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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

April 25, 2019

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Thursday trounced first-quarter profit estimates on soaring demand for its cloud and advertising services, but forecast second-quarter revenue largely below expectations.

Net sales rose 17 percent to $59.70 billion, beating the analysts’ average estimate of $59.65 billion.

The company forecast net sales of between $59.5 billion and $63.5 billion for the second quarter, the midpoint of which was below analysts’ average estimate of $62.37 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Amazon’s net income rose to $3.56 billion, or $7.09 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $1.63 billion, or $3.27 per share, sending its shares up 1.2 percent after the bell.

Net sales in North America, its biggest market, jumped 17 percent to $35.81 billion in the quarter.

Amazon Web Services revenue surged 41.4 percent to $7.70 billion, but missed the estimate of $7.72 billion.

Amazon’s operating expenses rose 12.6 percent in the quarter to $55.28 billion as it invested in electric-car maker Rivian and self-driving car startup Aurora and continued spending on its Prime program, grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores and original video content.

Amazon has also been gaining immensely from its highly profitable ad sales business. The company said revenue from the category and some other items grew 33.7 percent to $2.72 billion, but missed estimates of $2.85 billion.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

Democratic presidential candidate, Julián Castro, said all those running for president should be required to release their tax returns.

Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary made his comments on Thursday during a CNN town hall. A video excerpt was posted on the CNN Twitter account.

“I support making it a requirement by statute — Congress passing a law that requires people who are running for president to submit 10 years of their tax returns,” he said.

Castro, who said he would release 10 years of his tax returns in the next few weeks, blasted President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his own.

“It is astonishing that this president still has not released his taxes…” Castro said. “It’s clear that he has something to hide, I don’t.”

“If you have nothing to hide than there could be no problem”

His comments come as Democrats continued to pressure Trump to provide his tax returns.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech to move on from the Russia controversy after Robert Mueller’s report as “despicable.”

McConnell gave a scorching floor speech on Tuesday, accusing Democrats of rooting for a “national crisis” for political gain and appealed to lawmakers to move on from the Russia controversy now that the Mueller report showed no collusion, declaring the issue “Case closed.”

MCCONNELL RAILS AGAINST MUELLER REPORT POLITICS IN BLISTERING FLOOR SPEECH: ‘CASE CLOSED’

“This investigation went on for two years. It is finally over. Many Americans were waiting to see how elected officials would respond,” McConnell said.

“With an exhaustive investigation complete, would the country finally unify and confront the real challenges before us? Would we finally be able to move on from partisan paralysis and breathless conspiracy theorizing? Or would we remain consumed by unhinged partisanship and keep guiding ourselves to the point that Putin and his agents need only sit on the sidelines and watch us as their job is actually done for them? Regrettably the answer is pretty obvious.”

Despite the pleas for bipartisanship, the speech was met with fury among Democrats, with Schumer assailing McConnell in an interview on MSNBC, saying “what Leader McConnell did today on the floor was nothing short of despicable.”

“To say that it’s over, case closed, when we haven’t even begun to investigate the report and Mueller hasn’t testified – and it’s who Mueller knows what the report says, not Barr’s spin on that report – to not see the underlying documentation and how deeply Russia affected things and what they might do in 2020. For McConnell to do this, for Trump to do this is despicable,” he said.

REACTING TO MCCONNELL, BAIER SAYS HOUSE DEMS ‘DON’T BELIEVE THE CASE IS CLOSED’

“For McConnell to run away from this – he’s done a lot of very, very bad things, but this is one of the most despicable,” he continued.

“For McConnell to run away from this – he’s done a lot of very, very bad things, but this is one of the most despicable.”

— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

“We have bipartisan bills ready to go forward… that would stop the Russians from interfering in large part in our elections,” Schumer added. “He won’t even let there be a debate on them. That’s a disgrace.”

In the same speech on Tuesday, McConnell slammed his Democratic colleagues for extending the political battle over the Russia case and suggested that they actually wanted Mueller to find illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

“They seemed to be hoping for a national crisis for the sake of their own politics,” he said.

He also went on to accuse the Obama administration let Russia “get away with almost anything” and said that Democrats are “angrier at [Attorney General] Bill Barr for doing his job than they are at Vladimir Putin.”

