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White House says Trump spoke to Libyan commander Haftar on Monday

FILE PHOTO: Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives to attend an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives to attend an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 29, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

April 19, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Monday to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and discussed “ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya.”

The statement said Trump “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”

On Thursday, mortar bombs crashed down on a suburb of Tripoli, almost hitting a clinic, after two weeks of an offensive by Haftar’s eastern troops on the Libyan capital, which is held by an internationally recognized government.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by David Gregorio)

Source: OANN

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Dutch tulip forecast: brilliant, with a chance of tourists

An aerial view of tulip fields near the city of Creil
An aerial view of tulip fields near the city of Creil, Netherlands April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

April 19, 2019

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – As spring flower fields around the Netherlands burst into bloom, painting the countryside with dazzling swathes of red, white, and blue, a modern day tulip bubble may be forming: tourists.

More than a million foreign sightseers are expected to visit this country of 17 million people on Easter weekend, a record, the Dutch Tourism Bureau said on Thursday.

Director Jos Vranken said he expects them to spend 300 million euros — a boon for the national economy. Many are attracted to the country’s museums and other cultural offerings, but in April, the flower fields and Keukenhof flower show in The Hague top many “must see” lists.

While flower lovers and the photographs they share on social media are free advertising for the country’s tourism, cut flower and bulb industries, it isn’t all a bed of roses.

“That has a downside,” Vranken said. “Farmers are having increasing damage to their fields from tourists taking photos.”

Foreign and Dutch tourists alike have learned to use “Flower Radar” websites to identify where fields are in bloom, especially in the main bulb-growing center known as the “Bollenstreek” along the coast between Haarlem and Leiden.

DO NOT TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS

Signs and barricades — now printed in Chinese and English — saying “Enjoy the Flowers, Respect Our Pride” have gone up at the edge of many fields.

They illustrate the concept that taking photos at the edge of a field is okay, but actually walking among the flowers to take pictures ruins them.

Meanwhile, farmers in less-promoted areas of the country sense an opportunity.

In Creil, northwest of Amsterdam, one enterprising group has set up a “Tulip Experience” complete with designated selfie area, hundreds of tulip varieties on display, helicopter tours, food and drinks, and bouncy castles for kids.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Source: OANN

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House Judiciary Committee issues subpoena for ‘complete and unredacted’ Mueller report

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., issued a subpoena Friday to obtain the "complete and unredacted" version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, as well as the underlying materials, a day after the redacted copy was released.

"This includes, but is not limited to, all summaries, exhibits, indices, tables of contents or other tables or figures, appendices, supplements, addenda or any other attachments whether written or attached in a separate electronic format," the subpoena says.

MUELLER REPORT IGNITES NEW DEM BATTLE OVER IMPEACHMENT

Nadler's push is the next step in what is likely to be an extended political and legal battle over the report by Democrats in the House. The White House has hailed the report, which found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2016, as a victory.

But Democrats have pointed to Mueller's review of 10 instances where Trump may be considered to have obstructed justice -- although the special counsel did not conclude that Trump committed a crime.

Nadler and other Democrats have also furiously opposed Attorney General William Barr's decision to release a redacted version of the report to Congress. Barr said that he, along with special counsel, identified four areas of the report that needed redactions, including grand jury material, information the intelligence community believes would reveal intelligence sources and methods, any material that could interfere with ongoing prosecutions, and information that could implicate the privacy or reputational interests of “peripheral players.”

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Nadler is requesting the information on May 1, a day before Barr is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. If the Justice Department doesn't respond, Democrats could hold officials in contempt of Congress or fight it out in court. Nadler's committee also holds the power to launch impeachment proceedings, something that a number of House Democrats and 2020 presidential hopefuls have indicated they may support.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Source: Fox News Politics

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Pakistan PM hints at further cabinet changes after ‘batting order’ shuffle

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the opening ceremony for the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the opening ceremony for the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/Pool/File Photo

April 19, 2019

By Saad Sayeed

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that he would not hesitate to make more changes to his cabinet if required a day after a major reshuffle that saw the appointment of a new finance minister and nine other ministerial switches.

