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  • Elizabeth Warren just introduced a plan to protect abortion access even if Roe v. Wade is overturned>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 3:01 PM:)
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    Elizabeth Warren

    • Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has rolled out a new policy proposal to shore up protections on the federal level for abortion.
    • In the past several weeks, the governors of Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama have signed restrictive new laws that ban most abortions. None have gone into effect yet, and all are being challenged in court.
    • Warren wants Congress to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law, prevent states from placing new restrictions on clinics, and bolstering private and public insurance coverage for abortion.
    • The release of Warren's plan comes after fellow presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand traveled to the Georgia state capitol and introduced her own plan to bolster federal protections for abortion.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has rolled out a new policy proposal to shore up protections on the federal level for abortion.

    In the past several weeks, the governors of Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama have signed restrictive new laws that seek to challenge the standing of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which ruled that states cannot ban abortion before the point of fetal viability.

    "Even if the Supreme Court doesn't overrule Roe immediately, it could use these laws as an excuse to continue chipping away at this precedent," Warren wrote in a Friday Medium post. "That's been happening for decades, and it's already had a huge effect on access. As of 2014, 90% of counties in the U.S. did not have an abortion clinic."

    Read more: Abortion bans are popping up all around the country. Here are the states that have passed new laws to challenge Roe v. Wade in 2019

    Georgia and Ohio's laws ban abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which usually begins around five to six weeks of pregnancy, whereas Alabama's new law bans the procedure altogether — with no exceptions for rape or incest — and makes it a class A felony for doctors to perform an abortion. 

    None of these new laws have gone into effect yet, and all are being challenged in court by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

    But Warren wants congressional action to ensure abortion access is protected by federal law no matter how the courts rule on those states' new abortion bans. 

    Her plan advocates for Congress to pass legislation creating an "affirmative and statutory" right to abortion, essentially codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade into the federal legal code.

    The plan also calls for federal legislation that would curtail states' efforts to enact burdensome regulations on abortion clinics, mandate private insurance to cover abortion services, and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal programs like Medicaid from covering abortion except in certain rare cases.

    Read more: This is what could happen if Roe v. Wade fell

    The release of Warren's plan comes after fellow presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand traveled to the Georgia state capitol and introduced her own policy plan to bolster federal protections for abortion.

    Like Warren's plan, Gillibrand's also includes enacting federal protections for abortion rights, repealing the Hyde Amendment, and requiring private insurers to cover abortion under federal law. 

    "When I was growing up, long before Roe, people still got abortions. Some were lucky. Others weren't. They all went through hell," Warren wrote in her post. "The overwhelming majority of Americans have no desire to return to the world before Roe v. Wade. And so the time to act is now."

    SEE ALSO: Roe v. Wade makes the state bans against abortions unenforceable. Here's how conservative activists plan to overturn it.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Trump may stop Huawei in the US, but the underseas cable race continues>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 2:31 PM:)
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    Undersea ocean cable underwater

    President Trump's executive order and the Commerce Department's "Entity List" create new challenges for Huawei's 5G wireless technology in the U.S. But in the meantime, the Chinese telecom giant is racing ahead under the world's seas.

    Why it matters: Globally, about 380 submarine cables carry the vast majority of international data, from cloud computing to text messaging. These cables will only become more important with the arrival of 5G and other services that will increase the speed and volume of data being transferred.

    Where it stands: The underseas cable market is changing with the entrance of new players.

    • A decade ago, Chinese companies were involved with just a handful of cables, almost exclusively in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
    • Now China wants to dominate the global market. Huawei is building or improving nearly 100 submarine cables around the world.
    • At the same time, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and other leading content providers are investing in their own underseas cable projects.

    Between the lines: China's digital silk road is where two of Xi Jinping's signature policies meet:

    1. Made in China 2025 is aggressively growing high-tech industries with state subsidies and ambitious targets, including capturing 60% of the global market for fiber optic communications.
    2. The Belt and Road Initiative is an avenue for Chinese firms to expand into foreign markets and reach these targets, backed by a promised trillion dollars of infrastructure spending.

    Flashback: History cautions that today's commercial activities carry strategic stakes as well. In World War I, Britain was best positioned to maintain global communications among its forces and to monitor and disrupt enemy messages thanks to its network of cables.

    The bottom line: So far, U.S. actions are focused on limiting Huawei's access to Western markets. But to shape tomorrow's communications networks, it would also have to compete in developing and emerging markets — especially in Asia and Africa, where 90% of global population growth by 2050 is expected.

    Jonathan Hillman is director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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  • Abortion bans are popping up all around the country. Here are the states that have passed new laws to challenge Roe v. Wade in 2019>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 2:09 PM:)
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    abortion rights protest texas

    • The spring of 2019 has seen an unprecedented surge in Republican-led states passing near-total bans on most abortions.
    • In the months of April and May alone, the governors of Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama signed some of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country into law.
    • None of the laws have gone into effect yet, and all are being challenged in court.
    • Some legislators have explicitly stated the purpose of these bans is to bring a case before the Supreme Court that could result in the court overturning Roe v. Wade.
    • Here are all the states that have passed new abortion bans or restrictions in 2019.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    For years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted new abortion restrictions including mandating counseling, waiting periods, and expensive regulations on clinics to steadily limit access to the procedure.

    The spring of 2019, however, has seen an unprecedented surge in Republican-led states passing near-total bans on most abortions.

    Some legislators have explicitly stated the purpose of these bans is to bring a case before the Supreme Court that could result in the court overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 court decision in which the court ruled that states cannot ban abortion before the point of fetal viability.

    Read more: Roe v. Wade makes the state bans against abortions unenforceable. Here's how conservative activists plan to overturn it.

    In the months of April and May alone, the governors of Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama signed some of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country.

    None of these new laws or any previous six-week ban states have passed, however, have formally gone into effect.