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: A security officer stands guard outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo
FILE PHOTO: A security officer stands guard outside St. Anthony’s Shrine, days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

May 3, 2019

By Tom Lasseter

COLOMBO (Reuters) – The island nations of New Zealand and Sri Lanka are separated by some 6,600 miles (10,600 km) of ocean. But in just over a month’s time, each has seen mass killings that generated similar headlines.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, a man with his finger on the trigger of an AR-15 assault rifle stormed into mosques during Friday prayers on March 15. By the end of it, 51 people who had come to worship in two houses of God were dead.

In Colombo and other Sri Lankan cities, a group of nine suicide bombers struck in coordinated explosions on April 21. They strolled into St. Anthony’s Shrine in the capital, St. Sebastian’s Church in nearby Negombo and a church to the east of the country as the faithful sat in pews on Easter Sunday.

They also entered crowded restaurants in the Shangri-La and other hotels, as families tucked into breakfast buffets. The explosions that followed killed at least 253 people in total.

I flew into both cities in the aftermath of the massacres.

There was an obvious temptation to dwell on the symmetry of the tragedies.

The gunman in Christchurch had names written down the side of his rifle evoking past crusades by Christians against Muslims. Videos surfaced of the alleged ringleader of the Sri Lankan bombings, a radical Muslim preacher, calling for death to non-believers.

As I crisscrossed Sri Lanka in the back of a sport utility vehicle last week, though, I wondered about investing too much in the similarities, of seeing them as a part of an inevitable string of modern terror.

Instead, I thought about the different paths taken by two Muslim men we profiled – one a victim, one a suspected killer.

In Christchurch, I wrote about Ibrahim Abdelhalim. He moved to New Zealand in 1995. He’d enjoyed a relatively comfortable life in Cairo, but wanted a better future for his children.

Once there, the only job he could find was as a clerk at Work and Income, the government agency for employment services and financial assistance. No matter.

He also served as an imam, or spiritual leader, at a mosque.

When the gunman began shooting into the mosque where Abdelhalim was praying, the 67-year-old grandfather watched, helpless, as bullets pinned down his son on the floor before him. Abdelhalim’s wife was shot in the arm. It seemed possible he was about to witness the slaughter of his loved ones.

But after the violence, which his family survived, Abdelhalim threw himself into counseling the relatives of the dead. His heart was broken, but Abdelhalim decided to serve, and to rebuild.

About a month later, I traveled with a colleague from the Singapore bureau, Shri Navaratnam, to the Sri Lankan town of Kattankudy. There we dug into the background of Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Zahran, the alleged leader of the Easter Sunday bombings.

He was expelled from his Islamic studies school for being too radical. Throughout his life, he was shunned by many of the Muslims around him.

Zahran went into hiding in 2017 after a fight in which his men confronted Sufi Muslims with swords. He disappeared again the next year after popping up in another town, where Buddha statues were vandalized.

The variation in that pair of narratives is, to me, worth remembering. During my years of covering war and its aftermath in Iraq and then Afghanistan, I saw communities warped by the shock of repeated violence and the sometimes brutal forces of identity and clan-based power. But even on the bloodiest of days, there were hints of solace.

After our story about Zahran was published last Friday, there was another development.

His father and two brothers were killed during a gun battle when security forces stormed their safe house. They had recorded a video calling for jihad, or holy war.

I suppose you could dwell on that – the fact that others close to him had gone down the same road.

But this is what caught my eye: the cops raided the house based on a tip that armed strangers had moved into the community. Passing that information along could have put the sources at risk. Who had spoken up? Muslims at a local mosque.

(Additional reporting by Shri Navaratnam and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN

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On the roster: Conversations with Kamala – Buttigieg to join Mr. Sunday for Fox News town hall – Confusion clouds Biden’s 2020 campaign launch – Hogan begins 16 state visit in N.H. Tuesday – Almost paradise

CONVERSATIONS WITH KAMALA
We need to have a conversation about Kamala Harris.

Since her auspicious launch in late January, she has had a series of disappointments, most of which center on her inability to answer straightforward questions. 

In her segment of CNN’s town-hall-a-palooza Monday night, Harris was asked about the position of Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders that the terrorists who killed three and injured more than 250 at the 2013 Boston Marathon should be allowed to vote from prison.

