From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

    This file is attached to from “Beast That Came Out Of The Sea” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to King Of The West 2019 for January or continue to King Of The West 2019 for March



12/31/2018 U.S. Border Chief unveils plans for border wall funding by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2018, file photo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, right,
speaks as Commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense
Command Gen. Terrence John O’Shaughnessy, left, listens during a news conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The nation’s border chief is speaking out on how the federal government plans to spend roughly five billion dollars being requested for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as the government shutdown enters week two.
    During an interview that aired on Sunday, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan insisted the funding will cover more than just a barrier at the border.
    “What we’re talking about is not just a dumb barrier,” he said.    “We’re talking about sensors, cameras, lighting, access roads for our agents, a system that helps us secure that area of the border.    That’s what we were asking Congress.”
    Commissioner McAleenan said border security will take a multi-faceted approach, including new technology, to stop the flow of illegal immigration and drugs from entering the U.S.
    “When you’re talking about 60,000 people flowing across the border, when you’re talking about drug smuggling increasing between ports of entry, hard narcotics, synthetic opioids, methamphetamine coming — 25 percent increase the — last year.    We’ve seen it increase again the first three months of this year.    We need a barrier to help us stop that,” he said.
    Commissioner McAleenan also confirmed officials have completed construction of 35 miles of the wall, with 300 million dollars from the 2017 fiscal budget.
    Last week, President Trump said the government shutdown will not end until border funding is secured, adding he plans to visit a new stretch of the wall at the end of January.
    Trump tweet: “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!

2/1/2019 EU irks Britain by calling Gibraltar ‘colony’
FILE PHOTO: A cloud partially covers the tip of the Rock of the British territory of Gibraltar at sunrise
from La Atunara port before Spanish fishermen sail in their fishing boats with their relatives to take part
in a protest at an area of the sea where an artificial reef was built by Gibraltar using concrete blocks,
in Algeciras bay, La Linea de la Concepcion in southern Spain August 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain could get visa-free access to the European Union for its citizens even after no-deal Brexit but objected on Friday to language used in the proposed EU regulation which described Gibraltar as a “colony.”
    The row highlighted strains over the territory on Spain’s southern coast as Britain quits the Union and the remainder of the EU states swing the bloc’s policies behind Spain, which is taking advantage of Brexit to ramp up its claim to “The Rock.”
    The new regulation would let British citizens can visit the EU without a visa for up to 90 days even if there is no special withdrawal deal.It made a new distinction between those living in Britain and those who are citizens of Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory which is now in the EU.
    Diplomats said the British ambassador to the EU raised London’s objections to this in a meeting of EU envoys.    A British spokeswoman said: “Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way.”
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Gabriela Baczynska)

2/1/2019 Phone records prove Don Jr. didn’t call President after Trump Tower meeting by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is slamming Democrats and the mainstream media after new evidence comes to light about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
    The president took to Twitter Thursday, saying phone records show the calls his son — Donald Trump Jr. — made at the time were to friends and business associates — not to him.
    Trump tweet: “Just out: The big deal, very mysterious Don jr telephone calls, after the innocent Trump Tower meeting, that the media & Dems said were made to his father (me), were just conclusively found NOT to be made to me. They were made to friends & business associates of Don. Really sad!
Donald Trump Jr. is pictured. (AP/Photo)
    His remarks came just hours after CNN published its report citing three sources with knowledge of phone records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee [WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! FAKE NEWS ALERT].
    This new evidence appears to contradict theories put forward by Democrats that President Trump was lying about not having advanced knowledge of the meeting.

2/1/2019 U.S. to pull out of INF Treaty on Feb. 2nd by OAN Newsroom
    It appears to be the beginning of the end of a Cold War era arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia governing short and intermediate range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
    That agreement had been forged in 1987 by then General Secretary of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan in a bid to deescalate tensions during the Cold War.
    “The importance of this treaty transcends numbers.    We have listened to the wisdom in an old Russian maxim, and I am sure you’re familiar with it.    Mr. General Secretary, though my pronunciation may give you difficulty, the maxim is Dovyai no Provyai, Trust but Verify.” — former President Ronald Reagan.
    While that agreement helped break the chill of the Cold War, it’s proven problematic in recent years.    The U.S. has claimed Russia has violated the agreement since 2014, though those allegations have accelerated in recent months as Moscow developed a hypersonic intercontinental missile said to be incapable of being shot down by existing anti-air weapons.
    “Arms control regimes only work if standards are maintained, and if there are consequences for violating those standards, so if parties are to the treaty, and you abide by that standard, that’s what we expect,” stated Andrea Thompson, U.S. Under Secretary of Arms Control and International Security.    “If you don’t abide by that standard and the other parties allow it to manifest, you’ve now set a new standard, and that undermines all of our arms control regimes.”
    Suspending the agreement would give Moscow 180-days to get back in compliance or face a potential U.S. withdrawal from the deal, which is something President Trump threatened to do back in October.
    “Russia has violated the agreement, they’ve been violating it for several years,” said the president.    “We’re going to terminate the agreement, we’re going to pull out.”
    Russia has previously accused the U.S. of violating the agreement itself as well as fabricating a reason to exit the agreement in order to develop its own missiles.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington,
Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the U.S. is pulling out of a treaty with Russia
that’s been a centerpiece of arms control since the Cold War. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration is poised to pull out of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty effective February 2, 2019.    Pompeo gave the update during a press conference Friday.    After the U.S. suspends the agreement, Russia will have six-months to fall back into compliance with the treaty before the withdrawal is official.
    The secretary of state also said the U.S. has alerted Russia of its non-compliance at least 30 times before Friday’s announcement.    Pompeo added, the administration hopes Russia will abandon its nuclear tests and repair its relationship with Washington.

2/1/2019 President Trump blames Paul Ryan for failing to get wall built in 2018 by OAN Newsroom
    The president is blaming former House Speaker Paul Ryan for not getting the border wall built while the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress.
    In an interview with the Daily Caller Wednesday, President Trump said Ryan broke his promise to fund the barrier, which was initially included as a part of the 2018 omnibus spending bill.
Paul Ryan. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    He went on to say Ryan strongly urged him against vetoing the bill, which the president now regrets.
    President Trump claimed Ryan went “lame duck” after the move, and lost his influence on Capitol Hill.
    This comes as the president said wall negotiations are a “waste of time,” because Democrats continue to obstruct progress.

2/1/2019 Sen. Cory Booker launches 2020 bid by OAN Newsroom
    Senator Cory Booker is now the latest Democrat to throw his name into the crowded field of 2020 hopefuls.    The New Jersey lawmaker announced his presidential bid Friday, just one day after calling other lawmakers to ask for their support for the nation’s highest office.
    He and Senator Kamala Harris are already vying for the support of the Congressional Black Caucus.    Booker tried to match her announcement by launching a new website, sending a personal email to supporters, and releasing a two-minute video explaining why he’s looking to run for president.
    I’m running for president.    Join me on this journey.
    Booker is joining a long list of Democrats looking to challenge President Trump.
    Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren is expected to formally announce her presidential bid on February 9th.
FILE – In this Oct. 28, 2018, file photo, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., looks up as he takes a selfie
with an attendee after speaking attends at a get out the vote event hosted by the NH Young Democrats
at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter, File)
[Well they so far have all kinds of fruit trying to run for president so now they have a gay one running.]

2/1/2019 NewsGuard’s ‘real news’ seal of approval helps spark change in fake news era by Kenneth Li
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is surrounded by members of the media as he arrives to testify
before a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees joint hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data,
on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than 500 news websites have made changes to their standards or disclosures after getting feedback from NewsGuard, a startup that created a credibility ratings system for news on the internet, the company told Reuters this week.
    The latest major news organization to work with the company is Britain’s Daily Mail, according to NewsGuard, which upgraded what it calls its “nutrition label” rating on the paper’s site to “green” on Thursday, indicating it “generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”
    A representative of the Daily Mail did not respond to several requests for comment.
    NewsGuard markets itself as an independent arbiter of credible news.    It was launched last year by co-chief executives Steven Brill, a veteran U.S. journalist who founded Brill’s Content and the American Lawyer, and Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of News Corp’s Wall Street Journal.
    NewsGuard joins a handful of other groups such as the Trust Project and the Journalism Trust Initiative which aim to help readers discern which sites are credible when many readers have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction.
    After facing anger over the rapid spread of false news in the past year or so, Facebook Inc and other tech companies also say they have recruited more human fact checkers to identify and sift out some types of inaccurate articles.
    These efforts were prompted at least in part by the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when Facebook and other social media sites were used to disseminate many false news stories.
    The company has been criticized by Breitbart News, a politically conservative site, which described NewsGuard as “the establishment media’s latest effort to blacklist alternative media sites.”
    The way NewsGuard works is this: red or green shield-shaped labels are visible in a web browser window when looking at a news website if a user downloads NewsGuard’s software from the web.    The software is free and works with the four leading browsers: Google’s Chrome, Microsoft Corp’s Edge, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple Inc’s Safari.
‘CALL EVERYONE FOR COMMENT’     NewsGuard’s investors include the French advertising company Publicis Groupe SA and the non-profit Knight Foundation. Thomas Glocer, the former chief executive of Thomson Reuters, owns a smaller stake, according to NewsGuard’s website.    News sites do not pay the company for its service.
    The startup said it employs 35 journalists who have reviewed and published labels on about 2,200 sites based on nine journalistic criteria such as whether the site presents information responsibly, has a habit of correcting errors, or discloses its ownership and who is in charge of the content.
    News sites field questions if they choose to from NewsGuard journalists about its performance on the nine criteria.
    “We call everyone for comment which algorithms don’t do,” Brill said in an interview, highlighting the difference between NewsGuard’s verification process with the computer code used by Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook in bringing new stories to the attention of users.
    Some news organizations have clarified their ownership, financial backers and identity of their editorial staff after interacting with the company, NewsGuard said.
    GateHouse Media, which publishes more than 140 local newspapers such as the Austin American-Statesman and Akron Beacon Journal, made changes to how it identifies sponsored content that may appear to be objective reporting but is actually advertising, after being contacted by NewsGuard.
    “We made our standards and practices more prominent and consistent across our digital 460 news brands across the country,” said Jeff Moriarty, GateHouse’s senior vice president of digital.
    Reuters News, which earned a green rating on all nine of NewsGuard’s criteria, added the names and titles of its editorial leaders to the website after being contacted by NewsGuard, a Reuters spokesperson said.
    NewsGuard upgraded the Daily Mail’s website rating on Thursday to green after giving it a red label in August, when it stated that the site “repeatedly publishes false information and has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases.”
    The Daily Mail objected to that description, and started discussions with NewsGuard in January after the red label became visible for mobile users of Microsoft’s Edge browser, NewsGuard said.
    NewsGuard has made public many details of its exchange with the Daily Mail on its website.
    “We’re not in the business of trying to give people red marks,” Brill said.    “The most common side effect of what we do is for news organizations to improve their journalistic practices.”
(Reporting by Kenneth Li; editing by Bill Rigby)
[OAN Newsroom should be at the top of the ratings.]

2/1/2019 33 arrested in Atlanta on trafficking charges ahead of Super Bowl 53 by OAN Newsroom
    Federal law enforcement agents announce at least 33 people have been arrested in Atlanta over the last four-days on sex trafficking charges.
    The Department of Homeland Security confirmed the arrests on Wednesday, and said the agency was able to rescue four victims of trafficking during the operation.
    This comes just days before Sunday’s Super Bowl 53. According to officials, large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, are likely to bring more criminal activity to the area due to the sheer population increase.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks during a security news conference for
the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    “We’re also ensuring that criminals don’t use these events to exploit the most vulnerable among us, so we are conducting proactive human trafficking enforcement operations as we speak and I’m proud to say, thanks to our efforts, we have already rescued four victims, made 33 arrests and have trained businesses and state and local entities to spot the signs of trafficking,” stated Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
    The crackdown on sex trafficking is expected to continue throughout the week.

2/1/2019 U.S. adds 304K jobs in January by OAN Newsroom
    The Labor Department released its first monthly jobs report for 2019, showing the U.S. added 304,000 jobs to the economy.
    These numbers beat expectations, with Bloomberg economists predicting 165,000 jobs would be added for the month of January.
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, file photo, workers assemble ovens at the new
Electrolux home cooking appliance factory in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz, File)
    Meanwhile, wages also rose slightly by 0.1-percent, while unemployment also ticked up to four-percent from 3.9-percent.
    This shift is due to the partial government shutdown.
    However, the Labor Department said earlier it would consider the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown fully employed.
    The January report marks the 100th straight month of job gains.

2/1/2019 Border Patrol agents hold security drills along U.S.-Mexico border this week by OAN Newsroom
    Border Patrol agents are carrying out crowd control exercises along the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico this week.    According to officials, the agents are part of a mobile response team trained to be deployed wherever there is a need for the extra security and force along the border.
    “What we are preparing for, what we are training for is when there is a large group of people, when lots of people come to try and enter the United States illegally, especially if they come in using violence — when this is done with violence then one needs to be prepared for this type of event,” said Ramiro Cordero, a spokesperson for U.S. Border Patrol.
    A Border Patrol official said the drills included multiple teams that don’t normally operate together such as their mobile response team and horse patrol unit.    Also new to the exercise was the incorporation of U.S. Air and Marine Operations along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers walk along a wall at the border between
Mexico and the United States, as seen from San Diego on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)
    Officials explained this type of training is necessary to test the capabilities of the different law enforcement agencies.
    “What we have today is just our mobile response team preparing for anything that could and may happen here at the border land,” said Border Patrol Agent Fidel Baca.    “That’s what this is supposed to signify, by us working with other border agencies, we can show that everybody can work on the same page — anything, any kinks that we need to work on, we need to fix, we can address them here, find out what they are and when we go back to our training we can fix them.”
    Border Patrol agents also carried out training drills at the Otay Mesa Port of entry in San Diego.    It’s one of the busiest commercial crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border.    The agency said the drills were carried out or order for agents to be ready “to ensure the facilitation of lawful trade and travel.”
    This all comes as thousands of Central American migrants in Mexico continue their journey toward the U.S. Officials in Mexico City said around 2,400 migrants left a shelter in the capital Thursday to begin their trek to the U.S. border.
    Mexico recently announced that it was suspending a program to fast-track humanitarian visas for the migrants.    The latest numbers from Mexico’s Institute of National Migration show more than 15,000 people applied for the visas, including nearly 3,000 minors.    More than 6,800 visas have been granted so far.

2/1/2019 Oil prices up on strong U.S. jobs data, Venezuela sanctions by Devika Krishna Kumar
FILE PHOTO - An oil tanker unloads crude oil at a crude oil terminal in
Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China July 4, 2018. Picture taken July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices rose about 3 percent on Friday, rising on upbeat U.S. jobs data and signs that U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan exports have helped tighten supply, then extending gains after weekly data showed U.S. drillers cut the number of oil rigs.
    Brent crude oil futures rose $1.97 a barrel, or 3.2 percent, to $62.81 a barrel by 1:16 p.m. EST (1816 GMT). The international benchmark was on track for a weekly gain of about 2 percent.
    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $55.39, up $1.60 a barrel or 3 percent. WTI was headed for a weekly gain of about 3.1 percent
    Prices climbed to session highs after General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm reported that U.S. energy firms cut the number of oil rigs operating for a fourth week in the past five.    Last week’s data showed the rig count in January fell the most in a month since April 2016.
    Oil prices got a boost from Wall Street after surprisingly strong U.S. job growth data fed demand for equities.
    Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s Petróleos de Venezuela SA this week, keeping tankers stuck at ports.    On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department provided details.
    “We are beginning to see the impact to crude supplies from the sanctions on Venezuela.    It has driven up domestic crude prices, cutting into refiner margins,” Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said.
    “That, combined with Saudi cuts and Libyan production declines has changed market sentiment as we appear to be moving toward a better balanced supply situation.”
    Some U.S. refiners have begun reducing crude processing as sanctions have boosted oil costs and as gasoline margins crashed to their lowest in nearly a decade, market sources told Reuters on Thursday.
    In January, Saudi Arabia pumped 350,000 bpd less than in December, a Reuters survey showed.
    Financial markets also gained support from comments on Twitter by U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to resolve a trade standoff.    But Trump later warned he could postpone talks if a deal remains elusive.
    China’s trade delegation said the latest round of talks with the United States made “important progress,” state news agency Xinhua reported.
    “Many traders recognize that sense is likely to prevail and a deal will be struck after the summit – although the shape of any deal will continue to drive a jittery market,” Cantor Fitzgerald Europe said in a note.
    But a survey showed China’s factory activity shrank by the most in almost three years in January, reinforcing fears about fuel demand in the world’s second-largest economy.
    Analysts believe the oil market will be more balanced in 2019 after supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
(Additional reporting by Noah Browning in London, Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Dale Hudson and David Gregorio)

2/1/2019 WATCH: Senate Republicans block President Trump’s efforts to pull out of Syria by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Republicans are taking a stand on Syria, blocking President Trump’s efforts to bring our troops home.

2/2/2019 U.S. says to withdraw from arms control treaty in six months by Lesley Wroughton and Arshad Mohammed
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press before boarding his plane at
Mexico City International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, October 19, 2018. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States announced on Friday it will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in six months unless Moscow ends its alleged violations of the landmark 1987 arms control pact.
    The United States would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia, which denies violating the treaty, came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe.
    Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would cease to regard itself as being bound by the treaty starting Saturday, which is when Washington will formally inform Moscow of its intent to withdraw, a senior U.S. official told reporters.
    The announcement may aim to pressure Russia to come to terms during the next six months but it also raised fears of a new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race in Europe as well as one between the United States and China in Asia.
    U.S. President Donald Trump repeated U.S. allegations that Russia had violated the INF treaty, which limited only U.S. and Russian arsenals, and he held out the prospect of negotiating a wider agreement, possibly including other nations.
    “I hope that we’re able to get everybody in a big and beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better. Certainly I would like to see that,” Trump told reporters.
    Trump’s tenure has been dogged by allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help his candidacy, which Moscow denies.    The dispute over INF has contributed to U.S.-Russia frictions, now at their worst since the Cold War ended in 1991 despite Trump’s stated desire for better ties.
    “If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance with the treaty within this six-month period by verifiably destroying its INF-violating missiles, their launchers, and associated equipment, the treaty will terminate,” Pompeo told reporters.
(Graphic: U.S. nuclear arsenal –
    Russian officials accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty that it wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles.
    Speaking before the announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia regretted the expected U.S. move and accused Washington of failing to negotiate to avoid such an outcome.
    “The unwillingness of the Americans to listen to any arguments and to hold substantive negotiations with us shows that the decision to break this treaty was taken in Washington a long time ago,” Peskov told reporters.
    The United States alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact.    The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
    The treaty required the parties to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km (310 to 3,420 miles).    Last week, the head of Russia’s military’s missile and artillery forces said the new missile’s maximum range fell short of the treaty’s lower limit.
    Russia has rejected the U.S. demand to destroy the new missile.
    NATO “does not have any intention to deploy new land-based nuclear weapons to Europe,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters on Friday, saying the Western security alliance had intelligence from the United States and other allies confirming that Russia had violated the treaty.
    “We don’t have to mirror what Russia does.    But at the same time we have to make sure that we maintain credible and effective deterrence,” he said, without giving specifics on military options NATO is considering.
    France and Germany both emphasized the importance of using the six-month window to keep talking.
    Formal U.S. withdrawal could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
    The United States will notify Russia on Saturday of its plan to pull out in six months, a senior U.S. official said, describing this as “one final chance” to comply with the agreement but saying Washington doubted Moscow would do so.
    He said the administration is weighing whether to extend the “New Start” arms control treaty, which went into effect in 2011 and required both nations to cut deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, the lowest level in decades.
    That treaty, which also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers, expires in February 2021, can be extended by five years if both sides agree.
(Reporting By Makini Brice, Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed and Lesley Wroughton; Additional Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in BRUSSELS, Andrey Kuzmin and Andrew Osborn in MOSCOW and Gwladys Fouche in OSLO; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Bill Trott)

2/2/2019 Judge considering gag order in Roger Stone case
    WASHINGTON – A federal judge says she’s considering a gag order in the special counsel’s case against Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone.    U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Friday that the case has already received substantial publicity, including from statements Stone himself has made asserting his innocence.    The judge said that while the case should not be treated like a “book tour,” she would not immediately rule until attorneys had a chance to respond next week.
[Stone has the right to speak what he wants to, but Mueller seems to be able to get judges that are suspect as you will read below:
    Amy Berman Jackson, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
    In December 2013, in the case of Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sebelius, Jackson ruled against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Washington in its challenge to the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act as applied to its employees.    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies made accommodations for religious organizations, under which such organizations do not have to "provide, pay for, or facilitate access to contraception" if they certify their objection to doing so.    Jackson rejected the archdiocese's argument that the act of "self-certifying" in itself constitutes a substantial burden on the archdiocese's right to freely exercise religion.
    In May 2017, Jackson dismissed a wrongful death suit filed against Hillary Clinton by the parents of two of the Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on the basis of the Westfall Act.
    In October 2017, Jackson was assigned to preside over the criminal case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.    She accepted their "not guilty" pleas, granted bail, confiscated their passports, and ordered them to be held under house arrest.    She also warned defense lawyers not to discuss the case outside of court.    On June 15, 2018, after the prosecution accused him of attempted witness tampering, Jackson revoked Manafort's bail and sent him to jail until his upcoming federal trials to prevent him from having contact with people.    On February 23, 2018, Gates pleaded guilty to one count of false statements and one count of conspiracy against the United States.    The plea bargain included an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.    On September 14, 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy against the United States.    The plea bargain included an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.].

2/2/2019 VA. Gov. Ralph Northam received money from Planned Parenthood during campaign by OAN Newsroom
    New reports show embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam received nearly $2 millions in donations from Planned Parenthood during his campaign.
    That means the country’s largest abortion provider was Northam’s third largest contributor in 2017.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to address a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.
Northam made a statement and answered questions about the late term abortion bill that was killed in committee. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    Earlier this week Northam sparked controversy over his defense of a late-term abortion bill, by suggesting a newborn baby could be left to die after birth.
    When asked to clarify his comments on Thursday, the governor only doubled down on his stance and said he did not regret making those remarks.
    He is now facing pressure from planned parenthood to resign over a separate incident involving a racially charged photo in which he claims was not him.

2/2/2019 Gov. Northam walks back apology says he no longer believes he’s the one in racist photo by OAN Newsroom
    Embattled Democrat Governor Ralph Northam is walking back his apology for a racist photo that surfaced on Friday.
    The Virginia executive is telling his colleagues Saturday, he is not in the racially charged photo from his yearbook page.
    Further, he’s willing to fight the allegations being made against him, adding he has no plans to step down from his post.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks to a crowd during a Women’s Rights rally at the
Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    Northam is currently isolating himself with his advisers, as they try to put together a game plan to weather the storm caused by the hateful photo.
    His new approach to the situation offers a stark contrast to his comments on Friday, in which he took responsibility, and apologized for his actions.
    Northam is reportedly reaching out to his medical school colleagues, speculating that the photo may have been wrongly attributed to his yearbook page.
    The Democrat governor still has three more years in office, with his future prospects already damaged by the current allegations.
    Ralph Northam tweet: “My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor.    I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.”

2/2/2018 Report: Sen. Booker’s ties to wall street could hurt election chances in 2020 by OAN Newsroom
    Democrat Senator Cory Booker is coming under fire from other Democrats for his ties to Wall Street.
    Left-wing political strategists said they are “wary” about Booker’s track record, and the effect it could have on his bid for the Oval office.
FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.
As the 2020 presidential primary takes shape, almost no policy is too liberal for Democrats fighting to win
over their party’s base. Booker, who is expected to launch his presidential campaign in early 2019, has sponsored
legislation to create a federal jobs guarantee program in several communities across America. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
    Back in 2012, Senator Booker publicly defended then Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney over attacks against Bain Capital.
    At the time he said he would not indict “private equity,” in direct opposition to the narrative Democrats were pushing to smear Romney during the campaign.
    Campaign finance records also show Booker has received large donations from Big Pharma, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street.
[The attacks begin from his own party, the same ones who attacked Kavanaugh, which he did also.    What goes around comes around.].

2/2/2019 Report: Senate Leader McConnell cautions Pres. Trump about wall emergency by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly speaks with President Trump about the possible ramifications of declaring a national emergency at the southern border.
    According to a report from the Washington Post published Friday, McConnell told the president congress could pass a resolution disapproving an emergency declaration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters asking about the threat of another government shutdown
following their weekly strategy meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. With the government funded for
three weeks, it’s up to a group of House and Senate negotiators to avoid another closure. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    At least six GOP Senators are reportedly against declaring a national emergency, but the president could veto a disapproval resolution if one was sent to his desk.
    Additionally, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle anticipate a declaration would be promptly challenged in court, and be held up in the legal system.
[You guys do not get it, he is going to "BUILD THE WALL" by National Emergency before it ever gets to the Supreme Court, and district courts in the Article 3 cannot stop the President in Article 2 for doing what the Article 1 Legislature is not doing their job to protect this country.].

2/2/2019 Utah Dem Rep.: ‘immoral wall’ claim gets in the way of negotiations by OAN Newsroom
    More Democrats have come out against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after she claimed that a border wall is “immoral.”
    Speaking to reporters Friday, freshman Democrat Ben McAdams said Pelosi’s claim gets in the way of actually negotiating and finding a common ground.
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ben McAdams in Salt Lake City, Wednesday Oct. 17, 2018.
    He said he was open to bi-partisan discussion about border security, adding that “some physical barriers in strategic places have got to be part of the solution.”
    McAdams has come to the defense of other House Democrats, who have taken an issue with Pelosi’s rhetoric, and have called for open discussions with all options on the table.

2/2/2019 Yellow vests shift focus toward police violence during protests by OAN Newsroom
    Yellow vest protesters take to the streets of France for nearly a third month in a row, but this time they’re protesting what they call “increasing police violence.”
    Reports said around 69,000 demonstrators participated in the movement Saturday keeping pressure on the French government, and protesting unfair economic policies.
Yellow vests demonstrators march Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Marseille, southern France. France’s yellow vest
protesters were back on the streets Saturday to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron’s government and denounce the large
number of people injured in demonstrations they say is the result of police violence. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
    Some however, shifted focus to pay tribute to fellow protesters, who have been injured in clashes with police over the last few weeks.
    The government said about 2,000 people have been injured since the movement began.
    On Friday, France’s council of state ruled security forces have the right to use high-velocity rubber ball launchers in order to subdue unruly protesters.
    A yellow vest spokesman said the launchers are “extremely harmful, imprecise, and cause more sorrow than security.”

2/2/2019 French ‘yellow vests’ march through Paris denouncing police violence by Johnny Cotton
A protester clashes with riot police during at the end of a demonstration of the French "yellow vests"
movement against police violence in Paris, France, February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
    PARIS (Reuters) – Several thousand “yellow vest” protesters marched through Paris and other French cities on Saturday on the 12th weekend of action against the government, despite opinion polls pointing to a recovery in President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity.
    The protests – named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars – began in mid-November over plans to raise fuel taxes before developing into a broader revolt against the government that mobilized tens of thousands of demonstrators nationwide each Saturday.
    The government warned on Friday police would not hesitate to use flash balls in case of violence by demonstrators after it was authorized by France’s highest administrative>     Protesters in Paris on Saturday paid homage to those injured in the past months, denouncing the use of flash ball riot control guns banned in much of Europe.
    Between 10,000 and 13,800 protested in the capital according to police and independent media estimates.    Riot police used tear gas to disperse some protesters who set bins and a scooter alight, although the situation remained relatively calm compared to previous weekends.    Thousands also took to the streets in cities, including Tours, Valence, Marseille and Bordeaux.
    About 1,000 police officers have been injured along with 1,700 demonstrators since the start of the protests, according to official figures.
    “It’s true that this intermediate weapon can hurt, but faced with rioters, the police need it to defend themselves against those who attack them,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
    Opinion polls show a recovery in Macron’s battered popularity rating after he launched consultations, including town hall debates, to try to quell social unrest.
    A Harris Interactive poll of 1,000 people on Friday showed Macron gaining 4 percentage points since December taking him to a 35 percent approval rating.
    As in previous weeks, protesters on Saturday carried French flags and held signs attacking Macron as out of touch or calling for referendums tabled by citizens.
    Protesters injured in previous weeks of violence were put at the front of the protests with some wearing eye patches with a target sign on them.
    The Interior Ministry said 80,000 security officials had been mobilized, including 5,000 in Paris.
(Additional reporting and writing by John Irish; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

2/2/2019 Venezuelan general defects as anti-Maduro rallies draw huge crowds by Ana Isabel Martinez and Angus Berwick
Opposition supporters take part in a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARACAS (Reuters) – A high-ranking Venezuelan general called on the armed forces to rebel against President Nicolas Maduro and to recognize the opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim chief as huge crowds rallied against the head of state, adding pressure on Maduro to step down.
    The military’s support is crucial for the embattled Maduro, who is deeply unpopular largely due to an unprecedented economic crisis that has prompted an exodus of millions, but claims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.
    The general’s defection came as tens of thousands of opposition supporters, many sporting clothes in the yellow, blue and red colors of the Venezuelan flag, turned out at rallies nationwide to protest against Maduro and show support for Guaido.
    Washington, along with many countries in the western hemisphere, has recognized Guaido as the legitimate president, arguing that Maduro stole his second term, and imposed potentially crippling sanctions this week that are likely to further weaken the OPEC nation’s struggling oil industry.
    While small rebellions against Maduro have broken out in Venezuela’s armed forces in recent months, there has been no large scale military uprising against him.
    “People of Venezuela, 90 percent of the armed forces of Venezuela are not with the dictator, they are with the people of Venezuela,” General Francisco Yanez of the air force’s high command said in a video circulating on Twitter on Saturday
    “Given the happenings of the last few hours, already the transition to democracy is imminent.”
    On its Twitter account, the air force’s high command accused the general of treason.
    Yanez is the first active Venezuelan general to recognize Guaido since he proclaimed himself president on Jan. 23. Venezuela’s chief military attache to the United States also said he was defecting last week.
    Canada and several Latin American nations have already officially recognized Guiado. Some European Union member states are expected to officially recognize Guaido next week, while others will likely take a more cautious stance of support.
    “We are going to send a very clear message in all the municipalities of Venezuela and in each city of the world, we are going to give a demonstration of strength, in a pacific and organized manner,” Guaido tweeted on Saturday.
    Mireanna Fernandez, a 20-year-old student at a protest in the eastern city of Ciudad Guayana, said before Guaido’s Jan. 23 proclamation she wanted to leave Venezuela, but now she had hope that Maduro’s government would end.
    “I have no quality of life, I can’t go out onto the streets, my university is falling apart, they’ve closed classrooms, there are no teachers,” she said.
    “It’s time they leave.”
    Maduro on Saturday will also hold a rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s first inauguration as president in 1999.
    “Today is the anniversary of 20 years of work, fight, advances and important achievements, despite the difficulties and imperial conspiracies,” the president said on twitter.
    “Congratulations to all.”
    Supporters of the “chavismo” movement founded by Chavez gathered in Caracas’ Bolivar avenue for the government rally on Saturday morning.
    “For us Venezuelans, there is only one president – President Nicolas Maduro,” said Gregory Carrasquel, 35. “The other is someone who is being led to carry out a coup.”
    “(U.S. President Donald) Trump is imposing measures because he is the dictator of the world and thinks we are his slaves.”
    Washington has imposed sweeping sanctions on state-owned oil firm PDVSA in the toughest financial challenge yet to Maduro, as the Trump administration openly seeks to push him from power.
    Venezuela is suffering from hyperinflation, produce shortages and a mass migration of citizens to neighboring Latin American countries – a situation likely to be worsened in the short term by the new sanctions.
    Guaido swore himself in as interim president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s rule, but still has no control over state institutions or any functions of day-to-day governance.
    Maduro’s adversaries say he has run roughshod over democratic institutions, including the opposition-run congress, and destroyed the once-buoyant economy through a corruption-riddled exchange control system and arbitrary nationalizations.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Ana Isabel Martinez, Angus Berwick, Deisy Buitrago and Brian Ellsworth; Additional Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Nick Zieminski)

2/3/2019 Northam won’t resign, says he’s not in photo - Democratic leaders call for Va. governor to quit by Doug Stanglin and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam rejected mounting calls for his resignation Saturday and, in a sharp reversal, said he does not believe he in fact appears in a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
    “I am not the person in that photo,” Northam said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
    Northam went on to say, “I am far from perfect and I can always strive to do more.”
    The statement to the media at the executive mansion in Richmond followed his apology on Friday in which he said he was one of two people in the photos that shows a man in blackface and the other in full Ku Klux Klan regalia, including a hood and robe.    The photo appeared in the 1984 yearbook for Eastern Virginia Medical School.
    “I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness,” Northam said.
    The calls for him to step down erupted almost immediately after The Washington Post published a story on the photo, which was first discovered Friday afternoon by the conservative news outlet Big League Politics.
    In a written statement Friday, the governor had said, “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”    He also vowed to push forward and work to mend the damage he said he had caused.
    “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service,” Northam said.    “But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.”
    “I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused,” the statement read.    “I am ready to do that important work.”
    Northam later tweeted a video apology saying that the “racist” photo “doesn’t reflect” the person he is now.    He also said he wanted to serve out his four-year term.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, describing the photos as “racist and con- trary to fundamental American values,” called on Northam to “do the right thing so that the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia can heal and move forward.”
    Former vice president Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe, Northam’s Democratic predecessor as governor, a halfdozen Democratic presidential hopefuls, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and state Democratic lawmakers, called on the governor to resign.
    Virginia’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, each issued statements stopping short of calling out right for his departure, but saying Northam should carefully consider his next move.
    The Richmond Times-Dispatch said in an editorial that Northam should step down.
A person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood appear on Ralph Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page. APM.
[My comment: I can see in todays world that The Washington Post published it from the conservative news outlet Big League Politics, and unsure if it was a fake news issue, but I want to remind all here.    I do not like the governor because of his push for late term abortions, to me it is ungodly even the thought of it.    This country has become a strange society ready to hang someone on an image and condemned them guilty before one can prove their innocence.
    As we saw in the Kavanaugh confirmation was the worst case of the above comment, and even today that reminded me of the movie "The Planet Of The Apes" when they became aware enough to overtake the human facilities and began the destruction of statues, buildings, etc. for anything that represented humans.    Even today when I see these leftist views that anything in our past regarding statues, monuments, original founders of this country, are being vandalized, destroyed, or removed because of the same mentality mentioned above is in action.
    I myself am not perfect, and during my years as a male correctional officer I made a comment to other officers that it is, "a good thing we have women working here, because they will keep the Towers clean and fix the telephones."    So if I had run for president somebody would have leaked that to the press and would have been brought up.    In reality the women at the Penitentiary did help us keep the wallstands clean and got the telephones fixed.    The governor now claims that he was dressed with a black face for a Michael Jackson impression skit I guess to defend himself.    So I hope that this continual judging of people based on our past needs to be stopped, and judged on the actons of the present, not things we did 30 or hundreds of years ago.
    With that point is that the real issue with this guy is he is promoting Infanticide [(or infant homicide) is the intentional killing of infants], with late term abortion, which makes him a real sleezeball.    So we smell a rat in that his own party, AKA Democrats may have brought this yearbook image up, eventhough this never came out during his run for governor, until he became too hot to keep in office with this Infanticide broadcast affecting votes for their party.    So someone was holding that card until this issue, most likely the Deep State, who by the way is still around.].

2/3/2019 Trump rejects meeting Maduro, says sending U.S. troops to Venezuela ‘an option’
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures speaks during a rally in support of the government and to commemorate the 20th anniversary
of the arrival to the presidency of the late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    WASHINGTON/CARACAS (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said that sending the military to Venezuela was “an option” as Western nations boost pressure on socialist leader Nicolas Maduro to hand over power to opposition leader and self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido.
    The United States, Canada and several Latin American countries have disavowed Maduro over his disputed re-election last year and recognize Guaido as the rightful leader of the economically troubled OPEC nation.
    Maduro however still maintains the powerful backing of Russia, China and Turkey, whose foreign minister said on Sunday that Western meddling was fueling Venezuela’s troubles and punishing millions of its people.
    In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Trump reiterated that military intervention was a possibility.
    “Certainly, it’s something that’s on the – it’s an option,” Trump said, adding that Maduro requested a meeting months ago.
    “I’ve turned it down because we’re very far along in the process,” he said on a CBS “Face the Nation” interview.    “So, I think the process is playing out – very, very big tremendous protests.”
    Tens of thousands of people thronged the streets of various Venezuelan cities on Saturday to protest his government and a senior air force general recognized interim-chief Guaido.
    France and Austria said on Sunday they would recognize Guaido if Maduro did not respond to the European Union’s call for a free and fair presidential election by Sunday night.
    The Trump administration last week issued crippling sanctions that are likely to further weaken the country’s struggling oil industry.
    While that could weaken Maduro, it risks also exacerbating Venezuela’s economic collapse.    Venezuela is suffering medicine shortages, malnutrition and hyperinflation that has prompted millions to emigrate in recent years.
    Venezuela’s ambassador to Iraq, Jonathan Velasco, became the latest of a handful of officials to defect from Maduro’s government this weekend in a video published on social media on Saturday.
    Guaido told his supporters in a major rally in Caracas on Saturday that he would on Sunday announce when they would seek to bring in international humanitarian aid from Colombia, Brazil and a Caribbean island.
    It is unclear whether Maduro’s government, which denies the country is suffering a humanitarian crisis, will let any foreign aid through.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)
[Maduro sent Trump refugees to his southern border so he is sending him back and overthrow of his socialist regime.].

2/3/2019 Inside a raid in Maduro’s crackdown on critics in Venezuela slums by Angus Berwick
A man walks by graffiti of South American revolutionary hero Simon Bolivar, Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez and
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the Jose Felix Ribas neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
    CARACAS (Reuters) – After Venezuelan police officers clad in black military uniforms and masks stopped 27-year-old Yohendry Fernandez at gunpoint in the Caracas slum of Jose Felix Ribas, they asked him if he had a criminal record.    He replied yes.
    The officers then dragged him into an alley and shot him twice in the chest, killing him, according to his family and a witness.
    It was the afternoon of Jan. 24, the day after tens of thousands of slum residents left their hillside homes to join mass protests against President Nicolas Maduro, who they blame for an economic crisis that has left them without water, power, medicines and food.
    Several dozen officers from the National Police’s Special Action Force (FAES) drove into the slum in armored vehicles and on motorcycles.
    As they roared down the dusty streets, some opened fire as residents fled before them shouting “They’re here,” according to witnesses.    Police snipers clambered atop tin rooftops and locals hid under beds as the gunshots rang out, the witnesses said.
    By dawn, the FAES unit had killed as many as 10 people, leaving with their bodies and about a dozen hooded detainees, according to four local community leaders.
    Venezuela’s Information Ministry, which handles all media inquiries, including on behalf of the national police, did not respond to requests for comment on the operation.    Diosdado Cabello, the ruling Socialist Party’s deputy head, accused the opposition of fabricating death tolls from police raids.
    The FAES said reports of abuses were “fake news” spread by right-wing opponents.    “Our struggle is against all criminals that ravage our communities.    If you fear the FAES it’s because you’re a criminal,” the unit said on Thursday on Instagram.
    Residents said the FAES officers returned to Jose Felix Ribas for the next three afternoons, spreading terror in a poor community that used to be a bastion of support for Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.    Five years of economic recession have turned many into Maduro’s most fervent opponents.
    The raids, the deadliest of several in Caracas last month, show how the government has used the FAES to target critics since opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president and won the support of Western powers who say Maduro is illegitimate.
    Reuters spoke with a dozen witnesses, local politicians, and lawyers, along with experts who study the FAES, to provide the first detailed look at the operation.    Reuters also pieced together footage of the raid posted on social media, which witnesses verified.
    For a map of where police shot Fernandez, click:
    The reporting reveals a pattern of street justice employed by FAES, set up in 2017 as an elite force to combat terrorism and organized crime, and an atmosphere of impunity.
    The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, a local crime monitoring group, attributes 43 deaths to security forces during protests and raids since Jan. 22, and says it is processing reports of more.
    Keymer Avila, a criminology professor at the Central University of Venezuela, said he had not yet verified all the deaths in Jose Felix Ribas but that 10 seemed reasonable based on his understanding of the events.
    Rights groups accuse the government of using the FAES to raid Venezuelans’ homes after they return from protests, with the help of tip-offs from supporters.    Authorities have arrested more than 900 protesters since Jan. 21, the rights groups say.
    Jose Pinto, head of the Revolutionary Tupamaro Movement, a militant group that backs Maduro, told Reuters he and other so-called “i>colectivos” were expanding their networks of informants.
    They alerted police to “suspicious activity” before the Jan. 23 protests, Pino said, sending them images and addresses of suspected “right-wing conspirators,” which he said led to raids.
    On Jan. 22, according to residents, an unmarked pickup truck mounted with speakers drove through Jose Felix Ribas, a district within Caracas’ sprawling Petare shantytown, broadcasting a message: “If you protest tomorrow, there will be consequences.”
    Most said they took little heed. But six locals said the consequences became clear on Jan. 24 when FAES officers pulled a 23-year-old mother, the cousin of an alleged gang leader, from her house and shot her dead.    A church was sprayed with bullets.    One man was executed after being handcuffed inside a vehicle, residents said.
    Local politicians said authorities justified the raid as an operation against a criminal group.    The government has yet to show any evidence against those killed.
    Paula Navas, a local political organizer, said the authorities sought to silence her community.
    “They traumatized children.    What was the objective of this?” Navas asked.
    Yohendry Fernandez had been fixing motorcycles in a parking lot on the slum’s main road, some 200 meters (yards) from his family home.
    Motorcycles were his obsession, relatives said, and videos on his Facebook page show him racing down Caracas avenues performing wheelies.    He sometimes repaired motorcycles for the local police, they said.
    At 3 p.m., just as Fernandez was about to head home, FAES officers arrived and split into groups that advanced into the barrio’s upper reaches.    One group set up a blockade on a plaza where the road divided.    Fernandez’s home, where his wife and two children were waiting, was on the other side.
    After family members told his mother, Isabel Pino, that he had been arrested at the plaza, she raced to the scene and begged an officer: “Please don’t hurt him, he’s special.”
    The officer ordered her to go back inside, Pino, 49, told Reuters.    Then, she said, she heard two shots.
    The next time Pino saw her son was when she viewed his body at the hospital, a gunshot wound to his heart and another in his sternum.    She said she has received no official explanation for his death, and that all his personal belongings were taken.
    The family buried Fernandez last week at a cemetery outside the city, the only place they could afford.    She says she tells his 4-year-old son, Andres, that his father is asleep.
    Fernandez’s wife, Wendys, along with Navas and Aviud Morales, a local teacher, confirmed the details of his death.
    When FAES officers returned to Jose Felix Ribas in the days after the raid, they questioned the family about alleged criminal connections, which Pino denied.    A night-time curfew was imposed across the whole sector.
    “Just to hear the name, FAES, leaves me terrified.    I was just told they are back around here and I can feel the pain in my stomach,” Pino said, her voice shaking.
(Editing by Daniel Flynn and Daniel Wallis)

2/3/2019 El Salvador votes for new president, anti-corruption outsider favored by Nelson Renteria and Noe Torres
Presidential candidate Carlos Calleja, of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA),
gestures as his wife Andrea de Calleja shows her ink-stained thumb after voting at a polling station during the
presidential election in San Salvador, El Salvador February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Victor Pena
    SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – Salvadorans headed to the polls in the first round of a presidential election on Sunday, with an energetic former mayor campaigning as an anti-corruption outsider predicted to win the top job and end decades of a two-party system.
    Nayib Bukele, 37, has capitalized on the anti-establishment feeling sweeping elections across the region and further afield, as voters seek an alternative to traditional parties.
    Since the end of its bloody civil war in 1992, El Salvador has been governed by just two parties: the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) ruling leftists, and its rival, conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).
    Though he describes himself as from the left and was expelled from the FMLN, Bukele has formed a coalition with parties including a right-wing one which together have just 11 seats in the legislature.
    Pollster Mitofsky found in a January poll that Bukele had 57 percent of voter support, while a poll by Gallup showed him with 42 percent.    Both polls show ARENA’s Carlos Calleja in second place.
    If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of Sunday’s vote, two candidates will move into a runoff to be held in March.
    El Salvador’s next president will face U.S. President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks against Central American governments for not doing enough to prevent migration and will have to manage American backlash to recently established diplomatic relations with China.
    The new government will also have to try to kick-start a sluggish economy, combat corruption and tackle one of the highest homicide rates in the world.
    “We’re fed up with so much corruption,” said Maria Amaya, a 42-year-old housewife, who said she previously voted for the FMLN.    “The Front (FMLN) and ARENA had their time to do something and they didn’t.”
    Bukele, who was San Salvador mayor between 2015 to 2018, wants to create an international anti-corruption commission with the support of the United Nations, following similar committees in Guatemala and Honduras.
    “We’ll create a (commission) … so that the corrupt can’t hide where they always hide, instead they’ll have to give back what they stole,” Bukele said in January.
    Growing up, Bukele’s relatively wealthy family was sympathetic to the FMLN, the former leftist guerrilla army that became a political party at the end of El Salvador’s civil war in 1992.
    But Bukele has turned away from Latin America’s traditional left, branding Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega as well as conservative Honduran Juan Orlando Hernandez dictators.
    “A dictator is a dictator, on the ‘right’ or the ‘left,'” Bukele, who has a large social media following, wrote last week on Twitter.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria and Noe Torres; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Jeffrey Benkoe)

2/4/2019 Virginia Gov. Northam may survive controversy
    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam might hang on to his job despite requests for his resignation over a racially insensitive photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
    Virginia’s Constitution states that elected officials who commit “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor” can be removed from office. But one law professor in Virginia said Northam has done nothing to merit impeachment.
    Northam, a Democrat, acknowledged some regrets from his past, such as blackening his face for a Michael Jackson costume at a dance in the 1980s.
    “I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that,” he said.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has come under fire over a yearbook photo. STEVE EARLEY/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT VIA AP
[If Trump did that they would have strung him up.]

2/4/2019 Virginia’s Northam may survive - Despite calls for his exit, state law is on his side by John Bacon, USA TODAY
    A muddled defense that included moonwalking and a blackface Michael Jackson costume might be enough for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to keep his job despite overwhelming calls for his resignation over a racially insensitive photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
    Virginia’s Constitution says elected officials who commit “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor” may be removed from office.    Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said “nothing that has happened so far is grounds for removal” under the state’s provisions for impeachment.
    “There is nothing in his service as governor that satisfies those terms,” Tobias said.
    The governor on Friday apologized for being in the yearbook photo, which depicted one person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
    He reversed direction Saturday, saying he doesn’t believe he is in the photo and calling it “disgusting, offensive, racist.”
    Northam admitted to blackening his face with shoe polish for a Michael Jackson costume at a dance contest in the 1980s.    At one point during his Saturday press conference, he seemed to show off his moonwalking skills.    His wife stopped it.
    Northam said looking back on his past, he regretted “that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.”    The Democratic governor, elected in 2017, said he is determined to complete his term.
    Tobias said the rules for ousting a governor were built around behavior while in office, not events from 35 years ago.    But if the state’s House of Delegates decided to impeach Northam, he would be tried in the Senate.    Two-thirds of senators would have to agree for Northam to be removed.
    “He may think he can survive,” Tobias said.    “It is unlikely that the (state) Senate would convict.    But most people don’t think it would get that far.”
    The resignation drumbeat grew louder Sunday.    Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Rep. Donald McEachin, a Virginia Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Northam must go.
    “It doesn’t matter whether he was in the photo or not in the photo at this point,” McAuliffe said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”    “We have to close that chapter.    It is heartbreaking, but Virginia has to move forward.”
    McAuliffe said Northam never displayed any racist sentiment while serving as his lieutenant governor.    McEachin said he considered Northam a friend but added that the governor has lost the “authority” to lead.
    “We’re certainly grateful for the contributions he’s made to the betterment of Virginia,” McEachin said on ABC’s “Meet the Press.”    “But the question now is, ‘Can you lead? Can you help us heal?’ And given the actions that he’s demonstrated over the past 48 hours, the answer is clearly no.”
    The answer is not so clear to everyone on the state’s Eastern Shore, where Northam grew up.
    “I think he has the right to prove himself,” said the Rev. Kelvin Jones, pastor at First Baptist Church Capeville.    “I think that he has the right to serve until he feels he’s no longer capable of doing the job.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam admitted to blackening his face with shoe polish for a
Michael Jackson costume at a dance contest in the 1980s. STEVE HELBER/AP
[It could have been worse if he had worn a "MAGA" hat and had a smirk on his face they would want the death penalty as seen below.].

2/4/2019 Attorneys consider libel lawsuits - Media outlets, dioceses warned to save documents from CovCath controversy by Cameron Knight, Cincinnati Enquirer USA TODAY NETWORK
    Lawyers representing Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann and his family said Friday they have sent letters to media outlets and Catholic organizations as the first step in possible libel and defamation lawsuits.
    The student at the Park Hills school found himself in the center of a media firestorm after a video showing Nick and his classmates after last month’s March for Life in Washington went viral.    The videos show Nick in a “Make America Great Again” hat and a Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, surrounded by other students while Phillips plays a drum and sings.    Phillips said he approached the students to defuse a tense exchange between the students and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites.
    The first short clip that caught the attention of people on social media prompted calls of racism.    That clip was countered by hours of additional footage that came to light in the days after the event.
In this image from a video, CovCath student Nick Sandmann in a “Make America Great Again” hat and
Omaha Tribe elder Nathan Phillips stand face to face on the National Mall in Washington. SURVIVAL MEDIA AGENCY VIA AP

2/4/2019 Outsider wins El Salvador presidency, breaking two-party system by Nelson Renteria and Noe Torres
Presidential candidate Nayib Bukele of the Great National Alliance (GANA) speaks during a news conference
after the presidential election in San Salvador, El Salvador, February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
    SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – A former mayor campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket swept to victory in El Salvador’s presidential election on Sunday, bringing an end to a two-party system that has held sway over the violence-plagued Central American country for three decades.
    Nayib Bukele, the 37-year-old former mayor of the capital, San Salvador, won 54 percent of votes with returns counted from 88 percent of polling stations, said Julio Olivo, the head of the electoral tribunal.
    Bukele won more votes than all other candidates combined in his first-round sweep, highlighting deep voter frustration over the failure of the two main parties to tackle violence and corruption.
    “This day is historic for our country. This day El Salvador destroyed the two-party system,” Bukele told hundreds of Salvadorans who danced, waved flags and blew whistles in a San Salvador plaza that Bukele revitalized when he was mayor from 2015 to 2018.
    His two rivals from the mainstream political parties conceded defeat.
    Bukele must now contend with U.S. President Donald Trump’s frequent threats to cut aid to El Salvador – as well as neighboring Guatemala and Honduras – if they do not do more to curb migration to the United States.
    At home, supporters hope that a third-party politician will usher in changes to improve a sluggish economy and widespread poverty.
    “Let’s see if he can do what he’s promised for us,” said a jubilant supporter, Baltazar Sanchez, 30, at Bukele’s victory speech.
    “After 30 years of two parties, we’ve been dealt the best hand.”
    Gang violence has made tiny El Salvador one of the world’s most murderous countries in the past few years, driving Salvadorans to flee to the north.
    Among his campaign promises, Bukele, an avid social media user who snapped a selfie with supporters before declaring his win, said he would push infrastructure projects to limit such migration.
    Since the end of its civil war in 1992, El Salvador has been governed by the ruling leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and its rival, conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).
    Though he describes himself as from the left and was expelled from the FMLN, Bukele has formed a coalition including a right-wing party that together has just 11 seats in the legislature, which consists of 84 people.
    Outside the hotel in San Salvador where Bukele waited for the results, a group of supporters set off fireworks, beat drums and danced as early figures came in.
    “Yes, we did it!    Yes, we did it!” they chanted.
    FMLN candidate Hugo Martinez conceded defeat shortly after Bukele’s victory speech while ARENA candidate Carlos Calleja said he recognized the election results and would call Bukele to offer congratulations.
    Definitive results would be announced within two days, Olivo said.
    Along with the goal of modernizing government, Bukele, who is set to take office in June, has proposed creating an international anti-corruption commission with the support of the United Nations, following similar committees in Guatemala and Honduras.
    “i>We’ll create a (commission) … so that the corrupt can’t hide where they always hide, instead they’ll have to give back what they stole,” Bukele said in January.
    Growing up, Bukele’s relatively wealthy family was sympathetic to the FMLN, the former leftist guerrilla army that became a political party at the end of the civil war.
    But Bukele has turned away from Latin America’s traditional left, branding Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega as well as conservative Honduran Juan Orlando Hernandez as dictators.
    “A dictator is a dictator, on the ‘right’ or the ‘left’,” Bukele wrote last week on
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria and Noe Torres; Writing by Christine Murray and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Robert Birsel)

2/4/2019 Pentagon sending 3,750 extra U.S. forces to border with Mexico
FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks during the Missile Defense Review announcement
at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon is sending 3,750 additional U.S. forces to the southwest border with Mexico for three months to support border agents, the Department of Defense said on Sunday.
    The deployment will raise the total number of active-duty forces supporting Customs and Border Protection agents there to about 4,350, it said.
    The Pentagon disclosed the official figure days after a Democratic lawmaker said about 3,500 extra troops would be deployed.
    President Donald Trump, who has portrayed the situation at the border as a crisis, was expected to talk about immigration and his proposal for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico during the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday.
    Trump’s demand that money for the wall be included in spending legislation prompted an impasse with Democrats that led to a 35-day partial federal government shutdown that ended on Jan. 25.
    If lawmakers cannot reach a deal on the border security situation by Feb. 15, Trump has threatened to let the government shut down again or to declare a national emergency as a way to circumvent Congress and get his wall money.
    “I don’t take anything off the table,” he said in a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday.
    The Pentagon first approved the high-profile deployment of active-duty U.S. troops to the Mexico border in October, before the November congressional elections.    The move was embraced by Trump’s supporters, including fellow Republicans in Congress.
    Critics called the deployment a political stunt and scoffed at Trump’s comparisons of caravans of Central American migrants, including women and children, to an “invasion.”
    The Pentagon says the U.S. military will operate mobile surveillance cameras in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, a mission scheduled to run through Sept. 30.    Some of the additional troops will also string up 150 more miles (240 km) of concertina wire.
    Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the latest deployment on Jan. 11, according to the statement.    But a figure was not disclosed until Thursday, when Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Smith, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said 3,500 additional troops were being sent.
    Smith criticized senior Pentagon officials for failing to disclose the information during a hearing before his committee in Congress on the issue just two days earlier.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Peter Cooney)
[These caravan invasions need to go back to their countries and help overthrow their oppressors.].

