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

May 17, 2019

By Eric M. Johnson and Tracy Rucinski

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Once global regulators clear Boeing Co’s 737 MAX to fly again after deadly crashes, airlines which have put their fleets into mechanical hibernation since March will scramble to begin the biggest ungrounding effort in history.

Quickly reintegrating Boeing’s 737 MAX, a fast-selling model because of its fuel efficiency, longer range, and passenger capacity, is crucial for optimizing airlines’ routes and improving margins after having to cancel thousands of flights.

Global airlines have warned of a major hit to profits due to the mid-March grounding of the MAX following two fatal crashes.

International regulators are meeting on May 23 to review Boeing software and training plans, though doubts remain over how quickly foreign authorities will clear new flights.

In the United States, following regulatory approval of a Boeing software fix and new training, airlines will have to run through an FAA-approved checklist, industry officials say.

Such work, which will vary by operator, includes cycling the engines, changing and filling fluids, removing covers from the engines and running routine electrical and hydraulics checks.

Each airline will also have to upload Boeing’s new software for an anti-stall system implicated in the crashes and complete additional pilot training.

Jason Goldberg, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said it will take about a week to prepare American Airline Group Inc’s MAX fleet to fly, not counting the extra training.

“While the planes are in storage there is of course maintenance that can be done. But as far as steps to put it back into service, none of the work is going to be done until the aircraft is cleared to fly.”

Airlines likely halted standard daily systems checks while the planes were in storage, said one former Boeing test pilot. Similar to a modern car, when mechanics restore power to the aircraft, built-in testing equipment runs checks on sensors gauging the health of aircraft systems from hydraulics and to fuel – known as a ‘BITE’ test – that would signal failures.

Another issue is pilot training.

Boeing said on Thursday it was in the process of submitting a plan on pilot training to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for approval, after which each airline will develop its own FAA-approved training program.

Southwest Airlines Co, the world’s largest MAX operator, has agreed a 30-day window with its 10,000 pilots to implement new MAX training, said Mike Trevino, spokesman for Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

“If it’s computer-based training, that won’t be difficult to deploy. The pilots can do it at home,” he said.

A draft report by an FAA-appointed board of pilots, engineers and other experts concluded that pilots only need additional computer-based training, rather than simulator time, though other regulators and some pilot groups have argued for more.

Southwest is expected to upload the new software at a facility in the California desert where its 34 MAX jets are parked, while American Airlines is expected to install the software at its Tulsa, Oklahoma maintenance facility.

Southwest and American have scheduled MAX flights as of Aug. 6 and Aug. 20 respectively. If the jets are not cleared to fly by then, the airlines will be forced to again cancel more than 100 daily flights.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Tracy Rucinski in Seattle; Editing by Keith Weir)

Source: OANN

Donna Brazile said Wednesday on “Outnumbered” that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the “new tabasco in the Democratic Party sauce,” arguing she’s injecting bold ideas into the discussion.

The panel discussed the recent criticism by the freshman New York congresswoman of what she described as Joe Biden’s “middle of the road” policy on climate change.

Biden pushed back during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

TEXAS BORDER AGENTS SAY 5,500 MIGRANTS A DAY ARE ILLEGALLY ENTERING US

“You never heard me say ‘middle of the road,'” he said.

“I’ve never been middle-of-the-road on the environment. Tell her… to look at my record. She’ll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and a green revolution than I have.”

Brazile said Ocasio-Cortez is “really hot” in terms of the political conversation, specifically her Green New Deal proposal.

“When I say hot, I’m referring to, she is putting in our political gumbo some elements, some ingredients that people are going to like and some people will not like,” she said.

But Brazile said she does not consider Biden to be a “middle-of-the-roader” when it comes to the environment, given that the Obama administration championed the Paris Climate Agreement.

She said Biden must lay out his vision when it comes to climate change, as fellow 2020 hopefuls Beto O’Rourke and Jay Inslee have done.

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Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said he views Ocasio-Cortez as the person “in charge” of the party when it comes to climate change.

“She has set the terms of how the Democrats run for president on this Green New Deal. That’s where it got started,” he said.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump declared Tuesday that The New York Times should “get down on their knees & beg for forgiveness” for its negative coverage of his presidency, as part of an early-morning Twitter tear against a range of media outlets.