    Previous six-week bans passed by North Dakota and Iowa were struck down by federal and state judges, respectively. And new abortion bans introduced by Georgia, Alabama, are currently being challenged in court by organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

    Here are all the states that have passed new abortion bans or restrictions in 2019.

    SEE ALSO: Only 14 percent of Americans back an abortion policy as extreme as the one passed in Alabama

    As of right now, here's the latest a patient can obtain an abortion in every state.

    Source: Guttmacher Institute 



    Missouri

    In the early hours of May 16, the Missouri State Senate passed a bill to ban abortion after eight weeks, with no exemptions for rape or incest. The law will now back head to the Missouri House of Representatives for a vote.



    Alabama

    On May 14, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a total ban on doctors performing abortions in Alabama, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Under the law, performing the procedure is a class A felony with a maximum prison sentence of 99 years.

     



    Georgia

    Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a so-called "heartbeat bill" into law on May 7. The law bans abortion after five to six weeks — with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother — and establishes fetal personhood under Georgia law.

     



    Ohio

    In April, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a similar "heartbeat" bill to ban abortions after six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law hasn't gone into effect yet, and is being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

     



    Mississippi

    Just months after a federal judge struck down a 15-week abortion ban passed in Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a six-week ban with no exemptions for rape or incest into law, which is also being challenged in court and hasn't get gone into effect. 

     



    Kentucky

    In March, a federal judge granted an injunction blocking a Kentucky law that would have banned abortion after a fetal heartbeat was detected.



    Arkansas

    In March, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a ban on abortion after 18 weeks, which allows for exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the pregnant person.

     



    Utah

    And in Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert signed a similar bill in March to ban abortion after 18 weeks. The law is currently being challenged by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

     



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  • Trump delays car tariffs for 6 months>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 1:28 PM:)
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    Auto worker

    • The White House on Friday said it would hold off on deciding whether to impose steep tariffs on cars entering the US.
    • That delayed a major escalation that was expected to raise the price of vehicles by thousands of dollars.
    • The Commerce Department concluded an investigation into whether auto imports posed a threat to national security, but its findings haven't been turned over to Congress.

    The White House on Friday said it would hold off on deciding whether to impose steep tariffs on cars entering the US, delaying a major escalation that was expected to raise the price of vehicles by thousands of dollars.

    The 180-day delay had been widely expected and could allow negotiators additional time to discuss trade with the European Union and Japan.

    In February, the Commerce Department concluded an investigation into whether auto imports posed a threat to national security. The White House has declined to make those findings available to lawmakers, who widely oppose the prospect of auto tariffs.

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    Nearly 160 bipartisan members of Congress urged the top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, in a letter earlier this month not to place tariffs as high as 25% on vehicles entering the US.

    "We are convinced that the products hard-working Americans in the auto sector design, build, sell, and service are not a threat to our national security," the letter said. "We strongly urge you to advise the President against imposing trade restrictions that could harm the auto sector and the American economy."

    The Center for Automotive Research warned in a report last year that Trump's proposed tariffs would add up to $6,875 on average to the price of a vehicle and put hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector at risk.

    The delay came days after significant escalations in a yearlong trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, which have announced duty increases on each other's products.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Trump's Huawei ban escalates the US-China trade war into a tech Cold War>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 12:30 PM:)
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    xi trump mar a lago

    • By giving Huawei Technologies the so-called death penalty, President Donald Trump's administration has shown it does not trust the Chinese government to act in good faith.
    • Consider this a major impediment to any kind of trade deal.
    • The US is no longer just trying to block China's companies from US markets — it's trying to block them from markets all around the world.
    • In this environment, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has said, "divorce is a real risk."
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    By giving Huawei Technologies the "death penalty," the Trump administration has escalated tensions between the US and China to a level of hostility akin to a tech Cold War.

    On Tuesday, the Trump administration put Huawei on the Commerce Department's "Entity List." It sounds benign, but the listing can make it nearly impossible for a company to do business with American firms.

    This is a big problem for Huawei, considering the US is home to one in four of Huawei's suppliers, including the chipmakers Qualcomm and Micron Technology. Analysts at the risk consultancy Eurasia Group pointed out that without US suppliers, Huawei would be unable to conduct even routine maintenance and hardware replacement.

    The implications of the Huawei situation are much further reaching than President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods. In moving to cut off Huawei's supplies, the Trump administration is directly attacking a company tied to the Chinese government.

    And there could be more to come. A bipartisan group of senators are working on legislation that would put a ban on selling technology to any Chinese company that violates US sanctions by doing businesses in countries like North Korea or Iran.

    There's also a bill sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee called the China Technology Transfer Control Act. It would put all core technologies developed through China's "Made in China 2025" technology push on the Commerce Department's export-control list along with Huawei.

    Made in China 2025 is meant to be the next phase in China's plan to evolve its economy into a major player in the global tech market. The China Technology Transfer Control Act would put a wrench in those plans.

    These are more than trade-war moves — they're Cold War moves.

    For those whose memory of Chinese history goes back only to its latest opening to the West, in the 1970s, this is probably a jolt. But the reality is that the US relationship with China is one of opening and closing — trust and hostility — going back to the 18th century.

    And right now, it seems as if the pendulum has swung back toward hostility.

    What is Huawei?

    We know that Huawei makes phones and other telecommunications technology. We also know the Department of Justice charged Huawei with attempting to steal technology from a US company (a rather basic-looking T-Mobile robot named Tappy) and violating US sanctions to do business with Iran. We also know that we know next to nothing about who really controls the company aside from its founder, Ren Zhengfei.

    After attending university, Ren joined the People's Liberation Army and developed technology for it. He left the army in 1982 and founded Huawei in 1987. His daughter, who is under house arrest in Canada as part of the Justice Department's case against the firm, is the CFO of the company. Ren owns 1.47% of Huawei, while the rest is owned by a trade union.