2/4/2019 Howard Schultz criticizes Democrats for financially irresponsible proposals by OAN Newsroom
    Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is continuing to tease his potential 2020 presidential run with his disapproval of the “two party” system approach.
    However, he saved his biggest criticisms for Democrats.    During his book tour Sunday, Schultz blasted Democrats for proposing financially irresponsible policies.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at an event to promote his book,
From the Ground Up,” in Seattle. Schultz has faced a rocky reception since he announced earlier
in January that he’s considering an independent presidential bid. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
    He also took aim at Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed tax on the wealthy.
    “We shouldn’t get to a place where there are people yelling from the rafters that because you have been successful, you are a bad person and we’re going to be punitive to you –that’s, to me, the antithesis of the spirit of the country,” he stated.
    Schultz also voiced his concern for the Democratic Party’s radicalization and false promises, arguing the country cannot afford “free college.”

2/4/2019 President Trump: Democrats do nothing to secure border, national emergency still possible by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump said all options remain on the table to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.    He took to Twitter Sunday, saying congressional Democrats are doing nothing to improve border security.    The president told Republicans to be prepared to take every effort to tackle the influx of drugs, crime, and human smuggling into the U.S.
    Trump tweet: “With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security. Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there is no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions - KEEP OUT!
    On Sunday, President Trump blasted Nancy Pelosi in a CBS interview.    He said she’s doing a terrible disservice to the American people by refusing to fund the border wall.
    He didn’t rule out the possibility of a new shutdown or the declaration of a national emergency on February 15, 2019.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the Florida Atlantic University Marching Band
and cheerleaders play and perform at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019,
as they arrive for a Super Bowl party. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    “This really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers, these are people that are horrible people, bringing in women mostly, but bringing in women and children, into our country, human trafficking and we’re gonna have a strong border, and the only way you have a strong border is you need a physical barrier, you need a wall,” he stated.
    President Trump stressed the Democrat Party is playing “bad politics” with border security, which is hurting America’s national interest.

2/4/2019 Canada announces $53M in aid to people of Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
    Canada has announced a humanitarian relief package for Venezuela.    While speaking at a meeting of the Lima Group Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would provide $53 million to help the Venezuelan people.
    Trudeau said the money will go toward addressing the basic needs of most Venezuelans and assisting more than three million Venezuelan refugees abroad.
    The Lima Group is a bloc of regional countries that recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
Peru’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nestor Popolizio Bardales, left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, and Minister
of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland look on as Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaido, not pictured, delivers brief remarks via video
link at the opening session of the 10th ministerial meeting of the Lima Group in Ottawa, Ontario on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
    Prime Minister Trudeau also reiterated his call on embattled President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
    “We are observing a widespread rejection of the Maduro regime’s illegitimate claim to power following fraudulent elections last May,” he stated.    “The use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, arbitrary detentions, extra judicial killings, all have become staples of a dictatorship clinging to power at the expense of their people.”
    Trudeau also urged the international community to help Guaido restore democracy and help the economy in Venezuela.

2/4/2019 Maduro rejects international ultimatum to step down, hold elections in Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
    Embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro is rejecting an international ultimatum to call presidential elections in his country.
    In an interview with Spanish television Sunday, Maduro said he will not “cave in” to the pressure for him to step down.    He accused the U.S. of — what he called — an aggressive stance towards Venezuela.    Maduro alleged U.S. policies could trigger a civil war in his country.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores acknowledge supporters at the end
of a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
    Meanwhile, the government of France warned they would recognize Juan Guaido as legitimate leader of Venezuela unless Maduro agrees to call a presidential election by midnight Monday.
    “Maduro’s election last May was a farce, it was a fiction of an election,” stated Nathalie Loiseau, French Minister for European Affairs.    “If by tonight Nicolas Maduro does not commit to organizing new elections, then we’ll consider Juan Guaido as interim president.”
    French officials also said Maduro’s recent call for an early parliamentary election could be an attempt to get rid of Guaido.
    Meanwhile, Maduro stressed he won’t accept ultimatums from any country.

2/4/2019 Super Bowl viewership plummets by OAN Newsroom
    It appears more and more fans are turning off the NFL as Sunday’s Super Bowl saw the lowest viewership for the big game in a decade.
    Figures from Nielsen Media Research released Monday showed around 100 million people watched the game between the Patriots and Rams, drawing a 44.9 rating.    That’s the lowest mark since 2009, and a more than five-percent audience drop from last year.
Paul Hitselberger rakes confetti on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game between the
Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    While the game was historically low scoring, many have criticized the league for player protests during the national anthem.    That includes President Trump, who said as recently as Sunday that he believes those protests are disrespectful to the flag and could be hurting viewership.
    “I think that when you want to protest, I think that’s great, but I don’t think you do it at the sake of our flag, at the sake of our national anthem –absolutely,” he stated.
    The president went on to say he believes some of those who have protested will be in favor of his push to overhaul the criminal justice system.

2/4/2019 Stacey Abrams will give Democrat response to President Trump’s State of the Union address by OAN Newsroom
    Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democrats’ rebuttal to the State of the Union.
    “She is just a great spokesperson, she’s an incredible leader, she has led the charge for voting rights, which is at the root of everything else and she really has — if you look at her background — she knows what working people, middle class people go through,” said Schumer.
    According to Democratic Party officials, Abrams will issue the response from her hometown of Atlanta.    She served as the Democrat leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for more than six-years prior to her gubernatorial bid.
FILE – In this May 20, 2018, file photo, then-Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Stacey Abrams participates in a debate in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
    The race between her and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp caught national attention.    High profile celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, came to campaign for Abrams.    Despite the outside Hollywood influence, Abrams lost to Kemp by roughly 50,000 votes.
    Since her defeat, Abrams launched a legal organization called ‘Fight Fair Georgia,’ which accuses the 2018 Georgia elections of being “rife with mismanagement and irregularities.”    In a statement the group said it plans to “pursue accountability in Georgia’s elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting polls.”
    For someone so concerned about fair elections and voting rights, however, Abrams has some surprising views.    She said she would be in favor of non-citizens voting in local elections, and believes there’s a difference when voting in municipal, state and federal elections.    She also argued that, in some cases, 16-year-old’s should be allowed to vote.
    According to White House officials, the theme of this year’s State of the Union is “choosing greatness” and will focus on issues which can build a bipartisan consensus.
    By choosing Stacey Abrams to give the State of the Union response, Democrats may be preparing for more partisanship as she’s expressed ambitions for running against Georgia’s Republican Senator David Perdue in 2020.
[Leave it to Shumer to pick a Poor Loser, and the rest of the bunch did not want to speak which would give fodder for Trump to use in the 2020 elections.].

2/4/2019 EU nations back Venezuela’s Guaido as anti-Maduro bloc grows by Jose Elías Rodríguez and Angus Berwick
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido waves to supporters at a rally against
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
    MADRID/CARACAS (Reuters) – Major European nations joined the United States on Monday in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, while a separate regional bloc meeting kept up the pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
    The coordinated recognition by 11 nations – Britain, Germany, France, Spain and seven more European Union members – followed the expiration of an ultimatum for Maduro to call a new presidential election, aligning them with Washington and against Russia and China.
    The 14-nation so-called Lima Group, which includes Canada and Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico but not the United States, met in Ottawa to discuss the way forward on Venezuela.    Although Washington has broached the idea of an oil embargo on Venezuela, the Lima Group looked set to hold off imposing more sanctions, sources briefed on the matter said.
    “From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said as he announced that Madrid had recognized Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly who declared himself last month to be the country’s interim ruler.
    Maduro’s government, overseeing an economic collapse that has prompted 3 million Venezuelans to flee the oil-rich country, lashed out at the EU nations and said the move would affect relations with Caracas.
    In a statement, Venezuela’s government said it “expresses its most energetic rejection of the decision adopted by some European governments, in which they officially submit to the U.S. administration’s strategy to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.”     Maduro’s government singled out Spain for acting “cowardly.”    Other EU nations taking similar action included: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden.
    Maduro, accused by critics of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship, has been in power since 2013.
    Norway, not an EU member, is not recognizing Guaido as interim president, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Norwegian news agency NTB.    She urged Venezuela’s government and opposition to establish a political process that could lead to new elections.
    Guaido, accused by Maduro’s government of staging a U.S.-directed coup, has galvanized Venezuela’s opposition movement.
    Maduro, who has maintained the critical support of the military, is facing widespread calls from some of Venezuela’s neighbors and other nations to resign after last year’s disputed presidential vote.    He has defied European heads of state and called them sycophants for following U.S. President Donald Trump.
    The United States welcomed the EU nations’ recognition of Guaido and encouraged other countries to follow suit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
    Maduro sent a letter to Pope Francis requesting a renewal of dialogue in the crisis, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in Abu Dhabi.
    Most Lima Group members have said Maduro, who succeeded late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, should quit in favor of Guaido and are calling for a new presidential election.    The challenge for the Lima Group is that Mexico opposes measures to oust Maduro.    The United States wants Maduro gone, as do other key Western nations.
    “I think we are at a very critical point in the history of Venezuela,” said Alan Duncan, Britain’s junior foreign minister, among a number of European representatives attending the Lima Group meeting.
    “We must all stick together and speak as one until such time as the former President Maduro has stood down and allowed fresh, properly conducted free and fair democratic elections to take place,” Duncan added.
    Last month, the Lima Group announced a travel ban on senior Venezuelan officials and a freeze on their foreign assets.
    In an interview airing on Spanish television channel Antena 3 on Sunday, Maduro said, “We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone,” adding: “I refuse to call for elections now – there will be elections in 2024.”
    In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said U.N. officials will not participate in any international initiatives on Venezuela in order to remain neutral.
    Maduro’s critics have said incompetent policies and corruption have impoverished the once-wealthy nation, leaving it with widespread shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation forecast to rise to 10 million percent in 2019.
    In a televised speech on Monday, Guaido accused Maduro’s government of trying to move $1.2 billion from state development bank Bandes to a financial entity in Uruguay, though he did not present evidence.    Guaido called on Uruguay to prevent the move.
    Maduro blames Washington and other Western nations for sabotaging Venezuela’s economy, including through sanctions.
    The United States last week imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA in a move likely to cut revenues for the South American country.
    Trump, in an interview that aired on Sunday, said military intervention in Venezuela was “an option.”
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday his country will give C$53 million ($40.3 million) in aid to help alleviate Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.
(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren and Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels, Philip Pullella in Abu Dhabi and Steve Scherer in Rome, Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo, Lesley Wroughton in Washingt, and Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Will Dunham)

2/4/2019 Many European nations recognize Guaido as Venezuelan president by Gabriela Baczynska and Jose Elías Rodríguez
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks during a news conference
in Caracas, Venezuela, January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
    BRUSSELS/MADRID (Reuters) – Major European nations joined the United States in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president on Monday, heightening a global showdown over Nicolas Maduro’s socialist rule.
    The European Union members’ coordinated move followed the expiry of an ultimatum for Maduro to call a new election and aligned them with Washington against Russia and China.
    The sitting Venezuelan leader, accused of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship and wrecking its economy, has defied European heads of state and called them sycophants for following President Donald Trump.
    Guaido, who leads the National Assembly, declared himself caretaker leader last month in a move that has fed into a global geopolitical divide and brought Venezuelans onto the streets.
    “From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, recognizing Guaido.
    Other EU nations echoing that were: Austria, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden.
    In response, Caracas said it would revise relations with Europe.    Maduro singled out “cowardly” Spain.
    “If one day there is a coup, if one day there is a gringo military intervention, your hands will be stained with blood, Mr. Pedro Sanchez,” he said in a speech.
    Maduro, 56, a former union leader, bus driver and foreign minister, has presided over an economic collapse and exodus of 3 million Venezuelans.
    He accuses Washington of waging “economic war” on Venezuela and harboring coup pretensions aimed at gaining control over its oil.    Venezuela’s reserves are the largest in the world but production has plunged under Maduro.
    Critics say incompetent policies and corruption have impoverished the once-wealthy nation while dissent has been brutally crushed.
    “The oppression of the illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime must end,” said British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
    Moscow and Beijing, which have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into Venezuela, are supporting Maduro and warning against foreign intervention.
    “Imposing some kind of decisions or trying to legitimize an attempt to usurp power is both direct and indirect interference,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
    Maduro won re-election last year, but critics say the vote was a sham.    Two opposition rivals were barred, while food handouts to hungry Venezuelans were linked with political support.
    Italy, whose coalition government is divided over Venezuela, dissented from other European powers and blocked a joint statement saying individual nations had the prerogative to recognize Guaido.    Italy’s 5-Star Movement says it cannot recognize self-appointed leaders.
    Ireland shared that reluctance and declined to recognize Guaido specifically, though it did back the EU stance of calling for a fair election.
    In addition to European pressure, a bloc of Latin American nations plus Canada were to meet on Monday seeking to maintain pressure on Maduro.
    “All these shameless people are clinging to power,” said Luis, a 45-year-old Venezuelan outside the consulate in Madrid.    “Let them hold elections so they see they won’t get even 10 percent of the votes.”
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Marine Pennetier in Paris; Guy Faulconbridge and Mike Holden in London; Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid; Andrew Osborn and Thomas Balmforth in Moscow; Andrei Khalip in Lisbon; Steve Scherer in Rome; Alissa de Carbonnel and Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels; Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Sarah Marsh in Caracas; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Janet Lawrence, Raissa Kasolowsky and Toby Chopra)

2/4/2019 Germany could miss even reduced NATO defense spending goal: document
Two German Eurofighter jets simulate the interception of a plane over the Baltic sea November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Sabine Siebold
    BERLIN (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has cast doubt over the government’s already watered-down pledge to NATO allies of spending 1.5 percent of economic output on defense by 2024, a Finance Ministry document obtained by Reuters showed on Monday.
    Germany is under pressure from the United States and other NATO members to increase its military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product, in line with a target agreed by NATO members in 2014 and reaffirmed in subsequent years.
    Military spending remains a source of great tension within Germany’s ruling coalition, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives pushing for quicker increases in defense budgets but Scholz’s Social Democrats riding the brakes.
    The government’s tax revenues are likely to rise less than expected in coming years due to a slowing economy which means that options for additional spending are exhausted, the 22-page ministry document said.
    The document, prepared for Scholz to present to cabinet members, said the finance ministry had earmarked 7.3 billion euros ($8.34 billion) for additional defense and development aid spending until 2022.
    However, it would require much higher spending to get close to the already reduced defense goal of 1.5 percent of GDP by 2024 as Chancellor Angela Merkel promised NATO allies last year, according to a separate graphic in the document.
    Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a conservative, said during a visit to Latvia that negotiations about the 2020 budget had just begun, but stressed that the coalition partners had agreed to boost military spending to 1.5 percent of GDP.
    She said the issue would be discussed during talks on the budget, which is due to be finalised in late March.    “We have time until the end of March.    Let us negotiate,” von der Leyen told reporters in Riga.
    Military spending is expected to rise to 1.3 percent of GDP this year from just over 1.2 percent in 2018.    Even stabilizing spending at the current level would require the government to shift money out of other programs which could prove politically tricky.
(Reporting by Markus Wacket, Sabine Siebold and Andrea Shalal; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

2/4/2019 Oil slides on disappointing U.S. data after hitting two-month high by Stephanie Kelly
An oil pumpjack and a tank with the corporate logo of state oil company PDVSA are seen
in an oil facility in Lagunillas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Monday after disappointing U.S. factory data sparked fresh concerns about a slowdown in the global economy, but losses were limited as OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela pointed to tighter supply.
    Brent crude futures dropped 24 cents, or 0.38 percent, to settle at $62.51 a barrel.    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 70 cents, or 1.27 percent, to settle at $54.56 a barrel
    Weighing on oil markets, U.S. government data showed new orders for U.S.-made goods unexpectedly fell in November, with sharp declines in demand for machinery and electrical equipment.In a market that’s looking for direction, there’s concern that any slowdown in the manufacturing sector would slow down demand.    Because the number was a little disappointing, it played into the slowing demand scenario,” said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
    Prices also dipped after data showed U.S. crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. crude futures, rose by more than 943,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 1, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.
    Crude futures earlier posted around two-month highs.    Brent reached $63.63 a barrel, the highest since Dec. 7, while WTI climbed to $55.75 a barrel, the strongest since Nov. 21.
    Prices have been buoyed by a new round of supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies that began in January.    OPEC supply fell last month by the largest amount in two years, a Reuters survey last week found.
    Russia has been in full compliance with its pledge to gradually cut its oil production, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on Monday, adding that production decreased by 47,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January from October.
    The impact of OPEC+’s supply curbs has been boosted by U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA.    The sanctions will limit oil transactions between Venezuela and other countries and are similar to those imposed on Iran last year, some analysts said after examining details announced by the U.S. government.
    The European Union is considering imposing more sanctions on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but has not discussed an oil embargo, Malta’s foreign minister said on Monday.
    However, while OPEC is cutting output, the United States has expanded supply, with production most recently totaling 11.9 million bpd.
GRAPHIC: U.S. oil production & drilling levels –
    Market participants are also watching for developments surrounding the U.S.-China trade war, which has dragged on world markets as investors worry that the dispute could contribute to a potential global economic slowdown.
    “The market seems to be turning on renewed worries that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of progress on the U.S.-China trade talks,” said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
    U.S. President Donald Trump last week said he would meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the coming weeks to try to settle the dispute.
(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler and Noah Browning in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

2/4/2019 Border States less likely to report crime due to fear of cartel retaliation by OAN Newsroom
    Gang-related violence in Tijuana is making its way north of the border.    Residents in New Mexico, who live within a 50-miles of the border are saying they are afraid to report crimes in the area due to the threat of retaliation from cartel members.
    One rancher recalled turning in 700-pounds of marijuana that was found on his property, and waking up to vandalism and major damage to his ranch.
    The president has repeatedly highlighted the threat of traffickers entering the U.S. as he continues to fight for border wall funding.
    “Absolutely vital, will not work without it, this crisis threatens the safety of our country and thousands of American lives,” stated President Trump.    “Criminal cartels, narco-terrorists, transnational gangs like MS-13 and human traffickers are brazenly violating U.S. laws and terrorizing innocent communities.”     The cartel is also an increasing concern in Mexico, with the number of homicides increasing at a record rate.    Mexican law enforcement officials said many of those homicides are linked to drug trade, most of which involve opioids.
FILE – In this Aug. 11, 2017, file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol vehicle passes along a section of border levee wall in Hidalgo, Texas.
The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
    According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Mexican cartels are responsible for most of the production of methamphetamine and heroin.    They are also the leading manufacturer of fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid many times more potent than heroin.
    While former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his predecessor have both waged war against criminal gangs in the country for more than a decade, the push has shown little results.
    According to President Trump, increased border security would help stop the drugs and violence from entering the U.S.

2/4/2019 U.S. prepares to build portions of Texas border wall by OAN Newsroom
    The U.S. government is set to begin construction on border walls and fencing in south Texas.    Heavy construction equipment will be at the Rio Grande Valley Monday to help build more than 30-miles of new barriers.
    A majority of the barrier will include concrete walls with steel posts on top, which will be located next to the Rio Grande River.    The river forms the U.S.-Mexico border.
    This comes after Congress approved more than 600 million last March for the project.
FILE – In this July 24, 2014, file photo, a bend in the Rio Grand is viewed from a Texas Department of
Public Safety helicopter on patrol over in Mission, Texas. The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction
of more border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool, File)
    President Trump visited the Texas border last month, and said it’s a weak spot where strong border security is needed.
    “We have lists of things, what they need more than anything is the barrier, the wall — call it whatever you want — whether it’s steel and concrete, don’t care, we need a barrier,” he urged.
    The United States Customs and Border Protection agency did not give an exact date on when they will start, but said construction will begin on federally owned land.

2/4/2019 White House Economic Adviser: Democrat tax proposals ‘economically illiterate’ by OAN Newsroom
    White House Economic Adviser Kevin Hassett is claiming Democrats should be ashamed of themselves over some of their tax proposals.
    During an interview Monday, Hassett said plans such as the ones floated by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren are harmful for the economy.
    Ocasio-Cortez is pushing a 70-percent marginal tax rate on income around $10 million dollars, while Warren has proposed an additional wealth tax.
FILE – In this Dec. 6, 2018 file photo, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asks 2014 Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai
a question at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
    Hassett explained why those plans would not benefit the American people.
    “It’s very disappointing that over and over again I see the Democrats pursue really economically illiterate proposals just because they think they sound good politically,” he stated.    “It’s harmful to the economy and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
    Hassett went on to tout the current state of the economy, and credited President Trump’s policies as a main factor for why we are seeing such growth.

2/5/2019 US prepares to start building portion of Texas border wall
    HOUSTON – The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.    Heavy construction equipment was expected to arrive starting Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.    A photo posted by the nonprofit National Butterfly Center shows an excavator parked next to its property.    Congress last March approved more than $600 million for 33 miles of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley.

2/5/2019 Sen. Grassley expects to see Mueller report ‘within a month’ by OAN Newsroom
    Senator Chuck Grassley said he expects to see special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report “within a month.”    He made the comment during an interview Tuesday, and also suggested he doesn’t expect the report to show any evidence of collusion between President Trump and Russia.
    Grassley also slammed the counsel for its handling of the home raid and arrest of ex-Trump adviser Roger Stone, claiming it’s clear someone within or close to the FBI tipped off CNN about the raid.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee markup meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo/Andrew Harnik/AP)
    Grassley also voiced his support for the report being made public and cited it’s cost to taxpayers.
    “I don’t care what the report says, we’ve paid $25 million, maybe $35 million, to do it and the public ought to know what their 25 or 35 million bought, and except for national security and privacy of individuals — those would understandably be redacted –everything else I think ought to out,” he stated.
    This comes after acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he believes the investigation is close to being completed.

2/5/2019 Roger Stone’s lawyers say special counsel leaked, claim metadata shows CNN obtained indictment from FBI by OAN Newsroom
    Attorneys for Roger Stone have provided evidence to support their claim the special counsel’s office leaked information to CNN.
    Lawyers sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee detailing how CNN received an early draft copy of the indictment against Stone.    The draft was provided to Stone’s attorneys by CNN’s Sara Murray to confirm the raid and arrest.
    The lawyers are claiming metadata on the draft identifies it as being authored by the initials A.A.W., who is suspected to be lead special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.    The metadata also allegedly shows the copy of the draft obtained by CNN came from the FBI and not the courts as CNN alleged.
    “There was some unusually grand jury activity in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Robert Mueller’s grand jury typically meets on Friday’s, yesterday, a Thursday, there was grand jury activity — we also had some other signs that maybe something was going on this angle, the Roger Stone angle, so we showed up at his house this morning and we were the only ones there,” CNN producer David Shortell alleged while on the scene at Stone’s Florida home.
Roger Stone, longtime friend and confidant of President Donald Trump, speaks to members of the media in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.
Stone is accused of lying to lawmakers, engaging in witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation into
possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign. He pleaded not guilty this week. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    The judge in Stone’s case claimed the allegations of innocence by Stone could taint the jury.    Meanwhile, she has failed to address CNN’s role in the arrest, including the network illegally obtaining the sealed indictment and how its coverage could affect Stone’s trial.

2/5/2019 Manafort sentencing postponed again by OAN Newsroom
    The sentencing hearing for Paul Manafort is being rescheduled once again.
    Judge Amy Berman Jackson signed the order Monday, pushing back the scheduled date of February 8, 2019.
    Manafort is awaiting his sentencing for charges of bank and tax fraud, but has been pushed back because of his ongoing dispute with the special counsel.
FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, Paul Manafort leaves Federal District Court, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
    Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of lying to prosecutors after signing a plea deal in which he said he would cooperate with the investigation.
    Both parties are now being ordered to submit proposed redactions before releasing the transcript from Monday’s hearing.    Manafort’s new hearing is set for Wednesday, March 13, 2018.
[I think Manafort figured out he had been exploited by Mueller.].

2/5/2019 Migrant caravan arrives at U.S.-Mexico border by OAN Newsroom
    The latest migrant caravan to leave Central America has arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border after weeks of traveling.    On Monday, local media in Texas reported several dozen buses arrived in Piedras Negras, Mexico, which is just steps away from the port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas.
    The migrants will now be tasked with deciding how they will attempt to enter the U.S.    Many have said they plan to apply for asylum, but others are saying they may try to enter illegally.
    This area of Texas reportedly lacks physical barriers, meaning some could attempt to do the very thing the president has advocated against.
    “We cannot let people come into our country illegally, just can’t do it,” he stated.    “You don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.”
    In the meantime, it will not be an easy task for those who choose to seek asylum.    New policies require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed.    Their odds in Mexico don’t appear to be any brighter as Mexico announced last week it was suspending its program, which fast-tracked visas to migrants for humanitarian reasons.
FILE – Members of the U.S. military install multiple tiers of concertina wire along the banks of the
Rio Grande near the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, in Laredo, Texas. The Pentagon said Sunday,
Feb. 3, 2019, it will send 3,750 more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to put up another 150 miles of concertina wire and provide
other support for Customs and Border Protection. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
    Regardless, U.S. immigration officials said they are prepared to protect the country from any type of border breach.    Over the weekend, U.S. personnel at the border conducted various exercises, and the Pentagon has announced nearly 3,800 additional troops would be deployed to the border to secure existing barriers.
    However, the timing of the migrants arrival couldn’t be more pivotal as President Trump is set to address the nation in the State of the Union Tuesday, with immigration expected to be the leading topic.

2/5/2019 White House: President Trump has right to declare national emergency if Congress fails to pass deal by OAN Newsroom
    White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway hinted the president is planning to use his State of the Union address to call for cooperation from Democrats as Congress remains locked in a stalemate over border security.
    While speaking with reporters outside the White House Tuesday, Conway said President Trump plans to address bipartisan issues like infrastructure and drug pricing in hopes of cooling some tension between the parties.
    However, she did say if Democrats continue to resist calls for compromise and fail to reach a deal with Republicans on immigration reform then the president would be well within his right to declare a national emergency.
    “So, I mean the president cannot be more clear that he has the absolute right to declare a national emergency — it has never been his preferred option of first resort, second, 10th, 12th resort, it would be the last resort after Congress has completed its work,”    Conway explained.    “He’s got the conferees doing their work, let’s see what they come up with before February 15th, but at the same time the president’s made very clear that it’s his first and solemn duty to keep us all safe and he believes that includes securing the southern border.”
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the
White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    She added, the funding the president has requested would not just pay for a wall, but it would also cover additional border security personnel, immigration judges and drug detection technology.
    Conway also noted the president has agreed to temporarily extend DACA protections in exchange for funding.
    “Congress has failed to do his job — this Congress, last Congress and for quite a while — to make sure that we have what we need at the southern border, which of course the centerpiece of is a physical barrier, wall, steel slats, but it’s also the additional Border Patrol personnel, the immigration judges, tackling TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), certainly meeting those humanitarian needs that have been identified, and also having more technology for the drug surveillance and detection and handling and interdiction,” she stated.
    Conway also took aim at the media for its coverage on the president’s leaked executive schedule, arguing the press is constantly presumptive and negative when it comes to this administration.    She claimed the president is very active and the results of his effective policies speak for themselves.

2/5/2019 N.J. high school student rejected from National Honor Society for supporting President Trump by OAN Newsroom
A supporter of Donald Trump wears a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap at a rally in Westfield, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
    A New Jersey high school student said he was rejected from the National Honor Society, because of his support for President Trump.
    16-year-old Boris Kizenko spoke out about the incident in a recent interview, saying it all started when he posted a quote from President Trump to the class Instagram page he was in charge of.
    Kizenko said he was careful to pick an inspirational quote that was not political.    Still however, school officials demanded he take down the post and hand over the password to the social media account.
    “They took away all my social media authority as a class president, and my class advisor…she demanded the class Instagram password from me, I appealed her decision, I said this isn’t right, and I got a conduct report for appealing that decision,” he explained.    “They told me that I was being a monarch in the student council, and they also said that that doesn’t represent the ideals of the class.”
    Kizenko said the school administration told him he had a “character flaw” leading to the National Honor Society’s decision to drop him.

2/5/2019 President Trump’s inaugural committee subpoenaed by federal prosecutors by OAN Newsroom
    Prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed the President Trump’s inauguration committee for documents. The order, issued Monday, is asking for all information related to donors, vendors and finances.
    The probe is looking into alleged finance abuses related to nearly $100 million in donations.    The investigation is trying to uncover whether or not members of the committee offered benefits to donors in exchange for benefits and access.
    Supporters of the court’s decision are saying this is a necessary step to determine if there was a quid pro quo with foreign nationals.
In this Jan. 20, 2017 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump arrives during the
58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster/AP, File)
    Meanwhile, critics have said the investigation is likely another false flag and is a waste of federal resources.
    “Okay, if there’s accusations and they’re credible then let the investigation go forward and let’s see what it shows, but to be fair to a lot of people who have been accused of some very serious crimes, including even the crime of treason over the last two-years, many times these investigations don’t show and prove what many people think and some of them actually hope that they will,” stated Representative Chris Stewart, (R) Utah.
    Critics also question the scrutiny of the investigation, asking why the same resources haven’t been applied to other organizations such as the Clinton Foundation.

2/5/2019 Venezuela’s funds transfer blocked, opposition lawmaker says by Vivian Sequera and Angus Berwick
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to the media before a session of the
National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    CARACAS (Reuters) – A bank in Portugal has blocked Venezuela’s attempt to transfer $1.2 billion to Uruguay, a lawmaker said on Tuesday as the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro warned of the theft of public funds, while the United States sent food and medical aid to the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
    Pressure is building on Maduro, a socialist, to resign amid an economic crisis marked by widespread shortages and hyperinflation, with the United States and a growing number of other nations recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
    Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed willingness for the Vatican to mediate Venezuela’s mounting crisis if both sides seek it.    Russia, which along with China has backed Maduro in the crisis, underscored its view that the crisis can be resolved only with negotiations between the government and opposition.
    Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month, is scheduled to meet later on Tuesday with business leaders at Venezuela’s main business group, Fedecamaras, to discuss an economic recovery plan under a future transition government in the OPEC-member South American country.
    Maduro’s adversaries have warned that Venezuelan officials are seeking to drain state coffers ahead of a potential change of government.
    Portugal-based Novo Banco halted the $1.2 billion transfer of Venezuelan government financial assets to Uruguayan banks, legislator Carlos Paparoni said during a congressional session, a day after Guaido said authorities were trying to move funds.
    “I’m pleased to inform the Venezuelan people that this transaction has until now been halted, protecting the resources of all Venezuelans,” Paparoni said.
    Venezuela’s Information Ministry, which handles all media inquiries, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
    Lisbon-based Novo Banco, which is 75 percent-owned by U.S. private equity firm Lone Star Funds, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Major European nations including Britain, Germany, France and Spain joined the United States on Monday in recognizing Guaido, while members of a separate regional bloc, the so-called Lima Group, kept the political heat on Maduro.
    In power since former President Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013, Maduro has been accused by critics of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship.    Critics have called last year’s disputed presidential vote in which Maduro won re-election a sham, and the mainstream opposition boycotted it.
    Trucks carrying food and medical supplies sent by the United States to be stockpiled until it can be brought into Venezuela will arrive later this week at Guaido’s request and will be prepositioned at the main Colombian-Venezuelan border crossing at Cucuta, U.S. officials with knowledge of the plan said.
    It is unclear how the supplies will get into Venezuela without Maduro’s blessing and cooperation of the Venezuelan military, which has remained loyal to his government and is stationed on the Venezuelan side of the border.
    The pope, speaking to reporters aboard his plane while returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi, confirmed that Maduro had written a letter to him but said he had not yet read it.    Maduro told Italian broadcaster Sky TG24 on Monday that he had sent the letter to the pope “for help in the process of facilitating and reinforcing dialogue.”
    Asked about a possible direct mediation effort by the Vatican, the pope said, “I will read the letter and see what can be done, but the initial condition is that both sides ask for it. We are willing.”
    Given the failure of previous rounds of dialogue, including one led by the Vatican, opponents are suspicious, believing Maduro uses them to quell protests and buy time.
    U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to address the Venezuela situation in his annual State of the Union address in Washington later on Tuesday.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Venezuela crisis could be solved only by getting the authorities and opposition to talk to each other, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
    “We continue to believe that the only way to exit this crisis is by sitting the government and opposition down at the negotiating table,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by RIA.    “Otherwise it will simply be the same regime change that the West had done many times.”
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Angus Berwick in Caracas; Additional reporting by Sérgio Gonçalves in Lisbon, Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Katya Golubkova in Moscow; and Philip Pullella aboard the papal plane; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Paul Simao)

2/5/2019 As U.S. withdraws, top general warns on Islamic State threat in Syria by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali
U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testifies before the
Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. general warned on Tuesday that Islamic State would pose an enduring threat following a planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying the militant group retained leaders, fighters, facilitators and resources that will fuel a menacing insurgency.
    The remarks by U.S. General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, represent the latest warning by current and former U.S. officials about the risk of a resurgence by Islamic State following a planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria ordered in December by President Donald Trump.
    “We do have to keep pressure on this network. … They have the ability of coming back together if we don’t,” Votel, who oversees troops in the Middle East as well as Afghanistan, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.    He added that territory under Islamic State’s control had been reduced to less than 20 square miles (52 square km) and would be recaptured by U.S.-backed forces prior to the U.S. withdrawal, which he said would be carried out in a “deliberate and coordinated manner.”
    Votel told the Senate hearing he was not consulted ahead of Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw America’s more than 2,000 troops from Syria, which helped trigger the resignation of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis.
    Trump’s Syria withdrawal has also fueled rare, vocal opposition from within his own Republican party.
    The Republican-led U.S. Senate on Monday backed largely symbolic legislation that broke with Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
    It warned that “a precipitous withdrawal” could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russia.
    U.S. officials tell Reuters that the military has already started the withdrawal process, adding hundreds of troops to Syria to facilitate a safe pullout.    It has begun to withdraw equipment from Syria and is expected to begin the drawdown of personnel soon.
    Trump is expected to tout U.S. successes in Syria when he appears before a joint session of Congress to deliver a State of the Union speech at 9 p.m. on Tuesday (0200 GMT Wednesday).
    A source close to Trump said the president will declare the militant group all but defeated and will discuss his planned Syria drawdown.
    It is unclear whether Trump’s triumphant tone will echo the warnings coming from different parts of his administration, including Votel’s Central Command and the U.S. military.
    The Pentagon’s own internal watchdog released a report on Monday saying Islamic State remained an active insurgent group and was regenerating functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria.
    “Absent sustained (counterterrorism) pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory,” the report from the Pentagon’s inspector general said.
    The report, citing information from U.S. Central Command, said Islamic State would portray the withdrawal as a “victory” and conduct attacks on American personnel during the pullout process.
    A report by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Islamic State has transformed into a covert network, including in its strongholds of Syria and Iraq, but is still a threat with centralized leadership, up to $300 million at its disposal and thousands of fighters.
    The 18-page report to the U.N. Security Council, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, described Islamic State as “by far the most ambitious international terrorist group, and the one most likely to conduct a large-scale, complex attack in the near future.”
    It said the group was interested in attacking aviation and using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and that there were up to 18,000 Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreign fighters.
    “Foreign terrorist fighters leaving the conflict zone, or prior returnees becoming active again on release from prison or for other reasons, will increase the threat,” the report warned.    “Radicalized women and traumatized minors may also pose a serious threat.”
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Michelle Nichols and Steve Holland; Editing by David Gregorio and James Dalgleish)

2/5/2019 French parliament passes law to curb violent protests
French Gendarmes stand near a fire during a demonstration of the "yellow vests"
movement in Strasbourg, France, January 12, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill aimed at curbing violent protests in response to three months of anti-government demonstrations by the grassroots “yellow vests” movement.
    Despite criticism that the law could curb civil liberties, it passed the lower house, the national assembly, by 387 votes to 92 thanks to the comfortable majority enjoyed by President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist LREM party.    It will now be discussed in the upper house, but the assembly has the last word.
    The “anti-casseurs” (anti-hooligan) law bans protesters from hiding their faces, gives police greater powers to extract potential trouble-makers from demonstrations, and grants local authorities the right to ban individual protesters.
    The “yellow vest” movement erupted in November as a protest against fuel taxes but has morphed into a broader revolt against inequality and Macron’s presidency.    It takes its name from the fluorescent vests that motorists in France carry in their cars.
    Rioters ran amok in Paris during the early street protests, torching cars, smashing luxury boutiques and defacing the Arc de Triomphe.    It was among the worst violence the capital has experienced since a 1968 student uprising.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

2/6/2019 With eye on Afghanistan talks, Trump vows to stop ‘endless wars’ by Patricia Zengerle
FEBRUARY 5, 2019 - WASHINGTON, DC: President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address, with Vice President Mike Pence
and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, at the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 5, 2019. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump told Americans on Tuesday his administration had accelerated talks for a political settlement in Afghanistan, and would be able to reduce U.S. troops there as negotiations advance to end America’s longest war.
    “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, in which he also said U.S. troops had nearly defeated Islamic State militants in Syria and it was time to bring them home.
    After 17 years of war in Afghanistan, Trump praised “the unmatched valor” of U.S. forces.
    “Thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a possible political solution to this long and bloody conflict,” Trump said.
    He said his administration was holding constructive talks with a number of groups, including the Taliban.
    “As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism.    And we will indeed focus on counter-terrorism,” Trump said.
    Trump offered no specifics about when he would bring home the 14,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan.
    U.S.-led forces in 2001 toppled the hardline Taliban for harboring the al Qaeda militants responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
    “We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement – but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace,” Trump said.
    In December, a U.S. official said Trump was planning to withdraw more than 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, triggering worries about whether a smaller force would be able to fulfill missions under way and stabilize the country.
    When he campaigned for president in 2016, Trump said he wanted to focus more on domestic issues than foreign conflicts.     However, Trump’s sudden announcement in December that he would withdraw U.S. forces from Syria alarmed allies and many current and former U.S. officials, who worry that Islamic State militants remain a threat.
    After the speech, Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said Trump’s Syria plans did not seem well thought out, and could put U.S. allies like the Kurds and Israel at risk, while empowering Iran.
    “We’ll probably come back at a future date, with much more danger to our troops,” Engel told Reuters.
    Earlier on Tuesday, General Joseph Votel, head of the military’s Central Command, warned that Islamic State would pose an enduring threat.
    In his address, Trump said Islamic State controlled more than 20,000 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria.    “Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty monsters,” he said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mary Milliken and Sonya Hepinstall)
[Dem. Engel the real threat is if the Socialist policies of the Dems take control of the U.S.A. then it will not matter what is going on over there, because we will be fighting it, or become oppressed by it.    Other than that Trump had an excellent speech to give us hope that his policies continue to "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AND FIRST."].

2/6/2019 Oil falls below $62 on U.S. inventories, fading Venezuela concerns by Alex Lawler
FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack can be seen in Cisco, Texas, August 23, 2015. Mike Stone/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil fell below $62 a barrel on Wednesday after a report showed a rise in U.S. crude inventories, while concerns about the impact on global supplies of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela faded.
    U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, according to industry group the American Petroleum Institute, and gasoline stocks also increased.    The government’s official supply report due later on Wednesday.
    “The fact that U.S. crude oil and gasoline stocks rose more sharply than expected, as reported by the API after close of trading yesterday, is weighing on prices,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank.
    Brent crude, the global benchmark, slipped 49 cents to $61.49 a barrel as of 1053 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 55 cents at $53.11.
    The U.S. announced sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company last week, a move which could further curb supplies, although the development has yet to result in steep price gains.
    “It would seem that the market is really not too worried yet about the potential loss of Venezuelan barrels,” said analysts at JBC Energy in a report.
    “This is either because the market assumes that the size of the impact will not be large, or at least it will be of short enough duration.”
    Worries about weaker global economic growth and the trade dispute between the United States and China have also weighed on the market.    Oil fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion nearly stalled in January.
    In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Donald Trump said a trade deal was possible with China.    Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are poised to start another round of trade talks next week.
    Supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, have been supporting prices.    Venezuela, an OPEC member, is like Iran and Libya exempt from making voluntary curbs under the deal.
    The producers known as OPEC+ began cutting production from last month to avert a new supply glut and OPEC has delivered almost three-quarters of its pledged cutback already, according to a Reuters survey.
    Fritsch of Commerzbank said the Venezuelan issue could still drive oil higher.
    “The price has yet to react in any noticeable way,” he said.    “That said, if the other OPEC countries fail to offset this outage, the oil market could quickly become undersupplied, driving the price up.”
(Additional reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman)

2/6/2019 Stacey Abrams delivers Democrat response to SOTU OAN Newsroom
    Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivered the Democrat’s response to President Trump’s State of the Union address.
    Abrams shrugged off the president’s calls for bipartisanship by blaming the White House for the government shutdown, which saw thousands of federal workers go without pay.
    She also took a shot at the Republican tax cut bill, saying it led to manufacturing plants closing and wage growth slowing.    This comes despite unemployment hitting record lows and wages growing at their fastest rate in nearly a decade last year.
In this pool image from video, Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic party’s response to President Donald Trump’s
State of the Union address, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 from Atlanta. Speaking from Atlanta, Abrams calls the recent government shutdown
a political stunt that “defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values.” (Pool video image via AP)
    Looking back on her failed gubernatorial bid, Abrams said she accepted the results of the midterm election, but still believes voter suppression played a role in her loss.
    “Voter suppression is real — from making it harder to register to vote and stay on the roles, to moving and closing polling places, to rejecting lawful ballots,” she stated.    “We can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.”     Abrams also demanded lawmakers take action on climate change, and expand access to abortion and Medicaid.
    The Democrat concluded by saying that while she is disappointed in the president’s job so far, she doesn’t want him to fail.

2/6/2019 Elan Carr named as U.S. anti-Semitism envoy by OAN Newsroom
    The White House has named a new special envoy on anti-Semitism.    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Elan Carr will fill the role that has been vacant for two-years.    Carr is a prosecutor from Los Angeles, who also served in the Iraq war.
    This comes after the White House received pressure from Congress and Jewish leaders, who urged the administration not to leave the post vacant.
    President Trump addressed anti-Semitism in his State of the Union address as well as Iran’s role in perpetuating it.
    “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants ‘death to America’ and threatens genocide against the Jewish people,” he stated.
    President Trump also welcomed a man who survived anti-Semitism twice in his lifetime — once during the Holocaust and then again at the Tree of Life synagogue shooting — to the State of the Union.
Visitors walk past the David’s star at the cemetery of the former Nazi concentration camp in Terezin, Czech Republic, Thursday,
Jan. 24, 2019. The Czech Parliament’s lower house has adopted a resolution that recognizes a common international definition of
anti-Semitism. The resolution was adopted Friday Jan. 25 during a session to remember the victims of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
    “We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism or those who spread it venomous creed,” said the president “With one voice we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.”
    In the meantime, the State Department said Carr will attend conferences on combating anti-Semitism this week in Slovakia and Belgium.

2/6/2019 Va. attorney general admits he wore blackface by OAN Newsroom
    Controversy in Virginia continues as the second person in line to take over as the state’s governor admits he wore blackface.
    In a statement Wednesday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said he wore black face in 1980 while in college     He claimed he and his friends were dressing up as rappers for a party, and said they painted their faces and wore wigs.
    Herring went on to say it was a one time occurrence and he accepts full responsibility.
FILE – In this Oct. 24, 2018 file photo, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks in Richmond, Va. Herring admitted to wearing
blackface decades ago. In a statement issued Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, Herring said he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look
like a black rapper during a party as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP, File)
    Virginia Senator Mark Warner expressed sadness over the latest revelation.
    “Listen, I’m shocked and incredibly disappointed — this has been an awful week for Virginia,” he told reporters.
    This comes at a time of political chaos in Virginia after a year book picture surfaced of a man wearing blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit on Governor Ralph Northam’s page.    Northam also admitted to wearing blackface to dress up as Michael Jackson.
    Additionally, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is being accused of sexual misconduct.
[So far it is like the "Three Blind Mice" as the Democrat Gov, Vice Gov, and Attorney General are up for being racist or sexual assaulter, and next in line is a Republican may take over the Governor post is required on step downs.    I think either the Democratic Party wanted to get rid of them or my guess is the God in heaven punished them for promoting infanticide.
    Jeremiah 4 "The word of the LORD came to me, saying:" 5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart and appointed you a prophet to the nations.”].

2/6/2019 Trump 2020 campaign announces Feb. 11th MAGA rally in El Paso, Texas by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump gestures as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of
Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Same turned 81 on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    The president is headed to Texas in the near future to host a ‘Make America Great Again’ rally.
    On Wednesday, the Trump campaign announced President Trump will be holding a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on Monday, February 11, 2019.
    According to the campaign this will be the president’s seventh rally in the Lone Star State.
    Additionally, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said the rally will be held less than 1000 feet from the “successful border fence that keeps El Paso safe.”    The president himself cited the barrier in his State of the Union address.
    “The border city of El Paso, Texas used to have extremely high rates of violent crime, one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities — now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities, simply put, walls work and walls save lives,” stated President Trump.
    This will be the president’s first rally in the city since he began his White House bid in 2015.

2/6/2019 Secretary of State Pompeo hosts Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS by OAN Newsroom
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosted foreign ministers at the State Department for talks on ISIS.    During Wednesday’s meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Pompeo said the Islamic State remains a menace.
    He called on coalition partners to recommit to the goal of permanently defeating ISIS, and said the terror group must no longer pose a threat to their respective homelands.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, shakes hands with Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli, with
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim, between them, after a family photo during the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS meeting,
at the State Department, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Pompeo also reassured allies the withdrawal of troops from Syria was not “the end of America’s fight.”
    “The draw-down of troops is essentially a tactical change, it is not a change in the mission,” he stated.    “It does not change the structure, design or authorities on which the campaign has been based, it simply represents a new stage in an old fight.”
    The secretary of state added, the coalition must do more to promote justice for victims and ensure ISIS is held accountable for the lives it destroys.

2/6/2019 Drug companies blaming ‘middlemen’ for drastic increase in drug costs by OAN Newsroom
    Prescription drug makers are shifting blame for rising drug costs to the middlemen amid ongoing scrutiny.
    According to drug manufacturers, the prices of prescription drugs themselves have not gone up by much.    Instead, they are claiming the problem lies with so-called “pharmacy benefit managers,” who help negotiate the price of drugs for insurers and large employers and create after-market rebates.
(Alden Pellett/AP/Photo)
    Analysis from AARP found the average prescription price increase in 2017 was nearly 10-percent, which is four-times the rate of inflation.    According to the organization, the current price trends for prescription drugs are unsustainable even for older medication.
    “There’s the issue of these new drugs that are revolutionary and they cost a lot of money, some of which are not revolutionary and have been around for 30-years still cost a lot of money,” explained Dr. Walid Gellad, director for the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing.    “That is a separate issue from the issue of the drugs that were the same as they were 25-years ago and cost ten times as much now, or five times as much.”
    In the meantime, the Trump administration is reportedly seeking measures to end the private deal making process between insurers, drug makers and pharmacies.

2/6/2019 Venezuela’s Guaido vows to support businesses to help recover economy by OAN Newsroom
    Venezuela’s interim president has promised to improve the investment climate in the country to help private businesses.
    While speaking to Venezuela’s main business group Tuesday, Juan Guaido said a transition government must be backed by the rule of law to help boost confidence in investments.    He then blasted the Maduro regime, saying they tried to “stigmatize business, industry and business owners.”
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, speaks during a press conference on the
steps of the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Germany, Spain, France, the U.K. and Sweden have
announced that they are recognizing Guaido as the country’s interim president and are urging him to hold a new presidential election.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
    Guaido vowed to put an end to what he called “persecution and harassment.”
    “When we speak about the end of the usurpation, it’s an end to the abuse, that the persecution ends, that the harassment of producers ends, that the persecution of those that are honorably sweating from their work and resisting with their business will end,” he stated.
    In the meantime, pressure is building for Nicolas Maduro to resign amid Venezuela’s economic crisis and as other nations, including the U.S., recognize Guaido as the country’s president.

2/6/2019 Venezuelan opposition to open U.S. fund to receive oil sale revenues: lawmaker
FILE PHOTO: Oil facilities are seen on Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia/File Photo
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition is opening a U.S. bank fund in which income from oil sales could be received, a key measure to secure financing for their effort to dislodge President Nicolas Maduro, an opposition lawmaker told Reuters on Wednesday.
    “This is already quite advanced, I hope that next week it can be announced by our representative in the United States,” Carlos Paparoni said in an interview.
    In a separate interview, Yon Goicoechea, a member of opposition leader Juan Guaido’s policy team, told Reuters that Guaido was in contact with state-run oil firm PDVSA’s partners and they were willing to keep operating in Venezuela.
(Reporting by Corina Pons and Mayela Armas; Writing Angus Berwick, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

2/6/2019 Engine trouble: EU struggles to attune diplomacy in Brussels by Robin Emmott and Gabriela Baczynska
FILE PHOTO: European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel,
French President Emmanuel Macron, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, take part in a
European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/Pool/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The rise to power of anti-EU populists in some member states is making it harder for the European Union to agree common statements on fast-moving foreign crises, diplomats say, raising a threat to the bloc’s prized “soft power” status.
    By the end of a foreign ministers meeting on Monday, EU states had failed to agree no less than three foreign policy statements — on Venezuela, Arab ties and Russian violations of a missile treaty — despite days of negotiations.
    While a statement on Iran did finally win approval, it was repeatedly held up in the preceding weeks over the wording of a single paragraph.
    “We do have trouble in the engine room,” one EU envoy said.
    Reaching a joint position among 28 member countries has never been easy but is considered the backbone of the economically powerful EU’s diplomatic successes.    These have included cementing pro-democracy revolutions in Ukraine and Tunisia and mediating a landmark Iran nuclear accord.
    Despite the energetic public profile of the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, attempts to agree a position on areas ranging from the South China Sea dispute to Israel and the Palestinians have unraveled at the last minute.
    Such divisions have also hampered the EU from quickly imposing economic sanctions for rights abuses, as the United States often does, diplomats say.
    The approach of European Parliament elections in May could be worsening the situation, as mainstream political parties take more strident positions in Brussels that play well at home, a second diplomat said.
    “We work Friday night, throughout the weekend, have endless sessions on these documents and then, on Monday night, someone still comes in and vetoes,” added a third diplomat.
    With Britain distracted by its planned exit from the European Union next month and populists in power in Italy, the Franco-German alliance that has underpinned EU integration is not always enough.
    Diplomats say fraying unity in the wider European Union means difficulties are becoming more evident and the consequences more public, regardless of the geopolitical issue the bloc wants to help resolve.
    Despite European Parliament support for recognizing Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, Italy blocked a Swedish compromise to acknowledge him as such, fearful of angering Russia, which backs President Nicholas Maduro.
    But when it came to calling out Moscow for violating the Cold War-era INF arms control treaty, as NATO has done, Cyprus blocked, along with Greece.    Athens did the same at the United Nations in 2017 when the EU tried to criticize China’s human rights record.
    Hungary, along with Italy a fierce critic of European immigration policy, has also emerged as an obstacle.    Budapest shunned on Monday a joint declaration with the League of Arab States because an initial draft referenced a U.N. migration pact that Hungary has rejected.
    “The EU-Arab ministerial was weeks of preparations and Hungary’s position just does not make sense.    The INF treaty was about NATO versus non-NATO countries.    The Italian government is chaos.    These examples show how everybody is pulling their own way increasingly,” a senior EU diplomat said.
    Diplomats say Poland’s right-wing ruling party is against anything that might imply criticism of the United States, its de facto protector against Russia through NATO.
    Even pro-European Spain has become embroiled in internal disputes when it has felt excluded from diplomatic initiatives, such as one to convince Tehran to help end the war in Yemen.
    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last year proposed majority-voting on foreign policy, which would help political unity on human rights and make it easier to impose sanctions and take decisions on overseas crisis missions.
    But that would need EU governments to give up their vetoes.
    Many diplomats say they will continue trying for consensus.
    Gathered in the early morning at the red marble-clad European Council on Monday after a weekend of negotiations on Venezuela, one exhausted envoy’s solution was “more Red Bull.”
(Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Catherine Evans)

2/6/2019 France, Germany announce first deals for future warplanes by Julie Carriat
Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces and German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen visit aircraft engine
maker's Safran site with Safran Chief Executive Philippe Petitcolin ahead of the signing of the first contracts for joint
multi-billion euros programme to develop a next-generation combat jet in Gennevilliers, France, February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – France and Germany on Wednesday announced a 65 million euro ($74 million) contract financed equally by both countries over two years as the first act of the joint program to design a next-generation combat jet system.
    Dassault Aviation and Airbus will build the system which is expected to be operational from 2040 with a view to replacing over time Dassault’s Rafale and Germany’s Eurofighters.
    “This contract is entrusted to Airbus and Dassault who are the prime contractors of this ambitious system,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in a speech alongside her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen.
    “This contract is the very first brick of a stupendous building.”
    The French and German governments awarded the companies involved additional contracts to advance technologies and work to have the first demonstrators flights by 2025.
    French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel first announced plans in July 2017 for the new Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which will include a fighter jet and a range of associated weapons, including drones.
    After nearly two years of preparatory work by the companies involved, Wednesday’s agreements and contract signing will pave the way for the program to begin in earnest.
    The initial contracts will run for two years.
    France’s Safran and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines will jointly develop the new warplane’s engine, Safran said in a statement.
    Parly and Von der Leyen announced the deal at a Safran site in northeastern Paris, where representatives of the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding.
    Von der Leyen confirmed that Spain was due to join the project in the summer.
    “We’re working on it.    We have a plan within the coming weeks and months to have Spain join,” she said.
    French electronics firm Thales and European missile maker MBDA will also participate in the project.
    Germany removed a key obstacle to progress on the project last week when it bowed to French demands and excluded Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter from a multibillion-euro tender to replace aging Tornado fighter jets that are fitted to carry U.S. nuclear weapons.
    Paris, Germany’s closest European partner, had warned that buying the F-35 in particular would derail plans to develop the new Franco-German fighter by 2040 since it would constitute a potential competitor to that project.
    Britain, which is due to exit the European Union in March, unveiled its own rival aircraft development program, dubbed Tempest, at the Farnborough Air Show in July.
    European military and industry executives say they believe the two programs could and should eventually be merged given the need to compete internationally and the many billions of euros needed to develop a new combat aircraft.
    A French army source said Paris and Berlin were open to more European partners joining the program.
(Additional reporting by, Andrea Shalal, John Irish, Sabine Siebold and Sophie Louet; writing by Bate Felix and John Irish; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and David Evans)

2/6/2019 Kevin McCarthy agrees with President Trump to end Democrat probes into admin. by OAN Newsroom
    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is calling on House Democrats to not abuse their position of power by spending all their time with investigations into President Trump.
    During a press conference Wednesday, McCarthy told reporters the House would never give up it’s oversight role, but the country is too great for such a small vision of just investigations.
    The GOP leader said the probes should come to a close in order for the country to focus on solving bigger problems going forward.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at a news conference. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)
    This comes after President Trump suggested there would be no legislation if there is investigations.
    “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he stated.    “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation — it just doesn’t work that way!
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the president’s comment by calling it a threat.    McCarthy called Pelosi’s remark and pending investigations “purely political.”

