tried the FBI again after the election. On my own accord, I shared a copy of the dossier with the FBI in order to see if the bureau would authenticate the documents and now comment on them. Once again, it would not,” Corn told The Hill in July 2018.

Corn also said it was “inaccurate” to describe him as a source for the FBI.

“I was merely doing what a journalist does: trying to get more information on a story I was pursuing.”

The effort to spread the dossier far and wide appears to have picked up steam after Trump’s election win.

David Kramer, an associate of late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, said in a deposition in December 2017 that he provided the dossier to a dozen journalists, including one at BuzzFeed News, which published the report on Jan. 10, 2017. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Had Contact With A Dozen Reporters Regarding Dossier)

Steele asked him to meet with BuzzFeed reporter Ken Bensinger and CNN’s Carl Bernstein, according to Kramer.

Kramer also met with Corn in early December 2016. He said that Corn was inquiring about a meeting that McCain planned to have with then-FBI Director James Comey. Kramer said that he was unsure how Corn found out about the meeting.

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Russian Tantal an oil/chemical tanker is seen at sea outside the far eastern city of Vladivostok
FILE PHOTO: The Russian vessel Tantal, an oil/chemical tanker, is seen at sea outside the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

March 22, 2019

By Polina Nikolskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The U.S. government has named a Russian ship on a list of vessels suspected of providing fuel to Pyongyang, a month after Reuters reported the same ship violated sanctions by carrying out a clandestine transfer to a North Korean tanker.

The Treasury Department, which oversees U.S. sanctions, included the Russian vessel, the Tantal, on a new list of “vessels believed to have engaged in ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean tankers.”

The list was included in updated https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/dprk_vessel_advisory_03212019.pdf guidance on addressing North Korea’s illicit shipping practices published by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Inclusion on the list does not denote a ship or its owners are being put under sanctions.

Contacted on his mobile telephone on Friday, the owner of the Tantal, Russian businessman Alexander Anikin, said he had no immediate comment on the Tantal’s inclusion on the list, but would respond to questions later. OFAC did not immediately respond when asked why it included the Tantal on the list.

In an article published in February, Reuters cited two witnesses as saying the Tantal transferred fuel to a North Korean vessel at sea at least four times between October 2017 and May 2018.

Such transactions violate the international sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missiles program, which include a United Nations ban on nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

The Tantal was one of 18 vessels listed by OFAC in its updated guidance as ships believed to have engaged in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of fuel with North Korean tankers.

After Reuters’ report about the Tantal’s ship-to-ship transfers in February, Russia’s ambassador to Pyongyang was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying any Russian fuel deliveries to North Korea were legal and mainly by rail.

(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in WASHINGTON, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli soldier stands next to signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing
FILE PHOTO: An Israeli soldier stands next to signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, Israel May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials are preparing an official document to codify recognition by the United States of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights and President Donald Trump is likely to sign it next week, a senior administration official said on Friday.

Trump announced on Thursday that it was time for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. Trump is likely to sign the presidential document when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington on Monday, the official said.

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic shift in U.S. policy and gave a boost to Netanyahu, who is in a closely contested race in the April 9 election while also fighting allegations of corruption, which he denies.

The disputed area was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. Netanyahu has pressed the United States to recognize its claim and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.

The decision to go ahead with the Golan announcement was spurred in part by an assessment by Trump’s aides that his controversial moves on Jerusalem in 2017 and 2018 had provoked less of a severe reaction in the Arab world than many experts had predicted, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Trump’s recognition of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem and the relocation of the U.S. embassy to the contested city, a break with decades of U.S. Middle East policy, ignited international criticism.

But they did not appear to quell behind-the-scenes security contacts developed in recent years between Israel and U.S. Gulf allies, with Washington’s urging, over their common enemy Iran, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Aides’ advice to Trump on recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan was that the U.S. administration could again weather any storm of international criticism, the source said.

Some U.S. officials were mindful, however, of the potential for complicating the coming rollout of the White House’s Israeli -Palestinian peace plan since it would make it harder for Arab states to fully embrace it, the source said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday criticized Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The council adopted an annual resolution on the Syrian Golan. European members including Britain voted against it. The United States, which quit the council last year accusing it of an anti-Israel bias, does not participate.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday the EU was holding its line on the Golan Heights despite Trump’s move.

The European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area.

(Reporting By Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick; additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

Flags are pictured at the top of Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Flags are pictured at the top of Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve returned less to the U.S. Treasury and paid more in interest to major banks in 2018 compared to the year before, as it continued trimming its balance sheet as part of a return to more standard monetary policy.

In its annual audited financial statement, released on Friday, the central bank reported it earned $112.3 billion on its asset holdings in 2018, down $1.3 billion from the year before. After paying its own expenses of around $7 billion, it sent $65.3 billion to the Treasury. That represented a decline of around $15.2 billion from the remittances to taxpayers in 2017.

The Fed’s major expense was the $38.5 billion in interest paid to banks on excess reserve deposits held at the Fed, an increase of $12.6 billion over 2017 that reflected the interest rate increases the central bank approved through last year.

The Fed now manages its target interest rate through raising or lowering the “Interest on Excess Reserves,” which sets the standard for a range of other interest rates established by financial institutions.

The Fed since October 2017 has been shrinking the amount of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities it holds, reversing the accumulation of securities it launched to battle the 2007 to 2009 economic crisis. Those holdings fell about $379 billion over 2018.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Alwyn Scott and Eric M. Johnson

NEW YORK/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Much like tapping the brake pedal in a car to disengage cruise control, a sharp tug on the controls of older models of Boeing Co’s 737 used to shut off an automatic trim system that keeps the plane flying level, giving the pilot control.

But Boeing disabled the “yoke jerk” function when it brought out the 737 MAX, the latest version of its top-selling jet – and many pilots were unaware of the change, aviation experts told Reuters.

(Understanding controls on the Boeing 737 MAX: https://tmsnrt.rs/2OjLSAt)

(Boeing 737 MAX deliveries in question interactive: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes: https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

The difference may help explain why pilots struggled to keep their aircraft climbing after takeoff on two fatal 737 MAX flights less than five months apart that killed 346 people.

Pilots of a Lion Air flight that crashed in October scoured a handbook for answers as the plane repeatedly lurched downward in the first minutes of flight, Reuters reported.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight that went down on March 10 showed “clear similarities” to the Lion Air accident, aviation authorities said after seeing black-box data.

A pair of switches on the center console between the pilots will turn off the automatic trim and a mechanism, new on the 737 MAX, known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, that is suspected of playing a role in both disasters.

TRAINING MATERIAL ‘NOT CLEAR’

But pilots would have needed to know that MCAS existed, that it had unusual power to force the plane down and that “a hard pull on the yoke” would no longer turn off the automatic trim that uses MCAS, John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, said in an interview.

“That wasn’t clear to the pilots flying the airplane,” Hansman said. “The training material was not clear on that.”

Boeing declined to comment. In the aftermath of the Lion Air crash, Boeing pointed to long-established procedures that pilots could have used to handle a malfunction of the anti-stall system, regardless of whether the pilots knew MCAS existed.

That checklist tells pilots to switch off the two stabilizer trim cutout switches on the central console, and then to adjust the aircraft’s stabilizers manually using trim wheels.

An American Airlines flight manual mentions MCAS only in a table of acronyms, according to an October 2018 edition of the 1,400-page book seen by Reuters. Pilots have raised questions about why more detail on MCAS was not included.

The American Airlines manual’s two-page description of trim controls describes a “trim circuit,” but not how MCAS could be triggered by a faulty sensor reading, which is also suspected in the two crashes.

PREVENTING A DANGEROUS STALL

The MCAS system was designed to counteract the effect on the plane’s handling caused by new larger 737 MAX engines, which had to be placed farther forward and higher on the wings because the 50-year-old 737 design sits relatively low to the ground. That move gave the MAX a tendency to nose up into a stall, a dangerous position in which a plane loses lift as too little air flows across its wings.

MCAS, essentially a few lines of computer code in the flight control system, relies on data from two small, blade-shaped sensors near the nose of the aircraft that measure the angle of air flow. Faults in the sensors are not uncommon, and MCAS relies on only one sensor at a time during flight. In the Lion Air crash, investigators found a faulty reading led the plane’s computer to believe it was stalled and to push the nose down.

Boeing later issued a bulletin reminding pilots how to respond to such a faulty reading. An optional warning light could have alerted pilots to the faulty sensor.

MAINTENANCE, TRAINING UNDER SCRUTINY

Investigators unraveling the Lion Air crash are looking at maintenance records and whether the pilots had enough training to handle the emergency, among other factors.

The 737 MAX can fly without MCAS, so the feature was not considered “flight-critical” even though it has extraordinary power to steer the plane, said an industry expert with knowledge of the system who spoke on condition of anonymity. MCAS controls the large horizontal wing on the plane’s tail known as the stabilizer, while the pilot controls smaller flaps or “elevators” on the stabilizer.

Over several minutes, the stabilizer can shift position enough that the elevator controls can no longer counteract the downward direction of the plane, the source said.

“They gave more control power to the automation than to the pilot,” the source said of the MCAS design.

The Lion Air pilots flew for about five minutes by using the elevator to counteract the stabilizer every 15 or 20 seconds, said Hansman, based on readings from the flight data recorder. After that, the pilot tried pulling back hard on the controls.

“That’s what suggests that the crew didn’t understand the system. They thought they were shutting MCAS off and didn’t,” Hansman said. “Whereas any time during the entire sequence, they could have reached to the middle console and just shut it off.”

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Source: OANN

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

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.

1/ TAKE IT EASY

With the U.S. Federal Reserve well and truly doubling down on its dovish guidance this month, the global rate hiking cycle is at an end. There are exceptions of course but the big central banks of the developed world — the Fed, the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan — have all reacted decisively to the steady drumbeat of depressing economic data by pushing any policy tightening plans to the backburner.

But instead of deriving any comfort from the pivot, some in the market are interpreting the moves as desperate measures to ward off impending recession. That fear is certainly evident on bond markets where the gap between three-month and 10-year U.S. treasury yields — one of the gauges the Fed uses to assess inflation risks — has inverted. European yield curves too have flattened and German 10-year government borrowing costs have slid back below zero percent for the first time since 2016.

There are outliers. Norway has hiked rates while Hungary and Czech rates may also rise this coming week. One could argue Norway’s economy has been lifted by oil this year, while emerging European economies have been recovering nicely. But the question is: with the world’s biggest economy starting to hurt, Fed rate cuts bring priced for 2020 and G4 bond yields plunging, can any market avoid being sucked in? On Wednesday, New Zealand’s central bank could become the latest to flag downside risks to growth and interest rates.

(Graphic: U.S. federal funds activity png link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2EcJkRq).

2/ DEADLINES, RED LINES

March 29 is when Britain was supposed to leave the European Union, 2-1/2-years after a slender majority voted to leave the bloc. EU leaders have now granted Prime Minister Theresa May a two-week reprieve, during which she must persuade lawmakers to accept the divorce deal she has negotiated. Not easy, given they have resoundingly defeated it twice already. She is expected to make another attempt and if the deal still fails, several possibilities open up, from a no-deal Brexit to Brextension and even exit from Brexit.

The question is whether May will be flexible on any of the “red lines” she outlined in 2016, ruling out a customs union with the EU, UK’s membership of the single market and any role for the European court of justice. Seen by many as an extreme interpretation of the referendum, it has stymied efforts to find a solution to the Northern Ireland border issue.

With all this in play, many warn that markets are still assigning too low a probability to a no-deal Brexit — banks such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche reckon that risk at just 15-20 percent. But though this is rising, most analysts warn.

Sterling has tumbled this month after strengthening for two months straight and jitters are bubbling up on derivative markets. Here one-month pound risk reversals show an elevated premium for sterling puts — options that confer the right to sell at a certain price. Implied sterling volatility — a gauge of expected daily swings — has slipped off highs but remain above some typically volatile emerging currencies such as Brazil’s real or the Turkish lira.

(Graphic: No-deal Brexit probabilities IMG link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2VlgLGT).

3/ GLASS QUARTER FULL

Back in January, the U.S. Federal Reserve fired up investors’ appetite for risk by pledging to be patient with future rate rises. In March it sealed that promise by doubling down on its dovish stance and scaling back projected 2019 interest-rate increases to zero. The result: a 10 percent-plus bounce on global stocks in the January-March period. The S&P500 is headed for its best first quarter of any year since 1991. Other big Q1 winners with dollar-based gains close to 30 percent are Chinese shares and Brent crude.

What happens next? To some, the rally in what are inherently risky, growth-reliant assets makes little sense when the world economy is in slowdown mode and should therefore evaporate. But others counter the second quarter will bring more gains. They note that despite double-digit gains, investors have mostly been betting against stocks for most of 2019. Investment research firm TrimTabs says equity funds have seen outflows of $18.7 billion this year through Wednesday. They have instead channeled $73.1. billion into bond funds.

(Graphic: S&P 500 vs U.S.10-Year Treasury Yield link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UNzRFP).

(Graphic: Q1 performance link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UQo3CG).

4/EURO GLOOM TO BOOM — OR DOOM

Despite a strong rally across markets this year, European equities remain one of the most disliked regions in the world. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly fund manager survey confirmed that view, with investors naming “short” European equities as the most crowded trade for the first time.

For contrarians, that’s a gift – a sign bearish positioning on Europe has got too extreme and stocks should rise from here.

Indeed, there are some positive signals from recent macroeconomic data, from retail sales to wages. That has sparked a quiet rise on Citi’s index of euro zone macro surprises which now, interestingly, sits above the equivalent U.S. index. There are also predictions that as China’s economy starts benefiting from the stimulus its authorities have unveiled, Europe too will feel the effect.

But after every glimmer of hope, comes a dampener. February PMI data from Germany and the euro zone sent markets reeling.. Next up are the Ifo business climate survey and consumer confidence figures. Those should tell us whether it is too early to call a bottom.

(Graphic: macro surprises March 22 link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HAy8B0).

5/YUAN: STRONG AND STABLE

Chinese markets aren’t abandoning hopes that authorities may soon relax trading rules for the yuan. Beijing and Washington are locked in heated discussions on a deal to end their trade war and President Donald Trump hopes to extract a commitment to yuan stability. The Chinese have other compulsions. The yuan fell more than 5 percent in 2018 but this year it is rising too rapidly for comfort. As China makes its way into global benchmark stock and bond indices, foreigners are rushing into its markets. In January and February, inflows under the Stock Connect scheme were almost quadruple the amount last year.

