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Sino-U.S. trade deal negotiation makes new progress: China’s commerce ministry

FILE PHOTO: China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng attends a news conference in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng attends a news conference in Beijing, China April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

April 18, 2019

Source: OANN

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Schools evacuated, subway services halted as quake rocks Taiwan

A major road in the centre of Taipei is seen damaged after an earthquake in Taipei
A major road in the centre of Taipei is seen damaged after an earthquake in Taipei, Taiwan April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

April 18, 2019

By Yimou Lee

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan’s coastal city of Hualien on Thursday, shaking buildings and temporarily halting subway services in the capital Taipei, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

Television footage showed school children being evacuated from buildings after the largest quake to hit the heavily industrialized island this year, a weather bureau official said.

A hundred people were evacuated from a building in Taipei City, while two people were hit by falling rocks in the tourist city of Hualien, the government said.

While small-scale power cuts were reported in some districts in Taipei, the Central News Agency said, oil refinery plants and services were operating as normal, according to the government.

It set up a disaster reaction center after the quake which hit at a depth of 18 km (11 miles), according to the weather bureau. Aftershocks of more than a 5 magnitude were possible in the coming days, the bureau said.

President Tsai Ing-wen said high-speed rail service in northern Taiwan, between Taipei and the neighboring city of Taoyuan, had been temporarily suspended.

On her official Facebook page, Tsai said she asked officials “to gather information from everywhere to check whether there’s any damage, and if so, to react as soon as possible.”

The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 6.4, adding that it struck at a depth of 15 km (9 miles) from Hualien.

In February last year, a devastating 6.4-magnitude quake rocked Hualien, toppling buildings, ripping large fissures in roads and unleashing panic among the roughly 100,000 residents.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers its own, lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes.

More than 100 people were killed in an earthquake in the island’s south in 2016, and a quake of 7.6 magnitude killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

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Another 155 mln Indians go to polls in second phase of mammoth election

A polling officials holds an Electronic Voting Machine inside a strong room at a distribution centre ahead of the second phase of general election in Srinagar
A polling officials holds an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) inside a strong room at a distribution centre ahead of the second phase of general election in Srinagar April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

April 18, 2019

By Sethuraman N R and Devjyot Ghoshal

BENGALURU/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Voters across swaths of southern India began queuing up early on Thursday in the second phase of a mammoth, staggered general election in which opposition parties are trying to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning a second term.

More than 155 million people are eligible to vote in the second phase, which covers 95 parliament constituencies in 12 states including parts of restive Jammu and Kashmir. India’s parliament has 545 members.

The focus will be on the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where the main opposition Congress party and its allies need to win big if they hope to oust Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP secured a landslide majority in the previous general election in 2014, in part by winning sweeping victories in six northern states that gave the party 70 percent of all its seats, said Neelanjan Sircar, an assistant professor at Ashoka University near the capital, New Delhi.

“You can never expect you’ll do that again,” he said. “Those seats that you lose, you’ll have to make up somewhere.”

Sircar also said the BJP would be looking to make gains in Karnataka.

The election began last week and will end next month in a giant exercise involving almost 900 million people. Votes will be counted on May 23 and the results are expected the same day.

Modi and the BJP have run an aggressive campaign, playing to their nationalist, Hindu-first base and attacking rivals they accuse of appeasing minorities.

Critics say such divisive election rhetoric is a threat to India’s secular foundations.

“Communal polarization is obviously the biggest issue for me,” said Rakesh Mehar, who voted in Karnataka’s capital, Bengaluru. “And the growing intolerance in the country is what worries me the most.”

A firebrand Hindu ascetic from the BJP who governs northern Uttar Pradesh was banned from campaigning for a few days because of anti-Muslim comments, India’s election commission said on Monday.

The Congress party is focusing on concerns about rising unemployment and agrarian distress and is staking it campaign on a promise for a generous handout to India’s poorest families.

Voters in Bengaluru, once a sleepy retirement town that has been transformed into India’s technology hub, said they wanted lawmakers who would fix infrastructure problems such as traffic congestion and poor water management.

“We have been voting every time expecting a change but nothing has come so far. People are talking about national issues,” said Manjunath Munirathnappa. “But only when they fix the local issues will there be progress in the nation.”

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal and Sethuraman NR; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Paul Tait)

Source: OANN

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Pernod CEO: in regular and ‘courteous’ talks with Elliott

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Ricard is seen on labels at the Ricard manufacturing unit in Lormont, near Bordeaux
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Ricard is seen on labels at the Ricard manufacturing unit in Lormont, near Bordeaux, France February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

April 18, 2019

By Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) – Drinks group Pernod Ricard is having regular and “courteous” talks with activist investor Elliott, although it is not necessarily meeting Elliott any more than it would with any other regular shareholder, the head of Pernod told Reuters.