2/7/2019 Dow down 21 to 25,390

2/7/2019 Virginia AG admits wearing blackface by John Bacon, USA TODAY
    Virginia’s leadership crisis deepened Wednesday as Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that he, too, once wore blackface in the 1980s, and the woman accusing the lieutenant governor of sexual assault released details of her claim.
    The revelations came days after Gov. Ralph Northam said he wore blackface in 1984 for a Michael Jackson dance contest.    Leaders on both sides of the aisle have called for Northam’s resignation.
    Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, in line to succeed Mark Herring Northam, vehemently denied the accusations against him.     Herring is next in line after Fairfax.    All three are Democrats.
    Wednesday’s developments accelerated a controversy that has dragged on since the weekend and has put the Virginia leadership under an intense nationwide spotlight.    “In l980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” said Herring, who previously said he would run for governor in 2021.    “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it.    But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes - and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others - we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup."
    “This was a one-time occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct.”
    Herring, who previously urged Northam to resign, said “honest conversation” would make it clear whether he can continue in his own job.
    Herring, 57, said shame from the incident “has haunted me for decades.”    But he also lists his efforts to “empower communities of color” by working for equality in the state’s criminal justice and electoral systems and fighting for equal access to health care.
    Northam has said he won’t resign, and on Tuesday he resumed governing, signing a $750 million Amazon incentive package and issuing a statement mourning the death of a state trooper.
    Northam, 59, has been under siege since Friday, when a racist photo from his medical school yearbook page in 1984 was published by the conservative website Big League Politics.    The photo depicted one person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
    On Friday the governor apologized for being in the photo, but on Saturday he said he was not pictured in the “offensive, racist photo.”    Northam admitted to blackening his face with shoe polish for a Michael Jackson costume at a dance contest in the 1980s.
    The Democrat has been under pressure from both parties to bow out.    State Sen. Richard Stuart, a friend, said he talked to Northam on Tuesday and believes the governor wants to remain in office and “face this head-on.”
    Members of both parties have acknowledged that, under state laws, removing Northam could be difficult.
    Fairfax, 39, issued a statement Wednesday saying it was important to listen to anyone who comes forward with claims of sexual misconduct or harassment.    But he said the accusations against him from 2004, while he was a law student, are false and that the encounter was consensual.
    His accuser, Vanessa Tyson, is a political science professor at Scripps College in California.    She issued a statement saying she met Fairfax at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.    She said they chatted from time to time and at one point Fairfax invited her to go with him to his hotel room to pick up documents.
    “What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into sexual assault,” she said in the statement issued by her lawyers.    She said he physically forced her to perform oral sex.
Fairfax said he never heard the claims until contacted by a media organization last year.

2/7/2019 President Trump speaks at National Prayer Breakfast by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump defended religious freedom while attending the 67th Annual National Prayer Breakfast.
    The president spoke to global leaders at the Washington Hilton International Ballroom Thursday morning, where he said faith has the power to heal communities and lift up the forgotten.
    The president vowed that his administration will always fight back against the religious persecution of Christians and Jews in the Middle East and beyond.
President Donald Trump speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump then announced he has appointed a special envoy to combat global anti-Semitism, and promised to support pro-life policies amid a Democrat-led push for late term abortions.
    “As part of our commitment to building a just and loving society we must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life,” he stated.    “All children born and unborn are made in the holy image of God.”

2/7/2019 Maduro writes letter to President Trump, warns against military intervention by OAN Newsroom
    Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is said to be writing a letter to President Trump.
    Dozens of Maduro supporters gathered in central Caracas on Wednesday to sign a petition against U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.    The demonstrators highlighted their loyalty to the Maduro regime, and denounced opposition leader Juan Guaido.    Their petition will be attached to Maduro’s letter to President Trump, which is expected to be sent in the coming days.
    “I think that Donald Trump will say anything to justify any action that the United States wants to have with the homeland of Bolívar.    In fact, today, what is happening is a continuous coup d’état, which is in development.” — Victor Parra, Maduro supporter.
    This comes as interim President Guaido continues to denounce Maduro’s decision to block humanitarian convoys.    He said the regime is continuing to starve the Venezuelan people.
An immigration official observes a fuel tanker, cargo trailers and makeshift fencing, used as barricades by Venezuelan authorities
attempting to block humanitarian aid entering from Colombia on the Tienditas International Bridge
that links the two countries as seen from the outskirts of Cucuta, Colombia, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Immigration authorities say
the Venezuelan National Guard built the roadblock a day earlier. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
    The opposition leader spoke out on Wednesday after President Nicolas Maduro didn’t allow humanitarian aid from the U.S. into Venezuela by ordering tractor trailers to block the main border crossing.
    “It is an absurd reaction by a regime, which is not interested in its citizens, and we are going to do everything we can so that some of this aid gets in,” said Guaido.
    In addition to the opposition urging Maduro to let in tens of millions of aid, Colombia is calling on him to do the same.    Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are currently crossing into Colombia to receive food and medicine sent from the U.S. Activists inside Venezuela are pushing for Maduro to let in the aid as not everyone can cross into Colombia for basic goods.
    “All medicine needs to enter the country because there are a lot of people dying from a lack of medicine, many that are dying in operating rooms — there aren’t even gloves, or gauzes, these are small things that don’t exist, imagine the big things that are not available in the country,” explained a Venezuelan activist.    “We need humanitarian aid for Venezuela as soon as possible.”
A Venezuelan sells medicines at s street in La Parada, on the outskirts of Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Wednesday,
Feb. 6, 2019. Tensions in the area have risen since the Venezuelan military blocked a border bridge where humanitarian
aid is expected to arrive with a tanker and two cargo trailers, Colombian officials said Monday,
in an apparent bid to stop the loads of food and other supplies from entering the country. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
    According to recent reports, there are shortages of about 80-percent of food and medicines in Venezuela, and nearly half of the population is eating just two meals a day.    However, Maduro is denying there is any sort of humanitarian crisis at all, and has rejected U.S. offers of help by saying Venezuelans are not beggars.    He claimed the aid is a prelude to a U.S. military invasion.
    As more aid from around the world is expected to arrive in the coming days, Brazil and Colombia are setting up staging regions, so tens of thousands of Venezuelans who cross the border each day will be able to receive the basic essentials.

2/7/2019 Acting Attorney General Whitaker expected to provide full, complete answers during testimony by OAN Newsroom
    It appears acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will respond to all questions posed to him by the House Judiciary Committee.
    Whitaker is slated to testify before the panel on Friday about his involvement in the Mueller probe, and whether he made any plans to derail the investigation before he was named as acting attorney general.
FILE – Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler was concerned Whitaker would invoke executive privilege to avoid answering questions, and asked Whitaker to notify him by Wednesday if he was planning on doing this.     Whitaker failed to do so, leading Nadler to believe he will answer each question fully. If he doesn’t, Nadler plans on subpoenaing Whitaker during questioning to force him to answer.
[That event will be an amusing event to watch to let you all know how much the Democrats are obsessed with a witch hunt, but will not even make notice of all the corruption that has occured in the previous years during the Obama administrtion.].

2/7/2019 France’s Le Pen blasts President Macron over ‘lack of democracy’ by OAN Newsroom
    The leader of the French National Party — Marine Le Pen — is criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron amid ongoing yellow vest protests.
    In an interview Wednesday, Le Pen said Macron’s attempts at national reconciliation will fail if the president fails to address the demands of yellow vests.    She said the popular movement will not subside unless Macron improves the economy, creates jobs, and tackles Islamic mass migration.
    Her remarks come after a series of meetings between Macron and opposition leaders on Wednesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, meets Far-right leader Marine Le Pen at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Wednesday,
Feb. 6, 2019. Marine Le Pen meets President Emmanuel Macron to exchange political issues. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool Photo via AP)
    Le Pen said the French people don’t feel that their government represents their interests.
    “I told Macron that the dissolution of parliament seems like the best way forward,” she stated.    “We need to debate again our fiscal policies, social policies that we want to instate, which is as important as immigration, sovereignty, the desertification of our territories — this is the only way to achieve a parliament that would finally be representative.”
    “le pen’s” remarks come after the French parliament passed a law to restrict street rallies under a pre-text of protecting public safety. She said such measures won’t resolve the political crisis brewing in the country.

2/7/2019 EU-backed group calls for political solution to Venezuela crisis by Malena Castaldi
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks to soldiers while he attends a military exercise
in Maracaibo, Venezuela February 6, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
    MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) – European and Latin American leaders met on Thursday to seek a peaceful and political solution to Venezuela’s deepening crisis, while a U.S. admiral suggested socialist President Nicolas Maduro does not have the loyalty of many within his military.
    International pressure on Maduro to step down has intensified this week as a flood of EU members followed the U.S. move to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of the economically shattered South American nation.
    Russia and China continue to back Maduro and have warned Washington and others not to intervene.
    Holding its inaugural meeting in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo, the European Union-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela called for a more hands-off approach than that advocated by the United States and some other Latin American nations.
    The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the group, launched late last month, was pushing for a peaceful and political solution, adding that a resolution ultimately must come from the people of Venezuela.
    “This is not only the most desirable result but is the only result if we want to avoid more suffering and a chaotic process,” Mogherini said in Montevideo alongside Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.
    “The biggest dilemma facing Venezuela is between peace and war, which is why we are insisting in our call for calm from the parties involved and the prudence of the international community,” Vazquez said.
    In power since 2013 and re-elected last year in a vote critics have called a sham, Maduro has presided over an economic collapse marked by widespread shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation.    An estimated 3 million Venezuelans have left the oil-rich OPEC-member country.
    The group meeting in Montevideo said it wants a process within 90 days in which Venezuelans determine their own future through free elections.    Some critics have said this stance could let Maduro off the hook.
    EU member states in the group include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain.    Latin America members include Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.
    Maduro, who calls Guaido a U.S. puppet seeking to foment a coup, has maintained power with the backing of Venezuela’s military, though the opposition leader has asked the military to side with the forces of democracy.
    In Washington, Navy Admiral Craig Faller, head of the U.S. military’s Southern Command, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that the majority of Venezuela’s 2,000 generals were loyal to Maduro because of the wealth they amassed from drug trafficking and petroleum and business revenue.    But Faller said rank-and-file soldiers were starving “just like the population.”
    “The legitimate government of President Guaido has offered amnesty, and a place for the military forces, most of which we think would be loyal to the constitution, not to a dictator, a place to go,” Faller told the hearing.
    Faller said the U.S. military is prepared to protect American personnel and diplomatic facilities in Venezuela if needed, though he did not provide any details.
    Guaido has galvanized the opposition since taking over as head of Venezuela’s National Assembly in January.    Last month, he declared himself interim president, opening the door for Washington and others to recognize him as the legitimate leader.
    “Naturally I appeal to all of those who can help us … to help put an end to this usurpation of a transition government, and bring truly free elections to Venezuela as soon as possible,” Guaido told the Sky24 television channel in Italy.
    On Monday, the so-called Lima Group, which includes Canada, Brazil, Argentina and other nations that have taken a harder line toward Maduro but not the United States, encouraged international pressure to force Maduro to step down.
    The International Monetary Fund, which a new government in Caracas would likely call on for financial assistance, is awaiting guidance from its member countries on whether to recognize Guaido, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.
    “I think countries are still establishing their positions in terms of recognition,” Rice told a regular news briefing.
    Some nations, including participants at the meeting in Uruguay, remain wary about getting too directly involved in the Venezuela’s dispute.
    On the eve of the meeting, Mexico, Uruguay and a grouping of Caribbean countries presented a plan for Venezuela, titled the “Montevideo Mechanism,” that calls for a peaceful solution that will prevent an “escalation of violence.”
    Mexico, once an outspoken critic of Maduro, also is urging negotiations to end the crisis.    Ties with Venezuela have warmed under leftist Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who invited Maduro to his inauguration last month.
(Additional reporting by David Lawder, Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington; Adam Jourdan in Buenos Aires and Steve Scherer in Rome; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Will Dunham)

2/7/2019 Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 300.04 points, or 1.18 percent, at 25,090.26, the S&P 500 was down 33.80 points, or 1.24 percent, at 2,697.81 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 103.87 points, or 1.41 percent, at 7,271.41.

2/7/2019 Attorney General nominee William Barr heads to full Senate vote by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general is one step closer to be confirmed.
    William Barr was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday in a party-line vote.    He will now go to the full Senate, where he needs a simple majority to be confirmed.
    Democrats have been critical of Barr, claiming they have concerns over his potential handling of the special counsel investigation.
Attorney General nominee Bill Barr meets with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., in Kennedy’s
office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Jan. 26, 2019. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Many Democrat lawmakers on Capitol Hill are worried about whether Barr would recuse himself from the Russia probe.
    However, with Republicans holding 53 seats, Barr is widely expected to be approved by the upper chamber.
    A confirmation vote on Barr is expected some time this month.

2/8/2019 Congress set to question acting AG by Brad Heath and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Members of Congress could have their first – and probably only – chance to question acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Friday, and there’s a lot they want to ask: Has the White House tried to interfere in the criminal investigations surrounding the president? Has Whitaker revealed secrets to the White House?
    And the question that has confounded Washington for months: Is the investigation of Russian election interference that has shadowed the first two years of President Donald Trump’s administration really about to end?    But first: Will he show up at all?
    Whitaker is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee at 9:30a.m. EST.    The committee on Thursday authorized its chairman to serve a subpoena on Whitaker if he declines to answer lawmakers’ questions.    Thursday, Whitaker told lawmakers that he would appear only if lawmakers promised to withdraw the subpoena threat.
    Whitaker has presided over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation since Trump ousted Jeff Sessions as attorney general in November.    Whitaker said last month that the investigation was “close to being completed,” the first time anyone familiar with its inner workings had offered even a hint in public of its likely trajectory.
[The Democrats especially Nadler are going nuts to hassle anyone who may not protect Mueller in his witch hunt.]

2/8/2019 Congress wants to know: Is Mueller almost done? by Brad Heath and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Members of Congress could have their first – and probably only – chance to question acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Friday, and there’s a lot they want to ask: Has the White House tried to interfere in the criminal investigations surrounding the president?    Has Whitaker revealed secrets to the White House?
    And the question that has confounded Washington for months: Is the investigation of Russian election interference that has shadowed the first two years of President Donald Trump’s administration really about to end?
    But first: Will Whitaker show up at all?
    Whitaker is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. EST.    The committee on Thursday authorized its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to serve a subpoena on Whitaker if he declines to answer lawmakers’ questions.    Thursday, Whitaker told lawmakers that he would appear only if lawmakers promised to withdraw the subpoena threat.
    “Political theater is not the purpose of an oversight hearing,” Whitaker said in a statement.
    Whitaker has presided over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation since Trump ousted Jeff Sessions as attorney general in November.    Whitaker said last month that the investigation was “close to being completed,” the first time anyone familiar with its workings had offered even a hint in public of its likely trajectory.    He did not elaborate.
    Democrats on the panel said they’re eager to know what he meant.    “By saying this is close to being wrapped up, are those his wishes or the words of the Mueller team?    I think those are fair questions,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.    He said lawmakers deserve an assurance that the special counsel “still has the freedom of movement that it needs to pursue leads.”
    If Mueller’s work is nearing its end, it’s giving outward signs of an investigation still gathering evidence.
    Lawyers for the special counsel are fighting two cases in which witnesses defied orders to testify before Mueller’s grand jury.    One, involving a company owned by a foreign government, awaits Supreme Court review.
    The lawyers confirmed in a court filing that Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators, “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations.”    Prosecutors and Gates’ lawyers said it will be at least mid-March before they’re ready to set a date for sentencing.
    Two weeks ago, FBI agents gathered troves of electronics and other materials from the home, apartment and office of Trump confidant Roger Stone, who is charged with lying to Congress.    Prosecutors seized so much information that they might not be ready for trial until October.
    “From what we can see, I’m skeptical that he’s close to wrapping up,” said Randall Eliason, a law professor and former federal prosecutor.
    Lawmakers said they plan to press Whitaker to explain what he meant.
    “It was inappropriate for him to talk about a timeline for the ending of a criminal investigation,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.    “The reason that prosecutors don’t talk about timelines is with every new witness or new tranche of evidence you uncover, it could lead to additional witnesses, additional leads.”
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker NICHOLAS KAMM/GETTY IMAGES
[Why don't they bring Mueller in and grill him about his witch hunt, and prove that he has any evidence.].

2/8/2019 Oil down $1.37 to $52.34, DOW down 221 to 24,169

2/8/2019 Whitaker: I have not interfered in Russia probe, discussed it with President Trump by OAN Newsroom
    Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker arrived on Capitol Hill Friday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, answering questions about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
    In his opening statement, Whitaker said he has done everything in his power to maintain order at the Department of Justice since becoming acting attorney general.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker arrives to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on
Capitol Hill, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 in Washington. Democrats are eager to press him on his interactions with President Donald Trump
and his oversight of the special counsel’s Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    He added, the department continues to make its law enforcement decisions without any outside interference.
    “At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided, any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,” Whitaker stated.    “Since becoming Acting Attorney General, I have run the Department of Justice with fidelity to the law and to the Constitution.”
    Under questioning from Democrat Chairman Jerry Nadler, Whitaker confirmed he hasn’t interfered with the special counsel’s investigation.    He also confirmed he hasn’t discussed it with President Trump or any other White House officials.
    Meanwhile, President Trump took to Twitter to slam the mainstream media over its reporting of the Russia probe.
[I watched this circus, and Whitaker handled himself well and did not take any crap from the Democrat crap they threw at him, and since they could not get it on him, and they gave up towards the end of the day and had a bunch of Democrats start attacking his other areas of his life, which had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation.].

2/8/2019 U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela suggests self-exile for embattled President Maduro by OAN Newsroom
    U.S. humanitarian aid arrived in trucks at a Colombian border town, but the Venezuelan military has barricaded a bridge at the border crossing in an apparent attempt to block the aid.
    While humanitarian aid tries to comes in, the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela — Elliot Abrams — is saying Nicolas Maduro should get out.    Abrams suggested self-exile for the embattled leader on Thursday.
    “I think it is better for the transition to democracy in Venezuela that he’d be outside the country, and there are a number of countries that I think would be willing to accept him,” he stated.
    Abrams said he believes there are countries who would be willing to accept Maduro and members of his regime should they seek it.
Members of the Venezuelan army and National Guard block the main access to the Tienditas International Bridge
that links Colombia and Venezuela, near Urena, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Trucks carrying U.S. humanitarian aid
destined for Venezuela arrived Thursday at the Colombian border, where opposition leaders vowed to bring them into
their troubled nation despite objections from embattled President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
    “Well he’s got friends in places like Cuba and Russia, and there are some other countries actually that have come to us privately and said they’d be willing to take members of the current illegitimate regime if it would help the transition,” explained the U.S. special envoy.
    Cuba and Russia have a long history with Venezuela as major supporters of Maduro as well as his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
        Abrams said the longer Maduro stays, the more he will fall and the more misery there will be in Venezuela.

2/8/2019 Defense team pushing for accused Russian spy Maria Butina to be released in 6 weeks by OAN Newsroom
Maria Butina speaks during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia, in 2013. (AP/Photo)
    The lawyer of accused Russian spy Maria Butina claimed she should be released and sent back home within the next six weeks.    In an interview on Thursday, attorney Robert Driscoll said the defense team is hoping to have a sentencing date set as early as next month.
    This comes after the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to one-count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. on behalf of Russian interest groups.
    Driscoll went on to claim Butina was only seeking to create peace between Russia and the U.S., but got caught up in the politics.
    “The reality is she was really seeking peace, its an odd kind of case, you have someone who viewed herself as a peace builder, wanted to build bridges between the two countries in the private sphere and ended up getting caught up in this and I think its unfortunate,” he stated.
    So far however, an official sentencing date for her case has not been set.    Butina faces a maximum of five-years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

2/8/2019 Exclusive: U.S. in direct contact with Venezuelan military, urging defections – source by Luc Cohen, Matt Spetalnick and Roberta Rampton
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks to soldiers while he attends a military exercise in Turiamo, Venezuela
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
    The Trump administration expects further military defections from Maduro’s side, the official told Reuters in an interview, despite only a few senior officers having done so since opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president last month, earning the recognition of the United States and dozens of other countries.
    “We believe these to be those first couple pebbles before we start really seeing bigger rocks rolling down the hill,” the official said this week, speaking on condition of anonymity.    “We’re still having conversations with members of the former Maduro regime, with military members, although those conversations are very, very limited.”
    The official declined to provide details on the discussions or the level at which they are being held, and it was unclear whether such contacts could create cracks in the Venezuelan socialist leader’s support from the military, which is pivotal to his grip on power.
    With the Venezuelan military still apparently loyal to Maduro, a source in Washington close to the opposition expressed doubts whether the Trump administration has laid enough groundwork to spur a wider mutiny in the ranks where many officers are suspected of benefiting from corruption and drug trafficking.
    Guaido says the May 2018 vote in which Maduro won a second term as president was a sham and on Jan. 23 invoked a constitutional provision to declare himself president, promising free and fair elections.
    The U.S. government also sees European allies as likely to do more to prevent Maduro from transferring or hiding Venezuela government assets held outside the country, the U.S. official said.
    Major European countries have joined the United States in backing Guaido but they have stopped short of the sweeping oil sanctions and financial measures that Washington has imposed.
    At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
    Previous rounds have targeted dozens of Venezuelan military and government officials, including Maduro himself, and last month finally hit the OPEC member’s vital oil sector.    But the administration has stopped short of imposing so-called “secondary” sanctions, which would punish non-U.S. companies for doing business with the Venezuela government or the state oil monopoly PDVSA.
    The U.S. official said that Washington had every tool available to apply pressure on Maduro and his associates “to accept a legitimate democratic transition.”
    The U.S. government is also weighing possible sanctions on Cuban military and intelligence officials whom it says are helping Maduro remain in power, a second U.S. official and person familiar with the deliberations have told Reuters.
    Maduro’s government has accused Guaido, who has galvanized Venezuela’s opposition, of attempting to stage a U.S.-directed coup.
    General Francisco Yanez of the air force’s high command became the first active Venezuelan general to recognize Guaido, but he is one of about 2,000 generals.    Venezuela’s chief military attache to the United States also said he was defecting late last month.
    Guaido has actively courted members of the military with promises of amnesty and preferential legal treatment if they disavow Maduro and disobey his orders, and Washington this week raised the prospect of dropping sanctions on senior Venezuelan officers if they recognize Guaido.
    Maduro still has the support of the military high command, and now routinely appears in pre-recorded events at military bases where officers stand behind him and chant triumphal slogans such as “Loyal always, traitors never.”

2/8/2019 Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testifies before House Judiciary Committee by OAN Newsroom
    There was tension on Capitol Hill Friday, when acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testified before the house Judiciary Committee.
    In his opening remarks, Whitaker said he was ready to answer questions –but not all of them.
    “I will answer the committee’s questions as best I can, but I will continue the long-standing executive branch practice of not disclosing information that may be subject to executive privilege such as the contents of conversations with the president,” he stated.
    The majority of Friday’s questioning surrounded Whitaker’s oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
    Under questioning from Democrat Chairman Jerry Nadler, Whitaker confirmed he hasn’t interfered with the probe or discussed it the White House.
    “Mr. Chairman, as I said earlier today in my opening remarks, I do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the President of the United States, but to answer your question — I have not talked to the president of the United States about the special counsel’s investigation,” Whitaker told the committee.
    There was tension on Capitol Hill Friday, when acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testified before the house judiciary committee.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appears before the House Judiciary Committee
on Capitol Hill, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    When asked why he didn’t recuse himself from the investigation, Whitaker said a senior Department of Justice official told him it was a “close call,” but ultimately the decision was his to make.
    “I consulted with career ethics officials, I consulted my senior staff, I consulted with the office of legal counsel — it was my decision to make, I decided not to recuse,” he explained.
    Whitaker had threatened not to show up to the hearing after Democrats approved a subpoena if he didn’t answer all their questions, but the committee chairman dropped the threat Thursday night.    He called it an act of political theater and at one point seemingly tried to make his discontent clear.
    Whitaker’s time as acting attorney general is likely coming to an end soon, with the Senate expected to vote to confirm President Trump’s attorney general nominee William Barr next week.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Luc Cohen and Roberta Rampton; additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

2/9/2019 Justices block La. abortion measure by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – A deeply divided Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked abortion restrictions in Louisiana that critics complained were virtually identical to those struck down by the justices in 2016.
    Although the court’s new conservative majority may be poised to uphold more limits on abortion in the future, the Louisiana law’s similarity to one the justices thwarted in Texas less than three years ago apparently sealed its fate, at least for now.
    The court could still uphold the law after further review, giving President Donald Trump something to show for his 2016 pledge to appoint “pro-life justices.”
    The action gave abortion rights proponents, as well as women seeking procedures, a reprieve from a law that critics said threatened to leave just one abortion clinic and provider in business to serve an estimated 10,000 women.
    Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in blocking the law.    Four conservatives objected, and new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the law should be implemented now so that both sides can find out how many abortion clinics and providers survive the new restrictions.
    The Louisiana law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

2/9/2019 I haven’t interfered in probe, Whitaker says - Acting AG spars with House Democrats by Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker declared to Congress on Friday that he had not interfered with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and that his handling of the case had been “independent of any outside interference.”
    “I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation,” Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee during a combative hearing in which lawmakers pressed him for details on his handling of the criminal investigations surrounding President Donald Trump.
    In more than four hours of sworn testimony Friday, Whitaker sought to answer criticisms that have shadowed his time leading a Justice Department conducting tandem criminal investigations surrounding the president.    Whitaker is a close ally of Trump, and Democrats have suggested he might have been chosen for the job because he had publicly criticized Mueller’s probe before being put in a position to lead it.
    Whitaker said he had “not talked to the president of the United States about the special counsel.”    He said he had not discussed it with any other senior White House officials and had not denied investigators resources to do their work and suggested to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that he had not stepped in to thwart any of the steps Mueller planned to take in his investigation.
    So far, Whitaker said, “there has been no event – no decision – that has required me to take any action” in the case.
    Still, in his first and likely only appearance before Congress as the attorney general, Whitaker told lawmakers that he would not give them any more detail about his conversations with Trump, sparring with House Democrats eager to know whether the White House had sought to interfere in the investigations centered on the president.    He also repeatedly declined to give them more specific information about Mueller’s investigation because it is ongoing.
    Your failure to respond fully to our questions here today in no way limits the ability of this committee to get answers in the long run, even if you are a private citizen when we finally learn the truth,” Nadler said.
    Democrats pressed Whitaker about whether he agreed with Trump’s characterizations of the investigation he has frequently dismissed as a hoax and a witch hunt.    “Are you overseeing a witch hunt?” asked Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.
    Whitaker said it would be “inappropriate for me to comment on an ongoing investigation.”
    The much-anticipated confrontation lived up its billing as the first major clash between the White House and Democrats who took control of the House of Representatives in January.    The hearing came days after Trump used his State of the Union speech Tuesday to criticize “ridiculous partisan investigations.”
    The Senate could move as early as next week to confirm his permanent replacement, William Barr.
Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testifies Friday before the
House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill. CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
[I heard on the late news that the Democrats said Whitaker did not answer their questions correctly and they will bring him back in to answer them.    So I would guess he will give them the same answer again and continue to waste tax payers money for a totally stupid questioning.].

2/9/2019 Stone says he should be free to speak in Russia probe case
    WASHINGTON – A federal judge shouldn’t bar longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone from making public statements about his criminal case in the Russia investigation, his attorneys said Friday.    Lawyers for Stone, a political consultant who has made a career out of attention-seeking politics, say in a new court filing that any limits on their client’s comments would infringe on his right to free speech.    U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is considering a gag order preventing both sides talking about the case.
[Somebody needs to start talking about Muellers investigation since it might go on until the 2020 elections..].

2/9/2019 Oil up $0.08 to $52.72, DOW down 23 to 25,106

2/9/2019 Election analyst: Pres. Trump only needs 47% of nat’l vote to win 2020 by OAN Newsroom
    One election analyst says President Trump does not need 50% of the national vote to win a second term in office.
    In an interview Friday, Henry Olsen of the Washington Post said the president realistically needs just 47% to win re-election.
President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington,
Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. The President was returning to the White House after his annual physical exam
at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Olsen went on to say in the past election, the president won over 50% in critical swing states, and if he sees the same support this time around, he would easily secure his win in the Electoral College.
    “The thing is, the president doesn’t need 50% to win.    Opposition to him is so concentrated IN large blue states if he’s at 47% on Election Day, he’s at over 50 percent in every swing state, including Arizona and Michigan, and he’s going to win reelection,” said Olsen.    “If he’s at 47 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, he’s going to win reelection because he’ll be at over 50 in the Electoral College.    He might lose the popular vote by a point or two, but he’ll win the Electoral College.”
    Reports also show President Trump’s funding on his re-election campaign has far exceeded his Democrat opponents.

2/9/2019 Report: Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney may want new role in president’s cabinet by OAN Newsroom
    Mick Mulvaney is reportedly eyeing another position in President Trump’s cabinet.
    Currently, he is the acting White House chief of staff, and he also serves as the director for the Office of Management and Budget.
FILE- In this July 11, 2018, file photo Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB),
and Director of the Office of Management, listens during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington.
White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney isn’t setting any lofty goals for this weekend’s meeting with a bipartisan mix of
legislators at Camp David, but he is trying to build relationships across the aisle. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
    Reports said Mulvaney may be interested in a position at either the Department of Treasury or Commerce.
    But this has not been confirmed, as other reports claim Mulvaney could leave Washington altogether to become president of the University of South Carolina.
    As rumors continue to swirl about the possible White House shake up, Mulvaney has invited a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Camp David.
    He hopes they will be able to find common ground on issues like border security.

2/9/2019 Report: North Korea illegally sells goods between ships in violation of sanctions by OAN Newsroom
    A new report accuses North Korea of benefiting from illegal trade with other countries.
    South Korean media outlets are reporting that dozens of ships from around the world are swapping goods with North Korean vessels out on the open ocean.
FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2019, file photo, U.S and North Korean flags are on display for sale at a flag shop in Hanoi, Vietnam.
With the next meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam,
there’s hope and caution in South Korea on whether the leaders could agree to tangible steps toward reducing the
North’s nuclear threat after a year of soaring but fruitless talks. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh, File)
    They said Pyongyang has made over $5 million from these ship-to-ship transfers of coal and oil products, in violation of strict sanctions.
    Over 160 companies from around the world are believed to be involved, from countries including Singapore, the U.S., and the UK.
    The report also raised concern over the possibility that North Korea is still building dangerous new missiles in secret.

2/9/2019 More violence in Paris as ‘yellow vests’ keep marching by Emmanuel Jarry
Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement
in Paris, France February 9, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
    PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of French “yellow vest” demonstrators marched on Saturday for their 13th weekend of action, with scuffles in Paris and a demonstrator’s hand mangled by a small explosive.
    There was also an overnight arson attack on the Brittany residence of the National Assembly head – though no immediate link was made to the actions against President Emmanuel Macron.
    The “yellow vest” demonstrators, named for high-visibility car jackets, began in mid-November over fuel taxes then broadened into a more general revolt against a political class they view as out of touch with common people.
    In Paris, several thousand marched on Saturday beside symbols of power such as the National Assembly and Senate.
    Though mainly peaceful, some protesters threw objects at security forces, a scooter and a police van were set on fire, and some shop windows were smashed.
    One participant’s hand was severely injured when he tried to pick up a so-called “sting-ball grenade” used by police to disperse crowds with teargas, a police source told Reuters.
    Another man had blood streaming down his face in front of a line of riot police.
    The Interior Ministry put the total number of protesters around France at 12,000, including 4,000 in Paris.    The police source, however, said numbers were higher, with 21,000 demonstrators taking part in rallies outside Paris.
    “We’re not children, we’re adults,” said Hugues Salone, a computer engineer from Paris, among the chanting and placard-waving protesters.    “We really want to assert our choices, and not the choices of the politicians who do not live up to them.”
    Leaders of the “yellow vest” movement have denounced the police for injuring protesters, but have also struggled to contain violence from their own lines.
    On some previous weekends, Paris has been a battleground.
    Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the arson attack on the home of Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Macron and president of parliament’s lower house.
    He published pictures on Twitter of a scorched living room, saying police found materials soaked in fuel.    Ferrand said criminal intent was the likely cause, though the perpetrators’ identity was unclear.
    “Nothing justifies intimidations and violence towards an elected official of the Republic,” Macron tweeted in relation to the incident.
(Additional reporting by Anthony Paone and Michel Rose; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

2/9/2019 VA. LT. Gov. removed from DLGA after 2nd assault accuser comes forward by OAN Newsroom
    Embattled Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is ousted as chairman from the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association, as the fallout from his sexual misconduct allegations continues.
    Fairfax was removed from his position Friday, after a second woman came forward accusing him of sexual assault.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax speaks to the media in the rotunda at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.
The Ivy League-educated lawyer and presiding officer in Virginia’s Senate would become the state’s second African-American governor
should Ralph Northam resign over a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    The woman claimed Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex while they were students at Duke University in 2000.
    This after another woman accused him of sexually assaulting her at a DNC convention back in 2004.
    Fairfax issued statement late Friday following the second accusation, denying the incident took place, and vowing not to resign from his post.

2/9/2019 Photos from Gov. Northam’s Twitter page appear to contradict his claims by OAN Newsroom
    Virginia’s embattled Democrat governor offers a new explanation for why he believes neither of the men pictured in a recently uncovered racist yearbook photo could be him.
    According to staffers from Ralph Northam’s office, the governor began having doubts about the photo when he realized the men were holding beers in their right hand.
    Ralph Northam @GovernorVA: “When you hear it’s #NationalBeerLoversDay. Celebrate with an ice-cold draft beer.”
    They said Northam decided to back track on his initial apology, because he is left-handed and claims to have problems using his right hand properly.
    However, old photos from Northam’s Twitter page appear to contradict those claims, as they show the governor using his right hand to sign bills and hold beer.
Ralph Northam @GovernorVA: “The Commonwealth’s proud tradition of horseracing has had a long ride—
today at Colonial Downs, I signed legislation that will buck up its future

    Who is running for president from Democrats in 2020? Here's a look at where some potential candidates stand.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown
  • Sen. Cory Booker
  • Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro
  • Rep. John Delaney
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Elizabeth Warren jumped in on 2/9/2019
  • Peter Buttigieg
  • Tulsi Gabbard announced it on 2/9/2019
  • Kamala Harris did last week.
  • U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota 2/10/2019
  • Stacey Abrams
  • Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator from Colorado
  • John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado
  • Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General
  • Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington
  • Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia
  • Jeff Merkley, U.S. Senator from Oregon
  • Beto O'Rourke, U.S. Representative from Texas
  • Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative from Ohio
  • Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont
  • Eric Swalwell, U.S. Representative from California
    A majority of them are Socialists, and if you did not know what it is it is defined below.
    is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and workers' self-management of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.
    Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity.
    There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.

    Socialist systems are divided into non-market and market forms.
Non-market socialism involves the substitution of factor markets and money with engineering and technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing an economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws from those of capitalism.    Non-market socialism aims to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system.
  • By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and in some cases the profit motive, with respect to the operation of socially owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them.    Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm, or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend.    The socialist calculation debate concerns the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a socialist system.
  • Socialist politics has been both internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organised through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions, and at other times independent and critical of unions; and present in both industrialised and developing nations.    Originating within the socialist movement, social democracy has embraced a mixed economy with a market that includes substantial state intervention in the form of income redistribution, regulation, and a welfare state.    Economic democracy proposes a sort of market socialism where there is more decentralized control of companies, currencies, investments, and natural resources.

        So consider what you would be losing if the above takes over and remember that we went through 8 years of Obama administration's attempt to push socialism on this country and how bad it had gotten before Trump came into office and turned it all around by opening up Free Markets again:
    Capitalism an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and the operations are funded by profits.    An example of capitalism is the prison system in the United States being operated by private companies.
        An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development occurs through the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.
        It is an economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution, as land, factories, communications, and transportation systems, are privately owned and operated in a relatively competitive environment through the investment of capital to produce profits: it has been characterized by a tendency toward the concentration of wealth, the growth of large corporations, etc.

        On 2/6/2019 with no grounds Democrat lawmaker Adam Schiff chairman of the House intelligence committee has “no basis” to investigate U.S. President Donald Trump's finances.
        “Under what basis would he do that?” Trump told reporters when asked about U.S. Representative Adam Schiff’s statement that his panel would look into Trump’s finances.    “He has no basis to do that.    He’s just a political hack.”    “There would be no reason to do that.    No other politician has to go through that.”
        On2/7/2019 the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) and vice-chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), said its Russia investigation has found no proof that President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Moscow, an assertion that congressional sources said putting him at odds with Democrats on the largely bipartisan panel.
        “If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” Republican Richard Burr told CBS News in an interview published on Thursday.
        Burr said the committee, which has been investigating alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election two years, has not begun drafting its final report.    He also could not say how much of it ultimately would be declassified, according to CBS.
        While there has been extensive bipartisan cooperation on the Senate panel, including between Burr and ranking Democrat Mark Warner, Democrats seriously disagree with Burr on evidence of collusion, according to congressional sources familiar with internal committee discussions.
        A spokesperson for Warner said he had no comment on the CBS report.
        The Senate Intelligence Committee is among several congressional panels investigating Russian interference and the potential collusion with Trump’s 2016 campaign, along with the U.S. Special Counsel’s Office under the U.S. Department of Justice.
        Trump, saying he is a victim of presidential harassment,” has repeatedly blasted the federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a “witch hunt” while denying collusion.    Moscow also has denied interference in the U.S. political system, counter to U.S. intelligence agency conclusions that it sought to sway the election in favor of Trump and undermine Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
        Burr’s panel also is examining whether former Democratic President Barack Obama did enough to follow up on official government reporting of Russian election interference, as well as the U.S. intelligence community’s January 2017 assessment of Russia role in election, the impact of social media and election security.
        Members of the panel are in sync on those topics but differ on the collusion issue, the congressional sources said, adding that Democrats likely would write their own counter-report if Republicans produce a report saying there was no collusion.
        Burr told CBS that despite media reports regarding a number of interactions between Trump and his associates and Russia, he was “unpersuaded” that they could be called collusion given the panel’s findings.    He said it was difficult to ascertain people’s motives.
        Burr did not say when his panel’s work would wrap up.
        Other congressional committees have ramped up their oversight with Democrats in the House of Representatives vowing to take a closer look at the Trump administration and the president’s other dealings.
        Republicans chair the committees in the Senate, where they have a majority, while panels in the House are led by Democrats, who won a majority in that chamber in the November election.
        Trump, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, called investigations into him and his administration “ridiculous” and told lawmakers their probes would stall legislative efforts and, without offering evidence, endanger the nation’s economy.
        Despite the warning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday vowed to pursue a wide investigation into attempts to influence the 2016 election that included looking at Trump’s financial transactions.
        A House tax oversight subcommittee will hold a hearing on presidential tax returns on Thursday.    Trump bucked tradition during his 2016 campaign by refusing to disclose his returns, which could shed light on his finances.
        Trump on Thursday reiterated his objections, tweeting that Schiff’s move was “a continuation of the witch hunt” and saying there was “no reason” for the top Democrat “to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal.”
        Trump also faces a widening range of investigations by New York State prosecutors into his private business, now-shuttered charitable organization and his inauguration committee.

    2/10/2019 February 10, 2019 Democrat Schiff questions if Mueller probing Trump-Deutsche Bank link
    FILE PHOTO: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) arrives for a closed intelligence briefing for members of the House of Representatives on the
    death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Dec.13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday he was concerned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may not be investigating President Donald Trump’s ties to Deutsche Bank AG.
        U.S. Representative Adam Schiff announced last week a wide investigation into attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as Trump’s financial dealings, including “credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise” related to Trump business interests.
        Deutsche Bank has lent the Trump Organization hundreds of millions of dollars for real estate ventures and is one of the few major lenders that has given large amounts of credit to Trump after a string of bankruptcies at his hotel and casino businesses during the 1990s.
        Schiff told NBC’s “Meet the Press” he was concerned about whether Mueller had been held back from investigating Trump’s finances.
        Schiff cited reports that Trump threatened to fire Mueller in 2017 after reports he was trying to get records from Deutsche Bank but backed down after his lawyers received the assurances from Mueller.
        “If the special counsel hasn’t subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can’t be doing much of a money-laundering investigation,” Schiff said.
        “So that’s what concerns me, that that red line has been enforced, whether by the deputy attorney general or by some other party at the Justice Department.    But that leaves the country exposed,” Schiff said.
        The special counsel’s office declined comment and Deutsche Bank did not immediately return requests for comment on Schiff’s statements.
        Trump has denied any cooperation by his campaign with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election.    Last week, he dismissed Schiff as not having any authority to review his business dealings.
        The bank, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, was ensnared in a massive Russian money-laundering investigation and was fined heavily by both U.S. and U.K. regulators in 2017 for practices involving Russian accounts.
    (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Peter Cooney)
    [So is Schiff accusing Trump or Mueller for doing something wrong, or guessing, just like all of his statements are from him.    So since there is no collusion present as you have read above, Schiff had to create some kind of crime to continue the presidential harrassment.    And lets see how he responds to his inapproriate meeting with Glenn Simpson, and should be made to step down from investigation.].

    2/810/2019 President Trump Preps for El Paso Rally by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is gearing up for his first rally of the 2020 campaign season.
        The Make America Great Again rally will take place in El Paso, Texas on Monday at the County Coliseum.
    In this Feb. 5, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on
    Capitol Hill in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., watch. In his State
    of the Union, President Donald Trump said a “powerful barrier” had cut crime rates and turned El Paso, Texas, from one of the
    nation’s most dangerous cities to one of its safest. But many in El Paso, site of Trump’s rally Monday night, say the city was safe
    for decades and embodies a cross-border spirit that transcends walls rather than prove they work. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
        Reports say Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz will be in attendance for the President’s speech.
        This will be the seventh rally President Trump has held in Texas, and the first rally he’s ever held in El Paso.
        He plans to continue making his case for increased border security, which includes funding for the border wall.
        In spite of the President’s appearance, failed Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke plans on spoiling the fun by holding a protest march outside the venue of the MAGA rally.
        He then plans on holding a counter-rally at roughly the same time as when the President takes the stage.

    2/9/2019 Sen. Warren officially launches 2020 bid for the White House by OAN Newsroom
        Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren officially launches her 2020 bid for the White House.
        The Massachusetts lawmaker officially kicked off her campaign during a rally in Lawrence Saturday.
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during an event to formally launch her
    presidential campaign, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Lawrence, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
        Warren seemed to confirm rumors she would run last month, after forming an exploratory committee, and visiting multiple early primary states.
        More recently, the liberal lawmaker also apologized for claiming to descend from Native American heritage.
        Warren is set to visit New Hampshire Saturday as she begins the first leg of a six state campaign tour.

    2/10/2019 Madrid demonstrators reject government’s Catalonia policy by Ingrid Melander and Guillermo Martinez
    People gather during a protest called by right-wing opposition parties against Spanish Prime Minister
    Pedro Sanchez at Colon square in Madrid, Spain, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
    .     MADRID (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people waving Spain’s red-and-yellow flag demonstrated in Madrid on Sunday to oppose any concessions by the government to Catalan pro-independence parties and to call for early elections.
        Demonstrators chanting “Spain! Spain!” and “We want to vote! filled the Plaza de Colon in the city center in the largest protest Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has faced in eight months in office.
        The opposition center-right and far-right parties called the rally, seeking to make a show of force against Sanchez by capitalizing on anger with Catalonia’s separatist leaders and the government’s efforts to establish a dialogue with them.
        Around 45,000 people attended, officials said.
        The government’s proposal last Tuesday to appoint a rapporteur in talks among political parties to address the Catalan independence crisis galvanized the opposition, which has deemed it a betrayal and a surrender to pressure from Catalan separatists.
        “The time of Sanchez’s government has ended,” Popular Party leader Pablo Casado told reporters before the protest.    Some banners at the rally read “Sanchez, liar” and “Spain is not negotiable and cannot be sold.”
        Sanchez, who replaced a conservative government last June in a vote of confidence, holds just a quarter of the seats in parliament and relies on backing from anti-austerity party Podemos, Catalan nationalists and other small parties to pass laws.
        The government is squeezed on both sides of the Catalan issue: Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said on Friday the talks were on track to fail because Catalan pro-independence groups had rejected the government’s proposed framework.    The Catalan groups want a referendum on independence included on the agenda, which Madrid will not accept.
        Ana Puente, a 73 year-old retiree who attended the gathering, said she was protesting for a “united Spain.”
        “The government is giving many things to supporters of Catalan independence and is going to break Spain apart,” said Raquel García, 76, who was carrying a Spanish flag.
        Sanchez rejected that argument, telling a separate rally in the northern city of Santander: “The government works for the unity of Spain and that means to unify Spaniards and not to put one against the other as the right is doing today in Colon square.”
        The protest took place two days before the start of the trial of 12 Catalan independence leaders, who face up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for their role in a failed secession bid from Spain that they are accused of spearheading in 2017.
        The government faces a key vote on Wednesday on its 2019 budget proposal, which will likely fail without the support of Catalan parties.    But those parties have said their vote for the budget is conditional on the Catalan talks including the issue of independence, something the government will not include.
        Failure by parliament to approve the budget bill could prompt a snap election before the next scheduled vote in 2020.
        Recent opinion polls have shown the conservative Popular Party, center-right Ciudadanos and far-right Vox could together win a majority of seats in parliament if elections were held, allowing them to replace the Socialist government.
    (Additional reporting by Miguel Gutierrez; Writing by Joan Faus; Editing by Frances Kerry)

    2/10/2019 VA. Lt. Gov. Fairfax Calls on FBI to Investigate Sexual Assault Allegations by OAN Newsroom
        Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax calls on the FBI to open a probe into the sexual assault allegations against him.
        In a statement on Saturday, Fairfax said his encounters with two women who have accused him of sexual assault were consensual.
    FILE- In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax gestures during remarks before a meeting of the
    Campaign to reduce evictions at a church meeting room in Richmond, Va. A California woman has accused Fairfax of
    sexually assaulting her 15 years ago, saying in a statement Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, that she repressed the memory for years but
    came forward in part because of the possibility that Fairfax could succeed a scandal-mired governor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
        He has denied both allegations and dismissed multiple calls to resign.
        Fairfax was previously considered as a top replacement for Governor Ralph Northam when past racist photos in his medical school yearbook came to light earlier this month.

    2/10/2019 Climate change seen as top threat, but U.S. power a growing worry: poll
    FILE PHOTO: Vapor is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, California March 24, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman
        BERLIN (Reuters) – Climate change is the top security concern in a poll conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, followed by Islamist terrorism and cyber attacks while respondents in a growing number of countries worried about the power and influence of the United States.
        In 13 of 26 countries, people listed climate change as the top global threat, with the Islamic State militant group topping the list in eight and cyber attacks in four, the non-profit, non-partisan Pew Research Center said in its report.
        Worries about climate change have increased sharply since 2013, with double-digit percentage point increases seen in countries including the United States, Mexico, France, Britain, South Africa and Kenya, according to the poll of 27,612 people conducted between May and August, 2018.
        North Korea’s nuclear program and the global economy were also significant concerns, while respondents in Poland named Russian power and influence as the top threat.
        The largest shift in sentiment centered on the United States, it said, with a median of 45 percent of people naming U.S. power and influence as a threat in 2018, up from 25 percent in 2013, when Barack Obama was U.S. president.
        In 10 countries, including Germany, Japan and South Korea, roughly half of respondents or more saw U.S. power and influence as a major threat to their nation, up from eight in 2017 and three in 2013, the poll showed.
        In Mexico, where those concerns have spiked since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, the percentage jumped to 64 percent, the poll showed.
        Trump has railed against illegal migration and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and is pressing to build a wall between the two countries.
        In 2018, a median of 61 percent of respondents across all countries represented viewed cyber attacks as a serious concern, up from 54 percent in 2017.
        The number of countries that saw Islamic State as a threat fell by double-digit percentage points in Israel, Spain, the United States and Japan.
    (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jason Neely)

    2/11/2019 Oil prices steady, OPEC cuts countered by slow progress in trade talks by Noah Browning
    FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, Canada on July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
        LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday as support from OPEC-led supply restraint was countered by an uptick in U.S. drilling and concerns about demand due to the slow progress in U.S.-Chinese trade talks.
        Benchmark Brent oil was little changed, up 3 cents at $62.13 a barrel at 0945 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped 27 cent to $52.45.
        “Oil prices are still trying to figure out what lead to follow.    On the one hand, there is the OPEC+ cut story, now coupled with increasing issues around Venezuelan supply”, Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy said.
        “At the same time, it has to be argued that a lot of the economic data that has been released over the last few days has really not been too encouraging, and U.S.-Chinese trade talks are also seemingly not progressing very fast.”
        Energy firms in the United States last week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the second time in three weeks, a weekly report by Baker Hughes said on Friday.
        Companies added seven oil rigs in the week to Feb. 8, bringing the total to 854, pointing to a further rise in U.S. crude production, which already stands at a record 11.9 million bpd.
        WTI prices were also weighed down by the closure of a 120,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) crude distillation unit (CDU) at Phillips 66’s Wood River, Illinois, refinery following a fire on Sunday.
    (GRAPHIC: U.S. oil production & drilling levels –
        The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, have reined in output to prevent a supply glut.
        The deal, effective from January, aims to cut 1.2 million bpd until the end of June, in a move producers and many analysts expect to help balance supply and demand in 2019.
        OPEC and its allies meet on April 17 and 18 in Vienna to review the agreement.
        U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, along with older sanctions on fellow OPEC member Iran, have also prevented crude prices from falling further.
        But economic concerns still weigh on crude prices.
        Trade talks between Washington and Beijing resume this week with a delegation of U.S. officials traveling to China for the next round of negotiations.    The United States has threatened to increase tariffs already imposed on goods from China on March 1 if the trade talks do not produce an agreement.
    (Reporting by Noah Browning; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Edmund Blair)

    2/11/2019 Border negotiations resume as the threat of another government shutdown looms by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is speaking out against new Democrat obstruction, with the threat of another government shutdown looming.    He took to Twitter Monday, saying “Democrats do not want us to detain or send back criminal aliens.”
        Trump tweet: “The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!
        Over the weekend, negotiations hit a snag after Democrats pushed to add restrictions to ICE detentions.    They also still refuse to put forward $5.7 billion for the border wall.
        Several lawmakers, including Mark Meadows and Liz Cheney, are saying a shutdown is avoidable if Democrats come to the table.    Meadows said with no real options on the table, the president could declare an emergency to fund a border barrier.
    FILE – Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus speaks
    with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
        “I do expect the president to take some kind of executive action, a national emergency is certainly part of that, there are a few other things in his toolbox that he could use, but I do expect him to do that if we don’t reach a compromise,” said Representative Meadows.
        Congressional lawmakers will meet Monody to resume border security talks.    Lawmakers have until Friday to come to an agreement to avoid another shutdown.

    2/11/2019 Jewish advocacy group seeks apology from Rep. Omar following ‘anti-Semitic’ tweets by OAN Newsroom
        A Jewish advocacy organization is calling on Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar to apologize after making what some are calling anti-Semitic comments.
        On Sunday, Omar claimed the reason GOP leaders lashed out at anti-Israel comments was because of money, saying “its all about the Benjamins.”
        When a Twitter user asked Omar who she thought was paying Americans to be pro-Israel the freshman representative responded by saying AIPAC, which is a major pro-Israel lobbying group.
    In this Jan. 16, 2019 file photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., center, walks through the halls
    of the Capitol Building in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
        Her comments are now receiving backlash over social media, including from fellow Democrats.
        In a statement Sunday, New York Representative Max Rose called Omar’s remarks “deeply hurtful” to the Jewish people, including himself.    He went on to say her implication that Americans only support Israel because of money is offensive.
        Max Rose tweet: “Congresswoman Omar’s comments are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself.”
        This isn’t the first time the 37-year-old has been accused of anti-Semitism.    The lawmaker defended herself last month after accusing Israel of “taking evil actions and hypnotizing the world” in 2012 instead of apologizing.
        “Oh well, that’s a really regrettable way of expressing that — I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans, my comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war,” she stated.
        Omar has yet to respond to the American Jewish Committee’s request.
    [Max don’t hold your breath, she only knows how to continue the insults in her responses, and what was Minnesota thinking when they voted her in, or all of them there are anti-Semites.
        Ilhan Omar, a Somali American politician of Minnesota's 5th congressional district based in Minneapolis and also includes Edina, Richfield, St. Louis Park, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, and Fridley, and she is a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.    Along with Rashida Tlaib, they are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and the first minority woman to serve as a U.S. representative from Minnesota.    She is a strong critic of Israel, and has caused controversy for her position and comments on the issue.    In 2019, she drew condemnation from Nancy Pelosi over thee above actions which means nothing has done anything, but everyone wants her taken off the Foreign committee.
        The DFL was created on April 15, 1944, with the merger of the Minnesota Democratic Party and the Farmer–Labor Party, led by Elmer Kelm, the head of the Minnesota Democratic Party and founding chairman of the DFL; Elmer Benson, effectively the head of the Farmer–Labor Party by virtue of his leadership of its dominant left-wing faction; and rising star Hubert H. Humphrey, who chaired the Fusion Committee that accomplished the union and then went on to chair its first state convention.].

    2/11/2019 Juan Guaido calls on military to allow aid into Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
        Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido is calling out the Venezuelan military, imploring them to allow aid into the country.
        While speaking at a mass service Sunday, Guaido said it was “almost genocidal” for president Nicolas Maduro to block the aid as food an medicine waits across the border in Colombia.
        Guaido asked supporters to participate in a mass mobilization, saying it may be up to the people to bring the aid into the country.
    Opposition National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president, greets supporters
    after attending Mass at a church in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
        He addressed members of the military still loyal to Maduro, and said it’s up to them to restore their image with their citizens.
        “It is up to you not to continue to make a fool of yourself as the Miraflores presidential palace orders, but to enforce the pride of a uniform — it is up to you to recover the honor of the uniform that freed nations,” Guaido stated.
        Armed military forces have continued to guard a blocked bridge between Venezuela and Colombia, cutting humanitarian aid off from the country.
        Over the weekend, Maduro claimed the aid is part of a secret coup orchestrated by the U.S. government.