“I wonder if the New York Times will apologize to me a second tie, as they did after the 2016 Election. But this one will have to be a far bigger & better apology. On this one they will have to get down on their knees & beg for forgiveness—they are truly the Enemy of the People!” Trump tweeted.

MSNBC’S MIKE BRZEZINSKI, CNN’S ALISYN CAMEROTA SUGGEST DEMS NEED TO DO SOMETHING AFTER MUELLER REPORT

The president also blasted Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman, whose latest op-ed says “one of our two parties”—the Republican Party—“no longer believes in American values.” The column criticizes Trump and the results of the Russia investigation, claiming the president was aware of intervention in his campaign by a “hostile foreign power” and, once in office, tried to obstruct any investigation into that fact.

“Paul Krugman of the Fake News New York Times, has lost all credibility, as has the Times itself, with his false and highly inaccurate writings on me. He is obsessed with hated, just as others are obsessed with how stupid he is. He said Market would crash, Only Record Highs!” Trump tweeted.

He added: “The Radical Left Democrats, together with their leaders in the Fake News Media, have gone totally insane! I guess that means that the Republican agenda is working. Stay tuned for more!”

The president went on to tout his administration’s impact on the economy, claiming the mainstream media ignores the positive effect his presidency has had.

DEM LEADERS REJECT IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS IN URGENT CONFERENCE CALL

“In the ‘old days’ if you were President and you had a good economy, you were basically immune from criticism. Remember, ‘It’s the economy stupid.’ Today I have, as President, perhaps the greatest economy in history… and to the Mainstream Media, it means NOTHING. But it will!” he tweeted.

The president’s Twitter rampage comes amid mounting criticism from Democrats following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly 500-page Russia report last week. The special counsel, after a nearly two-year investigation, did not find evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. But the report revealed an array of controversial actions and requests made by the president that were examined as part of Mueller’s investigation’s obstruction inquiry. Despite the findings, Mueller did not come to a conclusion on the matter of whether the president obstructed justice.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning, Trump went after CNN’s Chris Cuomo, blasting the network for giving him a primetime show. The president also slammed MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, saying the host of “Morning Joe” has “nosedived”  and calling him “too Angry, Dumb and Sick.”

The president later added that Twitter, the social media platform itself, is playing “political games.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Thai soldiers dressed in traditional costumes transfer The Royal Golden Plaque of the official title of His Majesty the King, the Royal Golden Plaque of His Majesty's horoscope, and the Royal Seal of State to Baisal Daksin Throne Hall at the Grand Palace
Thai soldiers dressed in traditional costumes transfer The Royal Golden Plaque of the official title of His Majesty the King, the Royal Golden Plaque of His Majesty’s horoscope, and the Royal Seal of State from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to Baisal Daksin Throne Hall at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, May 3, 2019. The Committee on Public Relations of the Coronation of King Rama X/Handout via REUTERS

May 3, 2019

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – King Maha Vajiralongkorn is to pay his respects on Friday to one of Thai Buddhism’s most sacred relics, the Emerald Buddha, and later light an auspicious candle as he conducts the final rituals before his three days of coronation events.

The coronation, which takes place from Saturday to Monday, will be the first the country has seen in 69 years, since his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned in 1950.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, is also known by the title of King Rama X. He became a constitutional monarch after the death of his revered father in October 2016, after 70 years on the throne.

On Friday, the king will first visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to pay respect to the Buddha image, one of Thailand’s most sacred relics, before moving to the Grand Palace.

There, he will light the auspicious candle at 4:19 p.m. (9:19 GMT) – a time that court astrologers determined was propitious – while 80 Buddhist monks chant.

Earlier on Friday, a senior palace official transferred a golden plaque with the king’s official name and title, the king’s horoscope and the royal seal from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to the Grand Palace in preparation for Saturday’s event.

The three items, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week, will be presented to the king on Saturday by the chief Brahmin, along with five royal regalia, the symbols of kingship in Thailand.

Ahead of the grand ceremonies, the king said he would grant royal pardons to some prisoners to “give them a chance to become good citizens”, according to the Royal Gazette on Friday.

The document, which will take effect on Saturday, listed many criteria for prisoners who are eligible for the pardon, including those with disabilities, chronic or terminal diseases, or those with one year left to serve.

