Author: Peter Boykin
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Grab your popcorn 😁! Trump gives Barr green light to declassify 2016 campaign surveillance documents; I’m Excited Are You?!
Trump gives Barr green light to declassify 2016 campaign surveillance documents; Travel ban over abortion law
Friday, May 24, 2019
Trump gives Barr the green light to unseal documents on the 2016 surveillance of the Trump campaign
President Trump on Thursday night issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the … See More authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump also ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the move as an attempt to “weaponize law enforcement and classified information.” Trump has long claimed his campaign was the victim of “spying,” though the intelligence community has insisted it acted lawfully in following leads in the Russia investigation.
Last month, Barr ran into a buzz saw of criticism from Democratic lawmakers and media figures for testifying that “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign. But despite the backlash, the attorney general appeared to be referring to intelligence collection that already has been widely reported and confirmed.
Alleged Trump ‘cover-up’: A second generation of the ‘Russia witch hunt’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim of a presidential “cover-up” is the second generation of the Russia collusion “witch hunt,”according to a White House spokesman. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley made the claim Thursday on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” describing the continuing Democrat push for further investigations as “the Russia collusion hoax witch hunt 2.0.” Gidley’s comments came asTrump and Pelosi and other Democrats continued to snipe at each other over Wednesday’s scuttled meeting on infrastructure. White House officials insist Trump was calm when he cut short the meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Pelosi and Schumer insist Trump was agitated and threw the equivalent of a presidential temper tantrum when he abruptly ended the session. The president has demanded Democrats end their “phony investigations” before he negotiates with them on issues like infrastructure. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, TD Bank Thursday turned over Trump’s financial records to Democrats in the House Financial Services Committee led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
Theresa May says she’ll quit as Conservative leader June 7
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday that she will resign — ending her months-long struggle to keep her job despite seething anger from her own Conservative Party over her handling of Brexit. “I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high. But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort,” she said outside 10 Downing Street.
LA lawmakers approve Alabama travel ban over new abortion law
Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors voted this week to enact a one-year ban on official travel to Alabama over that state’s controversial abortion law, which all but outlaws the procedure. Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, called the law an “attack not only confined to the residents of those states but an act of aggression upon all of us.” The motion prohibits officials conducting business on behalf of the county from traveling to Alabama except for emergency response, training or assistance or “legally required matters where the failure to authorize such travel would seriously harm the County’s interests,” Solis said in a statement.
Pete Hegseth op-ed: Let’s stop second-guessing our war heroes
In a feature on FoxNews.com, “Fox & Friends” weekend co-host and Iraq war veteran Pete Hegsethexplains why he wants critics to stop questioning the tactics U.S. troops employ on the battlefield. He writes the following: “We send men to fight on our behalf, and too often second-guess the manner in which they fight. Count me out on the Monday-morning quarterbacking — I’m with the American warfighter, all the way. … I’m not talking about massacres or sheer recklessness. None of us ever contemplated the killing of women and children for sport. We didn’t shoot innocent civilians for fun. There may be a few deranged combat troops, and they will get their due. Yet, too often, when warfighters come home they are second-guessed. Prosecuted by lawyers who never left their air-conditioned offices or politicians with ulterior motives.”
CLICK HERE to read Hegseth’s commentary and tune in to “Fox & Friends” today, between 6 and 9 am ET, where he will further explain his point of view.
$44M #MeToo settlement for Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein, the former movie mogul accused of sex crimes by multiple women, hasreached a tentative $44 million settlement to resolve lawsuits filed against him by his accusers, creditors and board members of his former film studio, according to multiple reports Thursday night. Under the proposed settlement, which has not been finalized, $30 million would be paid to the plaintiffs — including former employees of Weinstein Co. — and $14 million would go to pay legal fees, with the funds coming from insurance policies, the Wall Street Journal reported.
‘Ingraham Angle’ Exclusive: Homeland Security boss defends against family-separation accusations at border.
Dionne Warwick says she doubts Beyoncé will reach icon status.
Dr. Drew Pinsky warns Los Angeles could be at risk of a deadly epidemic this summer.
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Trump rolls out second aid package for farmers worth $16B amid US-China trade war.
House passes major retirement reform bill: What it means for your 401(k), IRA.
McDonald’s not ready to jump on the plant-based meat bandwagon yet.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrive to speak to Capitol Hill reporters after a failed White House meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss infrastructure in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
May 23, 2019
By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that President Donald Trump threw a temper tantrum at a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders a day earlier and that she wished his family or staff would conduct “an intervention” with him for the good of the country.
In a second consecutive day of tough words about Trump by the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi accused Trump of obstruction of justice, which she said is an impeachable offense.
“Again, I pray for the president of the United States. I wish that his family, or his administration, or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country,” Pelosi told reporters.
