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Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Jean dies at 98

FILE PHOTO: Dutch Queen Beatrix (L), Grand Duke Jean (C) and his wife Josephine Charlotte (R) assist the swearing-in of Grand Duke Henri in Luxembourg
FILE PHOTO: Dutch Queen Beatrix (L), Grand Duke Jean (C) and his wife Josephine Charlotte (R) assist the swearing-in of Grand Duke Henri as he ascends the throne of Luxembourg at a solemn session of the Chamber of Deputies in Luxembourg October 7, 2000. REUTERS/Thierry Roge/File Photo

April 23, 2019

Source: OANN

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On South America’s largest solar farm, Chinese power radiates

Guillermo Giralt, technical director of Cauchari Solar, stands next to solar panels at a solar farm, built on the back of funding and technology from China, in Salar de Cauchari
Guillermo Giralt, technical director of Cauchari Solar, stands next to solar panels at a solar farm, built on the back of funding and technology from China, in Salar de Cauchari, Argentina, April 3, 2019. Picture taken April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Miguel Lobianco

April 23, 2019

By Cassandra Garrison

JUJUY, Argentina (Reuters) – In an arid, lunar-like landscape in the sunny highlands of northern Argentina, South America’s largest solar farm is rising, powered by funding and technology from China.

Local officials said they had sought help at home, the United States and Europe without success. Potential lenders and partners, they said, were spooked by the project’s size and the fiscal woes of Jujuy province, one of the poorest in the country.

The Import-Export Bank of China saw it differently. The state-funded institution financed 85 percent of the project’s nearly $400-million pricetag. At 3 percent annual interest over 15 years, it is “cheap money” for Jujuy, a person familiar with the terms said. The catch: the province had to purchase nearly 80 percent of the materials from Chinese suppliers.

Those companies include Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom giant under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump. Some in his administration have concluded, without presenting evidence, that Huawei’s equipment provides the Chinese military with a “backdoor” to spy on users or cripple their networks. In Jujuy, the company is supplying inverters, technology that turns power from solar panels into useable current and serves as a critical gateway to the electrical grid.

The project, known as Cauchari, is a testament to the rising clout of Beijing as a backer of big projects in cash-strapped emerging markets. And it is helping China cement its standing as the world’s leader in clean-energy technology.

At a time when Trump is doubling down on fossil fuels and withdrawing the United States from global partnerships, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s sprawling “Belt and Road” initiative aims to put Chinese companies and innovation at the center of infrastructure development worldwide, including next-generation power sources.

“It is a way of expanding China’s growing global presence and dominant economic force, and it progressively reorients the world from the U.S. and European-centric view of the last fifty years,” said Tim Buckley, director for the U.S-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

(For a graphic on China’s solar strength, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2IBwZJD)

The trend is rattling Trump administration officials.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking April 12 in Santiago, Chile on a tour of South America, slammed China’s “predatory” lending practices, which critics say leave borrowers beholden to Beijing.

He warned repeatedly that Chinese technology, including equipment made by Huawei, poses a security risk that could affect information sharing by the United States.

“It is not okay to put technology systems in with latent capability to take information from citizens of Chile or any other country and transfer it back to President Xi’s government,” Pompeo said.

But in hardscrabble Jujuy province, home to around 750,000 people, officials are in no mood for a scolding. Argentina has set ambitious renewable energy targets. It is China, they say, not the United States, that is stepping up with money and technology to assist them.

“China…was the one that more generously opened its doors to finance this project,” Carlos Oehler, president of Jujuy’s energy agency JEMSE, told Reuters in an interview in the provincial capital of San Salvador.

Goodwill from the solar deal has led Jujuy to make purchases from other Chinese vendors, including a contract for surveillance equipment. Governor Gerardo Morales told Reuters that Jujuy and the southern Chinese province of Guizhou have established a “brotherhood” relationship that he is optimistic will lead to more tie-ups.

“We have received visits from many Chinese companies,” Morales said.

Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of solar inverters, has repeatedly denied it poses any security risks. The company said in a statement it would continue to provide its customers with “innovative, trusted and secure solutions.”

POWERED BY CHINA

At more than 4,000 meters above sea level, Cauchari is one of the highest solar farms in the world. Reuters is among the few media outlets ever to see it. Rows of panels stretch toward the horizon, while boxes of still-packed equipment wait to be installed. Visitors check in at an on-site clinic to have their blood pressure and heart rates monitored because of the risk of altitude sickness.