The king will also reduce sentences for some prisoners, including those imprisoned for life, and commute inmates’ death sentences to life.

It is not yet clear how many people will qualify for the pardons.

(Editing by Kay Johnson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A passenger plane flies over a Shell logo at a petrol station in west London, Britain
FILE PHOTO: A passenger plane flies over a Shell logo at a petrol station in west London, Britain, January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville

April 25, 2019

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch trade unions on Thursday said they have agreed to a new offer by Royal Dutch Shell to end a wage dispute which has hit production at Shell’s Pernis oil refinery and Moerdijk chemical plants in recent weeks.

CNV union spokesman Piet Verburg said unions on Friday will advise employees at Europe’s largest oil refinery and the chemical plants to end their strikes, which started on April 8.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN


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MLB notebook: Mets’ Cespedes fractures ankle at ranch

MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Mets
FILE PHOTO: Jul 25, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes addresses the media in a press conference announcing he will undergo surgery prior to the game between the the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

May 21, 2019

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes suffered multiple fractures of his right ankle during a “violent fall” on Saturday, according to the Mets.

The incident occurred at Cespedes’ ranch in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters on Monday that Cespedes stepped in a hole.

“He twisted and put his leg and foot in a difficult position,” said Van Wagenen, adding that Cespedes didn’t fall off a horse. Cespedes is being evaluated at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Cespedes, 33, who is in the third season of a four-year, $110 million contract, hasn’t played this season as he recovers from surgeries on both heels. The club had been hoping he could return later this season as he recently began running and taking batting practice.

–Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias is expected to return from administrative leave Tuesday, eight days after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery, multiple outlets reported.

Urias was arrested May 13 following an alleged dispute with a female acquaintance in the parking lot of a Los Angeles-area shopping mall. Both Urias and his female companion denied that a physical altercation took place, but Urias reportedly spent the night in jail and was released May 14 on $20,000 bond.

A report from TMZ Sports last week credited “multiple law enforcement sources” who indicated the case against the 22-year-old was “weak” based on the evidence, which was said to be security-camera footage of the incident.

–Boston Red Sox left-hander David Price, activated earlier Monday, pitched five innings to beat the host Toronto Blue Jays.

Price (2-2), sidelined by tendinitis in his pitching elbow since May 2, threw 67 pitches, 48 for strikes. He lowered his season ERA to 3.29 by allowing two runs (none earned), with no walks and four strikeouts.

In other moves, the Red Sox reinstated catcher Sandy Leon from paternity leave and optioned catcher Oscar Hernandez and right-hander Josh Smith to Triple-A Pawtucket.

–The Atlanta Braves acquired relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a pair of relievers — injured Arodys Vizcaino and Jesse Biddle. Seattle reportedly will also send about $2 million to Atlanta.

Swarzak, 33, is 2-2 with a 5.27 ERA this season, giving up six home runs in 13 2/2 innings in his first season with the Mariners. The right-hander has appeared in 10 major league seasons, with a 25-34 record and 4.33 ERA, spanning 601 1/3 innings.

Biddle, 27, had been designated for assignment on Wednesday after the left-hander went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 2/3 innings over 15 appearances for the Braves. The left-hander had a 3.11 ERA in 63 2/3 innings as a rookie last season. Vizcaino, 28, is on the 60-day injured list and won’t pitch again this season after undergoing right shoulder surgery on April 17. Vizcaino threw four innings in 2019 and will be a free agent this offseason.

–The St. Louis Cardinals requested unconditional release waivers on right-hander Luke Gregerson in a move that means they will recoup very little on their $11 million investment in the veteran reliever.

The Cardinals signed Gregerson to a two-year deal before the 2018 season, but posted a 7.11 ERA and pitched just 12 2/3 innings last season because of hamstring and shoulder issues. The 35-year-old had a 7.94 mark in six appearances this season.

–The Washington Nationals activated relief pitcher Tony Sipp from the 10-day injured list, claimed reliever Javy Guerra on outright waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays and designated left-handed pitcher Dan Jennings for assignment.

Sipp, 35, is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in 17 games this season, his first with Washington. Guerra, 33, posted a 3.86 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings across 11 appearances for Toronto in 2019.