Rumors are swirling that China’s currency regulator SAFE will rescind requirements for banks to maintain reserves on dollar purchase contracts and also remove the secretive X-factor used to guide the currency’s trading range. Theoretically, those steps would count as efforts to free the yuan – they were imposed last year to curtail speculators betting against the yuan. Detractors might say China is creating conditions for yuan depreciation. The coming week should offer some visibility as a U.S. trade delegation, headed by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, shows up in China for the next round of tariff negotiations.

(Graphic: China’s yuan rises as foreign investment picks up link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HBZbLX).new york stock

(Reporting by Karin Strohecker, Saikat Chatterjee and Helen Reid in London; Jennifer Ablan in New York and Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore; Compiled by Sujata Rao; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter

Presidential historian and bestselling author Doug Wead said Friday that the founding fathers created the Electoral College to equally distribute power and protect the minority.

“Balance. Checks and balance and to give everybody a vote,” he said during an interview with “Fox & Friends.” (RELATED: Election Expert Says Electoral College Had Nothing To Do With Slavery)

“We could have the mainstream media and Hollywood and Silicon Valley all just go to a ballroom at the Ritz Carlton in Santa Barbara, California, lock the doors, pick the president and the country would be at peace. But the people in the rest of the country get to participate, too.”

Wead said the founders wanted America to be a republic, not a direct democracy. He also said they wanted to protect those in the minority by giving them more adequate representation.

WATCH:

“They wanted representation. It’s a republic. They didn’t want the minority view to be squashed,” he said.

“Socialism is defined by Isaiah Berlin and others. The reason it squashes free speech is because ultimately the speech of the community is more important than the speech of the individual. And our Constitution is our law. George Washington said that the Constitution was a guide that he would never abandon. Beto O’Rourke says it’s outdated.”

Wead also said it’s unlikely the Electoral College will be dissolved and accused liberals of seeking a scapegoat for their 2016 election loss.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “This is back to 2016. First it was Comey’s fault. Then it was the Russians fault. Now it’s Thomas Jefferson’s fault. It’s the U.S. Constitution is the problem.”

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U.S. President Trump departs on travel to Florida from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Palm Beach, Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has asked former campaign adviser Stephen Moore, an economic commentator, to accept a nomination to serve on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing an unnamed senior administration official.

Trump made the offer to Moore, a Heritage Institute senior fellow, this week after speaking with him to compliment him on an opinion article he co-authored last week, the administration official said. The article was published in the Wall Street Journal, where Moore previously worked as an editorial page writer.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trump holds a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Trump adviser Jared Kushner listen as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with his Cabinet at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he knew nothing about son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s use of the WhatsApp encrypted messaging tool, a day after a top U.S. Democratic congressman questioned the unofficial communications.

On Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings asked the White House about Kushner’s use of the unofficial messaging application as part of his government work.

In a letter to the White House, seen by Reuters, Cummings said Kushner’s lawyer had told lawmakers about his WhatsApp use for official duties, a move that would violate current law prohibiting White House officials from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Florida, for the weekend, denied any knowledge of Kushner’s unofficial communications.

“I know nothing about it. I’ve never heard that, I’ve never heard about it,” the Republican president said.

Cummings in his letter on Thursday said Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell also told Congress that Ivanka Trump – the president’s daughter, Kushner’s wife and also a top White House adviser – continued to use a personal email account for official business. That would also violate the Presidential Records Act.

Lowell, in a separate letter to Cummings, called the Democratic committee chairman’s characterization of earlier comments “not completely accurate.”

The lawyer denied telling Congress members Kushner had communicated through any app with foreign “leaders” or “officials” but said that instead Kushner had used such apps for communicating with “some people,” whom he did not specify.

Lowell also denied saying that Ivanka Trump continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal account. He said Ivanka Trump “always forwards official business to her White House account.”

In the 2016 presidential race, Trump railed against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, inspiring chants at his rallies of “lock her up.” The FBI and the Department of Justice investigated Clinton but brought no charges.

Kushner’s communications, particularly with foreign leaders, have been under scrutiny since the presidential campaign, and questions have been raised about his security clearance.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Inc.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Jeff Mason; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

A worker at German manufacturer of silos and liquid tankers, Feldbinder Special Vehicles, moves rolls of aluminium at the company's plant in Winsen
FILE PHOTO: A worker at German manufacturer of silos and liquid tankers, Feldbinder Special Vehicles, moves rolls of aluminium at the company’s plant in Winsen, Germany, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

March 22, 2019

By Jonathan Cable and Stanley White

LONDON (Reuters) – Manufacturers in Europe, Japan and the United States suffered in March as surveys showed trade tensions had left their mark on factory output, a setback for hopes the global economy might be turning the corner on its slowdown.

Factory activity in the 19-country euro zone contracted at the fastest pace in nearly six years.

In Japan, manufacturing output shrank the most in almost three years, hurt by China’s economic slowdown.

And a measure of U.S. manufacturing was its weakest since June 2017 while forecasters at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia slashed their estimate for economic growth in early 2019.

German 10-year bond yields, which plunged on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled no more rate hikes this year, dived again to fall below zero.

European shares and the euro also fell on Friday.

In New York, the spread between the three-month U.S. Treasury bill yield and the 10-year note yield narrowed to a 12-year low — a sign of concern among investors about the growth outlook.

“No other factor shapes the euro zone business cycle more than the ups and downs of global trade,” economists at Berenberg, a bank said.

The United States and China are due to resume face-to-face talks next week, but it is unclear if the two sides can narrow their differences and end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

European officials are also worried about the risk of U.S. tariffs on car imports from Europe.

RISKS – US CHINA TENSIONS, BREXIT, ITALY

The drop in the euro zone’s manufacturing purchasing managers index to a 71-month low of 47.7 from 49.4 in February raised the risk trade flows could turn even more negative in the short term, the Berenberg economists said.

The manufacturing downturn was partly offset by stable — but relatively weak — growth in the euro zone’s dominant services industry.

But the surveys suggested the bloc’s economy had a poor start to 2019.

IHS Markit, which published the surveys, said the PMIs pointed to first-quarter economic growth of 0.2 percent in the euro zone, below the 0.3 percent predicted in a Reuters poll last week.

The euro zone grew 0.2 percent in the final three months of 2018, its slowest pace in four years.

Earlier this month, the European Central Bank changed tack by pushing out the timing of its next rate increase until 2020 at the earliest and said it would offer banks a new round of cheap loans to help revive the economy.

“We highlight downside risks mainly stemming from the external side – e.g. trade tensions, a Chinese-led global slowdown,” Barclays economists Radu-Gabriel Cristea and Francois Cabau said about the euro zone.

“The protracted weakness in manufacturing remains a lingering risk, and overall growth concerns are likely to intensify should the industrial backdrop further deteriorate. At the same time, Italy and Brexit woes remain non-negligible, the uncertainty a further drag on sentiment.”

The headline Flash Markit/Nikkei Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was a seasonally adjusted 48.9, the same as February’s final reading.

The index was below the 50 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for the second consecutive month.

“Concern of weaker growth in China and prolonged global trade frictions kept business confidence well below its historical average in March,” Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit, said.

The flash index for total new orders – domestic and foreign – fell to its lowest since June 2016, the survey showed.

Japan is exposed to the dispute between Washington and Beijing as it ships to China big volumes of electronics items and heavy machinery used to make finished goods destined for the United States.

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Source: OANN

The Trump administration recently warned Berlin that it may scale back intelligence sharing if Germany allows Chinese technology company Huawei to move forward with building the country’s 5G infrastructure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately shot back claiming Germany would “set its own security standards” alluding to American concerns that Huawei can be utilized by China’s intelligence services.

But China isn’t the only country causing the German-U.S. relationship unwanted headaches. Iran falls under that category too. As the U.S. has expanded efforts to weaken the Iranian regime, Germany has been working to empower it. This begs the question: Why is Germany cozying up to Iran?

This policy split may be considered surprising given America and Germany’s close relationship since the end of World War II. The U.S. stuck its neck out to ensure a fair shake for Germany during the Marshall Plan negotiations. President Truman pulled off a historic feat by bypassing the Soviet blockade and executing the Berlin Airlift. Armed forces from both countries stood side-by-side to vanquish the USSR to the dust bin of history.

But new global challenges have brought strain to this crucial alliance, particularly in dealing with an increasingly bellicose Iran. President Trump, who has taken a more confrontational stance than his predecessor, has sought to implement an Iranian containment strategy.

Trump recognizes that an emboldened Iran poses a serious threat to U.S. security interests through its funding of radical Islamist terrorism and destabilization activities. In conjunction with Israel and the Gulf Arab states, America has sought to put the squeeze on Iran.

However, Germany views Iran in a different light. Berlin recognizes Tehran as a bad actor but believes it can be reasoned with if given the correct financial incentives. This is precisely why Merkel, the de facto head of the European bloc, has aggressively worked to expand commercial ties with Iran.

Nowhere is this strategic disagreement better illustrated than with the collapse of the Iranian Nuclear Deal.

The Iran deal, which was penned in 2015 under the Obama administration, sought to halt Iran’s production of nuclear weapons and adventurism by lifting sanctions and offering other economic goodies. More than $100 billion in frozen assets were sent to the regime’s coffers and western companies were permitted to conduct business in Iran. European powers signed on as part of the deal.

And yet, instead of spending its newfound funds on economic development, Tehran began to ramp up spending on its terror activities and Islamist proxies across the region. Cash and arms flowed to the Assad regime in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen.

Trump decided in response to call Tehran’s bluff and in May 2018 unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and slapped stringent sanctions back on Tehran. The president’s team simultaneously moved to pressure America’s allies to also reapply economic sanctions.

Instead of backing Trump, Merkel took it upon herself to save the fledging agreement. She rallied the remaining European signers around the deal and began working to establish a new corporation that would allow companies to conduct business with Iran, a blunder to Trump’s strategy.

But what is more disappointing than Merkel’s reluctance to get tough on Iran is her kid gloves treatment of the regime’s proxies. In a stunning display, Berlin recently refused to designate the Lebanese-based group, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah, which is bankrolled by Iran, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and serves as Tehran’s muscle across the region.

Even Syrian strongman and Iranian puppet Bashar Assad got a free pass after viciously gassing his own people in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018. Hoping to provide a moment of moral clarity and a strong show of force, Trump coordinated an attack on Syrian chemical weapons facilities with the backing of both the UK and France. Notably, Germany sat on the sidelines.

Despite Merkel’s attempts to keep the mullahs above water, the Trump strategy is slowly but surely winning out. Iran’s economy is spiraling downward, and the regime is under intense pressure from everyday Iranians who are taking to the streets.

Still, if Merkel were to flip on Iran it may just be the final lynchpin to force real behavior change. Iran ending its maligned adventurism would positively benefit both American and German security interests. As such, Merkel has a unique opportunity to reconsider Germany’s approach to Iran and institute a necessary course correction.

For America’s sake, let’s hope she does just that.

Alex Titus (@ATitus7) is a Public Interest Fellow in Washington, D.C. The Public Interest Fellowship provides exceptional men and women with professional opportunities in the tradition of freedom.


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

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

Gayle King is about to sign a multi-million dollar deal to stay on as the host of “CBS This Morning.”

King currently makes $5.5 million a year in her current role at CBS, according to a Thursday report from Page Six. The morning show has seen a drop in ratings recently and needs King to keep the show alive an insider said.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published March 1, King was asked if she was planning on staying at CBS after her contract ends this year. King responded, “Oh, that’s a good question. All I can say is, I really love my job. And I think it’s kind of foolish to predict the future.” (RELATED: Gayle King Reveals The Details About Her Interview With R. Kelly)

All other contract talks have been put on hold until King signs her contract to stay, according to an insider. King’s co-host Norah O’Donnell has been in negotiations to replace host Jeff Glor on “CBS Evening News,” but O’Donnell wants the show to be headquartered in Washington, D.C., instead of New York City.

“Everything has gone very quiet. Nothing will be done until Gayle has signed her contract. It looks like she’s staying, but we don’t know what the hold up is,” the insider told Page Six.

King recently increased ratings for the morning show with her explosive R. Kelly interview.

Source: The Daily Caller

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

Gayle King is about to sign a multi-million dollar deal to stay on as the host of “CBS This Morning.”

King currently makes $5.5 million a year in her current role at CBS, according to a Thursday report from Page Six. The morning show has seen a drop in ratings recently and needs King to keep the show alive an insider said.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published March 1, King was asked if she was planning on staying at CBS after her contract ends this year. King responded, “Oh, that’s a good question. All I can say is, I really love my job. And I think it’s kind of foolish to predict the future.” (RELATED: Gayle King Reveals The Details About Her Interview With R. Kelly)

All other contract talks have been put on hold until King signs her contract to stay, according to an insider. King’s co-host Norah O’Donnell has been in negotiations to replace host Jeff Glor on “CBS Evening News,” but O’Donnell wants the show to be headquartered in Washington, D.C., instead of New York City.

“Everything has gone very quiet. Nothing will be done until Gayle has signed her contract. It looks like she’s staying, but we don’t know what the hold up is,” the insider told Page Six.

King recently increased ratings for the morning show with her explosive R. Kelly interview.

Source: The Daily Caller

Members of the Druze community holds Syrian and Druze flags as they sit facing Syria, during a rally marking the anniversary of Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights in the Druze village of Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
FILE PHOTO: Members of the Druze community holds Syrian and Druze flags as they sit facing Syria, during a rally marking the anniversary of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in the Druze village of Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

March 22, 2019

By Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell

MAJDAL SHAMS, Golan Heights (Reuters) – Druze Arabs and Israeli settlers on opposite sides of the dispute over U.S. President Donald Trump’s support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights agree on one thing – it won’t change matters on the ground.

The fertile hillsides of the Israeli-occupied Golan are scattered with villages inhabited by 22,000 Druze, an Arab minority who practice an offshoot of Islam. Many still have relatives on the Syrian side of the fortified boundary.

In Majdal Shams, older residents remember being part of Syria before Israel captured most of the heights in the 1967 Middle East war, occupying and later annexing it in 1981.

That annexation was not recognized internationally, and although they have lived under Israeli rule for more than half a century and shopfronts bear signs in both Arabic and Hebrew, many Druze still regard themselves as Syrian.

“Trump can make his statements and say he wants to make the Golan part of Israel. But we know this will stay Syrian land,” said Sheikh Mahmoud Nazeeh, 70.

Amal Safadi, 54, a librarian, said: “Our blood is Syrian. If you take a blood test for a child, it will read Syrian.”

Israel has given Druze residents the option of citizenship, but most rejected it.