On Wednesday, shortly before a previously scheduled meeting with Trump at the White House to discuss infrastructure investment legislation, Pelosi accused Trump of a “cover-up” in regard to investigations related to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Her remarks rankled Trump and prompted him to walk out of the infrastructure meeting after just three minutes, possibly sinking the legislation’s prospects.
Trump said it was impossible to work on such legislation as long as Democrats were continuing their “phony” investigations of him.
At her weekly news conference on Thursday, Pelosi remained on the attack, repeating her contention from the previous day that Trump was incapable of working on complex legislative issues.
“I can only think that he wasn’t up to the task of figuring out the difficult choices of how to cover the cost of … the important infrastructure legislation that we had talked about three weeks before.”
While she raised the issue of obstruction, Pelosi also said that House Democrats were not yet prepared to launch formal impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Even though Trump has indicated that he is not willing to engage in bipartisan work on legislation as long as House Democrats are investigating him, both Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday challenged Republicans in Congress to leave the Republican president behind and continue working on legislation without him if he is unwilling to engage.
Lawmakers are trying to put the finishing touches on a long-delayed disaster aid bill.
Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress want to strike a two-year deal on federal spending levels and raising the U.S. Treasury Department’s borrowing authority.
Both are needed to avert government shutdowns and a possible credit default later this year.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell)
FILE PHOTO: May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) looks on from the dugout steps in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2019
The New York Mets placed second baseman Robinson Cano and infielder/outfielder Jeff McNeil on the 10-day injured list Thursday.
Cano suffered a quad strain running to first base on a grounder in the third inning of Wednesday’s 6-1 win against the Washington Nationals.
The 36-year-old has struggled in his first season with the Mets, batting .241 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 45 games. The eight-time All-Star has not homered since April 21 and has driven in only two runs this month.
McNeil, 27, sat out Wednesday’s game with a strained left hamstring. He has started games at second base, third base and in left field this year and is hitting .333 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 46 games.
Two other members of New York’s Opening Day lineup are already on the IL: outfielders Brandon Nimmo (neck) and Michael Conforto (concussion).
The Mets recalled infielder Luis Guillorme and right-handed reliever Ryan O’Rourke from Triple-A Syracuse to fill the spots on the 25-man roster.
–Field Level Media
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
May 23, 2019
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he was confident the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement would be ratified, increasing trade in the North American region.
The USMCA deal, negotiated last year, faces opposition by some Democrats in the U.S. Congress who want assurances that labor and environmental rules will be enforceable. It must be passed in the three countries’ legislatures before becoming law.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)
Ottawa Senators Johnny Oduya scores in the third period during the NHL Global Series hockey game between Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm November 11, 2017. TT News Agency/Jessica Gow via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. SWEDEN OUT
May 23, 2019
The Ottawa Senators hired D.J. Smith as head coach on Thursday.
The 42-year-old former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant signed a three-year contract and replaces interim coach Marc Crawford.
“D.J. Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators,” said general manager Pierre Dorion in a statement. “D.J is a great communicator and an exceptional strategist. His passionate approach, coupled with his ability to teach the game, is exactly what we were looking for throughout the process. We’re thrilled to welcome D.J. and his family to Ottawa.”
Smith has been an assistant in Toronto since the 2015-16 season. Before that, he coached the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals to the 2015 Memorial Cup.
A second-round draft pick by the New York Islanders in 1995, Smith played in 45 games in parts of three seasons with the Maple Leafs (1996-97, 1999-2000) and the Colorado Avalanche (2002-03). A defenseman, he tallied one goal and one assist.
Crawford, who also interviewed for the position, took over in March after the firing of Guy Boucher.
The Senators (29-47-6) posted the NHL’s worst record in 2018-19 and missed the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Others reportedly considered for the job included Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, Providence College coach Nate Leaman, AHL Belleville coach Troy Mann and former Senators coaches Jacques Martin and Rick Bowness.
–Field Level Media
Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, head of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or “Buddhist Power Force”, speaks to media at a temple after leaving the prison with Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena’s pardon in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
May 23, 2019
COLOMBO (Reuters) – A Sri Lankan hardline Buddhist monk who is accused of inciting violence against ethnic minority Muslims and was convicted of contempt of court walked free from jail on Thursday after a presidential pardon.
Hundreds of his followers and dozens of monks waited for hours outside Welikada prison in Colombo to see Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, but the monk left through a separate gate, which a monk from his group said was due to security concerns.
Some followers carried a distorted national flag which excluded the green and orange color strips which represent ethnic minority Tamils and Muslims who together account for nearly a quarter of the country’s 22 million population.
Rights activists condemned the release of Gnanasara, head of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or “Buddhist Power Force”.
His pardon comes a week after extremist Buddhists attacked Muslim-owned homes, mosques and shops in apparent reprisal for the Easter bombings by Islamist militants that killed more than 250 people.