–The Detroit Tigers have pulled the plug on Reed Garrett’s run in the organization, returning the right-hander to the Texas Rangers, where he was selected as a Rule 5 draft pick in December.

Garrett made his major league debut with the Tigers earlier this season but has had a rough time with 13 walks in 15 1/3 innings and an 8.22 ERA in 13 appearances. The 26-year-old went 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A last season and was left off the Rangers’ 40-man roster this winter.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

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Former F1 champion Lauda dead at 70

FILE PHOTO: Former Formula One driver Lauda poses with his Lifetime award during the Laureus World Sports Awards 2016 in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: Former Formula One driver Niki Lauda poses with his Lifetime award during the Laureus World Sports Awards 2016 in Berlin, Germany, April 18, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke /File Photo

May 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Three-times Formula One champion Niki Lauda has died at 70, months after having a lung transplant, his former racing team McLaren confirmed on Tuesday.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away,” the team said.

“Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history.”

Lauda, who was hospitalized in January for about 10 days while suffering from influenza, died on Monday surrounded by family, according to a family statement published by Austrian media.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed,” the statement added.

Lauda won three world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984 with Mercedes and Ferrari.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

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NBA notebook: Magic accuses Lakers GM of backstabbing

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers-Press Conference
May 20, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka (left) and new head coach Frank Vogel (left) address the media at a press conference at UCLA Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

May 21, 2019

The Los Angeles Lakers on Monday introduced new head coach Frank Vogel at a news conference. However, their old president made all the headlines with accusations of backstabbing by his former subordinate.

Speaking on ESPN’s “First Take,” former Lakers team president Magic Johnson said his resignation in April was the result of Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka going behind his back repeatedly to, according to Johnson, make it seem the president wasn’t working hard enough.

“Things got going in the right direction. Then I started hearing, ‘Magic, you’re not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office,'” Johnson said on the show. “So people around the Lakers’ office was telling me Rob — Rob Pelinka — was saying things and I didn’t like this being said behind my back. That I wasn’t in the office enough and on and on.”

Pelinka later Monday denied the report, telling the Los Angeles Times that Johnson’s claims are surprising, disheartening and “simply not true.”

–The Golden State Warriors will be without the services of veteran swingman Andre Iguodala in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers because of a sore left calf, coach Steve Kerr confirmed.

Iguodala, who is averaging 10.1 points per game, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists for the Warriors in the playoffs, was injured during the third quarter of Game 3 at Portland.

Iguodala, 35, played just 18 minutes in Game 3 on Saturday, scoring two points and pulling down five rebounds. The Warriors already are without Kevin Durant because of a strained right calf and DeMarcus Cousins due to a torn left quadriceps.

–The Houston Rockets’ Twitter account has been suspended, with the team blaming the action on a copyright issue.

As of Monday night, the team’s official Twitter page was still suspended, the page reading “Account suspended” with another line that read, “Twitter suspends accounts that violate the Twitter Rules.”

“Our Twitter account has been temporarily suspended due to a few prior social media posts with copyrighted music,” the Rockets’ statement read. “We are working to correct the issue now.” According to reports, several college football programs also saw their feeds suspended for the same reason.

–Ryan Saunders is set to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, removing the interim tag that will make the 33-year-old the NBA’s youngest bench boss. Saunders took over on Jan. 6 after owner Glen Taylor fired Tom Thibodeau.

President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas replaced Thibodeau in his front office job — Thibodeau was team president in addition to his coaching duties — but Taylor said there was no mandate to retain Saunders.

However, thanks in part to the endorsement of young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, Rosas stuck with Saunders following a series of interviews last week.

–Tim Connelly rejected an offer to lead the Washington Wizards, ESPN reported.

Connelly, who is the president of basketball operations for the Nuggets, reportedly decided to remain in Denver. Given Connelly’s deep roots in the Washington area, the Wizards thought they had a chance to lure him east.

