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Friends and family carry the coffin with the remains of Peru's former President Alan Garcia, who killed himself this week, during the last of three days of national mourning declared by President Martin Vizcarra, in Lima, Peru April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Janine Costa
April 19, 2019
By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian ex-president Alan Garcia wrote in an alleged suicide note read by family members at a wake on Friday that he had killed himself in order to avoid humiliation at the hands of his political enemies.
Garcia shot himself in the head earlier this week as police arrived at his door to arrest him in connection with alleged bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht, in the most dramatic turn yet in Latin America’s largest graft scandal. Before his suicide, Garcia had repeatedly brushed off allegations of corruption as a political hit.
One of Garcia´s daughters read the apparent suicide note at a wake held by his APRA political party, which twice helped usher Garcia to the presidency.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the letter, nor the time at which it was written.
“I will not be humiliated,” read Luciana Garcia, citing a note left by her father before his suicide. “I have seen others paraded around in handcuffs, living a miserable existence, but Alan Garcia has no need to suffer these injustices.”
“For this reason, I leave to my children the dignity of my decisions; to my friends, my pride, and to my enemies, my cadaver as a sign of my contempt for them.”
The note underscores the deep political rift that continues to plague the Odebrecht investigation in Peru and elsewhere in Latin America.
Peruvian prosecutors investigating the Brazilian builder said they had gathered sufficient evidence to hold Garcia in pre-trial detention while they prepared charges against him. Garcia maintained his innocence until the end, calling the probe politically motivated.
“In this time of rumors and hatred, believed by the majority…I have seen how these procedures are used to humiliate and not to seek the truth,” Garcia wrote in the letter read before thousands of his friends and allies at the wake.
President Martin Vizcarra, whose administration has overseen the probe, had offered Garcia´s family a state funeral with honors, typical of that received by former presidents.
The Garcia family declined Vizcarra´s offer, preferring instead a private event with the ex-president´s friends and allies.
Garcia´s suicide is likely to drive a wedge between Vizcarra´s government and the right-leaning opposition in Peru´s Congress, many of whom were allied with the ex-president.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
"I think they did everything they could without sounding all of the alarm bells," she said of Obama's administration. The subject came up as Fox News host Dana Perino asked Brazile on "The Daily Briefing" about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report — something Brazile said should be a "wake-up call" due to its troubling findings about Russian interference.
If Obama did more on Russian meddling, she said, critics would have accused him of trying to help his former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in her race against then-candidate Donald Trump.
"He was in a box," Brazile said of Obama. "Perhaps President Trump is in a box," she added, before calling for action to prevent future meddling. Her comments came as the Obama administration faced renewed scrutiny over spying on the Trump campaign.
Mueller's investigation did not find sufficient evidence to formally accuse Trump's campaign of collusion, although it contained details about activity related to that issue.
During an earlier interview on "Outnumbered," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., defended the former president, saying that he shouldn't have to apologize, given Mueller's findings. Mueller's report, he said, "laid out a multiplicity of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians."
Fox News Chief National Correspondent Ed Henry, who joined Brazile on "The Daily Briefing" panel Friday, indicated that Democrats should give Trump associates credit for not taking Russian "bait." "Where's the credit for the Trump folks who didn't take the bait? I mean, we've heard for two years that they did," he said.
Brazile countered that the Trump campaign "exploited" information from Wikileaks, an organization with suspected ties to Russia, to create a "false narrative."
"Every day, the Trump campaign would get the Wikileaks information; they would blast it. He used it in his daily rallies and daily meetings," Brazile said.
Brazile, who served as interim Democratic National Committee chair during the election, backed away from making any determination about whether her party should pursue impeaching the president.
That question arose after Mueller's report stopped short of accusing Trump of obstructing justice, but highlighted 10 items that were concerning in relation to that issue.
"I think it's premature to talk about what the next step is," she said. "Before we can move into what I call the impeachment gear, perhaps we should just dive into this report," she added.
While congressional Democrats have already pushed for more information regarding the investigation, the party as a whole seemed hesitant about impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has quashed the idea on multiple occasions but newcomers — like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., — have thrown their weight behind impeaching the president. Like Brazile, DNC Chair Tom Perez appeared to sidestep impeachment questions on Thursday and said it was unclear whether or not obstruction occurred.
Source: Fox News Politics
FILE PHOTO: A 737 Max aircraft is pictured at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo
April 19, 2019
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that a joint governmental review of the now grounded Boeing 737 MAX will begin on April 29 and will include 9 other aviation regulators from around the world.
The FAA said earlier this month it was forming an international team to review the safety of the aircraft, grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes – in Indonesia in October and in Ethiopia last month – that killed nearly 350 people.