Now, this isn’t a tough one for Sanders. His home state of Vermont allows incarcerated felons to vote, even those convicted of the most serious crimes. Plus, his supporters will love him unconditionally. Sanders runs second in the new Monmouth University national poll out today with 20 percent compared to probably-maybe-definitely-Wednesday-wait-Thursday-somewhere-likely candidate Joe Biden who has the backing of 27 percent of respondents.

Sanders has so far demonstrated no ability to grow his share of the Democratic vote, but neither has he lost any ground. The similarities between Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s own 2016 efforts are many, but the most significant consequence is that like Trump, Sanders has very stable support. It’s hard to see him ever getting a majority of the Democratic vote, but it’s also hard to see him dropping much below his current numbers. 

While Sanders’ views may not be that consequential for him, they will be for the other contenders. Harris walked right off a cliff Monday night following the pied piper of Vermont. 

“I think we should have that conversation,” Harris said when pressed on her vague answer about the general need for restorative justice. Even these monsters who murdered innocents? What does that conversation really look like? 

To give Harris the benefit of the doubt we’re willing to allow that she genuinely is unsure about the matter, strange as that may sound. But coming as it did in the same event when she also threw herself behind Elizabeth Warren’s call for the immediate impeachment of the president we start to get the strong impression that Harris is too eager to tell people what they want to hear. 

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg showed her up later on when the same question was put to him. “No,” he said. “I do believe that when you are, when you have served your sentence, then part of being restored to society is that you are part of the political life of this nation again and one of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote.”

Boom.

There’s a reason Harris finds herself tied with Buttigieg in third place in today’s Monmouth poll. Buttigieg is exceeding expectations. She is missing them. 

That’s not to say that there won’t be another moment for Harris, but when that comes she had better have a more complete understanding of the difference between leadership and popularity.

THE RULEBOOK: PENNY PINCHERS
“The money saved from one object may be usefully applied to another, and there will be so much the less to be drawn from the pockets of the people.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 13

TIME OUT: THE GLORY DAYS
Atlantic:Bap. That’s how Damon Runyon, reporting on Game 1 of the 1923 World Series, Giants versus Yankees, for the New York American, records the sound of Casey Stengel connecting with a pitch from ‘Bullet JoeBush. Bat meets ball, the essential atomic encounter—and Runyon puts the sound of it, the briefest, most prodigious syllable, right in the center of his column. Everything leads to it, everything spins out of it. Bap! Writers, those nonjocks, know this moment too. … The surprise and delight of The Great American Sports Page, John Schulian’s selections from a century’s worth of newspaper columns about baseball, boxing, football, gymnastics, and (in one case) swimming the English Channel, is how often it happens—how often the writers connect, how often the prose approaches the condition of flat-out poetry. … That stuff is largely gone now. …Sports commentary in 2019 is forensic, polyphonic, multiplatformed.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.8 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove.]

BUTTIGIEG TO JOIN MR. SUNDAY FOR FOX NEWS TOWN HALL
Politico: “Fox News will host a town hall with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the network announced Tuesday, making him the third Democrat to sit down with the network at length. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace will moderate the town hall, which is set for May 19 and will be held in Claremont, N.H. Fox was slow to jump into the 2020 town hall game, hosting its first 2020 town hall earlier this month after ceding much of that territory to its cable rivals CNN and MSNBC, but has rolled out events with three Democratic candidates in the last three weeks. … Buttigieg’s town hall with Wallace will be Wallace’s first of the 2020 cycle. Wallace in 2016 became the first network personality to moderate a general election presidential debate, overseeing the final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”

CONFUSION CLOUDS BIDEN’S 2020 CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
Fox News: “When, where and how Joe Biden announces his long-awaited 2020 presidential bid appears to be up in the air – still. While initial indications pointed to a Wednesday launch, the timing remains in flux, as does the location. At this stage, the only key element that seems to have crystallized is the theme for the campaign rollout. ‘The theme for the announcement is going to be ‘the battle for the soul of America,’’ said a source close to Biden’s inner circle… [Biden] is expected to open … with a message that describes the current climate in the nation and takes on Republican President Trump. … But other details surrounding the launch remain fluid, including where the former vice president goes in the hours and initial days after the declaration of candidacy. A source told Fox News … on Monday evening that plans were in flux and that Thursday appeared to be more likely for Biden’s announcement.”