Ganansara or his group was not involved in the recent violence, police said.
“We said about the impending danger long ago, finally whatever we revealed, has become true,” Gnanasara told reporters, in an apparent reference to the Easter attacks.
He thanked Sri Lanka’s influential Buddhist clergy and President Maithripala Sirisena for his release. There was no immediate answer from the president’s office when Reuters sought comment.
Government ministers and Muslim leaders have accused Gnanasara of stirring up violence against Muslims and Christians before his imprisonment, allegations he has denied.
Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said: “I think and hope he will not go back to his extremism.”
The monk was sentenced to six years in prison in August over a 2016 incident when he interrupted a court hearing about the abduction of the journalist in which military intelligence officials were accused.
Gnanasara was also sentenced in a separate case in June for having threatened the journalist’s wife.
Since 2014, the monk has faced accusations in cases regarding anti-Muslim violence, hate speech, and defaming the Koran.
That year Gnanasara signed a pact with Myanmar’s Ashin Wirathu, who once described himself as “the Burmese bin Laden”, in what the duo called a bid to counter regional conversion efforts by Islamists.
“Pardoning Gnanasara is a slap on the independence of judiciary. He was convicted of interfering with court & contempt of court. No civilized nation will lightly pardon such a convict,” J.C. Weliamuna, a rights lawyer, said in his tweet.
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Alison Williams)
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
May 22, 2019
By Howard Schneider and Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Reserve officials at their last meeting agreed that their current patient approach to setting monetary policy could remain in place “for some time,” a further sign policymakers see little need to change rates in either direction.
According to minutes of the Fed’s April 30-May 1 meeting, officials also delved deep into the mechanics of how they could best structure their holdings of several trillion dollars of securities to battle a future economic downturn.
They quickly hit a dilemma as they discussed what could be a several years plan to structure perhaps $3.5 to $4 trillion of assets to either reflect existing market holdings of U.S. Treasuries, or to be focused on shorter-term maturities.
“Many participants” said they thought it might help for the Fed to gradually load up on short-term securities now, so that they could be traded for longer-term securities and bring down long-term rates as a way to better stimulate the economy if needed in the future.
However staff presentations noted that would come at the potential cost of higher longer-term rates now, “and imply that the path of the federal funds rate would need to be correspondingly lower to achieve the same macroeconomic outcomes.” In the scenarios being discussed that would, ironically, mean the Fed would have less room to cut rates in a crisis – and be more likely to have to rely on its balance sheet tools to boost the economy.
No decisions were made.
The Fed’s last meeting came before the Trump administration increased tariffs on Chinese goods and intensified global trade tensions further with restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
At that point, with U.S. growth continuing, inflation “muted,” and some global risks appearing to have eased, “members observed that a patient approach…would likely remain appropriate for some time…even if global economic and financial conditions continued to improve.”
While “a few” participants warned of inflation risks and a possible need for higher rates, and “several” warned inflation could weaken, minutes of the policy meeting reflected a committee poised to bide its time until economic data shift convincingly in one direction or the other. The committee held its target interest rate steady at that meeting in a range of between 2.25 and 2.5 percent
Consistent with Fed chair Jerome Powell’s press conference after the meeting, participants observed “at least part of the recent softness in inflation could be attributed to idiosyncratic factors.”
(Reporting by Howard Schneider and Jason Lange, Editing by Andrea Ricci)
FILE PHOTO – Monsanto Co’s Roundup is shown for sale in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
May 22, 2019
By Tina Bellon
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge has appointed prominent attorney Kenneth Feinberg as mediator for court-mandated settlement talks in the federal litigation over allegations that Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused cancer.
Feinberg has been instructed to meet with lawyers for Bayer and plaintiffs within the next 14 days, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said during a court hearing on Wednesday.
Chhabria, who oversees some 900 federal Roundup lawsuits, on April 11 ordered the parties to start confidential mediation. He appointed Feinberg on Wednesday after the parties failed to agree on a mediator.
Feinberg is well known for having facilitated dispute resolutions in high-stakes litigations in the past. He led mediation talks over the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal and General Motors ignition switch litigation.
More than 13,400 plaintiffs nationwide allege Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that the company failed to warn about that risk. The majority of lawsuits are pending in state courts across the country.
Bayer, which acquired Roundup maker Monsanto in a $63 billion deal last year, denies the allegations, saying studies and regulators have deemed glyphosate and Roundup safe for human use.
The company in the past said it would comply with Chhabria’s mediation order in good faith, while believing strongly in the “extensive body of reliable science supporting the safety of Roundup.”
