illegal

Workers replace a section of the border fence between U.S. and Mexico, as seen from Tijuana
FILE PHOTO: Workers replace a section of the border fence between U.S. and Mexico, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

May 25, 2019

The Trump administration must temporarily halt the use of some Defense Department funds for a border wall with Mexico, a judge ruled on Friday, because the money was not specifically authorized by Congress for construction of the barrier.

The order blocks the use of $1 billion from the Department of Defense in Arizona and Texas, out of $6.7 billion that Trump administration said it planned to direct toward building the wall.

“The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with the fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic,” Haywood Gilliam Jr, a U.S. judge in California, wrote in the order.

Separately, Gilliam denied a preliminary injunction against the border wall sought by a coalition of sixteen states, but said they could move forward with their case.

Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security, Pentagon and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump has said the wall is needed to address a crisis of drugs and crime flowing across the border into the United States.

The ruling adds to Trump’s frustrations with federal court orders blocking his initiatives for cutting illegal immigration, a policy area he will focus on in his 2020 re-election bid.

In February, after a protracted political battle and a government shutdown, Congress approved $1.38 billion for construction of “primary pedestrian fencing” along the border in southeastern Texas, well short of Trump’s demands.

To obtain the additional money, Trump declared a national emergency and his administration said it planned to divert $601 million from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion earmarked for Department of Defense counternarcotics programs and $3.6 billion from military construction projects.

The House of Representatives, more than a dozen states and two advocacy groups asked U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam in Oakland, California to block the transfer of funds to prevent the wall construction.

They argue the administration cannot use funds Congress has specifically denied and cannot construct a barrier that was not authorized, nor can the administration work outside the geographic area identified by Congress.

“This is a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

The wall funding faces another court challenge on Friday, in a case brought by the House of Representatives in a federal court in the District of Columbia. The lawmakers have said the diversion of $6.1 billion in Defense Department funds violates the separation of powers doctrine laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Former Honduran president Porfirio Lobo holds a news conference at his house following accusations by the National Anti-corruption Council of embezzlement during his government, in Tegucigalpa
FILE PHOTO: Former Honduran president Porfirio Lobo holds a news conference at his house following accusations by the National Anti-corruption Council of embezzlement during his government, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Feb. 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera/File Photo

May 24, 2019

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – An international anti-corruption mission in Honduras said on Friday it is investigating former president Porfirio Lobo on suspicion of involvement in laundering illegal drug money as part of a wider probe into his 2010-14 administration.

The anti-graft unit of the Organization of American States (OAS) said the probe into Lobo began after Devis Leonel Rivera, a leader of the “Los Cachiros” drug cartel, testified in a U.S. court that he had given money to Lobo’s 2010 election campaign.

Rivera said Lobo “suggested to him that in exchange for donations to his political campaign, they would create companies that would be given contracts once he had won the presidential election,” Luiz Guimaraes, spokesman for the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), told reporters.

A lawyer for Lobo, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in or links to drug traffickers, declined to comment.

The revelation came as MACCIH said it was investigating 12 people, including a former cabinet minister, Lobo’s son Fabio and Rivera on suspicion of laundering drug money in a case that has been nicknamed “Narcopolitica” by the mission.

Lobo was not among the 12, but was being investigated as part of the wider probe, said Guimaraes, a Brazilian.

Prosecutors believe the money laundered in the case went through 21 public works contracts for companies set up by Los Cachiros with the ministry for public works worth an estimated 68.3 million lempiras ($2.8 million), according to the indictment.

Most of the works were never carried out, Guimaraes noted.

The investigators believe that Fabio Lobo, who in 2017 was sentenced to 24 years in prison by a New York federal court for drug trafficking, made sure Los Cachiros won the contracts.

Lobo’s former public works minister Miguel Pastor, as well as two other officials accused by the MACCIH, turned themselves in to prosecutors on Thursday night in Tegucigalpa.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia, editing by G Crosse)

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FILE PHOTO - Former Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames
FILE PHOTO – Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa August 9, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Frank?

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will pick former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Cuccinelli will replace L. Francis Cissna as the head of the agency, which manages the country’s legal immigration system. Cissna told staff in a farewell letter on Friday he had resigned at the president’s request, effective June 1, a USCIS official said.

The White House is still figuring out what exactly Cuccinelli will be doing in his new role, the Post reported. A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As Virginia’s attorney general and a state senator, Cuccinelli developed a reputation as a hardliner.

In Virginia, he called for denying citizenship to U.S.-born children if their parents are in the country illegally, introduced a proposal barring unemployment benefits to people who were fired from jobs for not speaking English and authorized law enforcement officials to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stopped.

Cuccinelli will likely face a pitched battle for the Senate approval of his nomination, though it is controlled by Trump’s Republican party.

Cuccinelli heads a political group that has clashed with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who has vowed to block Cuccinelli from being confirmed for any administration position, according to media reports.

He is also unlikely to receive much support from Senate Democrats.

In April, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced her departure from the Trump administration, raising the specter of more firings of senior immigration officials.

Trump is seeking to overhaul the U.S. immigration system and has sought to crack down on illegal immigrants, but has been largely unable to enact the sweeping changes he has sought.

Cuccinelli met with Trump on Monday and was expected to be picked for an immigration policy position by the president.

(Reporting by Makini Brice, Yeganeh Torbati and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro’s stance on immigration, including decriminalizing border crossings and redefining the meaning of a merit-based system may be further left than that of his fellow party hopefuls, but he insists in an interview that he is “on the right path.”

“I don’t care first about what the party approach is, what I care about is getting this right for human beings,” the former Housing and Urban Development secretary told NPR’s “Morning Edition” Friday.

He added that for many years, the border crossings were not treated as a criminal act, but as a civil violation.

“A lot of the problems that we see in the system today flared up after we started treating it as a criminal offense,” said Castro.

He further said he doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump’s stance on illegal immigration, including his call last week to focus on a merit-based immigration system, and he does not agree with Trump about what constitutes a “skilled” job.

“Do you think that you could go and spend 10 hours picking a crop in the fields of California?” said Castro. “Do you think that you could spend 10 hours in 102 degrees, underneath the blaring sun on a roof in Texas? That is skilled labor.”

Castro said his grandmother came to the United States from Mexico in 1922 when she was just 7 years old, along with her little sister, because their parents had died.

“I don’t know that she ever would’ve made it in if we use the rules that this president wants to use, and yet two generations later, one of her grandsons is a congressman and the other is a candidate for president of the United States,” said Castro.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Former communist and political prisoner Surachai Danwattananusorn gestures during an interview at his home in Bangkok
FILE PHOTO: Former communist and political prisoner Surachai Danwattananusorn gestures during an interview at his home in Bangkok, Thailand August 25, 2010. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subpransom/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Panu Wongcha-um and Patpicha Tanakasempipat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – When members of the exiled Thai protest band Faiyen learned that the concrete-stuffed bodies of two Thai activists who had disappeared from Laos had been found in the Mekong River, they grew worried about their own fates.

A third dissident remained missing. And then in February, three more Laos-based activists who were critics of Thailand’s ruling junta vanished, last heard from in Vietnam.

The disappearances have struck fear into the band, whose music and posts online call for revolt against the military and openly criticize the country’s monarchy, Thailand’s most sacred institution, which is illegal to insult.

They and dozens of other activists who fled after a 2014 army coup think the junta is stepping up efforts to punish them, according to five dissidents who spoke to Reuters.

The wave of disappearances began around the time that Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha visited Laos in December, activists say.

“Since December, we have heard warnings from friends in Thailand that there would be teams sent from Thailand to get to us. Some said that 700 officials are involved in this kind of operation to track all the exiles,” Worravut “Tito” Thueakchaiyaphum, a Faiyen member, told Reuters.

Worravut, 30, said friendly officials in Laos had urged exiles to go into hiding. They did, but now they say nowhere in Laos is safe. He added that he had seen lists produced by the Thai government of wanted people that was provided to neighboring nations.

“An official source showed us a secret official document listing the names of people in exile in Laos that Thai authorities want,” he said, without going into any more detail. Reuters has not viewed the document.

“They are coming for sure. They’ll capture us, kidnap us, kill us, for sure,” Trairong “Khunthong” Sinseubpol, a 54-year-old singer for Faiyen, said in a recent video message on YouTube.

Reuters was unable to confirm the assertions that the Thai government was intensifying its efforts to punish dissidents or circulating wanted lists to other countries.

Thai authorities have told Reuters they had no role in the deaths. The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment and the Lao embassy in Bangkok did not return phone calls.

DISSIDENTS IN LAOS

Trairong’s warning comes as Thailand prepares to swear in a new government after a disputed March 24 election. Under electoral rules written by the military government, a pro-army political party is expected to elect Prayuth as prime minister.

Trairong is one of about 50 Thai dissidents who have been based in Laos for years, according to Europe-based activist group Action for People’s Democracy in Thailand, which opposes army rule.

The corpses recovered from the Thai side of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Laos, were identified in January as Chatcharn Buppawan, 56, and Kraidej Luelert, 46. The bodies of the two men, who helped run an anti-junta radio program called “Thailand Revolution” from Laos, had been handcuffed and stuffed with concrete.

They had disappeared at the same time as their colleague Surachai Danwattananusorn, 78, who was the face of the radio program and also broke taboos – and was charged with violating Thailand’s strict “lese majeste” laws – by openly criticizing the monarchy. Reuters was unable to establish Surachai’s whereabouts.

Shortly after the bodies of Chatcharn and Kraidej were identified, three other Thai exiles decided to leave Laos.

Chucheep Chiwasut, who had been broadcasting political commentary to Thailand from exile, and fellow activists Siam Theerawut and Kritsana Thapthai were arrested in Vietnam and handed over to Thai authorities, according to U.S.-based Thai Alliance for Human Rights, a prominent critic of the military, which declined to name its sources for fear of retaliation. Chucheep had been formally charged with lese majeste.

Reuters was unable to confirm the arrests in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Le Thi Thu Hang, said: “We have no information on this issue.”

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan denied the three activists were in Thai custody.

The deputy spokesman for Thailand’s ruling junta, Lieutenant General Werachon Sukondhapatipak, told Reuters he had no information on any of the men or their situations, as did Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks.

Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong, who is also head of the Royal Guard Force, did not respond to a request for comment on the disappearances.

JUNTA CRITICS

Some who remain in Laos say they are fearful. Members of the band have launched a “Save Faiyen” campaign appealing for asylum in an unspecified country.

Trairong, the activist musician, said he had been told that Thai security teams planned to target him and other members of Faiyan in Laos ahead of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s official opening of the new parliament on Friday. He did not say who told him that.

The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lao embassy in Bangkok did not respond to requests for comment.

Four of the six reported missing have been critics of the army and were being investigated for violating laws prohibiting insults to the monarchy, according to police and court records. The crime is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“With the opening of the parliament, the Thai junta must eliminate all critical voices,” Trairong said.

(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Alex Richardson and Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

IndyCar: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Practice
May 16, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NTT IndyCar series driver Marco Andretti stands in his pit box during practice for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

May 23, 2019

By Steve Keating

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – One family’s curse can be another family’s blessing but for the Andretti clan they are one and the same when it comes to the Indianapolis 500.

For more than five decades the Andrettis, starting with family patriarch Mario, have had a complicated relationship with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

American motor racing royalty, the Andrettis have ruled over open wheel racing in the United States with a string of victories that have connected generations — father, to son, to grandson.

But for all their success at circuits around the world, Mario Andretti’s Indy 500 victory in 1969 stands alone.

That win 50 years ago this weekend was expected to be the first of many for Mario at the Brickyard.

He had already won a Daytona 500 and in 1978 would claim the Formula One drivers’ title but he would never again roll on to Victory Lane at IMS.