Expected to begin sending current to the grid in August, the facility will generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 120,000 homes. A planned expansion to 500MW would boost that to 260,000 homes and bring the project’s total cost to $551 million, provincial officials said.

On the windy dirt track leading to the construction site, signs in Spanish and Mandarin proclaim the involvement of state-owned PowerChina construction company and equipment manufacturer Shanghai Electric.

It is yet another indicator of Beijing’s rising influence in the region. China is the top buyer of South American soybeans, iron ore and other commodities, while Chinese investors are snapping up stakes in key sectors such as energy.

In Argentina alone, China has financed hydroelectric dams and wind farms, and the government is in talks for a Beijing-bankrolled nuclear power project, potentially using China’s own Hualong One reactor design. China has invested some $5.7 billion in energy projects in Argentina since 2000, according to data compiled by the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University. 

Argentina’s U.S.-educated President Mauricio Macri attended China’s first Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017, a signal of the tightening embrace between the two nations. A number of Latin American officials are expected to be at the second forum later this month in the Chinese capital.

China has spent more than $244 billion on energy projects worldwide since 2000, a quarter of that in Latin America, according to the Global Development Policy Center data. While the vast majority of that capital has flowed to oil, gas and coal assets, China has been the largest investor in clean energy globally for nine straight years, according to the Chinese embassy in Buenos Aires.

China is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and inverters, dominance that has seen European and U.S. producers struggle to compete. The Trump administration last year slapped steep tariffs on imported panels, citing unfair competition. But many renewable energy experts credit falling prices for speeding global adoption of solar.

So has China’s willingness to finance clean-energy projects in the developing world, opening doors for other Chinese firms. In Jujuy province, for example, the local government inked a deal with Chinese tech giant ZTE to supply it with fiber optic telecommunications systems and hundreds of surveillance cameras in the wake of the solar project.

“(Cauchari) paved the way – a highway – for all other projects,” a person familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Jujuy’s pivot to China underscores the challenge for the United States, whose warnings about the pitfalls of Chinese backing are no match for Beijing’s outreach and resources.

Jujuy Governor Morales recently traveled to China to discuss the Cauchari expansion with PowerChina and the Import-Export Bank of China, one of several trips local officials have made to the Asian nation over the past few years.

Jujuy, with its soon-to-be launched clean power and low seismic risk, is trying to position itself as an attractive location for companies to place their data centers. Morales said Chinese universities in Guizhou are helping Jujuy scale the learning curve, attention for which the long-ignored province is grateful.

“Suddenly Jujuy is recognized in China,” Morales said. “We have a path open there.”

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Marla Dickerson)

Source: OANN

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France’s Casino expands partnership with Amazon

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, January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

April 23, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – French supermarket retailer Casino said on Tuesday that it was beefing up its partnership with tech giant Amazon following the success of an earlier deal between its Monoprix supermarket chain and Amazon in Paris.

The new, extended partnership entails the installation of 1,000 so-called Amazon lockers in Casino stores across France and the availability of Casino-branded products on Amazon.

Amazon and Monoprix will also extend their partnership on the Prime Now grocery delivery service outside Paris and onto new cities in the next twelve months.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

Source: OANN

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MLB roundup: Harper tossed as Mets beat Phillies

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets
Apr 22, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

April 23, 2019

Jeff McNeil had two hits, including a solo home run, to lift the host New York Mets past the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 on Monday in a game that saw Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper get ejected while arguing from the dugout.

Mets starter Steven Matz (2-1) was effective, allowing three hits and one run in six innings. He struck out six and walked two. It was a completely different outcome from his last start against the Phillies in which he faced eight batters and failed to record an out on April 16.

Rhys Hoskins ripped a solo homer for the Phillies. Cesar Hernandez had Philadelphia’s only other two hits in the game, as the Phillies failed to support starter Jake Arrieta (3-2). The right-hander threw six-plus innings and gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned). He fanned seven and walked one.

In a bizarre circumstance, Harper was tossed with two outs in the fourth. After a questionable called strike to Hernandez, plate umpire Mark Carlson motioned to the dugout and ejected Harper for arguing balls and strikes. Harper had reached base in all of his previous 21 games with the Phillies before going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and being ejected.