The Wizards’ search now could focus on three others: interim general manager Tommy Sheppard, former Cleveland and Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry, and Troy Weaver, Oklahoma City’s vice president of basketball operations.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

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Asian shares near four-month lows on Huawei fallout fears

FILE PHOTO: A man walks in front of a screen showing today's movements of Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan
FILE PHOTO: A man walks in front of a screen showing today's movements of Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

May 21, 2019

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares wobbled near four-month lows on Tuesday on mounting worries the White House’s black-listing of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies could further inflame already tense relations between Washington and Beijing.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat in early trade but stayed close to a four-month low touched on Friday. It has fallen about 8% from a nine-month peak hit just over a month ago. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.5%.

In New York, the S&P 500 lost 0.67% while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.46%. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index fell 4.02% to two-month lows. Apple fell 3.1% to its lowest level since early March.

“With the news around the U.S. and Huawei taking a turn for the worse, it seems that the trade war is increasingly showing signs of becoming a tech war,” said Seema Shah, senior global investment Strategist at Principal Global Investors in London. “The further this trend develops, the bigger the collateral damage will be – particularly in Asia and the U.S., but the ripple effect will be significant across the globe.”

The U.S. government on Monday temporarily eased some trade restrictions imposed last week on China’s Huawei, allowing the company to purchase American-made goods to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets for 90 days.

But that was of little comfort for investors who are worried about increasingly acrimonious atmosphere between the world’s two biggest economies.

Some U.S. companies, such as Alphabet’s Google and Lumentum Holdings Inc, have already started to limit services to Huawei.

“The determination of the U.S. administration to paralyze China’s aspirations to become a technology super power is clear when you consider that its actions against Huawei are not only damaging to China’s technology sector, but also the US tech sector,” Shah said.

Corporate earnings guidance provided to investors so far does not take into account the impact of the Huawei ban, said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities.

“The sales of semi-conductors will be curtailed at least in the short-term and companies will likely need to revise down their earnings,” he said.

Markets showed scant reaction to speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who dismissed comparisons between the rise of business debt to record levels in recent years and the conditions in U.S. mortgage markets that preceded the 2007-to-2009 economic crisis.

In the foreign exchange market, major currencies were on the sideline for now.

The euro was under pressure ahead of the European election this weekend but was little moved at $1.1169, off Monday’s low of $1.1150, its lowest level since May 3.

The dollar slipped slightly to 110.05 yen from Monday’s near two-week high of 110.32 yen.

The British pound is listless near four-months, trading at $1.2728, just a stone throw from Friday’s low of $1.2714, as an embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May struggled to pull together a Brexit deal.

The offshore yuan stood at 6.9403 to the dollar, just above Friday’s 5-1/2-month low of 6.9497.

Oil prices held near multi-week highs as OPEC indicated it was likely to maintain production cuts while escalating Middle East tensions provided further support.

Brent crude futures traded up 0.1% at $72.07 per barrel while U.S. crude futures fetched $63.30 per barrel, up 0.3 percent.

(This story has been refiled to remove an extraneous word in paragraph 1)

(Additional reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

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Ret. Gen: Trump’s Pardons Would Create ‘Discontent’

President Donald Trump would be way out of line if he pardons several U.S. soldiers accused of unauthorized killings in the Middle East, a retired lieutenant general said Monday.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling was on CNN's "The Lead" to discuss a weekend report Trump might issue pardons to at least two soldiers — Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher and Army Green Beret Mathew Golsteyn — as soon as Memorial Day.

"We're talking about the violation of the laws of land warfare, the disobedience of legal orders, the ignoring of ethical and professional standards that are upheld by the military," ," Hertling said. "It would create unbelievable discontent within the ranks."

If Trump pardons the men, Hertling said he would be "undercutting the rules and regulations that contribute to good order and discipline in the military."

"And that to me is an anathema and it's immoral because these acts are not the acts of patriots. We train soldiers and military personnel before they go to war — in fact, from the very first day they enter basic training, they're trained on these kinds of rules that contribute to good order and discipline — but they're also trained to ensure that dignified and unified and trustworthy units don't turn into mobs using gang violence."

Mediaite posted a clip of Hertling's remarks.

Gallagher is scheduled to stand trial in the coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq.

Golsteyn is accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

Source: NewsMax America

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Trump tells ex-White House counsel McGahn not to appear before Congress

FILE PHOTO - White House Counsel Don McGahn listens during U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearing in Washington
FILE PHOTO - White House Counsel Don McGahn listens during U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

May 21, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch, David Morgan and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday told former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena to testify before Congress about the Russia investigation, deepening his fight with Democratic lawmakers.