His son Michael, a five-times winner of the Indy 500 as a team owner, tried 16 times as a driver but never chugged from the winner’s quart of milk.

Neither has Mario’s youngest son Jeff, nephew John or grandson Marco, who will carry the family flag into Sunday’s race.

Such has been their cruel misfortune that the thinking is there could be no other explanation for the Andretti heartbreak than a curse.

Exactly what it was that so angered the racing gods, however, is uncertain.

Folklore has it that in 1970 Mario got in the middle of a feud between team owners Andy Granatelli and Clint Brawner. When Andretti sided with Granatelli, Brawner’s wife put a hex on the family promising no Andretti would win the Indianapolis 500 again.

“I never took it seriously, as a matter of fact I don’t endorse it (a curse) whatsoever,” Andretti told Reuters. “When I look at the big picture of what Indy has meant to us, what we have been able to do there, ok we were not able to control certain things that were out of our control but the fact that we led so many laps, between Michael and I especially, they knew we were there.

“Between Michael, Marco and myself we have 16 podiums,” he added. “Indy has done a lot for us so, no not a curse. I say a blessing.”

If the Andrettis are infatuated with the Indy 500 it is because the race has been a shameless flirt.

JILTED FEELING

Certainly the Andrettis have plenty of reasons to feel jilted with Michael and Marco both having posted runner-up results.

Mario reflects on his own bad luck with an “it is what it is” shrug until the controversial 1981 race enters the discussion.

That year, Andretti crossed second but was declared the winner when Bobby Unser was disqualified for an illegal pit stop. Five months later on an appeal Unser was fined $40,000 and reinstated as the winner.

“By the rule book I won that race,” Andretti said. “I would have paid $40,000 all day to cheat 11 cars and cross the finish line first. “

At 79-years-old Andretti, who still takes passengers for two-seater rides around the Brickyard at close to 200 mph, remains the most popular and best known racing driver in the United States.

Fifty years on, his victory still resonate with race fans.

Museums have set up displays to mark the anniversary, a commemorative bronze pin has been stamped and Andretti merchandise is flying off the shelves of specially set up Mario merchandise stores.

Marco Andretti will pay tribute to his grandfather on Sunday by driving a car with the same day-glow red livery Mario used for his memorable 1969 victory.

The only detail yet to be worked out is an Andretti win on Sunday which would be a fairytale bookend to a family dynasty.

“There is something about that place that is so special,” Andretti said. “You would hear my screams wherever you are if Marco wins, I guarantee it.

“This would be the sweetest moment. For what it means and the amount of time that we have devoted to that (the Indy 500) would be the ultimate reward.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

The tough anti-drug laws Joe Biden promoted for decades have worsened the opioid epidemic, Politico is reporting.

As a senator from Delaware, Biden wrote or sponsored several laws that public health experts now say have made the opioid crisis far deadlier than it has to be, Politico said.

Some experts have been pushing for “overdose prevention sites” – safe-injection facilities where people with opioid addiction issues can use drugs under medical supervision as a way to avoid fatal overdoes. Those providing medical supervision would help people find treatment for opioid use disorder.

“We are at a huge crisis and that’s why we need safe-injection facilities, safe house[s], other places where we can get people in,” said Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s medical school.

But standing in the way of the overdose prevention sites is the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 – a law Biden co-sponsored, Politico said. It makes it illegal to “knowingly open, lease, rent, use or maintain any place whether permanently or temporarily, for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using any controlled substance.”

The threat of federal lawsuits seeking to enforce the law have blocked activists and medical experts in their efforts to open opioid prevention sites, Politico reported.

Politico noted another law, co-authored by Biden, has had the effect of turning accidental overdoses into homicides and discouraging people using drugs from calling for help when they are around someone who has overdosed.

“Biden wrote and passed this law that allowed drug users to be prosecuted as murderers,” said Dr. Carl Hart, a Columbia University neuroscientist.

Source: NewsMax Politics

The Bosch logo is reflected in a semiconductor wafer in Reutlingen
FILE PHOTO: The Bosch logo is reflected in a semiconductor wafer in the company manufacturing base in Reutlingen, Germany, June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

May 23, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Automotive supplier Bosch has agreed to pay a 90 million euros ($100.21 million) fine for lapses in supervisory duties which enabled carmakers to engage in emissions cheating, German prosecutors in the city of Stuttgart said on Friday.

The auto industry’s diesel emissions cheating scandal, where carmakers used engine management control software to throttle back real-world pollution levels during tests, was made possible with the help of Bosch technology, prosecutors said.

Privately-held Bosch, the world’s biggest automotive supplier, delivered around 17 million technical devices equipped with engine management software, prosecutors said in a statement.

Bosch has accepted the fine and will not appeal the decision, they added.

Prosecutors imposed a 2 million euros fine for a “regulatory offense” and a further 88 million euros to penalize “economic benefits,” Bosch said in a statement on Thursday.

Bosch said, “With the issue of the notice of fine, the investigations conducted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Stuttgart against Bosch as a supplier of engine control units for diesel engines has been completed.”

Volkswagen used Bosch software elements to help the carmaker mask illegal pollution in diesel-engined vehicles. Engine management software was used to measure the steering wheel angle to gauge whether the car was on a test bench.

Volkswagen has borne the brunt of penalties and fines for emissions cheating since carmakers, rather than suppliers are responsible for certifying that cars meet clean air rules.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Edward Taylor and Thomas Escritt)

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President Donald Trump early Wednesday declared that his poll numbers would be much higher if it was not for special counsel Robert Mueller’s “illegal witch hunt” investigation into him and Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.

“Without the ILLEGAL Witch Hunt, my poll numbers, especially because of our historically “great” economy, would be at 65%,” Trump tweeted. “Too bad! The greatest Hoax in American History.”

According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released Tuesday, just 38%  approve of Trump’s overall job performance, compared to 41%  who approved of him in a May 2 poll. In addition, 71% said they rate the economy as excellent or good, but just 48% approved of how Trump handles the economy.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Trump posted several tweets complaining that Democrats had contributed to “two years of an expensive and comprehensive Witch Hunt” and that they now want a “DO OVER. In other words, the Witch Hunt continues.”

The tweets come as more Democrats call for impeachment proceedings to begin after Trump blocked his former White House lawyer from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who prefers a more methodical approach to Trump, will meet with a small group of the House Democratic caucus to discuss strategy, as Democrats are pushing her and other leaders to act on impeachment.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: A Wechat Pay sign is pictured at a Wechat pop-up store in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A Wechat Pay sign is pictured at a Wechat Pay pop-up store in Shanghai, China January 20, 2018. Picture taken January 20, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

May 22, 2019

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Nepal has banned popular Chinese digital payment apps WeChat Pay and AliPay saying payments from the unregistered systems were illegal and resulting in a loss of income to the Himalayan nation, a spokesman for the central bank said on Wednesday.

Laxmi Prapanna Niroula, a spokesman for the Nepal Rastra Bank, said the two digital payment platforms were not registered with the regulator in Nepal but were widely used by Chinese tourists for settling their payments with businesses.

“Any digital transaction made with unregistered foreign payment system like WeChat Pay and AliPay is illegal,” Niroula told Reuters. “Anyone using such platforms can be punished,” he said.

Under Nepali laws, anyone found guilty of embezzling foreign exchange can be sentenced to up to three years in jail.

WeChat Pay, operating on Tencent’s messaging service, and e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Alipay, are the two dominant platforms in mainland China. They are widely used by Chinese tourists for making payments to Chinese-run hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Nepal as the payment giants seek to expand overseas.

Tencent said WeChat Pay’s overseas division “strictly complies” with all regulations in the countries it operated in.

“As for illegal payment collection overseas, we are constantly using technical means to crackdown and prevent this behavior,” it said. “Overseas vendors should work with WeChat Pay’s partners to enable WeChat Pay’s collection services.”

Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial said Alipay’s cross-border payment operations in Nepal were operating normally.

“Alipay strictly complies with local rules and regulations in all markets where we operate, including overseas,” Ant Financial said.

“We request that all users abide by the Alipay Collection QR Code Agreement when using our QR code payment services. We have strengthened our measures to effectively prevent future cases where some users had wrongfully collected payments outside of China using domestic QR codes,” it said.

Nepal, home to Mount Everest and birthplace of Lord Buddha, received 1.1 million tourists in 2018 – of them 153,000 were Chinese visitors, the second largest number after Indian tourists who totaled 200,000. China and India jostle to influence Nepal, a natural buffer between them.

Niroula, the central bank spokesman, said these apps were using Nepal’s internet connectivity but transactions were made in China and not reflected in the Himalayan nation’s national accounts.

“The government cannot tax such transactions nor check any crimes related to such unregistered payment systems,” Niroula said. The ban came into force from Monday, he said.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Additional reporting by Josh Horwitz in SHANGHAI; Editing by Martin Howell and Anshuman Daga)

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Beth Cope of Jersey City, New Jersey attends the
Beth Cope of Jersey City, New Jersey attends the “Stop the Bans” rally in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

May 22, 2019

By Tim Reid

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke unveiled an ambitious plan to protect abortion rights on Tuesday through mobilizing every branch of the U.S government to defend a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

Former Texas congressman O’Rourke, 46, made the announcement during his first nationally televised event before a live audience, part of a strategy to re-energize a campaign that has seen slumping poll numbers since he announced his White House bid amid a blaze of publicity in March.

O’Rourke’s plan comes amid an intensifying national debate about abortion rights, one that is set to become a major issue as a huge field of Democrats seek to become the candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in next year’s election.

Last week, Alabama enacted one of the strictest abortion laws in the United States. It would make abortion illegal in nearly all cases, including those of rape and incest.

Several other Republican-controlled states have recently passed so-called “heartbeat” laws, which outlaw abortion if a doctor is able to detect a fetal heartbeat.

Those laws form part of the latest challenge by conservatives to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

O’Rourke said during a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, the state where the Democratic nominating contest kicks off in February, that as president he would appoint only judges, including those to the U.S. Supreme Court, who view Roe as the “settled law of the land”.

He said he would work with Congress to pass laws preventing states from taking away abortion rights, and would work to pass other federal laws, including a universal health care system providing coverage for reproductive healthcare and access to contraception and abortion.

O’Rourke said he would also use the powers of the executive branch to safeguard a woman’s right to choose, including appointing an attorney general who would protect abortion rights under Roe.

“For so long, women have been leading this fight, shouldering the burden of making sure that their reproductive rights are protected. It is time all of us join them in this fight,” O’Rourke said.

In reality, O’Rourke’s plan would struggle in Congress, especially in the Republican-controlled Senate. But it will appeal to Democratic activists and many primary voters as he battles in a field of 23 candidates currently vying to be the nominee to take on Trump in next November’s election.

O’Rourke’s CNN appearance was well received by the audience, who frequently cheered his responses to questions. His aides will be hoping that the appearance before a national audience will help breathe new life into a candidacy that has been struggling to gain traction.

In recent weeks, O’Rourke has been languishing low down a second tier of Democratic candidates, with his poll numbers falling to between three and five percent support among likely Democratic primary voters.

He has largely focused on meeting voters in small events, a strategy that so far has not been working. In the past week he has stepped up national television appearances, with interviews on MSNBC, an appearance on ABC’s The View, and then Tuesday night’s CNN town hall.

O’Rourke rose to national prominence last year when he narrowly lost his bid to defeat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in Texas.

(Reporting by Tim Reid; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Muslim children eat their lunch during a break at a madrasa or religious school in village Nayabans
Muslim children eat their lunch during a break at a madrasa or religious school in village Nayabans in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India May 9, 2019. Picture taken on May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

May 22, 2019

By Krishna N. Das, Zeba Siddiqui and Aftab Ahmed

NAYABANS, India (Reuters) – Muslims in Nayabans, an unremarkable village in northern India, say they remember a time when their children played with Hindu youths, and people from either faith chatted when they frequented each other’s shops and went to festivals together.