In October last year hundreds demonstrated against the holding of Israeli municipal elections on the Golan, blockading the polling station in Majdal Shams and waving Syrian and Druze flags.

Madjal Shams overlooks the divide between Israeli-occupied Golan and that part of the plateau controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The two armies are divided by an “Area of Separation” – often called a demilitarized zone – into which their military forces are not permitted under a 1974 ceasefire arrangement.

ISRAELI REACTION

Trump’s Golan announcement on Thursday came with many Israelis celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim, which by tradition commemorates the survival of Jews who had been marked for death while living under Persian rule in antiquity.

Israel regards the Golan as a strategic asset, because its hills overlook northern Israeli towns, particularly near its inland Sea of Galilee. Around 20,000 Jewish settlers live in the Golan itself, many working in farming, leisure and tourism.

Many Israeli commentators saw Trump’s declaration as a timely boost for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of Israeli elections scheduled for April 9, in which he has been dogged by corruption allegations.

But some Israelis living in and around the Golan said Trump’s gesture would change little on the ground.

“The U.S recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan makes us happy, however our daily routine does not involve dealing with whether Israeli sovereignty is being recognized or not,” said Haim Rokah, head of the regional Israeli council in the Golan.

Rami Yogev, 65, a resident of Dan kibbutz, which is overlooked by the Golan, said he remembers shelling from the then Syrian-held heights onto his town during the 1967 war.

“I don’t think Trump’s announcement will make any difference here. It’s not going to change anything. The residents in the Golan already feel like they’re Israelis. They have a better life than being in Syria or any Arab country – just look what happened in the war in Syria,” he said.

Israeli newspaper front pages on Friday were dominated by the news from Washington. But some commentators injected a note of caution.

“Some will say that this is ‘Trump’s election gift to Netanyahu.’ Some will say that these are ‘two people in legal troubles who are convinced that there is a global conspiracy to topple them,’” wrote Alon Pinkas in Yedioth Ahronoth.

But he also pointed out that Israelis younger than 52 had never known any other reality regarding the Golan. “This is good, it is nice, it is a recognition of reality, it is almost self-evident. The question is: Does it really mean anything?”

Palestinian officials and analysts predicted that Trump’s intervention on the Golan would further jeopardize prospects for the White House’s long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East, spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Palestinians were already angry at Trump after his recent decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to move the U.S. Embassy to the city.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters: “These promises will not give legitimacy to the Israeli occupation and the Golan will remain Arab and Syrian land.”

In Gaza, political analyst Adnan Abu Amer said Trump was trying to reshape the region ahead of the plan. “It is clear that Trump is trying to pre-empt the official announcement of the deal by imposing some facts on ground,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Rahaf Ruby in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

The man police believe murdered Kittitas County, Washington, Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson was an illegal alien.

Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro came to the United States from Mexico in April 2014 as a temporary farm worker. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Tanya Roman told Fox News that Toro never had his visa extended and apparently did not return to Mexico, either.

With detention facilities overcrowded, ICE has released over 100,00 illegals onto the streets in the past three months. (RELATED: Illegal Arrested In Murder Case Had Long Criminal Record But Not Deported)

Deputy David Clarke, of Orange County, salutes an American flag … (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)

Flores Del Toro died after a shootout with police. Investigators say the illegal first shot and killed Thompson, 42, and then wounded police officer Benito Chavez, 22, on Tuesday night. The two followed the assailant in a brief high-speed pursuit and were attempting to question Toro because locals reported he had been driving erratically.

Toro allegedly exited his vehicle and began shooting. He was then fatally wounded by return fire and died in a nearby hospital. (RELATED: San Jose Police Officer: Sanctuary Laws ‘Need To Be Changed Immediately)

Ellensburg, Washington, Police Capt. Dan Hansberry told the USA Today that Toro was not wanted by authorities, who have no idea why the assailant decided to evade questioning by the two police officers.

Hansberry called the incident a “road rage-type event” and acknowledged that local police “had limited contacts with him,” but the police officer said these contacts “nothing of real significance.”

Follow David on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Voters are giving seemingly contradictory answers when asked about which characteristics they’re looking for in a candidate and which candidate they are currently leaning towards, FiveThirtyEight reports.

More than have of respondents to a Morning Consult poll of Democrats said they want a candidate that has decades of political experience, but almost the same amount want a candidate under 70, which FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich notes are “two characteristics that might be hard to find in a single candidate.”

One such candidate, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a 68-year-old former congressman, is trailing far behind less experienced candidates like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was first elected to public office in 2012, in another Morning Consult poll released this week.

Rakich also refers to a Pew Research Center poll from March 2015, which is as far out from the 2016 election as this month is from the 2020 election. In that poll, more than half of Republican and GOP-leaning voters said they wanted a candidate with experience and a proven record, and just over a third said they wanted a fresh approach. Six months later, and 65 percent wanted someone new with a different approach.

“In short, voters’ ideas of what they want may be theoretical,” he notes.

“Alternatively, voters’ interpretations of a candidate’s brand may be hard to pin down… If nothing else, this is yet another warning that commonly discussed ideological ‘lanes’ may not accurately reflect how voters approach the primary.”

Source: NewsMax

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump revealed who he would like to run against in the 2020 presidential election, in a Friday morning interview on the Fox Business Network.

“I mean, I’d love to have Biden. I’d love to have Bernie, I’d love to have Beto. I mean, Beto seems to be the one the press has chosen. The press seems to have chosen Beto,” Trump said, adding that he believes Democrats are “saying a lot of weird things.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: Former U.S. Vice president Joe Biden speaks at the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference addresses issues including firefighter mental health, funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and collective bargaining. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: Former U.S. Vice president Joe Biden speaks at the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference addresses issues including firefighter mental health, funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and collective bargaining. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Trump focused much of his attention on Congressman Beto O’Rourke when asked about whether the election is a referendum on socialism vs. capitalism, saying:

When I watch Beto, I say we could dream about that. But whatever it is — no, I think it’s competence. I think it’s somebody — look. When I first ran, I was never a politician — I ran, I ran on a certain platform. I’ve done far more than I said I was going to do. When you look at the tax cuts, when you look at the regulation cuts — more than any other president, when you look at all — and it’s the biggest tax cut.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 04: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) addresses a campaign rally at the Pan American Neighborhood Park November 04, 2018 in Austin, Texas. As Election Day approaches polls have shown the gap narrow between O’Rourke his opponent, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Trump’s nonchalant attitude comes during the early days of the Democratic primary to see who will face off against him in the 2020 presidential election. Trump has generally pursued a policy of non-intervention in the primary, occasionally weighing in when asked about specific policy issues, but noting consistently that he does not see any candidate who he believes will beat him. (RELATED: WITNESS: Beto Tried To Flee Drunk Driving Scene After Causing High Speed Crash)

Trump said during the interview in particular that he did not want to speak too critically of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal, saying, “you look at this Green New Deal. It’s the most preposterous thing. Now I don’t want to knock it too much right now, because I — I really hope they keep going forward with it.  You know, frankly, because I think it’s going to be very easy to beat.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Some liberal Democratic lawmakers are urging their colleagues to demand President Donald Trump’s business tax returns, Politico is reporting.

The move comes as top Democratic lawmakers prepare to request Trump’s personal tax returns. Democrats are planning to use a nearly century-old statute in an attempt to get his returns.

However, the president has more than 500 partnerships and other types of business, Politico said citing Trump’s financial disclosures. Each of the entities is likely to have its own tax filing.

And Politico said the business returns are more likely to indicate conflicts of interest and other possible malfeasance the Democrats are looking to uncover.

Some of the liberals want House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., to probe everything with Trump’s name on it in the hope of discovering criminal actions. But that could prove unmanageable.

“Strategically, you’re better off with a narrow, well-targeted first request,” said John Buckley, a former longtime Democratic tax aide on the Ways and Means Committee. “The first request doesn’t mean that’s all you’re ever going to ask for.

"'We’re going to get there, we’re just not going to get there in one step’ — that’s what Neal needs to say.”

Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is urging all 2020 presidential candidates to release their tax returns for the past 10 years. So far only Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. have done so.

Source: NewsMax

U.S. President Trump departs on travel to Ohio from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 22, 2019

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

“Let it come out, let people see it, that’s up to the attorney general … and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We’ll see if it’s fair,” he added.

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 interfering in the election.

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

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 last week on a non-binding resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be released both to Congress and to the public, but it is not clear how the measure will fare in the Senate.

Asked if the public should be allowed to see the report, Trump said: “I don’t mind.” He said he had no idea when it would be released.

As he has before, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation.

“I had the greatest electoral victory – one of them – in the history of our country, tremendous success, tens of millions of voters and now somebody’s going to write a report who never got a vote,” he said.

Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia investigation in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the effort. Mueller has previously held several senior positions in the Justice Department, including FBI Director.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by David Alexander and Andy Sullivan; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

On the Friday edition of the Daily Daily Caller Podcast, we take a look at President Donald Trump’s executive order about free speech on college campuses, but that was not the most important part of what he did Thursday.

Democrats cave to their radical anti-Semitic wing yet again, and a large percentage of Americans have no idea what the First Amendment is. Plus, in our video interview, we talk with Tim Carney from the American Enterprise Institute on his new book, “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.” The audio of the interview is included in the audio version of the whole show, too.

Trump signed an executive order Thursday requiring colleges and universities to protect the First Amendment rights of students and invited speakers if those institutions want to continue to receive federal research grant money. Tens of billions of dollars are at stake, but that’s not the most important aspect of the president’s order.

He’s also requiring the publication of data on the average income of different majors from colleges so students thinking about majoring in various, less-employable fields of study can see exactly what they’re getting into. This could also undercut much of the Democrats’ push for “free college.”

If students know what they’re getting themselves into and willingly take out massive loans for degrees with low-wage jobs awaiting them — if they can find jobs at all — there’s no justification for student loan forgiveness, let alone cost-free tuition.

Democrats have caved, yet again, to their extreme wing of anti-Semitic “progressives.” Every Democrat running for president has announced they will not attend the AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

MoveOn, the left-wing activist group, called on all candidates to boycott the annual meeting of the Jewish group and everyone stepped up to heed the call. Things have changed significantly since the party balked at condemning the anti-Semitism of Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar just a few weeks ago.

A new survey showed a sadly small percentage of Americans have any idea what the First Amendment is. An even larger percentage have no idea what the Bill of Rights is. It’s a damning testament to the state of public education and why Democrats still win election.

Then we talk to Tim Carney about the role big government played in destroying communities across the country, even in times to economic boom. The answers in his new book will surprise you.

Please help spread the word about The Daily Daily Caller Podcast. Please take a minute to rate and review on iTunes, share on social media and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode:

The Daily Daily Caller Podcast is a daily look and mocking of the news from a conservative perspective. Hosted by Derek Hunter, it is available in audio form Monday-Thursday and will have a video option on Fridays.

Derek Hunter is a columnist and contributing editor for The Daily Caller and author of “Outrage, INC: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood” from HarperCollins, available nowPick Up a copy, or several copies, here. Send compliments and complaints to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @derekahunter.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Trump welcomes Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 22, 2019

By Rania El Gamal, Alex Lawler and Dmitry Zhdannikov

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Budget needs are forcing Saudi Arabia to push for oil prices of at least $70 per barrel this year, industry sources say, even though U.S. shale oil producers could benefit and Riyadh’s share of global crude markets might be further eroded.

Riyadh, OPEC’s de facto leader, said it was steeply cutting exports to its main customers in March and April despite refiners asking for more of its oil. The move defies U.S. President Donald Trump’s demands for OPEC to help reduce prices while he toughens sanctions on oil producers Iran and Venezuela.

The export cuts are designed to prop up prices, sources close to Saudi oil policy say. Saudi officials say the kingdom’s output policies are merely intended to balance the world market and reduce high inventories.

“The Saudis want oil at $70 at least and are not worried about too much shale oil,” said one industry source familiar with Saudi oil policy.

Another source said Saudi Arabia wanted to “put a floor under oil prices” at $70 or slightly lower, and added: “No one at OPEC can talk about output increases now.”

Officially, Saudi Arabia, which plans to raise government spending to boost economic growth, does not have a price target. It says price levels are determined by the market and that it is merely targeting a balance of global supply and demand.

Even a price of around $70 a barrel would not balance Saudi Arabia’s books this year, according to figures cited by Jihad Azour, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia department in February. For that, he said, Riyadh needs oil prices at $80-$85 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, also wants to make sure it avoids a repeat of the 2014-2016 oil price crash below $30 per barrel, sources familiar with Saudi policy said.

LOSS OF MARKET SHARE

Saudi Arabia plans to reduce March and April oil production to under 10 million barrels per day — below its official OPEC output target of 10.3 million bpd.

A Saudi official told Reuters this month that despite strong demand from customers, state oil giant Saudi Aramco had cut its allocations for April by 635,000 bpd below nominations — requests made by refiners and clients for crude.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said such swings were not unusual because last year the kingdom had raised output and exports above targets to avoid imminent shortages.

Saudi Arabia has also been advocating an extension of OPEC-led supply cuts beyond June until the end of 2019.

Russia, which is not an OPEC member but is cutting output in tandem with OPEC, can balance its budget at oil prices of $55 per barrel and has not made clear yet whether it is prepared to extend them when OPEC next meets in June.

“With budget needs at above $85 per barrel, the Saudis desperately need prices at above $70 per barrel,” said Gary Ross, CEO of Black Gold Investors and a veteran OPEC watcher.

“They also need to convince Russia that the strategy of output cuts makes sense despite the loss of market share to the United States,” he said.

The United States and Russia produce 12 million and 11 million bpd respectively. Unlike Russia, the United States pumps at will via its commercial energy sector, led by shale. The International Energy Agency forecasts its output will soar by another 4 million bpd in the next five years.

Those increases would be likely to outpace the growth of global demand and give Washington an even bigger share of the global market, making it a bigger exporter than Saudi Arabia.

PRESSURE FROM TRUMP

Riyadh has long been a close ally of the United States and the two countries have coordinated oil policy more closely since Trump became president than under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Trump has supported Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite a global outcry over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, and has made clear he expects OPEC to help lower global oil prices.

Last year, Saudi Arabia raised output steeply under pressure from Washington. But it later heard that the United States had granted Iranian oil customers unexpectedly generous waivers and the price of oil subsequently fell to $50 per barrel.

On Monday, OPEC and its allies, led by Russia, scrapped a planned meeting in April and will decide instead whether to extend output cuts in June, once the market has assessed the impact of new U.S. sanctions on Iran due in May over its non-compliance with a deal to curb its nuclear program.

“We have to wait and see what the Americans will do first,” a second OPEC source said.