The cabinet shakeup, which comes eight months after Khan took office, included the replacement of Finance Minister Asad Umar, who has been a close ally to Khan for many years, with Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in a renamed role to steer the country out of worsening economic turmoil.

Pakistan is on the brink of signing up for its 13th International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout since the late 1980s in a bid to stave off a balance of payments crisis and ease ballooning current account and fiscal deficits.

“I want to tell all my ministers that whoever is not useful for my country, I will change them and bring that minister who is useful for my country,” Khan said during a speech in the northern region of Orakzai.

Shaikh, who served as finance minister from 2010-2013 under the opposition Pakistan People’s Party when it was in power, has been appointed as “Adviser on Finance” but will be heading the finance ministry once again.

In Pakistan’ it is common for financial experts to be given the title of “adviser”, rather than federal minister, to head the finance ministry when they are not a sitting member of parliament.

Umar has been leading negotiations with the IMF but faced criticism over a worsening economic outlook on his watch, with inflation at a five-year high and the rupee currency down about 35 percent since December 2017.

The central bank last month cut growth estimates, forecasting the economy to expand 3.5 to 4 percent in the 12 months to the end of June, well short of a government target of 6.2 percent. The IMF paints a gloomier picture, predicting growth of 2.9 percent in 2019 and 2.8 percent next year.

In a speech laden with cricket metaphors, Khan, who led Pakistan’s cricket team to World Cup triumph in 1992, said such changes were part of good leadership.

“The captain has one objective and that is to get the team to win. The prime minister also has one objective and I have only one objective, to help my people win, to help them rise,” he said.

“For this, I have the changed the batting order in my team and I will do this again in the future.”

(Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

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Comedian Zelenskiy keeps Ukraine presidential poll lead

FILE PHOTO: Candidate Zelenskiy speaks following the announcement of the first exit poll in Ukraine's presidential election in Kiev
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian comic actor and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy flashes a victory sign following the announcement of the first exit poll in a presidential election at his campaign headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine March 31, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

April 19, 2019

KIEV (Reuters) – Comic actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a political novice who plays a fictional president in a popular TV series, has kept his lead in Ukraine’s presidential election race, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.

The poll by research body Reiting showed Zelenskiy on 57.9 percent of votes and incumbent Petro Poroshenko on 21.7 percent. Reiting polled 3,000 voters in all regions, except annexed Crimea, from April 12 to 16.

The previous poll made by Reiting in April 5-10 gave Zelenskiy 61 percent of votes while Poroshenko received 24 percent.

Poroshenko and Zelenskiy will meet in the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election, which will take place on April 21. Zelenskiy won nearly twice as many votes as Poroshenko in the first round, on March 31.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

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French interior minister warns of yellow-vest riots on Saturday

FILE PHOTO: Protesters wearing yellow vests attend a demonstration during the Act XXI (the 21st consecutive national protest on Saturday) of the yellow vests movement at the financial district of La Defense near Paris
FILE PHOTO: Protesters wearing yellow vests attend a demonstration during the Act XXI (the 21st consecutive national protest on Saturday) of the yellow vests movement at the financial district of La Defense near Paris, France, April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

April 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – The French interior minister warned on Friday that violence could flare up on the 23rd Saturday of yellow-vest protests, as authorities banned marches around the fire-gutted Notre-Dame cathedral.

The warning comes after weeks of relative calm, with the marches attracting declining numbers as yellow-vest protesters waited for President Emmanuel Macron’s expected response to their various demands which include lower taxes and more government services.

Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, said domestic intelligence services had informed him of a potential return of rioters intent on wreaking havoc in Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier and Bordeaux, in a repeat of violent protests on March 16.

That day, hooded gangs ransacked stores on Paris’s famed Champs-Elysees avenue, set fire to a bank and forced Macron to cut short a ski trip in the Pyrenees.

“The rioters will be back tomorrow,” Castaner told a press conference. “Their proclaimed aim: a repeat of March 16,” he said. “The rioters have visibly not been moved by what happened at Notre-Dame.”

Castaner said that planned marches that would have come near the medieval church on the central island on the Seine river had been banned, while one march from Saint-Denis, north of Paris, to Jussieu university on the Left Bank, had been authorized.

The catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame cathedral on Monday, one of France’s best loved monuments, prompted an outpouring of national sorrow and a rush by rich families and corporations to pledge around 1 billion euro ($1.12 billion)for its reconstruction.

That has angered some yellow-vest protesters, who have expressed disgust at the fact their five-month old movement, which started as an anti-fuel tax protest last year, has not received the same generous donations by France’s elite.

“I’m sorry, and with all due respect to our heritage, but I am just taken aback by these astronomic amounts!” Ingrid Levavasseur, one of the yellow vests’ most recognizable public faces, said on her Facebook page.

“After five months on the streets, this is totally at odds with what we have seen,” she said.

The yellow vest movement poses the biggest challenge so far to Macron’s authority two years into his presidency.

The French leader was due to unveil policies to quell the grassroot movement on Monday, before the blaze at Notre-Dame forced him to cancel the speech. He has yet to set a new date for the announcements.

(Reporting by Danielle Rouquié, writing by Michel Rose; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: OANN

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Ukraine PrivatBank court ruling excludes parties related to ex-owners: central bank

Logo of PrivatBank, the Ukraine's biggest lender, is seen on a bank's branch in Kiev
FILE PHOTO: Logo of PrivatBank, the Ukraine's biggest lender, is seen on a bank's branch in Kiev, Ukraine April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

April 19, 2019

KIEV (Reuters) – A Ukrainian court ruling that the nationalization of the country’s largest bank, PrivatBank, was illegal also said that parties related to the bank’s former owners should be excluded from the legal case, the central bank said on Friday.

The bank said that decision, if implemented, would allow parties related to the former owners to claim money from PrivatBank.

The central bank said it would appeal the decision.

The former owners of PrivatBank are fighting a series of legal battles against the Ukrainian authorities over the 2016 nationalization of the country’s largest lender.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Source: OANN

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FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing Ebola protection gear, walks before entering the Biosecure Emergency Care Units at the Alima Ebola treatment centre in Beni
FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing Ebola protection gear, walks before entering the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit (CUBE) at the ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action) Ebola treatment centre in Beni, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 30, 2019. Picture taken March 30, 2019.REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

April 16, 2019

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday implored people in areas hit by the nation’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak to accept the disease is real and trust health workers.

Mistrust of first responders and widespread misinformation propagated by some community leaders has led many in affected areas of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to refuse vaccinations. Instead, they turn to traditional healers, whose clinics have contributed to the hemorrhagic fever’s spread.

“It is not an imaginary disease,” Tshisekedi said after arriving in the city of Beni on his first tour of eastern Congo since being inaugurated in January.

“If we follow the instructions, in two or three months Ebola will be finished,” he optimistically told a crowd after having his temperature taken and washing his hands, as required of all incoming passengers to Beni airport.

Congo has suffered 10 outbreaks of Ebola, which causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, since the virus was discovered there in 1976. The current one has seen 1,264 confirmed and probable cases and 814 deaths since it was declared last August.

It is surpassed only by the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa, in which more than 28,000 cases were reported and more than 11,000 people died.

Following a series of attacks on treatment centers by unidentified assailants in February and March, the current outbreak is now spreading at its fastest rate yet.

More than 100 cases were confirmed last week.

Tshisekedi, who won a disputed election last December to succeed Joseph Kabila, also called on Tuesday for the disarmament of dozens of militia that operate in the east and whose presence has complicated the Ebola response.

“The time of armed groups is over,” he said. “The new government is reaching out to these children of the country to surrender arms through disarmament programmes.”

(Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Aaron Ross and Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland, October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

April 12, 2019

ZURICH (Reuters) – Proxy adviser Ethos Foundation on Friday recommended UBS shareholders reject all of the Swiss bank’s executive and board pay proposals at its upcoming annual general meeting, including binding votes on 2018 bonuses and 2019 pay packages.

“Ethos considers the amount of 73.3 million Swiss francs ($73.18 million), proposed as the 2018 bonus of the 13 executive board members, to be inappropriate given the bank’s negative stock price performance in 2018,” it said in a statement.

On Tuesday, another proxy adviser, Glass Lewis, also said the bank’s shareholders should oppose its 2018 compensation report.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

Another sign emerged Saturday of frustration between far-left Democrats in Congress and the party’s entrenched leadership.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., claimed in a Twitter message Saturday that she and other minority members of the party have been used as tokens whenever the party wants to project an image of inclusiveness.