Such interactions no longer happen, many say, because of how polarized the two communities have become in the past two years, and some are frightened and thinking of moving away – if they can afford it.

Muslim residents who spoke to Reuters said they thought tensions would only worsen if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins a second term in the current general election, as exit polls released on Sunday indicate is likely. Votes will be counted Thursday.

“Things were very good earlier. Muslims and Hindus were together in good and bad times, weddings to deaths. Now we live our separate ways despite living in the same village,” said Gulfam Ali, who runs a small shop selling bread and tobacco.

Modi came to power in 2014 and the BJP took control of Uttar Pradesh state, which includes Nayabans, in 2017, partly on the back of a Hindu-first message. The state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is a hardline Hindu priest and senior BJP figure.

“Modi and Yogi have messed it up,” said Ali. “Dividing Hindus and Muslims is their main agenda, only agenda. It was never like this earlier. We want to leave this place but can’t really do that.”

He says about a dozen Muslim families have left in the past two years, including his uncle.

The BJP denies its policies have stoked community divisions.

COW KILLING

At the end of last year, Nayabans, a village of wheatfields, narrow cemented streets, bullock carts and loitering cows, became a symbol of India’s deepening divide as some Hindu men from the area complained they had seen a group of Muslims slaughtering cows, which Hindus regard as sacred.

Angry Hindus accused police of failing to stop an illegal practice, and a Hindu mob blocked a highway, threw stones and burned vehicles. Two people were shot and killed – including a police officer.

Five months later many Muslims, who only number about 400 of the village’s population of more than 4,000, say the wounds haven’t healed.

And in a country where 14 percent of the population are Muslim and 80 percent Hindu, Nayabans reflects wider tensions in places where Muslim residents are heavily outnumbered by Hindu neighbors.

The BJP denies it is seeking to make Muslims second-class citizens or is anti-Muslim.

“There have been no riots in the country under this government. It’s wrong to label criminal incidents, which we denounce, as Hindu-Muslim issues,” BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal said.

“The opposition has been playing communal politics but we believe in neutrality of governance. Neither appeasement of any, nor denouncement of any. Some people may be finding that they are not being appeased anymore.”

CALL TO PRAYER

To be sure, villagers say Nayabans was not free of conflict in the past – attempts to build a mosque in 1977 led to communal riots in which two people were killed. But for the 40 years after that there had been relative harmony, villagers say.

Some Muslim residents said Hindu hardliners started asserting themselves more in the village after Yogi took office in March 2017.

The atmosphere worsened around the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2017 – Hindu activists demanded Muslims stop using a microphone in their madrasa, which also acts as a mosque, to call people to prayer, arguing it disturbed the whole community.

The Muslims reluctantly agreed to stop using the mike and speaker – even though they say it had been operating for many years – to keep the peace, but the move created deep resentment.

Some Hindus were unsympathetic.

“God knows what they are moaning about,” said Hindu elder Om Prakash, a 63-year-old tailor. “There’s peace here but we won’t tolerate any mike there. That’s a madrasa, not a mosque.”

Islam requires the faithful to pray five times a day. Without the reminder of hearing the call, some Muslim residents say they risk missing prayer times.

“We can’t express our religion in any way here, but they are free to do whatever they want,” said Muslim law student Aisha, 21.

She said that Hindu men from the village often shouted anti-Muslim slogans during festival processions. At least a dozen Hindus in the village denied that was the case.

Aisha remembers when relations were better.

“Earlier they would speak very nicely to us, but now they don’t,” said Aisha. “If there was any problem at all, or someone was sick in the family, all the neighbors would come over and help – whether Hindus or Muslims. Now that doesn’t happen.”

“EMPTY OUT”

Sharfuddin Saifi, 38, who runs a cloth shop at a nearby market, was named in a complaint filed with the police by local Hindus over the cow incident last year.

After 16 days in jail, he was released as the police found he had nothing to do with the suspected slaughter, but said he found much had changed.

Hindus now shun his business. The money he spent on lawyers meant he had to stop going to Delhi to buy stock for the shop, which is largely empty. And he withdrew his 13-year-old son from a private school because he could no longer afford it.

“For someone who had never seen the inside of a police station or even dreamt of committing a crime, it’s a big thing,” he said of the trauma of his detention.

He often thinks about leaving the village, he says, but tells himself: “I have not done anything wrong, why should I leave?”

Carpenter Jabbar Ali, 55, moved to a Muslim-dominated area in Masuri, closer to Delhi, buying a house with money he saved from working in Saudi Arabia.

“If Hindus could kill a Hindu police inspector, in front of a police outpost, with armed guards alongside him, then who are we Muslims?” Ali said, recalling the December incident.

He still keeps his house in Nayabans and visits occasionally but said he feels much safer in his new home, where all his immediate neighbors are Muslims.

“I’m fearful here,” he said. “Muslims may have to empty out this place if Modi gets another term, and Yogi continues here.”

Junaid, a round-faced 22-year-old with a goatee, comes from one of the most affluent Muslim families in the village. His father runs a gold shop in a town nearby.

Seated outside his home, he recalled playing sport together with Hindus.

“When we were young all the Hindus and Muslims used to play together, especially cricket – I played it a lot,” he said. “Now we haven’t played in at least a year.”

He said he wanted to move to New Delhi soon to study at a university there. “Things are not good here,” he said.

Some Muslims, however, say they are committed to remaining. Aas Mohammed, 42, the owner of a flourishing tiles and bathroom fixtures business in a nearby town, has decided to stay in the village, though he has a house on Delhi’s outskirts.

Mohammed helped arrange a lawyer for Saifi after his arrest over the cow incident. He is now lobbying to have the microphone brought back and fighting a legal battle to get a new mosque built.

“I will fight on,” he said. “I am not scared, but another term for Modi will make it very difficult for many other people to live here.”

(The story fixes typo in lead paragraph.)

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui, Krishna N. Das and Aftab Ahmed; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Martin Howell and Alex Richardson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft lands at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California
FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airline Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft lands at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California, U.S., March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

May 21, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co’s mechanics union said on Tuesday its members had overwhelmingly voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement with the airline, ending seven years of labor negotiations fraught with legal disputes and flight disruptions.

The agreement came a day after rival U.S. carrier American Airlines Group Inc said it was filing a lawsuit against its own mechanics alleging an illegal slowdown aimed at disrupting operations to improve their position in labor talks, which began in 2015.

Analysts have highlighted labor issues as a main concern for airlines this year.

Mechanics at both American and Southwest have complained that the airlines are moving to outsource maintenance work that has traditionally been done in-house.

In a statement on its website, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents around 2,500 Southwest mechanics, said about 95 percent of its members had voted to accept the labor agreement.

Separately on Tuesday, American Airlines’ mechanics association said it was “ready and willing” to negotiate a fair contract.

“We would much prefer to be at the negotiating table than in a legal battle brought on by American,” the TWU-IAM Association said in a statement.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Susan Thomas and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

May 21, 2019

CHICAGO (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc’s mechanics association said on Tuesday it was ‘ready and willing’ to negotiate a fair contract after the airline filed a lawsuit on Monday asking the courts to halt what it called an illegal union slowdown.

“We would much prefer to be at the negotiating table than in a legal battle brought on by American,” the TWU-IAM Association said in a statement.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Source: OANN

Border patrol agent Sergio Ramirez apprehends immigrants who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S., near McAllen
FILE PHOTO: Border patrol agent Sergio Ramirez apprehends immigrants who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. in the Rio Grande Valley sector, near McAllen, Texas, U.S., April 2, 2018. Picture taken April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

May 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday Mexico was “doing virtually nothing to stop illegal immigrants from coming to our southern border” and that he would soon give a response.

“Mexico’s attitude is that people from other countries, including Mexico, should have the right to flow into the U.S. & that U.S. taxpayers should be responsible for the tremendous costs associated w/this illegal migration. Mexico is wrong and I will soon be giving a response!” Trump said on Twitter.

Trump, who is pushing ahead with building a wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border after failing to make Mexico pay for a barrier as he had promised during his 2016 election campaign, did not elaborate on his planned response.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet, and whether he was referring to a request from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for an agreement on development aid with the United States and other nations to address the flood of Central American migrants.

Lopez Obrador said on Monday that Trump had made a commitment for U.S. investment in Central America and Mexico and had shown interest in his ideas, but that the next step was to sign an agreement.

Trump last month threatened to put tariffs on cars coming from Mexico into the United States if Mexico did not help Washington deal with the immigration and drug situation along the border.

The U.S. government has said border officers apprehended nearly 99,000 people crossing the southern border into the country in April, the highest figure since 2007, as Trump administration officials decry what they call a humanitarian and security crisis.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by David Alexander and Tom Brown)

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President Donald Trump was “thrilled” by the “bargain basement” prices his campaign received on office space in Virginia, but that deal could have been a violation of election law, the Washington Examiner reports.

A campaign official told the Examiner the Trump campaign “saved multiple millions of dollars” on office space in Arlington, Virginia.

“We would not normally have such sleek office space,” the unnamed official said while sitting in a boardroom facing the Washington Monument. “This was a steal. The president was thrilled. We saved multiple millions of dollars. Brad found it and the deal was struck.”

He added campaign manager Brad Parscale “found out about it and went to them and said, ‘Hey, would you do a lump sum payment cash up front for the next two years?’ They said, ‘Sold!’ We took it off their hands and sublet it from them. And it came with all the furniture. We saved millions of dollars. I think Brad said we got it for about $36 per square foot, which is bargain-basement for well-situated commercial real estate in northern Virginia.”

However, former election officials note federal law requires candidates to pay market rates on rent, otherwise it is considered an illegal campaign contribution, though there are exceptions.

“You can’t get a good deal that’s not available to anyone else, that’s a contribution,” said Bradley Smith, a Republican and the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “Generally, if the accused party has a reasonably plausible basis for their calculation, they are going to be fine. The FEC is not going to be eager to say the amount charged is wrong.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

March for Reproductive Freedom in Montgomery
People listen at the Alabama State Capitol during the March for Reproductive Freedom against the state’s new abortion law, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarger

May 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. abortion-rights campaigners, including several Democrats running for president in 2020, are set to rally in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to protest new restrictions on abortion passed by legislatures in eight states.

Many of the restrictions are intended to draw legal challenges, which religious conservatives hope will lead the nation’s top court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, are among the presidential candidates expected to speak at Tuesday’s rally, according to media accounts.

The rally is one of scores being organized by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other civil rights group in what they are describing as a Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action.

Some of the new laws passed by Republican state legislatures amount to the tightest restrictions on abortion seen in the United States in decades. Alabama passed an outright ban last week, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.

Other states, including Ohio and Georgia, have banned abortions absent a medical emergency after six weeks of pregnancy or after the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected, which can occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Those laws are in defiance of the Roe v. Wade ruling, which affords a woman the right to an abortion up to the moment the fetus would be viable outside the womb, which is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier.

The bans have been championed by conservatives, many of them Christian, who say fetuses should have rights comparable to those of infants and view abortion as tantamount to murder. The Supreme Court now has a 5-4 conservative majority following two judicial appointments by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Civil rights groups are suing to overturn the bans as eroding a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and say they endanger women who seek riskier illegal or homespun means to terminate a pregnancy.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker in Washington, writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO:
FILE PHOTO: Supporters take part in a “Poland in Europe” march organised by European Coalition parties, ahead of EU parliament election, in Warsaw, Poland May 18, 2019. A placard reads: “Marriages, adoption, rights LGBT+”. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

May 21, 2019

By Marcin Goclowski and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk

SWIDNIK, Poland (Reuters) – Teresa Drzewiecka grew up during World War Two, when German and Soviet troops battled for control of her town of Swidnik in eastern Poland.