    2/11/2019 Exclusive: Venezuela’s Maduro seeks OPEC help against U.S. sanctions – letter by Vladimir Soldatkin and Alex Lawler
    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Charallave, Venezuela
    February 10, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
        MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) – Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against U.S. sanctions imposed on his country’s oil industry, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group.
        But a source familiar with the matter said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Venezuela is a founding member, had declined to make any formal statement.    OPEC says it is concerned with oil policy, not politics.
        More than 40 nations including the United States, European powers and most of Latin America have recognized Maduro’s rival, Juan Guaido, as the country’s rightful head of state, following disputed elections last year.
        The request was made in a letter sent to OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo dated Jan. 29 and seen by Reuters, a day after the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA.
        “Our country hopes to receive the solidarity and full support of the member countries of OPEC and its ministerial Conference, in the fight we are currently having against the illegal and arbitrary intrusion of the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Maduro wrote.
        I seek “your firm support and collaboration to jointly denounce and face this shameless dispossession of … important assets of one of the members of OPEC,” the letter said.
        He wrote that OPEC should help to determine potential solutions based on “the impact that this action has on the global energy market, and the risk it represents for the other countries … of this organization.”
        The sanctions on Venezuela have boosted global oil prices, which were trading at around $62 a barrel on Monday.    The move has disrupted shipments as more than 20 tankers loaded with Venezuelan oil have been anchored off the U.S. Gulf Coast.
        Still, analysts say there is ample spare capacity in other oil producers such as Saudi Arabia plus strategic reserves in consuming nations to compensate for a loss of Venezuela’s exports.
        OPEC tends to avoid political disputes involving individual members.    Last year, it declined a request from Iran for a discussion of U.S. sanctions against Tehran at a policy-setting meeting.
        Venezuela was once a top-three OPEC oil producer but production has been in decline for years following the collapse of the country’s economy.
        Energy research and consulting firm Rystad sees Venezuelan production plummeting to 680,000 barrels per day (bpd) next year, from 1.34 million bpd at the end of 2018. Venezuela pumped 3 million bpd at the turn of the century.
        Together with Libya and Iran, Venezuela is exempt from the latest OPEC-led supply cut due to the involuntary decline in production.
    (Editing by Dale Hudson and Louise Heavens)

    2/11/2019 Struggle between big powers spells hostile future: report
    Munich Security Conference (MSC) chairman Wolfgang Ischinger presents the Munich Security Report
    for 2019 in Berlin, Germany, February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
        BERLIN (Reuters) – A new age of competition between major global powers like China, the United States and Russia leaves the world facing an unpredictable and more hostile future, the hosts of a major security conference said on Monday.
        Entitled “The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?,” their report aims to set the agenda for leaders at the Munich Security Conference annual meeting from Thursday.
        U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is due to attend the event in the Bavarian capital, which comes after Washington said earlier this month it would suspend compliance with a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia.
        “Given the prevailing strategic outlooks in Washington, Beijing, and Moscow, expectations of a new era of great power competition are seeming to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the report read.
        “If everyone prepares for a hostile world, its arrival is almost preordained … The post-Cold War period – and the general optimism associated with it – has come to an end."
        “But it is unclear what kind of new order will emerge … and whether the transition period will be peaceful.”
        Conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to Washington, urged policymakers from mid-sized powers including the European Union to do more to preserve a liberal international order.
        In a newspaper interview, Ischinger suggested France’s nuclear arsenal should serve the purpose of shielding the whole of the EU and not just France.    This would mean EU countries would have to share the cost of maintaining France’s nuclear weapons, he told the Funke group of newspapers.
        Angela Merkel, who addresses the conference on Saturday, is using her last term to focus on a foreign policy aimed at defending and refreshing multilateralism.
        But the report said Berlin and Paris needed to work together more effectively to boost the capacity of the “ill-prepared” EU to deal with heightened great power competition.
        “With domestic contexts in both capitals unlikely to become less complicated, the coming year will show whether the tandem can work out its differences or whether another window of opportunity has been missed,” the report read.
        Running through other mid-sized powers, the report turned to Britain and said “Brexit proceedings will continue to inflict wounds on both sides of the Channel for years to come.”
        Looking further east, it said: “Those counting on Japan to anchor security in East Asia may yet have to temper their expectations.”
    (Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

    2/11/2019 Top ICE official defends President Trump’s immigration enforcement policies by OAN Newsroom
        The acting deputy director of ICE recently defended President Trump’s immigration policy, and said Congress is not doing its job to protect the border.
        In an interview Monday, top official Matt Albence said lawmakers in Washington are to blame for the increase of family arrests at the border.    He suggested that they have failed to address the changing demographics crossing.
        Albence said the type of people crossing has shifted from single adult males to whole family units, who cannot be processed fast enough.
    Honduran Delia Romero, 24, sits with her children in their sleeping area at a sheltered in
    Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city
    of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
        Albence then addressed the Democrats demands to impose a detention bed cap, which is holding up border security negotiations.
        “The president’s budget asked for 52,000 beds, which is really what me need to get the job done,” said the ICE official.    “Congress hasn’t seemed fit to fund us at that level, we asked for that last year as well, but when you’re talking about the cap on the ICE beds it’s particularly disturbing because that means we’ll be releasing at least 10,000 criminals back into the communities — that means when the law enforcement agency arrests somebody for domestic violence of for sexual assault of a minor that is in this country illegally, ICE won’t be able to come and puck them up and if they did then we’ll probably have to release them because we wont have money to detain them.”
        According to Albence, ICE arrested 11,000 more illegal criminals in President Trump’s first year in office than during Obama’s final year as president.

    2/11/2019 Gov. Northam blames white privilege as he continues to resist calls to resign by OAN Newsroom
        Embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is blaming his white privilege on recent accusations of racism. During an interview on Sunday, he said white people are treated differently in this country than other racial groups.
    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam talks during an interview at the Governor’s Mansion, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 in
    Richmond, Va. The embattled governor says he wants to spend the remaining three years of his term pursuing racial “equity.”
    Northam told The Washington Post that there is a higher reason for the “horrific” reckoning over a racist photograph
    that appeared in his medical school yearbook. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via AP)
        Northam claimed he has changed a lot as a person since his college days.
        “I don’t think that there’s any question that there are today and there were then, when I was in my early 20s, racial in sensitivities,” he stated.    “I think there are still unconscious attitudes that, yes we are aware of these things, but we don’t realize sometime especially as a white person how impactful, how offensive they are and, again, I’ve still got a lot to learn, but this has been a week that has been very eye opening for me."
        His comments come as he continues to resist calls to step down over a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page, which showed one man dressed in blackface and another man dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.    Northam has denied his appearance in the photo.
    [The Infanticide man believes he has a moral compass!    His white privilege issue is our history and it cannot be erased just because of today’s crybabies.    But the real issue is the killing of babies and I cannot image that doctors who perform abortions would agree with him.]

    2/11/2019 Oil prices fall 1 percent; slow progress in trade talks counters OPEC cuts by Stephanie Kelly
    FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, Canada on July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
        NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell about 1 percent on Monday as worries surrounding the resumption of U.S.-China trade talks overshadowed support from OPEC-led supply restraint.
        Brent crude futures lost 49 cents, or 0.8 percent to $61.61 a barrel by 12:53 p.m. EST (1753 GMT).
        U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 65 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $52.07 a barrel
        Trade talks between the United States and China resumed with working level discussions before high-level discussions later in the week.
        While Beijing struck an upbeat note, it also expressed anger at a U.S. Navy mission through the disputed South China Sea.    This cast a shadow as the two countries try to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.
        On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the March 1 deadline, dampening hopes of a quick trade pact.
        Escalating U.S.-China trade tensions have cost both countries billions of dollars and disrupted global trade and business flows, roiling financial markets.
        “There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s going on with this trade war, whether they’re going to get anything done,” said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.    “You’ve got concerns about slowing growth.”
        Still, oil prices have been buoyed this year by output curbs from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.
        The deal, effective from January, aims to cut 1.2 million barrels per day until the end of June to forestall a supply overhang.    Suhail Al Mazrouei, the Energy Minister of the United Arab Emirates, said on Monday the oil market should achieve this balance in the first quarter of 2019.
        OPEC and its allies meet on April 17 and 18 in Vienna to review the agreement, but a draft cooperation charter seen by Reuters fell short of a new formal alliance among the producers.
        U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, along with older sanctions on fellow OPEC member Iran, have also prevented crude prices from falling further.
        Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against the sanctions, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group.
        The country also wants to double its oil sales to India and is open to barter payment arrangements with the world’s third-biggest crude consumer, Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said on Monday.
    (Additional reporting by Noah Browning in London; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Edmund Blair, Mark Potter and Andrea Ricci)

    2/11/2019 Trump says TVA should consider coal’s role before closing plant
    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the
    White House in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday that the Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S.-owned power generator, should consider the importance of coal in the power mix before voting to close coal-fired plants, like one in Kentucky.
        “Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix,” Trump, who considers voters in coal-producing states as part of his base, wrote on Twitter.
        TVA “should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!”    The unit is the last coal-fired part of the plant, and TVA is expected to vote soon on its future.

    2/12/2019 Mueller’s Russia report might remain a secret - No statement is required from the special counsel by Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Occasionally, his signature appears on court documents.    But on the most consequential days of the nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the man leading it – Robert Mueller – has been conspicuously absent.
        When President Donald Trump’s senior aides and confidants paraded through federal courtrooms to face criminal charges his office had filed, the former FBI director was nowhere to be seen.    When some of them came back to court to be convicted, he said nothing.
        It’s possible he never will.
        Mueller’s investigation has cast a shadow over nearly all of the first two years of Trump’s presidency.    Prosecutors working to determine whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russian efforts to sway the election that put him in office have brought charges against some of his top aides and revealed extensive Moscow ties.    But as the inquiry grinds closer to its conclusion, there are signs that the public might never learn the full extent of what Mueller has – or hasn’t – found.
        Justice Department rules require that Mueller submit a confidential report when his work is done.    William Barr, the man likely to be confirmed as his next boss, has cast doubt on whether he would permit that document to be revealed.    And those who know him say Mueller, reluctant to speak publicly even when the circumstances seem to require it, is unlikely to do it on his own.
        “A public narrative has built an expectation that the special counsel will explain his conclusions, but I think that expectation may be seriously misplaced,” said John Pistole, who served as Mueller’s longtime top deputy at the FBI.    “That’s not what the rules provide, and I really don’t see him straying from the mission.    That’s not who he is.”
        The Justice Department’s special counsel rules don’t call for Mueller to make any public statements about his work, let alone deliver a report of what he has found.    Instead, his report must explain why he filed the charges he did, and why he might have declined to bring charges against others.    It would be up to the attorney general to decide whether that becomes public.
        Barr, who is widely expected to be confirmed this month as attorney general, told lawmakers he couldn’t commit to releasing Mueller’s report in full.    Neither was he clear on whether he would permit Mueller to testify to Congress about his work.    He said he wanted to be transparent about Mueller’s findings, but offered few details.
        “Where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and department policy and will let no personal, political or other improper interests influence my decision,” Barr said during his confirmation hearing.
        Some lawmakers found the answer unsettling.    After Barr’s testimony, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced legislation that would require a special counsel to provide a report directly to Congress in addition to the attorney general.
    Justice Department rules require only that special counsel Robert Mueller submit a
    confidential report when his work is done. SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
    [As you read above which is why we cannot get information on the FISA surveillance corruption, or Hillary and the Clinton Foundation and Uraniam One crime, as well as what the NSA, CIA, DOJ, FBI wrong doings since thy will redact it to usefullness, and that will be the face of Barr to tell us what he can.].

    2/12/2019 Spain’s divisions laid bare as Catalan separatists’ trial starts
    People gather during a protest called by right-wing opposition parties against Spanish
    Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at Colon square in Madrid, Spain, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
        MADRID (Reuters) – Twelve Catalan secessionist leaders go on trial in Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday, charged for their role in a failed independence bid 16 months ago that deeply divided the country and triggered the biggest political crisis in decades.
        The trial is due to start 10:00 am local time (0900 GMT).    At around 0625 GMT a convoy of two vans and police cars left the Soto del Real prison outside Madrid, where the leaders have been detained, heading toward the capital.
        Hundreds of police, including from anti-terrorism units, have been deployed around the Court building.
        The defendants, facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, will not speak in court on the first day of the trial, which is reserved for procedural issues.    Nine of the defendants have been jailed without bail since late 2017 and early 2018.
        The attempt to declare Catalonia’s independence in October 2017 followed a referendum that had been carried out in defiance of a judicial ban, and angered much of the rest of Spain.    There was shock at home and abroad when police used batons and rubber bullets on protesters on the day of the vote.
        Supporters of the defendants say they are political prisoners and that the trial itself is political.
        “The world is looking at Madrid … what they want is not to judge but to condemn on political reasons,” Olivier Peter, a lawyer for one of the accused, told reporters on Monday.
        The government rejects this, saying the defendants have broken the law and judges are handling the case without political interference, in line with the rule of law.
        Secessionists have called on Catalans to briefly stop work at midday on Tuesday in protest against the trial, and to join a rally in Barcelona in the evening.    Another big demonstration is planned for Saturday and a general strike on Feb. 21.
        The political right organized a mass protest on Sunday in Madrid against any concessions by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to Catalan pro-independence parties.    The center-right party Ciudadanos has called another rally next Sunday in Barcelona “in defence of the Constitution.”
        The pro-independence head of the Catalan regional government, Quim Torra, who will attend the opening session of the trial, called for the acquittal of the defendants.
        The public prosecutor is seeking prison terms of up to 25 years.
        The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, a human rights group of judges and lawyers, said the case risked restricting rights and could set a precedent.
        “Vague, broadly defined offences of sedition or rebellion risk violation of the principle of legality, as well as arbitrary and disproportionate interference with human rights,” it said.
        The trial starts as Sanchez’s minority government faces a vote on the 2019 budget on Wednesday for which it needs the support of Catalan parties.    They have so far vowed to block the bill, citing Sanchez’s refusal to discuss independence, despite his efforts to ease tensions with the Catalans through talks.
        Failure to approve the budget is likely to prompt a snap parliamentary election this year.
    (Reporting by Jose Rodriguez and Joan Faus; writing by Andrei Khalip; editing by Ingrid Melander and Frances Kerry)

        Oil down $0.65 to $52.07, DOW down 53 to 25,053.

    2/12/2019 Emails show Hillary Clinton’s lawyer spoke with FBI after email investigation reopened by OAN Newsroom
        New documents obtained by Judicial Watch appear to show Hillary Clinton’s lawyer putting pressure on the FBI after it reopened an investigation into her emails days before the 2016 election.
        The conservative watchdog group released the emails Monday, which were obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.    It showed fired FBI agent Peter Stzrok organized a meeting between senior officials, including then-director James Comey, and Clinton’s team at their request.
        Just days after the conference call reportedly took place, the agency closed its investigation and said it would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.
    Then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to questions during a
    campaign stop ,Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
        “In the reaction, the FBI held an urgent conference call the documents show,” explained Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch.    “These documents show the Hillary Clinton email investigation was fixed and, frankly, it’s well past time for both the Department of Justice and the FBI to finally conduct an honest investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email misdeeds.”
        This comes after a federal judge ruled discovery can now begin into Clinton’s email scandal.    That means top Clinton associates must answer questions from Judicial Watch under oath.

    [My comments: Will the Hillary Clinton email case be reopened from a federal judge who ruled to do this before it disappears in the wind, and is ignored again?
    A federal judge has reopened an open-records case trying to pry loose some of former Secretary of State
    Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails as Judge request by the State Department and Judicial Watch
        Can we pry loose some of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails, marking the second time a court has taken action on the email scandal, where Mrs. Clinton had kept her own email server separate from the government, and exclusively used her own email account created on that server, meant that she had shielded her messages from valid open-records requests?
        “This is the first case that’s been reopened,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, “It’s a significant development.    It points to the fraud by this administration and Mrs. Clinton.”
        On 2/9/2019 FBI are now investigating the Clinton Foundation that was scaled back during the 2016 election, according to multiple reports.    The probe, which reportedly seeks to determine whether any donations made to the foundation were linked to Hillary Clinton’s official capacity as secretary of state, is currently being operated out of the bureau’s field office in the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.    In deflecting from the FBI investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia, President Trump has repeatedly and publicly encouraged the Department of Justice to prosecute Clinton and her aides, including Huma Abedin.
        Huma Mahmood Abedin, an American political staffer who was vice chair of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign for President of the United States, prevously deputy chief of staff to Clinton, who was U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.    She was also the traveling chief of staff and former assistant for Clinton during Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election.    In 2010, Abedin married Anthony Weiner, who was then a U.S. Representative from New York.    She filed for divorce from him on May 19, 2017, the same day that he pleaded guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor.    The divorce case was later withdrawn in favor of private negotiations.
        The FBI's New York field office were conducting the Weiner investigation and "stumbled on" the Abedin emails on the computer, which they thought was only Weiner's, the officials said.    They then stopped their work and contacted the team of investigators from FBI headquarters who had handled the probe of Clinton's private email server.    The investigators saw enough of the emails to decide that they seem pertinent to the Clinton server investigation and that they might be emails not seen before.    Because they feel they need a warrant specific to Abedin's emails, officials have not been able to examine them further.
        Abedin is cooperating with the investigation, according to Justice Department and FBI officials.    Investigators believe that some emails which were deleted from the Clinton server are possibly among those in question, and that they will need to interview Abedin again after examining the emails in Weiner's computer.
        On October 30, 2016, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the Abedin-linked emails related to the probe of Hillary Clinton's private server that were discovered on Weiner's laptop.    Abedin used the same laptop to send thousands of emails to Clinton, according to NBC sources.    On November 6, in a letter to Congress, the FBI said that, after reviewing all of Clinton's emails from her tenure as Secretary of State, it had not changed its conclusion reached in July exonerating Clinton.
        Since then it has been covered up for the public to know, but Russian collusion galore.

    2/12/2019 Negotiators reach tentative agreement on border security to avoid shutdown by OAN Newsroom
        Congressional lawmakers have reached a border security deal with just days to go before another potential government shutdown.
        “We reached an agreement in principle, between us, on homeland security and the other six bills,” stated Sen. Richard Shelby, (R) chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
        The deal allocates $1.375 billion for a physical barrier, which would be enough to build 55-miles of a new steel barrier along the Rio Grande in Texas.    However, this is only about a quarter of the $5.7 billion the president is asking for and less than a previous Senate agreement he rejected last year, which is raising questions as to whether he’ll back the deal.
        “I would say if we got $5 billion, we could do a tremendous chunk of wall.” — President Donald Trump.
    In this Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, aerial image released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, migrants, apprehended after
    illegally crossing along the U.S.-Mexico border near Lukeville, Ariz., are lined up. A group of 325 Central Americans surrendered
    to agents on Thursday after entering the United States illegally. Mexico is at the top of the image, beyond the border fence. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)
        The agreement also includes $1.7 billion for Department of Homeland Security spending, which could be used for security at ports of entry, humanitarian aid and customs officers.
        Negotiations reportedly stalled over how many beds would be available at ICE facilities.    Lawmakers eventually agreed to provide enough funding for 40,000 beds, but this number could increase if the government were to pull money from other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.
        “Not a single one of us is going to get every single thing we want, but nobody does,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D) Vermont.    “But we’re going to get what is best for the United States.”
        The negotiating team will now work on a draft of the bill, which will be introduced to the Senate for a vote.
        Lawmakers, however, are already coming out against the deal.    Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan took to Twitter just minutes after news of the deal broke, saying it didn’t make the cut.
        Rep Jim Jordan tweet: “While the President was giving a great speech in El Paso, Congress was putting together a bad deal on immigration #DoWhatWeSaid
        If lawmakers and the president don’t get on board by the end of Friday night, the government would enter yet another shutdown.    It is yet to be decided who will be receiving the brunt of the blame this time around.

    2/12/2019 Rep. Nunes: GOP task force examines Russia probe files by OAN Newsroom
        According to Congressman Devin Nunes, House Republicans are advancing their investigation into alleged political bias in the Mueller probe.
        In an interview Monday, Nunes said a joint GOP task force from several committees is reviewing documents from the investigation.    He said House Republicans are considering making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice over the alleged political motives behind the Russia probe.
        This comes just ahead of the highly-anticipated report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
    Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, arrives before the panel voted in a closed
    session to send more than 50 interview transcripts from its now-closed Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller,
    on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Two associates of President Donald Trump have been charged with lying to
    the committee and Schiff said Mueller should consider whether additional perjury charges are warranted. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
        Nunes also weighed in on the likely outcome of the investigation.
        “They’re not gonna find any Russian collusion — they tend to use lots of innuendo in their indictments so far, which is, unfortunately, I think is unbecoming of professionals,” he stated.    “But as we’ve known from the very beginning, once the Mueller team was stacked with hard partisans, that was bad enough.”

        Nunes suggested the Republican task force may have evidence of anti-Trump biases at the Obama-era Department of Justice that initiated the Russia probe.

    2/12/2019 President Trump touts need for border wall at El Paso rally, following breakthrough in talks by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump touted the success of his administration during his rally in Texas, following a breakthrough in border security negotiations.
        While speaking from El Paso Monday, the president spoke on the deal struck between lawmakers on Capitol Hill.    He said he will not sign anything into law that would do away with or cut back on the number of beds in ICE detention centers.
        The president said although there is progress being made, he will not allow legislation which forces the mass release of criminals into the country.     “So, let me state very clearly to those pushing this ridiculous and radical agenda, I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country,” he stated.
    President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally in El Paso, Texas, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
        President Trump touched on the historically low unemployment, trade talks, and the progress being made with North Korea.
        “We’re doing whatever we have to do.    The wall is being built.    It will continue.    It’s going at a rapid pace.    The Rio Grande, it’s happening.” — President Donald Trump.
        The president also commented on the late-term abortion bills championed by Democrats as well as the political scandal surrounding Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.    He said the state will likely turn Republican following the controversy.

    2/12/2019 President Trump fights for Ky. coal plant by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is urging an agency in Kentucky to consider “all factors” when deciding whether to close a coal plant.
        In a tweet Monday, the president stressed coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix.
        Trump tweet: “Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!
        His comment comes ahead of a vote by a federally-owned corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority. The company provides power to around 10 million people across seven states.
        The agency is considering closing the plant in the town of Paradise, which would be the third and final closure in the area.    This has prompted residents in the area to protest the potential closure as well as the state’s Senator Mitch McConnell, who spoke in support of the plant.
        Sen. McConnell tweet: “Kentuckians strongly oppose moving away from #coal, and I would hope that the @TVAnews listens to our voices...In Paradise, the last remaining coal unit is too important to shutter, especially for the hundreds of jobs it supports:
        McConnell joined his colleague Senator Rand Paul and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin in voicing support for the plant.    The vote by the agency is scheduled for Thursday, February 14, 2019.
    A dump truck moves dirt and rock from a mountaintop removal coal mine in Kentucky. (AP Photo/Roger Alford)

    2/12/2019 Calif. Gov. Newsom announces withdrawal of most National Guard troops from border by OAN Newsroom
        California Governor Gavin Newsom is striking another anti-Trump tone by announcing his decision to withdraw most of the state’s National Guard from the border.
        This comes after 400 members of the California National Guard were deployed there by Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown.
        While speaking Monday, Newsom claimed he would no longer take part in what he called “political theater” concerning illegal immigration.
        “As many of you know, based on my previous comments and comments that I have made as recently as yesterday, I think this whole border issue is manufactured,” said the California governor.    “The crisis on the border is a manufactured crisis and we are not interested in participating in this political theater.”
    California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his decision to withdraw most of the National Guard troops from the nation’s
    southern border and changing their mission, during a Capitol news conference Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Sacramento,
    Calif. Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, right, the adjutant general of the California Military Department, looks on. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
    Newsom said National Guard officials will instead be used to help with wildfire suppression and drug enforcement.    However, he noted roughly 100 troops will remain behind, mostly at ports of entry, to help protect against drug and gun smuggling.
        The Trump administration has not yet responded to Newsom’s announcement.

    2/12/2019 EIA cuts 2019 world oil demand growth forecast
    Oil pumps are seen after sunset outside Vaudoy-en-Brie, near Paris, France November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
        WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday cut its 2019 world oil demand growth forecast by 50,000 barrels per day to 1.49 million bpd.
        In its monthly forecast, the agency cut its oil demand growth estimate for 2020 by 50,000 bpd to 1.48 million bpd.
    (Washington Energy)

    2/12/2019 President Trump doesn’t expect another government shutdown by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump signaled he will consider the bipartisan agreement on border security, but said he will seek additional funding from elsewhere to build the wall.
        During a cabinet meeting on Monday, the president commented that he is “not happy” about the proposal and said it’s “not doing the trick.”    He then said he would be “adding things to it.”
        Despite his comments, the president said he would be pulling money from other less important areas of the government for physical barriers.
    President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
        He then said he doesn’t think there will be another government shutdown.
        “I don’t think you are going to see a shutdown…if you did have it, it’s a Democrats fault,” explained President Trump.    “I accepted the first one and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, because people learned during that shutdown all about the problems coming in from the southern border — I accept that, I’ve always accepted it…this one I would never accept if it happens, but I don’t think its going to happen, but this would be totally on the Democrats.”
        The bipartisan proposal offers more than $1.3 billion for physical barriers and increases the detention cap for ICE arrests. The president and Congress have until the end of the week to finalize the deal.

    2/12/2019 President Trump: Rep. Omar should resign, Congress has no place for anti-Semitism by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is calling on Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar to resign, following her anti-Semitic criticism of Israel.
        The freshman congresswoman is facing widespread backlash from both sides of the aisle after suggesting Jewish groups buy support for Israel from Congress.
        President Trump said Omar should be ashamed of herself and her remarks.    He told reporters Tuesday, the Minnesota Democrat should step down from office.
        “Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress,” he stated.    “I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
        Omar apologized for her remarks, but President Trump said the apology was “lame” and her comments are “deep seeded” in her heart.
        Several other Republican lawmakers have called on Democrat leadership to remove her from office.    However, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is breaking from her own party and defending Omar.
    [Those two need to show as much anti-semitism to Chuck Shumer since he is a Jewish, therefore he and Pelosi might get rid of them then.].

    2/12/2019 McConnell: We will vote on the ‘Green New Deal’ by OAN Newsroom
        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will put the Democrats ‘Green New Deal’ up for a floor vote.
        On Tuesday, McConnell spoke on Capitol Hill with Senate leadership to talk about the upcoming agenda.    The legislation, co-sponsored by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has received much backlash since its roll-out.
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, joined by Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., center,
    and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the top Senate
    border security negotiator, speak to reporters about the bipartisan compromise worked out last night to avert another
    government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
        To the surprise of most, McConnell said he would see what the pulse of the upper chamber is on the ambitious environmental bill.
        “I’ve noted with interest the ‘Green New Deal’ and we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate, we’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the ‘Green New Deal’," he stated.
        Critics are saying forcing a vote in the Senate would help Republicans portray Democrats as extreme on energy policy reforms ahead of the 2020 elections.    Many are also saying the deal would severely hurt the economy.
    [This is amusing because Mitch wants a vote in the Senate to put all on record that they want this Socialist Green New Deal, to lock those who want it to be known as such during the 2020 elections, since none of them know what this bill contains.].

    2/13/2019 Oil up $0.69 to $53.10, DOW up 373 to 25,426

    2/13/2019 House panel hires veteran lawyers as Trump investigations begin
        WASHINGTON – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N. Y., says he has hired two veteran lawyers and critics of President Donald Trump as his committee begins to investigate the president and his administration.    The hiring of the two prominent lawyers, Barry Berke and Norman Eisen, comes as lawmakers from both parties are pressuring Trump attorney general nominee William Barr to release a full accounting of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe when it’s finally complete.
    [Obviously they know that Muellers report has no Russian collusion and they are getting attorneys to investigate Trump because Adam Schiff thinks he has done something wrong.].

    2/13/2019 President Trump hints he will likely take executive action to secure border wall funds by OAN Newsroom
        It’s a race against the clock as the White House fights to avoid the stain of another government shutdown.    Sources close to the president reported early Wednesday morning that he fully intends to sign the border security deal, once its approved by Congress, before midnight Friday.    However, the president held back his full endorsement for the bipartisan agreement on Tuesday, when he told reporters he was not happy with the deal.
        “I can’t say I’m happy, I can say I’m thrilled, but the wall is getting built regardless — doesn’t matter — because we’re doing other things beyond what we’re talking about here, so we’ll see what happens,” he stated.
    FILE – In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version
    of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California
    and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving
    environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)
        The president said all options are on the table when it comes to securing more funding for the wall, including the possibility of declaring a national emergency.    However, that’s not the only option on the table.        There are at least two other legal alternatives the president could use to secure additional border wall funds without having to declare a national emergency.
        The first would be to access forfeiture funds from the Treasury Department.    Under this executive action the president could redirect up to $680 million of the department’s funding to support law enforcement activities, including for ICE and Border Patrol.    If President Trump were to take this route, the order would first need to clear the Office of Management and Budget.    Once cleared, the Treasury Department and Department of Homeland Security would then be required to notify Congress and wait 15-days before the funds can be transferred.
        The second option would be to invoke U.S. Code 284, which would allow the president to redirect up to two billion dollars in defense funds for any counter-drug operation.    This means President Trump could use this executive action to deploy military forces to the southern border to build the wall under the argument that a physical barrier would help reduce illegal drug flow into the U.S.
        While these are viable and legal options, any executive action the president takes on border security will likely get tied up in the courts regardless if he declares a national emergency or not.    However, we can expect any legal challenge to the president’s potential executive action to be pushed back by the White House as this administration stands firm on its position the crisis at the border is a matter of nation security.
        “I think that the American people now have a better understanding of the true crisis, the national security and humanitarian crisis, at the border and people have a better picture of why this is so important.    It’s not political rhetoric.    It’s a matter of national security.    It’s a matter of protecting people in this country and, again, that’s the president’s most important duty he has.” - White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders walks off after speaking with reporters outside the
    White House, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    2/13/2019 President Trump’s tax plan blocks spending on illegal families, saves billions by OAN Newsroom
        Under former President Obama, a loophole at the IRS allowed illegal aliens to fraudulently collect tax refunds for their children living in Mexico.

    2/13/2019 Health care spending hits peak by OAN Newsroom
        The health care costs for individuals who receive coverage through their employer has reached an all-time high.
        Analysis released by the Health Care Cost Institute on Tuesday found the average health insurance spending through work was over $5,600 in 2017.    That figure is a 4.2-percent increase from the previous year.
        The organization credits the increase because of higher prices, and not because people are using more services.    In fact, the overall use of services declined by 0.2-percent since 2013, while spending rose by nearly 17-percent.
    An electronic patients chart is shown on the wall to a hospital room in San Diego, California April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
        Last week, Arizona Representative David Schweikert explained what he believes is the reason for the surge.
        “We’re often having a debate of who gets to pay — those don’t have a revolutionary, they don’t have a disruptive nature in the cost of health care services,” he stated.    “We as a body need to drag technology into this debate, so technology brings us a disruption in the cost.”
        The current situation is putting pressure on lawmakers.    They are now tasked with addressing a system in which Americans are paying more money each year for essentially the same use of health care coverage.

    2/13/2019 GOP continues to slam ‘Green New Deal’ ahead of potential Senate vote by OAN Newsroom
        The Republican Party is continuing to highlight the criticisms of the Democrat-led ‘Green New Deal’ as well as the lawmakers who put it together.
        In a tweet Wednesday, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said the very same Democrats who wrote the deal are “freaking out” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the Senate to vote on it.
    Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
        She claimed congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said we’ll all be dead in 12-years if her socialist deal isn’t passed.    McDaniel then questioned why they wouldn’t want a vote on it as soon as possible.        Ronna McDaniel @GOPChairwoman: “The very same Democrats who wrote the #GreenNewDeal are freaking out that @Senatemajldr wants the Senate to vote on it.
        Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said we’ll all be dead in 12 years if we don’t pass her socialist plan.
        Shouldn’t they want a vote ASAP?

        Meanwhile, GOP Senator David Perdue had similar criticisms of the ‘Green New Deal,’ calling the language in the legislation “silly math.”
        “We only collect $2.2 trillion in total taxes.    It would take a 50-percent increase in taxes alone just to pay for the shortfall we already have, the trillion dollar a year shortfall,” Perdue explained.    “Then you add on this ‘Green Deal’ that they’re talking about and then — by the way — a three trillion dollar price tag for Medicare for All…all of a sudden this gets to be silly math.”
        On Tuesday, Senator McConnell said he would bring the ‘Green New Deal’ the floor for a vote.    The legislation is widely expected to get voted down by a wide margin.

    2/13/2019 Bill looks to stop lobbying in D.C. by OAN Newsroom
        Lawmakers are making a bipartisan effort to prevent former members of Congress from registering as lobbyists.
        Republican Representative Trey Hollingsworth introduced a bill Tuesday, which would instate a life-time ban for lawmakers.    It would also punish individuals who intentionally try to do lobbying work without registering.
        The bill is designed to prevent public servants from pushing laws that benefit special interest groups, which the lawmakers could later work for.
        While no Democrats have signed on to Hollingsworth’s bill, Senator Elizabeth Warren has spoken out about the issue in a way which shows a promising future for the measure.
        “The revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, how do you know who those guys are working for?” questioned Warren.    “My view is — if you want to come work for the American public, you gotta’ work for the American public, but you don’t get to do this running through the revolving door.”
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to local residents during an organizing event,
    Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
        Hollingsworth introduced the same measure in the previous Congress, but it failed to make it out of committee.    This time around, with vocal supporters on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers are confident about the measure coming to fruition.

    2/13/2019 Ohio state lawmakers reintroduce heartbeat bill in both chambers by OAN Newsroom
        Ohio state lawmakers are optimistic they will be able to pass the “heartbeat bill” this time around, with Governor Mike DeWine in office.
        Republicans in both chambers reintroduced legislation on Tuesday to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six-weeks.
        It also includes exemptions for women with a life-threatening pregnancy, and recommends prison time for doctors found to be in violation.
    FILE- In this Nov. 30, 2017, file photo, Mike DeWine speaks during a news conference in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, FIle)
        Lawmakers passed a similar version of the bill in both 2016 and 2018, but both times it was vetoed by then-Governor John Kasich.
        However, DeWine has struck a very different tone than his predecessor.    He said he would “absolutely” sign the “heartbeat bill” if it reaches his desk.

    2/13/2019 Venezuela opposition takes steps to seize oil revenue as Maduro issues threat by Corina Pons and Angus Berwick
    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler,
    attends a session of Venezuela's National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
        CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress named new temporary boards of directors to state-oil firm PDVSA on Wednesday, in an effort to wrest the OPEC nation’s oil revenue from President Nicolas Maduro.
        An increasingly isolated Maduro lashed out at the congress leader Juan Guaido, saying in an interview that he would face the courts “sooner or later” for violating the constitution after he declared himself interim president last month.
        Although many Western countries have recognized Guaido as legitimate head of state, Maduro retains control of state institutions and Guaido needs funds if he is to assemble an interim government.
        Controlling PDVSA’s U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum, Venezuela’s most valuable foreign asset, would go some way to helping in that, though seizing the reigns of PDVSA itself seems improbable while Maduro remains in power.
        “We have taken a step forward with the reconstruction of PDVSA,” Guaido said on Twitter, just after congress named the directors.    “With this decision, we are not only protecting our assets, we also avoid continued destruction.”
        PDVSA’s crude output has slumped to 70-year lows, due to crushing debts, widespread corruption, and little maintenance of its infrastructure.    The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which backs Guaido, imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector on Jan. 28, aimed at curbing exports to the United States and upping the pressure on Maduro.
        The proposed Citgo board would be composed of Venezuelans Luisa Palacios, Angel Olmeta, Luis Urdaneta and Edgar Rincon, all of whom are currently living in the United States, plus one American director.
        The nominations fuel a growing duel for control between Guaido and Maduro, who has promised he will not allow Citgo to be “stolen.”    The mechanics of how the new board would take over are unclear, and there are likely to be court challenges to the board’s authority, people familiar with the deliberations say.
        Citgo and PDVSA did not immediately reply to requests to comment.
        Bulgarian security officials said on Wednesday that the country has blocked transfers out of several bank accounts which have received millions of euros from PDVSA.
        Guaido invoked a constitutional provision three weeks ago to assume Venezuela’s presidency, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.
        Maduro, in an interview released on Wednesday by Lebanese television channel al-Mayadeen TV, said Guaido was seeking to divide the country and convince the Trump administration to launch a foreign intervention.
        “This person, who believes that politics is a game and he can violate the constitution and the law, sooner or later will have to answer before the courts,” Maduro said, adding he was “absolutely sure” of this.
        “If the American empire dares to touch even one palm leaf in our territory, this will turn into a new Vietnam,” he said.
        A senior U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday that Congress would not give backing to any U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
        The Trump administration has said it wants a peaceful resolution to the crisis but Trump has repeatedly refused to rule out military action.
        “I think there are a number of solutions, a number of different options, and we look at all options,” Trump said when asked about the issue on Wednesday, in an appearance at the White House with Colombian President Ivan Duque
        In the meantime, the United States and other countries are trying to channel aid to Venezuela.
        Guaido told a huge rally of supporters on Tuesday that humanitarian aid would enter the country on Feb. 23, setting the stage for a showdown with Maduro, who has refused to let supplies in.
        Maduro denies there is an economic crisis despite a widespread lack of food and medicine and hyperinflation.
    (Reporting by Angus Berwick, Corina Pons, Vivian Sequera, Mayela Armas, Brian Ellsworth and Sarah Marsh in Caracas; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City; Writing by Angus Berwick, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

    2/13/2019 Exclusive: U.S. senators to try again to pass Russia sanctions bill by Patricia Zengerle
    FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are seen during the
    G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo/File Photo
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday will introduce a bill that would impose sanctions on Russia’s banking and energy sectors and foreign debt for Moscow’s meddling in U.S. elections and aggression against Ukraine.
        It will be introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, and is a tougher version of the one the two lawmakers backed last year but which failed to pass, Menendez’s office said.
        The bill, which was seen by Reuters, may have a better chance of passing Congress now, either as a whole or as amendments to other bills, in the face of growing bipartisan anger over Russia’s interference in other countries’ affairs.
        President Donald Trump, who has gone along with previous congressional efforts to increase sanctions on Russia, though sometimes reluctantly, would still have to sign the bill before it become law.
        Targets of the sanctions would include: Russian banks that support efforts to interfere in foreign elections; the country’s cyber sector, new sovereign debt; and individuals deemed to “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”
        The bill also would impose several strict new measures on Russia’s oil and gas sector, which makes up about 40 percent of the Russian government’s revenues, including sanctioning people who provide goods, services or financing to support the development of crude oil in the country.
        Russian state-owned energy projects outside of Russia including investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects also would face sanctions.
        Global energy companies including BP, Shell and ENI are likely to oppose the bill as are U.S. based companies including Exxon and Chevron.    BP owns nearly 20 percent in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer.
        Members of Congress, including many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, have pushed the president to act more forcefully against Moscow during his presidency, which has been shadowed by Russia-related probes.
        U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and Moscow’s possible collusion with the Trump campaign.    Russia has denied interfering in the election and Trump has called the probe a witch hunt.
        The Senate, where Republicans have a majority, narrowly failed last month to pass a resolution disapproving of Trump’s easing of sanctions on Russian companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.    Supporters of the effort vowed to try again.
        Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress wanted action to respond to the humanitarian disaster in Syria, where Russia backs President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine “and the steady erosion of international norms.”
        “One thing is increasingly clear: Moscow will continue to push until it meets genuine resistance,” Menendez told Reuters.
        Graham, a leading Republican congressional foreign policy voice, is a Trump ally who called last year’s legislation “the sanctions bill from hell.”    He said he was determined to send a strong message to Moscow.
        “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia,” Graham said in a statement emailed to Reuters.    “He should cease and desist meddling in the U.S. electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.”
    (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Paul Simao)

    2/13/2019 Michael Cohen set for 3 congressional hearings by OAN Newsroom
        Michael Cohen is reportedly locked-in to appear for committee hearings on Capitol Hill before he goes to prison.
        On Wednesday, Cohen’s attorney — Lanny Davis — told MSNBC his client will show for a public hearing with the House Oversight Committee panel and two closed-door sessions with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
        This comes after Cohen postponed the three committee hearings in a matter of days, citing several different excuses from the safety of his family to medical reasons.
    FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2019, file photo, Michael Cohen arrives at his home in New York with his
    left arm in a sling supported by a pillow. An attorney for Cohen said his closed-door testimony before the
    Senate intelligence committee was postponed “due to post-surgery medical needs.” (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
        Davis then directly called out Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr over how he believes the senator has handled the situation.Senator Burr, we’re coming in less than two week — your staff probably didn’t tell you that when you went on television yesterday,” he stated.    “You’re a good guy, we’re coming — there were no false excuses.”
        Michael Cohen is expected to appear for his first hearing with House lawmakers on Thursday, February 28th.

    2/14/2019 McConnell to allow vote on Green New Deal by Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
        Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wants to know where Democrats stand on an ambitious anti-pollution proposal ahead of the 2020 presidential contest.    Kentucky’s senior senator announced this week that his GOP-controlled chamber would vote on the Green New Deal, which was introduced last week by Democratic Sen. Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, to address climate change.
        'I've noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and we're going to be voting on that in the Senate to give everybody an opportunity to go on record to see how they feel,' a grinning McConnell told reporters in Washington.
        The senator’s office was mum when asked by the Courier Journal why McConnell, a vocal supporter of Kentucky’s coal industry, wants such a vote.    He had initially said there was no likelihood of the proposal passing his chamber, but the senator's aides told the Washington Post it is an effort to 'rattle' Senate Democrats, many of whom are running for president in 2020.
        Many liberal activists favor the 14-page resolution, which calls for getting 100 percent of the country’s power from renewable resources by 2030.    It also looks to make major investments in climate-friendly jobs and infrastructure, and seeks to get carbon out of all major segments of the U.S. economy.
        McConnell's campaign had a different take on the resolution, which may reveal the GOP leader's motivations behind holding a vote.
        “We're going to vote in the Senate and see how many Democrats want to end air travel and cow farts,” the McConnell campaign said via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
        That is referring to a FAQ page on Ocasio-Cortez's website, which initially had the phrase about addressing “farting cows.”    It was later changed to “emissions from cows” before it was deleted altogether.    Methane produced by cattle has long been noted as a factor in overall greenhouse gas emissions.
        Republican critics have used that and other parts of the plan to mock Ocasio-Cortez, who is a democratic socialist, and her lofty goals as too costly.
        President Donald Trump targeted the proposal during his first major campaign rally ahead of the 2020 election.    He told a crowd of supporters in El Paso, Texas, that, 'I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of ‘let’s hop a plane to California,’ of 'you’re not allowed to own cows anymore.''
        Ocasio-Cortez also appears eager to have this fight when she took to Twitter after McConnell announced he would have the vote.
        'We are already feeling the early nightmares of climate crisis, (and) the GOP is doing nothing to stop it — as they have for years,' she tweeted.    'I’ve been reading docs all week about how much people knew about climate (and) when.    They knew early.    And their goal has been to sow doubt this entire time.'
        Recent polling discovered more than 80 percent of registered voters said they support the such a plan.
        The December survey, which was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, showed 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the idea.
        It surveyed 966 registered voters and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
        But the survey found 82 percent had heard nothing about the actual Green New Deal.    That means McConnell and Ocasio-Cortez are in a messaging war to define what the deal means for average Americans.
        Ocasio-Cortez took to social media to mock the GOP for suggesting she wants to ban air travel and even ice cream.     'Trust me, I like ice cream way too much to do that,' she tweeted.
        She and other environmental advocates are also betting the green deal and its dramatic moves will be popular among younger voters.
        'Don’t mess with our future,' she said in another tweet.    'When it comes to climate, it’s all our lives at stake.    The younger you are, the more consequences you’ll see.    It’s life and death for us.    And we will fight like it.'
        Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or pbailey@
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. ALEX BRANDON/AP

    2/14/2019 Trump weighs in on imperiled Kentucky coal power plant by Lucas Aulbach, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
        Supporting the coal industry has been a major part of President Donald Trump’s platform since his days on the campaign trail.    So it was little surprise Monday when he pushed for the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep a coal plant in west Kentucky open.
        The TVA reported recently that it was considering closing the coal plant in Paradise, Kentucky, (yeah, the place from the John Prine song) due to high maintenance costs and environmental concerns, along with declining coal usage rates.
        That news caught the eye of the president, who took a moment Monday afternoon to call on the TVA to “give serious consideration to all factors” before shutting the plant down.
        “Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and (the TVA) should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
        Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a vocal supporter of the coal industry and of Trump, piggybacked on the president’s tweet, saying Trump was right to speak up and that coal is an important factor in Kentucky’s economy and power industry.
        “Grateful to (President Trump) for standing up for the importance of an affordable and reliable electricity grid and the working men and women who make that possible for their fellow Americans. We must never lose our ability to effectively use all the resources we have,” Bevin wrote Monday.
        Sen. Mitch McConnell also weighed in, saying he agreed with Trump and that coal “needs to be part of our energy future.”
        Paradise Unit 3 started operations in 1970 and is the only remaining coalburning unit at the Paradise, after two others were closed in 2017 by the TVA.
        The TVA board is expected to meet Thursday and talk about the plant’s future, according to the Associated Press.
        Bevin, speaking over the weekend in Muhlenberg County, called on the TVA to postpone any vote concerning the future of the plant until the company fills open seats on its board of directors and until a study on the nation’s electric grid by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is completed, according to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

    2/14/2019 Oil up $0.56 to $54.46, DOW up 118 to 25,543

    2/14/2019 Mueller probe could turn profit for Treasury - Various parties line up for Manafort’s fortune by Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Some time soon, the federal government will begin selling off what’s left of Paul Manafort’s life, a small fortune amassed through a decade of illicit lobbying work.    When it does, the investigation into Russian election interference stands to breach an unusual milestone: bringing in more money than it has cost.
        But first, lawyers working for special counsel Robert Mueller must reach a deal with another set of opponents, including the Trump Tower condo board.
        A handful of banks and the Trump Tower Residential Condominium Board have lined up to argue that they’re entitled to parts of the properties and investment accounts valued at about $26.7 million that Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has been forced to give up as part of plea agreement with Mueller’s team.    Included in the package of New York real estate is a $7.3 million compound in the Hamptons and a $3.8 million apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower of the claims could be resolved as early as this week, according to court documents.
        When they are, the investigation Trump has dismissed as a witch hunt and a waste of money will more or less have paid for itself.
        Mueller’s probe has posted costs of about $25 million so far.    Exactly how much the government stands to collect will turn on how much of Manafort’s property must be turned over to banks and others, and to New York’s fluctuating real estate market.
        In addition to Manafort’s fortune, the government stands to collect about $1.9 million from other people charged as a result of Mueller’s investigation.
        Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw complex organized crime cases, said the leftover money, while substantial, represents “icing on the cake for the government whose overriding priority is always a conviction.”
        “Rarely is there money sufficient to make a big recovery,” said Cotter, who is not a party to the Manafort case.    “It’s only when all the fighting is over involving the banks, family and every other creditor do you really know what the leftover assets are really worth.”
        Manafort was found guilty of fraud and other charges by a federal court in Virginia, and pleaded guilty to related charges in another federal court in Washington.    He hasn’t been sentenced in either case, but has already agreed to give up a chunk of his fortune that he gained through illicit lobbying work for a pro-Russian faction in Ukraine.
        That fortune represent by far the bulk of fines and fees assessed against all targets in the Mueller inquiry so far.
        Exactly how the final balance sheet for Mueller’s investigation will even out may not be fully known for months.
        David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who handled international drug trafficking and fraud cases, said it would be “unusual” indeed to hope that any investigation as complex as Mueller’s could turn a profit.
    Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to give up a
    chunk of his fortune he gained through illicit lobbying work. EPA-EFE
    [Nothing above is suggesting collusion with Russia by Trump, and I am hearing some news today that he my be denying his plea deal, which I will find out later.].

    2/14/2019 President Trump slams fired FBI Deputy Director McCabe, calls him puppet for Comey by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump recently slammed fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Twitter by calling him a disgrace to our country.
        In a tweet Thursday, the president said McCabe pretends to be a “poor little angel,” but he’s actually a big part of — what he calls — the crooked Hillary scandal and Russia hoax.    He claimed McCabe is a puppet of fired FBI chief James Comey and is a disgrace to the FBI and America.
        Trump tweet: “Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a 'poor little Angel' when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax - a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey. I.G. report on McCabe was devastating.    Part of 'insurance policy' in case I won....
        The president also touched on the FBI as a whole, saying many in the agency were fired or forced to leave.    His fiery tweet comes as McCabe is on a media tour to promote his new book, which is out next week.
    FILE – In this June 7, 2017, file photo, then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee
    hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
        Meanwhile, McCabe said there were meetings at the Department of Justice to discuss whether the vice president and a majority of the cabinet could be brought together to remove President Trump under the 25th Amendment.    He made the comment in an interview Thursday, revealing he ordered an obstruction of justice investigation involving the president and his alleged ties to Russia.
        McCabe called for the investigation just one day after a phone call with the president "regarding the firing of FBI director James Comey.”    He said he wanted the Russia probe to be on solid ground, so it would be difficult to dismiss in case he was fired.
        McCabe was fired by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year, just one day before he was set to retire.

    2/14/2019 GOP congressmen send letter to President urging him not to sign border security deal by OAN Newsroom
        Republicans and conservatives remain divided on Capitol Hill over the border security deal as Congress prepares to hold a vote.
        A group of GOP congressmen sent a letter to President Trump Wednesday night, urging him not to sign the spending bill and to declare a national emergency to get more funding for the border wall.    In the letter, representatives Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows argued the deal will not secure the border and will allow illegal immigrants to be released into our country.
        President Trump is under pressure to sign the border security deal as the possibility of another potential government shutdown looms.
        Details of the bill were released Wednesday night.    The measure, which funds nine departments and dozens of agencies until the end of fiscal 2019, has been heavily criticized by conservative lawmakers for the lack of funding for the border wall.
    FILE – In this Jan 15, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent walks in front of a section of
    newly-replaced border wall in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
        The bill provides a little more than $1.3 billion for border fencing along 55 miles of the southern border, which is a mere fraction of what the president had requested.
        In total the Department of Homeland Security will get more than $61 billion to spend on new equipment at ports of entry, hiring and training new customs officers, and counter-narcotics and counter weapons technology.
        However, there were a few last minute add-ons that Democrats managed to get into the legislation, including a $450 million budget to spend on humanitarian services for illegal immigrants.    This includes enhanced medical support, transportation, food and clothing for anyone who enters the country illegally.
        The bill will also revive an Obama-era program that would allow illegal immigrants to be monitored rather than held in detention.
        In addition to funding the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation and other vital agencies, the bill will also send more than $54 billion overseas.    This includes $25 million to promote religious freedom, $2.4 billion to promote democracy, $3.4 billion to help assist refugees, and more than nine billion dollars for international security assistance.
        A number of conservative lawmakers have criticized Democrats over the lack of funding for the wall, and are accusing them of putting party above policy.    They are encouraging President Trump to take executive action to secure more funding to address the national security crisis at the border.
        The president is expected to sign it the deal despite its shortfalls.    In the meantime, the White House has confirmed it is considering other options when it comes to border wall funding.    If the president were to declare a national emergency, the order would likely get tied up in the courts.
    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque in the
    Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    2/14/2019 Riot breaks out at migrant shelter across border from Eagle Pass, Texas by OAN Newsroom
        Violence recently broke out at a migrant shelter located across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.
        About two dozen rioters attacked Mexican police on Wednesday after they broke through a security barrier at the shelter. They were throwing pipes, tables, and chairs at the officers.
    Migrants clash with security agents at a provisional shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, on Feb. 13, 2019. (Photo/Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)
        This is the second riot to break out at the facility this week.    The migrants said they are upset at policies, which bar them from leaving the shelter without a humanitarian visa approved by Mexico.
        The migrants claim they just want to go into town to buy extra food, clothes and medical supplies when the shelter runs low.
        “All we want to do is go into town on foot to buy something, but no, they won’t even let us do that.    People have been waiting in line since 6:00 a.m. and nothing happens and its provoking these clashes.” — Joel Sanchez, Honduran migrant
        About 2,000 Central American migrants from the latest caravan are living in the shelter while they wait to have their asylum applications processed by the U.S.