Rockies 7, Nationals 5

Nolan Arenado homered and finished with three hits — including the 1,000th of his career — while Mark Reynolds and Raimel Tapia also went deep to lead Colorado past Washington in Denver.

Trevor Story had two hits and Seunghwan Oh (1-0) pitched an inning of relief for the victory. Colorado has won seven of its past eight following an eight-game losing streak. Wade Davis pitched the ninth inning for his second save.

Arenado’s milestone hit came leading off the seventh inning, when he hit his fourth home run of the season off reliever Wander Suero (1-2) to make it 6-5. Brian Dozier homered, and Howie Kendrick drove in two for the Nationals.

Cardinals 13, Brewers 5

Dexter Fowler matched his career high with four hits, drove in four runs and scored three to help St. Louis throttle visiting Milwaukee in the opener of the three-game series.

Paul Goldschmidt had three hits and three RBIs, and Jose Martinez, Paul DeJong and Matt Carpenter contributed two hits each for St. Louis, which blew the game open with seven runs in the seventh inning.

Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty (2-1) made his third start of the season against the Brewers and delivered his longest outing, going six innings and giving up four runs and three hits, all homers. He struck out a season-high 10 and walked one. Milwaukee’s Adrian Houser (0-1), making his first major league start, went four-plus innings and gave up five runs on nine hits.

Twins 9, Astros 5

Jorge Polanco recorded his second four-hit game of the season, and he belted a two-run, two-out homer in the eighth inning to carry Minnesota to victory in the opener of a three-game series in Houston.

The Twins, winners of five of their past six, scored two in the first and another run in the second — Jason Castro’s first home run of the season leading off the frame — off Brad Peacock (2-1). Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi (2-2) limited the Astros to two runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out two without walking a batter.

Houston trailed 7-1 before getting a solo homer from Michael Brantley in the sixth inning and a three-run blast from Carlos Correa in the seventh, but like Sunday night (when Houston rallied from a nine-run deficit and loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning before falling 11-10), the Astros couldn’t complete the comeback.

Rays 6, Royals 3

Tampa Bay hit for the cycle in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs to emerge with a win over visiting Kansas City. Mike Zunino hit a 425-foot, two-run home run to dead center for the key hit in the inning.

Wilmer Font (1-0) recorded the final out of the seventh and picked up the victory for the Rays, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Emilio Pagan pitched the ninth to record up his first major league save.

Brad Keller (2-2) took the loss for the Royals, who dropped their fourth in a row. He had not surrendered more than three earned runs in any of his first five starts, but he gave up five runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Diamondbacks 12, Pirates 4

David Peralta smacked a three-run triple and Christian Walker added a two-run homer during a seven-run seventh inning as Arizona clobbered host Pittsburgh.

Pirates starter Joe Musgrove, who had allowed two earned runs this season, was charged with three runs and five hits in six-plus innings. He struck out five and walked two. Kyle Crick (0-1) took the loss after giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Eduardo Escobar homered and drove in three runs, and John Ryan Murphy added three hits for Arizona, which has won six of its past eight games. Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley gave up four runs and seven hits in four innings, but Matt Andriese (3-1) got the win with two scoreless innings of relief.

White Sox 12, Orioles 2

Jose Abreu hit his 150th career home run and drove in five runs while James McCann hit a homer and had four RBIs as Chicago scored a season high in runs to win at Baltimore.

Orioles starter David Hess (1-4) kept the White Sox quiet in the first four innings, but homers have troubled him this season, and it happened again in this game. With the game scoreless, Tim Anderson started the fifth with a double and Nicky Delmonico walked. McCann then crushed a three-run shot to left-center — the eighth surrendered by Hess.

Manny Banuelos made his first start this season for Chicago — his first major league start since September 2015 — and scattered five hits in four shutout innings. Jace Fry (1-0) got the victory in relief.

Tigers at Red Sox, ppd.

Detroit’s scheduled game at Boston was rained out and will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

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Facebook’s flood of languages leave it struggling to monitor content

An illustration photo shows the Facebook page displayed on a mobile phone internet browser held in front of a computer screen at a cyber-cafe in downtown Nairobi
An illustration photo shows the Facebook page displayed on a mobile phone internet browser held in front of a computer screen at a cyber-cafe in downtown Nairobi, Kenya April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

April 23, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Paresh Dave

NAIROBI/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s struggles with hate speech and other types of problematic content are being hampered by the company’s inability to keep up with a flood of new languages as mobile phones bring social media to every corner of the globe.