Will fundraising be his biggest challenge – NYT: “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is going to have to raise money like he’s never raised money before. …[O]ne of the anxiety-inducing questions hanging over his team of advisers is just how much of former President Barack Obama’s record-setting financial operation Mr. Biden will inherit now that he is setting off on his own for the first time in a decade. It is an urgent task, especially for a politician not previously known as a prolific fund-raiser. His leading rival in the polls, Senator Bernie Sanders, has amassed $26.6 million across his various political committees, including more than $10 million left over from his 2016 presidential run and 2018 re-election in Vermont. Mr. Biden begins at $0, and it would take his raising more than $100,000 every day until Christmas just to match what Mr. Sanders had banked at the start of April.”

Or will it be himself? – Politico: “…Biden is carrying with him nearly a half a century in the major leagues of American politics. When Pete Buttigieg was born, Biden was had been a U.S. senator for almost nine years. He has cast votes on conflicts in Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the confirmation of 12 Supreme Court justices and the impeachment of a president. He’s served in office when opinions on crime, abortion, race and sexuality have changed root and branch. Perhaps Biden’s biggest challenge—apart from his age itself—will be to persuade Democratic voters not to view his past through the prism of the present. It would likelier be a lot easier for Biden if he were a Republican. One of the signal features of the 2016 campaign was the capacity of GOP voters to sweep aside Donald Trump’s past, both his words and his deeds.”

HOGAN BEGINS 16 STATE VISIT IN N.H. TUESDAY
 WaPo: “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he is seriously considering a primary challenge to President Trump, adding that the only reason Trump is not facing obstruction charges is that aides thwarted the president. Hogan criticized fellow Republicans in Congress and state houses across the country for not speaking out in the wake of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, which he called ‘very disturbing’ and ‘unsavory.’ ‘It’s because they’re afraid,’ Hogan told reporters. ‘There’s no profiles in courage here. They’re afraid of being primaried. They’re afraid of being tweeted about.’ … The governor said he’s been approached ‘by a lot of people and a growing number of people’ since his January inauguration about getting into the race, and he plans to visit 16 states in the next few months as he continues to ponder a run. … Tuesday’s comments, made at a must-stop event for presidential candidates, mark the governor’s most decisive remarks about whether he would challenge Trump.”

HOUSE DEMS: NO IMMEDIATE PLANS FOR IMPEACHMENT
WaPo: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers Monday that there are no plans to immediately open impeachment proceedings against President Trump, rejecting calls from several Democrats to initiate steps to try to oust the president. In a rare Monday night conference call, the California Democrat stressed that the near-term strategy in the wake of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is to focus on investigating the president and seeing where the inquiries lead. Members of Pelosi’s leadership team reaffirmed her cautious approach, according to four officials on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. ‘We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy,’ Pelosi said. But Pelosi’s message did not go over well with several Democrats, who argued that Congress has a duty to hold Trump to account with impeachment despite the political blowback Pelosi has long feared.”

Harris joins Warren’s call for impeachment – Fox News: “Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, is the latest presidential candidate to join the call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment following the release of the Mueller Report. During a televised town hall on Monday night, Harvard University student Karla Alvarado asked Harris if congressional Democrats should ‘reconsider’ their position on impeachment, something top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, has repeatedly dismissed. Harris began by declaring that it’s ‘very clear’ that there is ‘a lot of good evidence’ in the Mueller Report that points to obstruction of justice. And although she still intends on beating Trump in the 2020 election, she expressed that Congress should proceed with impeachment.”

SUPCO HEARS CENSUS CITIZENSHIP QUESTION TUESDAY
NPR: “The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a legal battle with lasting implications that could dramatically affect political representation and federal funding over the next decade. The justices are weighing whether to allow the Trump administration to add a question about U.S. citizenship status to forms for the upcoming 2020 census. In multiple lawsuits brought by dozens of states, cities and other groups, three federal judges at U.S. district courts have issued rulings blocking the administration’s plans for the question. It asks, ‘Is this person a citizen of the United States?’ All three judges — in New York, California and Maryland — ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross‘ decision to include the question violated procedures for adding new census questions under administrative law.”