    2/14/2019 Venezuelan opposition urges international community to help aid get in by Luc Cohen and Fabian Cambero
    Venezuelans line up as they wait for a free lunch at the "Divina Providencia" migrant shelter outskirts
    of Cucuta, on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, Colombia February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
        WASHINGTON/CARACAS (Reuters) – The Venezuelan opposition envoy to Washington urged the international community to help let assistance into the crisis-stricken country on Thursday, as Cuba accused the United States of flying military transport close to the area.
        Carlos Vecchio, opposition leader Juan Guaido’s representative, spoke to an international aid conference hosted at the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington as a deadlock persisted in delivering aid.
        Elliott Abrams, Washington’s special representative on Venezuela, said the United States was looking for ways to send in aid as he reiterated U.S. support for Guaido.
        Guaido invoked constitutional provisions last month to assume an interim presidency and challenge socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s rule, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.
        Most Western countries, including the United States and many of Venezuela’s neighbors, have recognized Guaido as the country’s legitimate head of state, but Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China as well as control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.
        Guaido has said humanitarian aid will enter the country on Feb. 23, setting the stage for a showdown with Maduro, who has said it is not needed and should not be let in.
        “They are blocking humanitarian aid that’s being sent,” Vecchio told the conference, which was attended by diplomats and representatives from dozens of countries.    “We must open thousands of windows to bring humanitarian aid to Venezuela … Here we are creating an international coalition to bring in food and medicine.”
        The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has said it wants a peaceful resolution to the crisis but has refused to rule out military intervention.    Cuba accused the United States on Thursday of moving special forces closer to Venezuela as part of a covert plan to intervene.
        Military aircraft from the United States had flown to strategically located Caribbean islands last week, Cuba said.    “It’s a new lie,” Abrams said when asked about it at the event.    The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
        Abrams said the U.S. government had stockpiled food supplies in warehouses on Colombia’s border with its neighbor.
        Officials from Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Canada and Taiwan also pledged humanitarian support to the Venezuelan opposition.
        Maduro, who accuses Guaido of leading a U.S.-directed coup attempt, has called the aid a show and denies there is an economic crisis, despite a widespread lack of food and medicine and hyperinflation.
        Gustavo Tarre, the opposition’s OAS representative, insisted the only objective was “to relieve the suffering of Venezuelans” and that there was no political, economic or military motives.
        An aid convoy supplied by the United States and Colombia arrived in the Colombian border town of Cucuta last week.
        In an effort to wrest vital oil revenue from Maduro, Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress named new temporary boards to state-run oil firm PDVSA and its U.S. refiner Citgo, Venezuela’s most valuable foreign asset, on Wednesday.
        The government has opened an investigation into the new directors, the chief state prosecutor said on Thursday.
        Tarek Saab said Guaido had “grotesquely made circus-style appointments” in order to please foreign interests and destabilize the country.
        “The only directors legitimately appointed to the boards of PDVSA and its subsidiaries are those … who have been appointed by the executive government, as the constitution stipulates,” Saab said, according to his office’s Twitter account.
        He also said his office would investigate foreign ambassadors named by Guaido.
        It is unclear what action the Maduro administration could take, although it has previously jailed opposition leaders in Venezuela.
        In an effort to guarantee stability for new elections, Guaido’s transitional government should include members of the ruling “Chavismo” movement and military leadership, a top opposition lawmaker told Reuters.
        That interim government would have 13 months to hold fresh presidential elections from the date Maduro officially steps down as president, said Stalin Gonzalez, the second vice president of the congress.
        Chavismo is the movement founded by former President Hugo Chavez, who Maduro succeeded following Chavez’ death in 2013.
        “We need to give space to the Chavismo that is not Maduro because we need political stability,” Gonzalez said.
        The opposition, made up a coalition of parties, plans to hold primaries in order to put forward a sole candidate to the presidential elections, he added.
    (Reporting by Luc Cohen and Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Fabian Cambero, Corina Pons and Vivian Sequera in Caracas, Marc Frank in Havana; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sarah Marsh and Rosalba O’Brien)

    2/14/2019 Enough! French want an end to ‘yellow vest’ protests by Richard Lough
    FILE PHOTO: Protesters wearing yellow vests are seen behind a fire as they attend a demonstration of the
    "yellow vests" movement in Angers, France, January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo
        PARIS (Reuters) – More than half of French people want the “yellow vests” to end their sometimes violent anti-government protests, with many believing demonstrators still marching through cities each weekend no longer reflect the group’s early demands.
        A survey by respected pollster Elabe published late on Wednesday showed 56 percent think the movement should call off the weekly protests, an increase of 11 points from a month earlier and the first time they have been a majority.
        The protests erupted in November over the high cost of diesel and high living costs, and are named after the high-visibility jackets French motorists must carry in their car.
        The unrest quickly morphed into a broader revolt against President Emmanuel Macron and inequality.
        Much of the worst rioting, vandalism and looting has been blamed on anarchists as well as hard-left and extreme-right militants with no connection to the protest movement.
        While a majority of people support the movement, two in every three believe those still protesting each weekend in Paris and other cities are not representative of its early ambitions.
        The “yellow vests” have posed the greatest challenge to the authority of Macron, who has made costly tax concessions and last month launched a two-month national debate, promising policy change that address voter grievances.
        On Thursday, the 41-year-old president met with rural mayors in the remote village of Gargilesse-Dampierre in central France.
        One after the other, the mayors presented their grumbles: the dearth of doctors, shortage of money for technology, decline of public transport, and lack of power for local officials.
        “I will try and respond to each of the points you have raised,” Macron said as he got to his feet, dressed as always in a sharp suit, crisp white shirt and dark tie.    “I share your opinion, the country is tired.    We must rise to the challenge.”
        In recent debates, Macron has stood for more than six hours answering questions.    Polls point to a rebound in the president’s battered popularity since he launched the debates and his aides talk of a new energy inside the Elysee Palace.
    (Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

    2/14/2019 William Barr confirmed as attorney general by OAN Newsroom
        The Senate has voted to confirm William Barr as the next attorney general.    The vote took place Thursday, with a number of Democrats joining Republicans to confirm the president’s pick.
        Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Doug Jones and Senator Kyrsten Sinema all voted in favor of Barr.    Every Republican voted for Barr with the exception of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
        One America News spoke to Senator Bill Cassidy Thursday, who discussed why he believes Barr is a perfect fit for the role.
        “Imminently qualified, who doesn’t have to do it, but loves his country enough that he volunteers even though he knows he’s going to take a lot of flak from people… for purely political reasons, so I think he’s a great hire,” he stated.
    In this Jan. 29, 2019 photo, Attorney General nominee William Barr, right, meets with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Miss.,
    a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in Hawley’s office in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
        Barr will now take over for Jeff Sessions, who was fired by the president last year.    Matt Whitaker had been taking over as acting attorney general for the time being, but Barr will now officially head the department.
        According to recent reports, Barr will name as his deputy attorney general.

    2/14/2019 Kudlow: President Xi to meet with U.S. officials by OAN Newsroom
        White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow has confirmed Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with top U.S. officials as trade talks continue in Beijing.
        While speaking to reporters Thursday, Kudlow said Xi will sit down with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Friday.
        “They are gonna meet with President Xi, so that’s a very good sign and they’re just soldiering on,” he stated.
        The news is seen as a sign great progress is being made as the March 1, 2019 tariff deadline inches closer.    Kudlow said no decision has been made on whether President Trump will extend the deadline.    However, this week the president suggested he could push it back if trade talks were going well.
        Mnuchin and Lighthizer are in the midst of two days of high-level talks in Beijing after high-level talks in late January in Washington were deemed successful by both sides.
    White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
        Kudlow gave an update on talks in China, saying the U.S. team is covering all ground and all areas of trade.
        “They’re hard at it, they’re doing well and they’re going through all the issues and the vibe is good… positive, very positive — I want you to cover that, that’s a really important description of it,” he told reporters.
        Kudlow went on to say he’s cautiously optimistic a deal will be reached.

    2/14/2018 San Diego County suing White House over asylum policy by OAN Newsroom
        The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to sue the federal government after the Trump administration ended a longstanding program known as the “safe release” policy, which allocated funding for shelter and health assessments for asylum seekers after they filed their claims.
        According to officials, the county has been forced to pay to support some 5,000 asylum seekers so far, and the cost is quickly adding up.    It is costing over half a million dollars, which the Board of Supervisors doesn’t believe local taxpayers should pay.
        “This is the federal government’s responsibility and by filing a lawsuit, the intent is to send a very strong message that it’s costing us money, and it’s not right,” said Dianne Jacob, chairwoman of the San Diego county board of supervisors.    “It’s not fair for agencies in San Diego County to be picking up the tab and taking care of asylum seekers, which is the responsibility of the federal government.”
        The federal government previously covered these costs, however, this policy was changed in October.
    One-year-old Julivet Fernando sleeps on a mattress at a sheltered in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.
    A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras,
    just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as “asylum seekers,”
    suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
        As the number of asylum seekers at the border surged, the county and nonprofits were faced with the choice of stepping in to shoulder the burden or face a potential public health and safety emergency.
        If the White House doesn’t make any changes, county officials say their bill could increase to four million dollars by the end of the year.
        The lawsuit is demanding the administration change its policy and shoulder the financial burden for the asylum seekers.    The county is also seeking reimbursement for their expenses as well as those of nonprofits, who have paid to accommodate the asylum seekers since October.

    2/15/2019 Oil down $0.47 to $52.46, DOW down 104 to 25,439

    2/15/2019 Brent oil briefly hits $65 as production cuts fuel 2019 high by Noah Browning
        LONDON (Reuters) – Brent crude oil briefly reached 2019 highs above $65 per barrel on Friday, as OPEC-led supply cuts and the announcement of a higher-than-expected cut by Saudi Arabia this week encouraged investors.
        The international benchmark for oil prices rose as high as $65.10, pushing past $65 for the first time this year. It fell back to $64.75 by 0850 GMT, up 18 cents or 0.28 percent from the last close.
    Brent is near a three-month high and set for a more than 1 percent gain on the week.
    U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $54.50 per barrel, up 9 cents from their last settlement
        The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries along with allies led by Russia made voluntary production cuts beginning last month aimed at tightening the market.
        Top exporter and de facto OPEC leader Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it would cut over half a million barrels per day (bpd) more in March than the deal called for, sending prices surging.
        Prices were also buoyed by the partial closure of Saudi Arabia’s Safaniya, its largest offshore oilfield with a production capacity of more than 1 million bpd.
        The shutdown occurred about two weeks ago, a source said, and it was not immediately clear when the field would return to full capacity.
        “Brent should average $70 per barrel in 2019, helped by voluntary (Saudi, Kuwait, UAE) and involuntary (Venezuela, Iran) declines in OPEC supply,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.
        It also said it expected a drop of 2.5 million bpd in OPEC supply in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a year earlier.
        But faltering economic growth is also a concern, with signs of a slowdown now abundant in Europe, Asia and the United States.
        “Our macroeconomic view remains firmly bearish,” commodities brokerage Marex Spectron said.
        Surging U.S. output may also undermine OPEC’s efforts to tighten the market.
        U.S. crude production rose by more than 2 million bpd last year, to 11.9 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer.
        Most analysts expect U.S. output to rise past 12 million bpd soon, and perhaps even hit 13 million bpd by the end of the year.
    (Reporting by Noah Browning; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Dale Hudson)

    2/15/2019 Trump will declare national emergency by Michael Collins, Eliza Collins and David Jackson, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will sign a funding bill that will provide some money for a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border and then declare a national emergency to get more funding for a wall, the White House said Thursday.
        “President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
        A few minutes earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stunned lawmakers when he announced on the Senate floor he had spoken to Trump by phone and that president indicated he was prepared to sign the bill – but would at the same time declare a national emergency for additional border wall funding.
        The Senate voted 83-16 on Thursday to approve the measure, which offers $1.375 billion for a 55-mile border barrier – much less than the $5.7 billion that Trump has demanded for a wall along the southern border.    The money also is slightly less than the $1.6 billion and 65 miles of the Senate Homeland Security Committee voted out of committee last summer.    The House planned to vote on the bill later Thursday evening and send it to Trump.

    2/15/2019 Swiss immigration rises again as ties with EU face test
    The flags of the European Union and Switzerland flutter in the wind in Blotzheim, France June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
        ZURICH (Reuters) – Immigration into Switzerland rose again last year, taking the foreign population further above 2 million as the wealthy country’s open-door policy for Europeans faces a right-wing challenge.
        Neutral Switzerland allows free movement of people from the European Union and EFTA members Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in return for enhanced access to the EU’s single market.    .
        The Swiss People’s Party and anti-EU AUNS group are readying a binding referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy that would cancel the free-movement accord with the EU if talks to end the practice do not bear fruit within a year.
        The Swiss government opposes this, calling instead to preserve free movement as an essential part of ties with the EU, Switzerland’s biggest trading partner and lifeblood for its export-reliant economy.
        No date for a vote has been set yet.
        Statistics released on Friday showed immigration of EU/EFTA citizens rose by nearly 31,000 people in 2018, marginally more than in 2017.
        Overall immigration – which is steered by quotas for other foreigners and temporary limits on some Balkan members of the EU – increased 2.9 percent to nearly 55,000 people.
        That meant nearly 2.1 million foreigners – more than two-thirds of them from the EU and EFTA countries – lived in Switzerland at the end of last year.
        Switzerland is wrestling with its approach to EU ties.    Brussels wants a new treaty that would have the Swiss routinely adopt single-market rules and give EU citizens the same benefits that they get when living in EU member countries.
        The Swiss government has launched domestic consultations to try to forge consensus on its response, but opposition from the right wing and normally pro-Europe left concerned about sacrificing Swiss sovereignty have left the outcome in doubt.
    (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

    2/15/2019 President Trump declares a National Emergency at the southern border because of “invasion by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump said the U.S. is confronting a crisis at home, while declaring a national emergency over the issues at the border.
        During a speech at the White House Friday, the president said the U.S. must handle what he described as the national security crisis at our southern border.    He said he isn’t taking the action to fulfill a campaign promise, but rather because the country needs it.
        The president said there’s an invasion of drugs, gangs and people coming into our country, and by signing the national emergency he is doing his part to try and stop it.
    President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency
    in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
        “We’re talking about an invasion of our country, with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs,” explained President Trump.
        Democrat leadership responded to the declaration by calling it unlawful.    The president indicated it’ll likely get challenged in court, but he said he’s dealt with that before.
        President Trump Speaks on the National Security & Humanitarian Crisis on Our Southern Border.

    2/15/2019 Conservative lawmakers praise the President’s decision to declare a National Emergency by OAN Newsroom
        Top conservatives are praising the president’s decision to declare a National Emergency at the southern border.
        Representative Mark Meadows tweeted Friday, saying he is seeing speculation Congress could override a presidential veto with GOP votes.    However, he said that will not happen, because the votes aren’t there.
        Mark Meadows tweet: “Given Congress will try to block this executive action, I'm seeing speculation Congress could override a POTUS veto w/ GOP votes.    They will not.    The votes will not be there.    There is broad GOP + American support for POTUS taking legal, constitutional action to protect families.”
        Meadows also said there is broad Republican and American support for the president to take legal action to protect families.
        Meanwhile Representative Jim Jordan also chimed in by simply tweeting out “of course it’s a national emergency.”    He then listed reasons why, which included caravans and angel families losing loved ones.
        The lawmaker also asked what will it take for the left to acknowledge the crisis at the border.
        Jim Jordan tweet: “Of course it’s a national emergency.
    -Largest fentanyl bust in history, enough to kill 57 million Americans
    -The caravans keep coming
    -Angel families losing loved ones to violeent criminals
        What will it take for the Left to acknowledge the crisis on our border? #DoWhatWeSaid
    Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter
    in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

    2/15/2019 S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster fires one county’s entire election board by OAN Newsroom
    South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster delivers the State of the State address at the
    Statehouse, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
        South Carolina’s Republican Governor Henry McMaster has had enough with one county’s voter registration and election board. He issued an executive order on Thursday, kicking three members as well as their acting chairwoman out of office.
        One member serving on the board was reportedly supposed to be out more than two years ago, but a replacement was never picked by a legislative delegation when her term expired.    A fourth seat is already empty, because the former chair’s term came to an end.
        Back in November the board was accused of not counting 1,000 midterm votes, or one-percent of all the votes in the county, which includes the state capital of Columbia.    Part of the problem was old voting machines breaking down, and the board was accused of not following set procedures for that type of election day failure.
        The final straw, however, appeared to be Wednesday’s meeting, which got heated.    A state senator called one board member incompetent.    The same state senator also accused a different board member of breaking the law by not finishing her election training.
        Governor McMaster said new leadership is needed, so the county’s election process can regain the trust of voters.
        South Carolina is not the only state with election problems.    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended the elections supervisor in Palm Beach County for not completing the midterm ballot count on time.    Additionally, Broward County’s elections supervisor resigned over voter fraud allegations.
        Meanwhile in North Carolina, the state board of elections has all new members.    They are holding a hearing on Monday about the Ninth Congressional District’s voter fraud scandal.

    2/15/2019 President Trump could have first 2020 GOP challenger by OAN Newsroom
    Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld on Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
        President Trump may soon have a 2020 challenger on the GOP side.    On Friday, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld announced he is launching an exploratory committee as he eyes a possible White House run.
        Weld would be the first Republican candidate to announce a bid against the president as all major polls indicate President Trump would crush any GOP opponent in a hypothetical 2020 primary.
        Weld looks to be trying to frame himself as a candidate who moderate Republicans and Independents can get behind, but still maintains the president has skills others will never have.
        “He may have great energy and considerable raw talent, but he does not use them in ways that promote democracy, truth, justice and equal opportunity for all,” he stated when referencing President Trump.
        Weld decided earlier this month to rejoin the Republican Party after switching to the Libertarian Party in 2016.    He served as Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997.

    2/15/2019 Maduro alleges secret meetings with U.S. special envoy, invites him to Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
        Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is inviting a U.S. special envoy to the country, following alleged “secret talks” with the U.S.
        During an interview Thursday, Maduro claimed US. Special Envoy Elliott Abrams privately met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in two separate meetings.    He went on to allege the U.S. threatened military action and severe sanctions during the talks, however, his claims have not been confirmed.
        Maduro said he would gladly meet with Abrams, and even said he hopes to meet with President Trump in the near future to discuss America’s recognition of Juan Guiado as Venezuela’s leader.
        “I can tell you that we have had two meetings already with Mr. Elliott Abrams in New York, our Chancellor has met twice with Elliott Abrams — the first meeting lasted two hours, the second three hours, a few days ago,” claimed Maduro.    “I invited Elliott Abrams to come to Venezuela in private, in public, in secret or if he wants to meet, let him say when, how, where, and I will be there.”
    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at
    Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
        The embattled Venezuelan president continued by reaffirming he would not step down from power despite increasing pressure from across the globe.
        Meanwhile, opposition leader Juan Guaido has said humanitarian aid will enter the country despite Maduro’s efforts to block it.    At a rally this week, Guaido "said he will organize relief so supplies can be brought into the country next week."     Truck loads full of food and medicine arrived last week, but Maduro has continued to resist foreign efforts to help the country’s people who are suffering from rising hunger.    More than two million people have fled Venezuela over the past two years due to soaring hyperinflation and severe food and medical shortages.
        “Because the humanitarian crisis, the humanitarian aid…it’s not a box, it’s not a blister.    It is a mother in Anzoategui who lost her baby boy to dehydration.    It is a grandfather who can’t get his medicine.    It is a mother who doesn’t have anything to give her son for lunch, and we say enough already, enough already.” — Juan Guaido, self-proclaimed interim President – Venezuela
    Venezuelans living in Colombia protest the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, and its blocking the
    entry of humanitarian aid in Cucuta, Colombia, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, on the border with Venezuela. The sign reads in
    Spanish “Urgent. The entry of humanitarian help is needed now. There are Venezuelans at risk of dying.” (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

    2/15/2019 U.S. and Iceland boost trade ties, discuss Arctic security by Lesley Wroughton
    U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo listens to Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson during a news conference in Reykjavik, Iceland February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Geirix
        REYKJAVIK (Reuters) – The United States and Iceland have agreed to set up formal economic channels to boost trade and business investment, the countries’ top diplomats said on Friday.
        U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the NATO ally in the north Atlantic on Friday, also to discuss security relations and China and Russia’s growing presence in the Arctic.
        “We have now established an economic dialogue between our two nations which I think will bear fruit quickly,” Pompeo said at a press conference.
        His visit comes amid increased interest in the Arctic, which has big reserves of oil, gas, gold, diamonds, zinc and iron.
    .     With global warming melting polar ice, it may offer world powers new shipping routes – and naval interests – for trade between Asia, Europe and America’s east coast.
        He said it was still unclear whether boosting economic ties could be done through a formal trade agreement “which if accomplished would be a really good outcome,” or whether they would come from a set of common understandings to cut costs or reduce barriers.
        “There is still unrealized potential in trade and our commercial relationship,” Icelandic Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson said at the common press meeting.
        “We are very excited to take this important step … and we should try and do it as quickly as possible,” he added.
        Iceland sits in a “strategic place in the world,” Pompeo said during his visit.    Asked how the United States planned to counter China and Russia’s increased presence in the Arctic region, he said:
        “You find friends and allies in the region and you work alongside them, and you show up and you have serious discussions with them about how to approach it.”
        Pompeo said that the United States “deeply understands the geo-strategic challenges” that exist in the Arctic and the risks that are there.
        “We have watched America’s adversaries begin to deploy assets in a way that they believe will strategically disadvantage not only the United States, but Iceland and the European countries as well,” he said.
        “We know that when America retreats nations such as China and Russia will fill the vacuum.    It’s inevitable when we’re not there,” he said.
        Pompeo said he was very confident the cooperation between the United States and Iceland would achieve outcomes.
        “I look forward to being part of this as Iceland takes over the Arctic Council, determining how and where to best deploy assets, not just military, but all of the assets,” he said.
        Iceland assumes the two-year rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May.    It comprises Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United States and Denmark, all of which have territory inside the Arctic Circle.
        Referring to increased competition in the Arctic region, foreign minister Thordarson said it was important that the Arctic remain a “peaceful, low tension area.”
        The organization, which coordinates Arctic policy, is gaining clout as sea ice thaws to open up new trade routes and intensify competition for its as yet undiscovered oil and gas reserves.
    (Additional reporting and writing by Teis Jensen in Copenhagen; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Chopra)

    2/15/2019 Pompeo meets EU’s top diplomat after Pence’s Iran accusations by Lesley Wroughton
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief
    Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Belgium February 15, 2019. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS
        BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the EU’s top diplomat discussed global conflicts but largely avoided the issue of Iran on Friday, a day after Vice President Mike Pence accused European allies of trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
        Pompeo’s meeting with Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, was scheduled before Pence’s rebuke of European powers, during a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw on Thursday.    Mogherini missed the Warsaw conference, citing a scheduling conflict at NATO.
        Mogherini, who helped to seal a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that Washington now rejects, greeted Pompeo at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels.    She shook off a question seeking her reaction to Pence’s speech.
        State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Pence’s speech was not raised during the hour-long meeting, which he said was friendly and constructive.
        “Absolutely not.    It was not discussed at all,” Palladino told reporters traveling with Pompeo, when asked whether Pence’s speech and the Iran nuclear deal were mentioned.
        They also did not talk about the Iran nuclear deal, although they did discuss Iran’s “destabilizing activities and the need to counter them,” he said.
        In a separate statement, Palladino said the sides agreed to work closely on efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela.    They also discussed ending the conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine and an upcoming leaders’ summit on North Korea, he said.
        A spokeswoman for Mogherini said the talks with Pompeo had focused on Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, the Korean peninsula, Ukraine and the Western Balkans.
        Pence’s unusually tough words on Thursday for allies Germany, France and Britain reflect Washington’s strategy of isolating Iran, and are likely to further strain transatlantic relations.
        The United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran deal last year. Under that deal, Tehran accepted curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
        On Thursday, speaking at NATO before Pence’s comments, Mogherini said upholding the deal was vital to European security because it prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
        European countries say they share U.S. concerns about Iran’s involvement in wars in Yemen and Syria but that withdrawing from the nuclear deal was a mistake.    They have promised to try to salvage the deal as long as Iran continues to abide by it.    In practice, European companies have accepted new U.S. sanctions on Iran and abandoned plans to invest there.
        France, Germany and Britain have agreed on a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert U.S. sanctions.
        That will likely take months to open, however, and is expected to be used only for smaller trade such as humanitarian products or food.
    (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; additional reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Robin Emmott, Susan Heavey and Steve Orlofsky)

    2/15/2019 House Democrats attempt to block president’s National Emergency declaration by OAN Newsroom
        Two Democrat representatives said they are co-sponsoring a bill to stop President Trump’s National Emergency declaration.    The proposal by New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Texas congressman Joaqin Castro is an attempt to block the president’s move to secure additional border funding.
        On Thursday, Castro called the declaration a “fake emergency,” saying he would be filing a joint-resolution under the National Emergency Act to terminate the declaration.
        “There have been very critical comments that have been made by senators, including Republican senators, about the president’s ability and wisdom of declaring a National Emergency for this purpose,” he stated.
    U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro. Photo/TOM WILLIAMS/AP)
        In a recent tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said she and Castro aren’t going to let the president declare an emergency without a fight.
        Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC “.@JoaquinCastrotx and I aren’t going to let the President declare a fake national emergency without a fight.”
        Bloomberg @business “JUST IN: @AOC plans to introduce a bill with @JoaquinCastrotx to stop President Trump’s planned emergency declaration
        The House would have to vote on the resolution before it headed to the Senate.
        When the bill would be introduced is still unknown as Congress has already adjourned, and will be out next week for the President’s Day holiday.

    2/15/2019 National Emergencies not unprecedented by OAN Newsroom
        The first declaration under the National Emergencies Act of 1974 came during the Iran hostage crisis, which is a national emergency that is still active today.    Former President Jimmy Carter blocked Iranian government property from entering the country, a move which has been renewed each year by all presidents since then.
        “The steps I’ve taken today are those that are necessary now, other action may become necessary if these steps don’t produce the prompt release of the hostages,” President Carter stated the day he declared it.
        President Trump has already issued three national emergency declarations during his tenure.    The most prominent one is meant to punish foreign actors who interfere in U.S. elections.    He’s also invoked his emergency powers to slap sanctions of human rights abusers around the world as well as on members of the Nicaraguan government amid corruption charges.
        In his eight years office, former President Barack Obama declared 12 states of national emergency.    These declarations touched on subjects from the H1N1 virus and blocking property transfers to people with connections to certain countries.    Nearly all of his national emergencies are still active today.     Before that, former President George W. Bush declared 13 emergencies and former President Clinton declared 17 national emergencies, most of which are still active today.
    President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington,
    Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
        In President Trump’s case, there’s two statutes that come to mind which allow the redirection of military construction funds.    Questions remain as to whether building a border wall is actually a military construction project or whether the president can declare eminent domain over private property.    However, even Democrat lawmakers have said he does, indeed, have the power to do so.
        “Well unfortunately, the short answer is yeah, there is a provision in law that says the president can declare an emergency, its been done a number of times, but primarily its been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq,” stated Representative Adam Smith.
        The problem for Democrats is many legal scholars aren’t sure who, if anyone, would have the legal standing to challenge such a declaration with a lawsuit.
    [Trump is being harrassed for filing a national emergency even though 3 presidents before him filed 37 of them.    So now he has received the $1.375 billion Congress approved, and will use $600 million from Treasury Department drug forfeitures, 2.5 billion from Pentagon drug Interdiction program, and $3.5 billion from Pentagon Millitary constgruction building.    So he has $8 billion instead of $5.7 billion requested from the hateful Democrats, and God willing he will have the Wall built by 2020 elections.    And Pelosi can shove that gavel where the sun does not shine, and as you saw above the idiot Dem sens who are calling all national emergencies as fake.].

    2/15/2019 West ups defense spending to keep ahead of Chinese tech: conference report
    U.S. Marines test night optics during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2018 (ANTX-18) at
    Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, March 20, 2018. U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel/Handout via REUTERS
        MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States led a rise in Western defense spending in 2018 as it moved to keep ahead of Chinese and Russian pushes into advanced military technology, a report said on Friday.
        And U.S. President Donald Trump will likely press European states to spend even more at a NATO conference in April, the International Institute for Security Studies (IISS) said.    European powers would together have to find an extra $102 billion to meet his latest demands, it added.
        Worldwide outlays on weapons and defense rose 1.8 percent to more than $1.67 trillion in 2018 – with the United States on its own responsible for almost half that increase, according to “The Military Balance” report released at the Munich Security Conference.
        Western powers were concerned about Russia’s upgrades of air bases and air defense systems in Crimea – the peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014, the annual report said.    Its stationing of an S-400 air defense system there increased Moscow’s reach in the Black Sea, where it seized three Ukrainian ships last year.
        But “China perhaps represents even more of a challenge, as it introduces yet more advanced military systems and is engaged in a strategy to improve its forces’ ability to operate at distance from the homeland,” it added.
        China’s stated ambition to modernise its People’s Liberation Army by 2035 was “supported by defense spending that has been on a relentlessly upward trajectory.”
        Slower Chinese economic growth had caused a slight deceleration in spending – but the defense budget still grew nearly six percent between 2017 and 2018.
        “Chinese naval capability is entering a new phase,” as it launched cruisers and began sea trials for its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the report said.
        Beijing was also improving its air force and pushing into new technologies including very high speed cruise missiles and artificial intelligence.
        Western states “still retain an edge over adversaries, but the gap is narrowing.    The pace of change may mean that in the future, advantages – if they exist at all – may be held only fleetingly, before the other side catches up.”
        Trump would probably keep up his pressure on NATO allies to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic product, the report said.
        “As of late 2018, doing this would mean that NATO European states would have to find an extra $102 billion, on top of the amount they currently spend,” it added.
        Major U.S. and European arms makers that would benefit from any increase include Lockheed Martin, Airbus and Rheinmetall.
        The institute said there was a serious lack of transparency regarding military expenditures in the Middle East and North Africa, where known military spending accounted for 4 percent to 11 percent of GDP.
        No assessment was available for Syria, Libya, or “particularly opaque” states such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, it said.
    (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

    2/16/2019 Oil up $1.18 to $55.59, DOW up 444 to 25,883

    2/16/2019 Whitaker remains at Justice Deptartment but in different role
        WASHINGTON – Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker remains at the Justice Department, but in a very different role.    Whitaker, who last week appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, now works as a senior counselor in the office of the associate attorney general.    That office oversees the Justice Department’s civil litigation as well as matters including civil rights, environmental and antitrust.    Meanwhile, William Barr spent his first full day Friday as attorney general meeting with top-level staff.

    2/16/2019 Judge issues gag order in case of Trump confidant Stone
        A federal judge on Friday barred longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone from making public comments that could influence potential jurors in the criminal case brought by the special counsel in the Russia probe.
        U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the gag order was necessary to ensure Stone’s right to a fair trial and “to maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse and these proceedings.”    The order is narrowly tailored to comments about his pending case and does not constrain Stone from discussing other topics publicly.
        The ruling, which applies to Stone and lawyers on both sides in the case, comes after a string of media appearances by the attention-seeking political consultant since his indictment and arrest last month.    In several of those interviews, Stone had blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference as politically motivated and criticized his case as involving only “process crimes.”

    2/16/2019 U.S. raises pressure on Maduro via sanctions, aid airlift by Andy Sullivan and Idrees Ali
    FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of
    his government in Caracas, Venezuela February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
        WASHINGTON/MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States ratcheted up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday by sanctioning some of his top security officials and the head of the state oil company, and unveiling plans to airlift over 200 tons of aid to the Colombian border.
        The U.S. Treasury said it sanctioned PDVSA chief Manuel Quevedo, three top intelligence officials and Rafael Bastardo, who U.S. officials say is the head of a national police unit responsible for dozens of extrajudicial killings carried out in nighttime raids on Maduro’s behalf.
        Separately, the U.S. State Department said on Friday it was working with the Pentagon and U.S. aid agency to fly humanitarian assistance on Saturday to Cucuta, Colombia, on the Venezuelan border.
        The steps are part of a wider effort by the United States to undermine Maduro, whose 2018 election it views as illegitimate and whose government it has disavowed, and to strengthen opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido.
        Quevedo said on Twitter the Venezuelan officials were being sanctioned for guaranteeing peace, building homes and condemning the “coup and military plan of the United States, its allies” and Guaido.
        U.S. military aircraft were expected to deliver more than 200 tons of humanitarian aid to the border town, a U.S. official said.    The United States already has pre-positioned some relief supplies in Colombia and is coordinating with Guaido to mobilize aid for Venezuelans, a State Department spokeswoman said.
        It was unclear whether any of the U.S. aid being ferried to Colombia would reach Venezuelans.
        Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse in the oil-rich country that has left millions struggling to buy food and medicine and fueled an unprecedented migration crisis in the region, has refused to allow supplies in.
        “This man Maduro has created a humanitarian crisis,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Reykjavik.    “As soon as this weekend we will continue to deliver massive humanitarian assistance.    Hopefully Mr. Maduro will allow that in to his country.”
        The aid convoy dispatched by the United States and Colombia arrived in Cucuta last week, where it is being held in warehouses.
        U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton worked to undermine Maduro on Friday, saying economic and political pressure was squeezing his top government officials and claiming without offering any evidence that “a clear majority, maybe almost all of them” were talking to the opposition about supporting Guaido or leaving the country.
        Bolton appeared to confirm reports that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza met in New York with U.S. special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, and suggested Maduro should ask himself what they talked about.
        Bolton also said he thought “Russia and China are hedging” their support for Maduro because of concern about the Maduro government’s indebtedness to Moscow and Beijing.
        Guaido invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself interim president last month, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was a sham.    Most Western countries, including the United States and many of Venezuela’s neighbors, have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state.
        Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.
        The U.S. Treasury took aim at some of Maduro’s allies with its sanctions on Friday.
        “We are sanctioning officials in charge of Maduro’s security and intelligence apparatus, which has systematically violated human rights and suppressed democracy, including through torture,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
        Also targeted was Ivan Hernandez, commander of Maduro’s Presidential Guard, which Treasury says has tortured Maduro’s opponents and carried out other human rights abuses.
        Manuel Cristopher, director general of Venezuela’s Sebin intelligence agency, and Hildemaro Rodriguez, first commissioner of the service, also were sanctioned.
        The Treasury’s action freezes all property in the United States belonging to the five sanctioned officials as well as that of any entities in which they own 50 percent or more.
        In a sign that the Trump administration may be trying to split the men from Maduro, the Treasury Department noted in its statement that “U.S. sanctions need not be permanent; sanctions are intended to bring about a positive change of behavior.”
        “The United States has made clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for persons … who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the government, and combat corruption in Venezuela,” it said.
    (Reporting by Andy Sullivan in Washington and Idrees Ali in Munich; Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Rejkjavik and by Lisa Lambert and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Tom Brown and Sandra Maler)

    2/16/2019 V.P. Mike Pence Calls for Europe to Leave Iran Nuclear Deal, Support Guaido by OAN Newsroom
        Vice President Mike Pence urges the European Union to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
        On Saturday, Pence delivered a speech to world leaders at the Munich Security Conference, calling for European countries to join the U.S. in pressuring the Iranian regime to give the people the peace and freedom they deserve.
    United States Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the Munich
    Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
        He also warned of the threat posed by telecoms equipment supplied by Chinese provider Huawei.
        Pence also addressed a terrorism issue and said the U.S. will continue fighting the Islamic State.
        Additionally, Pence asked the leaders in the room to support Venezuela in its struggle for democracy and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate President of Venezuela.

    2/16/2019 Pence chastises EU, rejects Merkel’s call to work with Russia by Robin Emmott and Paul Carrel
    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attends the annual Munich Security Conference in
    Munich, Germany February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
        MUNICH (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence rebuked European powers over Iran and Venezuela on Saturday in a renewed attack on Washington’s traditional allies, rejecting a call by Germany’s chancellor to include Russia in global cooperation efforts.
        In speeches and in private talks at the Munich Security Conference, Pence and Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out competing visions for how the West should address world crises.
        “America is stronger than ever before and America is leading on the world stage once again,” Pence told European and Asian officials in Munich, listing what he described as U.S. foreign policy successes from Afghanistan to North Korea, and urging support from American allies.
        “America First does not mean America alone,” he said, hailing the results of Donald Trump’s presidency as “remarkable” and “extraordinary,” and calling on the EU to follow Washington in quitting the Iran nuclear deal and recognizing the head of Venezuela’s congress, Juan Guaido, as the country’s president.
        Addressing an audience that included Trump’s daughter Ivanka, Pence’s speech was the latest attempt by a Trump administration official to put the president’s “America First” agenda into a coherent policy plan.
        European leaders are troubled by Trump’s rhetoric, which they say is erratic and disruptive, citing his decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as undermining an arms control agreement that prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
        But Pence — who last week accused Britain, Germany and France of undermining U.S. sanctions on Iran — repeated his demand for European powers to withdraw from the deal.
        “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal,” he said, and later pressed Merkel over the issue in bilateral talks.
        He also reiterated to her Washington’s opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea.    “We cannot strengthen the West by becoming dependent on the East,” Pence said.
        Merkel, who made a robust defense of Germany’s foreign trade relations and ties with Russia during her speech, said later it was unreasonable to assume that Russia would be an unreliable energy supplier.
        Speaking before Pence, Merkel questioned whether the U.S. decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and withdrawal from Syria was the best way to tackle Tehran in the region.
        During a question-and-answer session, she added that it would be wrong to exclude Russia politically, but Pence said Washington was “holding Russia accountable” for its 2014 seizure of Ukraine and what the West says are efforts to destabilize it through cyber attacks, disinformation and covert operations.
        “Geostrategically, Europe can’t have an interest in cutting off all relations with Russia,” Merkel said.
        Pence, who used his trip to Europe to push Trump’s policy of favoring sovereign states as opposed to alliances and blocs, took aim at the EU over Venezuela’s political crisis.
        “Today we call on the European Union to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela,” he said, calling President Nicolas Maduro a dictator who must step down.
        In his roving address, Pence also stepped up U.S. pressure on Chinese telecoms gear companies such as Huawei Technologies Co, urging allies to avoid the firms and saying Chinese law requires them to give Beijing access to networks and data.
        China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi rejected Pence’s comments.    “Chinese law doesn’t require companies to install back doors to collect intelligence,” Yang told the conference.
        Yang, one of the architects of Chinese foreign policy, echoed Merkel’s vision, saying the world should “pull together” to address global challenges, while former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden got a standing ovation for a speech in which he said that after Trump, close traditional U.S.-EU would resume.    “America will be back,” he said.
    (Additional reporting by John Irish and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Helen Popper)

    2/16/2019 French police fire tear gas as latest ‘yellow vest’ protests turn violent
    A French riot police officer holds a LDB-40 flashball (non-lethal rubber bullet gun) during a
    demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
        PARIS (Reuters) – French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who threw projectiles and set bins on fire in Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux on Saturday, as the 14th straight weekend of “yellow vest” protests took a violent turn in the afternoon.
        In Rouen in the north, four people were injured after a driver tried to force his way through a crowd of protesters, authorities said.
        Demonstrators gathered peacefully earlier in the day at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a flashpoint of clashes with the police in the early days of the protests, before marching toward the Eiffel Tower.
        Later in the afternoon, police and hooded protesters clashed at the Esplanade des Invalides in central Paris where the march was expected to end, forcing some into adjoining streets where some skirmishes were reported.
        In Bordeaux and Lyon, police also fired tear gas and charged, to disperse projectile-throwing demonstrators after bins were set on fire and properties destroyed.
        Protesters tried to block a depot operated by online retail giant Amazon and some threw stones at police in Toulouse in the south, BFM Television reported.
        A poll this week showed dwindling support for the “yellow vests” demonstrations, named for motorists’ high-visibility jackets, which began in November over fuel taxes and morphed into a more general revolt against politicians and a government they see as out of touch.
        More than half of those surveyed said they wanted the occasionally violent protests to end.
        But some at Saturday’s protests said they were part of a humanist movement aimed at improving the lives of everyone in the country.
        “I can understand that some people have had enough, but we’re not doing this just for us,” said Madeleine, a 33-year old unemployed protester.    “It’s a very humanist movement and we’re doing this for everyone. So if right now they’re fed up, then too bad for them.”
        There has been infighting between leaders of the grassroots movement, although some have outlined plans to extend the weekly protests to Sunday.
        The number of protesters have fallen from highs of over 300,000 nationwide in November to over 51,000 last week, according to government estimates.
        French interior ministry said around 41,500 protesters took part in demonstrations across the country, compared with 51,400 including 4,000 in the capital, compared with 5,000 in Paris last week.
    (Reporting by Bate Felix, Simon Carraud, Yonathan Van der Voort and Ardee Napolitanoin Paris, Catherine Lagrange in Lyon and Claude Canellas in Bordeaux; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

    2/16/2019 Seeking independence ‘is not a crime,’ Barcelona protesters say
    People take part during a rally of Catalan separatist organizations to demonstrate in
    Barcelona against the trial of Catalan leaders and call for self-determination rights in Barcelona, Spain, February 16, 2019.
    Banner reads "Self-determination is not a crime". REUTERS/Juan Medina
        BARCELONA (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people waving pro-independence flags and holding pictures of jailed     Catalan separatist leaders took to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday to call for self-determination for the northeastern Spanish region.
        Chanting “Freedom!” and “Independence!,” around 200,000 people, according to local police, took part in the peaceful march at a time when the region’s divisive independence drive is back in the spotlight.
        The trial of 12 separatist leaders, nine of whom have been jailed since late 2017 or early 2018, started this week in Madrid.    They are being tried for their role in a referendum and an independence declaration deemed illegal by Spanish courts.
        “I came here today because there are people, with kids, that have been jailed for a long time.    It’s unfair because we all voted, so we should all be in jail,” said Josefina Soler, a 70-year-old retiree who voted in the banned 2017 referendum and wants Spain to allow a new vote.
        Spain’s public prosecutor is seeking prison terms of up to 25 years on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for their role in Catalonia’s failed 2017 break away from Spain.
        “It is a shame to see how they judge in Madrid our legitimate representatives with all the impunity of the world,” said Santi Margalef, a 61-year-old farmer who took part in the march, where many held banners that read “Self-determination is not a crime.”
        Catalan regional president Quim Torra and the Catalan parliament’s chairman Roger Torrent took part in the march.     In a further sign of Catalonia’s influence in issues affecting the whole country, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called an early election on Friday after Catalan pro-independence parties joined opposition parties in defeating his 2019 budget bill.
    (Reporting by Joan Faus; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Hugh Lawson)

    2/17/2019 U.S. President Trump receives update on China trade talks by Steve Holland
    FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump heads back to the Oval Office after declaring a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border
    during remarks about border security in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
        PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump received an update on trade talks with China on Saturday at his Florida retreat after discussions in Beijing saw progress ahead of a March 1 deadline for reaching a deal.
        Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago club, was briefed in person by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and trade expert Peter Navarro, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic adviser Larry Kudlow and other aides joined by phone.
        The White House offered no additional detail.
        Both the United States and China reported progress in five days of negotiations in Beijing this week but the White House said much work remains to be done to force changes in Chinese trade behavior.
        Shortly after the meeting with his trade team, Trump said on Twitter the talks in Beijing were “very productive.”
        At a White House press conference on Friday, he said the talks with China were “very complicated” and that he might extend the March 1 deadline and keep tariffs on Chinese goods from rising.
        U.S. duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent if no deal is reached by March 1 to address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.
        China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator, Liu He, and Lighthizer are to lead the next round of talks this coming week in Washington.
    . (Reporting by Steve Holland in Palm Beach, Florida; Editing by Michelle Price and Bill Trott)

    2/17/2019 How state of emergency will fund wall by John Fritze and David Jackson, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to pay for his long-promised and controversial border wall.
        The national emergency and other measures will free up $8 billion – far more than the $5.7 billion he initially demanded – to free up funding for 234 miles of bollard wall, the White House said.    It’s a move that is almost guaranteed to draw the White House into a lengthy legal battle over the president’s ability to use the tool for that purpose.
        So where will the White House find that money?
    Military construction
        Trump will attempt to access $3.6billion in military construction money.
        Unlike other portions of the plan, the president must declare a national emergency to access this account, which has long been rumored to be under consideration.    The money is used for military bases and other projects.    President George W. Bush tapped into this same account after he declared a national emergency following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
        White House officials said they did not yet know which military constructions might be cancelled or delayed by the move.
        Trump will dip into about $600 million in asset forfeiture funds at Department of Treasury.    This funding has been controversial on both sides of the aisle because it comes from government seizures of property.
    Drug interdiction
        Current law gives the president power to rely on the Department of Defense for drug interdiction in certain cases, even without a national emergency.    The law says the Pentagon can assist in that effort through the building of fences and other measures.    The White House believes it can draw about $2.5 billion through this provision.
        White House officials did not say where that money will come from.
        Congressional funding Part of Trump’s package includes the $1.375 billion that Congress approved on a bipartisan basis for border barriers late Thursday night.
        That measure, which will also avert another government shutdown, limits Trump to spending the money only on previously approved barrier designs, including the “bollard wall” design that was also used by the Obama administration.
    President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday in order to build a wall on the southern border. EVAN VUCCI/AP

    2/17/2019 Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum by Robin Emmott and John Irish
    U.S. President Donald Trump heads back to the Oval Office after declaring a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border during
    remarks about border security in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
        MUNICH (Reuters) – In 2009, then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden came to Munich to “press the reset button” with Russia.    A decade later he came again to offer the world better relations, this time with his own country.
        Promising that “America will be back” once Donald Trump leaves office, Biden won a standing ovation at the Munich Security Conference from delegates who find the president’s brusque foreign policy stance hard to like.
        But their elation also exposed the weakened state of Western diplomacy in the face of Trump’s assertiveness, according to European diplomats and politicians who were present.
        Biden’s successor, Mike Pence, was met with silence at a reception in the palatial Bavarian parliament on Friday evening after he delivered his signature line: “I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump.”
        His four-day trip to Europe succeeded only in deepening divisions with traditional allies over questions such as Iran and Venezuela and offered little hope in how to deal with threats ranging from nuclear arms to climate change, diplomats and officials said.
        Misgivings about Washington’s role in the world are being felt by ordinary people as well as foreign policy specialists.    In Germany and France, half the population see U.S. power as a threat, up sharply from 2013 and a view shared by 37 percent of Britons, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said in a report before the Munich foreign policy gathering.
        Asked about European anxiety over Trump’s leadership style, a senior U.S. official on Pence’s Air Force Two plane said the vice president’s Munich conference speech on Saturday at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof would “help give them a different perspective.”
        But if the Europeans did not like the “America First” message, there was no concerted response to it.    German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on her own after a last-minute cancellation by French President Emmanuel Macron.
        That caused some to lament the failure of the West to uphold the rules-based international order that Washington itself championed in the 70 years that preceded the arrival of Trump in the White House.
        “The tit-for-tat logic is unfortunately prevailing … I think that takes us back to the question of enlightened leadership,” said Thomas Greminger, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a security and human rights watchdog.
        “We need leaders again who do not believe exclusively in short-termism,” he told Reuters.
        It fell to China to aid Merkel in her defense of the post-World War Two order, as the country’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, spoke in flawless English for over 20 minutes about the virtues of open trade and global cooperation.
        Pence’s message was, in fact, that the pillars of U.S. foreign policy were being rebuilt on a different foundation: isolating Iran, containing China, bringing American troops home and requiring European powers to fall into line.
        After using a speech in Warsaw on Thursday to accuse Britain, France and Germany of trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on Iran, Pence called in Munich for the European Union to recognize Venezuelan congressional leader Juan Guaido as president over Nicolas Maduro, whom he called a dictator.
        That drew an angry response from Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who said the European Union could acknowledge Guaido as interim president until new elections, in line with the Venezuelan constitution.
        French foreign minister Jean-Yves LeDrian said he was mystified by U.S. policy on Syria after Trump’s decision to withdraw troops because it would only benefit Iran, which Washington wants to be tough on.
        European diplomats and officials also took issue with Pence’s insistence that EU governments stay away from Chinese telecoms companies as they build the latest generation of mobile networks, preferring first to have an internal discussion about the potential risks and U.S. claims of Chinese espionage.
        “U.S. pressure has a tendency to make us do the opposite.    U.S. pressure is counterproductive.    It’s best that they don’t try and pressure us,” a senior French diplomat said.
        Whatever the threats, officials seemed to be mainly talking past each other.
        Kumi Naidoo, global head of Amnesty International, said security was often defined too narrowly, failing to address the wider dangers of climate change.
        “The narrative here at the Munich Security Conference is broken.    They are talking about the right topics but in the wrong language.    The mentality here is that security is only a national issue,” Naidoo told Reuters.
        Leaving for Washington, Pence was unfazed, telling reporters his trip had been very successful.    “We’re advancing the interests of the free world, and we’ve made great progress.”
    (Additional reporting by Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood)
    [If you look at which countries in the EU that are complaining about the U.S. policies they are mostly the Socialist.].

    2/17/2019 Germany’s SPD climbs in polls after welfare rethink
    FILE PHOTO: German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Andrea Nahles delivers a statement following
    the Hesse state election, in Berlin, Germany, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo
        BERLIN (Reuters) – Support for Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) has hit its highest level in almost six months, a poll showed on Sunday, a week after the center-left party outlined new welfare plans aimed at winning back working class voters.
        Ahead of European elections in May and four regional votes this year, the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper put support for the SPD, which shares power with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, on 19 percent, up 2 points from a week ago.     That was the highest level since the start of September and put them in second place for the first time since October, above the environmentalist Greens who dropped 2 points to 15 percent.
        Merkel’s conservative bloc was unchanged on 30 percent.    The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) was also unchanged, at 13 percent.
        The poll offers a rare sign of hope for the SPD after it in 2017 suffered its worst federal election performance since 1947.    It subsequently lost even more ground largely because it agreed to share power again with Merkel, say experts.
        It hit a low of 14 percent in an Emnid poll in November.
        In an effort to win back traditional supporters angry about compromises made with the conservatives in government, the SPD last week unveiled plans to make unemployment benefits and pensions more generous.
    (Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
    [I rest my case as another Socialist party is promising pie in the sky again.].

    2/17/2019 French court to investigate anti-Semitic insults during protest
    FILE PHOTO: Protesters clash with French riot police near the Invalides during a demonstration by
    the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo
    (Editor’s note: paragraph 2 contains language that readers may find offensive)
        PARIS (Reuters) – A Paris court said on Sunday it had begun an investigation into anti-Semitic insults hurled at French philosopher and intellectual Alain Finkielkraut on the sidelines of Saturday’s “yellow vests” protest.
        A video on several French media channels showed Finkielkraut being accosted by several protesters, with the words and threats like “dirty Zionists,” “bastard,” “We are in France,” heard aimed at him.
        The “yellow vests” demonstrations, named after the protesters’ high-visibility jackets, began in November over fuel taxes but have morphed into a more general revolt against politicians and a government they see as out of touch.
        Finkielkraut told Le Parisien newspaper that he came across a group of protesters and approached them out of curiosity.    He said he heard some of the insults, including one telling him to throw himself into a canal.    He said he does not plan to file a complaint.
        French President Emmanuel Macron and others from across the political spectrum condemned the attack.
        “The anti-Semitic insults he has been subjected to are the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation.    We will not tolerate them,” Macron said on Twitter.
        The French government said on Tuesday that anti-Semitic acts in France rose 74 percent in 2018 compared with the previous year.    In a separate incident this week, swastikas were sprayed on portraits of the late French politician and holocaust survivor Simone Veil in Paris.
        Fourteen French political parties, including Macron’s ruling La Republique En Marche, plan to hold symbolic gatherings against anti-Semitism across the country on Tuesday.
    (Reporting by Bate Felix. Editing by Jane Merriman)
    [The European Union and its countries are slowly being pushed toward Socialist views and Iwould advise the UK Brexit to get out while they can.].

    2/17/2019 Sen. Coons: McCabe’s Remarks on Removing Pres. Trump From Office Should be Scrutinized by OAN Newsroom
        Democrat Senator Chris Coons addresses remarks by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about removing President Trump from office.
        In a Face The Nation interview on Sunday, Coons said McCabe’s remarks about invoking the 25th amendment are problematic and should be looked in to.
    FILE – In this June 7, 2017, file photo, then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee
    hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
        The Delaware Senator dismissed suggestions made by some Republicans that McCabe’s statements reflect a conspiracy against President Trump.
        This comes after McCabe said the DOJ considered removing the President, deeming him “unfit to serve.”
        Coons defended McCabe, saying his remarks were probably taken out of context.
        Additionally, Coons admitted the alleged abuses of the FISA court by Obama officials should be part of an oversight review of the Mueller probe.

    2/17/2019 Pres. Trump: Dems Intentionally Slowing Down Appointment Confirmation Process by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump says Democrats are intentionally slowing down the appointment confirmation process.
        In a tweet on Sunday, the President claimed Senate Democrats are “slow walking” hundreds of qualified people wanting to enter government.
        Trump tweet: “Democrats in the Senate are still slow walking hundreds of highly qualified people wanting to come into government.    Never been such an abuse in our country’s history.    Mitch should not let Senate go home until all are approved.    We need our Ambassadors and all others NOW!
        This comes as the President is once again considering who he will appoint to replace former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley after State     Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement on Saturday, saying she has taken her name out of consideration for the post.
    [This is just another example of the obstruction of the Democratic controlled Congress is doing everything it can to not do their job of protecting the border or put people in office because they are approved by Trump.].

    2/17/2019 Sen. Rubio Arrives in Colombia to Find Ways to Deliver Int’l Aid into Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
        Senator Marco Rubio arrived in Colombia to advance the delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela.
        In a tweet on Sunday, the Florida Republican said he plans to oversee the arrival of humanitarian shipments to the Venezuelan border.
        He also said the organization of American states and the Colombian government – along with the U.S. – stand together with the people of Venezuela.
        Rubio is set to meet with Colombian and Venezuelan officials to discuss ways to get aid into Venezuela.
        This comes as the Maduro Regime continues to block deliveries of aid out of fear of a military invasion.
        Meanwhile, Venezuela’s self-declared interim President Juan Guaido pledged to bypass the Maduro blockade and get aid into the country.

    2/17/2019 Bill introduced to prevent President Trump from using disaster relief funds for border wall by OAN Newsroom
        A bill has been introduced in congress to prevent President Trump from using disaster relief funds to build the border wall.
        The legislation was proposed by a group senate democrats, including several 2020 presidential contenders.
        If passed, the bill would block the White House from tapping into funds from the Department of Homeland Security, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers.
        This comes as the President signed the compromise deal last week which provides about $1.4-billion to build a border barrier.    He then declared a national emergency to secure more funding for wall construction.
        The White House has yet to respond to this bill.
    [I would expect that one to die in the Senate.].

    2/18/2019 Disgraced ex-congressman released after prison term
        AYER, Mass. – Former Congressman Anthony Weiner has been released from federal prison in Massachusetts.    The New York Democrat, a once-rising star, was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017.    He began a 21-month prison sentence that November at the Federal Medical Center Devens, located about 40 miles west of Boston in Ayer.    The Federal Bureau of Prisons website now shows Weiner in the custody of its Residential Re-entry Management office in Brooklyn, New York.
    [Since liars and child molesters our coming out of the woodwork I expect the next thing from the Democrats is to have Weiner come out with his book accusing Trump of something.].

    2/18/2019 California to sue Trump over border emergency - State attorney general says wall is not needed by William Cummings, USA TODAY
        California’s Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Sunday that he will “definitely and imminently” file a lawsuit against the Trump administration to contest the declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.
        President Donald Trump declared the emergency Friday after signing a funding bill that included less than a quarter of the money he had requested for the construction of a border barrier, which he says is necessary to stop illegal immigration.
        But Democrats like Becerra do not believe conditions at the border constitute an emergency.
        “It’s clear that this isn’t an emergency – it’s clear that in the mind of Donald Trump he needs to do something to try to fulfill a campaign promise,” Becerra said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”    The construction of a border wall has been a central issue for Trump since he first announced he was running for president in 2015.
        “That doesn’t constitute a national emergency that would require us to essentially stand down on all sorts of federal laws and also violate the U.S. Constitution,” said Becerra, a former congressman.
        On Friday, Trump said the emergency declaration and a border wall were needed to combat an “invasion” of migrants across the southern border.    He said open areas on the border allowed the free flow of drugs and dangerous criminals into the U.S.
        By declaring a national emergency, along with other measures and the $1.375billion Congress did approve, Trump will have about $8 billion to spend on border barrier construction – far more than the $5.7 billion he initially demanded.
        White House adviser Stephen Miller, who is considered one of the chief architects of Trump’s immigration policies, pushed back at the idea that the president’s action was unconstitutional in an interview Sunday.
        “Congress in 1976 passed the National Emergency Act and gave the president the authority, as a result of that, to invoke a national emergency in many different circumstances, but among them the use of military construction funds,” Miller said on “Fox News Sunday.”

        The liberal watchdog group Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit Friday in Washington, D.C.    The group argues Trump exceeded his authority and disregarded the separation of powers outlined by the Constitution.    The suit includes three Texas landowners whose property would be seized by the government through eminent domain to build part of the border barrier.
        A second lawsuit was filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.    It argues that the White House did not provide the supporting documents needed to justify the national emergency declaration.
    Contributing: Alan Gomez and Christal Hayes
    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, said that President Donald Trump
    is just trying “to fulfill a campaign promise.” RICH PEDRONCELLI/AP

    2/18/2019 Rep. Jordan: ‘McCabe is untrustworthy and politicized the FBI’ by OAN Newsroom
        Congressman Jim Jordan recently responded to Andrew McCabe’s bombshell “60 Minutes” interview, and reiterated that McCabe is not trustworthy.
        In a series of tweets Sunday, Jordan reminded the American people the former FBI deputy director has lied at least three times to the bureau, and has been referred to for criminal prosecution.
    REMEMBER Andy McCabe:
    -Lied 3 times to the FBI and fired
    -Referred for criminal prosecution
    -Was part of the plot to use the Dossier aagainst the President
    Still zero evidence of Russian collusion. Lots of evidence that Andy McCabe is untrustworthy and politicized the FBI
    .” — Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan)
        This comes after McCabe appeared on CBS and spoke out about investigations launched against President Trump.    He also revealed that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
    FILE – In this June 7, 2017, file photo, then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a
    Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
        Jordan has since called on both McCabe and Rosenstein to testify before Congress.
        “The fact that he’s out there…look’s like he’s spinning stories with the press before he leaves the Justice Department…he’s got time to talk to the press, but he’s doesn’t have time to talk to Congress…we got now the third person who has said that Rod Rosenstein was serious about removing the president from office, which is just crazy, so we need to talk to him,” said Jordan.
        McCabe’s interview has prompted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. to investigate his claims.