The company offers its 2.3 billion users features such as menus and prompts in 111 different languages, deemed to be officially supported. Reuters has found another 31 widely spoken languages on Facebook that do not have official support.

Detailed rules known as “community standards,” which bar users from posting offensive material including hate speech and celebrations of violence, were translated in only 41 languages out of the 111 supported as of early March, Reuters found.

Facebook’s 15,000-strong content moderation workforce speaks about 50 tongues, though the company said it hires professional translators when needed. Automated tools for identifying hate speech work in about 30.

The language deficit complicates Facebook’s battle to rein in harmful content and the damage it can cause, including to the company itself. Countries including Australia, Singapore and the UK are now threatening harsh new regulations, punishable by steep fines or jail time for executives, if it fails to promptly remove objectionable posts.

The community standards are updated monthly and run to about 9,400 words in English.

Monika Bickert, the Facebook vice president in charge of the standards, has previously told Reuters that they were “a heavy lift to translate into all those different languages.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said this week the rules are translated case by case depending on whether a language has a critical mass of usage and whether Facebook is a primary information source for speakers. The spokeswoman said there was no specific number for critical mass.

She said among priorities for translations are Khmer, the official language in Cambodia, and Sinhala, the dominant language in Sri Lanka, where the government blocked Facebook this week to stem rumors about devastating Easter Sunday bombings.

A Reuters report found last year that hate speech on Facebook that helped foster ethnic cleansing in Myanmar went unchecked in part because the company was slow to add moderation tools and staff for the local language.

Facebook says it now offers the rules in Burmese and has more than 100 speakers of the language among its workforce.

The spokeswoman said Facebook’s efforts to protect people from harmful content had “a level of language investment that surpasses most any technology company.”

But human rights officials say Facebook is in jeopardy of a repeat of the Myanmar problems in other strife-torn nations where its language capabilities have not kept up with the impact of social media.

“These are supposed to be the rules of the road and both customers and regulators should insist social media platforms make the rules known and effectively police them,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. “Failure to do so opens the door to serious abuses.”

ABUSE IN FIJIAN

Mohammed Saneem, the supervisor of elections in Fiji, said he felt the impact of the language gap during elections in the South Pacific nation in November last year. Racist comments proliferated on Facebook in Fijian, which the social network does not support. Saneem said he dedicated a staffer to emailing posts and translations to a Facebook employee in Singapore to seek removals.

Facebook said it did not request translations, and it gave Reuters a post-election letter from Saneem praising its “timely and effective assistance.”

Saneem told Reuters that he valued the help but had expected pro-active measures from Facebook.

“If they are allowing users to post in their language, there should be guidelines available in the same language,” he said.

Similar issues abound in African nations such as Ethiopia, where deadly ethnic clashes among a population of 107 million have been accompanied by ugly Facebook content. Much of it is in Amharic, a language supported by Facebook. But Amharic users looking up rules get them in English.

At least 652 million people worldwide speak languages supported by Facebook but where rules are not translated, according to data from language encyclopedia Ethnologue. Another 230 million or more speak one of the 31 languages that do not have official support.

Facebook uses automated software as a key defense against prohibited content. Developed using a type of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, these tools identify hate speech in about 30 languages and “terrorist propaganda” in 19, the company said.

Machine learning requires massive volumes of data to train computers, and a scarcity of text in other languages presents a challenge in rapidly growing the tools, Guy Rosen, the Facebook vice president who oversees automated policy enforcement, has told Reuters.

GROWTH REGIONS

Beyond the automation and a few official fact-checkers, Facebook relies on users to report problematic content. That creates a major issue where community standards are not understood or even known to exist.

Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s director of public policy for Africa, told Reuters in March that the continent had the world’s lowest rates of user reporting.

“A lot of people don’t even know that there are community standards,” Okobi said.

Facebook has bought radio advertisements in Nigeria and worked with local organizations to change that, she said. It also has held talks with African education officials to introduce social media etiquette into the curriculum, she said.