Judge Napolitano on census – Fox News: “Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Tuesday that as it stands, the only information that must be disclosed for the census is the total number of people who live in a residence. Napolitano appeared on ‘Fox & Friends’ on the same day the Supreme Court was to hear arguments over whether the 2020 census can include a question about citizenship, ensuring a quick review of a lower court ruling that blocked the Trump administration from doing that. ‘The government is looking to acquire information about where people live and where people who are not authorized to be here live because that has a profound effect on federal aid to cities and has a profound effect on members of Congress,’ said Napolitano.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
McConnell vows to be ‘grim reaper’ of socialist Dem proposals Fox News

Pergram: Why House Dem leaders can’t wreck the freshmen’s ‘homecoming float’ Fox News

Trump to meet with Queen Elizabeth II during June state visitUSA Today

John Cornyn to face Air Force vet MJ Hegar in 2020 Texas Senate raceFox News

AUDIBLE: ‘PLEASE CLAP’ 2020 EDITION
“It’s when you guys are supposed to cheer, okay?” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., during a CNN town hall on Monday night.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I agree with your points as to why people are not responding to surveys but you miss the main point: Robo-calls.  I don’t answer a call unless I know who is calling and therefore miss any survey that calls. If those in charge would stop all the needless interruption of Robo-calls they would get more response to their surveys. Those that do so by mail would get more response if they were not asking for money at the end of each survey.” – Tom Hamilton, New Albany, Miss.

[Ed. note: You just unintentionally explained a substantial part of our polling requirements, Mr. Hamilton! Robo-calls to cell phones are forbidden by the FCC and federal law. The ones you are getting now are operating outside of the law and using sophisticated techniques to evade detection – like cloning a number in your area code to increase the chances that you will pick up. That’s why we don’t use pollsters who use robo-calls, like Rasmussen. They can’t call cell phones and have to rely on landlines plus their own system of online surveys to try to compensate for the missing cell phone users. Only live callers can do the job right, and the live callers have to be competent and well-trained for the work. That’s why we tend to avoid partisan polls since the interviewers may have motives beyond just getting honest opinions. The scourge of unwanted robo-calls will be with us as long as we have telephones, but there are new efforts underway for a more intense crackdown on those who are still breaking the rules. We will keep you posted.]     

“I just read your response about Congress spending more time in DC and had to laugh. We have a saying in Texas where our legislature is in session for 140 days every two years: It would be better if they were in session for 2 days every 140 years.” – Pat Conroy, West Lake Hills, Texas

[Ed. note: Zing!]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

ALMOST PARADISE
AP: “A man who says he fled an Austrian prison over a decade ago has turned himself in to police in Salzburg, telling them he was fed up with living in Spain’s Canary Islands. Police said the 64-year-old, carrying two suitcases, went to police at Salzburg’s railway station Saturday night and told them he was a fugitive prisoner who had just arrived from Munich Airport. They said in a statement Monday that he told officers he had spent the past 10 ½ years on Tenerife, a popular vacation island, and wanted to return home because ‘Tenerife is not as nice as it used to be and he had lived there long enough.’ Police verified that he had fled a prison in eastern Austria. He was taken to a Salzburg jail.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“There is excellence, and there is greatness — cosmic, transcendent, Einsteinian. We know it when we see it, we think. But how to measure it?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for Time magazine on July 1, 2002.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics


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Golf: Bethpage Black turns into beast in windy final round at PGA

PGA: PGA Championship - Third Round
May 18, 2019; Bethpage, NY, USA; Brooks Koepka during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Bethpage State Park - Black Course. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

May 19, 2019

By Andrew Both

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) – Bethpage Black turned into a beast on Sunday as a strong and gusty southerly wind whipped across the Long Island course, presenting Brooks Koepka with perhaps the biggest obstacle he needs to overcome in pursuit of victory at the PGA Championship.

After three days of relative calm, players’ skills and patience were being tested to the limit on a course that everyone except Koepka struggled to tame in relatively benign conditions over the first 54 holes.

With everyone in the final round having to deal with the difficult conditions, the strong winds raised the likelihood of some big changes on the leaderboard.

Koepka prepared to tee off at 12 under par, a record seven shots clear of fellow Americans Dustin Johnson, Luke List and Harold Varner III and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond.

A victory would be Koepka’s fourth major in less than two years, following the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens and the 2018 PGA Championship.

There were some good early scores on Sunday morning before the wind whipped up, with American Beau Hossler shooting a six-birdie, four-bogey two-under-par 68.

But the course average was already three shots over the par of 70, and rising with each passing minute.

Phil Mickelson was among the casualties on Sunday, battling his way to a six-over-par 76.