    When questions about Huawei's control started surfacing in Western media, the company invited reporters to look at a thick book held in a locked glass box at Huawei's headquarters. That book, the company said, was the list of all the members of the trade union who own shares in Huawei. Those shares do not give them much power, though, and serve more as a profit-sharing agreement.

    The economics professor Christopher Balding, formerly of Peking University, and the George Washington University Law School professor Donald Clarke wrote a paper examining the control of Huawei in April.

    "Given the public nature of trade unions in China, if the ownership stake of the trade union committee is genuine, and if the trade union and its committee function as trade unions generally function in China, then Huawei may be deemed effectively state-owned," they wrote.

    This is why the world — particularly the US's closest allies — is so circumspect about letting Huawei rule the future of telecommunications by building out 5G, or fifth-generation, wireless networks.

    The former head of the UK intelligence agency, MI6, said allowing the company to build out the UK's 5G networks would give the Chinese government a "potentially advantageous exploitative position" in the country. Australia has even barred Huawei from building its 5G infrastructure outright.

    Huawei is trying hard to assuage fears that it might build backdoors in its technology for the Chinese Communist Party to access. It is no doubt using China's vast network of lobbyists, friendly academics, and political allies to make that argument. And the company has gone so far as to promise to sign no-spy agreements with its customers, which itself is eyebrow-raising.

    Tell me why did our love turn cold?

    All of this is to say that the US does not trust Huawei. And since Huawei appears to have close ties to the Chinese government, it's safe to say that Trump's move against the company shows he doesn't trust the Chinese government either.

    This has scholars like Balding wondering whether a trade deal can even be made under these conditions.

    "This lack of trust is more than just an existential or theoretical implication but directly impacts the ability to reach a deal," he wrote as talks collapsed earlier this month.

    "A major sticking point, from a variety of reports on multiple levels, appears to have been the issue of enforcement, verifiability, and or commitment," he added, concluding: "In other words, the lack of trust proved quite consequential."

    To many in China, the US is being irrational. In January, the Hong Kong property tycoon Ronnie Chan, an American citizen who sits on the Council on Foreign Relations, told the South China Morning Post:

    "People said China has been stealing technology. Well first of all, everybody steals technology. And number two, three years ago, I had a discussion with [former CIA director] general David Petraeus and [former US secretary of state] Condoleezza Rice on this subject of stealing technology from one another. Is that something that happened in the last one year? Did it get worse? It didn't get worse, so what changed your mind?"

    But China has changed. Under President Xi Jinping it has become more totalitarian and abusive of human rights. Critics point to the millions of Uighurs living under surveillance and going through reeducation in Xinjiang; they point to Xi's never-ending anti-corruption drive that has helped to purge his enemies.

    These changes and China's global ambitions set the stage for a prolonged standoff between the US and China. John Garnaut, a former journalist and Australian government official who came to have rare access to the Chinese Communist Party's ruling class, has argued that Xi is returning to the Chinese Communist Party's Stalinist roots.

    Here's an excerpt from a speech Garnaut gave for the Asian Strategic and Economic Seminar Series called "Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping's China":

    "The challenge for us is that Xi's project of total ideological control does not stop at China's borders. It is packaged to travel with Chinese students, tourists, migrants and especially money. It flows through the channels of the Chinese language internet, pushes into all the world's major media and cultural spaces and generally keeps pace with and even anticipates China's increasingly global interests."

    Cold future

    What measures like giving Huawei the "death penalty" will do is sever the economic ties between the US and China. In the foreign-policy world this is known as "decoupling," and in March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called such a notion "unrealistic."

    Others, like former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, have been less certain.

    "At this point, after 40 years, when we have had one kind of relationship but now, quite clearly, face the daunting task of transitioning to a new one — anchored in a realistic and more sustainable — strategic framework — divorce is a real risk," he said last year in an address at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.

    That divorce could, according to Paulson, create an economic Iron Curtain dividing the world between the two largest economies.

    Thanks to US-China trade tensions, this divorce is already happening in the world of supply chains, albeit with much confusion. Some US companies feel they must leave China but aren't sure where to go or how they'll be treated when they get there. It's a mess — the kind of mess that is made when the world gets colder.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US won't let Huawei, China's biggest smartphone maker, enter the US market

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  • Jeremy Corbyn pulls out of Brexit talks in major blow to Theresa May's hopes of passing a deal>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 12:11 PM:)
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    Theresa May Jeremy Corbyn

    • Jeremy Corbyn has pulled out of Brexit talks with Theresa May
    • Labour's decision means the prime minister now has little chance of passing her Brexit deal.
    • May had hoped to bring her Brexit Withdrawal Bill to the House of Commons at the start of June.
    • She is now expected to move to holding a series of "indicative votes" on alternatives to her deal instead.
    • Labour's move comes after new polling suggests Remain-voters are deserting the Labour party.
    • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

    LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn has pulled out of Brexit talks with Theresa May in a major blow to the prime minister's hopes of passing a Brexit deal.

    In a letter to May, the Labour leader said the talks had "gone as far as they can" due to "the increasing weakness and instability" of the government.

    He said the two sides had been unable to reach a compromise, with growing concern within the shadow Cabinet that May's planned departure meant that any deal would be unlikely to last.

    The announcement means that Theresa May now has little chance of passing her Brexit deal through parliament when she brings it back for a fourth time at the start of next month.

    The prime minister had hoped to secure agreement with Labour to support, or abstain, on the crucial Brexit legislation required to take Britain out of the EU .

    However, Labour today confirmed they will oppose the bill.

    "Without significant changes, we will continue to oppose the Government's deal," Corbyn wrote in his letter to May.

    The announcement, alongside repeated commitments from the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, to continue opposing the bill, means it will now almost certainly be defeated.

    Defeat next month would likely spell the end of her premiership.

    The Chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers said on Thursday that the prime minister had agreed to set out her departure plans in order to allow a contest to replace her, in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

    The prime minister is now expected move to her 'Plan B' which is to set up a series of "indicative votes" on alternative options to May's deal. 