Simultaneously, Facebook is partnering with wireless carriers and other groups to expand internet access in countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where it has yet to officially support widely-used languages such as Luganda and Kituba. Asked this week about the expansions without language support, Facebook declined to comment.

The company announced in February it would soon have its first 100 sub-Saharan Africa-based content moderators at an outsourcing facility in Nairobi. They will join existing teams in reviewing content in Somali, Oromo and other languages.

But the community standards are not translated into Somali or Oromo. Posts in Somali from last year celebrating the al-Shabaab militant group remained on Facebook for months despite a ban on glorifying organizations or acts that Facebook designates as terrorist.

“Disbelievers and apostates, die with your anger,” read one post seen by Reuters this month that praised the killing of a Sufi cleric.

After Reuters inquired about the post, Facebook said it took down the author’s account because it violated policies.

ABILITY TO DERAIL

Posts in Amharic reviewed by Reuters this month attacked the Oromo and Tigray ethnic populations in vicious terms that clearly violated Facebook’s ban on discussing ethnic groups using “violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion.”

Facebook removed the two posts Reuters inquired about. The company added that it had erred in allowing one of them, from December 2017, to remain online following an earlier user report.

For officials such as Saneem in Fiji, Facebook’s efforts to improve content moderation and language support are painfully slow. Saneem said he warned Facebook months in advance of the election in the archipelago of 900,000 people. Most of them use Facebook, with half writing in English and half in Fijian, he estimated.

“Social media has the ability to completely derail an election,” Saneem said.

Other social media companies face the same problem to varying degrees.

(GRAPHIC: Social media and the language gap – https://tmsnrt.rs/2VHjwTu)

Facebook-owned Instagram said its 1,179-word community guidelines are in 30 out of 51 languages offered to users. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook as well, has terms in nine of 58 supported languages, Reuters found.

Alphabet Inc’s YouTube presents community guidelines in 40 of 80 available languages, Reuters found. Twitter Inc’s rules are in 37 of 47 supported languages, and Snap Inc’s in 13 out of 21.

“A lot of misinformation gets spread around and the problem with the content publishers is the reluctance to deal with it,” Saneem said. “They do owe a duty of care. “

(Reporting by Maggie Fick in Nairobi and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Fiji and Omar Mohammed in Nairobi; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN

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Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev backs Tokayev for president

FILE PHOTO: Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev speaks during his meeting with South Korea's counterpart Moon Jae-in in Nur-Sultan
FILE PHOTO: Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev speaks during his meeting with South Korea's counterpart Moon Jae-in in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

April 23, 2019

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Tuesday secured veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev’s backing to run in the June 9 snap presidential election, virtually guaranteeing Tokayev’s victory.

Nazarbayev, who leads the oil-rich Central Asian nation’s biggest political party, Nur Otan, asked party members at a pre-election congress on Tuesday to officially nominate Tokayev.

(Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

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Harris joins Elizabeth Warren’s call for impeachment

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.

CANDIDATE ASKS CNN'S CHRIS CUOMO TO STOP 'CREEPING'

“I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment,” Harris said. “I am also a realist and when I look at what has been happening over the two years and some months since I’ve been in the United States Senate, I have also witnessed folks in the United States Congress and in particular the GOP, who have been presented with many reasons to push back against this president and they have not.”

She later elaborated that while impeachment may pass in the Democratic-controlled House, it would likely not in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Last week, Harris expressed caution towards impeachment, saying she wanted to hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and “really understand” what he concluded in his report before moving forward with impeachment.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, doubled down on her call to impeach Trump at an earlier town hall.

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“There is no ‘political inconvenience’ exception to the United States Constitution,” Warren told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos told “Fox and Friends” Friday morning that he was “shocked” Robert Mueller accurately described why he was “illicitly targeted” and reiterated the report’s findings that there was no collusion.

“I was actually really impressed and quite frankly shocked that Bob Mueller told the truth about why I was illicitly targeted and it really had nothing to do with Russia. It had to do with my ties to Israel,” Papadopoulos said.

“I was actually really impressed and quite frankly shocked that Bob Mueller told the truth about why I was illicitly targeted and it really had nothing to do with Russia. It had to do with my ties to Israel.”