“It’s certainly challenging but there’s nothing over the top because the greens are somewhat receptive,” he said, referring to the soft putting surfaces.

“I thought it was a great set-up to identify who’s playing the best.”

Mickelson finished at 12-over 292, but the American was a clear number one with the rowdy fans.

As boisterous as the spectators have been this week, one can only imagine what it will be like when Bethpage hosts the 2024 Ryder Cup, when Mickelson could be captain on the home team.

(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

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Exclusive: Google suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist – source

FILE PHOTO: Visitors walk past Huawei's booth during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
FILE PHOTO: Visitors walk past Huawei's booth during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

May 19, 2019

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware and software products except those covered by open source licenses, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system, and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app.

Details of the specific services were still being discussed internally at Google, according to the source. Huawei attorneys are also studying the impact of the U.S. Commerce Department’s actions, a Huawei spokesman said on Friday. Huawei was not immediately reachable for further comment.

Representatives of the U.S. Commerce Department did not immediately have comment.

Huawei will continue to have access to the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license that is freely open to anyone who wishes to use it.

But Google will stop providing any technical support and collaboration for Android and Google services to Huawei going forward, the source said.

On Thursday the Trump administration officially added Huawei to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the technology giant to do business with U.S. companies. [nL2N22S1RG]

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan in London, and David Shepardson and Karen Freifeld in Washington; Editing by Kenneth Li and Daniel Wallis)

Source: OANN

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WSJ: China’s Swine Fever to Lead to Meat Price Hike

The U.S.-China trade war is not the only weight bearing on farm trade as China has suffered from a swine fever epidemic, forcing it to import more swine and causing worldwide meat prices to rise, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"It will affect all the proteins," according to Tyson Foods Inc. Chief Executive Noel White at a May 15 conference in New York, per the report. "We're already seeing that effect — prices are moving higher."

U.S. farmers and processors produced a record 26.3 billion pounds of meat last year, but an estimated 33% more meat imported by China this year vs. last will stress the market and prices, according to the report.

China stands to lose 200 million hogs to African swine fever, which is harmless to humans but deadly for pigs, which far exceeds the 125 million pigs slaughtered in the U.S. in 2018, according to the Journal.

U.S. fast food restaurants like Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts expect to be impacted, per the report.

Source: NewsMax America

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Soldiers oversee fuel rationing in some Venezuelan towns amid shortages

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past fuel containers while vehicle queue to refuel with gasoline in Puerto Cabello
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past fuel containers while vehicle queue to refuel with gasoline in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo

May 19, 2019

By Mariela Nava and Mircely Guanipa

MARACAIBO/PUNTO FIJO (Reuters) – Soldiers oversaw rationing of gasoline at service stations in several parts of Venezuela on Sunday as worsening fuel shortages forced angry drivers to wait for hours to fill their tanks, prompting protests in some areas.

Venezuela, whose economy is reeling from a painful five-year recession amid a prolonged political crisis, saw long lines of vehicles appear at services stations in several regions this week after a shutdown at the OPEC nation’s second-largest refinery.

Shortages have been exacerbated by tough U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) in January, which have slashed crude oil exports and imports of refined fuels.

Washington recognized opposition head Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader after he invoked the constitution in January to declare an interim presidency, saying President Nicolas Maduro rigged last year’s election.

Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet and says Washington wants to control Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest in the world. Dozens of people have been killed in political protests this year.

In the western city of San Cristóbal, close to the Colombian border, National Guard soldiers in anti-riot gear limited gasoline sales to 40 liters (10.6 gallons) per vehicle, witnesses said – roughly equivalent to a full tank on a compact vehicle.

Angry residents blocked streets with metal barriers, rubbish and branches in some parts of the city. At some gasoline stations, people said they had been waiting days for fuel.

“How can a country function like this?” asked Antonio Tamariz, 58, who said he had waited for days for fuel to drive his truck back to his farm. “No one has explained why there are so many lines for gasoline. I think the government is losing control of this.”

Venezuela’s Information Ministry – which handles media enquiries for the government – did not respond to requests for comment.

Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said on Sunday his country’s oil industry was under siege from the U.S. government, causing supply problems.

In the southeastern industrial hub of Puerto Ordaz and the northwestern city of Punto Fijo, close to Venezuela’s largest refining complex, soldiers were ordered to deliver 40 and 30 liters respectively, according to a dozen witnesses.