Boeing has announced a planned software update on the 737 MAX to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system known as MCAS that is under scrutiny following the two disastrous nose-down crashes. It has not yet submitted the software to the FAA for formal approval.
China, the European Aviation Safety Agency, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates will all take part, the FAA said, in the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) that is set to last 90 days, the FAA said. Most of the countries previously confirmed they would take part.
The JATR is chaired by former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Chris Hart and is comprised of a team of experts from the FAA, NASA and international aviation authorities. The group will conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the aircraft’s automated flight control system.
The team will evaluate aspects of the 737 MAX automated flight control system, including design and pilots’ interaction with the system, “to determine its compliance with all applicable regulations and to identify future enhancements that might be needed,” the FAA said.
Hart told reporters earlier this month the review is in response “to the growing need for globalization … because these airplanes are all over the place” and to the need for a “uniform response.”
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co have canceled flights into August as a result of the grounding.
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said Wednesday the manufacturer is making “steady progress” on the path to certifying a software update to the grounded 737 MAX and has made the final test flight before a certification flight.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Diane Craft)
Eileen O’Brien, 65, and Michael O’Brien, 62, read the redacted report by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, at their home in Clearwater, Florida, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
April 19, 2019
By Letitia Stein and Tim Reid
CLEARWATER, Florida/LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – After months as volunteer activists demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump be impeached, Eileen and Michael O’Brien sat on their couch on Thursday, cracked open a laptop and began to read the 448-page special counsel report that liberals have dreamed would make impeachment a reality.
“Hmm, seems like there’s a lot of gray area here,” said Eileen O’Brien, 65, of Clearwater, Florida, reading aloud a line about the findings falling short of a criminal case. “Legally wrong and morally wrong are two different things.”
The release of the long-anticipated report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 election landed in a stridently divided America: one side convinced Trump acted improperly, the other adamant that the investigation was a politically driven farce.
Mueller built an extensive case that Trump committed obstruction of justice but stopped short of concluding he had committed a crime, though he did not exonerate the president.
For those like the O’Briens who have been pining for impeachment, the report renewed resolve to oust the president. For those who want to see the president reelected, there was a sense of vindication.
“The White House is going to put out their own version of things, which is basically fish wrapper,” said Michael O’Brien, formerly a service technician who now works on houses. His wife, who a day earlier delivered a can of “impeaches” peaches to a lawmaker, looked up with a quizzical expression.
“It’s worthless,” he explained. “You can use it to wrap fish.”
“ONE BATTLE IN A WAR”
Lee Mueller and his wife, Michele Mueller, no relation to Robert Mueller, also paused their Thursday to read through the special counsel’s report. They printed out the table of contents for both volumes along with the executive summaries.
“I view the Mueller report as being one battle in a war against the United States of America’s founding principles and against Donald Trump,” Michele Mueller, 61, said in a suburb of Las Vegas.
After Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of the Mueller report late last month, Americans were dug in on their views.
So far, the full report does not appear to have convinced many to change their opinions about the president’s conduct.
A Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll conducted Thursday afternoon to Friday morning found among those respondents of who said they were familiar with the Mueller report, 70 percent said the report had not changed their view of Trump or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential race.
Only 15 percent said they had learned something that changed their view of Trump or the Russia investigation, and a majority of those respondents said they were now more likely to believe that “Trump or someone close to him broke the law.”
Ahead of Thursday’s release of the Mueller report, Trump ramped up his insistence that he was the victim, not the perpetrator, of crimes.
James Stratton, 65, of Clearwater, Florida, caught snippets of the news about the report from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. He looked up Barr’s news conference, held Thursday morning before the report was released online, on YouTube.
“Nobody on our side is going to change,” the Republican president of the local Tampa Bay Trump Club said in a phone interview, adding that liberals will grow tired of hearing predictions about Trump’s downfall that never materialize. “We stay focused on the issues. How do we stop socialism? How do we protect our borders?”
“IT WILL ONLY AFFIRM”
For the most invested, though, Mueller’s report offered hope for further investigation, but by Democrats in Congress this time.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire activist who has spent millions of his own dollars directing pressure at Congress to impeach Trump, said while he thinks the contents of the report implicate the president, he acknowledges the findings alone are unlikely to convince Americans to change their minds.
“I think the only way to get voters to notice is to directly publicize, televised hearings,” Steyer said. “We’re all for public hearings so the American people can see and can react themselves.”
In Florida, Margo Hammond, 69, who considers herself an independent voter, gleaned highlights by toggling through the coverage of MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. She was unimpressed with Barr.
“It’s kind of an insult to the American people that we can’t decide for ourselves,” she said while in an art class. She planned to read as much as she could of the report.