    2/18/2019 DNI Dan Coats’ job may be in danger, according to Trump ally by OAN Newsroom
        One of President Trump’s closest allies is suggesting the president may be considering firing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
        In an interview Monday, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said he spent the weekend with the president at Mar-a-Lago and spoke with a number of White House aides on several topics.
        Ruddy said sources told him how disappointed the president was about Coats’ threat assessment of North Korea during a hearing with lawmakers last month.    He said it appears Coats is trying to make his own policy with his intelligence instead of following the president’s diplomacy.
    Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee
    on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
        Ruddy then suggested North Korea may be looking for new leadership ahead of his next summit with Kim Jong Un.
        “He doesn’t tell me whose he’s going to dismiss or not,” stated Ruddy.    “I have talked to various people, not him, that are very close in the White House with the security positions the president is taking, and I think generally there is a concern that on the eve of the North Korea, to have your director of National Intelligence in open hearings under-cutting your position was very bad form.”
        Coats’ report said that North Korea was not giving up their ballistic missile program or its ambitions for a nuclear weapon.
        President Trump has continued to say Pyongyang has ceased its provocative actions, and is complying with the agreement made in Pyongyang last year.

    2/18/2019 President Trump considers EU auto tariffs by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is considering whether to impose stiff auto tariffs on the European Union.    The EU responded by saying it will retaliate if the president does take action.
        “The European Union will stick to its word as long as the U.S. does the same,” said spokesman Margaritis Schinas of the EU Commission.
        The Commerce Department recently gave the White House its report, which recommended whether or not to place tariffs targeting imported vehicles and auto parts.    On Monday, the bloc’s spokesman said the EU is aware of the report, and said it will react in a swift and adequate manner if the U.S. imposes fresh tariffs.
        The president previously said he was considering unleashing 25-percent tariffs on EU auto imports as he looks to negotiate new trade agreement.    He has also questioned whether imported vehicles pose a national security threat.
    President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speak in the Rose Garden in July 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)
        This comes after President Trump and the EU Commission president met in July last year.    At that time, both sides considered the meeting a success.
        “We agreed today, first of all, to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” President Trump stated following the meeting.
        The EU commission spokesman pointed to that meeting as the reason he believes measures will not be taken by the U.S.
        “At the time, we agreed that both the EU and the U.S. would refrain from taking any measures that would go against the spirit and the letter of the joint statement,” stated Schinas.    “President Juncker trusts President Trump’s word.”
        The president has 90 days to decide whether to act upon the recommendations made by the Commerce Department, although the report’s findings are not expected to be released publicly soon.
        EU trade ministers are set to meet at the end of this week, with trade relations with the U.S. expected to be at the top of the agenda.

    2/18/2019 N.M. governor faces public impeachment calls after pulling troops from U.S. border by OAN Newsroom
        New Mexico’s newly sworn-in governor stirs controversy after pulling the state’s National Guard from the southern border.    Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham, 32nd governor of New Mexico, 1st female congressional from 2013 to 2018.

    2/18/2019 Illegal immigrants with connections to Mexican cartel arrested in N.C. by OAN Newsroom
        Six illegal immigrants with ties to one of Mexico’s most dangerous cartels are in custody for allegedly running a massive drug trafficking operation.    The men are accused of transporting thousands of dollars worth of cocaine and methamphetamine to areas between Houston, Texas and Myrtle Beach. South Carolina.
        Authorities say more than 1,800 grams of meth were delivered from a luxury home in Statesville, North Carolina in August and October of last year.    That house allegedly belonged to a high ranking member of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
    Mug shots of six men arrested in South Carolina on drug trafficking charges. They are reportedly connected
    to Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation Cartel. (Photo/mugshots/handout/ U.S. District Court documents)
        According to a human rights group in Mexico, the new generation cartel is the main rival of drug king-pin ‘El Chapo’ and brings violence to areas close to the U.S.-Mexico border.
        Court documents show the men have been living in the country illegally since 2013.
        Four of the suspects were arrested and appeared in a North Carolina courtroom last week.    The other two were arrested in Florence, South Carolina and Cleveland, Ohio.
    [So did they just walk through a port of entry, with a child, or did they walk through the no wall areas?    BUILD THAT WALL TRUMP.].

    2/18/2019 French authorities detain 8.5K yellow vests since protests began in November by OAN Newsroom
        The arrest of yellow vest protesters has continued in France, while the demonstrations enter their 15th week.
        According to the French interior ministry, French authorities have arrested well over 8,000 people since the protests broke out last November.
        Over the past 14-weeks yellow vests have demanded a better economy, an end to mass migration, and a resignation of the Macron cabinet.
    A yellow vest protester shout slogans in front of police cordon during a protest in Paris, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019.
    French yellow vest protesters are marking three months since the kickoff of their anti-government movement. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
        The majority of protesters arrested were placed into detention on the suspicion of violence, vandalism, and civil disobedience.    However, protest leaders have disagreed with most of the charges.
        “Every single weekend protest, you see, the interior minister is only talking about the security aspect — security, security, security, that’s how they try to discredit the movement,” stated Kheops Lara, attorney for a detained yellow vest protester.
        The European parliament has condemned excessive use of force by the French police against protesters.    They have also called for an end to the clashes.

    2/18/2019 Hungarian government says border security impossible without physical barrier by OAN Newsroom
        The Hungarian government said a border wall is highly efficient in bringing down the numbers of illegal migrants into any country.

    2/18/2019 Several states join Calif. lawsuit against emergency declaration by OAN Newsroom
        Numerous states are reportedly planning to join California in its lawsuit against President Trump’s national emergency declaration.    According to Monday reports, New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut and Colorado all intend to sue the Trump administration.
        On Sunday, California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced plans to sue the president over his recent declaration.    He said the state is confident it has the legal standing to challenge the president’s order.
        “It’s become clear that this is not an emergency, not only because no one believes it is, but because Donald Trump himself has said it’s not,” said Becerra.    “But there is enough evidence to show this is not the 9/11 crisis that we faced back in 2001.”
    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California
    will sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border
    Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
        Dozens of emergencies have been declared under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, all without a single successful legal challenge. President Trump declared a national emergency last Friday to collect nearly eight billion dollars for his proposed border wall.    He said the current situation at the U.S. southern border threatens national security and constitutes a national emergency.
    [There they go again spending citizen's money for no reason since the Supreme Court will rule in Trump's favor.].

    2/18/2019 House Speaker Pelosi, congressional delegation meet with Belgium’s prime minister by OAN Newsroom
        House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as she continues her trip through Europe.
        Pelosi and a congressional delegation were received by the prime minister in Brussels Monday, where they spoke about working together in the interest of the Belgian and American people.
        This comes after the House speaker and delegation attended the Munich Security Conference last week.
    US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, fifth center left, and her delegation pose for the media with Belgian Prime Minister
    Charles Michel, center right, prior to their meeting in Brussels, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
        Pelosi spoke on the nation’s commitment to NATO ahead of the meeting with Michel.
        “We are here to demonstrate that we have a very strong delegation here and some who are meeting at the NATO inter-parliamentary meeting right now, and all of this is assigned by our respect of our ally Belgium, our commitment to NATO and the European Union,” she stated.
        The House speaker is also expected to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday.

    2/18/2019 EU’s Juncker expects Trump to refrain from imposing higher tariffs on cars by Michael Nienaber
    U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
    at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
        BERLIN (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has promised European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he will not impose additional import tariffs on European cars for the time being, Juncker was quoted in a published interview as saying on Monday.
        A confidential U.S. Commerce Department report sent to Trump over the weekend is widely expected to clear the way for him to threaten tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported autos and auto parts by designating the imports a national security threat.
        “Trump gave me his word that there won’t be any car tariffs for the time being.    I view this commitment as something you can rely on,” Juncker told the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview.    He did not specify when Trump made the promise.
        Juncker added if Trump imposed tariffs on European cars nonetheless, the EU would react immediately and not feel obliged to stick to its promise to buy more soybeans and liquefied gas from the United States.
        The contents of the U.S. report are expected to remain classified while Trump considers its recommendations, leaving the industry and major car exporters such as Germany, Japan and South Korea in the dark about its consequences.
        Auto industry officials said they expect the report to recommend at least some tariffs so that the administration can use the findings of the inquiry as negotiating leverage during negotiations this year with Japan and the EU.
        A European Commission spokesman said on Monday the EU wanted to improve trade relations with the United States but would react swiftly if Trump decided to hit EU car imports with tariffs.
        “The European Union will stick to its word as long as the U.S. does the same,” spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
        Any U.S. tariffs on European cars would hit Germany’s important automobile industry particularly hard.    The United States are Germany’s most important single export destination after the bloc of EU countries.
        The BDI industry association called on the U.S. administration to provide more clarity and publish the findings of the national security report swiftly.
        “The U.S. Department of Commerce should now publish its report on automobile imports quickly, so as not to further increase business uncertainty for companies,” BDI President Dieter Kempf said on Monday.
        “The import of automobiles is not a threat to U.S. national security, and U.S. President Donald Trump must abide by applicable trade law, and he should refrain from imposing any tariffs or quotas,” Kempf said.
    (Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, Editing by Mark Heinrich, William Maclean)

    2/18/2019 Venezuela to distribute food to poor Colombians amid aid tension
    A general view of a warehouse where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela is stored, at the Tienditas
    cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, in Cucuta, Colombia, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
        CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s government will distribute food to poor residents of the Colombian border city of Cucuta this weekend, the Information Minister said on Monday, an effort that would parallel opposition plans to bring in humanitarian aid.
        Opposition activists have vowed to bring in food and aid provided in part by the United States via neighboring countries on Saturday, despite President Nicolas Maduro’s refusal to accept assistance.    Millions face hunger and malnutrition amid severe food shortages in the hyperinflationary country.
        “We are going to take more than 20,000 boxes of (food) to the brothers and sisters of Cucuta to help with the situation of extreme need facing the boys and girls of Cucuta,” Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in televised statements.
        He did not explicitly say the food would be distributed in Cucuta.
        Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who last month invoked articles of the constitution to declare himself president, has launched a nationwide campaign to bring food and medicine into the country by land and sea on Saturday.
        Guaido described Rodriguez’s statements as “cynical.”
        “This does not in the slightest change our plan to generate pressure, to ensure the arrival of the aid,” he said at a news briefing.
        “If it doesn’t enter on the twenty-third, it will enter on the twenty-fourth, it will enter on the twenty-fifth” of February, he said.
        U.S. President Donald Trump will say in a speech on Monday that Venezuela’s military officials should “work toward democracy” or risk losing everything they have.
    (This story has been refiled to remove extraneous letter in Maduro’s name in second paragraph.)
    (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

    2/18/2019 Trump warns Venezuela military they are risking their lives and future
    U.S. President Donald Trump pauses speaks about the crisis in Venezuela during a visit to
    Florida International University in Miami, Florida, U.S., February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
        MIAMI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who are helping President Nicolas Maduro to stay in power that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country.
        Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out.    You’ll lose everything.”    He said he wanted a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela but that all options remained open.
    (Reporting By Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Dan Grebler)

    2/18/2019 ‘Wake up’, Macron will tell Europe in major pre-Brexit speech: sources by Michel Rose
    FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France,
    February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
        PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron will describe Brexit as a wake-up call in a speech in coming weeks in which he will outline how Europe must be more assertive in the face of rival world powers, sources close to Macron said.
        His words are intended as a “warning shot” for a continent unable to project power and defend itself, said aides who described the speech as Macron’s most important since he spoke at the Sorbonne University in Paris in September 2017 urging fundamental reform of the European Union.
        “This is a critical time,” a source close to Macron told Reuters.    “If we Europeans don’t want to have other Brexits and become trapped in a naive defense of status quo, we have to wake up.”
        Macron’s speech coincides with rising tensions in the West, which has been shaken by U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies and Britain’s departure from the EU.    A more assertive China and Russia also pose major challenges.
        Although Macron will use Britain’s planned departure from the EU on March 29 as the main impetus for his speech, the aim is not to offer an initiative to unblock the negotiating stalemate between London and Brussels, the source said.
        Macron’s office said on Monday the speech will be at end of February or early March, although the exact date and location had not yet been fixed.
        “He won’t comment on the negotiation, or offer some kind of ‘Macron plan’ to fix the problem.    The idea is to draw the lessons from Brexit,” the source said.
        In Macron’s view, Brexit is part of the same phenomenon that brought Trump to power and sparked the “yellow vest” movement in France: a fear of losing out from globalization, territorial inequalities and rising contempt for the establishment.
        The French leader will focus on championing a “Europe that protects” in the May 26 European election and seek to convince voters with plans aimed at reforming Europe’s trade, competition, digital and climate policies.
        The speech will also seek to convince his European counterparts, who have watered down many of his Sorbonne proposals since 2017, to start thinking of the EU as a tougher geopolitical player in a ruthless world.
        “The EU has done the internal regulation rather well, built a nice, peaceful area, with benign trade and regulated competition.    But Europe hasn’t understood how to carry itself in a brutal world,” the source said.
    (Writing by Michel Rose; additional reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Dan Grebler)

    2/18/219 Oil gains as investors grow optimistic over OPEC output deal by Amanda Cooper
    FILE PHOTO - A pumpjack is seen at the Sinopec-operated Shengli oil field in
    Dongying, Shandong province, China January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu
        LONDON (Reuters) – Oil rose for a fifth day on Monday, on track for its strongest first quarter in eight years, thanks to a growing belief among investors that OPEC’s supply cuts will prevent a build-up in unused fuel, though concern over China’s economy tempered gains.
        Brent futures were last up 16 cents at $66.41 a barrel by 1850 GMT, having touched a 2019 high of $66.83 earlier in the day, while U.S. futures rose 47 cents to $56.04 a barrel.
        Oil has risen nearly 25 percent so far this year and is on course for its strongest first-quarter performance since 2011, thanks largely to a commitment by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies to cut output.
        “Our numbers … do tell us that we are looking at the tightest H1 crude balance in many years and, as such, a certain degree of price support does simply make sense for the time being,” consultancy JBC Energy said in a note.
        Refiners around the world are also having to pay more to secure supplies of the medium, or heavy, sour crudes produced by Iran and Venezuela, both of which are under U.S. sanctions.
    GRAPHIC: U.S. oil rig count and crude production levels –
        The broader financial markets eased a little after data showing a drop in Chinese car sales in January raised concerns about the world’s second-largest economy.
        Some of this weakness rubbed off on the oil market, but analysts said the overall trend in crude prices remained convincingly upwards for now.
        “There are lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that could have a profound impact on oil prices; just think of the unpredictable Donald Trump, Brexit, trade talks or an eventual pick-up in Libyan and/or Venezuelan production,” said PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga.
        “Latest available data, however, point in the direction of a tightening market.    It is not recommended to swim against the current and presently the ‘oil’ river is flowing north.”
        Some analysts said the continued rise in U.S. oil production could act as a drag on the current rally.
        U.S. energy companies last week increased the number of oil rigs looking for new supply by three to a total of 857, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in a report last Friday.
        “We view the current price rise as exaggerated and see growing correction potential,” Commerzbank said in a note.    “The fact that oil production in the U.S. is currently rising significantly more sharply than previously expected is being completely ignored at present.”
    (Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)

    2/19/2019 President Trump to sign Space Force directive by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is seeking to fulfill his ‘America first’ plan as he works to establish the sixth branch of the armed forces.    After meeting with several members of his cabinet Tuesday, the president will sign ‘Space Policy Directive Four,’ which will lay the foundation for the so-called Space Force.
        According to officials, the new department will not be fully independent at first, but will remain part of the Air Force.    The directive will reportedly cost less than $100 million, and will help counter threats in space from foreign countries.    Once signed, the directive will be sent to Congress for final approval.
    President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. (Photo/Evan Vucci/AP)
        President Trump has directed the Pentagon to begin creating the Space Force to pave the way for American dominance in space.
        “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” stated the president.
        A report by Defense One said the new Space Force will include four components.    Three do not require congressional approval, and consists of a combatant command for space, a joint agency that will purchase military satellites and a new war fighting community.”    The fourth part requires congressional action, and includes a new branch of military.    It will provide services and support, including financial management and facilities construction.
        President Trump said he wants to make sure America is ahead of China and Russia in the new space race.    He’s also planning America’s return to the Moon and a mission to Mars.
        “This time we will do more than plant our flag and leave our footprints, we will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy, and build the foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, which is actually going to happen very quickly,” explained the president.
        The Pentagon said the Department of Defense is establishing the new military branch to protect our economy, to boost national security, and to support coalition forces.

    2/19/2019 Democrat lawmakers open probe into NRA’s ties with Russia by OAN Newsroom
        Democrat lawmakers are launching a new probe into ties between individuals from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Russia.
        Congressmen Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice raised concerns the NRA possibly attempted to hide its formal involvement in a 2015 trip to Moscow.
        While the CEO was reportedly opposed to the trip, internal emails and social media posts show the organization was still planning it.
    Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., speaks in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
        The lawmakers suggested the discrepancy may be an intention to deceive the public.    They requested a full report of any accounts between NRA officials and Russia-linked individuals.
        The Democrats also questioned whether the Kremlin may have used the NRA to funnel money into the U.S. election system.
    [Whats up, were they just planning or did they do it.    Was there a crime committed?].

    2/19/2019 Venezuela opposition must pass over ‘our dead bodies’ to oust Maduro: minister
    Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez attends a news conference in
    Caracas, Venezuela, February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
        CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Tuesday the country’s opposition would have to pass over “our dead bodies” to oust President Nicolas Maduro and impose a new government.
        “Those that attempt to be president here in Venezuela … will have to pass over our dead bodies,” he said, in comments broadcast on state TV.    Padrino was referring to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as illegitimate.
    (Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Editing by Angus Berwick)
    [The Defense Minister may have his body walked over by his own troops if they realize that they can be free of your dictator.].

    2/19/2019 Sen. Bernie Sanders launches presidential bid by OAN Newsroom
        Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is officially launching a 2020 presidential bid. Sanders reportedly revealed the decision during an interview on Vermont Public Radio Tuesday.    This comes after recent reports said that he’s already interviewed people for top staff positions in his campaign.    Speculation has previously brewed about the senator’s potential run for office in 2020 since his last failed run in 2016.
        Sanders sat for an interview Tuesday and addressed his position as a socialist.
        “When I talked about Democratic socialism, somebody wants to call me a radical?” he questioned. “Okay, here it is — I believe that people are inherently entitled to health care, I believe people are entitled to get the best education they can, I believe that people are entitled to live in a clean environment, people are entitled to have decent paying jobs, that’s what I believe.”
        Sanders is joining an already lengthy list of Democrat candidates seeking the presidency.
    FILE – In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks about his new book, ‘Where We Go From Here: Two Years in
    the Resistance’, at a George Washington University/Politics and Prose event in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign
    reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
        Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is blasting the far-left lawmaker.    In a statement Tuesday, campaign National Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism.
        Despite socialism’s apparent rise, McEnany asserted the American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates, government run health care and coddling dictators like those in Venezuela.    She then added, only President Trump will keep America prosperous and safe.
        The Republican National Committee (RNC) also weighed in on Sanders’ run, saying the Vermont senator will never be president.    Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel made the comment on Twitter, following his announcement.
        McDaniel called Sanders a socialist and said his radical agenda would cost trillions, more than double taxes, and give government control of nearly every aspect of our lives.    She also said President Trump is right to say, “America will never be a socialist country.”
    [Well now we have the original Daddy of Democrat Socialist in the race who lost to Hillary to join the other six young sibling Socialist all arguing who is the worst Socialist to hope they can pull the wool over American's eyes the best.].

    2/19/2019 Judge overseeing Roger Stone trial calls hearing to decide if gag order was breached by OAN Newsroom
        Roger Stone will appear in court on Thursday after he posted a controversial photo online of the judge overseeing his case.
        Judge Amy Berman Jackson has called for a hearing to determine if Stone violated his gag order or the conditions of his release, which she warned could be modified or revoked.
    FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2019 file photo, former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump,
    Roger Stone, leaves federal court in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
        On Monday, Stone posted and immediately deleted an Instagram photo, which showed Judge Jackson next to cross hairs mimicking the scope of a rifle.
        In a letter sent to the court, Stone apologized for the post calling it improper and said he meant no disrespect.
        He was placed under a gag order last week to prevent him from speaking in and around the court house.
        Stone was indicted by the special counsel on a number of charges, including lying to Congress.

    2/19/2019 House Speaker Pelosi emphasizes support for NATO, EU after talks with European officials by OAN Newsroom
        House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on supporting NATO and the EU after her meetings with top European officials.
        During a press briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, she said she and the delegation were in Europe “reaffirming” the nation’s commitment to the Transatlantic Alliance, NATO and respect for the EU.
        The madame speaker also said she doesn’t think their is any difference between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of the countries relationship with NATO.
    United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, center, introduces US Senator, New Jersey, Bob Menendez to European Union
    foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, right, prior to a meeting in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)
        Pelosi stressed the U.S. needs to sustain ties with the organization amid ongoing challenges, such as cyber security and the war against terrorism.
        “Now more than ever, we need NATO as we go forward, because the challenges are more complicated than a bipolar relationship with the Soviet Union,” she stated.    “It’s now much more diverse and therefore the friendships that we have much more important.”
        Pelosi has recently met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.
    [She will go overseas and to Puerto Rico for exposure and parties, but will not go to the southern border to see the immigration problems, instead she assumes she knows what she is talking about.].

    2/19/2019 Trump wants North Korea to denuclearize, but is in no hurry by Jeff Mason and Josh Smith
    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony of "Space Policy Directive 4," to establish a Space Force
    as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young
        WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants North Korea to end its nuclear program, but he is in no rush and has no pressing time schedule for Pyongyang to ultimately denuclearize.
        Trump is meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the second time on Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam.
        Speaking to reporters at a White House event, Trump said that if North Korea does not conduct any nuclear tests, then he is in no rush to achieve one of his leading foreign policy goals – convincing the country to abandon nuclear weapons.    Trump said sanctions against the Asian nation would remain in place in the meantime and noted Pyongyang has not conducted nuclear or rocket tests recently.
        Earlier on Tuesday Trump spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in about the summit and he plans to talk to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday.
        Moon told Trump in the call that his country is willing to open economic engagement with North Korea as a “concession” if it will hasten Pyongyang’s denuclearization, Moon’s office said.
        Since Trump and Kim first met in June last year, there has been little progress in talks between the two countries, while Moon and Kim have forged ahead with multiple summits of their own, as well as promises of inter-Korean cooperation on everything from reducing border tensions to launching a joint bid for the 2032 Olympics.
        But plans for economic projects, such as allowing South Korean tourists to visit the North, have been on hold while the United States keeps its sanctions in place.
        Moon told Trump he was ready to undertake anything from reconnecting rail and road links between the two Koreas to other inter-Korean economic cooperation to help on denuclearization, according to a statement from Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.
        “We’re determined to take up that role if President Trump asks, if that’s the way to lessen the U.S. burden,” Moon said.
        Moon said it was Trump’s “leadership and firm resolve” that had brought difficult negotiations with North Korea thus far, according to the statement.
        He also said Trump is “overcoming diplomatic failures over the past 25 years that did not accomplish any outcome through negotiations but only strengthened North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities.”
        Moon’s praise echoes Trump’s own assessment of his efforts.    He recently said he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
    (Writing by David Alexander and Lisa Lambert; editing by Bill Berkrot and James Dalgleish)

    2/19/2019 President Trump: Lawsuit against National Emergency is led by open border Democrats by OAN Newsroom
        “It’s all a lie.    They say walls don’t work.    Walls work 100-percent.” — President Donald Trump.
        President Trump has long blasted Democrats over border security.    He’s doubling down on his criticism against the left, following a lawsuit filed by 16 states opposing his national emergency declaration at the southern border.
        The suit, filed Monday, includes Minnesota, Hawaii, Colorado, California, New York, and Connecticut.    The states are claiming they are trying to protect their residents, natural resources, and economic interests.
        Connecticut’s attorney general — William Tong — claimed the president is breaking the law.
        “It’s pretty clear that he’s perverting the National Emergencies Act to do something which Congress forbid him from doing, which is building a wall,” stated Tong.
        However, the 1976 National Emergencies Act gives presidents sweeping authority to declare an “immigration emergency” to deal with an influx of aliens.
    President Donald Trump speaks during a signing event for “Space Policy Directive 4” in
    the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
        The president responded in a series of tweets Tuesday, saying “as predicted” the suit is being led “mostly by open border Democrats and the radical left.”
        Trump tweet: “As I predicted, 16 states, led mostly by Open Border Democrats and the Radical Left, have filed a lawsuit in, of course, the 9th Circuit! California, the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control Fast Train, with no hope of completion, seems in charge!.”
        The president has been highly critical of the Ninth Circuit Court, saying it makes a lot of bad decisions and has interfered with efforts to protect our borders.
        “This Ninth Circuit, everybody knows it, it’s totally out of control, ” said President Trump.    “What they’re doing, what they’re saying — their opinions are very unfair to our law enforcement, they’re very unfair to our military, and they’re very unfair, most importantly to the people of our country because I’m keeping them safe.”
        The president specifically took aim at California in his tweets, saying the suit is being led by a state that has wasted billions on its out of control fast train project.    He went on to say California’s failed fast train project is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed wall.
        Trump tweet: “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!
    [Now California failure Gov. Gavin Newsom is refusing to return the 3.5 billion loaned to that government contract said if they do not build the Fast Train the money must be returned.    So not only is he winning the failure award, he is a thief and cheater to the government.    He is not the kind of governor I would want to run my state.].

    2/19/2019 Trump administration launches global push to decriminalize homosexuality by OAN Newsroom
        The Trump administration is launching an effort to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe.
        In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said homosexuality is still outlawed in roughly 70 countries.    He went on to stress that certain regimes persecute sexual relations, conduct, or demeanor deemed as homosexual.
        Uganda, Russia, and Nigeria have passed anti-gay laws over the past few years, while Islamic regimes have persecuted homosexuality for decades.
    FILE – In this July 27, 2018, file photo, people protest in front of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo
    against the party lawmaker Mio Sugita. Sugita was condemned after saying in a magazine that the government shouldn’t use tax money
    for the rights of LGBTQ individuals because they are “not productive.” Thirteen same-sex couples are filing Japan’s first lawsuits
    challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage on
    Valentine Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 in Tokyo. (Iori Sagisawa/Kyodo News via AP, File)
        Gay rights activists have said attitudes toward homosexuality have gotten worse in recent years.
        “I think just the LGBTQ community as a whole has been marginalized all the time.    So, a gay child also growing up, same way, absorbs the fact that this is wrong, you know.    So it’s really unfortunate that even though it’s not even that you’re being taught that, but you’re just, you absorb it by the community, and it begins with the family and then extends out to the community.” — Shelly Chopra Dhar, film director – India.
        Grenel said the Trump administration’s new initiative falls in line with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
    [This is the first issue that I have disagree with the Trump administration, whether it is a crime or not a crime, in the eyes of God, it is sinful and all should be aware that Sodomy is generally anal or oral sex between people or sexual activity between a person and a non-human animal, but it may also mean any non-procreative sexual activity. Originally, the term sodomy, which is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, was commonly restricted to anal sex.    Decriminalize homosexuality does not make it right to do as it is a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature.
        God will judge them and it is not my place to punish them

    2/20/2019 Oil up $0.50 to $56.03, DOW up 8 to 25,891

    2/20/2019 President signs order to launch Space Force - Trump defies skeptics of new military branch by Ledyard King, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – The Space Force moved closer to liftoff Tuesday after President Donald Trump signed a directive to create another branch of the military whose mission would be to monitor the heavens and protect the USA from attack.
        During a signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Trump said he views the new military branch as part of his responsibility to protect the nation.
        “I was put here for security, whether it’s Space Force, which I’m doing today, or whether it’s borders,” the president said.
        Money for the program will be included in the administration’s proposed budget for 2020 that will come out next month, the White House said Tuesday morning.    That seed money is likely to be less than $100 million.
        Eventually, an undersecretary of defense for space would be named, and the program – which would start as a division of the U.S. Air Force – would become the sixth armed service, joining the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.
        The idea has been a hard sell in Congress, where concerns about cost and redundancy stymied efforts to create another military branch.
        The Air Force, which oversees the Space Command, also initially resisted the branch, saying it was unnecessary and bureaucratic.    In September, a memo from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson placed the five-year cost of establishing the new branch at about $13 billion.
        The White House expects the cost to be far less.    The Pentagon would consolidate functions “to minimize duplication of effort and eliminate bureaucratic inefficiencies,” Trump’s directive says.
        The branch would include uniformed and civilian workers supporting space operations for the military, the White House said.
        The creation of a Space Force would happen over several phases and could take years to complete.    But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a political ally of Trump, wasted little time in trying to capitalize on the announcement.
        “Today, I am formally sending a request to @realDonaldTrump to place the headquarters for the Space Force Combatant Command here in Florida @NASAKennedy in Cape Canaveral,” DeSantis tweeted.    “This is part of Florida’s history and is a logical fit for our state.”
        Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made a similar pitch in December.
        The administration is doing what it can now without approval from Congress, which remains divided on the idea.
        Lawmakers ultimately will determine the fate of the proposed force, because they must decide whether to authorize the creation of a military branch and whether to approve money for the plan.
        “We will recognize that space is a new war-fighting domain with the Space Force leading the way,” Trump said in January during a speech at the Pentagon.
        The president said he hoped the United States would never have to use space weapons, but there are “some very bad players out there.    And we’re a good player – but we can be far worse than anybody, if need be.”
        Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe said starting a new military branch is a bad idea.
        “The ‘Space Force’ as a separate military service entity would still compete with all the other defense-related priorities for resources and leadership attention,” said O’Keefe, a professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.    “There’s no reason to believe that space-related programs would fare any better than they do today under the U.S. Air Force recognizance.”
        The National Space Council, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, endorsed previous directives that Trump signed calling for a return to the moon, promoting more commercial activities in space and managing traffic in low-Earth orbit.

    2/20/2019 Russia investigation set to wrap up by next week, AG Barr to decide report release by OAN Newsroom
    In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies during a
    Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
        President Trump has responded to reports that the Mueller probe will be released next week.
        In the Oval Office Wednesday, the president didn’t offer any opinion on the report other than to say it’ll be up to the new attorney general William Barr on whether the findings will be publicly released.
        This comes after reports claimed Barr is set to announce the completion of the special counsel probe as early as next week.
        Barr will then submit a summary of the confidential report to Congress before it’s decided how much will be made public.
        Special counsel regulations don’t require this step, but during recent confirmation hearings Barr promised lawmakers full transparency.
        The Mueller probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia began nearly two-years ago, and cost taxpayers more than $25 million.

    2/20/2019 President Trump refutes NYT report about asking Whitaker to replace Cohen prosecutor by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is refuting claims made in a New York Times report that he asked then-acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to replace the prosecutor in charge of Michael Cohen’s case in New York.
    While in the Oval Office Tuesday, the president denied having made the request to Whitaker to put U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman in charge of the Michael Cohen hush money payments case in the Southern District of New York.
        “There’s a lot of fake news out there — no, I didn’t,” President Trump told reporters.
        According to reports, Berman is a known Trump ally and has recused himself from the Southern District’s investigation.
    President Donald Trump (AP/Photo/Evan Vucci)
        The New York Times report said that Whitaker knew Berman could not unrecuse himself, which allegedly caused the president to grow frustrated that Whitaker could not control the New York probe.    However, the president went on to praise his interim attorney general at the White House, which shows he has a cordial relationship with Whitaker.
        “I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker, I think he’s done a great job, he’s a very, very straight shooter I watched him during the hearing,” said President Trump.    “Some of it I thought he was exceptional, he’s a very fine man and he should be given a lot of thanks by our nation.”
        In a statement from the Justice Department, a spokesperson said, “the White House has not asked Whitaker to interfere in any investigations.”
        Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are now reportedly investigating whether Whitaker committed perjury after he said the president never lashed out at him over conversations he had regarding cases in New York’s Southern District.

    2/20/2019 Rep. Meadows says Democrats won’t accept Mueller report if it finds no collusion by OAN Newsroom
        Republican Representative Mark Meadows is calling out his colleagues on the other side of the aisle for moving the goal posts when it comes to the Mueller investigation.
        The North Carolina lawmaker sent a Tweet Tuesday, telling the American people to listen carefully to what Democrats are saying regarding the Russia probe.    He explained how their messaging is shifting when it comes to Russian collusion.
        Mark Meadows: “Listen to what lead Democrats, including Adam Schiff, are starting to tell you.    They’re now declining to say they'll accept the Mueller report if the report finds no collusion.    Their message is shifting.    The ‘Russian collusion’ narrative is falling apart, and they know it.
    House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
        Meadows said Democrats are declining to say whether they’ll accept the Mueller report in the event it finds no proof of collusion.    He specifically called out House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who has recently questioned the potential findings of Mueller’s report.
        “We may also need to see the evidence behind that report — there may be, for example, evidence of collusion or conspiracy that is clear and convincing, but not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Schiff.    “The American people are entitled to know if there’s evidence of a conspiracy between the president or the president’s campaign, and a foreign adversary.”
        It is still unclear when Mueller’s report will come out.
        Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said he would step down after the report was released.    According to recent reports, Rosenstein plans to resign from his post in mid-March.

    2/20/2019 Yellow Vests protest outside UN against French police violence by OAN Newsroom
        Yellow vest protesters from France gathered outside the United Nation’s office in Switzerland to denounce police violence.
        Hundreds of citizens took the street of Geneva Wednesday to highlight police violence used during the protest, which began nearly three-months ago.
        During the rally, protesters listed out the names of those who have been injured.    Some of them lost their eyes and hands to police weapons, including tear gas and flash balls.
    A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister during a yellow vest protest in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (Photo/Francois Mori/AP)
        The protesters accused the French authorities of using violence to discredit the whole movement.     “France must be held accountable. Today, there are victims who have lost eyes, we have victims who have had their hands torn off, or their feet.    There are victims who have been deafened, who have had their skulls fractured, so we want to call on the French government, and face up to its responsibilities for that.” — Nicolas Mollier, French yellow vest protester.
        The movement began as protests against a fuel tax hike, but has broadened to include a range of concerns about France’s living standards and economic issues.

    2/20/2019 Rep. Omar’s has ties to anti-Israeli group ‘Witness for Peace’ by OAN Newsroom
        More information is surfacing about Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar and her ties to anti-Semitic groups.    Recent reports have examined notes posted to the door of the freshman Democrat.
        One of the notes reads — “keep up the good work” — and was signed by the ‘Witness for Peace’ Colombia team.    The group got its start fighting anti-communism policies under the Reagan administration, specifically in Nicaragua.    However, the group has since taken a hard line stance against Israel, with some board members going as far as calling for the “eradication of Israel.”
    Representative Ilhan Omar, a newly elected Democrat representing Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
        Their note appeared the same week Omar grilled Elliot Abrams, a Jewish-American and the U.S. special representative for Venezuela.
        “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful,” stated the freshman representative.
        Abrams quickly defended himself by calling her comment a blatant attack.
        Additionally, ‘Witness for Peace’ has expressed support for the Maduro regime.    Omar has also sided with the socialist government of Venezuela, and is accusing the Trump administration of leading a coup against the Maduro regime.
    [She belongs to BDS or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as Israel's "obligations under international law," defined as withdrawal from the occupied territories, removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and "respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties."    The campaign is organized and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.    Protests and conferences in support of the campaign have been held in a number of countries.    Supporters of BDS compare the movement with the 20th century anti-apartheid movement and view their actions similar to the boycotts of South Africa during its apartheid era, comparing the situation in Israel to apartheid.    Critics of BDS reject its charge that Israel is an apartheid state, asserting that in Israel (outside of the West Bank) "Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods...there is no imposed segregation."    Critics have also argued that the BDS movement is antisemitic in the form its opposition to Zionism takes, drawing analogies to the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses and accusing it of promoting the delegitimization of Israel.]

    2/20/2019 President Trump backs Covington student suing WAPO for alleged defamation by OAN Newsroom
        A viral encounter between Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann and a Native American protester has prompted the student to sue the Washington Post.
        Lawyers for the teen filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper in Kentucky, and are seeking $250 million in damages.    They are claiming the Washington Post falsely accused him and other students of racist acts as well as instigating a confrontation with Native American protester Nathan Phillips at a Washington, D.C. pro-life rally in January.
        Sandmann said he did nothing wrong.
        “As for as standing there, I had every right to do so,” he stated.    “My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips — I respect him, I’d like to talk to him.”
        The student was quickly criticized after a portion of the video surfaced, and multiple media outlets portrayed him as being disrespectful and antagonizing the man. He was also heavily smeared by celebrities and Democrat politicians.
        When the complete video emerged, it was revealed the students were called racist and homophobic by members of the Black Hebrew Israelites. The full video also showed the Native American protester was the one who approached them.
        Sandmann and several other students were wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats at the time.    The lawsuit is claiming the Washington Post slandered Sandmann, because the paper wanted to advance its bias agenda against President Trump.
        The president has said the students were treated unfairly.    In a tweet Wednesday, he called the Washington Post “fake news,” while urging Sandmann to go get them.
        Trump tweet: “The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.” Covington student suing WAPO.    Go get them Nick.    Fake News!.”
        The Washington Post said it’s reviewing the lawsuit and plans to mount a vigorous defense.

    2/20/2019 Michael Cohen granted surrender date extension by OAN Newsroom
        Michael Cohen’s entry into federal prison is pushed back by two-months after a judge granted his request for a reprieve.    In a decision made Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley gave Cohen a 60-day extension regarding his reporting date.    This means he will now have to report to prison on May 6th rather than March 6th.
    Cohen’s legal team asked the judge for the extension due to his recent surgery and subsequent recovery needs.    The attorneys also said Cohen anticipates being called before three congressional committee’s before the end on the month.
        This comes after Cohen was sentenced to three-years in prison back in December in relation to convictions for several federal crimes.
    FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2018 file photo, Michael Cohen leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York.
    A judge has agreed to postpone the start of Cohen’s prison sentence by two months to May 6. New York Judge William Pauley
    signed off on the delay Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, after Cohen’s lawyer said he needed more time to recover from
    shoulder surgery. They noted prosecutors did not object to the one-time extension. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

    2/20/2019 U.S., Central America launch plan to crack down on people smugglers by Nelson Renteria
    U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen takes part in a news conference after the IV meeting of
    security ministers of the Northern Triangle of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
        SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – The United States and three Central American nations on Wednesday announced an effort to combat trafficking of people to the U.S.-Mexico border, days after U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, citing large-scale unlawful immigration.
        U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen called immigration from the region a “humanitarian crisis” and said the regional security plan with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras would secure the border and improve conditions in the countries.
        The total number of people apprehended crossing illegally into the United States from the southwestern border is sharply down from a decade ago, but more families from Central America, citing poverty and violence, are making the journey, many seeking asylum.
        Trump last week declared the situation at the border a “national emergency” to free up billions of dollars to fund a border wall, a decision that has been challenged in a lawsuit by 16 U.S. states and another by the American Civil Liberties Union.
        In a statement, El Salvador’s government said the new initiative was aimed at attacking the finances, logistics and communication platforms of people-trafficking networks.
        The three Central American countries will seek to harmonize their legislation for tackling such groups and other criminal gangs, the statement said.    Along with the United States, the three countries will increase the use of intelligence-sharing technology.
        It was not immediately clear if the United States would provide additional funding for the new effort.
        Not all migrants heading north from Central America pay people smugglers to help them cross perilous, drug cartel-controlled territory in Mexico or to ensure their passage across the heavily patrolled U.S.-Mexican border.
        Thousands of Central Americans have banded together in so-called caravans this year as a form of protection against the perils that typically stalk migrants headed to the U.S. border.
        “Today I ask everyone to show leadership to stop the formation of the caravans that have brought crime, violence and instability to the region,” Nielsen said.
        While some caravans have been encouraged by activists, others emerged spontaneously, as news spread through neighborhoods about groups forming to head to Mexico and onward to the United States.
        Fueled by attention from Trump, the caravans have attracted widespread media coverage.    The number of people traveling in them, however, is a fraction of the total number of migrants who head for the U.S. border.
    (Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Delphine Schrank; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Peter Cooney)

    2/21/2019 Oil $0.81 to $56.90, DOW up 63 to 25.954

        Gannett, which owns USA TODAY and 109 local media properties in the United States, reported a drop in fourth quarter revenue and earnings despite increases in digital revenue and paid online subscriptions.    Gannett CEO and President Robert J. Dickey said the company will continue strategic cost cutting as print revenue declines but will invest in journalism to lure digital subscribers.
    [I have purchased the E-edition of the Courier-Journal since it went online.    Recently on the start of February when I open up CJ it has some news and they have added a special edition to open for the US Today E-edition, and I have no idea what they are doing it that way.    Some news is only on one or the other, and I wonder if the above information is the reason for this or are they going to combine the two.].

    2/21/2019 President Trump urges American companies to step up efforts to develop 5G technology by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump said American companies must step up their efforts to develop 5G technology or else they will get left behind.
        In a couple of tweets Thursday, the president said he wants 5G or even 6G internet in the U.S. as soon as possible.    He then said there’s no reason the country should be lagging behind on something, which is obviously the future.
        Trump tweet: “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on………
        The president said he wants the U.S. to win through competition and to always be a leader in everything, including the “very exciting world of technology."
        Trump tweet: “….something that is so obviously the future. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!
    President Donald Trump listens during his meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz
    in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    2/21/2019 VP Pence to travel to Colombia to reaffirm support for Venezuela’s Guaido by OAN Newsroom
        The Trump administration is continuing steps to support Venezuelan self proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido.
        Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit Colombia Monday to meet with Latin American leaders, and demand that President Nicolas Maduro step down.    The Office of the Vice President said he will also reaffirm the support for the Venezuelan people and their fight for democracy.
    United States Vice President Mike Pence briefs the media during the Munich Security Conference
    in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
        President Trump recently gave a speech in Miami slamming Maduro by claiming he has ruined the once prosperous country.
        “Socialism has so completely ravaged this great country (Venezuela), that even the world’s largest reserves of oil, are no longer enough to keep the lights on — this will never happen to us,” he stated.
        President Trump has said he prefers a peaceful transfer of power, but assured all options are on the table.

    2/21/2019 High-level trade talks resume in Washington by OAN Newsroom
        High-level trade talks have resumed in Washington, D.C. as the U.S. and China appear to be closer than ever to reaching a trade agreement.    Delegations from both sides are meeting Thursday, with meetings expected to last through Friday.
        The U.S. team is led by trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while the Chinese side is being led by the vice premier.
    FILE – In this Feb. 15, 2019, file photo, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, right, talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer,
    while they line up for a group photo at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. China’s economy czar is going to Washington
    for talks Thursday and Friday aimed at ending a tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
        In what looks to be the most significant progress made yet, negotiators on both sides are reportedly outlining six memorandums that will look to address key structural issues.    That includes forced technology transfer, cyber theft, concerns related to intellectual property, issues related to agriculture, and non-tariffs barriers.
        The spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce — Gao Feng — expressed optimism about the prospects of a deal.
        “The two teams are having in depth communications on relevant economic and trade issues,” he stated.    “Holding such frequent talks, the teams of both sides aim to reach an agreement according to the consensus of the two heads of state.”
        With what appears to be great strides being made, all eyes will be on whether President Trump decides to extend the deadline on when tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will go into effect.    That deadline is set for a week from Friday.    He has not ruled out doing that if he thought a deal would come soon after, which is something that now looks closer than ever.
        It’s expected that President Trump and President Xi Jinping will meet before any deal is finalized.

    2/21/2019 Secretary Pompeo: No sanctions relief for North Korea until nuclear risk reduced by OAN Newsroom
        According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until nuclear risks are “substantially” reduced.
        In an interview Thursday, Secretary Pompeo said denuclearization of North Korea is a long and challenging task. He said although some progress has been achieved, there are tough negotiations up ahead.
    In this Feb. 1, 2019 photo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a
    news conference at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
        This comes after President Trump floated easing the sanctions on Pyongyang if it makes the first step towards denuclearization.
        Pompeo then touted the economic benefits for North Korea if it abandons its nuclear program.
        “Remember the objective, that’s the one that you laid out, is the complete verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula and a brighter future for the North Korean people,” he stated.    “I don’t want to get into the negotiations, what we might give up, what they might give up…the President will go there and these two leaders, I hope, will make a truly historic step forward.”
        Secretary Pompeo also said ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula is a longer-term objective, but denuclearization comes first.

    2/21/2019 AOC raises ethics concerns, may have used PAC money to pay her boyfriend by OAN Newsroom
        Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is facing ethics questions after being accused of secretly using PAC money to fund her campaign.
        A recent report by Medium Corp. is claiming Ocasio-Cortez worked with a political strategy firm, run by her now-chief of staff, leading up to last year’s midterms.     Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show a PAC tied to that firm — called "Brand New Congress” — made payments to the congresswoman’s boyfriend Riley Roberts.    The campaign claimed Roberts was paid for separate work, however, the report suggested he was employed by the campaign at the time.
    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., delivers her inaugural address following her swearing-in ceremony at the Renaissance School
    for Musical Theater and Technology in the Bronx borough of New York on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
        The findings suggest Ocasio-Cortez engaged in the same behavior she has denounced in Congress.
        “Green light for hush money, I can do all sorts of terrible things, it’s totally legal right now for me to pay people off, and that is considered speech, that money is considered speech,” she hypothetically stated.    “So, I used my special interest dark money funded campaign to pay off folks that I need to pay off and get elected, so now I’m elected, now I’m in, I’ve got the power to draft, lobby and shape the laws that govern the United States of America.”
        The report goes on to claim Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff stepped down from the firm after joining the campaign team.
        Meanwhile, a billboard in New York City’s Time square reads — “thanks for nothing AOC.”    The billboard was funded by the non-partisan group Job Creators Network in reaction to congresswoman driving away Amazon’s new headquarters.
        It blasts the Democrat lawmaker for losing the state an estimated 25,000 new jobs, four billion dollars in wages, and an additional $12 billion in lost economic activity.
        The group’s president — Alfredo Ortiz — said this is just a small taste of what harm the congresswoman’s socialist policies would do if implemented at the federal level.    The billboard will be taken down next Wednesday.

    2/21/2019 Actor Jussie Smollett charged over alleged staged attack, turned himself in by OAN Newsroom
        Rumors are swirling regarding the drama series “Empire” as actor Jussie Smollett is suspended after being charged with filing a false police report.    This comes after Smollett turned himself in to Chicago Police to face felony charges in connection with an alleged hate crime attack he appears to have staged.
        According to Variety Magazine, Smollett’s status on “Empire” is under consideration as legal proceedings get underway.    20th Century Fox television declined to comment on these specific reports, but did issue a statement saying Smollett would not be written out of the show.
    FILE – In this Monday, May 14, 2018 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the Fox Networks Group 2018 programming
    presentation after party at Wollman Rink in Central Park in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
        Meanwhile, Cook County officials are charging the actor with felony disorderly conduct for his apparent filing of a false police report regarding a hate crime attack he allegedly staged against himself.
        Smollett previously claimed he was attacked on January 29th by Trump supporters, while walking home from a Subway restaurant. However, later reports indicated he was friendly with the two alleged attackers, who were two Nigerian brothers that allegedly helped plan and stage the incident with them.    They have since agreed to work alongside prosecutors as they investigate the case, and testified before a grand jury for roughly two-and-a-half hours Wednesday before the charge was filed.
        Surveillance footage, also released Wednesday, appears to show the two brothers buying a red hat and ski masks used during the alleged attack.
        Smollett’s lawyers have responded to the charge, saying — like any other citizen — their client must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.    They also said they intend to conduct a thorough investigation and mount an aggressive defense.
    This image provided by the Chicago Police Department and taken from surveillance video
    shows two people of interest in an attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood
    of Chicago, early Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Courtesy of Chicago Police Department via AP)
    [This idiots actions is defifnitely the highest example of the Leftist Democrats push for anti-Trump hate groups, and poor actions by the press to pursue their hatred of Trump, MAGA, and push to cover and abuse anything Republican, and after getting busted for it he still will not accept what the police investigation discovered, so I guess they will become the new group to hate.].

    2/21/2019 Venezuela’s Maduro starts shutting borders to block humanitarian aid by Angus Berwick and Sarah Marsh
    Members of the media wait for Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful
    interim ruler, to pass by on the motorway, in Caracas, Venezuela February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
        CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro threatened to close the border with Colombia on Thursday as opposition leader Juan Guaido and some 80 lawmakers ran a gauntlet of roadblocks trying to get to the frontier to receive humanitarian aid.
        Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, was poised for a showdown with Maduro’s government on Saturday, when the opposition will attempt to bring in food and medicine being stockpiled in neighboring countries.
        Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis and said on Thursday he was considering closing Venezuela’s key border with Colombia and would close the country’s other main border with Brazil, effectively shutting off any legal land access.
        The government has said soldiers will be stationed at official crossing points to repel any “territorial violations,” although the opposition could attempt to cross anywhere along Venezuela’s porous borders.
        “I charge (Colombian President) Ivan Duque with any violence that might occur on the border,” Maduro said in televised comments, surrounded by the military high command.
        Venezuela has already closed its maritime border with the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, after Curacao’s government said it would help store aid.
        Opposition lawmakers set off from Caracas in a convoy of buses just after 10 a.m. on a 800-km (500-mile) road trip to the border with Colombia.    Crowds formed alongside a main highway out of the capital, waving Venezuelan flags and whooping in support.
        A roadblock at a tunnel some 100 km (60 miles) along the main road forced several buses to stop, Reuters witnesses and lawmakers said.    Lawmakers trying to get through scuffled with soldiers in riot gear at the tunnel’s exit, TV footage showed.
        “We have a commitment and that is to reach the border.    We will try to get as far as we can,” lawmaker Mariela Magallanes told Reuters by telephone from the scene.    “Humanitarian aid is not the whim of a few lawmakers, it is a necessity.”
        Magallanes said her vehicle managed to pass through the tunnel after being stuck for several hours but other buses remained behind.
        Lawmakers said Guaido’s vehicle continued but his exact location was being kept a secret due to security concerns.
        One opposition lawmaker in southeastern Bolivar state said he and some 20 other politicians would also travel to the border with Brazil.
        The Information Ministry did not respond to a request to comment.
        Guaido still has not provided details on how the aid could come in. Opposition figures have suggested forming human chains across the land borders to pass packages from person to person and fleets of boats arriving from the Dutch Caribbean islands.
        The opposition says it is rallying relief efforts in Venezuela to alleviate widespread food and medicine shortages in the wake of its hyperinflationary economic collapse. The oil-rich economy has halved in size in five years. Tons of aid sent by the U.S. and Colombian governments is sitting in warehouses on the Colombian side of the border.    Guaido tweeted late on Thursday that Chile was also airlifting supplies there, while Brazil’s government said it was sending aid to its own border.
        Meanwhile a boat carrying 250 tons of aid left Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan headed for Venezuela on Wednesday, the local government said in a statement.
        Maduro accuses the Trump administration, which has levied crippling sanctions against his government, of seeking to force his ouster.
        The U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, will lead a government delegation accompanying the delivery of aid from Florida to Cucuta via military aircraft between Thursday and Friday, the Department of State said.
        Meanwhile, the office of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he would fly to the Colombian capital, Bogota, on Monday to discuss the crisis with leaders of the regional Lima Group of nations.
        Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency on Jan. 23 and denounces Maduro as an usurper.
        Maduro still retains the support of powerful nations like Russia and China, as well as the key backing of the military.
        Some political analysts say Saturday’s border showdown is less about resolving Venezuela’s needs and more about testing the military’s loyalty by daring it to turn aid away.
        “It’s part of this calculus that sees the military as leading a transition in Venezuela,” said Geoff Ramsey at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a thinktank.
        Guaido has offered amnesty to military officers who disavow Maduro, though few have so far done so.
        Former military intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal, who Washington accused of involvement in the drug trade a decade ago, released a social media video on Thursday offering his support for Guaido. Carvajal distanced himself from Maduro in 2017 by opposing the creation of an all-powerful legislature.
        “I’m sure that Venezuela will soon return to democracy … How this happens depends on you, brothers in arms,” he said, addressing the military.
        Gustavo Marcano, senior aide to the opposition’s envoy to Washington, told reporters in the U.S. capital on Thursday that 11 diplomats in the United States have defected from Maduro’s government since Guaido declared himself interim president.
        Bank accounts for Venezuelan embassies and consulates in the United States had been frozen, he said.
    (Reporting by Angus Berwick, Vivian Sequera, Fabian Cambero, Brian Ellsworth and Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, Maria Ramirez in Puerto Ordaz, Tibisay Romero in Valencia, and Matt Spetalnick, Luc Cohen and Mohammad Zargham in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott, Sonya Hepinstall and Lisa Shumaker)

    2/21/2019 France’s Macron says anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism by Richard Lough
    FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the 34th annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions
    of France (CRIF - Conseil Representatif des Institutions juives de France) in Paris, France February 20, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
        PARIS (Reuters) – France will adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism and look on anti-Zionism as one form of the hate crime, President Emmanuel Macron said.
        Speaking at a dinner attended by Jewish leaders on Wednesday, Macron said a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in France was unprecedented since World War Two and promised a crackdown including a new law to tackle hate speech on the internet.
        France will adopt the definition of anti-Semitism set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), he said, adding: “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism.”
        The IHRA definition does not use the phrase “anti-Zionism” but does say denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination “e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” is anti-Semitic.
        Some critics of Israel, its occupation of territory internationally recognized as Palestinian, and its isolation of the Gaza Strip, say they risk being unfairly branded anti-Semitic, although the IHRA definition says: “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country” is not.
        Welcoming Macron’s actions, the World Jewish Congress said: “This is just the beginning of a long road ahead.    Adopting this definition of anti-Semitism must be followed by concrete steps to encode into law and ensure that this is enforced.”
        The IHRA definition is not legally binding but does serve as an international guideline.
        Germany and Britain adopted the definition in texts in 2016, though the European Union in 2018 adopted a softer tone, calling the IHRA definition a “guidance tool” amid concern from some member states that it could make criticism of Israeli policy, particularly with regards to Palestinians, difficult.
        Macron said France would not change its laws relating to anti-Semitism and that recognizing the IHRA’s definition must not be seen as a means of preventing people from criticizing the Israeli government.
        Jewish leaders in France have expressed growing alarm over anti-Semitism driven by fringe Islamist preachers, alongside that more commonly associated with Nazi ideology and the far right and a rise in anti-Zionism on the hard-left.
        On Tuesday Macron visited a Jewish cemetery where dozens of headstones were desecrated with swastikas.
        Macron said he had ordered the interior ministry to dismantle three neo-Nazi groups — Bastion Social, Blood and Honor Hexagone and Combat 18 — which he said fueled hate and promoted violence.
    (Reporting by Richard Lough and Jean-Baptiste Vey in Paris; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

    2/22/2019 Oil down $0.20 to $53.96, DOW down 104 to 25,851

    2/22/2019 Secretary Sanders: President Trump won 2016 election because he was better candidate than Clinton by OAN Newsroom
        White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is backing President Trump in saying there was absolutely no Russian collusion.
        While speaking with reporters outside the White House Friday, Sanders said President Trump won the 2016 election because he was a better candidate than his opponent Hillary Clinton.
        She added, the president did not collude and didn’t need to collude to win the election.    Her comments suggest that she is confident Mueller’s final report will not be the goldmine Democrats are looking for.
    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders talks with reporters outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
        “It’s real simple to me, the president far and away was the better candidate, he had a better message and he outworked Hillary Clinton, that’s why he’s president,” Sanders told reporters.    “He didn’t need to nor did he collude with the Russians, pretty simple.”
        When asked about whether Mueller’s findings will be publicly released, the press secretary said the president is leaving that decision up to his attorney general William Barr.