Now 83, she sees another threat to her country’s survival: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

“Let children have a father and a mother, not such deviations,” said Drzewiecka, resting on a bench in a Swidnik park. “Otherwise there will be fewer and fewer children, and Poland will shrink.”

In March, her local council in Swidnik passed a motion to reject what it viewed as the spread of “LGBT ideology” in homes, schools and workplaces. A handful of other areas, mostly in conservative rural Poland, have issued similar statements.

Views that are offensive or illegal in many European countries have been widely aired in Poland ahead of the European Parliament elections, where LGBT rights are a hot-button issue.

In a bitter campaign, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has depicted such rights as dangerous foreign ideas that undermine traditional values in Poland, a staunchly Catholic country.

Another PiS target has been a new sex education program, based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, due to be introduced to schools in the capital Warsaw, a bastion of liberalism run by the opposition Civic Platform party.

Some PiS politicians have publicly denounced the program, claiming it will sexualize children.

PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has urged Poles to vote for what he calls “the only party that gives a 100% guarantee that our values will be protected”.

LGBT rights and WHO standards constitute foreign values that pose “a real threat to our identity, to our nation,” he has said.

Analysts say that PiS hopes to re-energize its mainly rural base by vowing to push back against Western liberalism.

With turnout in European elections typically lowest in PiS’s rural strongholds, the party needs to persuade more people to vote, especially as some polls show it running neck and neck with a rival pro-European coalition.

ACTIVISTS HOUNDED

While divisive, the campaign seems to have got voters’ attention.

Marcin Duma, CEO of Warsaw-based pollster IBRIS, said its survey published on May 19 suggested the turnout could be around 40% – unprecedented in a country where barely a quarter of the electorate usually vote in European elections.

The result of the upcoming polls matter because PiS and Civic Platform see it impacting on a general election due in October or November.

PiS took power in 2015 and remains popular, thanks to generous welfare payouts, low unemployment and nationalist rhetoric.

Some observers see parallels with the party’s 2015 campaign, when it deployed anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“PiS needs an enemy, someone to fight against, someone they can use to raise fear,” said Bartosz Staszewski, an LGBT activist. “Before, it was immigrants. This time it’s LGBT people.”

Staszewski said anti-LGBT declarations by Swidnik and other councils were not legally binding, but nevertheless had a chilling effect.

“How are LGBT people, particularly the young, supposed to feel … when they hear that the regional council or local government are against them?” he said.

Last year, Staszewski organized an “equality” march in the nearby city of Lublin. Participants were hounded by hundreds of aggressive men who were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas.

“A PLACE FOR EVERYONE”

In February, Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski signed a pro-LGBT declaration that included a promise to launch a school education program along WHO guidelines.

Swidnik councillor Radoslaw Brzozka said his town issued its anti-LGBT statement in response to Warsaw’s declaration, which he said was “against good moral values.”

A survey by CBOS, Poland’s state polling agency, in April suggested that a majority of Poles disapprove of Warsaw’s stance on LGBT rights. Most of those polled said sex education should start at age 10 or later.

But other CBOS polls show that people in Poland are slowly growing more tolerant. In a 2017 survey, 24 percent of respondents said being gay wasn’t normal and shouldn’t be tolerated compared to 41 percent in 2001; and 16 percent said in 2017 that being gay was normal compared to 5 percent in 2001.

Even in Swidnik, not everyone approves of the council’s hard line stance.

“There’s no need to introduce such an anti-LGBT resolution,” said Franciszek Mosakowski, 71. “There should be a place for everyone here.”

(Writing by Andrew RC Marshall; Editing by Carmel Crimmins)

Source: OANN

Jonathan Lopez, who according to local media was arrested for participating in a protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government, speaks with a journalist after being released from La Modelo Prison, in Granada
Jonathan Lopez, who according to local media was arrested for participating in a protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government, speaks with a journalist after being released from La Modelo Prison, in Granada, Nicaragua May 20, 2019.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

May 21, 2019

MANAGUA (Reuters) – The Nicaraguan government said on Monday it had begun the process of freeing another 100 political prisoners after threats from the opposition it could abandon talks aimed at ending a political crisis and push for a general strike.

The government said the release was part of a plan to free almost 300 political prisoners by June 18, and it made its announcement soon after the opposition issued its threats.

“We have issued 100 (release) orders for people (…) detained for committing crimes against public security and public order,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

The government arrested hundreds of people during violent clashes that first erupted in April 2018 when President Daniel Ortega tried to cut welfare benefits.

The protests soon spiraled into a broader resistance movement and became the sharpest test of Ortega’s authority since the former Marxist guerrilla returned to office in 2007.

In contrast to previous prisoner releases, the government said that several delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) participated as observers.

Nicaragua’s opposition has made the release of political prisoners a condition of dialogue with the government.

The list of 300 prisoners was agreed between Ortega’s government and the opposition earlier this year.

However, the opposition and the government differ on how many political prisoners there are.

Ortega has called the protests an illegal plot by his adversaries to oust him, while critics have accused him of human rights abuses in the crackdown on dissent.

Since the protests against Ortega’s government began last year, more than 324 people have died and another 60,000 have gone into exile, according to human rights organizations.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

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FILE PHOTO: American Airlines Boeing 767 aircraft takes off from Zurich Airport
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 767-300ER aircraft takes off from Zurich Airport January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

May 20, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc has filed a lawsuit against two unions representing its mechanics, asking the court to halt what it called an illegal slowdown that it said on Monday threatened to disrupt U.S. summer travel.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Texas federal court, accuses the mechanics unions of directing a slowdown aimed at disrupting operations to improve their position in labor talks, which began in 2015.

The unions did not immediately return a request for comment.

American, the world’s largest airline by passenger traffic, said the mechanics’ action had intensified in recent weeks after causing 650 flight cancellations and more than 1,500 maintenance delays since February.

“American estimates that, for each day that the slowdown continues into the summer, it will disrupt the travel plans of approximately 3,400 additional passengers per day,” the airline said in the filing.

American said it has offered the Transport Workers Union of America and the International Association of Machinists an industry-leading proposal in all key respects, including pay and benefits.

The unions have complained that American is trying to outsource more maintenance jobs, a move American has indicated is necessary to cover increased wages.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American last year asked the National Mediation Board to help negotiate an agreement with the mechanics unions, but it said discussions were paused after the last session on April 25. Since then, it said union action had caused 14 flight cancellations per day, versus an average eight daily union-related cancellations previously.

The airline is also in contract talks with unions representing its flight attendants and pilots, whose contracts become amenable in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Low-cost rival Southwest Airlines Co recently reached an agreement in principle with its mechanics union after the Federal Aviation Administration warned that their prolonged contract dispute could pose safety concerns.

Shares in American closed 2.46 percent lower on Monday at $30.96.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Sen. Chris Coons said Monday he was surprised to see Rep. Justin Amash saying special counsel Robert Mueller’s report outlined impeachable activities by President Donald Trump because many other Republicans are thinking the same thing privately.

“Those who have read the Mueller report cannot avoid the conclusion that the president and some of his absolutely core advisers engaged in profoundly disappointing, reprehensible conduct that would rise to the level of obstruction of justice if he were anyone other than the president of the United States,” said the Delaware Democrat on CNN’s “New Day.”

On Sunday, Amash, R-Mich., tweeted that he thinks Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” Mueller’s findings and that the report reveals Trump “engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meets the threshold for impeachment.”

However, Coons said he has not spoken to any Republican senators who would vote to remove Trump from office, even if they think his conduct was “deeply disappointing, inappropriate, borderline or actually illegal.”

If the Mueller report revealed a “bombshell,” then the Republican-held Senate might have voted to remove Trump, Coons added, but now, the chance that would happen is “close to zero,” and lawmakers must decide if pursuing impeachment, a “political process,” is worth the time to pursue.

“Do we spend a year and a half trying to legislate and putting forward proposals to solve middle Americans’ daily problems?” he said.

Amash’s comments though, will raise questions in voters’ minds, including whether their representatives in Congress are willing to stand up to the president, said Coons.

Source: NewsMax Politics

U.S. President Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Mike Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

May 20, 2019

(Reuters) – Missouri’s Republican governor could sign a law as early as this week banning most abortions in the Midwestern state after the eighth week of pregnancy, part of a wave of restrictions aimed at driving a challenge of abortion to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republican Governor Mike Parson told reporters on Friday he planned to sign the bill, which was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature last week and would enact one of the United States’ most restrictive bans. He did not set a date for the signing but has until July 14 to do so, according to local media reports.

The state is one of eight where Republican-controlled legislatures this year have passed new restrictions on abortion. It is part of a coordinated campaign aimed at prompting the nation’s now conservative-majority top court to cut back or overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

The most restrictive of those bills was signed into law in Alabama last week. It bans abortion at all times and in almost all cases, including when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, but allows exceptions when the mother’s life is in danger. The Missouri bill also offers no exception for cases of rape or incest.

The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will sue to block Alabama’s law from taking effect. Last week, the ACLU joined Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive healthcare provider, in suing Ohio over its recent six-week abortion ban.

Abortion is one of the most bitterly contested social issues in the United States. Opponents often cite religious belief in saying that fetuses deserve rights similar to those of infants. Abortion rights advocates say the bans deprive women of equal rights and endanger those who end up seeking riskier, illegal methods to end a pregnancy.

Kentucky, Georgia, Utah, Mississippi and Arkansas have also passed new restrictions on abortion this year.

Conservative lawmakers have been emboldened in their efforts to roll back Roe v. Wade by two judicial appointments by President Donald Trump that have given conservatives a 5-4 majority on the court.

The Supreme Court could act as early as Monday on appeals seeking to revive two abortion restrictions enacted in Indiana in 2016.

Abortion rights activists on Sunday marched on the Alabama state capital in Birmingham to protest that state’s new law, which would take effect in two months.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Community leader Cornelia Flores poses for a photograph with community members, in Isla Jovai Teju
Community leader Cornelia Flores (C) poses for a photograph with community members, in Isla Jovai Teju, Paraguay May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

May 20, 2019

By Daniela Desantis

ISLA JOVAI TEJU, Paraguay (Reuters) – Rumilda Fernández’s indigenous community has long tended its ancestral lands in Paraguay, marking boundaries with an ancient system of names for trees and streams. Now, squeezed by deforestation and farming, the community is going digital to defend itself.

Fernández, 28, is one of the group’s first technology-equipped forest monitors, traversing the narrow earthen tracks of the Isla Jovai Teju community’s land to map the area with a smartphone app and GPS.

The work is a matter of survival for her Mbya Guaraní ethnic group. Their lands have been encroached on over the years by vast surrounding plantations of soybeans and maize in the South American nation that is grappling with widespread deforestation.

“The forest was our supermarket and we did not need anything more. Now with the clearing, everything has changed,” community leader Cornelia Flores, 60, told Reuters.

“Before, we did not know how many hectares our land was. Now we have the map and the actual size,” Flores added.

The tech push is part of a project with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, training eight indigenous youths from four Mbya communities in the district of Caaguazú, about 125 miles (200 km) east of the capital Asunción.

The monitors take photographs using a cellphone app of natural landmarks, tagging them with ancestral terms such as “yvyra pyta”, “guajayvi” or “ygary.” These points automatically populate a map to outline the borders of the terrain.

“It was easy to learn, though the technology element was tougher for me,” said Fernández, who had never used a computer or a GPS (global positioning system) before.