There is, however, no guarantee Saudi policy will remain unchanged if Washington puts pressure on Riyadh to raise supply.

“They (the Saudis) do care about Trump, but they can’t do whatever he says every time,” an OPEC source said.

(Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Source: OANN

Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives are scheduled to meet former President Barack Obama on Monday during an introduction event hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi is gathering her caucus’s new members to “celebrate the freshman class of the 116th Congress” and meet the party’s former leader, according to an invitation obtained by Politico. The reception is invitation-only.

Obama has largely stayed out of the spotlight since he left office, though he has been working behind the scenes meeting with prospective and declared candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Obama was instrumental in convincing former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke to launch his own bid for the presidency. Other Democrats that he has sat down with include defeated Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Speculation has been mounting that Obama’s two-term running mate former Vice President Joe Biden will be jumping into the presidential race and is expected to do so as early as April. While he has not formally declared his presidency, he has been polling as the top contender for the Democratic nomination. Biden’s age and his race are seen as a drawback by the left wing of the party, and an endorsement from Obama would boost his candidacy. (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Sees Herself In Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And Ilhan Omar)

The freshman celebratory meet-and-greet will be held at the home of Esther Coopersmith, who most notably served as representative to the United Nations under former President Jimmy Carter.

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FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 22, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders said on Friday the bloc must recognize that China is as much a competitor as a partner, after calls for a more assertive policy toward Beijing over the openness of Chinese markets and the role of state-led firms.

The bloc has sought to avoid taking sides in a multi-billion dollar trade war between Washington and Beijing.

But it has become increasingly frustrated by subsidies, state involvement in the Chinese economy, and what it sees as a slow pace of change there.

Brussels will host an EU-China summit on April 9.

EU leaders had been intending to discuss China on Thursday at their summit, but their schedule was blown off course by a long day of talks over how to deal with Britain and its looming departure from the bloc.

The goal of presenting a united front on China was complicated by a simultaneous visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Italy, whose eurosceptic government was due to sign an accord drawing the country into China’s giant “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan.

Other largely eastern EU countries have also signed up to the plan.

The EU debate on China will be combined with a discussion on improving the competitiveness of Europe’s industry. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the debate was long overdue.

“China is a partner, but it is at the same time a competitor,” he said. “It’s crucial that there be fair trade conditions.”

He also questioned why China could be regarded under World Trade Organization rules as a developing country given special treatment, while being on course to become the largest economy in the world – a view shared by Washington.

“We need fair rules and naturally also protection for intellectual property and know-how from Europe and proper treatment of our investors in China,” Kurz continued.

In signs the European Union wants to end unfettered access to Chinese business, it is about to introduce a system to screen foreign investments, particularly those affecting vital infrastructure or technology.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 member nations, has also urged leaders to back its plan to limit access to EU public tenders worth 2.4 trillion euros ($2.7 trillion) to companies from countries whose procurement markets were not open.

Pro-free trade countries such as the Nordics and the Netherlands say the plan could unfairly restrict commerce and amount to a surcharge for taxpayers by shutting out cheaper providers.

The EU leaders were also due to discuss Huawei Technologies Co and whether it should be allowed to provide equipment for future high-speed 5G networks. The U.S. government has said the equipment could be used to spy on the West.

“We need a relationship of trust. I know that there are questions now about 5G and Huawei in Europe. I think we need a base of rules to be respected by anyone who wants to do 5G in Europe,” Bettel said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott; Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Francesco Guarascio, Andreas Rinke and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

A Tiffany & Co logo is seen outside the store on 5th Ave in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Tiffany & Co logo is seen outside the store on 5th Ave in New York, New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Tiffany & Co narrowly missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly sales on Friday, two months after the luxury retailer signaled soft demand in the holiday season because of low spending by Chinese tourists and weakness in Europe and at home.

Weakening economic growth in China, especially against the backdrop of an ongoing trade spat between Beijing and Washington, has been a worry for luxury goods companies that rely on the country’s burgeoning middle class to boost sales.

“Softer trends in the second half of the year reflected, in part, what we believe were external challenges and uncertainties,” Chief Executive Officer Alessandro Bogliolo said in a statement.

In January, the company blamed a stronger dollar for weak tourist spending globally.

The company reaffirmed its financial forecasts for fiscal 2019 and expects a decline in per share profit in the first half of the year, due to the external factors.

In the reported quarter, comparable-store sales dropped 1 percent as demand for engagement and designer jewelry fell.

Tiffany’s net sales fell to $1.32 billion, while analysts on average were expecting sales of $1.33 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company’s net earnings rose to $204.5 million, or $1.67 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan.31, from $61.9 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier, when the company had higher provisions for income taxes.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Sanders speaks in Concord
FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Pete Schroeder and Anna Irrera

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boosting access to the U.S. banking system is emerging as a prominent theme as Democrats tap discontent over income inequality ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, many banks pulled back from their poorest customers. The shift has had lasting costs for millions of Americans now struggling to access mainstream financial services such as checking accounts and credit cards.

Ten years later, Democrats, driven by progressive firebrands like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, see financial inclusion as a draw for voters.

The three Democrats, along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, have advocated for the U.S. Postal Service to provide banking services. Senator Cory Booker has said he wants to ban overdraft fees and Senator Kamala Harris has called for a crackdown on payday lenders.

Gillibrand, Booker, Harris, Sanders and Warren are all running for president.

Humu Issifu, an African-American school worker from Chicago, said overdraft debt led her to close her checking account. Issifu, who now has a savings account, said she felt lawmakers do not care about struggles like hers but they should.

“I think more young students, more people would vote,” Issifu, 26, said.

Unlike other liberal issues such as affordable housing, gun-control and taxing the rich, financial inclusion resonates among two key demographic groups: minorities and the rural Americans who powered Donald Trump into the White House, experts say.

“Candidates … are looking for ways to raise issues that are inherently about racial justice. They want to make sure they are mobilizing black and Latino voters,” said Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director of Action Center on Race & the Economy.

“But they are also looking for things that are common themes for people living in rural communities. Financial inclusion is one of those things that ties together those people.”

Nearly 85 million Americans, predominantly from low-income, rural and minority backgrounds, do not have a bank account or only have access to basic banking services, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation data compiled in 2017.

[See graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ogvxwj]

Both “unbanked” and “underbanked” households spend on average 10 percent of their annual income – as much as the average household spends on food – to access basic services like check cashing or credit, according to a 2014 government study.

“It’s expensive to be poor,” Warren told Reuters in a statement. “We need a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that cracks down on payday lenders … And we need postal banking so people in every community in America have easy and convenient access to basic banking products,” she added.

Beyond overdraft charges, many Americans cannot afford minimum balances, annual fees and ATM fees associated with many bank accounts. The cost of accessing financial services exacerbates the gap between the rich and the poor, a source of rising anger among voters which Democrats have seized upon.

DISCONNECT

“The paradox is that the economy is doing great but there is a disconnect between households and the economy,” said Ida Rademacher, executive director of nonprofit the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program. “A country’s financial system is a key determinant of whether an economy is fair or just.”

A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found 63 percent of U.S. adults believe the economy is unfairly tilted toward the rich and powerful.

“Closing the wealth gap and helping underbanked Americans achieve financial security are top priorities for Senator Gillibrand,” her campaign spokesman said.

Josh Orton, an adviser to Sanders’ campaign, said Sanders had long fought to curb payday lenders and introduce postal banking.

Representatives for Ocasio-Cortez, Booker and Harris did not respond to requests for comment.

Progressives like Warren and Sanders have pushed financial inclusion for years but the issue is getting more traction as progressives gain sway in the Democratic Party, said Mehrsa Baradaran, professor at the University of Georgia who has advised several campaigns.

Nationally, the unbanked and underbanked population has declined since the crisis, driven mainly by wage gains spurred by economic growth, the FDIC found. That improvement has been uneven, with the percentage of unbanked in a dozen states growing between 2013 and 2017, and could reverse if the economy slumps.

While rural households are more likely to encounter barriers accessing financial services, many cities have higher rates of unbanked than the national average, the data shows.

“I could see our life was getting harder and harder because I didn’t have an account,” said Dasan King, 19, a San Francisco movie-theater worker who spent up to 5 percent of his paychecks cashing them until he was able to open a bank account.

King said he was angry about the fees but was skeptical politicians would address the problem.

(Reporting Pete Schroeder in Washington and Anna Irrera in New York; writing and additional reporting by Michelle Price; editing by Neal Templin and Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election arrived for work each day, they placed their mobile phones in a locker outside of their office suite before entering.

Operating in secrecy in a nondescript glass-and-concrete office, the team of prosecutors and investigators since May 2017 has unearthed secrets that have led to bombshell charges against several of President Donald Trump’s aides, including his former national security adviser, campaign chairman and personal lawyer, who have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury.

To protect those secrets from prying ears, the whole of the office suite in southwest Washington was designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), U.S. spy speak for an area that has restrictions to ensure secret information stays secure.

One common restriction in SCIFs is to keep out smartphones and other electronic devices, which can be turned into covert listening devices or spy cameras. Visitors were also required to turn these over before entering.

The restrictions, while not surprising given the team was investigating whether a hostile foreign power tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and whether his campaign conspired in the effort, have not been previously reported.

Accounts of witnesses interviewed by the special counsel’s team, their lawyers and others familiar with the investigation reveal the lengths to which Mueller, a former FBI director, went to ensure his high-profile probe safeguarded its secrets.

In a city known for its leaks, Mueller pulled off a rare feat. He kept a tight lid on both his office and the evidence he was amassing in his highly sensitive investigation that has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency. And he did it even as Trump relentlessly criticized him, calling the probe a “witch hunt” and the special counsel’s team “thugs.”

THE ADVISER AND THE DODGE CHARGER

When former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo agreed to an interview with Mueller in May 2018, he was told he would be picked up at the hotel where he was staying in Washington. On the lookout for a black government SUV, Caputo and his lawyer were surprised when an FBI agent drove up in his personal car, a white Dodge Charger.

    “Then he drove us 15 blocks to their location and we went in through the garage so that nobody would see,” Caputo said in an interview.

Caputo was questioned about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Manafort’s aide Rick Gates and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone. When the interview was over, Mueller’s team told him they would take him back to his hotel. Caputo said Mueller’s team was not happy with what he said next.

     “I said I’m meeting a TV crew downstairs so I won’t need a ride,” Caputo said. “They weren’t upset that I was talking to the media, they were disturbed that I was doing it in (front of) the office.”

“They were concerned … that would put their agents and attorneys at risk,” Caputo said, adding that he agreed to meet the news crew at a different location nearby.

Former Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg said an FBI agent picked him up at the train station to take him to the office.

“You put your phone and any electronic devices and leave them in a compartment out front,” Nunberg added. “It was a very plain office.”

Nunberg said he went into a conference room with three tables, and prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, a member of Mueller’s team, came in with three FBI agents, one female and two males.

    The office’s location was not publicly revealed but was discovered by journalists. Still, it has not been widely publicized. Mueller’s team has asked media outlets not to publish the exact location for security purposes.

“We are working in a secure location in Southwest DC,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, has said.

STAYING OUT OF THE NEWS

“In a town where everybody and their mother is trying to get on the front page, Bob Mueller was always trying to stay out of the news,” said Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman. “He wanted to be judged on actions, not press conferences.”

Corallo, who was briefly a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, was interviewed by Mueller’s team in February 2018.

Corallo and other witnesses summoned for interviews by Mueller’s team said they were picked up from their lawyers’ offices and taken to a secure parking garage in the building in southwest Washington.

The team’s office suite was anonymous with no plaque on the door to identify its occupants, said Washington lawyer A. Joseph Jay, who represented a witness he declined to identify.

More than once, Jay recalled, members of Mueller’s team expressed their commitment to confidentiality. “They made it clear on a number of occasions, ‘We don’t leak. You don’t have to worry about that with us.’”

“By keeping to their code of silence, they were professionals,” Jay said. “They weren’t reacting to the spin. They were doing their jobs. They spoke through a number of indictments. They spoke through a number of sentencing memos.”

Mueller has remained silent throughout the investigation and his office has issued only one statement. In that statement, issued this past January, spokesman Carr labeled as “not accurate” a BuzzFeed News account describing evidence collected by the special counsel that allegedly showed that Trump had directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. BuzzFeed has stood by its story.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor, also remarked on Mueller staying out of sight.

“Whenever we talk to them, they say, ‘We’ll take it to Bob.’ He’s like the Wizard of Oz,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said although he was suspicious of leaks to the news media, he acknowledged he knew of none for sure from the special counsel’s team and that nothing he told Mueller’s office was leaked.

“Mueller doesn’t talk to us. I don’t know why he’d talk to the press,” the former New York mayor added.

Joseph Campbell, a former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division who worked at the agency when Mueller headed it, said the special counsel knows how to handle sensitive investigations and ignores the attacks on him.

“He went through 12 years starting with 9/11 of extremely critical and sensitive investigations around the world,” said Campbell, referring to the 2001 attacks on the United States. “This is right in his wheelhouse.”

“He is not affected by external criticism or speculation,” Campbell added.

Robert Litt, former general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said any leaks about the investigation appeared to have come from witnesses or their lawyers.

“There’s nothing he can do about that,” Litt said, referring to Mueller.

Litt said Mueller, the 74-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps officer and architect of the modern FBI, probably “cares little about the public perception of him.”

“He cares,” Litt said, “about doing the job right.”

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham and Ross Colvin)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election arrived for work each day, they placed their mobile phones in a locker outside of their office suite before entering.

Operating in secrecy in a nondescript glass-and-concrete office, the team of prosecutors and investigators since May 2017 has unearthed secrets that have led to bombshell charges against several of President Donald Trump’s aides, including his former national security adviser, campaign chairman and personal lawyer, who have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury.

To protect those secrets from prying ears, the whole of the office suite in southwest Washington was designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), U.S. spy speak for an area that has restrictions to ensure secret information stays secure.

One common restriction in SCIFs is to keep out smartphones and other electronic devices, which can be turned into covert listening devices or spy cameras. Visitors were also required to turn these over before entering.

The restrictions, while not surprising given the team was investigating whether a hostile foreign power tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and whether his campaign conspired in the effort, have not been previously reported.

Accounts of witnesses interviewed by the special counsel’s team, their lawyers and others familiar with the investigation reveal the lengths to which Mueller, a former FBI director, went to ensure his high-profile probe safeguarded its secrets.