    2/22/2019 Jussie Smollett removed from final ‘Empire’ Season 5 episodes by OAN Newsroom
        Producers for the Fox series “Empire” are removing Jussie Smollett’s character from the final episodes of the fifth season.
        Fox released a statement Friday, saying the allegations against Smollett are disturbing and they are placing their trust in the legal system as the process plays out.
        This comes as the actor is facing charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct.
    This image released by Fox shows Jussie Smollett, left, and A.Z. Kelsey in a scene from the “Pride” episode of “Empire” which
    originally aired on Oct. 10, 2018. Smollett’s co-starring role in “Empire” may end up being the pinnacle of his career,
    industry observers and insiders said as the actor faces criminal charges that he faked a hate crime against himself. (Chuck Hodes/FOX via AP)
    Smollet is free on a $100,000 bond after he turned himself into police for allegedly planning and carrying out two hate crimes against himself in Chicago.     Police believe Smollett staged the attack — in part — because he wanted to be paid more for his work on the show.
        “Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process.    And why?    This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett, because he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked.” — Eddie Johnson, superintendent – Chicago Police Dept.
        Smollett reportedly made as much as $100,000 per episode, and is considered the show’s third lead.
    [Your greed, racism, Trump bashing and stupidity now have you unemployed and no one is going to hire you specially to pay you what you were getting and what money you have now will be going to lawyers, and I hope you get some prison time where some inmates like to make homosexuals their bitch to make you realize what an idiot you were.]

    2/22/2019 Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan meets with Belgian counterpart at Pentagon by OAN Newsroom
        Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan recently welcomed his Belgian counterpart to the Pentagon.    Shanahan welcomed Defense Minister Didier Reyners to Washington on Thursday to reaffirm the relationship between the U.S. and Belgium.
        The acting U.S. secretary of defense said while this was his Belgian counterpart’s first official visit in five-years, this was actually the third time they saw each other this week as Shanahan was in Europe for several meetings.
    Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, greets Belgium Minister of Defense Didier Reynders,
    left, during an arrival ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
        The talks focused on Belgium upping its defense budget to better support NATO.    They also discussed how to counter growing Russian and Chinese aggression.
        “We can bolster our cooperation to meet shared challenges as Russia seeks to test NATO’s resolve on our eastern flank and China seeks to infiltrate our technology base, so that our alliance remains ready to meet the challenges that both today and tomorrow,” stated Secretary Shanahan.
        He also praised the Belgian defense minister for pledging to boost support for NATO during the meeting.

    2/22/2019 Maduro closes Venezuela’s border by OAN Newsroom
        Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is proposing drastic measures in an attempt to block aid from entering the country.    On Thursday, the embattled leader threatened to completely shut down the border with Brazil, and floated the idea of doing the same with Colombia.
        “The land border with Brazil will be completely and absolutely closed until further notice,” he announced.    “It is better to prevent than to regret, to take all the measures for the assurance and protection of our people.”
        This comes as opposition lawmakers, including self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido, headed to the Colombian border in buses in order to bring back humanitarian aid.    However, soldiers set up roadblocks and got in scuffles with the lawmakers, so only a few vehicles managed to get close to Colombia by the end of the day.
    Soldiers stand at the entrance of the Tienditas International bridge that connects Venezuela with Colombia, in Urena, Venezuela,
    Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. As a showdown looms over U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela, much of it warehoused near
    the Tienditas International bridge, President Nicolas Maduro closed off his country’s border with Brazil, vowing on Thursday to block
    the emergency food and medicine that has rallied his opponents and which he claims is part of a U.S.-led coup plot. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
        “Pretending that humanitarian aid is not going to reach Venezuela is an act of cruelty, we know that these soldiers are facing the same need as all the people of Venezuela — humanitarian aid comes in yes or yes,” stated Venezuelan lawmaker Delsa Solorzano.
        Traffic was jammed along the border as troops tried to prevent people from crossing to bring back needed food and medicine.
        “Look, this is just a taste of what happens everyday, and with violence.    Nothing is achieved, we are victims of this on a daily basis.” — Jose Martinez, Venezuelan citizen.
        Maduro has continued to deny there is a humanitarian crisis at all, and has claimed aid efforts are just a front for the U.S. to invade the country.    Protesters at the border are pushing for Maduro to let in the aid as the country faces shortages of food and medicine.
        “Maduro wants to close the border, because he doesn’t want to recognize that Venezuela is in an economic crisis, a food crisis, of heath care, of medical attention — he does not want to recognize it.” — Frank Mendonca, Venezuelan citizen
        The final showdown over humanitarian aid is set for Saturday after Guaido set the deadline for the government to let in the aid.
    People arrive to the Venezuela Aid Live concert on the Colombian side of Tienditas International Bridge on the outskirts of Cucuta,
    Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. Venezuela’s power struggle is set to convert into a battle of the bands
    Friday when musicians demanding Nicolas Maduro allow in humanitarian aid and those supporting the embattled leader’s refusal
    sing in rival concerts being held at both sides of a border bridge where tons of donated food and medicine are being stored. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

    2/22/2019 Venezuelan troops open fire near border as aid standoff intensifies by Carlos Suniaga and Nelson Bocanegra
    People waiting to cross to Venezuela talk with Venezuelan soldiers at the border between Venezuela
    and Brazil in Pacaraima, Roraima state, Brazil, February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
        KUMARAKAPAY, Venezuela/CUCUTA, Colombia (Reuters) – Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on members of an indigenous community near the border with Brazil on Friday, killing at least one and injuring others, as President Nicolas Maduro defied U.S.-backed efforts to bring aid into his economically devastated nation.
        The United States, which is among dozens of Western nations to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president, has been stockpiling aid in the Colombian frontier town of Cucuta to ship across the border this weekend.
        With tensions running high after Guaido invoked the constitution to declare an interim presidency last month, Maduro has denied there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela despite widespread shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation.
        Maduro, who took power in 2013 and was re-elected in an election last year widely viewed as fraudulent, says opposition efforts to bring in aid are a U.S.-backed “cheap show” to undermine his government.
        The socialist president has declared Venezuela’s southern border with Brazil closed and threatened to do the same with the Colombian border ahead of a Saturday deadline by the opposition to bring in humanitarian assistance.
        A fundraising concert for Venezuela, backed by British billionaire Richard Branson and featuring major Latin pop stars like Luis Fonsi of “Despacito” fame, attracted tens of thousands in Cucuta on Friday.
        Some political analysts say Saturday’s showdown is less about solving Venezuela’s needs and more about testing the military’s loyalty toward Maduro by daring it to turn the aid away.
        With inflation running at more than 2 million percent a year and currency controls restricting imports of basic goods, a growing share of the country’s roughly 30 million people is suffering from malnutrition.
        Friday’s violence broke out in the village of Kumarakapay in southern Venezuela after an indigenous community stopped a military convoy heading toward the border with Brazil that they believed was attempting to block aid from entering, according to two community leaders.
        Soldiers later entered the village and opened fire, killing a woman, Zoraida Rodriguez, and her husband, and injuring several others, the leaders said. Rodriguez’s brother Guillermo Rodriguez later told Reuters that the husband was still alive but in critical condition after being shot in the stomach.     “I stood up to them to back the humanitarian aid,” community leader Richard Fernandez told Reuters.    “And they came charging at us.    They shot innocent people who were in their homes, working.”
        Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
        The United States said it condemned the killings that have taken place in Venezuela.
        “We stand with the victims’ families in demanding justice,” a State Department official said.
        Meanwhile China, which along with Russia backs Maduro, warned humanitarian aid should not be forced in because doing so could lead to violence.
        The bloodshed contrasted with the festive ambiance at Branson’s “Venezuela Aid Live” in Cucuta.
        Venezuelan and Colombian attendees, some crying, waved flags and chanted “freedom” under a baking sun as more streamed in to watch the concert.
        Artists like Jose Luis “El Puma” Rodríguez, who is from Venezuela, called for the ruling socialist government to step down as fans sang along with him.
        “Is it too much to ask for freedom after 20 years of ignominy, of a populist Marxist dictatorship?” the singer said.    “To the Venezuelans there, don’t give up, the blood that has been spilled was not in vain.”
        Guaido has vowed the opposition will bring in foreign aid from neighboring countries on Saturday and called on security forces to disobey Maduro and let supplies into Venezuela.
        He set off toward the Colombian border on Thursday in a convoy with opposition lawmakers to oversee the effort.
        “You must decide which side you are on in this definitive hour,” Guaido wrote on Twitter.    “To all the military: between today and tomorrow, you will define how you want to be remembered.”
        Guaido’s move to assume the interim presidency and international backing has galvanized Venezuela’s opposition, which has vowed to keep protesting until Maduro steps down.    It previously staged major protests in 2014 and 2017 that waned in the face of government crackdowns.
        Yet some government critics are concerned it will take more than pressure to force Maduro to step down.
        “The truth is that not even 10 concerts will make damned Maduro leave office,” said Darwin Rendon, one of the 3.4 million Venezuelans to have emigrated since 2015 to find work.
        “This regime is difficult to remove,” said Rendon, who sends money back to his family in Caracas.
        Several countries have sent supplies to the opposition’s collection points in Cucuta, Brazil and Curacao.
        Yet the Venezuelan government overnight soldered three shipping containers, which it has been using to block the traffic lanes on the never-used Tienditas road bridge, to the bridge itself, Colombia’s migration agency said on Friday.
        Venezuela this week also closed the maritime border with the Dutch Caribbean islands.
        Five of those shot earlier on Friday were rushed by ambulance across the border and were being treated at the Roraima General Hospital in the Brazilian frontier city of Boa Vista, a spokesman for the state governor’s office said.
        “They all had gunshot wounds.    Three were been treated in the surgery center and two in the trauma sector,” he said.
    (Reporting by Carlos Suniaga and William Urdaneta in Kumarakapay, Venezuela; Nelson Bocanegra and Steven Grattan in Cucuta, Colombia; Julia Symmes Cobb and Helen Murphy in Bogota; Brian Ellsworth, Vivian Sequera, Corina Pons and Sarah Marsh in Caracas; Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Bill Trott and Paul Simao)

    2/22/2019 NASA clears SpaceX test flight to space station by Joey Roulette
    FILE PHOTO: The SpaceX headquarters is shown in Hawthorne, California, U.S. September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
        CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – NASA gave its final go-ahead on Friday to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX company to conduct its first unmanned test flight of a newly designed crew capsule to the International Space Station on March 2.
        The approval cleared a key hurdle for SpaceX in its quest to help NASA revive America’s human spaceflight program, stalled since space shuttle missions came to an end in 2011.     NASA has awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion, and aerospace rival Boeing Co $4.2 billion to build separate rocket and capsule launch systems to carry U.S. astronauts to and from the space station, an orbital research laboratory that flies 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.
        “Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station,” NASA said in a statement announcing its decision.
    (Reporting by Joey Roulette in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Writing and additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown)

    2/23/2019 Oil up $0.30 to $57.26, DOW up 181 to 26,032

    2/23/2019 Dems target Trump’s emergency declaration - House vote on resolution planned for Tuesday by Eliza Collins and John Fritze, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – The House plans to vote Tuesday on a resolution to try to block President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency along the southern border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday.
        “The president of the United States is declaring a national emergency to honor an applause line in a rally,” Pelosi said on a conference call with reporters Friday morning.
        “Not only is he disrespecting the legislative branch and the Constitution of the United States, he is dishonoring the office in which he serves,” said the California Democrat, who spoke from the border city of Laredo, Texas.
        Trump announced the declaration last week as a means of freeing up billions of dollars to pay for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border after Congress failed to give him the money he demanded.
        Democrats have called the declaration an overreach of Trump’s power and have vowed to fight it.    Their resolution, if it passed both chambers of Congress, would terminate the emergency declaration.    But even if Congress approves it, the president could veto it.
        Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Friday, Trump vowed to veto the resolution “100 percent.”
        “And I don’t think it survives a veto,” the president predicted.
        Pelosi said the resolution would come up in the House Rules Committee Monday night and then likely be brought to the floor on Tuesday.
        House Democrats introduced the resolution Friday. As of Friday morning it had more than 225 co-sponsors, according to lead sponsor Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas.    The bill had one GOP co-sponsor, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.
        The bill is expected to pass the Democratic- controlled House, but its future is uncertain in the Republican-held Senate. However, unlike most legislation, the resolution is rooted in a provision from the National Emergencies Act that would require it to be voted upon within 18 calendar days after it is introduced and then be sent to the Senate.
        Many Republicans have said they were uncomfortable with the president declaring a national emergency to get funding for a wall along the border, but it’s unclear whether they would vote for such an effort.
        A copy of the one-page resolution was sent by Pelosi late Wednesday to all members of the House, where she urged them to join in backing the move.
        “All Members take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution,” Pelosi wrote in her letter.    “The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated.    We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.”
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote: “We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution
    ... against the President’s assault
    [Trump has to do what he has to do since the Congress is not doing their job which is to protect this country.].

    2/23/2019 Pentagon Plans to Send 1,000 More Troops to U.S.-Mexico Border by OAN Newsroom
        The Pentagon plans to send an additional 1,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
        In an announcement on Friday, the Pentagon said the move directs troops to install barbed wiring along existing border fences.
    Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford,
    second from the right, looks across the horizon during a tour of the US-Mexico border at Santa Teresa Station in Sunland Park, N.M.,
    Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Top defense officials toured sections of the U.S.-Mexico border Saturday to see how the military could
    reinforce efforts to block drug smuggling and other illegal activity, as the Pentagon weighs diverting billions of
    dollars for President Donald Trump’s border wall. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
        In a briefing, defense officials added the total number of troops would reach 6,000 by March 1st, with another 140 miles of wiring being installed.
        Some will also be assigned to detection and monitoring between ports of entry.
        The move comes after 5,000 U.S. troops were sent to the border last October in response to a migrant caravan working its way toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

    2/23/2019 U.S. Officials ‘Optimistic’ on Reaching Trade Deal with China by OAN Newsroom
        China and the U.S. are inching closer to a trade deal that could ease months of mounting tension between Washington and Beijing.
        Trade officials confirmed they are set to continue talks throughout the weekend in an effort to meet the upcoming deadline on March 1st.
    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, right, attend a
    meeting of senior U.S. and Chinese officials to resume trade negotiations, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in the Indian Treaty Room
    of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House complex, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
        Both sides say they have made progress on a range of issues including agriculture, technology transfers and protecting intellectual property rights.
        Following the success of the latest few rounds of negotiations, President Trump said he may be willing to push back the upcoming deadline in the interest of fine-tuning the deal.     President Trump is likely to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida next month to wrap up a finalized deal.

    2/23/219 Venezuela humanitarian aid met with teargas and gunfire on borders by Nelson Bocanegra and Anggy Polanco
    Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the
    country's rightful interim ruler, hold Venezuelan flags during a meeting at the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral
    in Willemstad on the island of Curacao, February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
        CUCUTA, Colombia/URENA, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro fired tear gas and rubber pellets at opposition supporters seeking to bring foreign aid over the Colombian border on Saturday, as the country’s socialist government defied international pressure to step down.
        The clashes occurred as Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who most Western nations recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, gave a personal send off to an aid caravan from the Colombian city of Cucuta.
        Guaido briefly boarded one of a dozen trucks carrying U.S.-backed humanitarian aid before they set off toward the border, where they were pushed back by Venezuelan security forces.
        Colombia’s government said their contents would be unloaded and transported by “human chains” that have formed on the road that leads toward Venezuela.
        But in the towns of San Antonio and Urena, just across the border, troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at opposition activists including lawmakers walking toward the frontier who were waving Venezuelan flags and chanting “freedom.”
        Witnesses reported constant gunfire without being able to identify the origin.
        “They started shooting at close range as if we were criminals,” said shopkeeper Vladimir Gomez, 27, wearing a white shirt stained with blood.    “I couldn’t avoid the (rubber) bullets and they hit me in the face and my back.    We have to fight.”
        Many of the demonstrators said they were peaceful civilians who simply wanted aid because of widespread food and medicine shortages in the once-prosperous country suffering an unprecedented economic meltdown.
        “I’m a homemaker, and I’m here fighting for my family, for my children and parents, resisting the military’s tear gas and soldiers on motorbikes,” said Sobeida Monsalve, 42.
        Others barricaded streets with burning tires, set a bus alight and hurled stones at security forces to demand that Maduro allow aid into a country ravaged by food and medicine shortages in the wake of an economic meltdown.
        National guard troops also fired tear gas in Santa Elena near the Brazilian border where people tried set up barricades to prevent armed pro-government agitators from entering.
        On Friday, troops had opened fire in a village in the area killing a woman and her husband.    Thirty-five National Guard troops are being held by the indigenous community in protest, the mayor of the broader Gran Sabana municipality said.
        Two humanitarian aid trucks crossed the Brazilian border although they had not passed through the Venezuelan customs checkpoint, according to a Reuters witness.
        A social media video showed troops who defected on Saturday driving armored vehicles across a bridge linking Venezuela and Colombia, knocking over metal barricades in the process, and then jumping out of the vehicles and running to the Colombian side.
        “What we did today, we did for our families, for the Venezuelan people,” said one of the four men in a video televised by a Colombian news program, which did not identify them.    “We are not terrorists.”
        Colombian television also showed images of what it said was a Venezuelan officer who identified himself as Major Hugo Parra, recognizing Guaido as president.
        Thirteen members of Venezuelan securities forces had defected on Saturday, including 10 members of the National Guard officers and two police officers, Colombia’s migration authority said.
        Leaders of Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party call Guaido’s aid effort a veiled invasion backed by Washington, and insist that the United States should instead help Venezuela by lifting crippling financial and oil sector sanctions.    Maduro blames the country’s dire situation on U.S. sanctions that have blocked funds and hobbled the OPEC member’s oil industry.
        Thousands of government supporters clad in signature red shirts led a rally in downtown Caracas to denounce intimidation by the United States and to demand that the Trump administration halt sanctions.
        “The humanitarian aid they want to bring is a fraud, those products are no apt for human consumption,” said Maryori Romero, 56, who works at a state-run supermarket.
        While the need for basic food and medicines is desperate, Venezuela’s opposition also hopes the operation will embarrass military officers who continue to support Maduro.
        Thousands of white-clad protesters gathered at a military base in Caracas to demand that the armed forces allow the aid in, after declaring the aid on its way in a news conference flanked by three Latin American presidents, including Colombia’s Ivan Duque.
        “This is the biggest battle that the armed forces can win,” said Sheyla Salas, 48, who works in advertising.    “Please join this struggle, get on the right side (of history), allow the humanitarian aid to enter.”
        U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton canceled plans to travel to South Korea to prepare for a summit addressing North Korea’s nuclear program in order to focus instead on events unfolding in Venezuela, his spokesman said on Friday.
    (Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Additional reporting by Helen Murphy and Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Ricardo Moraes in Pacaraima, Angus Berwick in Caracas, Editing by Daniel Flynn, Daniel Wallis and Grant McCool)

    2/23/2019 Thousands march as France’s ‘yellow vest’ protests rumble on
    Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement
    in Marseille, France, February 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
        PARIS (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people marched on Saturday in Paris and other cities and dozens were arrested as France’s “yellow vest” movement staged its 15th consecutive weekend of demonstrations against the government.
        Some 46,600 people joined the protests nationwide, including 5,800 in the capital, the Interior Ministry said.    That was up from 41,500 last week, with 5,000 in Paris.
        Demonstrations have generally gotten smaller since a peak in December when the French capital saw some of the worst rioting, vandalism and looting in decades.
        The protests — named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists have to carry in their cars — began in mid-November over rising fuel prices and the cost of living, but swelled into a broader movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms.
        Police said 28 people were arrested in Paris, but protesters marched mostly peacefully through the capital’s wealthier neighborhoods surrounded by a heavy police presence.
        As the march wound down, scuffles broke out and police used tear gas to disperse crowds at the Place du Trocadero overlooking the Seine river and across from the Eiffel Tower.
        Two people were injured.
        Some 18 people were also arrested in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand and potentially dangerous objects were seized ahead of a march in which police said 2,500 participated.
        Another 18 people were arrested in the western city of Rennes where six police officers were slightly injured and six protesters were hurt by large riot control pellets fired by police.
        The movement has posed the biggest challenge to Macron’s authority since he came to office in May 2017, although it faces increased infighting as some members have sought to run in upcoming European Parliament elections.
        Macron’s popularity has recovered from lows reached in the wake of violent clashes during protests in December, after he launched a series of debates across the country aimed at reconnecting with voters particularly in rural areas.
        He received a mostly warm welcome on Saturday at an annual farm show in Paris, taking selfies with the public and chatting with farmers as he strolled for hours among the crowd and animals.
    (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Julie Carriat and Leigh Thomas, Editing by Helen Popper and Peter Graff)

    2/23/2019 Trump sets up new abortion obstacles, barring clinic referrals
        The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals.    The new policy is certain to be challenged in court.
        The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers, and require stricter financial separation.     Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients.
        The move was decried by women’s groups and praised by religious conservatives, but it could be some time before women served by the federal family program feel the full impact.

    2/23/2019 Venezuelan Authorities Clash With Protesters Along Colombian Border by OAN Newsroom
        The Venezuelan National Guard clashes with citizens in a town along the Colombian border.
        According to reports on Saturday, tensions were flaring as residents of the border town defied government orders and began removing barricades from a border bridge.
        Venezuelan officials imposed a travel ban between their country and Colombia as President Nicolas Maduro has refused to allow humanitarian aid into the country.
    Demonstrators push away a bus that was torched during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard in Urena, Venezuela, near the
    border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela’s National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border
    bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition
    leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
        Meanwhile, Venezuelans and Colombians gathered at a border bridge to urge authorities to allow humanitarian aid into the country.
        Maduro has repeatedly refused to acknowledge Venezuela’s need for aid, saying it’s a plot by the U.S. to seize his power.
        On Saturday, Interim President Juan Guaido arrived at the border region with supporters, vowing to personally ensure the aid enters Venezuela.

    2/24/2019 Don’t go easy on Manafort, judge told - Prosecutors: Ex-Trump aide ‘hardened’ criminal by Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Prosecutors painted a damning picture of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman as a “hardened” criminal who “brazenly violated the law” and urged that his sentence not be reduced in a memo released Saturday.
        In the court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, prosecutors urged a federal judge not to reduce the sentence for Paul Manafort for his conspiracy case in the District of Columbia.    Prosecutors said Manafort deserved a significant sentence without specifying what it should be, but that it shouldn’t include credit for his promise to cooperate.
        Federal guidelines call for a sentence roughly double what Manafort could receive.    The guidelines called for a 17- to nearly 22-year term for the charges in the case.    But the sentence for the two charges he acknowledged is capped at 10 years.    Whatever he receives could run after the sentence in his separate Virginia case.
        Judge Amy Berman Jackson earlier ruled that Manafort lied repeatedly to investigators despite the cooperation he promised as part of a plea agreement.
        “For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law,” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann wrote in the 25-page sentencing memo, which was accompanied by 800 pages of partially redacted exhibits.    “His crimes continued up through the time he was first indicted in October 2017 and remarkably went unabated even after indictment.”     The case has many aggravating factors and no mitigating ones, it said.
        The filing was made public Saturday.    Manafort’s lawyers will respond to the filing Monday.    Jackson scheduled sentencing on March 13.
        Whatever she decides could be irrelevant after Manafort is sentenced March 8 in Virginia on eight counts of tax and bank fraud.    In August, Manafort was convicted in Virginia of hiding tens of millions of dollars in overseas banks and corporations, to avoid paying taxes.
        Prosecutors in that case recommended that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis put Manafort in prison for nearly 20 to 24 years, with fines, restitution and property forfeiture totaling up to $53 million.    It could essentially become a life sentence for 69-year-old Manafort.
        His guilty plea in September in D.C. dealt with conspiracy charges for failing to report lobbying for Ukraine and for tampering with witnesses to get them to change their stories.
        The cases stemmed from when Manafort served as a political consultant for a pro-Russian faction in Ukraine during the decade before he joined Trump’s campaign from March to August 2016.    Manafort was a key figure in Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election because he ranked high in Trump’s campaign and dealt routinely with Russian contacts.    He attended the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with Russians offering damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
        The documents released Saturday do not appear to provide any further view into Manafort’s alleged criminal conduct beyond the existing convictions on financial fraud, witness tampering charges, along with the collapse of his plea agreement with Mueller’s prosecutors in the Washington, D.C., case.
        Most notably, the court papers do not offer any information involving coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
        Manafort’s partner in the Ukraine work, Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, also faces conspiracy charges in the D.C. case.
        “Manafort’s conduct ... reflects a hardened adherence to committing crimes and lack of remorse.” Prosecutors’ sentencing memo.
    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been lauded by President Donald Trump for his refusal “to break.” SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE

    2/24/2019 After Venezuelan troops block aid, Maduro faces ‘diplomatic siege’ by Brian Ellsworth and Vivian Sequera
    People throw stones at Venezuelan national guard members, at the border, seen from in Pacaraima, Brazil February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
        CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could face a new round of sanctions, regional leaders said on Sunday, after his troops repelled foreign aid convoys, with Brazil branding it criminal and urging allies to join a “liberation effort.”
        Troops loyal to Maduro violently drove back aid convoys seeking to enter Venezuela on Saturday, leaving almost 300 wounded in clashes with security forces and at least three protesters dead near the Brazilian border.
        Juan Guaido, recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, urged foreign powers to consider “all options” in ousting Maduro, ahead of a meeting of the regional Lima Group of nations in Bogota on Monday that will be attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
        “Brazil calls on the international community, especially those countries that have not yet recognized Juan Guaido as interim president, to join in the liberation effort of Venezuela,” the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
        Brazil, a diplomatic heavyweight in Latin America which has the region’s largest economy, was for years a vocal ally of Venezuela while it was ruled by the leftist Workers Party.    It turned sharply against Maduro this year when far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office.
        U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Sunday: “There’s more sanctions to be had.    There’s more humanitarian assistance I think that we can provide.”
        China and Russia, which both have major energy sector investments in Venezuela, have supported Maduro’s government and condemned U.S. sanctions.
        Meanwhile, Colombian President Ivan Duque, in a tweet, denounced the “barbarity and violence” and said Monday’s summit would discuss “how to tighten the diplomatic siege of the dictatorship in Venezuela.”
        Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, during a Sunday news conference, gloated about the opposition’s failure to bring in aid and called Guaido “a puppet and a used condom.”    Maduro has denounced Guaido for seeking to foment a U.S-orchestrated coup.
        Trucks laden with U.S. food and medicine on the Colombian border repeatedly attempted to push past lines of troops on Saturday, but were met with tear gas and rubber rounds. Two of the aid trucks went up in flames.    Rodriguez accused “drugged-up protesters” of setting fire to the trucks.
        The opposition had hoped that troops would balk at turning back supplies that are so desperately needed by a population increasingly suffering malnutrition and diseases.
        Though some 60 members of security forces defected into Colombia on Saturday, according to that country’s authorities, the National Guard at the frontier crossings held firm.    Two additional members of Venezuela’s National Guard defected to Brazil late on Saturday, a Brazilian army colonel said on Sunday.
        The Brazilian border state of Roraima said the number of Venezuelans being treated for gunshot wounds rose to 18 from five in the past 24 hours.    That was the result of constant gun battles, which included armed men without uniform, throughout Saturday in the Venezuelan town of Santa Elena, near the border.
        Opposition legislator Americo De Grazia said via Twitter that the death toll had risen to 15 in Santa Elena, though Reuters was unable to confirm this.
        The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, a local crime monitoring group, said it had confirmed three deaths on Saturday, all in Santa Elena, and at least 295 injured across the country.
        U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Sunday for “violence to be avoided at any cost” and said everyone should lower tensions and pursue efforts to avoid further escalation, according to his spokesman.
        Though Saturday’s effort allowed the opposition to demonstrate that Maduro was willing to repel aid, many opposition leaders appeared despondent and disappointed that the food and medicine had not gotten in.
        U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, an influential voice on Venezuela policy in Washington, said the violence on Saturday had “opened the door to various potential multilateral actions not on the table just 24 hours ago.”
        Hours later he tweeted a mug shot of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who was captured by U.S. forces in 1990 after an invasion.
        President Donald Trump has in the past said military intervention in Venezuela was “an option,” though Guaido made no reference to it on Saturday.
        During a visit to a border bridge to survey the damage, Duque told reporters that the frontier would remain closed for two days to repair the infrastructure and that aid would remain in storage.
        “The dictatorship has sealed its moral and diplomatic defeat by showing the world how it persecuted its own with all types of violence,” he said.
        In the Venezuelan border town of Urena, streets were still strewn with debris including the charred remains of a bus that had been set ablaze by protesters. Residents on Sunday were pulling pieces from the still-smoldering wreckage to sell as scrap metal.
        Most were worried about the continued border closure, which prevents residents from going to work or buying basic products in the neighboring nation.
        “Today there is still tension, I went onto the street and saw all the destruction,” said Auriner Blanco, 38.    “The border closure is bad because we need everything they were going to bring over.”
    (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Vivian Sequera; Additional reporting by Ricardo Moraes and Pablo Garcia in Pacaraima, Brazil; Ana Mano in Sao Paulo; Sarah Marsh in Caracas; Nelson Bocanegra in Cucuta, Colombia; Anggy Polanco in Urena and Mayela Armas in San Antonio, Venezuela; Ginger Gibson in Washington.; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)

    2/24/2019 Germany fails to deport nearly every second asylum seeker
    FILE PHOTO: People protest against the German government's decision to deport migrants who were denied asylum, at Duesseldorf Airport, Germany September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo
        BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany failed to deport 27,000 rejected asylum seekers last year, nearly half of the total 57,000 cases, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Sunday, adding that the government would step up efforts to get those migrants out of the country.
        Seehofer, a member of the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, is one of the sharpest critics of her decision in 2015 to open Germany’s borders to more than 1 million refugees.
        Merkel has repeatedly defended the decision she took at the height of the European refugee crisis, but has said she would prevent any repeat and focus on the root causes of migration.
        Seehofer told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the 27,000 rejected asylum seekers could not be deported because they had no travel documents or police could not find them.    Some resisted deportation at the airport, he added.
        The government plans to restrict the rights of failed asylum seekers who lied about their identify or who are deemed a security threat, by establishing a new form of “preparatory detention” before deportation, Seehofer said.
        Those migrants would have to report regularly to police and they could face further restrictions such as having to wear a locator device, the minister said.    The cabinet is expected to pass the law before the summer holidays.
        Nearly every second company in Germany hired a refugee under a vocational job training contract in 2018, up from only every third company in 2016, a survey by the Economy Ministry and the DIHK Chamber of Industry and Commerce showed.
        After nine years of uninterrupted growth, Germany’s economy is struggling with labor shortages in many business sectors, and firms are reporting record job vacancies of 1.5 million.
    (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

    2/25/2019 Schiff wants Mueller report for public by Mary Clare Jalonick and Hope Yen, ASSOCIATED PRESS
        WASHINGTON – A top House Democrat threatened Sunday to call special counsel Robert Mueller to Capitol Hill, subpoena documents and take the Trump administration to court if necessary if the full report on the Russia investigation is not made public.
        Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff told ABC’s “This Week” that his committee will be watching Attorney General William Barr to see if he were “to try to bury any part of this report.”    He warns there will be intense scrutiny and pressure on Barr to fully release the report.
        “We will take it to court if necessary,” Schiff said.    “If he were to try to withhold, to try to bury any part of this report, that will be his legacy and it will be a tarnished legacy.    So I think there’ll be immense pressure not only on the department, but on the attorney general to be forthcoming.”
        Mueller is showing signs of wrapping up his nearly 2-year-old investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia to sway the 2016 election.    Barr, who oversees the investigation, has said he wants to release as much information as he can about the inquiry.    But during his confirmation hearing last month, Barr also made clear that he ultimately will decide what the public sees, and that any public report will be in his words, not Mueller’s.
        On Sunday, Schiff suggested that anything short of Mueller’s full report will not be enough to satisfy Democrats.    He pointed to a public interest in seeing some of the underlying evidence, such as information gathered from searches conducted on longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman.    Schiff has said his committee planned to expand its own investigations by examining, for instance, whether foreign governments have compromised Trump, his relatives or associates.
        Stone was charged with lying to Congress about his efforts to coordinate with WikiLeaks to aid Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Manafort has been accused of repeatedly lying to investigators, including about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate who the U.S. said has ties to Russian intelligence.
        “Bill Barr has committed in his testimony to making as much of the report public as he can.    And the regulations allow him to make it all.    We’re going to insist on it becoming public,” Schiff said.    “There’s no other way to get the information that was seized except through the department, and we can’t tell the country fully what happened without it.”
        Democrats could use Mueller’s findings as the basis of impeachment proceedings.
        In a letter Friday, the Democrats warned against withholding information on Trump because of Justice Department opinions that the president can’t be indicted.
        “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Schiff said.    “If the president is serious about all of his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of this report.”
        Speculation has swirled that Mueller would be submitting his report to the Justice Department soon, although the department has indicated it’s not expected to happen this week.
    Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said President Donald Trump “should welcome the publication of (the Robert Mueller) report.” J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP FILE
    [A similar article:
    Dems would sue to make report public - Key lawmaker wants full airing of Mueller findings by Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – As speculation continues to mount over when special counsel Robert Mueller will finish his investigation, Democrats are planning a course of action if the findings of the probe aren’t made public.
        It’s been nearly three years since federal investigators started investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion by Donald Trump’s campaign.    And after filing charges against about three dozen people, things appear to be close to wrapping up.
        But Democrats have grown increasingly skeptical over whether the results of the investigation will be made public and are ramping up a plan to make sure the public will see the results.
        Rep. Adam Schiff, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News on Sunday that he and other Democrats have a host of plans to fight for a full disclosure of the report.
        “Well, we will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress, we will take it to court if necessary,” the California Democrat told host George Stephanopoulos.    “In the end, I think the department understands that they’re going to have to make this public.”
        Schiff said he and other Democrats would push not just to release Mueller’s report, which would be filed confidentially to the attorney general, and explain his office’s rationale on whether or not to prosecute individuals.    But lawmakers would also seek to make public the “underlying evidence” attached to the investigation.
        That evidence would include information compiled throughout the probe that didn’t necessarily lead to criminal charges that could be proved in a court of law.
        “We can’t tell the country fully what happened without it,” Schiff said.
        Stephanopoulos pointed out that under Justice Department policy, the department normally does not release information in its investigations that don’t lead to criminal charges.
        But Schiff argued the department set a new “precedent” with commenting and releasing a slew of records in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
        “This was a new precedent that they were setting and they were going to have to live by this precedent whether it was a Congress controlled by the Democrats or Republicans, so they’re going to have to abide by that,” Schiff said.
        Last month, then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said the inquiry was “close to being completed.”    It was the first time anyone familiar with its inner workings had offered even a hint in public of its likely trajectory. He did not elaborate.
        Attorney General William Barr told senators during his confirmation hearings that he would make public as much as possible about Mueller’s report.    Several Democratic senators questioned why the entire report – other than confidential investigative material – wouldn’t be made public.
        Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team has been bracing for the delivery of the report.    Lead attorney Rudy Giuliani told USA TODAY on Thursday that “we expect something in the next two weeks.”
        Giuliani said that it’s been “weeks” since Mueller’s team has contacted the president’s attorneys, and that there has been no further discussion about obtaining additional testimony from the president for about a month.
        He said the extended period of “silence” has the president’s lawyers preparing for Mueller’s required notification to Barr that the special counsel’s work has been completed.
        On whether the report should be made public, President Trump said the decision was “totally up to” Barr.
        “We will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress, we will take it to court if necessary.” Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif.].

    2/25/2019 Virginia’s Fairfax compares himself to lynching victims
        RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax compared himself to Jim Crow-era lynching victims in a speech to the state Senate on Sunday, as he resists calls to resign following allegations of sexual assault.    “I’ve heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that,” Fairfax said, referring to legislation expressing “profound regret” for lynchings between 1877 and 1950. When he finished his five-minute speech, senators sat in awkward silence.
    [Fairfax I am glad you understand what it is like as Roy Moore experienced in Alabama during election that he went through from Democrats allegations and now that you understand it, you need to switch sides.].

    2/25/2019 NYC Mayor De Blasio tells Iowans he’s considering presidential run
        New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is telling Democrats in Iowa that he has not ruled out a run for president.
        The Sioux City Journal reported that de Blasio told voters at a bar on Saturday that the Democratic Party must return to its progressive roots.
        He said working people will “answer the call of the Democratic Party” if they hear that the party is “resolute in defense of their interests.”

    2/25/2019 Northern New York mine lays off more than half its workers
        A zinc mine that opened last June in northern New York has announced it will lay off more than half of its workforce.    Titan Mining said it’s laying off 108 workers and keeping 87 at Empire State Mines in the St. Lawrence County town of Fowler.

    2/25/2019 Macron’s popularity gains as ‘yellow vest’ support wanes: poll
    French President Emmanuel Macron visits the 56th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture)
    at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France February 23, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
        PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has recovered to levels not seen since “yellow vest” protests broke out in mid-November as support for movement wanes, a poll showed on Monday.
        The share of people who consider Macron a good president rose to 32 percent this month, where his popularity was when the protests first started, the Odoxa poll showed.
        His popularity has crept higher since hitting 27 percent – the lowest point so far in his presidency – in December as protesters rampaged through central Paris and other cities smashing windows and burning cars.
        Macron has faced the biggest challenge to his authority from the protests, which started over the high cost of living but spread into a broader movement against the 41-year-old former investment banker and his pro-business reform drive.
        The poll showed that 55 percent of those surveyed thought the protests should stop, the first time a clear majority was in favor of a halt since they began.
        The weekly demonstrations by protesters, named for the high visibility jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars, have generally become smaller and less violent since a peak in December when the French capital saw some of the worst rioting, vandalism and looting in decades.
        However, numbers picked up slightly on Saturday with the Interior Ministry estimating that 46,600 people turned out nationwide for a 15th consecutive weekend of protests.
        Macron’s popularity has recovered as his government promised a firmer response to protester violence and he launched a series of debates across the country aimed at reconnecting with voters, particularly in rural areas.
        He received a mostly warm welcome on Saturday at an annual farm show in Paris, taking selfies with the public and chatting with farmers as he strolled for hours among the crowd and animals.
        That was a stark contrast to the previous year, when he was booed during his first visit as president to the farm show, an unmissable event for French politicians.     The Odoxa poll was conducted on the internet on Feb. 20-21 among 1,000 people for France Inter radio, Presse Regionale newspapers and L’Express magazine. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Peter Graff)

    2/25/2019 Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe defends Russia probe amid criticism by OAN Newsroom
        Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is defending the Russia probe despite mounting criticism.    In an interview Sunday, McCabe admitted it was his decision to launch a probe into alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.    He claimed he has spoken “truth to power.”
        His remarks come despite reports suggesting the Obama-era FBI didn’t have credible evidence to open the investigation.
    FILE – In this June 7, 2017, file photo, then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing
    about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A “60 Minutes” interview with fired
    FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe helped make the CBS news magazine one of TV’s top-rated programs. According to Nielsen figures released
    Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, “60 Minutes” drew 9.7 million viewers and was the third most-watched show last week. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
        President Trump criticized McCabe over what he suggested was incompetence, and called him a “poor man’s J. Edgar Hoover.”
        However, McCabe claimed he saw “disturbing” reports back in 2016, which led him to open the Russia probe.    “The information that was in our hands at the time, much of which is publicly known, caused us great concern — we had an articulate basis to believe that a crime may have been committed and that a threat to national security might exist,” he stated.    “We hadn’t concluded that either of those two things had happened, but we were certainly in the place where we needed to investigate.”
        Republican lawmakers have blasted McCabe, alleging a political bias and abuse of power behind his actions.
    [Hoover was the first FBI director, and became a controversial figure for his use of secretive programs to collect damaging information on political leaders.    Trump added "And what he was trying to do was terrible.    And he was caught.    I’m proud to say we caught him."    So McCabe does not seem to understand that?    Where is the information that was in his hands at that time, I wonder if he is referring to the fake dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.].

    2/25/2019 President Trump meets with nation’s governors and touts economic prosperity by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump recently highlighted the success of the economy and other issues, while addressing the nation’s governors.
        The president spoke to members of the National Governor’s Association in the White House Monday, where he told them manufacturing jobs are coming back very strongly and cited the unemployment rate.
        He also said the nation needs workers, but stressed those seeking to come to the U.S. must do so legally and through merit.    ,b>While speaking on combating illegal immigration, the president suggested more than a couple hundred miles of the wall will be up “pretty soon.”
    President Donald Trump participates in the 2019 White House Business Session with Our Nation’s Governors
    at the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
        President Trump also predicted his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be positive.     “Right after this meeting, I leave for Vietnam where I meet with Chairman Kim and we talk about something, that frankly, he never spoke to anybody about,” he stated.    “But we are speaking and we are speaking out loud and I think we can have a very good — I think we’ll have a very tremendous summit.”
        The president also maintained the U.S. wants denuclearization from North Korea, and suggested the Asian nation would economically prosper if it did.

    2/25/2019 President Trump: Danny Burch returns to U.S. after 18-months in captivity in Yemen by OAN Newsroom
    UPDATED 1:09 PM PT — Monday, February 25, 2019     According to President Trump, a U.S. hostage held in Yemen has been recovered and returned home.
        The president took to Twitter Monday, saying oil industry worker Danny Burch has reunited with his family in the U.S. after being kidnapped in Yemen back in 2017.
        President Trump thanked America’s regional allies for their assistance in Burch’s release.
        Trump tweet: “...Danny’s recovery reflects the best of what the United States & its partners can accomplish. We work every day to bring Americans home. We maintain constant and intensive diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement cooperation within the United States Government and with...
        Trump tweet “...our foreign partners. Recovering American hostages is a priority of my Admin, and with Danny’s release, we have now secured freedom for 20 American captives since my election victory. We will not rest as we continue our work to bring the remaining American hostages back home!
        Burch — who is 63-years-old — was held by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, but he was released last month and sent to Oman with a subsequent transfer back to the U.S.
        President Trump stressed his administration has recovered 20 American hostages so far, and will continue its efforts to bring home those who have been held captive.

    2/25/2019 President Trump slams Spike Lee, calls his Oscars speech a ‘racist hit’ by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump took a swipe at film director Spike Lee in an early morning tweet Monday.
        The president said, “be nice if Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all when doing his racist hit on your president.”
        Trump tweet: “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!
        He went on to say he’s done more for the African American community than any other president, and referenced his landmark criminal justice reform, the lowest unemployment numbers in U.S. history and tax cuts.
        His remarks came after Lee appeared to slam the president in his Oscars acceptance speech Sunday, when he called for the left to “rise up” against him in 2020.
    Spike Lee holds up brass knuckles reading “hate” and “love” from his iconic film “Do The Right Thing” as he
    arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

    2/25/2019 U.S. announces new sanctions against 4 Venezuela governors helping to block aid by OAN Newsroom
        The U.S. has announced new sanctions against Venezuela as critical humanitarian aid is blocked from getting into the country.
        On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions are targeting four Venezuelan governors.    The officials are assisting the Maduro regime with the blockade, which is causing the people of Venezuela to suffer.    Mnuchin claimed the governors are involved in “endemic corruption,” and said their actions are shameful.
        Earlier this month, the U.S. sanctioned a top oil executive and several Venezuelan intelligence officials for alleged human rights violations.    Mnuchin said the officials are responsible for corruption as well as suppressing Venezuela’s democracy.
    Venezuelans work to remove a roadblock created by Venezuelan National Guards on the Simon Bolivar International Bridge
    in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. A U.S.-backed drive
    to deliver foreign aid to Venezuela on Saturday met strong resistance as troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro blocked
    the convoys at the border and fired tear gas on protesters. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
        Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence met with Venezuelan interim President Juan Guiado and Colombian President Ivan Duque in Colombia Monday after a weekend of violence at the border between the two countries.
        The vice president thanked Duque for convening a gathering of Latin American countries at a “critical time for freedom in Venezuela.”    He said he was sent by the president to stand with America’s friends and allies in the embattled country, and told Guaido the president is with him “100-percent.”
        Pence is scheduled to meet with Venezuelan migrant families in Colombia before returning to Washington, D.C.

    2/25/2019 ICE adds illegal alien to Most Wanted list after deadly Tenn. crash by OAN Newsroom
    31-year-old Alan Jacob Mogollon-Anaya. (Photo/handout/Washington County Sheriff’s Office)
        An illegal immigrant is being added to ICE’s’ Most Wanted list in connection with a car crash, which left a woman dead in Tennessee.
        ICE officials are still searching for 31-year-old Alan Mogollon-Anaya after the fatal crash in 2017.
        He was allegedly intoxicated when he crashed head-on with the victim’s vehicle.
        Mogollon-Anaya was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but later fled the facility to evade police.
        Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway spoke out in support of the victim during an Angel families rally in Washington, D.C. last year.
        ICE officials are asking the public for any information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
    [We need to let this guy climb over Nancy Pelosi walls around her house and see if she experiences the same.].

    2/25/2019 Venezuela hit with new U.S. sanctions after clashes over food aid on border by Roberta Rampton and Luis Jaime Acosta
    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations
    have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, shake hands during a meeting of the Lima Group
    in Bogota, Colombia, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
        BOGOTA (Reuters) – The United States targeted Venezuela’s government with new sanctions on Monday and called on allies to freeze the assets of its state-owned oil company PDVSA after deadly violence blocked aid from reaching the crisis-hit country during the weekend.
        The United States also took its pressure campaign to the United Nations Security Council, asking that body to discuss the situation in Venezuela, diplomats said.
        The U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions were imposed on four Venezuelan state governors allied with the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro, blocking any assets they control in the United States.
        The new sanctions were announced in Bogota as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and opposition leader Juan Guaido met with members of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations from Argentina to Canada dedicated to peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan crisis.
        Pence said the United States would stand by Guaido until freedom was restored to the OPEC member.    He called for all Lima Group nations to immediately freeze PDVSA’s assets and to transfer ownership of Venezuelan assets in their countries from Maduro’s “henchmen” to Guaido’s government-in-waiting.
        He also said tougher measures were coming.
        “In the days ahead … the United States will announce even stronger sanctions on the regime’s corrupt financial networks,” Pence said.    “We will work with all of you to find every last dollar that they stole and work to return it to Venezuela.”
        Guaido, sitting next to Pence at the meeting, asked for a moment of silence for those killed in what he called the “massacre” of the weekend.
        At least three people were killed and almost 300 wounded during the protests and clashes on Saturday as U.S.-backed aid convoys attempted to enter Venezuela to deliver food and medicine.
        Guaido, recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, has urged the bloc to consider “all options” in ousting Maduro.
        Pence repeated an earlier statement that there would be an amnesty for members of the armed forces who throw their support behind Guaido.    He said he hopes Maduro and those supported by his “corruption and his brutality” will leave Venezuela peacefully.
        “We make clear to them that we will support the interim president’s call for amnesty, an inclusive government, an inclusive future for members of the armed forces, who have laid down their arms and stand with the Guaido government,” Pence said.
        Unlike the Lima Group, of which the United States is not a member, the Trump administration has so far declined to rule out the use of military force.    But Peruvian Deputy Foreign Minister Hugo de Zela Martinez denied there was any division in the group over the use of force.
        Pence also called for Mexico and Uruguay, two-left leaning regional governments, to join most of the region’s other powers in embracing Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful president.
        “We believe there can be no bystanders, no one on the sidelines of this, particularly in our hemisphere, and our message today very much was intended to say – to Mexico, to Uruguay, to nations across the eastern Caribbean – that they need to come off the sidelines, they need to take a stand for freedom.    Stand with us and with the people of Venezuela,” said Pence.
        Washington wants the 15-member U.N. Security Council to formally call for free, fair and credible presidential elections with international observers.    Russia, which along with China has major investments in Venezuela’s energy sector and back Maduro, proposed a rival draft resolution.
        Violence escalated during the weekend when the convoy of trucks with food and medicines was blocked by soldiers and armed groups loyal to Maduro.    He says the aid efforts are part of a U.S.-orchestrated coup against Venezuela.
        In the Venezuelan town of San Antonio, near the border with Colombia, residents on Monday chafed at the continued border closure ordered by Maduro’s government last week.
        Residents increasingly cross into the neighboring country to work and buy basic goods that are unavailable in Venezuela, which has been wracked by years of hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.    Illegal crossings over back roads known as “trochas” generally require paying tolls to low-level criminals who control them, known as “trocheros.”
        “We were hungry when before the border closed. Now it will be even worse,” said Belkis Garcia, 34, walking with her husband along a trail that leads to Colombia.    “We have to pay (to cross), so the little money we have for half the food is not enough.    We don’t know what will happen if the border continues closed.”
        Four people have been killed, 58 have suffered bullet wounds and at least 32 arrested in unrest since Friday, local rights group Penal Forum said in a press conference.
        The four governors sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury include the flamboyant Rafael Lacava of state of Carabobo, who in 2018 visited Washington as part of talks that led to the release of Joshua Holt, an American who was imprisoned in Venezuela for nearly two years.    Lacava goes by the nickname “Dracula” in reference to his habit of doing late-night patrols and is known for off-the-cuff social media videos.
    (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, Roberta Rampton, Helen Murphy and Julia Symmes Cobb; additional reporting by Mitra Taj in Lima, Aislinn Laing in Santiago, Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, Mayela Armas and Anggy Polanco in Urena, and Shaylim Castro in Caracas; editing by Bill Trott and Grant McCool)

    2/25/2019 Oil slumps 3 percent after Trump again criticizes OPEC by Laila Kearney
    Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province,
    China December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
        NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil futures tumbled 3 percent on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump called for OPEC to “relax and take it easy” on boosting crude prices, which he said were climbing too high.
        Brent crude oil futures were down $2.03 at $65.09 a barrel by 11:20 a.m. EST (1620 GMT). West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.73 to $55.53 a barrel.
        “Oil prices getting too high.    OPEC, please relax and take it easy.    World cannot take a price hike – fragile!” Trump tweeted, his latest in a series of tweets or comments made regarding oil prices since April 2018.
        After the tweet, prices reversed earlier gain that had built on expectations for tightening supply and hopes for an agreement a day after the president promised progress in coming weeks over U.S.-China trade talks.
    (Graphic: Trump Tweet –
        Crude prices have risen by about 20 percent since the start of the year when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member producers, such as Russia, cut production to reduce global supply.
        U.S. sanctions on exports of crude from Iran and Venezuela have also helped tighten the market and support prices as production in the United States surges.
        “If you read into it, I think there’s speculation there will, in fact, be another round of waivers granted to countries and companies to buy Iranian oil,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management, said about Trump’s tweet. “That’s also why you’re seeing the negative reaction.”
        Washington surprised oil markets after granting waivers to eight Iranian oil buyers when the sanctions on oil imports started in November.    Brent futures fell 22 percent that month and the waivers influenced OPEC’s decision to agree in December to supply cuts starting in 2019.
    (Graphic: Trump Tweets on oil –
        Adding to the uncertain supply picture was political unrest in both in Venezuela and Libya.
        “Supply risk is ever present with Venezuelan tensions brewing a notch higher … the National Oil Corporation in Libya refusing to start production at the El Sharara field,” Harry Tchilinguirian, global oil strategist at BNP Paribas in London, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.
        Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, where as many as 39 people were killed in election violence over the weekend, also added production risk.
        Goldman Sachs analysts said on Monday that “the near-term outlook for oil is modestly bullish over the next two to three months,” but added that the outlook for later in 2019 was weaker due to surging U.S. exports and an “an increasingly uncertain economic, policy and geopolitical backdrop.” [nL3N20K2ZB]
    (Graphic: U.S. oil production & drilling levels –
    (Reporting by Amanda Cooper and Noah Browning in London; additional reporting by Henning Gloystein and Ron Bousso; editing by Jason Neely and Marguerita Choy)

    2/26/2019 Oil down $1.78 to $55.48, DOW up to 26,092.

    2/26/2019 Washington state sues over Trump’s abortion policy
        SEATTLE – Washington state says it will sue to challenge President Donald Trump’s policy setting up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, days after the administration adopted it.    The administration said Friday it would bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals.    The administration is also prohibiting the clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers. Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has challenged other Trump policies.