The Mbya leaders believe incorporating technology will help them protect lands that in the past have been occupied by large-scale producers or farmers, preserving forests as a critical source of food and medicinal plants.

Loss of land and natural resources is a painful issue for the indigenous people of Paraguay, who represent 2% of the country’s total population. The loss has been cited by experts as one of the main reasons 75% of them live in poverty or extreme poverty, according to official data.

Paraguay’s Minister of Social Development Mario Varela told Reuters impoverishment stemmed from the marginalizing of indigenous people who “had never been included, nor their original culture respected” in Paraguayan society.

“The problem for the indigenous is that we have been in Paraguay for 500 years and they have never helped us,” said Teófilo Flores, leader of the Pindo’i community of 750 people in Caaguazú.

“We need to know how to preserve the forest that remains as a reserve. For example, giving us the tools and support so that we ourselves also don’t deforest the lands,” he added.

ILLEGAL LOGGING

Paraguay is divided into two main regions: a large area with industrial farming in the east that has put pressure on forest land, and Chaco, a livestock area where clearing is allowed under certain conditions and where oversight is often lax.

The country has lost nearly 2,000 square miles (500,000 hectares) of native forests in the eastern region since 2004, official data shows. That was the year when a “Zero Deforestation Law,” supposedly preventing the mass cutting of woodland, was approved.

Cristina Goralewski, president of the country’s National Forestry Institute, said part of the problem was endemic corruption that meant illegal logging went unchecked. She hopes the use of technology and reliable data will change that.

President Mario Abdo, who took office last year, has previously acknowledged government corruption and pledged “zero tolerance” for officials found guilty of graft.

“We know that there’s ingrained corruption that supports this excessive deforestation,” said Goralewski, a 28-year-old engineer. She pointed out that in five years authorities had only stopped 20 trucks with timber from illegal logging.

“The priority for the government is to stop illegal deforestation in the eastern region and use technology for that because we see that the controls are just not working.”

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox
FILE PHOTO: May 19, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) reacts after striking out against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

May 20, 2019

Houston Astros All-Star outfielder George Springer will miss Monday’s game and is day-to-day with lower back stiffness, manager AJ Hinch said after Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Hinch removed Springer from Sunday’s game at Fenway Park in the fifth inning, after Springer struck out swinging three times against Chris Sale and winced after a missed swing in his second at-bat.

On Friday night, Springer grabbed his side after a swing. Josh Reddick moved from left field to take Springer’s spot in right field, and Tony Kemp replaced Springer in the lineup to play left field.

Springer entered Sunday’s game leading the league in OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage), runs scored, home runs and RBIs.

–The Philadelphia Phillies reinstated utility man Scott Kingery from the 10-day injured list ahead of the team’s game against the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Kingery had not played since April 19 because of a right hamstring strain and was batting .406 with two homers and six RBIs in 14 games before the injury.

Against the Rockies, the 25-year-old played center field, batted seventh and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. To make room on the roster, the Phillies optioned outfielder Nick Williams to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

–The San Francisco Giants designated outfielder Aaron Altherr for assignment after just one at-bat with the team.

The move was made to open a roster spot for left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who was activated from the 10-day injured list to start Sunday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Altherr was claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies on May 11 and struck out Friday as a pinch hitter. In his first start since May 6, Pomeranz gave up two runs on two hits and five walks with two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

–The Chicago White Sox optioned outfielder Nicky Delmonico to Triple-A Charlotte and are expected to activate rookie Eloy Jimenez from the injured list Monday.

Delmonico was batting .206 in 21 games this season with one home run and six RBIs. That one home run was a game-ending three-run shot against the Boston Red Sox on May 2. He has just one RBI in 13 games since.

Jimenez has not played since April 26 as the rookie has been on the injured list with a right ankle sprain. He was batting .241 with three home runs over the first 21 games of his career.

–The Chicago Cubs will not file an official protest over the ninth inning of Saturday night’s game against Washington, when they contended that Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle was using an illegal toe tap on the mound during his delivery.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon twice came out in the ninth inning Saturday to discuss Doolittle’s delivery with umpires. His main issue seemed to be that his own reliever, Carl Edwards Jr., was not allowed to use a version of a toe tap during a game early in the season.

After informing umpires he was playing under protest before the Cubs lost 5-2 to the Nationals, Maddon opted against filing the protest on Sunday, saying that while he believed is correct, he “really didn’t anticipate a whole lot to be done with (the protest).” He had 24 hours to file the protest with the league.

–The San Diego Padres sent rookie left-hander Nick Margevicius back to Double-A Amarillo after his recent struggles continued to mount.

The Padres also sent right-handed reliever Gerardo Reyes to Triple-A El Paso, while right-hander Cal Quantrill was recalled from El Paso to start Sunday’s game and right-hander Trey Wingenter was reinstated from the injured list.

Margevicius (2-5, 4.96 ERA) gave up just one run in each of his first three major league starts, but gave up a combined 14 earned runs in last three outings. Quantrill had a 3.60 ERA in two earlier starts with the Padres, while Wingenter sported a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 innings with the Padres earlier this season. He was on the IL because of right shoulder inflammation.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Sunday Florida is no longer being considered for moving illegal immigrants who’ve overwhelmed housing facilities at the southern border.

In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” McAleenan said the pullback from a strategy to move 500 migrants a month to Florida ease the massive border crisis was made Saturday.

“No,” McAleenan said when asked if Florida was still being considered as a location to move illegal immigrants. 

“We’re using the Southwest border sectors for additional capacity,” he said, adding, “I don’t believe” Florida will be considered in the future for housing either.

Detroit, Mich., and Buffalo, N.Y., are also off the table as sites for moving migrants, he said.

“They did notify officials locally in those areas that they were looking at the idea,” McAleenan conceded, but said that was no longer an option.

When asked when the decision was made, McAleenan said “yesterday.”

“But we should stay focused on what is happening on the border,” McAleenan said. “The border security and humanitarian crisis. They are creating dramatic challenges. … We haven’t had a solution from congress to stop that. “

Related Stories:

Source: NewsMax Politics

A man walks past the headquarters of the PBOC in Beijing
A man walks past the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, in Beijing November 20, 2013. China will lift controls on deposit rates when conditions are ripe, the central bank vice governor said on Wednesday, as part of efforts to push forward a market-based interest rate regime. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA – Tags: BUSINESS)

May 19, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s central bank will maintain basic stability of the yuan exchange rate within a reasonable and balanced range, according to comments posted on its website on Sunday.

Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told the PBOC-run Financial News in an interview that the central bank was confident in its ability to maintain stable operation of China’s foreign exchange market.

The PBOC will also make the necessary counter-cyclical adjustments and strengthen macro prudential management according to changes in the situation, as well as combating illegal and irregular behavior and safeguarding good order on the foreign exchange market, said Pan, who is also director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

(Reporting by Tom Daly and Xiaochong Zhang; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

Women’s and civil rights groups are coordinating nationwide protests of restrictive anti-abortion laws under consideration in several states, The Hill reported.

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Women’s March are among the groups set to gather outside statehouses and courthouses on Tuesday.

“Across the country, we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access,” the groups said on the protest website.

“This is [President] Trump’s anti-choice movement… and it’s terrifying, particularly for women of color and low-income women who are most affected by these bans.”

What is considered the nation’s strictest ban was signed into law this week in Alabama, making virtually all abortions illegal unless a mother’s life is at risk.

According to The Hill, 16 states have passed or are considering abortion bans once a fetal heartbeat is detected; four states have approved a  “heartbeat” abortion law.

Related Stories:

Source: NewsMax Politics

The Trump administration is attempting to stymie the flood of illegal immigrants inundating America’s borders, as it moves to invoke the Insurrection Act to fight for America’s survival. Tune in to War Room LIVE 3PM-6PM CT with Owen Shroyer.

Source

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Mike Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

May 17, 2019

(Reuters) – Missouri lawmakers passed a bill on Friday that prohibits women from seeking an abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy, days after Alabama enacted the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.

The legislation allows for an abortion after the eighth week only in the case of medical emergencies. On Wednesday, Alabama banned abortions at any time, with the same exception.

Similar laws have been proposed in more than a dozen other states as Republican-controlled legislatures push to restrict the rights of women to terminate their pregnancies.

The state’s Republican governor, Mike Parson, is expected to sign the bill into law. He has said he would make Missouri “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.”

Missouri’s House of Representatives gave its final legislative approval in a 110-44 vote after protesters were removed from the public gallery. Missouri senators overwhelmingly approved the legislation on Thursday.

“Today, the Missouri House stood for the unborn,” the speaker of the house, Elijah Haahr, said in a statement. “The bold legislation we sent to the Governor’s desk is the strongest and most comprehensive pro-life bill in the country.”

Opposing the bill, Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said it was a “terrifying time” for women in America.

“Planned Parenthood will not sit by and watch as politicians take our rights and freedoms to women’s health care away,” Wen said in a statement. “We will fight in Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, and everywhere else politicians interfere with medical care, because women’s health care is health care and health care is a human right.”

Renewed efforts to roll back Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, have been emboldened by two judicial appointments by President Donald Trump that have given conservatives a solid majority on the court.

At a time when U.S. rates of abortion have sharply declined, the appointments have put fresh energy into the political struggle between religious conservatives and others who those who believe fetuses should have comparable rights to those of babies after birth, and those who see such restrictions as an infringement on women’s rights. The re-energized debate coincides with the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Abortion-rights activists argue that rolling back 45 years of legal precedent to criminalize abortion would endanger women who seek dangerous illegal abortions.

HEALTH RISK?

U.S. abortion rights activists have vowed to go to court to block enforcement of the Alabama law, which is scheduled to take effect in six months.

The Missouri bill passed the Senate on Thursday in a party-line vote, with 24 Republicans supporting it and 10 Democrats opposed.

In common with the Alabama bill, it would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest and make violations by doctors punishable by prison sentences.

The measure would not make women who seek out the procedure subject to criminal prosecution, although opponents of the statute said it was ambiguous about the criminal liability of a woman accused of inducing her own miscarriage.

The measure also would ban abortions altogether except for medical emergencies should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

As of May, lawmakers have introduced legislation to restrict abortions in at least 16 states this year. Governors in four have signed bills into law banning the procedure if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, generally considered to be as early as six weeks.

Some Republicans pushing for abortion restrictions acknowledge they are deliberately doing so to instigate court challenges that will ultimately force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.

The ruling held that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental right to privacy that protects a woman’s right to abortion.

It also allowed states to place restrictions on the procedure from the time a fetus could viably survive outside the womb. The opinion stated that viability is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Mike Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

May 17, 2019

(Reuters) – Missouri lawmakers passed a bill on Friday that prohibits women from seeking an abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy, days after Alabama enacted the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.

The legislation allows for an abortion after the eighth week only in the case of medical emergencies. On Wednesday, Alabama banned abortions at any time, with the same exception.

Similar laws have been proposed in more than a dozen other states as Republican-controlled legislatures push to restrict the rights of women to terminate their pregnancies.

The state’s Republican governor, Mike Parson, is expected to sign the bill into law. He has said he would make Missouri “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.”

Missouri’s House of Representatives gave its final legislative approval in a 110-44 vote after protesters were removed from the public gallery. Missouri senators overwhelmingly approved the legislation on Thursday.

“Today, the Missouri House stood for the unborn,” the speaker of the house, Elijah Haahr, said in a statement. “The bold legislation we sent to the Governor’s desk is the strongest and most comprehensive pro-life bill in the country.”

Opposing the bill, Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said it was a “terrifying time” for women in America.

“Planned Parenthood will not sit by and watch as politicians take our rights and freedoms to women’s health care away,” Wen said in a statement. “We will fight in Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, and everywhere else politicians interfere with medical care, because women’s health care is health care and health care is a human right.”