McGahn would “respect the President’s instruction” and not testify, his lawyer said later, in a letter sent to the head of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The committee is investigating whether Trump illegally obstructed the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It wants to quiz McGahn after he figured prominently in a report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the Russia probe and whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.

But in a letter to the committee, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said McGahn should not appear due to both “constitutional immunity” and “in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the Presidency.”

The committee’s Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, responded by saying Trump was trying to block damaging testimony about his obstruction of justice.

“The President acted again and again – perhaps criminally – to protect himself from federal law enforcement. Don McGahn personally witnessed the most egregious of these acts. President Trump knows this. He clearly does not want the American people to hear firsthand about his alleged misconduct,” Nadler said in a statement.

He said his committee would meet on Tuesday morning and expected McGahn to show up and testify.

Another Democrat on the committee, David Cicilline, warned that if McGahn stays away on Tuesday, lawmakers might need to push ahead with an impeachment inquiry against Trump in order to compel his administration to produce witnesses and documents.

“There are a number of colleagues who have suggested that if Mr. McGahn doesn’t appear tomorrow and answer questions that it’s an appropriate time to open an impeachment inquiry,” Cicilline told reporters.

He said an inquiry would begin the process to determine whether or not articles of impeachment should be voted on.

In his report, Mueller cited McGahn as saying that Trump called him several times in June 2017 to tell him to direct the Justice Department to remove Mueller because of conflicts of interest.

McGahn did not carry out Trump’s order. Later, when news articles about the incident surfaced, McGahn told Mueller’s investigators that Trump tried to get him to dispute the accuracy of the reports. McGahn again refused.

OBSTRUCTION?

Many Democratic lawmakers, as well as many former prosecutors not involved in the investigation, have said the alleged order by the president to fire Mueller and attempt to coerce McGahn to lie about it could amount to committing the crime of obstruction.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said he did not ask McGahn to have Mueller removed.

Mueller’s report described numerous links between Trump’s 2016 campaign and various Russians but did not find sufficient evidence to establish there was a criminal conspiracy with Moscow.

Mueller also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede the investigation, but stopped short of declaring the president had committed a crime.

Attorney General William Barr determined after reviewing Mueller’s findings that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal obstruction charges against the president.

Nadler’s committee has been locked in multiple battles with the Trump administration over access to information contained in the Mueller report.

Trump said following the release of the report in March that it showed he was exonerated of colluding with Russia and obstruction of justice.

He has hardened his administration’s position of defying the legal demands of Democrats in Congress, who want more information on the Russia investigation and Trump’s taxes and business dealings.

Earlier this month, the committee voted to hold Barr in contempt after he defied a subpoena seeking an unredacted copy of the Mueller report and its underlying investigative materials.

Nadler also issued a subpoena last month compelling McGahn to testify on Tuesday, and he has previously said he would hold the attorney in contempt if he did not show up.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion on Monday that gave legal cover to the decision to block McGahn from testifying.

“Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties,” Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel wrote.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Sarah N. Lynch, David Morgan and Tim Ahmann; writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

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Poll: Americans Hesitant on Nuclear Weapons

Two-thirds of U.S. voters support legislation that requires the president to consult Congress and issue a declaration of war before using nuclear weapons, according to a poll released Monday.

Additionally, 80% of the 2,264 respondents surveyed by the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland favor extending the New START Treaty with Russia beyond its 2021 expiration date.

Negotiated by President Barack Obama and approved by the Senate in 2010, the treaty limits both sides to no more than 1,550 strategic offensively deployed nuclear weapons on no more than 700 deployed launchers. It also provides the U.S. with access to and information about Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

Other findings include:

  • 60%, including a majority of Republicans, favor phasing out the U.S.’ intercontinental ballistic missile force – now equipped with 400 nuclear warheads
  • 80% support the notion that America needs to maintain a retaliatory nuclear capability powerful enough to keep other nations from finding it advantageous to attack the country
  • 41% said they thought the U.S.’ arsenal of 4,000 nuclear weapons was bigger than they expected
  • Two-thirds oppose withdrawing from the INF treaty, which limits the number of intermediate-range missiles that both sides can deploy

Source: NewsMax America


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