    A draft of the planned votes leaked to ITV, suggests that they will include the option of remaining in the Customs Union and holding a second referendum on the terms of May's deal.

    In his letter Corbyn said he would consider any such proposals to break the Brexit "deadlock."

    Responding to Corbyn's decision, Theresa May said that the "talks have been constructive and we have made progress."

    Speaking at the launch of the Conservative Party's European election campaign, she added that "we haven't been able to overcome the fact that there isn't a common position in Labour over whether they want to deliver Brexit or have a second referendum which could reverse it."

    Business groups reacted with dismay to the collapse of talks.

    "Another day of failed politics, another dispiriting day for British business," Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said.

    "Six wasted weeks while uncertainty paralyses our economy. The May parliamentary recess should be cancelled and used to agree a deal as soon as possible - whether through indicative votes or the Withdrawal Agreement. Business and the country need an urgent resolution to this mess. This is no time for holidays. It's time to get on with it."

    Read Corbyn's letter to May

    Dear Prime Minister,

    I am writing to let you know that I believe the talks between us about finding a compromise agreement on leaving the European Union have now gone as far as they can. I would like to put on record that the talks have been conducted in good faith on both sides and thank those involved for their efforts to find common ground.

    The talks have been detailed, constructive and have involved considerable effort for both our teams. However, it has become clear that, while there are some areas where compromise has been possible, we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us.

    Even more crucially, the increasing weakness and instability of your government means there cannot be confidence in securing whatever might be agreed between us. As I said when we met on Tuesday evening, there has been growing concern in both the Shadow Cabinet and parliamentary Labour Party about the government's ability to deliver on any compromise agreement.

    As you have been setting out your decision to stand down and Cabinet ministers are competing to succeed you, the position of the government has become ever more unstable and its authority eroded. Not infrequently, proposals by your negotiating team have been publicly contradicted by statements from other members of the Cabinet.

    In recent days we have heard senior Cabinet ministers reject any form of customs union, regardless of proposals made by government negotiators. And despite assurances we have been given on protection of environmental, food and animal welfare standards, the International Trade Secretary has confirmed that importing chlorinated chicken as part of a US trade deal remains on the table.

    After six weeks of talks, it is only right that the Government now wishes again to test the will of Parliament, and we will carefully consider any proposals the Government wishes to bring forward to break the Brexit deadlock.

    However, I should reiterate that, without significant changes, we will continue to oppose the Government's deal as we do not believe it safeguards jobs, living standards and manufacturing industry in Britain.

    Yours sincerely,

    Jeremy Corbyn

    Corbyn tries to win back Remainers

    Jeremy CorbynThe Labour leader's decision comes as new polling suggests that Remain-voters have deserted the party in large numbers, since he first entered talks with the prime minister.

    A new YouGov poll puts the party in third place behind the Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage's Brexit party.

    Corbyn has come under growing pressure from Remainers in his party to more explicitly back a second referendum on Britain's exit from the EU.

    The Labour leader has committed the party to retaining the "option" of a second vote, but only if the option of a Labour deal, or a general election, becomes impossible.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Trump reportedly wants to paint his border wall black so it can absorb heat and get too hot for people to climb>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 11:29 AM:)
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    donald trump border wall prototypes

    • President Donald Trump has a lot of views on what his long-desired border wall should look like, The Washington Post reports.
    • He has instructed aides and engineers to paint the bollards that make up the wall black to make them too hot to climb in the summer, make them pointed so climbers risk injury, and narrow the openings in between gates, The Post reported Thursday.
    • He is "micromanaging the project down to the smallest design details," The Post said, adding that he sometimes woke up officials early in the morning to discuss his ideas.
    • Trump's desired border wall has proved to be expensive. Democratic lawmakers have been fighting to limit the amount of military money Trump is spending on the wall.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    President Donald Trump is "micromanaging" plans for his long-desired border wall, including by instructing engineers to paint the bollards that make up the wall black so they absorb heat and to install pointed tips on the wall so people would risk injury by trying to climb it, The Washington Post reports.

    He wants to paint the wall's bollards "flat black" because the dark color absorbs heat and would be too hot to scale in the summer, he recently told White House aides, Department of Homeland Security officials, and military engineers, The Post reported on Thursday.

    The president has also called for the tips of the bollards to be pointed and not round, The Post said, adding that he had described "in graphic terms the potential injuries that border crossers might receive."

    Border wall

    'Micromanaging the project down to the smallest design details'

    Trump has also complained that the current prototype for the wall has too many gates for people to pass through and called for those openings to be narrowed, The Post reported.

    He also wants the structure to be "physically imposing but also aesthetically pleasing," The Post said.

    He is "micromanaging the project down to the smallest design details" and would even wake Kirstjen Nielsen, then the Homeland Security secretary, in the early morning to discuss his plans, The Post reported.

    The Post added, however, that Trump had repeatedly changed his instructions and suggestions.

    Business Insider has contacted the Department of Homeland Security for comment.

    trump wall

    'A personal slush fund to fulfill a campaign promise'

    Trump's desired border wall — which has been a major policy and talking point since his 2016 presidential campaign — has come with a steep cost, both financially and politically.

    Since the president declared a national emergency in February to divert military funds to build his wall, the Department of Defense has redirected billions of dollars from operations, including counternarcotics and ballistic missile and surveillance plane systems, to fund the project.

    High-ranking House Democrats are fighting to cap the amount of Pentagon money the Trump administration can take for the project.

    trump wall

    Rep. John Garamendi, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, suggested in a Thursday statement cited by Defense News that the president was using the military construction budget "and other critical projects as a personal slush fund to fulfill a campaign promise."

    Garamendi, whose subcommittee oversees military construction, presented a bill Wednesday that would cap military spending at $250 million per national emergency, Defense News reported.

    From late December to early January, the US government partially shut down for a record 35 days when Trump rejected Congress' short-term funding extension because it did not include money for his border wall.