Renewed efforts to roll back Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, have been emboldened by two judicial appointments by President Donald Trump that have given conservatives a solid majority on the court.

At a time when U.S. rates of abortion have sharply declined, the appointments have put fresh energy into the political struggle between religious conservatives and others who those who believe fetuses should have comparable rights to those of babies after birth, and those who see such restrictions as an infringement on women’s rights. The re-energized debate coincides with the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Abortion-rights activists argue that rolling back 45 years of legal precedent to criminalize abortion would endanger women who seek dangerous illegal abortions.

HEALTH RISK?

U.S. abortion rights activists have vowed to go to court to block enforcement of the Alabama law, which is scheduled to take effect in six months.

The Missouri bill passed the Senate on Thursday in a party-line vote, with 24 Republicans supporting it and 10 Democrats opposed.

In common with the Alabama bill, it would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest and make violations by doctors punishable by prison sentences.

The measure would not make women who seek out the procedure subject to criminal prosecution, although opponents of the statute said it was ambiguous about the criminal liability of a woman accused of inducing her own miscarriage.

The measure also would ban abortions altogether except for medical emergencies should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

As of May, lawmakers have introduced legislation to restrict abortions in at least 16 states this year. Governors in four have signed bills into law banning the procedure if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, generally considered to be as early as six weeks.

Some Republicans pushing for abortion restrictions acknowledge they are deliberately doing so to instigate court challenges that will ultimately force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.

The ruling held that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental right to privacy that protects a woman’s right to abortion.

It also allowed states to place restrictions on the procedure from the time a fetus could viably survive outside the womb. The opinion stated that viability is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and others are looking for answers after it was reported that the Trump administration plans to send 1,000 illegal migrants to two Democrat-controlled counties per month in the Sunshine State.

According to NBC News, DeSantis — who took office at the start of this year — spoke with the media Friday and expressed his concerns with the plan.

DeSantis said the plan is “not acceptable” and added, “I’m going to be addressing this.

“Nothing’s concrete. This is not something that came down from the White House. This was something that came out of the agencies.”

President Donald Trump, with whom DeSantis is a close ally, has spoken in recent weeks about sending migrants seeking asylum to sanctuary cities across the country as they await court hearings. The idea caused an uproar, and Trump called it “sick.”

The idea appears to already be happening, however.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to convey his own concerns and seek more details about housing illegal aliens in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

The crisis at America’s southern border involves thousands of migrants arriving at ports of entry and via illegal crossings to ask for asylum, which is stretching the system beyond its breaking point. Because of current immigration laws, U.S. officials must process each asylum claim and release the migrants into the U.S. while they wait for a trial — which can sometimes take years.

Source: NewsMax Politics

A man fills up glasses with 'palinka', a Hungarian fruit brandy, during the International Wheat Harvest Festival in Opalyi
A man fills up glasses with ‘palinka’, a Hungarian fruit brandy, during the International Wheat Harvest Festival in Opalyi, eastern Hungary July 13, 2013. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

May 16, 2019

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Romania and Hungary are pushing the EU to make it easier for orchard farmers to distil their own fruit brandy, a traditional practice in east and central Europe that is restricted in the bloc on health grounds.

The former communist states, both of which have clashed with the EU over accusations of undermining civil rights, have taken to describing the right to distil fruit brandy as a fight for freedoms.

At the initiative of Romania, which holds the EU rotating presidency through June, the issue will be discussed by EU finance ministers at a meeting on Friday, just ahead of European parliamentary elections next week.

EU rules now ban distilling at home, although orchard owners who bring their own fruit to distilleries to be made into brandy are allowed to take some home for personal use, paying half the usual rate of excise tax.

Romania, known for its “tuica” plum brandy, wants to lift the ban on home distilling and give countries the option to remove excise tax altogether for brandy produced for the fruit grower’s own use.

It is backed by Hungary, whose president Viktor Orban changed Hungary’s laws to allow home distilling in 2010 but was forced to backtrack by the EU’s top court, which ruled the changes illegal in 2014. Hungarians are known for “palinka”, brandy from apricots, plums, cherries, apples or pears.

Fruit growers in Hungary and Romania are already allowed to produce more brandy for personal use, taxed at the lower rate, than in other EU countries, up to 50 liters a year per grower.

A tweak to an EU legislative proposal suggested by Romania would allow countries to charge no tax rather than just lowering it. The personal use threshold would be raised to 100 liters in Romania and Hungary, and 50 liters elsewhere in the EU.

The reform would also legalize home distilleries, a move that would be welcomed by other states, including Austria, officials said. Homemade beers and wines are already legal and duty-free in the bloc.

A Romanian official said the higher ceiling was meant to allow large households in the countryside to produce their own spirits in line with ancient traditions.

The proposal, which needs the backing of all EU states to be approved, is opposed by Germany, Italy, Sweden and Bulgaria, according to an EU document seen by Reuters.

Sofia fears the reform would allow cheaper Romanian brandies to be sold illegally across the border and disrupt local production, a Bulgarian official said.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Peter Graff)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of U.S. Dollar and China Yuan notes
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar and China Yuan notes are seen in this picture illustration June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White

May 16, 2019

By Samuel Shen and Vidya Ranganathan

SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Lured by hopes that China’s retail investors could become major players in global currency markets, foreign brokers are brazenly chasing business in a gray area of the country’s online trading sector, even as Beijing vows to wipe out such activities.

Despite its booming middle-class, household foreign exchange trading in the world’s most populous nation has been insignificant, restricted by tight cross-border capital controls and a ban on currency margin trading, in which investors borrow money to trade.

Those curbs, however, have not stopped locals trading currencies online on platforms owned and operated by foreign brokers, which appear to be exploiting regulatory loopholes, notably the fact their systems are based offshore.

In Shanghai last month, Australian firm Cardiff Global Markets pitched its “1,000 people, 1,000 cities” vision, a plan to sign up a million clients to its offshore forex trading platform.

“How much is 1,000 times 1,000? Correct! It’s one million,” Cardiff’s China representative Carl He told a group of brokers to rousing applause at the marketing event, many of whom signed up as local partners.

That exuberance is shared by other firms who are sponsoring local exhibitions, holding lectures on trading skills and cultivating relationships with local businesses.

They are drawn to China by hopes the retail forex community could one day rival the so-called “Mrs Watanabes”, the nickname given to Japan’s day-traders who emerged as major global currency players in the 1990s.

Javier Paz, founder of advisory firm ForexDatasource.com, says that if deregulated, China’s retail forex market would dwarf Japan to become the world’s largest, “given the appetite for speculative trading in the population”. He estimates Japan has about 7-8 million retail traders, of whom at least 700,000 are active.

Internet use is widespread among China’s 1.4 billion people but the retail trading market is minuscule. Forex website fx220.com reckons the country has about 1.5 million currency trading accounts, with only 200,000 active.

Yet, retail forex trading in China each day averaged about $31 billion in 2016, accounting for 6-7 percent of the global market, highlighting the huge potential for growth.

It’s a highly profitable but risky business, Paz warns, given local authorities could impose fines, seize computers or even detain local managers.

BRAZEN BETS

Forex margin trading is officially banned in China. Individuals can trade currencies through commercial banks, but without leverage, and there are limits on how much one can buy in a year in China.

Overseas forex brokers, however, have been active in China since the 1980s, offering leverage of up to 400-times, thanks to lax enforcement.

These brokers have helped Chinese citizens move money into overseas bank accounts to trade, often via online currency transactions, according to their product brochures, or even through fake deals, according to salespeople. Brokers that own overseas licenses argue that investor money is safe, internet trading is boundless, and China has no rules banning them from doing business in the country.

But regulatory conditions are changing: China has over the past year intensified already tight scrutiny of outbound capital flows and hunted down some online brokers after a surge of complaints from loss-making investors.

In a statement to Reuters, China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) reiterated that forex margin trading is illegal in China. “The Internet knows no national boundaries, but there must be national boundaries for financial licenses. Cross-border financial service providers cannot operate without a license,” China’s forex regulator said in the emailed statement.

SAFE said regulators are cleaning up online forex trading platforms and strengthening international regulatory cooperation, having shut down more than 600 illegal forex platforms by the end of 2018.

CAT-AND-MOUSE

While this regulatory sweep has forced some firms to shutter onshore offices, others are less fazed.

FXOpen, a forex trading platform, recently opened a second China office. Others, including CXM Trading and CMS Prime, said they were also looking for ways to tap the market.

Even Chinese firms, such as Citic Securities <600030.SS>, Nanhua Futures and carmaker Geely, have entered the market, through acquiring overseas forex trading platforms.

Within China, firms like Cardiff are targeting small cities and counties, seeking to convert stock investors into forex traders.

Mr. Shi, who only gave his family name, is exactly the kind of investor Cardiff seeks.

Based in Yuncheng in eastern Shandong province, Shi was lured into forex trading five years ago by the prospect of quick fortune.

He operates an eight-person trading room and mainly invests in euro and sterling, using technical models with strict rules on cutting losses.

“What matters is not to make big bucks in one bet but to steadily make small profits, without going bust,” said Shi.

Shi opened accounts at several offshore forex trading platforms, transferred $50,000 to each account via third-party payment companies, and has traded on a leverage of between 100-400 times his capital.

The risks for firms like Cardiff are growing, however, as China seeks to co-ordinate law enforcement with Australian regulators.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) said in a statement in April that Chinese authorities had advised that “some online platforms are illegally engaged in forex margin trading activities,” and ASIC would not condone brokers who break the law overseas.

But even with more expansive curbs, there are still ways firms can steer clear of authorities.

Some chase Chinese traders with money already parked offshore. Other methods include using multiple licenses, shifting to online marketing, or simply maintaining a low onshore profile.

“It’s like cat-and-mouse kind of game and they’ve been hunted for years,” said Audrey Blater, senior analyst at research firm Aite Group.

(Additional reporting by Winni Zhou in SHANGHAI; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Flag and Alabama State Flag fly over the Alabama Governor's Mansion as the state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery
The U.S. Flag and Alabama State Flag fly over the Alabama Governor’s Mansion as the state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

May 15, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. abortion-rights activists vowed on Wednesday to challenge an Alabama bill that would ban abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, the latest attempt by conservatives to reverse a 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a woman’s right to it.

The state’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, has a week to sign or veto the bill, which would be the nation’s strictest anti-abortion law. She is a strong opponent of abortion but has so far withheld comment on whether she would sign the bill.

“The governor will thoroughly conduct a review before providing any additional comment,” Ivey spokeswoman Lori Davis Jhons said in an email.

Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said her group would challenge the measure in court if it took effect.

“We have no choice. For us, this is about our patients’ lives,” Wen told reporters on a conference call. “We have to file lawsuits. We are talking about the rights for generations to come.”

Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states, four of whose governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected.

Planned Parenthood joined the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday in filing a legal challenge to Ohio’s recent ban on abortions after six weeks.

The Alabama bill goes further, banning abortions at any time, unless the mother’s health is in danger. Those performing abortions would be committing a felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison. A woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable.

The state Senate defeated a Democratic amendment that would have allowed legal abortions for women and girls impregnated by rape or incest.

2020 DEMOCRATS BLAST THE MOVE

Most of the Democratic candidates seeking their party’s 2020 nomination to run for the White House condemned the Alabama law, calling it an attack on women’s rights and vowing to fight to uphold legal access to abortion.

“The idea that supposed leaders have passed a law that would criminalize a physician for assisting a woman on something that she, in consult with her physician, with her God, with her faith leader, has made the decision to do, that is her body that you would criminalize,” U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, one of the large field of hopefuls, said at a town hall on Wednesday morning in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Abortion rights campaigners said they would try to persuade Ivey to refuse to sign the measure. Some on Twitter called on their allies to mail coat hangers to Ivey, as a reminder of the illegal abortion practices common before it was made legal.