The message appeared to be triggered by a California Muslim activist’s assertion that Democratic leaders hadn’t been adequately supportive of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has been accused of trivializing the 9/11 terror attacks as “some people did something.”

AOC, RASHIDA TLAIB LEAP TO DEFENSE OF ILHAN OMAR AFTER HER ‘SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING’ 9/11 REMARKS

“They put us in photos when they want to show our party is diverse,” Tlaib wrote. “However, when we ask to be at the table, or speak up about issues that impact who we are, what we fight for & why we ran in the first place, we are ignored. To truly honor our diversity is to never silence us.”

Tlaib later retweeted a post by Omar, who also expressed frustration.

“I did not run for Congress to be silent,” Omar wrote. “I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.”

Tlaib also retweeted a post by Roza Calderon, a human rights activist.

“More and more we’re realizing that POC [people of color] are used as props by @TheDemocrats,” Calderon wrote. “When we run, we’re told to wait our turn. When we speak about our struggles, we’re told we’re angry. When we ask them to stand up for us, they say we’re being divisive.”

Previously, three progressives — U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Ro Khanna, D-Calif. – objected to a plan by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to blacklist organizations that assist candidates who look to challenge Democratic incumbents in party primaries, as the progressives had done to win their seats.

OCASIO-CORTEZ RALLIES PROGRESSIVES AGAINST DEM LEADERS’ BID TO SHIELD INCUMBENTS FROM PRIMARY CHALLENGERS

“The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote March 30.

“If the DCCC enacts this policy to blacklist vendors who work with challengers,” Pressley wrote, also on March 30, “we risk undermining an entire universe of potential candidates and vendors – especially women and people of color – whose ideas, energy, and innovation need a place in our party.”

Meanwhile, other examples indicate that leading Democrats may have frustrations of their own regarding some of the party’s newer members and the media attention they’ve received.

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“While there are people who have a large number of Twitter followers, what’s important is that we have a large number of votes on the floor of the House,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told USA Today earlier this month in what was interpreted as a dig at Ocasio-Cortez, who has nearly twice as many Twitter followers as Pelosi despite being in office a little more than two months.

In March, in a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., pointedly noted that the new Congress had 62 freshmen Democrats.

“You hear me?” Hoyer said. “Sixty-two. Not three.”

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: Senator Kamala Harris speaks at NABTU legislative conference in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) 2019 legislative conference in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

April 14, 2019

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senator Kamala Harris released on Sunday 15 years of tax returns through 2018, offering the most complete look to date at a presidential candidate’s finances.

Harris held public office during the years 2004 through 2018. With her husband, Douglas Emhoff, an attorney, she had a combined adjusted gross income in 2018 of about $1.89 million, and paid total taxes of about $697,000, according to the returns.

Harris and Emhoff, who have filed joint tax returns since marrying in 2014, have paid more than $2.2 million in federal taxes over the past five years at an average effective tax rate of 32.6 percent, according to her campaign.

Harris’ release of her tax filings follows that of fellow White House contenders like Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren. Senator Bernie Sanders has said he will release his tax filings this week. Tax day is April 15 in the United States.

Democrats in the 2020 race have released their tax returns as Republican President Donald Trump resists moves by congressional investigators to review his tax filings in probes related to his businesses and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is the first modern U.S. president not to release his tax returns to the public.

After taking control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 elections, Democrats passed a bill that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns. It has not been voted on by the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, but Harris supports such legislation.

Harris has also called for the repeal of the Republican tax law approved in 2016 that delivered major tax cuts to the wealthy and businesses.

In 2018, about $157,000 of Harris and Emhoff’s $1.89 million in income came from Harris’ salary as a U.S. senator, with the bulk of the rest reported as partnership income from Emhoff’s work at a law firm.

Before her marriage to Emhoff, most of the income Harris reported each year was from the salary she earned as California’s attorney general and, before that, as San Francisco’s district attorney.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry attends a news conference after meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Baghdad
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry attends a news conference after meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Baghdad, Iraq December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani/File Photo

April 18, 2019

Source: OANN



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