In the western oil hub of Maracaibo, where power cuts and fuel shortages have been severe in recent months, National Guard soldiers allowed drivers only 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of fuel, witnesses said.

“They have taken control of the pumps,” said Rocio Huerta, a manager of a service station in Maracaibo. “Every five hours there are inspections by the Military Intelligence Division to measure how much gasoline is left.”

Victor Chourio, a 58-year-old taxi driver, said he had arrived at the gasoline station early on Saturday and waited for 12 hours without getting fuel.

“At two o’clock in the afternoon a soldier guard said that only 20 liters per vehicle … but at seven o’clock the gasoline ran out,” Chourio told Reuters.

Venezuela’s 310,000 bpd Cardon oil refinery – which had been operating well below capacity – halted operations on Wednesday because of damage at some of its units, two workers at the PDVSA-operated complex said. That left only two refineries in operation in Venezuela.

Internal PDVSA documents and Refinitiv Eikon data indicate that Venezuela had not imported a gasoline cargo since March 31.

The fuel shortages come on top of rolling powercuts in many parts of Venezuela as the government attempts to rotate electricity supplies to avoid a repeat of March’s week-long national blackout.

In Caracas, home to roughly a fifth of Venezuela’s more than 30 million people, there were few signs of widespread gasoline shortages as Maduro has prioritized services to the capital.

PDVSA said on its Twitter account on Friday that the government and the company would “ensure the supply and distribution of fuel throughout the national territory.”

PDVSA did not respond to a request for more information.

In some cities, security forces set up special gasoline pumps to deliver fuel for ambulances, medical personnel and official vehicles, a measure that aroused criticism among people who remained in rows often stretching for several kilometers.

Some drivers complained that rationing of fuel meant they would be forced to wait in line for hours once again within just a few days.

“This is not enough at all, between going to work and taking my children to school. It will run out in two days,” said Eduardo Pereira, a 47-year-old teacher in Puerto Ordaz, who was only allowed to buy 40 liters of fuel.

(Reporting by Mariela Navas in Maracaibo and Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo; Additional reporting by María Ramírez in Puerto Ordaz, Anggy Polanco in San Cristóbal, Keren Torres in Barquisimeto and Tibisay Romero in Valencia; Writing by Daniel Flynn and Corina Pons; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

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Call for Trump impeachment draw equal parts praise and disdain

Talk of impeaching President Trump has not waned since the release of the Mueller report last month, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle weighing in on the issue.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., became the first Republican to publicly accuse Trump of engaging in “impeachable conduct” stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's lengthy investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election – earning the little-known congressman praise from Democrats, derision from Republican leadership in the House, and a mixed response from other lawmakers.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., praised Amash during an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday and said that the Michigan congressman “showed more courage than any other Republican in the House or the Senate.”

WILLIAM BARR DEFENDS PRESIDENT TRUMP'S COMMENTS ON MUELLER INVESTIGATION

Schiff, a fierce critic of Trump and his administration’s policies, said that there are many other members of Congress who feel the “administration is acting in a lawless fashion.”

“If we conclude that there is no other way to do our jobs,” Schiff said on the idea of impeachment. “Then we may get there.”

Schiff’s comments run contrary to that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has mostly voiced her opposition to the idea of introducing articles of impeachment against Trump. The House Speaker, however, did say last week that Democrats could use these powers in creative ways to get what they want.

Pelosi said that even if they don't actually impeach Trump, House committees could use impeachment as an excuse to subpoena documents that they otherwise might not be able to get. The Trump administration has argued that congressional demands for documents have not had a required legislative purpose, and Pelosi believes this would work around that requirement.

"One of the purposes that the Constitution spells out for investigation is impeachment," Pelosi said during her weekly news conference. "And so you can say, and the courts would respect if you said, we need this information to carry out our oversight responsibilities, and among them is impeachment. It doesn't mean you're going on an impeachment path, but it means if you had that information, you might."

ROMNEY: MUELLER REPORT DID NOT SHOW OBSTRUCTION, 'I DON'T THINK IMPEACHMENT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO GO'

One member of Congress who was not a fan of Amash’s comments on impeachment was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who claimed that his colleague was just seeking attention when he made his comment.