Anti-abortion advocates know any laws they pass are certain to be challenged. Courts this year have blocked a restrictive Kentucky law and another in Iowa passed last year.

But supporters of the Alabama ban said the right to life of the fetus transcends other rights, an idea they would like tested at the Supreme Court.

The high court, now with a majority of conservative justices after Republican President Donald Trump appointed two, could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to an abortion.

Just this year, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have outlawed abortion after a doctor can detect an embryonic heartbeat.

Opponents call the “heartbeat” legislation a virtual ban because embryonic cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may be aware she is pregnant.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Daniel Trotta in New York, additional reporting by Ginger Gibson in Washington, writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

The company logo for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
The company logo for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

May 15, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior officials from Boeing Co and a U.S. aerospace industry trade group on Wednesday urged the U.S. government to narrowly tailor any tariffs imposed on the European Union over illegal aircraft subsidies to avoid harming American manufacturers.

The comments were made in prepared testimony at a hearing held by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office on proposed tariffs on EU goods as part of the dispute.

The United States and the EU have threatened to impose billions of dollars of retaliatory tariffs on planes, tractors and food in a nearly 15-year trans-Atlantic aircraft subsidy dispute at the World Trade Organization over subsidies given to Boeing and European rival Airbus.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

The Transportation Security Administration is planning to send as many as 175 air marshals and hundreds of other staffers to assist with immigration duties along the southern border, CNN is reporting.

The news network attributed its information to an internal email it obtained.

Some parts of TSA will be asked to contribute “around 10%” of its workforce, the email stated. In addition to the air marshals, the deployment will include as many as “400 people from Security Ops,” CNN said attributing the information to the email.

The move comes as the busy summer travel season is about to begin, CNN noted. But so far, the deployment will not include uniformed airport screeners.

“There is now immediate need for more help from TSA at the SW border,” a senior TSA official, Gary Renfrow, wrote in the email to agency regional management. “TSA has committed to support with 400 people from Security Ops…”

“We also understand that we are accepting some risk as we enter a very busy summer.”

CNN pointed out the deployment comes as the number of illegal border crossings is spiking.  The news network said before Kirstjen Nielsen was ousted as Homeland Security secretary last month, she had asked for volunteers, including those who were working for TSA , to help out at the border.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Chairman Ajit Pai speaks ahead of the vote on the repeal of so called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Chairman Ajit Pai speaks ahead of the vote on the repeal of so called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

May 15, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai will propose on Wednesday granting mobile phone companies new powers to block the rising number of unwanted “robocalls”, industry officials briefed on the plans said.

The U.S. telecommunications regulator is expected to take action on Pai’s proposal at its June 6 meeting. The FCC declined to comment on Tuesday ahead of Pai’s expected announcement.

Pai and the other four FCC commissioners are set to testify later on Wednesday before a U.S. House panel amid frustration in Congress and among U.S. consumers over the rising number of robocalls.

YouMail, a company that blocks robocalls and tracks them, estimated there were 4.9 billion unwanted U.S. calls last month after nearly 48 billion in 2018, which was up nearly 60 percent over 2017.

Three-quarters of the U.S. Senate backs legislation to provide regulators and law enforcement additional tools to prevent illegal robocalls and punish robocallers. The bill would also make it easier for the FCC to seek financial penalties.

In May 2018, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed “call authentication system” for the cryptographic signing of telephone calls aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system.

Pai said this week he expects major phone providers to implement those caller ID standards this year and will host a summit on July 11 to review the industry’s progress.

“We chose this industry-led path because it is the fastest way to help consumers, but I remain committed to taking regulatory action” if carriers to do not act this year, Pai said in a statement on Monday.

In November, Pai wrote to the chief executives of major telephone service providers including AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Sprint Corp and other companies, demanding they launch the system no later than 2019 to combat robocalls.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said this week that the FCC should “require call authentication technology” and “make available free tools to consumers to block these calls.” She also urged the FCC to set up a “robocall enforcement division.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

Alabama passes bill that would make almost all abortions illegal; House Dems target Trump lawyers

Alabama looks to outlaw nearly all abortions
Alabama’s state Senate passed a controversial bill on Tuesday that would outlaw nearly all abortions in the state and make performing one a felony unless the mother’s health is at risk. The bill will make the punishment for performing abortions up to 99 years or life in prison, although the woman who undergoes the procedure would not be subject to a See More felony charge. Democratic lawmakers pressed for amendments that would creation exceptions for instances of rape and incest but failed. The vote is expected to reignite a debate over Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the nation, and push Supreme Court justices to re-evaluate the laws. Meanwhile, a government report being released Wednesday says the nation’s birth rates for women in their teens and 20s reached record laws last year, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years.

House Democrats investigating Trump’s lawyers for possible obstruction
President Trump’s legal team slammed House Democrats on Tuesday evening after a report that the House Intelligence Committee has been investigating possible obstruction by Trump’s lawyers after the 2016 election. “Instead of addressing important intelligence needs, the House Intelligence Committee appears to seek a truly needless dispute,” Patrick Strawbridge, who represents attorney Jay Sekulow, told Fox News. The statement came in response to a New York Times article published Tuesday that said the committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., “is investigating whether lawyers tied to President Trump and his family helped obstruct the panel’s inquiry into Russian election interference by shaping false testimony.”

Biden has some other 2020 Dems hitting reset button
With Joe Biden surging to double-digit leads in polls as the frontrunner to face President Trump in 2020, some Democratic candidates are already reinventing their strategies and reintroducing themselves to the media. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, generated buzz by slamming former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and mocking the Clintons during her appearance Monday on the podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Once-leading contenders like Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., , whose momentum was sapped by South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and then by Biden, have conducted a string of new interviews and plan town hall events over the next few weeks. Harris was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper last weekend and will appear on MSNBC on May 28. O’Rourke has been interviewed by Rachel Maddow and on “The View” this week and will be featured in a CNN town hall on May 21. Buttigieg will be on a Fox News town hall next Sunday, May 19. Still, as “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz noted in his column, “When you’re relaunching, you’re losing.”

Freshman Dem ‘sisters’ stick together, vow not to be silenced
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., defended her colleague, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., from criticism over controversial remarks about the Holocaust, insisting that the backlash is “designed” to “silence” Muslim voices. Appearing on MSNBC, Omar said that she and Tlaib, whom she referred to as “my sister,” have the “strength to endure any of the mischaracterization or efforts to distort and vilify and mischaracterize” their message. “I think we are seeing what happens when people really see these kind of attacks for what they are. It is designed to silence, sideline, and sort of almost eliminate [the] public voice of Muslims from the public discourse,” Omar told MSNBC host Chris Hayes.

Duke star NOLA-bound?
The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft lottery Tuesday night, and with it, the likely right to select Duke superstar Zion Williamson in next month’s NBA Draft. The Memphis Grizzlies received the second overall pick, followed by the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. The Cleveland Cavaliers received the fifth overall pick, despite having the joint-highest odds to win the lottery at 14 percent, alongside the Knicks and Phoenix Suns. The Suns received the sixth overall pick. The last time New Orleans won the lottery, in 2012, they selected Kentucky center Anthony Davis with the first overall pick.

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FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

May 14, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Tuesday the seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States was an illegal act that violated the spirit of a summit pact between the two countries’ leaders, and demanded the return of the vessel without delay.

In a statement, the North’s foreign ministry said it rejected U.N. Security Council resolutions against it, which the United States cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty.

“This act is an extension of the U.S.-style calculation of trying to hold us in submission with its ‘maximum pressure’ and is a total denial of the fundamental spirit of the June 12 DPRK-U.S. joint statement,” an unnamed ministry spokesman said.

North Korea’s formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The statement was carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

The United States is badly mistaken if it believed it can control the North with force, the ministry statement said, adding it will keep a sharp eye on future U.S. behavior.

The U.S. Justice Department last week said it had seized a North Korean cargo ship that it accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of sanctions after it was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018. [nL2N22L1AV]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump held an unprecedented summit on June 12 last year in Singapore and pledged to establish new relations and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. They held a second summit in Vietnam in February which collapsed without agreement.

U.S. Justice Department officials said the North Korean vessel, known as the “Wise Honest,” was being impounded to American Samoa. The announcement came hours after the North fired two short-range missiles on Thursday. [nL3N22L315]

The North Korean leader called for “full combat posture” following the U.S. seizure of the North Korean cargo ship.

The test of two short-range missiles on Thursday and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by the North since an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017.

(Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump meets with Hungary's Prime Minister Orban at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump greets Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

May 13, 2019

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday, describing him as “like me, a little controversial,” and brushing off concerns about threats to democratic norms in Hungary during Orban’s tenure.

Welcoming the right-wing Hungarian leader for a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump lauded him for being tough on immigration, a policy area in which the two leaders have similar visions.

“He’s a respected man. And I know he’s a tough man, but he’s a respected man,” Trump said, when asked whether he had concerns about a weakening of democracy in Hungary.

“He’s done the right thing, according to many people, on immigration. And you look at some of the problems that they have in Europe that are tremendous because they’ve done it a different way than the prime minister,” said Trump, who is often accused by critics of being too close to authoritarian leaders.

Orban, a nationalist, has often had conflicts with the European Union over his anti-immigration campaigns and judicial reforms.

He clashed with the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over what critics said was an erosion of democratic values by his government.

Trump has also pushed what critics consider an anti-immigrant policy agenda, calling for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and banning travelers from several Muslim-majority countries at the beginning of his time in office.

Orban noted that his government had been elected several times.

“From the people, by the people, for the people. This is the basis for the Hungarian government,” he said, adding, when pressed about the issue: “We have a new constitution accepted in 2011 and it’s functioning well.”

He said Hungary was proud to stand with the United States on “fighting against illegal migration” and other issues.

Senior Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress told Trump in a letter on Friday they were concerned about Hungary’s “downward democratic trajectory” and its close relationship with Russia. Hungary is a NATO ally.

Trump is often accused of cozying up to autocratic leaders. He has sought a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite Russian meddling in the 2016 election and has praised his own relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with whom he has held summits in Singapore and Vietnam.

Trump projected an air of kinship with Orban.

“Highly respected. Respected all over Europe,” Trump said. “Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s okay. That’s okay. You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe.”

(Additional reporting by Timothy Ahmann and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

Despite the widely held perception growth in illegal immigration leads to higher local crime rates, an analysis derived from newly available data shows it does not, The New York Times reported Monday.

Previous research had indicated there is no connection between crime in the U.S. and immigrants in general, but a specific study on undocumented immigrants was harder to conduct, because of the uncertainty of data on the numbers of illegals and where they are.

However, the Pew Research Center recently released estimates of undocumented populations sorted by metropolitan area, which The Marshall Project has compared with local crime rates put out by the FBI.

The combination of this data provided the most in-depth analysis of how illegal immigration might have affected crime rates over the past decade.

The analysis found changes in undocumented populations had little or no effect on crime in the various metropolitan areas in the survey.

The results of the analysis are similar to previous studies on the subject, such as a report by the Cato Institute last year that unauthorized immigrants in Texas committed fewer crimes than their native-born counterparts.

More research is being conducted about the potential effects of undocumented immigration on crime, according to the Times, and preliminary findings indicate other socioeconomic factors such as unemployment rates, housing instability, and degrees of economic hardship all predict higher rates of crime, while the number of undocumented immigrants do not.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted a long quote from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton criticizing FBI Director Christopher Wray for “protecting” a “gang” that attempted “an illegal coup.”