“There is a regular dialogue between the teams, but we do not see them more than other shareholders. My ambition remains to deliver on our strategic plan, that’s my motto,” CEO Alexandre Ricard said in a telephone interview.

Pernod, which is the world’s second-biggest spirits group behind Diageo, is under pressure from New York hedge fund Elliott Management to improve profit margins and corporate governance.

In February, Pernod vowed to lift its margins and shareholder returns under a three-year plan that Elliott described as a first small step.

When asked about speculation that Pernod could sell the whole or part of its wine business, Ricard replied: “Pernod Ricard has the firm intention to continue to actively manage its portfolio, in terms of either selling or buying.”

Last month Bloomberg reported Pernod was considering the sale of its wine division, which includes Australian brand Jacob’s Creek and Spain’s Campo Viejo and makes roughly 5 percent of group sales.

Ricard, whose company makes Havana Club rum in Cuba, added he was “not worried” about Pernod’s business in Cuba, despite latest moves by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Trump administration is lifting a long-standing ban against U.S. citizens filing lawsuits against foreign companies that use properties seized by Cuba’s Communist government since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

The major policy shift, which the State Department said could draw hundreds of thousands of legal claims worth tens of billion of dollars, is intended to intensify pressure on Havana at a time Washington is demanding an end to Cuban support for Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

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

Source: OANN

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North Korea rejects Pompeo from nuclear dialogue: KCNA

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a news conference at a warehouse where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela is being stored, in Cucuta
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a news conference at a warehouse where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela is being stored, near La Unidad cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia April 14, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez 

April 18, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea no longer wants U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo involved in nuclear talks, calling for someone who “is more careful and mature in communicating”, state media said on Thursday.

The official KCNA news agency also said, quoting Kwon Jong Gun, a senior official at the North’s foreign ministry, that “no one can predict” the situation on the Korean peninsula if the United States does not abandon the “root cause” that compelled Pyongyang to develop its nuclear program, without elaborating.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee)

Source: OANN

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Unilever first-quarter sales top expectations

FILE PHOTO: Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam
FILE PHOTO: Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

April 18, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Consumer goods giant Unilever reported stronger than expected quarterly underlying sales growth on Thursday, helped by increased prices and volume.

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream said underlying sales rose 3.1 percent in the first quarter. Analysts on average were expecting a 2.8 percent rise, according to a company-supplied consensus.

Turnover fell 1.6 percent to 12.4 billion euros.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Jan Harvey)

Source: OANN

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Big corporates back crypto ‘plumbing’ despite currency caution

FILE PHOTO: Bitcoin.com buttons are seen displayed on the floor of the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City
FILE PHOTO: Bitcoin.com buttons are seen displayed on the floor of the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City, New York, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

April 18, 2019

By Tom Wilson

LONDON (Reuters) – Major finance and tech firms are pouring money into startups building technology to develop the crypto market, even though they’re steering clear of the volatile currencies themselves.

Venture capital investments in crypto and blockchain startups that included funds from corporates have raced to $850 million so far this year, data compiled by PitchBook for Reuters shows. The 13 deals put the flows on track for a second straight annual record.

Such bets, by companies including London Stock Exchange Group and Microsoft Corp, spiked over five-fold to a record $2.4 billion over 117 investments in 2018. This suggests large companies see promise in the nascent technology, even as it struggles for acceptance.

They have mostly given digital coins, including bitcoin, a wide berth, avoiding direct investment because of worries over tightening regulation, frequent security lapses and high volatility.

The lack of mainstream embrace has sown serious doubts over the potential of cryptocurrencies to evolve from speculative tokens to means of payment capable of rivaling fiat money.

Bitcoin slumped by three-quarters last year after nearing a record of $20,000 in its frenzied 2017 bubble. It’s still prone to wild price moves, underscored by a recent 20 percent jump that caused puzzlement among traders and analysts.

And though blockchain has found some use in sectors such as trade finance, its application has been relatively narrow.

Firms are looking at how, and if, blockchain and related technologies can be used in ways that could spark deeper change, said Richard Hay, UK head of fintech at law firm Linklaters.

“There are two dynamics at play,” he said. “We can get something up and running and achieve cost savings, and also look longer term at ways of deploying the technology in more transformative ways.”