"This is exactly what he wants, he wants to have attention," McCarthy said on "Sunday Morning Futures." "You've got to understand Justin Amash. He's been in Congress quite some time. I think he's asked one question in all the committees that he's been in. He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me. It's a question whether he's even in our Republican conference as a whole."

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, offered a more nuanced appraisal of Amash’s comment, saying on Sunday that he thinks the congressman was “courageous” for speaking against party line, but adding that he doesn’t agree with Amash’s argument.

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"I respect him. I think it’s a courageous statement," the Utah Republican continued. "But I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice, you just don’t have the elements that are evidenced in this document."

Amash tweeted: “Contrary to [Attorney General William] Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash tweeted, referencing Attorney General William Barr.

Amash stated earlier this year that he was considering running against Trump in 2020 as a third-party candidate.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Trump blasts Republican lawmaker Amash over impeachment remarks

Justin Amash speaks at the LPAC conference in Chantilly, Virginia
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) speaks at the Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

May 19, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump lashed out on Sunday at the first Republican congressman to call the U.S. president’s behavior impeachable, while Democrats warned Trump’s stonewalling of congressional probes is strengthening the case for an impeachment inquiry.

Trump called Republican Representative Justin Amash “a total lightweight” and “a loser” on Twitter, a day after the Michigan conservative said the Mueller report showed that the Republican president “engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.”

Amash’s criticism made calls in the U.S. Congress for Trump’s impeachment bipartisan, though just barely, with most Republicans still standing by the president at a time of economic growth, turbulent markets and global trade tensions.

Saying most lawmakers have not read it, Amash cited Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian meddling in Trump’s favor in the 2016 U.S. election. On Twitter on Saturday, Amash said the report showed Trump had obstructed justice and added, “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.”

A frequent Trump critic, Amash is a part of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative faction. He has also signaled he would consider running as a libertarian against Trump in 2020.

Counter-punching in his usual style, Trump tweeted: “Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy … Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”

Trump will have a chance to make his case to supporters on Monday at a rally planned for Montoursville, Pa.

Amash’s comments echoed the conclusions of many Democrats. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Trump was moving closer to impeachment with his stonewalling of numerous congressional investigations of him and his presidency.

Still, Democrats are divided about impeachment. With 2020 election campaigns heating up, Pelosi said impeachment proceedings would be “divisive” for the country.

IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

No U.S. president has ever been removed from office as a direct result of the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment process. The House of Representatives has impeached two presidents. Both were acquitted by the Senate.

The Mueller report, now at the center of an escalating oversight battle between Trump and House Democrats, detailed extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but did not find that there was a conspiracy with Moscow. The report also described actions Trump took to try to impede Mueller’s investigation, but made no formal finding on the question of obstruction, leaving the matter to Congress.

Amash also said on Twitter that Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, “deliberately misrepresented” Mueller’s report when he oversaw the roll-out of a redacted version.

There were no signs on Sunday of other Republicans following Amash’s lead. Another Trump critic, Republican Senator Mitt Romney, said on Sunday that Amash made “a courageous statement,” yet also told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that he did not believe Mueller’s findings supported impeachment.

But Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, called Amash’s statement “a watershed moment.”

“Justin Amash coming on board means there is now bipartisan support for really understanding the seriousness of what is in the Mueller report,” she said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, one of six committee chairs leading probes of Trump, said the case for impeachment is being strengthened by White House stonewalling.

“If the only way that we can do our oversight is through an impeachment proceeding, then maybe we have to go down that road,” Schiff told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program.

“But I think it’ll be important to show the American people, this was a decision made reluctantly, this was a decision forced upon us, rather than something we were eager to embrace” Schiff said.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

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Gillibrand Says She’d Eliminate Immigrant Detention System

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said Sunday she’d eliminate the detention system for immigrants awaiting asylum claims in court, saying if released with a court date and a lawyer, they’d show up.

In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gillibrand, who’s among a large field of Democratic candidates for president, said the detained immigrants “don’t need to be incarcerated.”

"As president of the United States, I wouldn't use the dentition system at all,” she said adding: They can — if they're given a lawyer and given a process, they will follow it. They can go into the community in the way we used to handle these cases under the Department of Justice." 

She also blasted President Donald Trump for having ““started a war on American women.”

"This is nothing short of an all-out assault on women's reproductive freedom,” she said of a new wave of anti-abortion bills being passed in the South and Midwest.

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Source: NewsMax Politics


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