“‘Just another abuse of power in a long series of abuses of power by the Democrats that began during the Obama Administration, continued through the Mueller FBI operation, & now the baton has been passed to [House Judiciary Committee Chairman] Jerry Nadler to continue to abuse power to harass President Trump and the Democrat National Committee,'” Trump tweeted Monday morning.

He later added, in a pair of tweets, another quote claiming that the FBI lacks “leadership,” in an apparent swipe at the FBI director.

“‘The Democrat Party apparatus-has been caught using donor Dollars to Collude with Russian Intelligence to attack a domestic political opponent (me). The FBI has no leadership. The Director is protecting the same gang…..that tried to……..overthrow the President through an illegal coup.’”

The FBI’s former general counsel, James Baker, denied accusations of an “attempted ‘coup,’” last week, according to ABC News.

“There was no attempted ‘coup,'” Baker said in an interview with the Brookings Institution. “There was no way in hell that I was going to allow some coup or coup attempt to take place on my watch.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: German drug and crop chemical maker Bayer holds annual general meeting
FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of German pharmaceutical and chemical maker Bayer AG, attends the annual general shareholders meeting in Bonn, Germany, April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

May 12, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer said on Sunday it was hiring an outside law firm to investigate French media complaints that Monsanto, the U.S. seed maker it took over last year, had compiled a file of influential personalities.

The German life sciences and pharmaceuticals group said that, following an internal review, it understood that this initiative had raised concerns and criticism.

“This is not the way Bayer seeks dialogue with society and stakeholders. We apologize for this behavior,” Bayer said in a statement. It added, however, that there was no indication that compiling the lists was illegal.

(Reporting by Patricia Weiss and Ludwig Burger; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Keith Weir)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries during a news conference held by its CEO, Kare Schultz, to discuss the company’s 2019 outlook in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

May 11, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Forty-four U.S. states have filed a lawsuit accusing 20 drug companies including Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc of a sweeping scheme to inflate drug prices and stifle competition for more than 100 generic drugs, state prosecutors said on Saturday.

The complaint, filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, said the drug companies engaged in “numerous illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition,” according to state attorneys general.

The drugs included everything from tablets and capsules to creams and ointments to treat conditions including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, epilepsy and more, they said. In some instances, the coordinated price increases were more 1,000 percent, the lawsuit said.

Representatives of Teva and Sandoz, another company named in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Teva USA is a unit of Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

The lawsuit also names 15 individuals as defendants who it said carried out the schemes on a day-to-day basis.

“The level of corporate greed alleged in this multistate lawsuit is heartless and unconscionable,” Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Additional reporting by Ishita Palli in Bengaluru and Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Prakazrel Michel of the band The Fugees, poses with his Grammy awards for Best R & B Performance by a Duo or Group category for
FILE PHOTO: Prakazrel Michel of the band The Fugees, poses with his Grammy awards for Best R & B Performance by a Duo or Group category for “Killing Me Softly With His Song” at the 39th Grammy Awards in New York City, U.S., February 30, 1997. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen/File Photo

May 11, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch and Nathan Layne

(Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department announced on Friday it had charged former Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel and wealthy Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, popularly known as “Jho Low,” for conspiring to steer illegal foreign campaign funds into the 2012 presidential election.

According to the unsealed indictment, between June 2012 and November 2012, Low directed the transfer of approximately $21.6 million from foreign entities and accounts to Michel to be funneled into the U.S. election while disguising it as legitimate campaign contributions.

The indictment did not reveal the identity of the presidential candidate.

However, Michel, who is a U.S. citizen, was a well-known avid supporter of former Democratic President Barack Obama, and federal election records show he contributed money to political committees that supported Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and other Democratic committees.

Under federal election law it is a crime for foreign nationals to make political contributions in U.S. federal, state or local elections.

Michel and Low, the Justice Department alleged, conspired to circumvent the law, in part by steering foreign money from Low through “straw contributors” who purported to make legal contributions in their own names. In doing so, the indictment said they hoped they could “buy access to, and potentially influence with a candidate, the candidate’s campaign and the candidate’s administration.”

Low remains at large.

“Mr. Low is innocent — and he is presumed innocent under U.S. law,” a spokesperson for Low, through his attorneys, said in a statement. “Mr. Low has never made any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the U.S. and he unequivocally denies any involvement in or knowledge of the alleged activities.”

Low faces separate criminal charges in the United States in connection with a multi-billion-dollar scandal at Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Low has been identified by Malaysian and U.S. investigators as a central figure in the alleged theft of about $4.5 billion from 1MDB.

“MICHEL IS INNOCENT”

In the election funding case, Michel appeared in a federal court in Washington, D.C., for his arraignment.

U.S. Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr confirmed that Michel pleaded not guilty to the charges, and will return to federal court in Washington for a hearing on May 16.

“Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions,” his attorney Barry Pollack said in a statement. “Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury.”

Michel and Low were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions.

Michel also was charged with one count of a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.

In addition to allegedly using straw donors to funnel money from Low to one political committee, Michel made approximately $1.1 million in donations to another committee in his own name and the name of his company, thereby masking that the money was coming from Low, the indictment says.

The dates and numbers for those donations in the indictment match with federal fundraising disclosures made by Black Men Vote, a super PAC that was supportive of Obama’s re-election efforts in battleground states.

The case over campaign financing is not the first time that the Justice Department has linked Michel and Low. The Justice Department, in a civil forfeiture action announced in November 2018, said that Michel and a former Justice Department employee opened multiple U.S. bank accounts to receive tens of millions of dollars in funds from overseas accounts controlled by Low.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Nathan Layne in New York; editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An employee holds a Volkswagen logo in a production line at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg
FILE PHOTO: An employee holds a Volkswagen logo in a production line at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

May 11, 2019

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday sharply questioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on the timing of its civil suit filed in March accusing Volkswagen AG of defrauding investors and demanded the agency explain its rationale.

Volkswagen was caught using illegal software to cheat U.S. pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel vehicles that has so far cost it 29 billion euros.

At a status conference on Friday in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer questioned the SEC’s “lateness” in suing VW more than two years after the company settled the Justice Department’s criminal probe, pleading guilty to three felonies and paying $4.3 billion in penalties.

“My basic question is what took you so long,” Breyer said, adding he was “totally mystified” why the SEC waited until 2019.

A person briefed on the matter said the SEC served its first formal subpoena on VW in January 2017 and issued a formal Wells notice in June 2018.

“I want to remind you that the symbol of the SEC is the symbol right up there, of the eagle. It’s not a carrion hawk that simply descends when everything is all over and sees what it can get from the defendant,” Breyer said.

Daniel Hayes, a lawyer for the SEC, told Breyer the agency “moved as quickly as we could” and added there were settlement negotiations that did not result in a deal.

“We opened an investigation, we conducted an investigation that specifically focused on whether there were violations of the security fraud. That takes time,” Hayes said.

Breyer directed the SEC to explain by July precisely when the agency learned of the factual allegations and to file a declaration detailing its “reasoning for waiting until March of this year to file this complaint.”

Regulators and investors argue VW should have informed them sooner about the scope of the scandal, while VW says it was not clear it would face billions of dollars in fines and penalties as others had paid out much lower sums.

VW issued more than $13 billion in bonds and asset-backed securities in U.S. markets at a time when senior executives knew that more than 500,000 U.S. diesel vehicles grossly exceeded legal vehicle emissions limits, the SEC complaint says.

Volkswagen reaped hundreds of millions of dollars “by issuing the securities at more attractive rates for the company,” the SEC said.

The SEC suit also named former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, seeking to bar him from serving as an officer or director of a public U.S. company.

VW has said the SEC complaint “is legally and factually flawed, and Volkswagen will contest it vigorously.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

The most pressing issue facing the country is illegal immigration. Meanwhile Democrats distract the American people with Trump impeachment talk. Mindy Robinson and Greg Why join Owen Shroyer on the Thursday edition of War Room, LIVE weekdays from 3-6PM CT.

Source

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un supervises a military drill in North Korea
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un supervises a military drill in North Korea, in this May 10, 2019 photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

May 10, 2019

By Joyce Lee and Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – The leader of North Korea ordered its military to boost its strike capability as he directed another missile firing, state media said on Friday, as tensions grew over tests that appeared to show preparations for a new advanced missile system.

News of the call for “full combat posture” by Kim Jong Un follows a U.S. announcement that it had seized a large North Korean cargo ship for carrying an illegal shipment of coal.

The increased tensions come amid a gridlock in dialogue after the second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump collapsed over U.S. demands for Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament and Kim’s demands for relief from sanctions.

“(Kim) stressed the need to further increase the capability of the defense units in the forefront area and on the western front to carry out combat tasks and keep full combat posture to cope with any emergency,” KCNA news agency reported.

He noted “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty,” KCNA said, adding he “set forth important tasks for further increasing the strike ability.”

The test of two short-range missiles on Thursday and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by the North since November 2017 when the North shot an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Later, Kim declared the building of its nuclear force was complete and went on to hold three summit meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and two with Trump.

Both Trump and Moon said the latest missile tests were not helpful but suggested they would not scupper dialogue.

“I know they want to negotiate, they’re talking about negotiating. But I don’t think they’re ready to negotiate,” Trump told reporters.

“They were smaller missiles, they were short-range missiles,” he said. “Nobody’s happy about it but we’re taking a good look and we’ll see.”

South Korea’s Moon said late on Thursday the tests were likely a reaction to the failed second summit with Trump in Hanoi in February also he thought North Korea remained hopeful of continuing negotiations.

ILLICIT SHIPMENT

The latest tests were swiftly followed by U.S. test-launches of the intercontinental ballistic missile Minuteman III over the Pacific and the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off Florida.

They also coincided with a visit to the South by U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who met his South Korean counterpart and was scheduled to hold talks with presidential Blue House and Unification Ministry officials.

During his meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Friday, Biegun said “the door is still open for North Korea to return to the negotiating table,” and that it is very important for South Korea and the United States to continue communication and cooperation, the ministry said in a statement.

The two missiles on Thursday were fired from Kusong, an area northwestern of Pyongyang and flew 420 km (260 miles) and 270 km (168 miles) and reached an altitude of about 50 km (30 miles) before hitting the sea, South Korea’s military said.

North Korea’s state media did not provide details of the missiles.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries are analyzing the tests, which will include whether they were the Iskander short-range ballistic missile system developed by Russia, Ahn Gyu-baek, the defense committee chairman in South Korea’s parliament told reporters.

Analysts said the multiple tests signaled that North Korea is serious about deploying an operational fleet of the missiles, which could be used in the opening hours of any war with the United States and South Korea.

Washington has given no sign it will budge on the North’s demand to lift some sanctions as it announced on Thursday the seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel that it said was involved in the illicit shipping of coal.

The Justice Department said the 17,061-tonne Wise Honest is one of the North’s largest cargo ships and it was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018 but is now in the possession of the United States. The announcement has no connection with the North’s missile activities, a U.S. official said.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee, Josh Smith in Seoul, David Brunnstrom in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Rudy Giuliani will urge Ukraine’s president-elect to pursue investigations into the origin of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential conflicts of interest between Joe Biden’s family and the Ukrainian government, The New York Times reports.

Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, claims government officials in Ukraine worked with Democrats to spread misinformation about Trump. While searching for proof, Giuliani says he has also discovered a damaging story about Biden – that, as vice president, he abused his power to engineer the ouster of Viktor Shokin, Lutsenko’s predecessor, to kill an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that was paying Biden’s son Hunter Biden up to $50,000 a month to sit on the board. 

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, said in an interview Thursday with the news outlet.

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he added, referring to the Times’ assessment a lawyer for the president of the United States was “pressing a foreign government to pursue investigations that Mr. Trump’s allies hope could help him in his re-election campaign.”

“Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

Source: NewsMax Politics


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