— George Papadopoulos

TRUMP’S WRITTEN — AT TIMES SNARKY — ANSWERS TO MUELLER’S QUESTIONS REVEALED

“Now, this is why this is really important. Because if I was targeted for my ties to Israel, and I had all these various spies approaching me while I was just joining the campaign and they were discussing Israel with me,” he continued. “

“I think that’s very disturbing and probably is going to reveal quite frankly how this entire investigation started.”

Papadopoulos went on to respond to mainstream media outlets and media figures such as CNN’s Jim Acosta who pointed to his case, for which he was sentenced to 12 days in prison for making false statements to federal prosecutors, as the evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

“There was no collusion and of course I wasn’t colluding because I have never met a Russian official in my entire life. Let alone on the campaign or the transition team,” Papadopoulos said.

“There was no collusion and of course I wasn’t colluding because I have never met a Russian official in my entire life. Let alone on the campaign or the transition team.”

— George Papadopoulos

“Quite comically the guy at the epicenter of this fake collusion story Joseph Mifsud was outed yesterday by the Italians living next to the U.S. Embassy for the last year,” he added, referring to Maltese Professor Joseph Mifsud who Papadopoulos claimed told him in an April 2016 meeting that the Russians had “dirt” that could damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

SPECULATION RAGES OVER PAPADOPOULOS TIPSTER’S ROLE: WHO WAS MALTESE PROF WORKING FOR?

It has long been suggested – in court documents filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, by Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the media – that Mifsud was connected to Russian intelligence, though others insist that he more closely associated with Western governments and their intelligence agencies, a view shared by Papadopoulos.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think anybody is buying that this guy was some Russian intermediary or Russian spy trying to collude with me. Quite frankly, even people like Rudy Giuliani are going public and stating that he was probably part of some sort of setup,” he said.

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“That’s why my case is so fascinating and important moving forward, like I stated because there was targeting of me for my ties to Israel which attracted all of these spies and two who was running these guys and where did it come from?

“Was it the Obama administration? Was it the head of the U.K. Government? We’ll have to find out.”

Source: Fox News Politics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday declined to comment on whether Congress might launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, saying it was not appropriate to criticize him while she was abroad, visiting the Irish border.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election provided extensive details on Trump’s efforts to thwart the probe, but Democratic party leaders have played down talk of impeachment just 18 months before the 2020 presidential election.

“Whatever the issue and challenge that we face, the Congress of the United States will honor its oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, to protect our democracy,” Pelosi told journalists in Belfast when asked about possible impeachment proceedings.

“The legislative branch has a responsibility of oversight of our democracy and we will exercise that,” she said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said Sunday night she’s received an influx of death threats since President Trump tweeted a video that combined comments from the congresswoman — which critics said were dismissive of the Sept. 11 attacks — with footage from Ground Zero.

“I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life—many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video,” Omar tweeted in a statement. “I thank the Capitol Police, the FBI, the House Sergeant at Arms, and the Speaker of the House for their attention to these threats.”

In her statement, Omar continued: “Violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists are on the ride in this country and around the world. We can no longer ignore that they are being encouraged by the occupant of the highest office in the land.”

PELOSI MOVES TO ENSURE ILHAN OMAR’S SAFETY, CALLS FOR TRUMP TO TAKE DOWN VIDEO

The president tweeted the video out last Friday. It included a snippet from a recent speech Omar gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). She had said, in her defense of the organization, that CAIR was founded after Sept. 11, 2001 “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” CAIR had been formed in 1994.

The video also included news footage of the hijacked planes hitting the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan. The video concluded with: “September 11, 2011 — we remember.”

“Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase when cities host Trump rallies,” Omar said, apparently citing Washington Post research.

Omar said “this is particularly concerning” because Trump is scheduled to visit Minnesota on Monday. The White House said the president will take part in a roundtable discussion on tax reform and the economy.

“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief,” the freshman congresswoman also said. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the video, and on Sunday announced that to ensure Omar’s safety, she had spoken with congressional authorities after Trump’s tweet “to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff.”

“They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces,” the speaker said. She called on Trump to take down the video and discourage such behavior.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders vowed that the president would “continue to call out” Omar, whom Sanders charged unabashedly “continues to make anti-Semitic comments over and over again.”

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“Certainly the president is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence towards anyone, but the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her not only one time but history of anti-Semitic comments,” Sanders said.