“I think it will only affirm what I originally thought,” she said. Then she repeated something she had heard earlier from a news commentator: “There was a whole lot of cheating going on.”
(For a ‘Link to Mueller report’ click https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-TRUMP-RUSSIA/010091HX27V/report.pdf)
(For a graphic on ‘A closer look at Mueller report redactions’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2VSx7HZ)
(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Clearwater, Florida and Tim Reid in Las Vegas; Writing by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney says he's "sickened" by the level of dishonesty the special counsel found in President Donald Trump's administration.
Romney also said Friday he was "appalled" that, according to special counsel Robert Mueller's findings, Americans working on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign welcomed election help from Russia.
The one-time GOP presidential nominee tweeted that it's "good news" Trump was not charged with wrongdoing in the investigation.
But Romney, who's now a senator from Utah, was critical of what he called the "pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection" at the highest levels of the administration, "including the president."
Source: NewsMax Politics
President Trump’s 2020 campaign announced Friday that it had raised more than $1 million since Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report was made public a day earlier.
“The biggest takeaway for the campaign was that President Trump -- once again -- was completely exonerated of the ludicrous Russia collusion allegations and was again found not to have obstructed the special counsel’s investigation,” Trump's campaign COO, Michael Glassner, said in a statement. “The two-year lie was put to bed once and for all. It was a great day for the campaign and Americans responded enthusiastically.”
“The release of the full Mueller report directly led to the campaign raising more than $1 million,” he said. “Relative to our recent daily average, the Mueller news drove a 250 percent increase in fundraising from grassroots donors.”
The White House and the 2020 Trump campaign declared victory on Thursday after the report landed, pointing to its conclusion that investigators found no evidence of collusion and did not conclude that a crime was committed on the question of obstruction of justice.
However, it did contain a number of embarrassing details for the White House that were considered as part of the obstruction inquiry. It was apparently those details that led Trump to brand it the “Crazy Mueller Report” on Friday.
Trump’s campaign used the lack of evidence of collusion to go on the attack against those in the FBI and DOJ they believe instigated the two-year probe in the first place, saying it was "time to turn the tables" in a campaign video. That language was repeated by Trump on Friday, who called the report a big, fat, waste of time, energy and money" in a tweet.
"It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason," he said. "This should never happen again!"
Fox News' Kristin Brown contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office investigated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for possible perjury, but it found evidence was “insufficient” to prove that he was “willfully untruthful” in his answers.
Mueller’s report, a redacted version of which was released Thursday, said that it looked into Sessions’ interactions during the campaign with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak and Sessions met during the Republican National Convention in July 2016 and in his Senate office in September.
“The office considered whether, in light of these interactions, Sessions committed perjury before, or made false statements to, Congress in connection with his confirmation,” the report said.
Sessions said in his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2017 that he “did not have communications with the Russians” in response to a question about Trump campaign communications with the Russian government.
He also followed up with written responses, answering “no” to a question that asked whether he had “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.”
In a March 2017 follow-up, after his interactions with Kislyak were reported by the media, Sessions said he did "not recall any discussions with the Russian Ambassador, or any other representatives of the Russian government, regarding the political campaign on these occasions or any other occasion."
The report says the investigation established that Sessions interacted with Kislyak and that the Russian mentioned the presidential campaign “on at least one occasion” but that “the evidence is not sufficient to prove that Sessions gave knowingly false answers to Russia-related questions in light of the wording and context of those questions.”
Mueller’s team says that the evidence “makes it plausible” that Sessions didn’t recall discussing the campaign with Kislyak, and his answer in his confirmation hearing was in response to a question about a an alleged continued exchange of information between the campaign and the Russian government.
“Sessions later explained to the Senate and to the Office that he understood the question as narrowly calling for disclosure of interactions with Russians that involved the exchange of campaign information, as distinguished from more routine contacts with Russian nationals,” the report says. “Given the context in which the question was asked, that understanding is plausible.”
As a result, Mueller's office concluded that “the evidence was insufficient to prove that Sessions was willfully untruthful in his answers and thus insufficient to obtain or sustain a conviction for perjury or false statements.”
Sessions’ personal lawyer said in March last year that Sessions was not not the subject of a federal criminal investigation for alleged perjury.
ABC News reported that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had overseen an investigation into whether Sessions "lacked candor" when he testified before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential campaign.
"The Special Counsel‘s Office has informed me that after interviewing the Attorney General and conducting additional investigation, the Attorney General is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress," attorney Chuck Cooper said in a statement.
Sessions announced in 2017 that he would recuse himself from overseeing any FBI probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials -- placing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge of overseeing the probe.