    2/26/2019 French consumer confidence jumps to pre-‘yellow vest’ level
    FILE PHOTO: A protester wearing a yellow vest attends a demonstration of the "yellow vests"
    movement in Nantes, France, December 22, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
        PARIS (Reuters) – French consumer confidence jumped in February to its highest level since “yellow vest” protesters started their weekly demonstrations, as households took heart in an improvement in their finances and unemployment fears receded.
        The reading of 95 points marked the highest level for the consumer confidence index since October, which was the month before “yellow vests” protesters started weekend marches against high living costs and President Emmanuel Macron’s policies.
        The increase in the index by the national INSEE statistics office, which beat the average forecasts of economists, came as Macron’s costly measures to boost workers’ income and quell the protests kicked in this month.
        In December, the French leader decided to speed up an increase in benefits received by the poorest workers, halt a planned rise in fuel taxes, and reduce taxes on overtime, for a total cost of 10 billion euros ($11.35 billion).
        “The French consumer is recovering quickly,” Pictet economist Frederik Ducrozet said.    “Confidence is rising post-‘gilets jaunes’ as Macron’s stimulus measures kick in and unemployment fears recede.”
        The national statistics office, INSEE, said the number of consumers who had observed an improvement in their finances in the past year had increased, while more of them also expected the increase to continue in the future.
        Households fears of unemployment also dropped markedly this month, INSEE said.
        France’s unemployment rate fell unexpectedly at the end of last year to its lowest level since the start of 2009, official data showed earlier this month.
        The brighter outlook is good news for Macron, whose popularity has started to recover from its worst level at the peak of the “yellow vest” crisis in December.
        The 41-year-old leader has launched a series of debates across the country aimed at reconnecting with voters, particularly in rural areas.
        Weekly “yellow vest” marches continue every Saturday, but turnout has fallen and support for the movement among the broader public as waned, polls show.
        Named after the fluorescent jackets motorists must keep in their cars, the grassroot “yellow vest” protests started in mid-November as a revolt against high prices at the pump, before morphing into a broader challenge to Macron’s pro-business policies.
    (Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Alison Williams)

    2/26/2019 Smollett case: ‘There’s a lot more evidence’ - Police presumed actor a victim until ‘47th hour’ by Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY
        Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says “Empire” star Jussie Smollett “still has the presumption of innocence and he still has his opportunity in court if he chooses to go that route.”
        But, as he told “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts on Monday, “there’s a lot more evidence that hasn’t been presented yet that doesn’t support the version that he gave us.    There’s still a lot of video evidence, physical evidence and testimony that doesn’t support what he said happened.”
        Johnson told Roberts that detectives considered Smollett a victim and not a suspect right up until the final hour before they had to release the two brothers who were arrested in connection with the case unless they charged them.
        “I refused to characterize Jussie Smollett as a suspect unless we had concrete evidence,” Johnson said.    “The 47th hour that we had those two individuals in custody is when it changed.”
        That’s when Abel and Ola Osundairo, two American-born brothers of Nigerian descent who reside in Chicago and have worked on “Empire,” became cooperating witnesses, he said.
        “We worked very closely with their lawyer, and (she) went in there to talk to them, and whatever she said to them apparently got through to them – to just tell the truth about what happened,” Johnson said.    “And that’s what they decided to do.”
        That’s not to say he and the detectives working the case didn’t have their doubts about Smollett’s story, he said.
        “There were some questions” about Smollett’s account of what happened," Johnson said, though he also noted that’s not unusual: “There’s always questions when people are describing incidents to us.”
        He added, “What’s important for people to realize is it’s not the Chicago police saying he did something.    It’s the evidence, the facts, the witnesses that are saying this.”
        The key piece of evidence?
        A canceled check signed by Smollett.    The brothers say he “paid them $3,500 with a check ... to carry out this incident.”
        Smollett’s attorneys have said the check, made out to Abel Ola Osundairo, was for personal training sessions and nutrition plans.
        Johnson, who says he grew up at the end of the civil rights era in one of “the most notorious housing projects in the country,” described the decision to use a noose in the incident as particularly offensive.    Smollett had claimed two men threw a rope around his neck when he was attacked.
        “The Chicago Police Department has its issues with racism and excessive force and all of that. And I’m acutely aware of that,” he said.    “But we didn’t earn this particular incident, and I just refuse to let us take that shot if we have evidence of the contrary."
        “I want people to understand that (filing a false police report) is a damaging thing to a city and to a police department.    It’s my responsibility to make sure the record gets set straight.”
    Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says the actor paid to stage an attack after
    another attempt to gain attention failed. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

    2/26/2019 White House issues prospective veto of national emergency block by OAN Newsroom
        A Democrat attempt to block President Trump’s national emergency is virtually dead in the water after the White House issued a preemptive veto threat.
        In a statement from the White House, the administration laid out why the declaration is a matter of national security, and said efforts to block it undermine the president’s ability to respond effectively to security threats.
        This comes as a resolution makes its way through Congress, and is expected to pass the House and Senate Tuesday.     This would be the first veto President Trump has issued since taking office.
    An American flag flies along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, Calif. (Photi/Denis Poroy/AP)
        Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are blasting Democrats over their efforts to block the national emergency declaration.
        On Tuesday, Utah Congressman Chris Stewart vowed to vote against the bill, because it denies there is an emergency at the border.    Stewart said while he doesn’t support President Trump curtailing Congress, he does believe the border crisis does constitute a national emergency. He added, the declaration could have been avoided entirely if Democrats had come to the table beforehand.
        “It’s really too bad because there’s a wasted opportunity here, there is a lot of conservatives that have been uncomfortable with this emergency power precedence,” he stated.    “If the Democrats had been willing to work with us on something more broad and something that would have applied in future situations, I think they would have had a much more bipartisan response to that.”
        However, the congressman did voice the concern future presidents could weaponize national emergencies if Congress doesn’t approve certain legislation.

    2/26/2019 Senate Democrats block infanticide bill by OAN Newsroom
        The Senate has blocked a measure aimed at punishing doctors, who fail to provide medical care to a child that is born after an attempted abortion.
        Democrats voted against the ‘Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act’ on Monday along a 53-to-44 vote.    The bill would require health care professionals to exercise the same quality of care to a child who survives an abortion as any other life.    Opponents of the bill said it amounted to an attack against abortion rights, and prevented doctors from using their own judgment.
        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to put Democrats on the record over the issue after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam voiced his support for infanticide.
        “This bill would make clear that in the United States of America in the year 2019 the medical professionals on-hand, when a baby is born alive, need to maintain their basic ethical and professional responsibilities to that newborn,” stated McConnell.
        Three Democrats joined Republicans in the vote, including Senator Bob Casey, Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Doug Jones. Meanwhile, every Democrat who has announced a 2020 presidential bid voted no.
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, joined by Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., center, and Sen. Richard Shelby,
    R-Ala., right, speak to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
        Meanwhile, President Trump took aim at Senate Democrats for voting against the infanticide bill.
        In a tweet late Monday, the president called the left’s position on abortion “so extreme” that this will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in history.    The president went on to say despite both sides failing to come to a consensus, one thing they should all agree on is “protecting the lives of innocent babies.”
        Trump tweet: "Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth....
        Trump tweet: “....This will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress. If there is one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies.”
    [So 44 Senate Democrats are on record promoting Infanticide and about 7 of them are running for President in 2020.].

    2/26/2019 White House slams Michael Cohen as ‘disgraced felon’ and ‘convicted liar’ by OAN Newsroom
        The White House slammed Michael Cohen ahead of his first day of hearings on Capitol Hill.
        In a statement released Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called Cohen a “disgraced felon,” who is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements.    She also said we can expect more of the same from him this week as he go before Congress.
        Sanders added, it’s “laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word.”
        The press secretary’s comments came as Cohen privately testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.    He is also slated to appear before two House panels later this week.
    Michael Cohen, left, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, arrives to testify before a closed door hearing of the
    Senate Intelligence Committee accompanied by his lawyer Lanny Davis of Washington, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    2/26/2019 Democrats on oversight panel to quiz ex-Trump lawyer Cohen on hush money payments: memo by Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne
    Former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives to testify behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee
    inside the Senate Hart Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers will question U.S. President Donald Trump’s former aide Michael Cohen at a public hearing on Wednesday over whether Trump’s lawyers misled ethics officials about illegal hush payments to women during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a memo seen by Reuters.
        Cohen will be asked in the House of Representatives Oversight Committee about his decade of work as Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described “fixer” before he pleaded guilty to crimes last year and turned on his former boss.
        A Democratic staff memo outlining plans for the hearing said Trump’s lawyers “appeared to provide false information” to federal ethics officials about whether Trump reimbursed Cohen for hush payments made to a former adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, who said she had sex with Trump in 2006.
        The White House had no immediate comment on the Democrats’ assertions on Tuesday.
        Cohen pleaded guilty last August to helping arrange a $130,000 payment to Daniels, and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, in violation of campaign finance laws.
        Cohen said Trump directed him to organize the payments.    Trump has denied the claim and has called his former aide a “rat.”    In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.    A judge ordered Cohen to begin his sentence on March 6.
        Cohen was set to offer lawmakers new information about Trump’s private affairs over three consecutive days of discussion with congressional committees that began on Tuesday.    White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, commenting on the committee hearings, said: “It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
        Federal prosecutors in New York said in December that Trump ordered the illegal payments to protect his election campaign.
        The House Oversight Committee is particularly interested in the payment to Daniels, whom Cohen paid from his own funds, according to people familiar with the probe.
        The Democrats’ memo said Trump “made no mention of any liability owed to Mr. Cohen” in a personal financial disclosure signed by the president and filed with the Office of Government Ethics on June 14, 2017, covering the period January 2016 to April 15, 2017.
        It said that disclosure does not tally with prosecutors’ findings that the president’s Trump Organization real estate firm paid Cohen $35,000 per month throughout 2017 for a range of services, including reimbursement for his payment to Daniels.
        Cohen’s testimony coincides with talk in Washington that Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be near the end of his probe into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in collusion with Trump’s campaign, which Moscow and Trump deny.
    (Reporting By Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne; editing by Grant McCool)

    2/26/2019 N.Y. governor signs ‘red flag’ gun bill, will allow guns to be taken from homes by OAN Newsroom
        Police will soon have the right to take guns away from citizens in New York State if a judge decides they could hurt themselves or others.    This notion is the highlight of the bill signed into law by the state’s Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by his side.
        The law will allow family members, law enforcement as well as administrators and teachers in schools to report individuals, including students, to a judge.
        Cuomo boasted this is the first ‘red flag’ bill of its kind in the country to include school officials.    He stood before supporters at a college in New York City to celebrate.    While addressing the audience, Cuomo slammed the president’s idea to arm teachers.
        “Arm the teacher, so when the bad person comes into the classroom there can be a shootout in the classroom — I mean it is really ludicrous and nonsensical,” he stated.
        The governor argued New York’s law will be a better way to empower them.
        “It is common sense, if you believe that was going to happen, why would you sit back and do nothing?” Cuomo asked.    “You protect the individual’s rights, because you go to a judge and there’s a court ordered evaluation.”
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second from left, joins New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, center, as he signs
    a gun control bill at a ceremony in New York, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cuomo signed a “red flag” bill, which attempts
    to prevent people who present a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or owning a gun. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
        A judge will be allowed to issue a “temporary extreme risk protection order” restricting any person’s right to buy or possess firearms for nearly a week before another hearing to extend the order to one year.    Any guns inside the their home could be forcibly taken away by law enforcement.
        Speaker Pelosi also spoke to the supportive crowd, claiming the law is not meant to stigmatize people with mental illnesses.
        “We just want to identify, prioritize to save lives and to save lives of the person themselves, a danger to themselves or to others,” she explained.
        However, right before that she stated 99-percent of people diagnosed by a mental health professional are — what she called — “law abiding citizens.”
        Opponents argue the law will take away gun owner’s due process rights, with the National Rifle Association calling it the “most dangerous” out of all the gun control bills considered by New York lawmakers in 2019.
        Despite that, the bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature in January.    The law is now scheduled to take effect in August.
    [Watch as the leftist Pelosi regime starts the process to take your Second Amendment rights away in New York, and this is why Venzuella a Socialist country used the police and army to take all their weapons away.    A teacher in the school to stop a shooter works, since the police will be too busy taking Americans guns from them.].

    2/26/2019 Secretary of State Pompeo meets with Vietnamese foreign minister & deputy prime minister by OAN Newsroom
        Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met his Vietnamese counterparts ahead of the Hanoi summit on Tuesday.
        The top U.S. State Department official was welcomed by the Vietnamese deputy prime minister and the country’s foreign minister.    The photo-op was cordial as Pompeo thanked the diplomats for hosting the high-stakes summit in their country.
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh
    arrive for a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Pompeo is in Vietnam for a
    second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
        “It is great to be back, it is very good to see you again — I want to thank you and your whole team and the Vietnamese people for hosting this summit as well,” said Pompeo.    “You have done remarkable work and it’s a demonstration, I think, of the relationship between our two countries, and I look forward to our conversations today and the meetings between our two leaders tomorrow as well.”
        Pompeo has been President Trump’s top envoy throughout the negotiation process with North Korea, and has made several trips to Pyongyang to ensure denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    2/26/2019 U.S. Agriculture Secretary: U.S. team looking for China to slash ethanol tariffs by OAN Newsroom
        Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is offering more insight into the state of ongoing trade talks with China.    While speaking to reporters Tuesday, Perdue claimed trade negotiators have asked China to reduce tariffs on U.S. ethanol, but have not gotten a response from Beijing yet.    He said he wants to see China cut tariffs to below 15-percent.
        The ethanol sector and farmers in general have been hurt by Chinese tariffs.    The U.S. may be looking to get more concessions from China after the president delayed the U.S. tariff hike deadline, which was slated for Friday.
    Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 14, 2018. (Photo/Andrew Harnik/AP)
        Former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus also discussed trade talks Tuesday. He stressed the importance of a possible summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
        “Maybe there’s going to be a summit in Mar-a-Lago, which announces some kind of a deal,” said Baucus.    “Um, I think, frankly, it’s going to be helpful, but China — although it will probably buy a lot more America products and reduce the trade deficit — will not in any significant way address some of the core structural problems that we Americans are concerned with.”
        The U.S. trade team has made enforcement of China’s promises a major sticking point during trade talks, and have said Beijing must follow through on it’s commitments.

    2/26/2019 Venezuela opposition’s U.S. envoy asks Trump to step up pressure on Maduro
    Carlos Vecchio, the envoy to the U.S. for Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido, answers questions during
    an interview with Reuters in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
        (Reuters) – The Venezuelan opposition’s envoy to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, met with U.S. President Donald Trump recently and asked him to increase pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro, Vecchio’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.
        Vecchio wrote in a tweet that he met with Trump when the president made a speech in Florida.    In the Feb. 18 speech, Trump warned members of Venezuela’s military who remain loyal to Maduro that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country.
        The United States was among the first countries to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader after he swore himself in as president last month, arguing Maduro’s May 2018 re-election was a sham.
        The statement from the opposition’s envoy came a day after the United States targeted Venezuela’s government with new sanctions and called on allies to freeze the assets of state-owned oil company PDVSA after deadly violence blocked humanitarian aid from the country over the weekend.
        Maduro denies his oil-rich nation has need for humanitarian aid and accuses Guaido of being a coup-mongering puppet for Trump.
        U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday in Bogota that the aid blockage steeled the United States’ resolve to support Guaido.
    (Reporting by Luc Cohen; writing by Meredith Mazzilli; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

    2/27/2019 Oil up $1.16 to $56.66, DOW down 33 to 26,058.

    2/27/2019 Lawmaker rips Trump climate science panel by Ledyard King, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – The Democratic chairman of a key congressional panel Tuesday characterized the Trump administration’s latest efforts to challenge the science behind climate change as “dangerous.”
        The comments by Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing federal climate funding, came amid news reports that White House officials are putting together a national security advisory panel aimed at countering the science behind human-caused global warming.
        The panel’s findings could give President Donald Trump, who has challenged his own government’s conclusions about the causes of and threats from climate change, more ammunition to ignore it.
        Serrano, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, said that would be perilous.
        “This unaccountable working group appears set to deliberately cherry-pick data and science with the sole purpose of pushing back against the widely accepted science around climate change,” he said at a hearing Tuesday that featured government scientists testifying on the crisis.    “This only serves to diminish the magnitude of this crisis, and it is dangerous.”
        The science is largely settled on climate change, but the public relations war is heating up as both sides navigate an issue that is expected to be a top issue in the 2020 election.
        Democrats who retook the House after the 2018 midterm election have been holding numerous hearings on the crisis.

    2/27/2019 Cohen to level accusations at Trump by Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, the former lawyer and problem-solver for Donald Trump who has confessed to committing crimes for Trump’s benefit, is scheduled to testify for the first time in public Wednesday before members of Congress eager to explore the details of his work for the president.
        Cohen has pleaded guilty and agreed to provide evidence to prosecutors in two separate criminal investigations into Trump and those around him.    He admitted to illegally paying hush money to two women who claimed to have had sex with Trump and lying to Congress about the extent of negotiations for a Trump real-estate project in Russia.
        The question looming over his testimony will be whether the president himself participated in those crimes.
        A person familiar with Cohen’s planned testimony said he is prepared to testify about “criminal conduct” by Trump after he assumed the presidency.    The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly, declined to characterize the conduct, but said it happened during Trump’s first year in the White House.
        Trump has said he was not involved in Cohen’s crimes. He argued some of them weren’t crimes at all, and derided Cohen as a “liar” and a “rat.”    Both Cohen and the Justice Department have said in court that Trump directed the payoffs to the two women in the final months of the 2016 campaign.    And prosecutors have confirmed that they are scrutinizing the circumstances that led     Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
        The House Oversight and Reform Committee plans to delve widely into Trump’s business and finances.
        The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
        Cohen met behind closed doors Tuesday with the Senate Intelligence Committee, and is scheduled to appear in private Thursday before the House intelligence panel.    Both of those committees planned to focus their questioning on their investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
        Asked Tuesday what he hoped to learn from a man who confessed to lying to Congress, the chairman of the Senate intelligence panel, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., replied: “the truth.”
        The oversight chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Congress has an obligation to conduct independent oversight of the executive branch.
        The hearing, where Cohen is appearing voluntarily after being subpoenaed by the Senate, is not supposed to include questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election, which is being investigated by the House and Senate intelligence committees and special counsel Robert Mueller.
        Republicans are expected to attack Cohen’s credibility.    Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the panel, expressed disappointment with limits on questions and said he planned to ask Cohen about the crimes he admitted and other activities he refused to disclose.    Jordan criticized Democrats for promoting an admitted liar as part of an effort to impeach Trump.
        “Mr. Cohen cannot be trusted to partake in honest fact-finding before our body,” Jordan said.
    Contributing: Kevin Johnson
    Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, is scheduled to testify
    Wednesday before members of Congress. MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

    2/27/2019 Melting missiles: just one problem with F-35s stopping North Korea rockets by Mike Stone
    FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany,
    April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt -/File Photo
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Looking for a quick way to stop North Korean missiles immediately after lift-off, the Pentagon is studying as a near-term option whether a group of F-35 fighter jets hovering around North Korean airspace could pick off freshly-launched rockets.
        In its current form, the idea defies physics, missile defense experts say.    It calls for interceptor missiles that fly so fast they could melt one expert said, and the only surefire way for U.S. military aircraft to defeat a missile with current technology would be to fly in hostile airspace, according to three experts interviewed by Reuters.
        The idea, part of a six-month study launched last month, shows how the Pentagon is seeking ways to neutralize the threat posed by Pyongyang even as President Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week in Vietnam in his effort to stop Kim’s nuclear program.
        Concern over U.S. missile defenses has grown with the escalating threat from North Korea.    Two years ago North Korea conducted about a dozen missile tests, some with multiple rockets, including the launch of a suspected inter-continental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S. mainland.    They also tested a purported hydrogen bomb.
        The F-35 plan under study would likely involve continuously flying a group of the stealthy jets within range of known North Korean missile sites.    Once a missile is launched towards U.S. territory, the F-35’s advanced sensors would detect and then fire a special air-to-air missile before the Pyongyang projectile exits the atmosphere, the latest missile defense strategy and Pentagon leadership have said.
        Military officials say the F-35 option is the one they want to test first because it could use existing military hardware and potentially be operational sooner than other strategies, and at a relatively low cost.    At the same time Pentagon leadership says the tests may reveal a new interceptor is needed, or that the F-35 may only have a role in detecting the just-launched missile and not necessarily also shoot it down.
        Speaking about that option after last month’s release of the defense strategy review, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin said: “we do think it could be both cost effective and … within the bounds of math and physics.”
        Among other proposals included in the review was one involving lasers mounted on drones – proposed to stop missiles just after take-off in what is called the boost phase.
        During this portion of the flight the missile is most vulnerable, flying at its slowest speed, easily detected by the heat from its engines, and incapable of evading interceptors as it accelerates to break out of the earth’s atmosphere.
        Geography complicates the F-35 plan. Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington noted that jets lying in wait for a North Korean missile would in theory need to respect North Korean airspace.    But remaining at such a distance could leave the jets too far from the missile launch to be effective.
        Theodore Postol, a missile defense expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said even a modified air-to-air missile would be too slow to take out an intercontinental ballistic missile before it exited the atmosphere.
        Air-to-air missiles like those made by Raytheon Co would only have an estimated 200 seconds to hit a ballistic missile before reaching an altitude where the air is too thin to maneuver.    Given that it would take an F-35 approximately 50-60 seconds to detect, lock onto and launch an air-to-air missile, Postol said, the jet would need to be very close to the ballistic missile to take it out.
        “If you are on top of it you can shoot it down,” the retired rocket scientist said.    “But the odds are going to be very low that you can be on top of it.”
        Even if a much faster and lighter version air-to-air missile was mounted in an F-35 jet, depending on the distance the weapon would have to fly so fast it would begin to melt, Postol added.
        Despite the obstacles, the very fact that Pentagon was weighing such an option was significant, Karako said.    “This shows a broader cultural shift.”    Rather than some giant program, Karako said, the Pentagon is considering “a mission that is integrated into a broader mesh of tactical programs the Department of Defense can call on.”
        Making it work will be a challenge, though.
        “You would need to be very close to the launch site, within North Korea itself, said physicist Laura Grego, who studies missile defense at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
        Grego said that even if the air-to-air missile traveled at five times the speed of sound, the F-35 would need to be within about 50 miles of the missile, “probably closer, to be realistic.”
        That gives a huge advantage to the stealthy F-35 which could get much closer to a possible launch area than a non-stealth aircraft.
        “This is one of the advantages of the F-35,” said retired U.S. general David Deptula.    He added that the radar-evading jets “can get in much closer to an adversary launch area than … a non-stealthy aircraft.”
        That suggests that by using the F-35 made by Lockheed Martin, the U.S. could secretly monitor for ballistic missile launches with jets flying inside North Korean airspace.
    (Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Chris Sanders and Tomasz Janowski)

    2/27/2019 President Trump praises Fiat Chrysler for opening new U.S. factory by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump is praising Fiat Chrysler for bringing jobs back to the U.S.    In a recent tweet from Vietnam, the president said the company is adding 6,500 jobs in Michigan in a four billion dollar investment to double its hourly workforce.
        The goal of expanding its factories is to boost production of SUVs and trucks.
        Trump tweet: “Fiat Chrysler will be adding more than 6,500 JOBS in Michigan (Detroit area), doubling its hourly workforce as part of a 4.5 Billion Dollar investment.    Thank you Fiat Chrysler.    They are all coming back to the USA, it’s where the action is!
        This is the first time an American automaker has built a new factory in the U.S. since 2006.
        “We are announcing today that Fiat Chrysler has designated the city of Detroit as its first choice for the first auto assembly plant built in the United States in more than a decade,” announced Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
        President Trump said, “they are all coming back to the USA,” because “that’s where the action is.”
    Jeep vehicles are parked outside the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.
    Fiat Chrysler announced plans on Tuesday for a new Jeep factory, the city’s first new auto plant in a generation,
    as part of a $4.5 billion manufacturing expansion in southeast Michigan. FCA said it would convert the Mack Avenue Engine factory
    to an assembly plant for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and make an investment at Jefferson North Assembly Plant to
    retool and modernize the factory for continued production of the Dodge Durango. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    2/27/2019 Convicted spy Marina Butina to remain jailed by OAN Newsroom
    In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin then a
    member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia.. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)
        Convicted Russian spy Maria Butina’s sentencing is pushed back by prosecutors due to her cooperation in other investigations.    Assistant U.S. attorney Erik Kenerson asked for the extension during a hearing Tuesday in front of the federal judge overseeing her case.
        Butina has been in jailed since last summer, but has vehemently denied ever being employed or paid by the Kremlin.    She said she’s now hated in Russia, because she is seen as an American spy.
        This comes after she pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent back in December.
        Her attorney — Robert Driscoll — provided an update on her living conditions behind bars, following the hearing.
        “She’s not in solitary anymore, she’s in general population, so she’s able to read, she gets visitation from her priest every week — Russian Orthodox priest father Robert Viktor — the attorneys see her pretty much every day or every other day, and she can call home a couple times a week to talk to her parents, so she’s doing as well as can be expected,” he explained.
        Butina is set to be sentenced in March, where she faces a maximum of five-years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine and deportation.

    2/27/2019 Move over ayatollahs: Bolton turns tweets and talons on Maduro by Roberta Rampton
    A cartoon caricature of John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, is seen in this
    image provided by Venezuelan cartoonist Fernando Pinilla that now hangs framed on the wall of Bolton's West Wing
    office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 27, 2019. Courtesy Fernando Pinilla/Handout via REUTERS
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, shakes stars-and-stripes maracas as he dreams of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro behind bars in an orange prison suit.
        “Guantanamero … Maduro Guantanamero …,” Bolton sings in a caricature by Venezuelan cartoonist Fernando Pinilla – a play on both the well-known Cuban song, and the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
        A mounted copy of the cartoon from Miami newspaper Diario Las Americas has joined the trophy wall in Bolton’s West Wing office, which until now has been dominated by mementos associated with his signature foreign policy fight: Iran.
        One cartoon features an ayatollah hearing about Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
        The new addition is a sign of how Bolton’s hawkish focus has zeroed in on a new target – getting Maduro to leave Venezuela.    It’s a battle he has waged on Twitter, where his acid-tongued trolling of the socialist leader has made him one of the Trump administration’s fiercest voices on the issue.
        The United States has led an international effort to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, considering Maduro’s 2018 re-election a sham.
        Since January, Bolton has fired off more than 130 withering missives directed at Maduro, accounting for three quarters of all his Twitter activity in that time and more than a third of all his tweets since Trump named him national security adviser in March 2018.
        A spokesman for Bolton declined comment on the strategy.
        Bolton, a veteran neoconservative who critics call a warmonger, has tweeted far more about Venezuela in his time as national security adviser than any other topic, including Iran (34 tweets) or the Middle East and Syria (29 tweets).
        It was Bolton’s most viral Venezuela tweet that was the genesis for the cartoon that now graces his office.
        “I wish Nicolas Maduro and his top advisors a long, quiet retirement, living on a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela,” Bolton said, a zing that has since been retweeted 19,000 times and liked 39,000 times.
        The next day, Bolton talked about the tweet with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and added a threat: “The sooner he takes advantage of that, the sooner he’s likely to have a nice, quiet retirement on a pretty beach, rather than being in some other beach area like Guantanamo,” Bolton said.     In Caracas, Pinilla heard about Bolton’s warning and was inspired.
        “It was easy to imagine that it would be the soundtrack of that arrest, which is our dream,” said Pinilla, who said he was surprised and honored when he learned from Reuters that his work was hanging on Bolton’s wall.
    ‘I DREAM OF BOLTON’     Earlier this month, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza held up his phone at a United Nations press conference, brandishing a Bolton tweet warning countries and companies against buying oil and gold from Maduro’s government.
        “What he’s trying to do here is give orders,” Arreaza complained to reporters.
        Arreaza follows Bolton on Twitter.    Bolton does not follow him back.
        “Bolton’s gangster-style language and threats are proof of the most sublime diplomatic practice.    How regrettable that US foreign policy has fallen into the hands of such a gang,” Arreaza tweeted last week.
        While Bolton has far fewer followers than Maduro – 543,000 to Maduro’s 3.5 million – Bolton has stronger stats on “engagement,” a measurement of how readers connect with a message, noted Matthias Luefkens, who produces an annual “Twiplomacy” study on how world leaders use Twitter.
        “His language is very bold, very daring, direct.    It’s not diplomatic language that he uses,” said Luefkens, who works for the public relations firm BCW Global in Geneva.
        The strategy bypasses the time-sucking layers of approvals needed to release a traditional White House statement and also side-steps the media.
        “It’s the Trump formula of avoiding the gatekeepers,” said Philip Seib, who writes about diplomacy and social media at the University of Southern California’s School for Communication and Journalism.
        Bolton’s brash style won fans in Caracas among supporters of opposition leader Guaido, like Martha Anez.    She gushed about the mustachioed Trump adviser as she welcomed her friends to a crochet circle in her home in a well-to-do district earlier this month.
        “I dream of Bolton!” Anez quipped.    “The first thing I do in the morning, even before my coffee, is check whether or not the gringos have said they will intervene.    Here we need a square in honor of Bolton! Because he has helped us,” she said.
    (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; additional reporting by Sarah Marsh and Shaylim Valderrama in Caracas and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

    2/27/2019 Exclusive: Venezuela removed 8 tons of central bank gold last week – legislator by Corina Pons and Mayela Armas
    FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro touches a gold bar as he speaks during a meeting with the ministers
    responsible for the economic sector at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo
        CARACAS (Reuters) – At least 8 tons of gold were removed from the Venezuelan central bank’s vaults last week, an opposition legislator and three government sources told Reuters, in the latest sign of President Nicolas Maduro’s desperation to raise hard currency amid tightening sanctions.
        The gold was removed in government vehicles between Wednesday and Friday last week when there were no regular security guards present at the bank, Legislator Angel Alvarado and the three government sources said.
        “They plan to sell it abroad illegally,” Alvarado said in an interview.
        The central bank did not respond to requests for comment.
        Alvarado and the government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say where the central bank was sending the gold.    They said the operation took place while central bank head Calixto Ortega was abroad on a trip.
        In 2018, 23 tons of mined gold were transported from Venezuela to Istanbul by plane, according to sources and Turkish government data.
        The central bank bought part of this gold from primitive gold-mining camps in the south of Venezuela and exported it to Turkey and other countries to finance the purchase of basic food supplies, given widespread shortages, according to more than 30 people with knowledge of the trade.
        Some 20 tons of monetary gold were also removed from the central bank’s vaults in 2018, according to the bank’s data, leaving 140 tonnes remaining, the lowest level in 75 years.
        Abu Dhabi investment firm Noor Capital said on Feb. 1 that it bought 3 tons of gold on Jan. 21 from the Venezuelan central bank and would not buy more until Venezuela’s situation stabilized. Noor Capital said its purchase was in accordance with “international standards and laws in place” as of that date.
        Maduro’s government has been seeking to repatriate some 31 tons of gold in the Bank of England’s vaults on fears it could be caught up in international sanctions on the country.
        Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Wednesday, during a United Nations meeting in Geneva, that the Bank of England had blocked the government’s assets.
        Maduro’s government has resorted to selling off gold after falling oil production, the country’s wider economic collapse and mounting sanctions hit public income and made it hard for the country to access credit.
        The United States, which is backing an attempt by opposition leader Juan Guaido to force Maduro to step down and call new elections, has warned bankers and traders not to deal in Venezuelan gold.
    (Reporting by Corina Pons and Mayela Armas; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Christian Plumb and Leslie Adler)

    2/27/2019 U.N. Security Council to vote on rival U.S., Russian proposals on Venezuela by Michelle Nichols
    FILE PHOTO: Members of the United Nations Security Council gather during a meeting about the
    situation in Venezuela, in New York, U.S., February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
        UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Thursday on rival U.S. and Russian draft resolutions on Venezuela, diplomats said, with Washington’s proposal calling for free and fair presidential elections and unhindered aid delivery.
        The Russian draft text, seen by Reuters, expresses support for a political solution to the crisis and backs the Venezuelan government as the primary coordinator of international assistance efforts in the country.
        A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass.    Diplomats said the U.S. draft is likely to gain the minimum nine votes to force a likely Russian veto, while the Russian draft is expected to fail without the need for a U.S. veto.
        Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads over a U.S.-led campaign for international recognition of Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the country’s elected National Assembly, over President Nicholas Maduro.    Guaido last month declared himself the interim head of state.
        The U.S. draft resolution, seen by Reuters, asks U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help ensure there is a free, fair and credible presidential election with international observers.    It stresses the need to ensure the safety of all the members of Venezuela’s National Assembly.
        The U.S. envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that he was concerned for Guaido’s safety upon his return to Venezuela.
        Guaido crossed into Colombia on Saturday in preparation for efforts to move aid over the border to Venezuela.    He then met with members of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations from Argentina to Canada, on Monday in Bogota.
        The Russian draft resolution expresses concern over threats to use force against Venezuela. U.S. President Donald Trump has all options are on the table in dealing with Venezuela.
        The United States and dozens of other nations have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president, but Maduro still controls the military, state institutions and oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, which provides 90 percent of the country’s export revenue.
        The United States targeted Venezuela’s government with new sanctions on Monday and called on allies to freeze the assets of state-owned PDVSA after deadly violence blocked humanitarian aid from reaching the country over the weekend.
        In Geneva, Venezuela Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council, suggested on Wednesday that Maduro and U.S. President Donald Trump meet to “try to find common ground and explain their differences.”
        Maduro also “stands ready for dialogue” with the Venezuelan opposition, he said.
    (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker)

    2/27/2019 Michael Cohen returns to Capitol Hill to testify before House Oversight Committee by OAN Newsroom
        Michael Cohen returned to Capitol Hill Wednesday to publicly testify before the House Oversight Committee.
        Ahead of opening statements, Republican Congressman Mark Meadows immediately raised a point of order to move to postpone the hearing, because Cohen’s testimony was not submitted to the panel 24-hours in advance in accordance with committee rules.    However, the motion was struck down.
        During his opening statement, Cohen told lawmakers the president instructed him to lie about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.    He also called him a racist and accused him of knowing about damaging emails WikiLeaks obtained on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
        “He is a racist, he is a con man, and he is a cheat,” stated Cohen.    “He was a presidential candidate, who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop on Democratic National Committee emails.”
        He also accused President Trump of threatening him and his family.
    Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, listens to a question as he testifies before the
    House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
        Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone has refuted Michael Cohen’s allegation about the president’s knowledge of his contact with WikiLeaks.    On Wednesday, he told The Hill that Cohen’s’ claim “is not true.”    Stone, who has been charged in the special counsel’s probe, has previously denied knowing in advance about the emails or having direct contact with WikiLeaks.
        In addition to Stone’s denial, Cohen reportedly doesn’t have any evidence other than his word to support his allegation.
        Both the president and Republicans have accused Cohen of making up allegations in order to reduce his prison sentence after he was convicted of lying to Congress among other crimes.

        Trump said Cohen “lied a lot” during Congressional testimony in Washington on Wednesday, though he had told the truth when he said there had been “no collusion” with Russia.

    2/27/2019 Oil up $1.44 to$56.94, DOW down 73 to 25,985.

    2/27/2019 State congressmen grill Cohen -Comer: Ex-Trump attorney isn’t ‘capable of telling the truth’ by Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
        Two of Kentucky’s Republican representatives stuck up for President Donald Trump against blistering testimony Wednesday from his former attorney.
        During his hours long testimony in the House, Michael Cohen called Trump a “con man,” “cheat” and “racist.”
        But U.S. Rep. James Comer, who has said he often speaks with Trump, said he didn’t believe Cohen “is capable of telling the truth.”    Rep. Thomas Massie of Northern Kentucky noted that Cohen testified that he paid a woman who said she had an affair with Trump without considering if it was legal.
        “I didn’t ask whether you were a good ‘fixer,’” Massie said at one point.    “I asked whether you were a good lawyer.”
        “Sometimes you have to meld both together,” Cohen said.    “I needed to, at that time, to ensure and protect Mr. Trump, and ... I’m clearly suffering the penalty of, I was clearly on the side of wrong.”
        Cohen is to serve three years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple crimes, including lying to Congress.
        “I didn’t ask whether you were a good ‘fixer.’    I asked whether you were a good lawyer.” Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican representative.

    2/27/2019 Cohen’s testimony seen as Act 1 of larger saga - Impeachment threat, Mueller probe’s end loom by John Fritze and Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen’s dramatic congressional testimony against President Donald Trump on Wednesday came loaded with lurid details, signed checks and partisan sniping – offering a level of spectacle that was unusual, even for Washington.
        But Democrats and Republicans signaled that Cohen’s remarks before the House Oversight Committee – his first extensive public remarks about his role as Trump’s personal attorney – were only a first act in a larger drama.
        As Democrats sought to tease new details out of Cohen, a pugnacious former attorney, and Republicans tried to undermine his credibility, both sides were staking out talking points to be replayed in coming weeks as lawmakers look ahead to the next plot twist: the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the 2016 election.
        “Mr. Cohen’s testimony is the beginning of the process, not the end,” House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said during a hearing.
        With the 2020 presidential election campaign already underway, lawmakers are aware of another possibility: Democrats now in control of the House might decide to impeach Trump. Republicans accused Democrats of having that goal in mind by calling Cohen to testify.     Republicans repeatedly raised the specter of impeachment from Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic donor and a critic of Trump. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the committee, and others questioned who was paying for Cohen’s attorney, implying it might be Steyer or other Democratic opponents of Trump.
        “You’re their patsy today,” Jordan said.    “They’ve got to find somebody somewhere to say something so they can try to remove the president from office because Tom Steyer told him to.”
        Cohen said his attorneys were not receiving money.    Steyer said he is not involved.
        Cohen often seemed more like an amused spectator than the star witness as the drama unfolded.    But he also, at times, scolded and warned Republicans, including for signs they posted such as one reading: “LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!
    .     “This is really unbecoming of Congress,” Cohen said.
        Cummings vowed to use the committee as a check on the Trump administration, a level of oversight he has long complained was missing when Republicans ruled.
        “The days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are over,” Cummings said at the start of the hearing.
        Jordan, a co-founder of the upstart conservative House Freedom Caucus, came out swinging in defense of Trump.
        “Your chairmanship will always be identified by this hearing,” Jordan said.    “You have stacked the deck against the truth.”
    Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, often seemed more like an amused spectator than the star witness Tuesday. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

    2/27/2019 Cohen: Trump ‘was telling me to lie’ - Fireworks fly from both sides in day of blistering testimony by Bart Jansen, Kevin Johnson and Brad Heath, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, the man tasked with keeping Donald Trump’s deepest secrets, offered Congress a damning portrait of his former boss on Wednesday, saying the president encouraged him to lie to Congress and the public for Trump’s protection.
        During an often combative appearance before a House committee, Cohen delivered a searing account of his dealings with the man who he helped win the White House, casting Trump as a “racist,” a “con man” and a “cheat” and tying the White House more directly than ever to criminal investigations that have shadowed Trump’s presidency.
        And when his own credibility was directly and frequently challenged as a recently convicted felon who lied to Congress two years ago about his own dealings on behalf of the president, Cohen countered that he had served Trump and his business for a decade and that few people are in a better position to offer insights about his former boss and the organization he built.
        “He doesn’t give orders,” Cohen told the committee.    “He speaks in a code.”
        In more than six hours of sworn testimony, Cohen asserted that Trump knew WikiLeaks planned to release stolen emails that were damaging to political rival Hillary Clinton.    “Wouldn’t that be great,” he said Trump replied when informed of the prospect during the 2016 campaign.
        Cohen told the panel that Trump helped engineer and personally reimbursed Cohen for an illegal hush-money payment to a porn star, then told him to lie about the arrangement. And he said the president indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress about his pursuit of a potentially lucrative Trump Tower development in Moscow, even as Trump repeatedly denied any business interests in Russia throughout the 2016 campaign.     “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress,” Cohen said.    “That’s not how he operates.    He would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing.    In his way he was telling me to lie about it.”
        The disclosures went on as Cohen suggested that Trump knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, headed by Donald Trump Jr., in which a Russian lawyer promised to provide damaging information on Clinton.    “I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: ‘The meeting is all set.’    I remember Mr. Trump, saying, ‘OK, good. ... Let me know.”
        Cohen, however, could not pinpoint when he saw the interaction between father and son.    Nor did he elaborate on whether the two could have been referring to another unrelated meeting.
        The series of events described by Cohen, who is set to begin a three-year prison term for pleading guilty to a string of financial crimes and lying to Congress, are at the heart of several criminal investigations, including Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.    And he disclosed that he remains in “constant contact” with federal prosecutors from Manhattan who are in the midst of a wide-ranging review that includes the Trump Organization.
        He acknowledged that he hoped his cooperation could lead to a reduced prison term.
        “I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him,” Cohen said.    “I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.    He is a racist.    He is a con man.    He is a cheat.”
        Cohen acknowledged his past criminal conduct and said his testimony represented a clean break from Trump, whose actions Cohen described as akin to those of a Mob boss.
        “I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man.    I have fixed things, but I am no longer your fixer, Mr. Trump,” Cohen said, adding that he would not seek or accept a pardon should one be offered by the president.
        Cohen arrived at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday with documents that appeared to back up some of his claims, including a $35,000 check signed by Trump. Cohen said the personal check, signed during the first year of his presidency, was one of 11 “installment” payments to reimburse him for the hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump.     But Cohen’s testimony went beyond Trump’s business and campaign dealings to describe him as “a racist.”    Publicly, Cohen said, Trump courted white supremacists and bigots.
        “In private, he was even worse,” Cohen said.    “While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.    And he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”
        Trump’s defenders were ready for fireworks.
        Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the panel’s ranking Republican, seized on Cohen’s past false statements.
        “Here we go,” Jordan told the packed gallery.    “This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has been brought back” to testify so quickly.
        “We are legitimizing dishonesty,” Jordan said.    “We are de-legitimizing this institution.”

    2/27/2019 Pentagon defends diverting funds for wall by Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – Pentagon officials were chastised Wednesday on Capitol Hill for their plan to redirect $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build barriers on the southwest border.
        Robert McMahon, assistant secretary of Defense for sustainment, told lawmakers that construction projects would be delayed but not canceled in response to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.
        The projects chosen will have a minimal effect on readiness to fight, he said.    Requests for additional funding will come in Trump’s 2020 budget for the Pentagon, McMahon said.
        Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DFla., chairwoman of the panel, challenged McMahon, telling him “you’re fooling no one.”    Adding money to future budgets to pay for delayed projects amounts to funding the wall without approval from Congress, she said.
        She accused McMahon of treating members of Congress like “chumps.”
        McMahon promised a state-by-state list of projects that could be delayed to pay for the wall.
        The Pentagon began preparing options to build barriers on the southern border last month, anticipating Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.
        Trump sought $5.7 billion to build a wall on the border, and, after failing to negotiate a deal with Congress, he declared the emergency.    That allows the administration to tap military accounts that have not spent money on approved construction projects.    The White House has said Trump will try to access $3.6 billion in military money.
        On Tuesday, the House voted 245-182 to block Trump’s emergency declaration.    But Democrats didn’t win enough support from Republicans to overcome Trump’s threatened veto.
        The declaration and other measures will free up $8 billion for 234 miles of bollard wall, the White House says.    A lengthy legal battle is expected over the president’s ability to use the declaration for that purpose.
        Meanwhile, the number of troops deployed to the border in support of the Department of Homeland Security is growing.    More than 5,000 are deployed to the southwest border

    2/27/2019 House passes bill to extend gun background checks by Maureen Groppe and Eliza Collins, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON – The Democrat-led House backed its first major gun control legislation in years Wednesday, but Republicans used the debate to try to put a focus on illegal immigration.
        The House voted 240-190 to extend background checks to private transactions at gun shows and over the internet.    But Republicans scored a victory by amending the bill to require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement be notified if someone fails a background check because he or she is in the country illegally.
        Democrats called the amendment a red herring to mix up immigration with gun control.    But 26 Democrats crossed party lines to back the change, a sign of their fear of being accused of being lax on illegal immigration.
        The vote on what is usually an unsuccessful attempt by the minority party to score a political point on a bill they oppose came as Democrats celebrated the first significant House vote on gun control legislation since the 1990s.
        Eight Republicans voted for the bill and two Democrats opposed it.    The bill passed on the eve of the 25th anniversary of federal background checks taking effect to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
        “It’s about time,” said Lori Haas, who became an advocate for tougher laws after her daughter survived two bullet wounds to the head in the mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007.
        Haas and advocate Patricia Maisch had been removed from the Senate spectators’ gallery in 2013 for yelling “Shame on you!” after senators failed to pass similar legislation.
        The House bill is not expected to be considered by the GOP-controlled Senate.
        The White House has said President Donald Trump would veto the bill because it would impose “burdensome requirements.”
        Still, gun control advocates believe momentum is on their side.    They say voters in the midterm elections replaced House members who had perfect ratings from the National Rifle Association with lawmakers who support expanding gun control laws.    And they argue that trend will continue.
        “If we can’t change their minds about how to prevent gun violence, then we’ll change their titles,” said Maisch, who helped take down the shooter in the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people and injured 13, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
        House Republicans, however, held a defiant news conference Tuesday featuring gun-rights advocates and crime victims, including Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, who said the legislation would not have stopped the gunman who shot him at a congressional baseball game practice in 2017. Shayne Lopez–Rivas, 24, of Tallahassee, Florida, shared her story of being raped on a college campus in 2014 by a man with a knife.
        “Had I been armed that night,” she said, “I am confident things would’ve been different.”
        Opponents say background checks don’t stop criminals from getting guns but do make it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.    Advocates say the law needs to be updated because too many transactions have been exempted from federal background check requirements that went into effect in 1994.
        The White House has said President Donald Trump would veto the bill because it would impose “burdensome requirements.”

    2/28/2019 Judge rejects Roger Stone’s claim CNN was tipped off about arrest by OAN Newsroom
        A judge recently rejected Roger Stone’s claim that CNN was tipped off about his arrest at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home.
        On Wednesday, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson said there is no evidence special counsel Robert Mueller let the media know the date and time of Stone’s arrest.    The judge then provided them a draft copy of the sealed indictment.
    Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone accompanied by his wife Nydia Stone,
    left, arrives at federal court in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
        Stone had asked Jackson to make Mueller prove he didn’t leak the information, but the judge rejected the motion.
        In her four-page order, she said it was the special counsel who got the indictment sealed in the first place.    The judge rejected Stone’s theory about it.
        This comes as Stone’ has faced several setbacks in the case, including a strict gag order.

    2/28/219 President Trump says U.S. is working to get aid into Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
        President Trump has his eyes on the other crises facing the world.    While in Vietnam, the president also addressed the ongoing situation in Venezuela.
        He said the U.S. is continuing efforts to get aid into the country despite authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro closing the border and even having the military burn some aid trucks.
        Maduro has claimed there isn’t a humanitarian crisis in his country, and said the aid is just a way for the U.S. military to invade.
    Venezuelan National Guardsmen gather at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge as seen from La Parada, Colombia,
    Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Venezuela continues to keep its borders closed to keep humanitarian aid from entering. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
        President Trump didn’t refer to Maduro by name while addressing the issue.    Instead, he called Maduro the “man in charge.”
        “People are starving to death and you would really think that the man in charge, currently, would let those supplies get through,” said the president.    “We are getting them in to some of the cities and some of the areas that need it the most, and it’s not an easy job, it’s very difficult actually.”
        Despite efforts to block the aid, President Trump said the U.S. is still finding ways to get the aid into Venezuela.

    2/28/2019 General Electric factory workers strike by OAN Newsroom
        Workers at a General Electric (GE) locomotive factory are on strike following Wabtec’s merger with the facility.
        According to union members, leading up to the strike Wabtec pushed to introduce mandatory overtime, 38-percent wage cuts for new workers and the right to use temporary workers.
        The 1,700 person strike started in Erie, Pennsylvania Tuesday morning after Wabtec failed to reach an agreement with United Electrical union workers to keep in place GE’s previous workplace conditions.
        “We asked for a 30-day interim agreement to basically give us a chance to negotiate a fair contract,” explained Scott Swalson, president of United Electric Union 506.    “They weren’t interested in that, and we bargained until about two o’clock this morning and we just couldn’t come to a mutual agreement.”
        Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed his support for the strike on Twitter Tuesday.
        This is the first strike to occur in this facility since GE’s company-wide strike of 1969 and 1970 that lasted fourteen-weeks.
        General Electric has faced a host of financial distress in recent years, and its stock has dropped from $600 billion in 2000 to $70 billion in 2019.    The merger with Wabtec follows a long-line of moves by the company to stay afloat, including their ongoing attempt to sell their light bulb company and the exit of media conglomerate NBC Universal in 2013.
    Wabtec Corp. employees, who are members of UE Local 506, strike near the west gate of the former GE Transportation
    plant in Lawrence Park Township, Erie County, Pa., on Tuesday. — Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP
    [It never occurred to them that unions may be the reason the company is in trouble, and may end up going out of business.].

    2/28/2019 Venezuela’s Guaido to meet Brazil’s president in anti-Maduro push by Anthony Boadle
    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido poses for a photo after a meeting at the
    European Union headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
        BRASILIA (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido met with European Union ambassadors to Brazil on Thursday ahead of a meeting with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro in an effort to drum up international pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
        Although Bolsonaro’s right-wing government was one of the first to recognize Guaido as the legitimate leader of neighboring Venezuela, Guaido will be received without the military honors that are usually afforded to foreign dignitaries and which he received in Colombia last week.
        Guaido’s office said the Bolsonaro portion of the visit would be private, but the Venezuelan opposition leader’s meeting with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo would be official.
        Araujo has led Brazil’s contribution to the U.S.-led humanitarian aid plan that has so far failed to get food and medicine into Venezuela, which is suffering from a deep economic crisis marked by widespread shortages of basic necessities.
        After meeting Bolsonaro at the presidential palace, Guaido will speak to reporters at 2:30 p.m. local time (1730 GMT) and later visit Brazil’s Congress to meet the head of the Senate.
        Brazil’s military, whose former officers occupy one third of Bolsonaro’s cabinet posts, have been careful to avoid breaking off relations with Maduro, a socialist in power since 2013, not least because the northern Brazilian border state of Roraima depends on electricity supplies from Venezuela’s Guri dam.
        Guaido last month invoked constitutional provisions to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent.    He has since been recognized by most Western nations as the rightful leader of the oil-producing nation.
        Following a visit to Colombia for the launching of a U.S.-led plan to get humanitarian aid into Venezuela, Brazil is Guaido’s first stop on a tour of a couple of countries to build diplomatic pressure against Maduro.
        “We continue to strengthen relations with countries that have recognized our efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela and hold free elections,” Guaido said in a Twitter message after meeting with diplomats from about 20 EU member states.
        Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, has said he plans to return to Caracas this week, but his aides declined to give details.    Maduro has threatened to have him arrested if he returns to Venezuela for disobeying a court order that he not leave the country.
        Brazil is hosting one of the Venezuelan opposition’s collection points for aid, and together with the United States has funded the 200 tonnes of food and medicine being stockpiled in the northern city of Boa Vista.
        Venezuela’s opposition failed to get that aid across the border as planned last weekend after Maduro closed it.
        Twenty-five Venezuelans who were wounded by gunfire in protests across the frontier were treated in a Brazilian hospital, one of whom died on Wednesday.
        U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is still working on plans to get the humanitarian aid delivered to Venezuela.
        “We are hopeful that over the next couple of weeks, we can really begin to make a dent in that problem.    It is a big problem,” Pompeo told reporters while flying to the Philippines from Vietnam.
    (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paul Simao)

    2/28/2019 Senate introduces resolution to block President Trump’s national emergency by OAN Newsroom
        The Senate is introducing a bipartisan resolution to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration.    The resolution was introduced Thursday by two Democrat senators and two Republicans.
        Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have thrown their support behind the proposal, joining Democrat Senators Tom Udall and Jeanne Shaheen.
        The lawmakers are arguing that the resolution is an attempt to defend the Constitution, and protect the separation of powers.
        “Do we want the executive branch now or in the future to hold the power that the founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?” asked Senator Collins.
    FILE – Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks with reporters after speaking on the
    Senate floor, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
        She went on to say she supports funding better border security, but said the lack of funding can’t become an excuse for the president to bypass Congress.
        This comes after the House passed similar legislation.    The president has already vowed to veto any bill that attempts to block his national emergency.
    [They can do it but Trump will just Veto it anyway.].

    2/28/2019 Trump admin. optimistic on China trade talks by OAN Newsroom
        According to the Trump administration, good progress is being made with China as negotiations continue for a final trade deal.
        In an interview Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said last week’s talks in Washington made “fantastic” progress.    He said the two sides are making “great headway” on non-tariff barriers and agriculture related tariffs.
        Kudlow also said the Chinese have expressed a “willingness” to make structural changes on key issues like intellectual property theft.
        “We have mechanisms with respect to enforcement, which is — I think — is unparalleled,” he stated.    “The progress has been terrific, we have to hear from the Chinese side, we have to hear from President Xi Jinping, of course, but I think we’re headed for a remarkable, historic deal.”
        Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has participated in high-level negotiations so far, also addressed the talks in an interview Thursday.    He said they have “made a lot of progress” and hope to continue moving forward this month.
    FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, file photo, U.S. and Chinese delegations meet in the Indian Treaty Room
    in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex during continuing meetings on the U.S.-China
    bilateral trade relationship in Washington. Relief swept across world financial markets Monday after President Donald Trump
    pushed back a March 2 deadline in a trade dispute with China. But the respite might not last. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
        “Last week I sat in meetings with ambassador Lighthizer and the Vice Premier Liu He — we made a lot of progress, I think we’ve commented on, we’re working on 150-page document,” said Mnuchin.    "This is a very, very detailed agreement for some very significant commitments and these are structural commitments, but we still have more work to do.”
        President Trump extended the March 1, 2019 deadline for a deal at the end of trade negotiations last week.    He plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping sometime in March before a final agreement is signed.

    2/28/2019 Trump says all Islamic State territory retaken, contradicting allied commander
    U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist at members of the U.S. military as he arrives to address
    them after his summit meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in Vietnam during a refueling stop at
    Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S., February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
        JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (Reuters) – President Donald Trump told American troops on Thursday that U.S.-backed forces in Syria have retaken 100 percent of the territory once held by Islamic State militants, contradicting the commander of the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, who said it would take another week.
        “We just took over, you know, you kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent, the caliphate in Syria.    Now it’s 100 percent we just took over, 100 percent caliphate,” Trump told troops at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson during a refueling stop in Alaska.
        Earlier on Thursday, the commander of Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Kobani, said in a video released to the news media that the SDF would be able to announce “the complete victory over Daesh (Islamic State) in a week.”
        Trump made his comments while talking to U.S. troops in Alaska about the progress his administration has made in Afghanistan and the Middle East over the past two years. He stopped in Alaska on his way back from talks in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
        The U.S. president has been anxious to declare that Islamic State has been driven out of all its territory since announcing in December that he would withdraw American forces from Syria, claiming they had succeeded in their mission to defeat the militant group.
        While the United States has withdrawn some troops, Trump responded to criticism of his move by deciding to leave some 400 U.S. troops in the country over the longer run: 200 to remain in the northeast as part of a multinational force and 200 to remain at an outpost in the southeast to counter Iranian influence.
        The U.S. president said on Feb. 6 he expected a formal announcement the following week that coalition forces had recaptured all territory previously held by Islamic State in Syria.    That announcement has yet to be made.
    (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann and James Dalgleish)

        This page created on 2/1/2019, and updated each month by 2/28/2019.

    Please close this window when done, or select the previous tab or back button to return to previous page.
    Or return to the Table of Contents - Chapter Eight
    Or return to the Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or return to the Beast That Came Out Of The Sea
    Or return to King Of The West 2019 January or continue to King Of The West 2019 for March
    Or go to Scarlet Woman 2019
    Or go to 2011-2022 ????? Unknown future of the Sixth group of Twelve years