Bayer has also said it would defend itself in all cases and await the appeals process currently underway in the three cases that have gone to trial.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
FILE PHOTO: Balloons decorate an event for community activists and local government leaders to mark the one-year-out launch of the 2020 Census efforts in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
May 22, 2019
By Lauren Tara LaCapra
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Census Bureau should ask about survey-takers’ criminal records to help policymakers address weaknesses in the judicial system and rehabilitation, an economist at a conservative think-tank plans to tell lawmakers on Wednesday.
The comments by American Enterprise Institute (AEI) economist Nicholas Eberstadt may add a new layer to a fierce political battle over what questions the government should include on its decennial survey of U.S. residents.
In prepared remarks, Eberstadt said the United States has failed to keep good records on people with criminal records, leaving a gaping hole in the country’s economic statistics. His argument centers on his earlier research, showing that men with arrest records are more likely to be unemployed than those who have not had any trouble with the law.
Although it is too late to include a question on this issue on the 2020 Census, doing so on future surveys could help the federal government to formulate policies to get ex-convicts back into the labor force, he said.
“It is an enormous blind spot and, given the realities of life in our country today, a critical and inexplicable statistical oversight,” Eberstadt will say in a Joint Economic Committee hearing about the economic impacts of the 2020 Census, and how businesses use the underlying data.
Eberstadt’s 2016 book, “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis,” examined why men of prime employment age were not working as much as they did in prior generations, and what effects that has on society.
In his statement on Wednesday, Eberstadt will cite Justice Department statistics showing that 110 million Americans had an arrest record in 2016, more than twice as many as in 1997.
The Trump administration wants to ask respondents to next year’s survey whether they are citizens, a proposal that has drawn a line between Republicans, who generally support the question, and Democrats, immigrant advocates and demographers who say it will stop some people taking part.
That could result in undercounts, they say, which could deprive some communities of funds and political representation because the Census determines how the federal government distributes some $900 billion in aid, as well as seats in Congress.
Harvard researchers predict the citizenship question would lead to an undercount of more than 4 million Hispanic residents.
The issue has been tied up in litigation since Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross first announced plans to include it in March 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the matter soon.
The Census Bureau tries to balance a desire to obtain as much useful information as possible with the reality that fewer questions lead to better response rates, and people are less likely to participate if controversial questions are added.
Adding a new question to the Census usually requires extensive testing and consultation with lawmakers.
Eberstadt is one of four panelists scheduled to speak at Wednesday’s hearing. Others include Andrew Reamer, a research professor at George Washington University; Howard Fienberg, a lobbyist for marketing research and data analytics with the Insights Association; and Mallory Bateman, coordinator of the State Data Center at The University of Utah.
Prepared remarks from other panelists emphasized the importance of Census data for businesses and the broader economy.
(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a left-leaning audience on Wednesday that President Trump may have committed “an impeachable offense,” ratcheting up her warnings to the White House even as she and her deputies try to tamp down calls from the rank-and-file to press forward on impeachment now.
Pelosi, D-Calif., speaking at the Center for American Progress 2019 Ideas Conference in Washington, D.C., outlined a potential path to impeachment — moments after a contentious meeting at the White House ended with Trump departing for the Rose Garden to publicly accuse Democrats of a presidential “takedown.”
“The fact is, in plain sight, in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a cover-up. And that could be an impeachable offense,” Pelosi told the audience, which broke out in applause.
“Ignoring the subpoenas of Congress was Article 3 of the Nixon Impeachment. So, it’s not just the substance that we are after, that we want to have to get the truth to the American people, but in striving to get that the intervention, the obstruction that the administration is engaged in is, as they say, the cover-up is frequently worse than the crime.”
Pelosi also said that Republicans and the president are not committed to protecting the Constitution.
“Let me just say, we take on oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Democrats take that oath seriously, and we are committed to honoring our oath of office. I’m not sure our Republican colleagues share that commitment, and I’m not sure the President of the United States does.”
Yet at the same time, Pelosi has tried to ease the pressure from members of her caucus to move on impeachment imminently. She held a closed-door meeting with Democrats earlier Wednesday morning to discuss their battles with the administration that threaten to escalate into a politically risky drive to remove Trump from office.
Pelosi has maintained her position that Democrats should not begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, but has faced pressure from members inside her caucus to reverse course — especially after former White House Counsel Don McGahn was told to defy a subpoena earlier this week.
“We had a very productive meeting,” Pelosi told reporters after the session. “It was a respectful sharing of ideas.”
“We do believe it is important to follow the facts,” Pelosi said. “We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up—a cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting.”
When asked about her success in persuading members, Pelosi said: “It’s not a question of persuasion. We were just exchanging information and points of view.”
But tensions between Democratic leadership and Trump continued to build. Shortly after that meeting, Trump walked out of a meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer meant to discuss an infrastructure plan. He complained about Pelosi’s “cover-up” charge and demanded Democrats end their “phony investigations.”
“What they’ve done is abuse,” Trump said.
Source: Fox News Politics