In a city known for its leaks, Mueller pulled off a rare feat. He kept a tight lid on both his office and the evidence he was amassing in his highly sensitive investigation that has cast a cloud over Trump’s presidency. And he did it even as Trump relentlessly criticized him, calling the probe a “witch hunt” and the special counsel’s team “thugs.”

THE ADVISER AND THE DODGE CHARGER

When former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo agreed to an interview with Mueller in May 2018, he was told he would be picked up at the hotel where he was staying in Washington. On the lookout for a black government SUV, Caputo and his lawyer were surprised when an FBI agent drove up in his personal car, a white Dodge Charger.

    “Then he drove us 15 blocks to their location and we went in through the garage so that nobody would see,” Caputo said in an interview.

Caputo was questioned about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Manafort’s aide Rick Gates and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone. When the interview was over, Mueller’s team told him they would take him back to his hotel. Caputo said Mueller’s team was not happy with what he said next.

     “I said I’m meeting a TV crew downstairs so I won’t need a ride,” Caputo said. “They weren’t upset that I was talking to the media, they were disturbed that I was doing it in (front of) the office.”

“They were concerned … that would put their agents and attorneys at risk,” Caputo said, adding that he agreed to meet the news crew at a different location nearby.

Former Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg said an FBI agent picked him up at the train station to take him to the office.

“You put your phone and any electronic devices and leave them in a compartment out front,” Nunberg added. “It was a very plain office.”

Nunberg said he went into a conference room with three tables, and prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, a member of Mueller’s team, came in with three FBI agents, one female and two males.

    The office’s location was not publicly revealed but was discovered by journalists. Still, it has not been widely publicized. Mueller’s team has asked media outlets not to publish the exact location for security purposes.

“We are working in a secure location in Southwest DC,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, has said.

STAYING OUT OF THE NEWS

“In a town where everybody and their mother is trying to get on the front page, Bob Mueller was always trying to stay out of the news,” said Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman. “He wanted to be judged on actions, not press conferences.”

Corallo, who was briefly a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, was interviewed by Mueller’s team in February 2018.

Corallo and other witnesses summoned for interviews by Mueller’s team said they were picked up from their lawyers’ offices and taken to a secure parking garage in the building in southwest Washington.

The team’s office suite was anonymous with no plaque on the door to identify its occupants, said Washington lawyer A. Joseph Jay, who represented a witness he declined to identify.

More than once, Jay recalled, members of Mueller’s team expressed their commitment to confidentiality. “They made it clear on a number of occasions, ‘We don’t leak. You don’t have to worry about that with us.’”

“By keeping to their code of silence, they were professionals,” Jay said. “They weren’t reacting to the spin. They were doing their jobs. They spoke through a number of indictments. They spoke through a number of sentencing memos.”

Mueller has remained silent throughout the investigation and his office has issued only one statement. In that statement, issued this past January, spokesman Carr labeled as “not accurate” a BuzzFeed News account describing evidence collected by the special counsel that allegedly showed that Trump had directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. BuzzFeed has stood by its story.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor, also remarked on Mueller staying out of sight.

“Whenever we talk to them, they say, ‘We’ll take it to Bob.’ He’s like the Wizard of Oz,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said although he was suspicious of leaks to the news media, he acknowledged he knew of none for sure from the special counsel’s team and that nothing he told Mueller’s office was leaked.

“Mueller doesn’t talk to us. I don’t know why he’d talk to the press,” the former New York mayor added.

Joseph Campbell, a former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division who worked at the agency when Mueller headed it, said the special counsel knows how to handle sensitive investigations and ignores the attacks on him.

“He went through 12 years starting with 9/11 of extremely critical and sensitive investigations around the world,” said Campbell, referring to the 2001 attacks on the United States. “This is right in his wheelhouse.”

“He is not affected by external criticism or speculation,” Campbell added.

Robert Litt, former general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said any leaks about the investigation appeared to have come from witnesses or their lawyers.

“There’s nothing he can do about that,” Litt said, referring to Mueller.

Litt said Mueller, the 74-year-old former U.S. Marine Corps officer and architect of the modern FBI, probably “cares little about the public perception of him.”

“He cares,” Litt said, “about doing the job right.”

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham and Ross Colvin)

Source: OANN

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during his visit to the Hydroelectric Generation System on the Caroni River, near Ciudad Guayana
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during his visit to the Hydroelectric Generation System on the Caroni River, near Ciudad Guayana, Bolivar State, Venezuela March 16, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

March 22, 2019

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with five Caribbean leaders on Friday who have sided with the United States and most Western countries in backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as head of state.

Trump will meet with leaders from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

The response to OPEC-member Venezuela’s political crisis has split the members of the Caribbean Community, known as CARICOM.

The organization has officially advocated for talks between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Guaido. Most of its members have rejected resolutions by the Organization of American States supporting Guaido.

Guaido, who heads Venezuela’s national assembly, invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, saying Maduro’s election last year was not legitimate. Maduro, who still has the support of Venezuela’s military, has clung to power with the support of Russia, China and Cuba.

The Caribbean region has long relied on oil and gas from Venezuela, which offered cheap financing through a program called Petrocaribe, though shipments have declined in recent years because of production problems at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.

The tensions put at risk regional efforts to try to capitalize on deepwater oil and gas exploration, said Anthony Bryan, a Caribbean energy expert and associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“CARICOM is the body that speaks for energy sustainability in the region. But if you start dividing the states – as apparently an attempt is being made to do – then you, in a sense, almost sabotage from the very beginning that unity that is necessary,” Bryan said in an interview.

The region has also been the recipient of a flood of investment from China. The White House said earlier this week that Trump wants to work with leaders to “counter China’s predatory economic practices.”

The meeting is also an opportunity for Trump to try to turn the page on derogatory comments about Haiti that he was reported to have made. At a January 2018 White House meeting about immigration, Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries,” according to a Democratic senator who was there.

Trump on Twitter later denied saying “anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors
Mar 21, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins (0) attempts to drive past Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

DeMarcus Cousins contributed six points to a third-quarter runaway in his return to the lineup Thursday night, helping the Golden State Warriors blow out the Indiana Pacers 112-89 in Oakland, Calif.

All five starters scored in double figures as the Warriors were able to retain a half-game lead over Denver in their duel for best record in the Western Conference. The Pacers saw their lead over Boston trimmed to a half-game in their fight for the fourth seed in the East.

Cousins, who had missed the final two games of Golden State’s just completed four-game trip with a sore ankle, recorded 19 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes of action. Klay Thompson had 18 points, and Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry each scored 15 for the Warriors.

Tyreke Evans had a game-high 20 points off the bench, and Thaddeus Young 18 for the Pacers, who went 0-4 on a Western swing.

Hawks 117, Jazz 114

Rookie Trae Young scored 23 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:47 remaining, and Atlanta hung on to beat visiting Utah.

Dewayne Dedmon made a free throw with 6.2 seconds left to give the Hawks a 117-114 lead. Utah’s Kyle Korver then missed two free throws, the second on purpose, and Donovan Mitchell missed a 3-pointer that was rebounded by Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore as the clock expired.

The win broke Atlanta’s three-game losing streak and snapped Utah’s five-game winning streak. The Jazz got 34 points from Mitchell, his second straight 30-point game.

Nuggets 113, Wizards 108

Nikola Jokic had 15 points and 11 assists, and visiting Denver held off Washington for its fifth straight win.

Eight Nuggets scored in double figures, including Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray and Torrey Craig at 15 points each.

Bradley Beal scored 25 points for the Wizards, who have lost three straight. Thomas Bryant added 22.

Hornets 113, Timberwolves 106

Kemba Walker scored 31 points, and host Charlotte rolled to a much-needed victory over Minnesota.

The Hornets scored seven straight points early in the fourth quarter to gain a working margin, and then they went on to lead by as many as 11 down the stretch, the latest at 111-100.

The Hornets had lost four of their previous five and 11 of their previous 15. The Timberwolves, who got 21 points and 16 rebounds from Karl-Anthony Towns, have lost five straight.

Kings 116, Mavericks 100

Buddy Hield scored 29 points, and host Sacramento took care of Dallas. The Kings bounced back after blowing a 25-point, fourth-quarter lead in their last outing against visiting Brooklyn on Tuesday, resulting in a 123-121 loss.

Hield connected on seven 3-pointers and now has made 238 treys. He trails Peja Stojakovic by only two for the most in a single season in Kings history. Marvin Bagley III came off the Sacramento bench to score 22 points and grab 12 rebounds, and Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and 18 rebounds.

Former Kings forward Justin Jackson led the Mavericks with 19 points. Luka Doncic scored 13 points and hauled down 10 boards.

Pistons 118, Suns 98

Wayne Ellington scored 23 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and Detroit pulled away for a win at Phoenix.

Detroit’s Blake Griffin had 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists despite shooting 4 of 17 from the field. Andre Drummond supplied 16 points and 19 rebounds, and Luke Kennard also scored 16 points to help the Pistons win for the third time in four games.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 26 points, and rookie Deandre Ayton contributed 20 points and eight rebounds.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton
An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

March 22, 2019

By Cindy Silviana and Tracy Rucinski

JAKARTA/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Boeing Co will mandate on MAX jets a previously optional cockpit warning light, which might have warned of problems that possibly played a role in the recent crashes of Ethiopian and Indonesian planes, two officials briefed on the matter said.

The safety feature is expected to be offered as part of a software update to the MAX fleet that was grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said the officials who asked not to be identified.

The crash set off one of the widest inquiries in aviation history and cast a shadow over the Boeing MAX model intended to be a standard for decades.

Boeing did not immediately comment on the plan to make the safety feature standard, but separately said it was moving quickly to make software changes and expects the upgrade to be approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the coming weeks.

But Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda said on Friday that customers had lost trust in the planes and it has sent a letter to Boeing asking to cancel an order for 49 MAX 8s – the first airline to publicly confirm plans to cancel an order for the troubled aircraft.

The current order was valued at $6 billion at list prices and Garuda, which currently has one MAX in its fleet, said it could switch to other Boeing models.

While a direct link between the crashes has not been proven, initial investigations show similarities and attention has focused on an automated flight-control system, MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), that came into service two years ago with the MAX.

The software is designed to prevent a loss of lift that can cause an aerodynamic stall, sending the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way. In the Lion Air crash, it may have been erroneously activated by a faulty sensor, investigators believe.

Chicago-based Boeing will also retrofit older planes with the cockpit warning light, the officials told Reuters. The world’s largest plane maker previously offered the alert, but it was not required by aviation regulators.

Boeing has said it plans to make software changes to the aircraft, but it is unclear how long it will take Boeing to refit existing MAX planes with new software or hardware.

Experts said it could take weeks or months to be done, and for regulators to review and approve the changes. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said they will conduct their own reviews of any new systems.

The FAA has said installation of the new software and related training was a priority.

SOFTWARE FIX

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president of commercial marketing, said the software changes include changes in the control laws of the airplane, an update of the displays, the flight manual, as well as the training.

Boeing has tested the improvements in a simulator and in the air, he said on Thursday. He defended Boeing’s design and production processes, adding that it was too early to speculate on what the investigations will show.

The company has said there was a documented procedure to handle the automated system at the heart of the problem.

The pilots’ union of Southwest Airlines, the largest operator of the MAX, said it is working with the company, Boeing, other pilot unions and the FAA to test and validate the new software.

“We still would like to have more detail on the development, control parameters and testing done on the algorithm that will trigger an MCAS event,” the union said in a statement.

The American Airlines’ pilots union told Reuters it expects to test the software fix on simulators this weekend in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

MAX simulator training is currently not required, partly because not many simulators exist.

Southwest and American expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday the simulators are not designed to replicate the MCAS problems. The airline is among the few that do have a simulator but the captain of the doomed flight had no chance to practise on it before the crash, a pilot colleague said.

MOUNTING PRESSURE

The two crashes killed almost 350 people.

Since the Ethiopian crash, Boeing shares have fallen 12 percent and $28 billion has been wiped off its market value.

Pressure has mounted on the company from U.S. legislators, who are also expected to question the FAA. The company also faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Several lawsuits already filed on behalf of victims of the Lion Air crash referring to the Ethiopian accident. Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuits.

Consumer advocate and former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader lost a grand-niece in the Ethiopian crash and urged whistleblowers to help challenge the aviation industry and get to the bottom of what happened.

“They lulled us into complacency,” he said in an interview in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

(For a graphic on ‘Boeing 737 MAX deliveries in question’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hv2btC)

(For a graphic on ‘Grounded 737 MAX fleet’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2O6jQbI)

(For a graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash and black boxes’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Jamie Freed in Singapore, Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh, Georgina Prodhan and Ben Klayman)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump participates in executive order signing ceremony at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a signing ceremony for an executive order linking “free speech” efforts at public universities to federal grants in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 22, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian government condemned on Friday U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and said Syria was determined to recover the area “through all available means”.

In a statement published by the Syrian state news agency, a foreign ministry source said Trump’s statement showed “the blind bias of the United States” towards Israel.

It did not change “the reality that the Golan was and will remain Syrian, Arab,” the source said.

“The Syrian nation is more determined to liberate this precious piece of Syrian national land through all available means,” the source said, adding that Trump’s statement was “irresponsible” and showed “contempt” for international law.

Trump said on Thursday it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that Israel seized from Syria in 1967, marking a dramatic shift in U.S. policy and giving a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the middle of his re-election campaign.

The disputed area was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Netanyahu has pressed the United States to recognize its claim and raised that possibility in his first White House meeting with Trump in February 2017.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty in Cairo/Tom Perry in Beirut; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

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

March 22, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is considering picking long-time supporter Stephen Moore to be a governor at the Federal Reserve Board, Bloomberg News reported.

Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, helped write Trump’s signature tax plan. The position would give him a vote at the policy-setting table of an institution whose interest-rate hikes last year were a frequent target of Trump’s ire.

Trump was so incensed by the Fed’s policies he is said to have sought advice late last year on whether he could fire its chairman, Jerome Powell.

The Bloomberg News report, by a White House reporter and a colleague who covers the Treasury Department, cited people familiar with the matter whom they did not name.

A Fed spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters made outside of business hours Thursday.

There are two open positions on the Fed’s seven-seat Board of Governors.

The White House is also continuing to consider one-time presidential candidate and pizza chain magnate Herman Cain for a spot, Bloomberg News said, despite concerns that the accusations of sexual harassment that derailed Cain’s bid for president could complicate his Senate confirmation.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round- Marquette vs Murray State
Mar 21, 2019; Hartford, CT, USA; Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant (12) reacts during a time out during the second half of a game against the Marquette Golden Eagles in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

Star sophomore point guard Ja Morant had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for the first triple-double in NCAA Tournament play since 2012 to help Murray State roll to a convincing 83-64 victory over Marquette on Thursday in West Regional play at Hartford, Conn.