    Read Business Insider's full coverage of Trump's border wall here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • The Trump administration reportedly sent 'no-match letters' to over 570,000 employers telling them they might have unauthorized workers>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 10:00 AM:)
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    President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One for a trip to New York to attend a fundraiser, Thursday, May 16, 2019, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    • President Donald Trump's administration has written to more than 570,000 employers since March telling them some of their workers' names and Social Security numbers don't match, The New York Times reports.
    • Reasons for discrepancies that prompt "no-match letters" can be innocuous, like marital name changes and typos on forms, but they can also indicate immigration status.
    • The Social Security Administration discontinued its practice of writing the letters in 2012 but restarted it this March under a White House order.
    • Critics say the revival of the letters is part of the Trump administration's harder line on immigration and unauthorized workers.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    President Donald Trump's administration has revived the dormant immigration practice of writing to employers to warn them if any of their workers' names and Social Security numbers don't match, The New York Times reports.

    The Social Security Administration has mailed "no-match letters" to more than 570,000 employers since March this year, The Times said.

    These letters notify employers who submitted W-2 tax forms — which contain employees' names and Social Security numbers — if those combinations don't match. Reasons for these discrepancies can be innocuous, like marital name changes and typos on forms, but they can also indicate immigration status.

    undocumented immigrant worker .JPG

    No-match letters do not require employers to take action against an employee but instruct them to correct the mismatch within 60 days, according to Bloomberg Law.

    Here's an example of a no-match letter as shown on the SSA's website.

    The SSA started sending these letters in 1993, stopped doing so in 2012, and then restarted the practice this March.

    Though the no-match letters do not threaten legal action, employers are left in limbo as they have to weigh the loss of workers with the chances of being punished by federal immigration authorities in the future.

    Read more: State and FBI investigators are reportedly probing allegations that Trump's New Jersey golf club gave fake green cards to unauthorized workers

    social security

    It is not clear whether the SSA plans to share the data mismatches with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Business Insider has contacted the SSA for comment.

    The US workforce contains 162 million people, of which 156 million are employed, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month. There were about 7.8 million unauthorized workers in the US civilian workforce in 2016, according to Pew Research.

    Though the exact reason for the revival of the no-match letters is not clear, experts say it appears to be part of Trump's increasingly hardline approach toward immigration.

    jesus chuy garcia

    Forty-six Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to the SSA earlier this month calling on it to stop writing the letters.

    Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García, the Democratic representative from Illinois who organized the letter, told The Hill earlier this month: "Other than to instill fear and to add to the series of attacks that have come down against the immigrant community — whether it's the Census question, whether it's the public charge initiative against lawful permanent residents — this is one more tool in their arsenal, I think, to drive the community into the shadows of society, to create more anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, and just to create fear and instability in communities with large immigrant populations."

    "What's the purpose?" he added. "What's the aim here? We think it is simply to create distrust, to advance the anti-immigrant rhetoric that's out there."

    The SSA has said it is sending the letters because it is "committed to maintaining the accuracy of earnings records used to determine benefit amounts to ensure people get the benefits they have earned," according to Bloomberg Law.

     U.S. President Donald Trump awaits the arrival of Swiss Federal President Ueli Maurer at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

    The Trump administration on Thursday announced a plan to overhaul a large portion of the country's immigration laws to prioritize skilled workers over family relationships.

    The plan would essentially shift the US immigration system from one based on family ties to a "merit and skill" one that would prioritize highly educated and skilled workers who could demonstrate a "patriotic assimilation" into American life.

    Read more: Trump's new immigration bill is 'dead on arrival' — but its real value could be shoring up his immigration strategy for 2020

    Lawmakers and legal experts have already derided the bill as "dead on arrival," but administration officials have hinted that it was to show 2020 voters what the Republican Party supports, INSIDER's Michelle Mark reported.

    SEE ALSO: Jared Kushner reportedly tried to pitch Republicans on a new immigration plan but couldn't answer basic questions about it

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here are 7 takeaways from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation

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  • Lib Dems bounce ahead of Labour as Conservatives plummet into single figures in European election polls>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 8:33 AM:)
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    vince cable resignation

    • The Liberal Democrats have leapfrogged Labour in European election polls, with 16% of voters intending to back Vince Cable's party after an effective anti-Brexit campaign.
    • Support for the Conservative party continues to collapse following Theresa May's decision to delay Brexit.
    • Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is heading for a major victory in the European elections.
    • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

    LONDON — The Liberal Democrats have overtaken Labour in European election polling as the Tories drop into single figures, according to a new survey.

    The Lib Dems, who are running on an explicitly anti-Brexit platform, appear to be picking up support from Labour and the Greens after an effective campaign. 

    YouGov European elections poll

    • The Brexit Party: 35% (+1)
    • Labour: 15% (-1)
    • Liberal Democrats: 16% (+1)
    • Green Party: 10% (-1)
    • Conservatives: 10% (-3)
    • Change UK: 5% (no change)

    (Survey carried out 12-16 May; changes since YouGov poll 8-9 May)

    A YouGov poll for the Times found Nigel Farage's upstart Brexit Party — which is just months old — up 1 point on 35%, while the Lib Dems were on 16%, up 1 point, and Labour were on 15%, down 1 point. The Conservatives were on 9%, down 1 point.

    Approximately 21% of voters who supported Labour in the 2017 general election now back the Lib Dems in the European elections, which is likely a result of Jeremy Corbyn's commitment to implement Brexit.

    Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has moved to directly challenge Nigel Farage — who fronts the Brexit Party — and called for voters to support his party's "crystal-clear" support for remaining in the EU.

    Speaking in Scotland on Thursday, Cable criticised Farage for spreading "dangerous fallacies" and said his assertion that the UK could adopt WTO rules under a no-deal Brexit were "completely untrue."

    It is also the first time the Tories have polled in single figures in a YouGov survey this campaign, and will cause further alarm in the ranks of the party, which is being heavily punished for the government's failure to deliver Brexit.