Recent examples include a $20 million investment involving the London Stock Exchange and Banco Santander in a London startup whose platform can be used to issue debt on blockchain, the technology that underpins most digital coins. Graphic: Corporate bets on crypto and blockchain soar png, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2XcNzmw

“BASIC PLUMBING”

The investments span startups from makers of cryptocurrency mining gear and exchanges, the PitchBook data to April 8 shows.

One key driver is a growing expectation that the “tokenisation” of assets from stocks to oil – essentially digitizing them and allowing them to be traded on blockchain – will upend markets, lawyers and consultants working with fintech firms said.

“People are really enamored by tokenisation – the ability to produce coins or other forms of value – so that’s where we see all of the action at the moment,” said Anton Ruddenklau, global co-head of fintech at KPMG.

“They are investing as a technological hedge as much as anything.”

Bets involving corporate venture capital are usually small, the data shows. Deals this year had a median value of $6.5 million, a notch below the $8 million of last year.

Others are much bigger.

Bakkt, a cryptocurrency trading platform founded last year by New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc, raised in December over $180 million from investors including M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm.

The rush of corporate venture money comes as traditional venture capital (VC) investments also pour into the sector. Last year 617 deals totaled a record $5.6 billion worldwide, the data shows, as venture capitalists assess how the technologies will impact the online economy.

“There is a huge experimentation in effectively the basic plumbing for a native economic layer to the web,” said Jamie Burke, CEO of Outlier Ventures, a fund that has led investment in around eight blockchain-related projects.

But with that experimentation has come examples of failure.

In December, cryptocurrency project Basis said it would shut down and return funds to its backers including Google owner Alphabet’s venture arm GV and Bain Capital Ventures because of concerns over regulation.

Cryptocurrency miners and exchanges make up the four biggest VC-backed firms by valuation, according to the PitchBook data.

Some have struggled amid the slump in bitcoin prices. The $12 billion-valued Bitmain Technologies, for example, last month shelved a planned initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Others have fared better. San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase, valued at $8 billion, saw non-U.S. revenue grow 20 percent last year to 153 million euros ($173 million), a filing to Britain’s corporate registry last week showed.

The exchange’s UK arm, which books the firm’s non-U.S. revenue, accounts for almost a third of the firm’s overall revenue, said Coinbase UK chief executive Zeeshan Feroz.

That suggests, according to Reuters calculations, worldwide revenue of around $520 million last year – a rare glimpse into the financial health of a cryptocurrency exchange.

Coinbase declined to comment.

(Editing by Anna Willard)

Source: OANN

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FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new Trump administration report on international compliance with arms control accords provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials concerned that the document politicizes and slants assessments about Iran, five sources with knowledge of the matter said.

U.S. President Donald Trump is intensifying a drive to contain Iran’s power in the Middle East, which has raised fears that his administration wants to topple the Tehran government or lay the groundwork to justify military action.

The administration says it is trying to halt Iranian “malign behavior” in its support for Islamist militants in the region and denies seeking the overthrow of the Islamic republic’s government.

The clash among U.S. officials emerged on Tuesday when the State Department posted on its website, and then removed, an unclassified version of an annual report to Congress assessing compliance with arms control agreements that the sources saw as skewed Iran.

The report’s publication follows the administration’s formal designation on Monday of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s elite paramilitary and foreign espionage unit, as a foreign terrorist organization.

Washington also has piled on tough economic sanctions following Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The administration also is waging a propaganda campaign, including over social media, aimed at fueling popular anger against Iran’s government.

Several sources said the report, which reappeared without explanation on Wednesday, made them wonder if the administration was painting Iran in the darkest light possible, much as the George W. Bush administration used bogus and exaggerated intelligence to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A State Department spokeswoman defended the judgment on Iran, saying in an email that it was “informed by careful assessment of all relevant information.”

The report was published to meet a mandatory April 15 deadline by which it had to go to Congress, the department said. A more comprehensive unclassified version will be provided after the completion of a review of what information in the classified report can be made public, the spokeswoman said.

The department did not address the internal dispute over the report or concerns of politicization.

The unclassified “Adherence to and compliance with arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments” report omitted assessments of Russian compliance with landmark accords such as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the New START arms control treaty.

The State Department spokeswoman said that the U.S. position that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty “is clear.”

The report also failed to include detailed assessments published in previous years of whether Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Syria and other nations complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Instead, the report replaced those assessments with a five paragraph section entitled “country concerns.”

The section made no mention of judgments by U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran ended a nuclear weapons program in 2003 and has complied with the 2015 deal that imposed restrictions on its civilian nuclear program.