“The bigger question is, why aren’t Democrats doing the same thing? It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way.”

Fox News’ David Aaro, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Since he took office, President Trump has taken a largely hands-off approach to marijuana in states where it’s legal, earning praise from civil libertarians. But now pot politics are poised to take a big toll on businesses who are selling a marijuana extract that doesn’t get you high. It’s called CBD, often seen as marijuana’s less-controversial cousin. CBD is best described as a health supplement derived from cannabis, but containing no THC – the psychoactive ingredient in pot. In other words, it can give a relaxing effect without the “high” associated with regular marijuana. But the disparity has some lawmakers and regulators wondering how to classify it.

The Farm Bill passed by Congress last year (which took effect in December) specifically makes CBD legal nationwide, but that new law is now creating inconsistencies with local health regulations in a number of states. And some businesses say it’s impossible to follow one set of rules without violating another. “All my labels are regulated. All my labels say that is not FDA approved, which that’s the legality of CBD oil right now,” insists Igor Yakovlev, who runs the Beezy Beez Honey company in New York. But the proper labeling and licensing didn’t stop him and a number of other CBD retailers from being raided by city agencies, even after getting the green light from the federal government. “We were informed [of the new regulations] through the news overnight, no letter, no directions,” says Dorothy Stepnowska, owner of the Flower People Coffee Shop in New York. “It’s like they’re treating us like we’re nothing.”

The White House is now asking the Food and Drug Administration to explore ways to standardize CBD rules and regulations throughout the country, in an effort to avoid confusion, establish standards, and streamline the permitting process. But so far, the Agency hasn’t approved it for use in food or dietary supplements, which legal experts say is a direct contradiction of the new law created by the Farm Bill.

Another big concern has been protecting doctors and researchers who are studying medicinal uses for CBD. Psychiatrists are particularly keen on the compound, which they say can be used to safely treat a host of social issues. Dr. Raphael Bernier of the University of Washington says his team is hoping CBD “will ameliorate some of those challenges we see, reduce irritability, and increase social ability.” The uncertainty surrounding the legality of both the testing and treating with CBD, however, have had a chilling effect in the research community, and funding has largely dried up as a result.

But the uncertainty isn’t stopping the commercial market from exploding. According to the financial services company Cowen, Americans spent at least $600 million on CBD products last year, and that number is expected to climb over the $2 billion mark by the end of 2019, with projected sales reaching some $16 billion by 2025. And business owners say the potential for that kind of growth will keep them in the CBD business for years to come. “Every day is just like a new challenge between this and that,” says Yakovlev.  “But, when they come out with them, if you follow the proper guidelines, I think everything will be okay and sweet like honey.”

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

April 22, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies said on Monday its first-quarter revenue jumped 39 percent to 179.7 billion yuan ($26.81 billion), in the Chinese technology firm’s first-ever quarterly results.

The Shenzhen-based firm, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, also said its net profit margin was around 8 percent for the quarter, which it added was slightly higher than the same period last year. Huawei did not disclose its actual net profit.

The limited results announcement comes at a time when Washington has intensified a campaign against unlisted Huawei, alleging its equipment could be used for espionage and urging U.S. allies to ban it from building next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations and launched an unprecedented media blitz by opening up its campus to journalists and making its typically low-key founder, Ren Zhengfei, available for media interviews.

The Chinese firm, which is also the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker, said last week the number of contracts it has won to provide 5G telecoms gear increased further despite the U.S. campaign.

By the end of March, Huawei said it had signed 40 commercial 5G contracts with carriers, shipped more than 70,000 5G base stations to markets around the world and expects to have shipped 100,000 by May.

Huawei’s network business saw its first drop in revenue in two years in 2018. But Ren Zhengfei said in an interview with CNBC earlier this month that network equipment sales rose 15 percent while sales of the consumer business increased by more than 70 percent in the first quarter.

“These figures show that we are still growing, not declining,” Ren said.

Guo Ping, rotating chairman of the company, has said he expects all three business groups – consumer, carrier and enterprise – to post double-digit growth this year.

Huawei also said on Monday it had shipped 59 million smartphones in the first quarter. It did not disclose year-ago comparable figures, but according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, Huawei shipped 39.3 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2018.

(Reporting by Sijia Jiang and Julia Fioretti; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN



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