    Sixty-two percent of Tory voters in the 2017 general election said they would now vote for the Brexit Party in the European elections, while only one in five of that group said they would still back the Tories in the European elections.

    The Conservatives, whose poll ratings have plummeted since Theresa May sought to extend Brexit until October, have barely campaigned for the European elections at all and have issued little direct challenge to Nigel Farage, and many of their MPs back his calls for a no-deal Brexit.

    The news comes after Theresa May promised on Thursday to set a timetable for the election of a new leader, amid almost universal opposition to her leadership within Conservative ranks. 

    The prime minister agreed to set a timetable for the vote after she holds a Brexit vote in June following a meeting with senior Tory MPs who told her to resign.

    She has already agreed to resign once she has implemented Brexit, but it is now understood that she will resign if she loses the vote too.

    Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson confirmed on Thursday that he will run for leader once May leaves office.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: White House photographer Pete Souza reveals what it was like to be in the Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden

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  • The 27 countries around the world where same-sex marriage is legal>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 8:21 AM:)
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    france lgbt pride kids march

    People fighting for same-sex marriage rights around the world have seen global support increase in recent years. Australia, Malta, and Germany legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, and Taiwan made history on Friday, becoming the first government in Asia to welcome legislation on marriage equality. 

    Taiwan was the latest to join the fold, and in 2017 was given a two-year deadline to pass laws in favor of marriage equality. On Friday, legislation passed through the independent island's parliament by an overwhelming margin of 66-27, and now heads to President Tsai Ing-wen for passage into law by May 24.

    There are currently only 27 countries that allow same-sex couples to marry.

    Keep scrolling to read the full list:

    SEE ALSO: How Australia's slow march toward same-sex marriage compares to the US

    1. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriages.

    The legislation gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce, and adopt children. 

    Source: CBS News



    2. Belgium followed suit in 2003 and granted equal rights to same-sex married couples.

    Beginning in 1998, the Belgian parliament offered limited rights to same-sex couples through registered partnerships. In 2003, the parliament legally recognized same-sex marriages.

    Source: The Guardian



    3. In 2005, the Canadian Parliament passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

    In 1999, some provincial governments extended common law marriages to gay and lesbian couples, providing them with most of the legal benefits of marriage but laws varied across the country.

    Source: CBC News



    4. Also in 2005, a closely divided Spanish parliament agreed to do the same.

    The law guaranteed identical rights to all married couples regardless of sexual orientation.

    Source: New York Times



    5. After South Africa's highest court ruled the country's marriage laws violated the constitution’s guarantee of equal rights, parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2006.

    Exemptions were also included in the new marriage law. Both religious institutions and civil officers could refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.

    Source: NBC News



    6. In 1993 Norway allowed gay couples to enter civil unions, but it took until 2008 for a Norway to pass a gender-neutral marriage law.

    In January 2009, the bill was enacted into law, and gay couples were legally granted the right to marry, adopt children and receive artificial insemination.

    Source: NBC News



    7. In 2009, Sweden voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

    The bill passed with 261 votes in favor, 22 votes against and had 16 abstentions.

    Source: BBC News



    8. Iceland's parliament voted unanimously to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010.

    Iceland's then-Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir married her longtime partner Jonina Leosdottir as the law came into effect.

    Source: The Telegraph



    9. Portugal has also allowed same-sex marriage since 2010, after legislation was originally challenged by the country's president.

    Portugal had passed a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in February of 2010, but Portugal’s former president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, asked the Constitutional Court to review the measure. In April 2010, the Constitutional Court declared the law to be constitutionally valid.

    Source: The Guardian



    10. In 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to allow same-sex marriage.

    Prior to the same-sex marriage law, a number of local jurisdictions, including the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires, had enacted laws allowing gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions.

    Source: The Guardian



    11. Denmark's legalization came in 2012 after Queen Margrethe II gave her royal assent to the proposed legislation.

    Denmark was the first country to allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners in 1989.

    Source: BBC News



    12. Uruguay passed legislation allowing same-sex marriage in 2013.

    Civil unions have been permitted in Uruguay since 2008, and in 2009 gay and lesbian couples were given adoption rights.

    Source: BBC News



    13. In 2013, New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific to legislate for same-sex marriage.

    The law won approval by a 77-44 margin in the country's legislature, which included support from former Prime Minister John Key.

    Source: SBS News



    14. President Francois Hollande signed a measure legalizing marriage equality in France in 2013.

    Hollande’s signature had to wait until a court challenge brought by the conservative opposition party, the UMP, was resolved. France’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, ruled that the bill was constitutional.

    Source: The Guardian



    15. Brazil’s National Council of Justice ruled that same-sex couples should not be denied marriage licenses in 2013, allowing same-sex marriages to begin across the country.

    Prior to the law, only some of Brazil’s 27 jurisdictions had allowed same-sex marriage.

    Source: The Australian



    16. England and Wales became the first countries in the UK to pass marriage equality in 2014.

    Northern Ireland and Scotland are semi-autonomous and have separate legislative bodies to decide many domestic issues. In 2017, a judge dismissed two cases on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

    Source: BBC News



    17. Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favor of of legalizing same-sex marriage later in 2014.

    In addition to allowing same-sex couples to wed, the measure gave churches and other religious groups the option to decide whether or not they want to service same-sex marriages.

    Source: BBC News



    18. Luxembourg overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed and to adopt children that went into effect in 2015.

    The bill was spearheaded by the country’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel. Bettel married his long-time partner Gauthier Destenay a few months after the legislation passed.

    Source: Reuters



    19. Finland approved a marriage equality bill in 2014, but it only went into effect this year.

    The bill started out as a public petition and was passed with 101-90 votes. 

    Source: Reuters



    20. Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular vote in 2015.