Instead, it said Iran’s retention of a nuclear archive disclosed last year by Israel raised questions about whether Tehran might have plans to resume a nuclear weapons program.

It added that any such effort would violate the NPT, as would any Iranian retention of undeclared nuclear material, though it offered no evidence that Iran had done either.

“It’s piling inference upon inference here to try to create a scary picture,” said a congressional aide, who requested anonymity to discuss the issue, as did the other sources. The aide added that by stripping out much of the report’s normal content, the documents largely had become about Iran.

“There is significant concern that the entire sort of purpose … was to help build a case for military intervention in Iran in a way that seems very familiar,” the source said, referring to the Bush administration’s use of erroneous intelligence before the invasion of Iraq 16 years ago that ousted President Saddam Hussein.

The 12-page report, down from last year’s 45-page document, reflected a disagreement between Assistant Secretary of State Yleem Poblete, whose office is charged with its drafting, and her boss, Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson, three of the sources said.

Two sources said Poblete had sought to include information such as news stories and opinion pieces in the report, which traditionally is based on legal analyses of U.S. intelligence reports.

The State Department did not comment on Poblete’s role.

“And it had other obvious errors,” said a former U.S. official familiar with matter. A draft of the unclassified version had included classified information, the official said. “It’s been described to me as just a big food fight within the department over an initially inadequate draft.”

A second former U.S. official said he believed that the report was being used to advance the Trump administration’s views on Iran rather than to reflect information gathered by intelligence agencies and assessments of that information by State Department experts.

“This ‘trends’ section is adding a political tinge or politicizing the report,” said the fourth source on condition of anonymity, saying the administration seemed to be using a once objective report “to back up subjective assertions.”

While saying they did not know why the report had been so abbreviated, removed and then restored from the website, analysts asked if there was an effort underway to demonize Iran.

“The worst case of course would be that we are observing signs of a politicization of intelligence for the purpose of serving what the top of the administration would like to accomplish,” said nuclear expert Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists in Washington.

“We have seen … that in the past with the (Iraq) war,” he said. “This is a potential warning sign about that.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

Former Watergate Assistant Special Prosecutor Jon Sale said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr will do whatever “the law requires” to keep sensitive information private on the heels of Thursday’s Mueller report release.

“I think Barr will put his head down, do what the law requires. Grand jury material has to be redacted. Doesn’t matter what anybody in the Congress says,” Sale said on “Your World with Neil Cavuto.”

TRUMP LEGAL TEAM PREPARES MUELLER COUNTER-REPORT ON OBSTRUCTION ALLEGATIONS

“But you anticipate as much as half of it? That seems like a lot but it could be,” Cavuto asked Sale.

“It’s not a matter of quantity. The question is whether or not Mueller can actually tell his findings and Barr still do his job,” Sale responded.

Barr is set to hold a news conference Thursday morning, during which he’ll discuss the long-awaited release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia election meddling inquiry, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Barr released a four-page summary last month, which stated that the special counsel found no proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats have demanded the full, unredacted report and are expected to issue a subpoena.

Sale says the request is destined for the courts, and Barr is “duty-bound” to resist a subpoena and would not negotiate grand jury material.

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“There was a case decided one week ago in which the court of appeals in the District of Columbia held that the court does not have inherent authority in the public interests of whatever reasons to release grand jury material.”

Sale added, “So, I think people are just going to have to accept the court ruling.”

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

A top Democrat in Congress on Wednesday challenged White House aide Stephen Miller to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee and defend the hardline immigration policies he has championed and, in some cases, engineered.

The offer by the chairman of the panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., appeared designed to appeal to the 33-year-old senior White House adviser’s propensity for spirited debate. A video of Miller’s contentious immigration showdown with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer earlier in the year went viral.

The offer came days after Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Sunday said Miller, “who seems to be the boss of everybody on immigration,” should appear in front of Congress and try to explain the president’s recently revived idea to send migrants from the border to sanctuary cities. Nadler told CNN that he learned from “whistleblowers” that Miller was behind the proposal.

The combative Miller is one of the White House’s most conservative and influential voices in pushing other moves that Trump has taken to curb immigration, including the administration’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.

WHITE HOUSE CONFIRMS PLAN TO SEND ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO SANCTUARY CITIES IS UNDER ACTIVE THOROUGH REVIEW

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Past administrations have often refused to send White House aides to testify before Congress, though there have been exceptions.