Morant dominated the contest from the outset despite taking just nine shots. He recorded his fourth career triple-double as 12th-seeded Murray State (28-4) roughed up the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (24-10). The previous triple-double in NCAA play was achieved by Michigan State’s Draymond Green, who had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a victory over LIU-Brooklyn.

Freshman guard Tevin Brown made five 3-point baskets and scored a team-best 19 points as the Racers won their 12th straight game. Freshman forward KJ Williams had 16 points, and senior guard Shaq Buchanan added 14 for Murray State, who will face fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday in the second round.

Junior guard Markus Howard scored 26 points for Marquette, which lost for the sixth time in the past seven games. Junior forward Sam Hauser recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds.

WEST REGION

No. 1 Gonzaga 87, No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 49

Rui Hachimura scored 21 points, Killian Tillie had a season-high 17 and the top-seeded Bulldogs dominated from the start in a beat-down of the Knights at Salt Lake City. Gonzaga set a school record for margin of victory in an NCAA Tournament game.

Brandon Clarke had 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Bulldogs. He combined with fellow frontcourt players Hachimura and Tillie to make 21 of 32 shots. Gonzaga (31-3) will play in Saturday’s second round against the winner between No. 8 seed Syracuse and No. 9 Baylor.

Fairleigh Dickinson (21-14) got 10 points apiece from Elyjah Williams and Mike Holloway Jr.

No. 4 Florida State 76, No. 13 Vermont 69

Sophomore power forward Mfiondu Kabengele recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Seminoles to a first-round victory over the Catamounts at Hartford, Conn.

Senior guard Terance Mann scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half as the Seminoles (28-7) controlled the final 11 1/2 minutes.

Junior forward Anthony Lamb scored 16 points for the Catamounts (27-7), who dropped to 2-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Sophomore guards Stef Smith and Ben Shungu, along with senior guard Ernie Duncan, all scored 15 points apiece.

No. 10 Florida 70, No. 7 Nevada 61

Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points to help the Gators produce a victory over the Wolf Pack at Des Moines, Iowa.

Jalen Hudson added 15 points for Florida (20-15). Keyontae Johnson recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds, and KeVaughn Allen also scored 10 points. The Gators will face either second-seeded Michigan or 15th-seeded Montana on Saturday in the second round.

Cody Martin scored 23 points, and Caleb Martin added 19 points for the Wolf Pack (29-5). Nevada shot just 34.5 percent from the field, including 5 of 24 from 3-point range.

EAST REGION

No. 2 Michigan State 76, No. 15 Bradley 65

Cassius Winston scored 26 points to lead the Spartans to a victory over the Braves in Des Moines, Iowa.

Winston made all eight of his free throws and the Spartans (29-6) finished 25 of 26 at the stripe. Xavier Tillman had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Matt McQuaid added 10 points. Michigan State will next face No. 10 Minnesota on Saturday.

Elijah Childs scored 19 to lead Bradley (20-15), the tournament champions from the Missouri Valley Conference who were back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years. Darrell Brown added 17 points, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye scored 14 and the Braves made nine 3-pointers to keep the game close.

No. 3 LSU 79, No. 14 Yale 74

Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams both had double-doubles as the Tigers used their superior size to hold off the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Fla.

LSU (27-6), playing without coach Will Wade — suspended while the school investigates possible NCAA violations — will play sixth-seeded Maryland in the second round Saturday. Maryland beat 11th-seeded Belmont 79-77 on Thursday.

Reid had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Bigby-Williams had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Skylar Mays added 19 points and Tremont Waters scored 15. Alex Copeland led the Bulldogs (22-8) with 24 points, Jordan Bruner scored 16 and Azar Swain had 12 off the bench.

No. 6 Maryland 79, No. 11 Northeastern 77

Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando had double-doubles as the Terrapins edged the Bruins in Jacksonville, Fla.

Smith had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Fernando added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Darryl Morsell scored 18 and Eric Ayala added 12 as the Terrapins (23-10) prevailed in a back-and-forth game.

Dylan Windler had 35 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin McClain scored 19 to lead Belmont (27-6), which defeated Temple 81-70 in a play-in game Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Bruins fell 10 points short of their scoring average of 87.4, which is second to only Gonzaga in Division I.

No. 10 Minnesota 86, No. 7 Louisville 76

Gabe Kalscheur scored 24 points to lead the Golden Gophers to a victory over the Cardinals in Des Moines, Iowa. The Gophers (22-13) won their first tournament game since 2013 when they opened with a victory over UCLA.

Kalscheur was 5 of 11 from 3-point range as Minnesota made 11 triples, its second-highest total all season. Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey scored 18 points each while Daniel Oturu and Dupree McBrayer each scored 13 for the Gophers.

Louisville (20-14) entered the game having won just two of its last seven games and could never seize the momentum against Minnesota. Christen Cunningham scored 22 to lead the Cardinals while Steven Enoch scored 14. Darius Perry added 12 points while Jordan Nwora scored 10 and grabbed 11 rebounds.

MIDWEST REGION

No. 2 Kentucky 79, No. 15 Abilene Christian 44

Keldon Johnson poured in 25 points, and Kentucky pounded Abilene Christian in a battle of Wildcats at Jacksonville, Fla. Kentucky played without team scoring and rebounding leader PJ Washington, who had his left foot in a cast from an injury sustained in last week’s Southeastern Conference tournament.

Kentucky’s Reid Travis, a graduate transfer from Stanford in his first NCAA Tournament game, racked up 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and freshman Tyler Herro added 14 points. Kentucky (28-6) plays Seton Hall or Wofford in the second round.

Jaren Lewis scored 17 points for Abilene Christian (27-7). Lewis shot 7 of 12 from the field, while the rest of his teammates were a combined 10 of 41.

No. 5 Auburn 78, No. 12 New Mexico State 77

Jared Harper scored a game-high 17 points as the Tigers survived potential game-winning free throws by the Aggies to win in Salt Lake City.

Auburn (27-9) took a 13-point lead with 7:10 left but committed six turnovers after that and was hanging on to a 78-76 lead with 6.0 seconds left after Samir Doughty made the second of two free-throw attempts.

The Aggies’ Terrell Brown missed a 3-point shot but was fouled with 1.7 seconds left. He missed the first, made the second and his third attempt went in and out, with the rebound going out of bounds to New Mexico State (30-5) with 1.1 seconds to go and Auburn up one. Trevelin Queen, off a screen, got an open look from the left corner but shot an airball.

No. 4 Kansas 87, No. 13 Northeastern 53

Junior forward Dedric Lawson recorded 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks trounced the Huskies at Salt Lake City.

The Jayhawks (26-9) extended their streak of first-round wins to 13 while making their 30th consecutive NCAA appearance, a tournament record. Kansas advances to play No. 5 Auburn on Saturday.

Kansas also was stingy defensively, holding the Huskies (23-11) to 28.1 percent shooting. Northeastern’s leading scorer, senior guard Vasa Pusica, was held to seven points (10 below his average) on 2-of-13 shooting. Junior guard Jordan Roland paced Northeastern with 12 points.

SOUTH REGION

No. 6 Villanova 61, No. 11 Saint Mary’s 57

Phil Booth scored 20 points as the Wildcats posted a victory over the Gaels at Hartford, Conn.

Booth shot 7 of 13 from the field and added 14 points for reigning NCAA champion Villanova (26-9), which advances to face third-seeded Purdue or 14th-seeded Old Dominion.

Jermaine Samuels finished with 12 points to help Villanova gain a measure of revenge after being bounced by Saint Mary’s in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each scored 13 points for the Gaels (22-12).

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kentucky vs Abilene Christian
Mar 21, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Abilene Christian Wildcats forward Jaren Lewis (1) shoots the ball in front of Kentucky Wildcats guard Ashton Hagans (2) and Kentucky Wildcats forward Reid Travis (22) during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

Freshman guard Keldon Johnson poured in 25 points in his first NCAA Tournament game, and second-seeded Kentucky pounded 15th-seeded Abilene Christian 79-44 in a Midwest Region game Thursday night at Jacksonville, Fla.

Kentucky played without team scoring and rebounding leader PJ Washington, a 6-foot-8 sophomore who had his left foot in a cast from an injury sustained in last week’s Southeastern Conference tournament.

Johnson made 10 of 16 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.

Kentucky’s Reid Travis, a graduate transfer from Stanford in his first NCAA Tournament game, racked up 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and freshman Tyler Herro added 14 points.

Kentucky (28-6) plays in the second round Saturday against the Seton Hall-Wofford winner. Kentucky has won its NCAA Tournament opener in 25 of its past 26 appearances in the event.

These were two teams using the same nickname, but there was a big difference between the groups of Wildcats.

The first NCAA Tournament appearance for Abilene Christian (27-7) didn’t go well. The team that made 38.8 percent of its 3-point attempts entering the tournament had a tough time finding a shooting stroke Thursday, going 5 of 23, 21.7 percent, from long range.

Jaren Lewis scored 17 points for Abilene Christian. Lewis shot 7 of 12 from the field, while the rest of his teammates were a combined 10 of 41. Lewis also had five of the team’s 17 rebounds.

Kentucky opened a 13-3 lead in less than six minutes, then scored the final 11 points of the half for a 39-13 lead at the break.

Abilene Christian, which qualified by winning the Southland Conference tournament, didn’t have a field goal in the final 5:49 of the opening half. It made 19.1 percent of its shots in the first half.

Kentucky hit at 60 percent from the field in the first half and held a 23-10 rebounding advantage at the game’s midway mark.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang
FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

March 22, 2019

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices on Friday hovered close to 2019 peaks reached the previous day, propped up by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and by U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

Brent crude oil futures were at $67.82 per barrel at 0122 GMT, down 4 cents from their last close but within a dollar of the $68.69 per barrel 2019-high marked the day before.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $60 per barrel, virtually unchanged from their last settlement and not far off their 2019 peak of $60.39 touched on Thursday.

Prices have been propped up by supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-affiliated allies such as Russia, often referred to as ‘OPEC+’.

Despite a more than a quarter increase in crude prices this year, Canadian investment bank RBC Capital Markets said oil was “still below the fiscal breakeven level in a number of OPEC countries”, meaning that many producers have an interest in further propping up the market.

“With the driver of the OPEC bus, Saudi Arabia, showing no signs of wavering in the face of renewed pressure from Washington, we believe that OPEC is likely to extend the deal for the duration of 2019 when they next assemble in Vienna in June,” RBC said.

RBC said Russia was only a reluctant partner in the supply cuts, but would “ultimately opt to preserve the arrangement and retain a leadership role of a 21-nation group that accounts for around 45 percent of global oil output”.

Beyond OPEC and Russia’s supply policy, oil prices have also been boosted by U.S. sanctions on OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela.

Iranian crude oil shipments have averaged only just over 1 million bpd in March, down from 1.3 million bpd in February and a 2018 peak of at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before the U.S. sanctions were announced.

Venezuelan crude oil production has also dwindled amid U.S. sanctions and an internal political and economic crisis, plunging from a high of more than 3 million bpd at the start of the century to not much more than 1 million bpd currently.

Putting a break on further price increases has been a U.S. crude oil production jump of more than 2 million bpd since early 2018 to a record 12.1 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Soaring U.S. output has resulted in increasing exports, which have doubled over the past year to more than 3 million bpd.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that the United States would become a net crude oil exporter by 2021.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

March 22, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc pilots expect to test Boeing Co’s 737 MAX software fix on the U.S. manufacturer’s simulators this weekend, officials from the pilots’ union told Reuters on Thursday, a key step in restoring pilots’ confidence in the aircraft after two fatal crashes.

Boeing has been working on a software upgrade for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Similarities between the flight path in the Lion Air incident and a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 have raised fresh questions about the system, and pilots want assurances that the update is solid. The two crashes killed everyone aboard both planes, a total of 346 people.

American is the second largest U.S. operator of the MAX, behind Southwest Airlines. United Airlines is the third U.S. carrier to operate the MAX.

“This airplane can be a safe airplane, and there have been great strides on getting a fix in the works, but I’ll have a better feel after we can test it out,” said Mike Michaelis, safety committee chairman of the Allied Pilots Association, or APA, which represent American Airline pilots.

Michaelis said one APA pilot and one pilot from American’s management team would test the software fix in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

Boeing declined to comment.

The MAX jets were grounded worldwide in the wake of the Ethiopian crash. For the aircraft to fly in the United States again, the Federal Aviation Administration must approve the planned software fix and new training, which pilots must complete.

Boeing also plans to offer as standard a safety feature that might have warned earlier of problems that possibly played a role in the two crashes.

As for training, Boeing has proposed new computer-based training on the software update, followed by a mandatory test.

Jon Weaks, head of Southwest Airline’s pilots’ union, told members on Wednesday that the FAA-mandated training should be enhanced.

MAX simulator training is not required, partly because not many simulators exist.

Southwest and American, which operate 34 and 24 MAX jets, respectively, have said they expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

Canada’s CAE Inc, the main simulator producer, said it has delivered nine of the simulators, which are now in high demand by airlines but take about a year to build. CAE expects to deliver 20 more in 2019.

“For now we want to get our safety experts in these unicorn simulators to show us what the software fix does,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot. “When it comes to safely issues, it has to be a full-course meal, nothing a la carte.”

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - A woman is reflected in a window behind Chinese and Hong Kong flags after celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO – A woman is reflected in a window behind Chinese and Hong Kong flags after celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, in Hong Kong, China July 2, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone SiuTyrone Siu

March 22, 2019

By James Pomfret and Anne Marie Roantree

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The United States warned in a report on Friday that increased meddling from China in Hong Kong had adversely impacted the city, straining international business confidence in the Asian financial hub.

The U.S. State Department report cited incidents such as the expulsion of Financial Times editor Victor Mallet, the banning of a pro-independence political party, the jailing of young democracy activists and barring people from local elections.

The city is now also seeking to amend laws to allow individuals to be extradited to mainland China, despite grave human rights concerns toward Beijing.

“The tempo of mainland central government intervention in Hong Kong affairs – and actions by the Hong Kong government consistent with mainland direction – increased, accelerating negative trends seen in previous periods,” the U.S. State Department said in its 2019 report on the Hong Kong Policy Act.

“Growing political restrictions in Hong Kong may be straining the confidence of the international business community.”

The 1992 U.S.-Hong Kong policy act allows Washington to engage with Hong Kong as a non-sovereign entity distinct from China on matters of trade and economics.