    62% of the referendum's respondents voted “yes” to amend the Constitution of Ireland to recognize same-sex marriage. Thousands of Irish emigrants had traveled home to participate in the popular vote.

    Source: BBC News



    21. Greenland, the world's biggest island, passed same-sex legislation in 2015.

    Although Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, it was not subject to Denmark’s 2012 ruling on legalizing same-sex marriage.

    Source: Copenhagen Post



    22. The United States Supreme Court made marriage equality federal law in 2015.

    Same-sex marriage had been legal in 37 out of the 50 US states, plus the District of Columbia, prior to the 2015 ruling.

    Source: CNN



    23. Colombia became the fourth Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2016.

    Same-sex couples were already allowed to form civil partnerships before the ruling. 

    Source: BBC News

     



    24. In 2017, Germany became the 15th European country to allow same-sex couples to wed.

    Germany gave full marital rights to homosexual couples in a vote that Chancellor Angela Merkel vited against.

    Source: New York Times

     



    25. And earlier this year nearly all of Malta's parliament voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

    Despite opposition from the Catholic Church on the small Mediterranean island, marriage equality was passed by a landslide 66-1 vote.

    Source: The Independent



    26. Australian lawmakers in December enacted the will of the majority of citizens who overwhelmingly voted in favor of same-sex marriage during a postal survey held weeks earlier.

    Same-sex couples were officially allowed to marry beginning January 9, more than a month after it was legalized in the country.

    Before the final vote in Australia on December 7, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was a great day for Australia.

    “What a day! What a day for love, for quality, for respect! Australia has done it. Every Australian had their say and they said it is fair, get on with it!” he said.

    “We have voted today for equality, for love. It is time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect, and we respect every Australian who has voted, those who voted yes, and those who voted no, this belongs to us all, this is Australia!”



    27. Taiwan made history on Friday, becoming the first place in Asia to pass laws on marriage equality.

    Countries in Asia are known for their conservative views on same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. 

    But Taiwan, which considers itself an independant democracy that champions human rights issues, broke from other Asian nations and passed a bill in favor of marriage equality by an overhwelming margin. 

    The bill will allow full legal marriage rights for same-sex couples and also offers limited adoption rights. It now heads to President Tsai Ing-wen before it is officially passed into law by May 24.

     

     



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  • 5 Republicans who have said the Alabama abortion ban goes 'too far'>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 6:47 AM:)
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    This photograph released by the state shows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill that virtually outlaws abortion in the state on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. Republicans who support the measure hope challenges to the law will be used by conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion nationwide. (Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor's Office via AP)

    • On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the United States' most restrictive abortion bill into law. The The Alabama Human Life Protection Act was passed in the state's Republican-controlled legislature.
    • The measure bans abortions at all stages of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape and/or incest. The only time an abortion would be legal in Alabama is if the mother's health is at risk.
    • The law also includes punitive measures for doctors. Performing an abortion is now classified as a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison, and an attempt to provide an abortion would be a Class C felony that could land a doctor with up to 10 years in prison.
    • While there are anti-abortion Democrats and pro-choice Republicans, the issue became more reliably partisan following President Richard Nixon's election in 1972, when in a political move to court Catholic voters, Nixon shifted to the right on abortion, Vox explains.
    • However, as The Washington Post noted, the Alabama bill is putting Republican lawmakers on the defense — especially given past lost elections due to extreme views on the issue (i.e. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock).
    • Some Republican lawmakers' strategy is just to stay mum on the issue. But for these five prominent conservatives, Alabama's law crossed a line.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the United States' most restrictive abortion bill into law. The The Alabama Human Life Protection Act was passed in the state's Republican controlled legislature. In the Alabama House it sailed through by a vote of 25 to 6 and in the Alabama Senate on Tuesday, 74 to 3.

    The law, which is sure to be challenged in court, goes into effect in six months.

    The measure bans abortions at all stages of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape and/or incest. The only time an abortion would be legal in Alabama is if the mother's health is at risk. The law also includes punitive measures for doctors. Performing an abortion is now classified as a Class A felony punishable with up to 99 years in prison, and an attempt to provide an abortion would be a Class C felony that could land a doctor with up to 10 years in prison.

    Alabama's restrictive law is just one in a string of bills passed at the state level — on Thursday, the Missouri Senate passed a bill banning abortion after eight weeks with no exceptions for rape and/or incest — with the goal of moving through the judicial system to the Supreme Court in an effort to challenge Roe v. Wade.

    Roe, the current Supreme Court precedent, gives women the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy making these newly-signed laws unconstitutional.

    While there are anti-abortion Democrats and pro-choice Republicans, the issue became more reliably partisan following President Richard Nixon's election in 1972, when in a political move to court Catholic voters, Nixon shifted to the right on abortion, Vox explains.

    "In the late 1970s, fundamentalist Christians became outraged by Supreme Court decisions banning school prayer and legalizing abortion and by Jimmy Carter's decision to withdraw tax-exempt status from segregated church schools," according to a study "The politics of abortion: a historical perspective," posted on the National Institutes of Health website. "This group was mobilized by radio and television preachers, especially televangelist Jerry Falwell who also used scare tactics to promote his Moral Majority."

    And through the years, Vox explains, the issue has only become more partisan.

    GOP-led state legislatures have passed bills to severely limit abortion (placing time restrictions on the procedure, or imposing laws that could cause abortion clinics to close, or implementing invasive procedures like transvaginal ultrasounds prior to the procedure, or waiting periods).

    However, as The Washington Post noted, the Alabama bill is putting Republican lawmakers on defense — especially given past lost elections due to extreme views on the issue (i.e. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock).

    Some Republican lawmakers' strategy is just to stay mum on the issue, The Post points out. But for these five prominent conservatives, Alabama's law crossed a line.

    SEE ALSO: Only 14% of Americans back an abortion policy as extreme as the one passed in Alabama

    Pat Robertson

    Robertson is a conservative Christian televangelist, who unsuccessfully ran for president as a Republican in 1988.