Should such a session occur, it would be bound to ignite fireworks over an issue that has repeatedly produced heated clashes between Trump and congressional Democrats. Trump has made an immigration crackdown a cornerstone of his appeal to conservative voters, while Democrats — led by liberal and Hispanic lawmakers — have been just as adamant in opposing his moves.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 17: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol May 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 17: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol May 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“I understand that you may not want to submit yourself to rigorous questioning,” Cummings said in his letter to Miller requesting his appearance.

“I want to make clear that I am inviting you to appear voluntarily,” Cummings wrote. “I am offering you an opportunity to make your case to the committee and the American people about why you — and presumably President Trump — believe it is good policy for the Trump administration to take the actions it has.”

Cummings cited the separation of migrant children from detained parents, a policy Trump withdrew under fire last year; Trump’s threat to move detained migrants to “sanctuary cities,” communities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities and that are mostly in Democratic areas; and the removal of top Homeland Security officials, including Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Cummings said he wanted Miller to testify to his committee on May 1 and gave him until April 24 to respond.

Meanwhile, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson said he is working on legislation to help stem the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Johnson, R-Wis., said he wants to toughen the initial standard for asylum seekers to “more than a probable chance” they’ll experience violence or persecution in their home countries. Right now, if people can demonstrate “credible fear,” they’re allowed to stay in the U.S. as their cases progress.

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Johnson said in an interview that asylum cases must be adjudicated faster and that asylum seekers should be detained while they wait.

Johnson visited this week with migrants in Border Patrol custody on the southwestern border. He said most were seeking a better life and said that while he’s sympathetic to their circumstances, that doesn’t mean they should be granted asylum.

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The expected nomination of businessman Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve appeared in jeopardy on Thursday as another Republican voiced opposition, possibly denying Cain the support needed in the Senate to be confirmed in the post.

“If I had to vote today, I would vote no,” Senator Kevin Cramer said in a statement.

Cramer becomes the fourth Republican senator reported to be opposed to Cain’s expected nomination by President Donald Trump. If all of the Senate’s Democrats and the two independents aligned with them were to vote against Cain, he would fall short of the majority support he would need.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

April 16, 2019

By Ginger Gibson, Amanda Becker and Grant Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the crowded field of Democrats jockeying for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has raised more money than his rivals, with more of it coming from small-dollar donors and more from outside his home state.

A Reuters analysis of first quarter fundraising reports filed on Monday found that while Democratic White House hopefuls talk about building their campaigns on “grassroots” or small donor support, only six of 15 amassed half their hauls from small-dollar donations.

And many candidates are still leaning on donors in their home states for larger checks. Nine Democratic candidates received the bulk of their contributions of $200 or more from their home states, the Reuters analysis found.

The analysis includes fundraising reports covering the first three months of 2019 by the candidates who launched their campaigns prior to April 1st. The field of candidates has since swelled, with 18 Democrats vying to win the party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in November 2020.

Many Democrats have touted their support among so-called “small dollar” donors, those who give less than $200. But only six — Sanders, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and Andrew Yang, a former tech executive — are relying chiefly on those small-dollar donors.

Sanders, of Vermont, benefited the most from small-dollar donors in the first quarter, with about 84 percent of his $18 million haul coming from individuals who contributed less than $200.

Sanders also had the most geographic diversity in his donations, with California donors accounting for 27 percent of his donations of $200 or more.

Early fundraising prowess can signal the strength of a candidate’s campaign. For example Buttigieg until recently did not have a national profile, but raised $7 million during the first quarter of 2019 – of which 64 percent came from small donations.

In a move to show they are serious about eliminating big money from politics, most Democratic presidential candidates have sworn off donations from corporate political fundraising committees. Some have nixed taking checks from registered lobbyists.

The Democratic National Committee announced earlier this year that small-dollar, grassroots support will be one of the metrics it uses to determine who qualifies to participate in a series of nationally televised primary debates that will begin in June.

Warren – the only candidate to also swear off attending big ticket fundraisers – reported that about 70 percent of the $6 million she raised in the first quarter was from small-dollar donors. Massachusetts donors accounted for 25 percent of contributions over $200.

O’Rourke reported that 59 percent of his $9.4 million was from donations of $200 or less. More than $2.1 million came from Texans who wrote checks of $200 or more.

On the other end of the spectrum, John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, raised only 10 percent of his donations in $200 or smaller contributions. There was also little geographic variation among his contributors, with more than 60 percent of donations over $200 coming from his home state.

U.S. Senators Cory Booker, of New Jersey, and Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, each raised about 16 percent of their cash from small-dollar donors.

(Reporting By Amanda Becker, Ginger Gibson and Grant Smith; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN



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