The areas of special treatment for Hong Kong are fairly broad and now include visas, law enforcement including extraditions, and investment.

“Policies and practices of the mainland central government adversely impacted Hong Kong in multiple areas, and mainland pressure resulted in new constraints on Hong Kong’s political space,” the report said.

“In some particularly concerning instances, Hong Kong authorities took actions aligned with mainland priorities at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The continuation of the U.S. Congress enacted policy is predicated upon China and Hong Kong maintaining a so-called “one country, two systems” arrangement.

This mode of governance, that came into effect after Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, grants the city a high degree of autonomy, the rule of law and freedoms not allowed under the Communist China controlled mainland.

Some critics, including pro-independence activist Andy Chan, have called on the U.S. to review the viability of this act in future, given China’s tightening grip on the city’s freedoms.

Hong Kong, which has long acted as a leading re-export and entrepot hub for U.S.-China trade, has largely escaped the brunt of current U.S.-China trade tensions, given its special status as a separate customs entity.

Should the policy act be reviewed, however, the economic impact could be much larger, say observers.

In 2018, the United States’ largest worldwide bilateral trade-in-goods surplus was with Hong Kong, at $25.9 billion, the report noted.

The U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong Kurt Tong in February expressed concerns about Hong Kong’s autonomy, noting erosions to the “one-country, two systems” formula

(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a “highly profitable scam” that “never lived up to the values it espoused,” according to former SPLC staffer Bob Moser.

New York Magazine on Thursday published a scathing essay from Moser, now a Rolling Stone reporter, accusing the left-wing non-profit of “ripping off donors” while turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and racial discrimination within its own ranks.

The SPLC fired co-founder Morris Dees on March 13 over unspecified conduct issues.

The SPLC announced Dees’ firing after roughly two dozen SPLC employees previously signed a letter to the organization’s leadership expressing their alarm at “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Morris Dees, founder, Southern Poverty Law Center, speaks onstage during Investigation Discovery’s Hate in America panel as part of the Discovery Communications portion of This is Cable Television Critics Association Winter Tour at Langham Hotel on January 7, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

“The firing of Dees has flushed up all the uncomfortable questions again. Were we complicit, by taking our paychecks and staying silent, in ripping off donors on behalf of an organization that never lived up to the values it espoused? Did we enable racial discrimination and sexual harassment by failing to speak out?” Moser asked in his article.

One of Moser’s former colleagues answered in the affirmative.  “Of course we did,” she told Moser. “It’s shameful, but when you’re there you kind of end up accepting things. I never even considered speaking out when things happened to me! It doesn’t feel good to recognize that. I was so into the work, and so motivated by it, I kind of shrugged off what was going on.”

A spokesman for the SPLC did not return an email seeking comment on Moser’s article.

The SPLC, which is known to label pedestrian conservative organizations as “hate groups,” is a key resource for AmazonGoogle and other tech companies in policing “hate speech.” (RELATED: SPLC Whitewashes Democrats’ Ties To Anti-Semite Farrakhan)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, speaks during a press conference November 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. During the press conference the Southern Poverty Law Center, in conjunction with additional human rights groups and education leaders, called on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to “immediately and forcefully publicly denounce racism and bigotry.” (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

According to Moser, SPLC employees were aware that donors were being misled about the SPLC’s mission.

He described “the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.”

The non-profit recently reported more than half a billion dollars in assets, including $121 million in off-shore funds.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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Source: The Daily Caller

MSNBC’s Katy Tur dismissed the upcoming results of Robert Mueller’s investigation during her Thursday show because, according to her, the special counsel has already found “quite a bit” of incriminating evidence against President Donald Trump.

Tur made the comment during a panel on her show with Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker and senior Politico White House reporter Darren Samuelsohn.

WATCH:

“There were moments all through the investigation when they actually were nervous and they were panicked. When for instance, Michael Cohen that news broke. But right now they’re not super nervous, and there is a sense that it is going to be a bit of a nothing burger,” Parker stated, when asked if the Trump administrations reaction could provide insight into the results of the investigation. “Again, I am not saying that’s what it will be, but that is the sense in the president orbit. And if that’s the case, they do think they can use it as a political cudgel to show Democratic overreach.”

“Let’s just put up on the screen everybody who’s already been found guilty or indicted in the Mueller investigation. Lots of faces, lots of pleas, and lots of indictments,” Tur stated, as a graphic of individuals connected to Trump who have been indicted appeared including Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.

“They’ve already come up with quite a bit, regardless of whether there or not there is direct collusion or conspiracy found between Donald Trump or his campaign and the Russians,” she added. (RELATED: Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted In Mueller Probe)

Mueller has indicted or obtained guilty pleas from 34 individuals, including six Trump associates. But none of those indictments have involved coordination between Trump associates and Russians.

Recent reports suggest that Mueller is close to concluding the investigation. Several top prosecutors who worked on the investigation are leaving the special counsel’s office.

Once the report is concluded, he is expected to reach out to Attorney General William Barr, but it’s unclear what he would do after that.

Follow Mike on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Katie Jerkovich | Entertainment Reporter

Kate Beckinsale isn’t interested in hearing about the age difference between her and Pete Davidson and shut down David Spade when he joked about her liking “them young.”

In the since deleted post, the 45-year-old actress shared a clip on her Instagram showing her playing and holding a cheetah cub, per Fox News on Thursday.  (RELATED: Celebrate Kate Beckinsale’s Birthday With Her Best Instagram Looks [SLIDESHOW])

2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Arrivals Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 ñ Actress Kate Beckinsale. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Arrivals Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 ñ Actress Kate Beckinsale. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

In the comments, the 54-year-old actor/comedian joked about her liking “them young” and she wasn’t having it.  (Pete Davidson Blocks Ariana Grande On Social Media: ‘You’re Not Good For My Health’)

“You like them young!” Spade wrote, referring to the numerous reports about her and the “Saturday Night Live” star spending time together. “(Now don’t fight back and roast me just quietly stew and take the hit.)”

The “Underworld” star apparently wasn’t in the mood and snapped back, ““@Davidspade never gonna happen grandpa.”

It was only the latest comment from the “Total Recall” actress who has responded multiple times with witty and cheeky responses to other’s statements/memes about her dating someone 20 years younger.

As previously reported, one meme showed the pair sharing a kiss at Madison Square Garden during a hockey game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. To the right of her in the photo is a less-than-interested fan.

The meme under Beckinsale’s face read, “Me,” under Davidson, “Guys with problems from childhood who I can fix,” and under the fan at the game, “wholesome guys with good-paying jobs who text back and have no baggage.”

In response, Beckinsale  wrote, “Antoni is gay, if that helps clarify at all #queereye.”

Another time, when an online troll slammed her for spending time with the “SNL” star, she came back with a cheeky comment.

“Dear heavens, Kate. Not Pete Davidson,” one follower wrote.

To which she responded, “No that’s my mother. Easy mistake.”

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks
FILE PHOTO: Mar 17, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) sits on the court after getting fouled in the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

March 22, 2019

LeBron James participated in about half of practice Thursday, and coach Luke Walton expects him to play Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets, The Athletic reported.

With the Lakers managing the superstar’s minutes down the stretch, the superstar forward has sat out two of the past three games. He did not play in last Friday in the Lakers’ 111-97 loss at Detroit or Tuesday on Los Angeles’ 115-101 defeat at Milwaukee.

James did start and play 35 minutes Sunday in the Lakers’ 124-123 loss at New York, finishing with 33 points on 11-of-26 shooting with eight assists and six rebounds. His potential game-winning jumper was blocked by Knicks forward Mario Hezonja in the final seconds.

–Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was fined $50,000 by the NBA for shoving Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in a Wednesday game.

In its announcement, the NBA said the amount of Smart’s fine “was also based on his repeated acts of unsportsmanlike conduct during NBA games.” Smart drew a $35,000 fine earlier this season for an altercation with DeAndre’ Bembry of the Atlanta Hawks, and he has accrued $170,000 in fines during his five-year career, according to MassLive.com.

Smart drew his latest fine after shoving Embiid from behind, sending the 76ers center sprawling to the floor. The 25-year-old Smart was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected from the game after the incident, which occurred with 11:06 to go in the third quarter.

–Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant’s “adopted brother” and close friend Clifford Dixon was shot and killed outside of a metro Atlanta bar early Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Dixon, 32, was shot multiple times in a parking lot just after 1 a.m., police in Chamblee, Ga., confirmed. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A suspect fled the scene on foot, and no arrests were immediately made.

According to the Oklahoman, Durant’s mother, Wanda Durant, took Dixon into the family’s home when he was 16 years old. Dixon was one of the friends Durant thanked during an emotional speech after being named the NBA Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season.

–Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. will have minor surgery on his left thumb and will miss the rest of the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The recovery is expected to be four to six weeks, according to the report.

Oubre, 23, has been playing the best ball of his career after the Suns acquired him in December as part of the trade that sent Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards.

Oubre has averaged 16.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 40 games with the Suns, building on his career average of 9.4 points and 3.7 rebounds over four seasons.

–The Suns reached a two-year deal with Jimmer Fredette, giving the former college phenom a second crack at the NBA, according to reports.

Fredette, 30, is awaiting clearance from his current team, the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Fredette averaged 36.9 points per game this season for the Sharks, who were eliminated from the postseason Tuesday.

Fredette, a 6-foot-2 guard who was the all-time leading scorer in BYU and Mountain West Conference history, will be signed through the rest of this season, with a team option for 2019-2020. He was the unanimous national player of the year in college basketball in 2011 after shattering NCAA scoring records.

–The Minnesota Timberwolves announced they will be without forward Robert Covington and guards Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague for their final 11 games of the season.

Covington hasn’t played since Dec. 31 and recently experienced a setback in his recovery from a right knee bone bruise. Rose has missed the past four games because of a chip fracture and a loose body in his right elbow. Teague, having aggravated a left foot injury originally sustained in December, also has missed the past four games.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trader works at his desk at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: A trader works at his desk at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 22, 2019

By Josephine Mason

LONDON (Reuters) – Investors are betting on heightened political uncertainty and greater volatility in European stock markets ahead of European Parliament elections in May amid growing concerns about rising populism.

In one of the first concrete signs in financial markets that investors are bracing for political instability, VSTOXX futures, which reflect investor sentiment and economic uncertainty, have jumped in recent weeks.

While the classic gauge of fear — known as implied volatility, which tracks demand for options in European stocks — is currently at 15.68, futures that bet on the same thing over the coming months show a pronounced jump.

That’s because investors have piled on trades that bet on big swings in stocks as election day nears.

Implied volatility for futures contracts expiring in May show a pronounced jump to 16.8, compared with 15.35 in April. The contracts measure the 30-day implied volatility of the euro zone STOXX 50 index.

“We are seeing a bit of a kink around May when we have European elections and we have this wave of populism,” said Edmund Shing, head of equities and derivatives strategy at BNP Paribas.

(GRAPHIC: Rising implied volatility – https://tmsnrt.rs/2UL77h9)

LOOMING ELECTIONS

More than 350 million EU citizens will head to the polls between May 23 and 26 to elect a new Parliament, a vote that will shape the future of the bloc amid a backlash against immigration and years of austerity.

Mainstream center-left and center-right lawmakers may lose control of the legislature for the first time, as euroskeptic and far-right candidates build support.

Herve Guyon, Societe Generale’s head of European equity derivatives flow strategy and solutions, said the rise of populism had triggered a recent flurry of speculative trades.

“Political uncertainty might be coming from the EU rather than the United States. We’ve seen investors doing very large trades to benefit from an increase in volatility around these events,” he said.

“We as a bank don’t expect the elections to be a massive game-changer. The populists won’t get enough to disrupt the political system, but we do note some investors did take some positions on this event.”

The implied volatility is still well below levels seen in late 2018 when global stock markets were routed amid worries about rising interest rates, slowing economic growth and the trade war between Beijing and Washington.

In late December, it shot to above 26, its highest since February.

But the flurry of activity suggests investors are seeking out new opportunities after a slide in implied volatility across major asset classes.

Edward Park, deputy chief investment officer at asset manager Brooks MacDonald, said some of the activity may also be due to persistent uncertainty about Britain’s exit from the European Union as the Brexit date of March 29 nears.

This year, volatility across currency, fixed income and stocks markets has plunged as the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank have taken dovish policy stances.

The Deutsche Bank currency volatility indicator hit multi-year lows this week, while the proxy for fixed income volatility is languishing at all-time lows.

In stocks, the Cboe volatility index, Wall Street’s so-called “fear gauge”, fell to its weakest in six months this week.

“There’s been a cross-asset volatility crash — in euro-dollar, U.S. rates and equities — in the aftermath of (ECB President Mario) Draghi’s and (Fed Chairman Jerome) Powell’s comments and the expectation of lower rates for longer,” said Guyon.

(GRAPHIC: Falling financial market volatility – https://tmsnrt.rs/2ULmq9z)

(Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa NegerI

March 21, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – At the headquarters of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, a paper sign balanced above room 107 and a threadbare square of carpet welcome a stream of foreign visitors to the Accident Investigation Bureau.

The office – with three investigators and an annual budget of less than 2.5 million Birr ($89,000) – is leading a multi-party, multi-nation probe into what caused an Ethiopian Airlines flight to crash on March 10, killing all 157 people on board.

Brusque foreign investigators in cargo pants and Ethiopians in suits or reflective vests wave away questions from reporters on how their inquiries are progressing.

This modest agency is under intense international scrutiny because the results of its investigation could have far-reaching consequences for the global aviation industry.

If the investigators highlight flaws in the 737 MAX 8 that echo a recent crash of the same model in Indonesia, their report could deal a major blow to Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter.

But if investigators find Ethiopian Airlines fell short in maintenance, training or piloting, that could damage one of Africa’s most successful companies, a symbol of Ethiopia’s emergence as a regional power.

Disagreements have broken out in Addis Ababa between Ethiopian authorities and foreign investigators over issues including the handling of evidence and crash site management, according to several sources close to the investigation.

Kevin Humphreys, a former Irish regulator who founded the country’s air investigation agency, told Reuters the high stakes involved tend to make probes like this one particularly tough.

“There are tensions because it is unrealistic to assume that international protocols are always going to work. There is a potentially important economic impact from such investigations.”

An 18-strong team of American investigators has been sent to aid the Ethiopians with the inquiry, including representatives from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Boeing, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which certified 737 MAX planes as safe.

U.S. and some other foreign investigators are unhappy because Ethiopia is so far sharing only limited information, the sources said.

“There is no opportunity for the international community to benefit and learn from this,” said one of them, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Some foreign officials are also unhappy about the prominent role Ethiopian Airlines played in the probe, suggesting a possible conflict of interests, they said.