Sessions resigned in November 2018 and was subsequently replaced by current Attorney General William Barr.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
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FILE PHOTO: A Volkswagen logo is seen on a new car model at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
April 15, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Volkswagen is pushing its joint venture partners including SK Innovation (SKI) to build electric car battery plants which have at least one Gigawatt manufacturing capacity, Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Reuters.
“Anything below that amount would make little sense,” Diess said on the sidelines of the Shanghai Auto Show on Sunday.
Volkswagen will buy 50 billion euros ($56.57 billion) worth of battery cells for electric cars and has identified South Korea’s SKI, LG Chem and Samsung SDI as strategic battery cell suppliers as well as China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL).
The German automaker is retooling 16 factories to build electric vehicles and plans to start producing 33 different electric cars under the Skoda, Audi, VW and Seat brands by mid 2023.
“We are considering an investment in a battery manufacturer in order to reinforce our electrification offensive and build up the necessary know-how,” Volkswagen said.
SKI is building a battery cell manufacturing plant in the United States to supply Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
SKI will supply lithium-ion battery cells for an electric car that Volkswagen plans to start making in Chattanooga in 2022.
LG Chem, Samsung and SKI on will also supply battery cells for Volkswagen in Europe. CATL is the automaker’s strategic partner for China, and will supply batteries for its electric fleet from 2019.
(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
FILE PHOTO: A Lufthansa Airbus A321-100 airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna
April 16, 2019
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s biggest airline Lufthansa posted a loss for first three months of the year, hurt by rising fuel cost and overcapacity in Europe.
The company said in a statement on Monday evening that adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell to -336 million euros (-$380 million), compared to 52 million euros a year earlier.
Earnings were hit by a 202-million euro rise in fuel costs, as well as a strong comparison to the previous year when the airline benefited from the loss of capacity due to Air Berlin’s insolvency, Lufthansa said.
The airline said it expected unit revenues at constant currency to increase year-on-year in the second quarter, helped by favorable booking levels and a clear slowing of the market-wide capacity growth.
For 2019, Lufthansa said it still expected to report an adjusted operating profit margin of 6.5-8.0 percent.
Shares of the airline were indicated to open 5.5 percent lower in premarket trade on Tuesday morning at 0535 GMT.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Uttaresh.V)
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo
April 17, 2019
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc is working to develop a voice assistant to rival the likes of Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa, Apple Inc’s Siri and Alphabet Inc’s Google Assistant.
“We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products,” a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters in an e-mailed response on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, CNBC reported about the development, saying that the team behind the technology has been contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain.
However, it remains unclear how exactly Facebook envisions people using the assistant, but it could potentially be used on the company’s Portal video chat smart speakers, the Oculus headsets or other future projects, CNBC reported.
According to research firm eMarketer, Amazon’s Echo is expected to capture 63.3 percent of smart speaker users in 2019, while Google Home will account for 31 percent.
(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)
FILE PHOTO: Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) holds a news conference on the outcome of the Governing Council meeting at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
April 14, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – European Central Bank President Mario Draghi expressed concern on Saturday about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s independence, warning that a loss of its autonomy could undermine the credibility of policy.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination of two controversial candidates to the Fed’s board and persistent calls for rate cuts has raised the specter of government interference, challenging a fundamental tenet of modern central banking.
“I’m certainly worried about central bank independence in other countries, especially… in the most important jurisdiction in the world,” Draghi said about the United States.
“If the central bank is not independent, then people may well think that monetary policy decisions follow political advice rather than objective assessment of the economic outlook,” he told a news conference.
Governments from Turkey to India and the United States have put increasing pressure on their central banks in recent months, igniting a debate about the value of independence.
But some argue that unconventional policy, used widely now, redistributes wealth, so monetary policy makes increasingly political decisions and thus requires increased political scrutiny.
“Within (their) mandate, however, central banks ought to be left free to choose what’s the best way to comply with the mandate,” Draghi said. “Because if you don’t let them be free, then they’re not accountable. That’s the central banking framework since the 80s everywhere.”
Still, Draghi argued that he saw no similar threat to the ECB’s independence given the legal safeguards and he also did not think that cases of interference elsewhere were undermining global confidence.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Paul Simao and Andrea Ricci)
The Texas House of Representatives has preliminarily approved a measure that says any doctor who does not care for an infant born alive after an abortion will be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars and possibly serve prison time in cases of gross negligence, a report said.
The “Born Alive” act passed 93 to 1 mostly along party lines, the Dallas Morning News reported and will now advance to the state Senate.
Democrat Harold Dutton cast a “no” vote while 50 other Democrats voted “present, not voting.”
Source: Fox News Politics