But one Addis Ababa-based source said the carrier’s role in the investigation does not necessarily indicate it is trying to exert undue influence. The airline is more likely involved because it is the most well-funded and staffed state enterprise able to help the over-stretched inquiry team, he added.

“When you have a vacuum, someone has to fill it,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines’ spokesman Asrat Begachew said the carrier was supporting the investigation. “We are not taking the lead,” he added, declining to comment further.

Under global aviation rules, interested parties like airlines and manufacturers are discouraged from speaking publicly about the investigation.

Yet in the first days after the Flight 302 crash, Ethiopian Airlines made all of the public statements, including announcing the black box recorders would be sent overseas for data extraction.

It was not until six days after the tragedy that the Ministry of Transport began briefing the media and public.

Hours after the crash, Ethiopian Airlines tweeted a picture of its CEO Tewolde Gebremariam holding a piece of debris in the crater of the crash site, surprising aviation experts who said the site should have been preserved for investigators.

Musie Yehyies, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Transport, said the government had been quick to share information about the crash. He denied there was any mistrust between the Ethiopians and other parties.

“Our friendship with the United States is obvious,” he told Reuters. “Plenty of governments have been offering assistance, and some of them have helped practically.”

The ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the airline’s role in the investigation or any potential conflict of interest.

Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau and civil aviation authority, which fall under the transport ministry, declined to comment on the investigation or any grievances of parties involved.

Boeing, the FAA and the NTSB also declined to comment.

BLACK BOXES

The cockpit voice and flight data recorders were recovered the day after the crash, but it took Ethiopian investigators three days to decide where to send them for the information to be extracted and decoded. Like many fast-growing players, the Ethiopians do not have the technology to perform the task.

In a sign of the distrust between the parties, the Ethiopians turned down an American offer to perform the analysis in the United States, according to two sources.

U.S. authorities declined to comment.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde personally approached German authorities to request to send the black boxes to Germany to have the data extracted there, a separate source with knowledge of matter told Reuters. Airlines are not usually involved in such decisions, according to current and former investigators.

The airline could not comment on the investigation, a spokesman said in response to questions about the incident.

However German officials said they too did not have the most recent software needed to extract the data, so the devices were eventually sent to France.

Partial data from the flight data recorder was shared informally late on Monday with U.S. and French investigators in Paris, but nothing from the cockpit voice recorder, three sources familiar with the matter said.

It is common for the host investigator to closely guard voice recordings to protect privacy but unusual for relatively little data to be available a week after being downloaded.

“As an investigator, it is hard to understand the logic behind withholding safety-of-flight information,” Greg Feith, a former senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said on Facebook on Thursday.

Ethiopia said on Thursday it had begun analyzing cockpit data and was working with U.S. and European experts.

Following Ethiopian Airlines’ last major crash, outside Beirut in 2010, an investigation led by the Lebanese and to which France contributed blamed crew mismanagement of the aircraft and poor communication in the cockpit.

The airline – led by the same CEO as today – said the report was “biased, lacking evidence, incomplete,” pointing to evidence of an explosion on board.

HIGH STAKES

Most crash investigations end up pinpointing a combination of factors.

For decades, reconstructions by independent investigators have been credited with reducing air accidents to record low levels. The system of co-operation works by sticking to technical details and avoiding blame or other agendas.

Safety experts worry that too many turf battles can cloud the progress of an investigation.

“The sole purpose of an accident investigation is to reduce the chances of something ever happening again,” said Paul Hayes, safety director at the Flight Ascend Consultancy.

The Flight 302 crash triggered the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, wiping billions off the company’s market value. Also on the line are more than $500 billion worth of 737 MAX orders.

Ethiopian Airlines is regulated by the country’s civil aviation authority, but its resources are far more extensive. The carrier’s operating revenue in the 2017/18 financial year was $3.7 billion. This dwarfs the regulator’s budget, which is 360 million Birr ($12.5 million) for this fiscal year.

CRASH SITE

Responsibility for leading the probe fell to Ethiopia because the crash occurred on its soil. Nairobi-bound Flight 302 went down into farmland minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.

The crash killed people from 35 countries, all of which are also entitled to examine the crash site and join in the investigation. America, China, Kenya, Britain, Canada, Israel, France and other nations have sent investigators.

Some nations were unhappy that Ethiopia was using heavy earth-moving equipment at the site, potentially damaging evidence or human remains, although others said that was the only way to move heavy items such as engines.

Some foreign officials also complained of being unable to access the site in the days after the crash.

After Israel’s team were not given permission to visit the site, the Israeli prime minister eventually called the Ethiopian prime minister on Wednesday, a statement on the Israeli prime minister’s website said. 

A permission letter – from Ethiopian Airlines – was issued late on Thursday for the Israeli ambassador and emergency response unit ZAKA, a source familiar with the incident added.

The European Union’s aviation safety agency, EASA, waited more than a week to be allowed to join the crash investigation.

“The Ethiopian investigation body is very keen to keep a very, very closed circle around the investigation,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky told the European parliament on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, Georgina Prodhan in Paris and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

ICE detainment centers have become so overwhelmed with illegal aliens that the agency has been forced to release over 100,000 migrant family members in the past three months.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nathalie Asher, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, revealed that her agency has had to reallocate resources as it deals with a “crushing” surge of illegal aliens on the country’s southern border. ICE has not only been forced to reduce its activity in the interior of the U.S., but the agency’s overcrowded detainment centers have released 107,000 migrant family members in the past three months, averaging more than 1,000 illegals a day.

“What you’re looking at is our interior arrests have been affected,” Asher said, explaining why ICE arrests have dropped in the past few months. She said her agency is redirecting manpower to their first priority: “addressing what has been occurring and continues to occur at an alarming rate at the border.”

ICE arrests have dropped 12 percent between Oct. 1 and Dec. 29 of last year, according to the agency’s latest statistics released Thursday. Agents arrested 34,546 during this time period.

At the same time, an overburdened ICE has released thousands of detainees into the country by the week, requiring only some of them to carry GPS tracking devices or a summons to appear in court.

The number of border apprehensions have been climbing, with the Department of Homeland Security expecting March to be their highest in over ten years.

“I want to cut through the politics today to tell you loud and clear: There is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our southern border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday during a speech at George Washington University. “The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis, to a national emergency, to a near system-wide meltdown.”

The Wider Image:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Immigration enforcement officials arrested about 75,000 foreign nationals in February, and expect to apprehend nearly 100,000 by the end March, which would be the highest number of apprehensions since 2007. (RELATED: The Amount Of Meth Pouring Across The US Southern Border Is Skyrocketing)

“The system is breaking, and our communities, our law enforcement personnel, and the migrants themselves are paying the price,” Nielsen continued on Monday.

The comments from Nielsen and Asher are in stark contrast to a number of Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump who have argued that the border crisis is “manufactured.”

Follow Jason on Twitter.

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

Source: The Daily Caller

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

ICE detainment centers have become so overwhelmed with illegal aliens that the agency has been forced to release over 100,000 migrant family members in the past three months.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nathalie Asher, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, revealed that her agency has had to reallocate resources as it deals with a “crushing” surge of illegal aliens on the country’s southern border. ICE has not only been forced to reduce its activity in the interior of the U.S., but the agency’s overcrowded detainment centers have released 107,000 migrant family members in the past three months, averaging more than 1,000 illegals a day.

“What you’re looking at is our interior arrests have been affected,” Asher said, explaining why ICE arrests have dropped in the past few months. She said her agency is redirecting manpower to their first priority: “addressing what has been occurring and continues to occur at an alarming rate at the border.”

ICE arrests have dropped 12 percent between Oct. 1 and Dec. 29 of last year, according to the agency’s latest statistics released Thursday. Agents arrested 34,546 during this time period.

At the same time, an overburdened ICE has released thousands of detainees into the country by the week, requiring only some of them to carry GPS tracking devices or a summons to appear in court.

The number of border apprehensions have been climbing, with the Department of Homeland Security expecting March to be their highest in over ten years.

“I want to cut through the politics today to tell you loud and clear: There is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our southern border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday during a speech at George Washington University. “The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis, to a national emergency, to a near system-wide meltdown.”

The Wider Image:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Immigration enforcement officials arrested about 75,000 foreign nationals in February, and expect to apprehend nearly 100,000 by the end March, which would be the highest number of apprehensions since 2007. (RELATED: The Amount Of Meth Pouring Across The US Southern Border Is Skyrocketing)

“The system is breaking, and our communities, our law enforcement personnel, and the migrants themselves are paying the price,” Nielsen continued on Monday.

The comments from Nielsen and Asher are in stark contrast to a number of Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump who have argued that the border crisis is “manufactured.”

Follow Jason on Twitter.

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

Source: The Daily Caller

BlazeTV host Eric Bolling on Wednesday night was involved in an altercation with a man who, according to Bolling and another man who was with him, mocked the death of Bolling’s son.

Bolling was at Trump International Hotel with conservative activist Hayden Williams in Washington, D.C., when a man allegedly approached their table while holding a phone to his ear, before turning toward the two and saying, “Eric Bolling’s son killed himself because he was embarrassed by his dad,” Bolling said on his show Thursday evening.

Bolling’s son, Eric Chase Bolling, died in September 2017 from a drug overdose.

“It was a drive-by hit on me using the most hateful words a human being can deliver to a grieving father. I got up and followed this hateful moron out of the hotel,” Bolling said, adding that he started recording as he chased the man down.

Bolling on his show released snippets of the video, which shows him confronting a man with a blurred-out face and yelling at him.

WATCH:

“I chased him down and yelled whatever comes to the mind of a man who has just been told his son killed himself because of him. Yep, I used some bad words. Yes, I followed him and yes, I shouted at him. But no, I do not apologize,” Bolling added.

Unedited video from the altercation reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation — on condition that it not be published — matches Bolling’s account.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Television personality Eric Bolling speaks during a town hall meeting on the opioid crisis as part of first lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” initiative at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino on March 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Television personality Eric Bolling (L) and first lady Melania Trump participate in a town hall meeting on the opioid crisis as part of the first lady’s “Be Best” initiative at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino on March 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Williams also confirmed Bolling’s account in a phone call with TheDCNF.

“Quite frankly, it was one of the most disgusting, despicable things I’ve ever heard anyone say to another person,” said Williams. (RELATED: Man Arrested For Allegedly Punching Conservative Activist Hayden Williams)

“For someone to use my son’s death to criticize my politics shows the inhumanity of these people. They will dehumanize us every chance they can get. This is where this is all going,” Bolling said in a statement released by Blaze Media.

“I hated to show this video to anyone because it brought back all the pain of that terrible day, but I had to — as a warning, to people. There is no blow too low for these people, and we should shudder at the thought of their having more power,” said Bolling.

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

New details emerged Thursday about the proposed constitutional amendment that Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio plans to introduce, which would permanently fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.

Rubio’s intention to codify the number of seats on the Supreme Court comes as multiple Democratic presidential candidates have discussed the idea of expanding the court.

“The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of not more than 9 justices,” the text of the amendment reads in part, according to Rubio’s office.

“We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions,” Rubio tweeted earlier this week. “Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates. Therefore I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats on #SCOTUS at 9.”

His office expects the amendment to be introduced as early as the end of the week.

FEBRUARY 5, 2019 – WASHINGTON, DC: Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during the State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 5, 2019. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

Democratic presidential candidates California Sen. Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all expressed a willingness to adding justices. (RELATED: Is Chief Justice John Roberts Tacking Left?)

President Donald Trump addressed “court-packing” as a Democratic presidential talking point during a Tuesday press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“No, I wouldn’t entertain that,” the president said of the idea. “The only reason they’re doing that is they want to try to catch up. So if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way. We would have no interest in that whatsoever. It’ll never happen. It won’t happen, I guarantee. It won’t happen for six years.”

Republican Tennessee Rep. Mark Green also announced Tuesday that he “will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of Supreme Court justices to 9” later this week.

An amendment must pass through both chambers of Congress with a two-thirds majority and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states to take effect.

Follow Mike on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

New details emerged Thursday about the proposed constitutional amendment that Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio plans to introduce, which would permanently fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.

Rubio’s intention to codify the number of seats on the Supreme Court comes as multiple Democratic presidential candidates have discussed the idea of expanding the court.

“The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of not more than 9 justices,” the text of the amendment reads in part, according to Rubio’s office.

“We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions,” Rubio tweeted earlier this week. “Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates. Therefore I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats on #SCOTUS at 9.”

His office expects the amendment to be introduced as early as the end of the week.

FEBRUARY 5, 2019 – WASHINGTON, DC: Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during the State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 5, 2019. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

Democratic presidential candidates California Sen. Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all expressed a willingness to adding justices. (RELATED: Is Chief Justice John Roberts Tacking Left?)

President Donald Trump addressed “court-packing” as a Democratic presidential talking point during a Tuesday press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“No, I wouldn’t entertain that,” the president said of the idea. “The only reason they’re doing that is they want to try to catch up. So if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way. We would have no interest in that whatsoever. It’ll never happen. It won’t happen, I guarantee. It won’t happen for six years.”

Republican Tennessee Rep. Mark Green also announced Tuesday that he “will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of Supreme Court justices to 9” later this week.

An amendment must pass through both chambers of Congress with a two-thirds majority and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states to take effect.

Follow Mike on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

New details emerged Thursday about the proposed constitutional amendment that Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio plans to introduce, which would permanently fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.

Rubio’s intention to codify the number of seats on the Supreme Court comes as multiple Democratic presidential candidates have discussed the idea of expanding the court.

“The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of not more than 9 justices,” the text of the amendment reads in part, according to Rubio’s office.

“We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions,” Rubio tweeted earlier this week. “Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates. Therefore I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats on #SCOTUS at 9.”

His office expects the amendment to be introduced as early as the end of the week.

FEBRUARY 5, 2019 – WASHINGTON, DC: Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during the State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 5, 2019. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

Democratic presidential candidates California Sen. Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all expressed a willingness to adding justices. (RELATED: Is Chief Justice John Roberts Tacking Left?)

President Donald Trump addressed “court-packing” as a Democratic presidential talking point during a Tuesday press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“No, I wouldn’t entertain that,” the president said of the idea. “The only reason they’re doing that is they want to try to catch up. So if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way. We would have no interest in that whatsoever. It’ll never happen. It won’t happen, I guarantee. It won’t happen for six years.”

Republican Tennessee Rep. Mark Green also announced Tuesday that he “will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of Supreme Court justices to 9” later this week.

An amendment must pass through both chambers of Congress with a two-thirds majority and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states to take effect.

Follow Mike on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller


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