    As noted in "The politics of abortion: a historical perspective," Robertson was the head of the Christian Coalition, which worked to mobilize voters on the issues of opposing abortion and marriage equality and rose to prominence in the 1980s.

    He still opposes abortion, but told the "700 Club" on Wednesday that Alabama went "too far."

    "It's an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose," he continued.



    Tomi Lahren

    Lahren, a conservative commentator and Fox Nation host, is admittedly pro-choice, from a libertarian standpoint.

    "You know what?" she said on "The View" in 2017. "I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

    "Listen, I am not glorifying abortion," she tweeted following backlash to her statements on "The View." "I don't personally advocate for it. I just don't think it's the government's place to dictate."

    On Thursday, she tweeted that the Alabama law was "too restrictive."

    "I will be attacked by fellow conservatives for saying this but so be it, this Alabama abortion ban is too restrictive," she wrote. "It doesn't save life, it simply forces women into more dangerous methods, other states or countries. You don't encourage life via blanket government mandate!"



    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday that he believes the Alabama law "goes further than I believe."

    "I believe in exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, and that's what I've voted on," he said during a press conference, referring to the fact that Alabama's law does not have exceptions for rape and/or incest.

    The exception for rape and/or incest issue also caused a kerfuffle in the Alabama Senate ahead of voting for the bill, when the floor erupted with shouting over an amendment to include the exception. The amendment was ultimately defeated on Tuesday and the bill was passed.

    Though in the past when he was in the California State Assembly he supported abortion rights, according to a 2003 Los Angeles Times article, he has never supported spending government dollars on abortion care.

    His more recent stance is against abortion rights — including supporting the Hyde Amendment and voting to remove federal funding for Planned Parenthood.



    Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine

    Sen. Collins is a pro-choice Republican from Maine (a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016).

    She called Alabama's measure "terrible" on Thursday.

    "The Alabama law is a terrible law — it's very extreme — it essentially bans all abortions," she told CNN. "I can't imagine that any justice could find that to be consistent with the previous precedents."

    Critics are pointing out that Collins voted to place Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, despite his previous rulings in abortion-related cases and the fact that he was supported by anti-abortion groups.

    At the time, Collins said she was satisfied with Kavanaugh's answers that Roe was "an important precedent of the Supreme Court."

    Kavanaugh's presence on the Supreme Court, tipping it conservative, is partially what anti-abortion activists are citing as a reason for putting forth strict abortion laws.



    Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska

    Sen. Murkowski, a moderate Republican from Alaska, has a record of being generally pro-choice and is a member of abortion-rights groups including the Republican Majority for Choice.

    She hasn't explicitly come out against the Alabama bill.

    "I think you know where I come from on that," she said to reporters on Thursday. "I believe that there need to be exceptions."

    Murkowski has been criticized in the past for confirming anti-choice judges despite her abortion-rights leanings.



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  • A Wells Fargo personal banker pleaded guilty to helping launder millions of dollars for drug traffickers like the Sinaloa cartel>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 6:30 AM:)
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    Mexico Sinaloa cartel bust cash money

    • A Wells Fargo banker pleaded guilty to knowingly opening bank accounts for people working with the Sinaloa cartel.
    • Luis Figueroa of Tijuana admitted he took part in the money laundering scheme that stretched across the US.
    • Money laundering organizations recruited people who would open bank accounts for the cartel's drug money, according to US investigators.
    • The drug money would be deposited in amounts below the threshold for regulatory reporting into "funnel accounts."
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    A Wells Fargo personal banker pleaded guilty on Thursday to knowingly opening bank accounts for people working with the Sinaloa cartel.

    Thirty-year-old Luis Figueroa of Tijuana admitted he took part in the money laundering scheme that stretched across the US.

    Between 2014 and 2016, money laundering organizations recruited people who would open bank accounts for the cartel's drug money, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of California. The operation laundered over $19 million dollars in narcotics proceeds.

    The drug money would be deposited into the bank accounts, also known as "funnel accounts," in amounts below the threshold for regulatory reporting.

    Cash couriers would first pick up the drug money, often times stuffed it into "shopping bags, duffel bags or shoeboxes," and then deposit it into Wells Fargo and other banks, the Justice Department said in a press release.

    The couriers would split the funds into $22,000 to $45,000 increments and deposit them into the funnel accounts. The money would be wired to shell companies based in Mexico and then picked up by the cartel.

    Read more: 'El Chapo' Guzman is awaiting his fate in a US jail, but the Sinaloa cartel already has its next fight lined up

    Figueroa went beyond opening the funnel accounts, he also wired money from those accounts, according to the DOJ. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

    Eight other people were arrested and charged in the joint FBI and IRS investigation.

    "We can't allow our banks to be laundromats for cartel cash," US Attorney Robert Brewer said. "Bank employees who launder drug money for traffickers will face prosecution and prison."

    Regulatory agencies like the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network scrutinize bank accounts that receive several, questionable cash deposits of less than $10,000. Banks are also encouraged to flag suspicious accounts if an individual deposits money in a different region from where the original bank account is based.

    The Sinaloa cartel is based in Mexico's west coast and is one of the largest drug trafficking groups in the world. The first Mexican lab believed to have produced fentanyl was found in a home in Sinaloa's state capital.

    SEE ALSO: Mexico's president wants to change how the drug war is fought, and he may be heading for a showdown with Trump

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We spent a day with US Border Patrol in El Paso, where the agency is overwhelmed by the volume of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border

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  • Australia quietly resettled 2 Rwandan men accused of murdering tourists after a secret deal with the US, report says>
    (Politics - May 17 2019 - 12:26 AM:)
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    trump turnbull

    • Australia resettled two Rwandan men accused of murdering eight tourists, as part of a secret agreement reached between the Obama administration and Turnbull government in 2016, Politico has reported.
    • The report said the men confessed to their involvement in a grisly 1999 attack on a group of vacationers where eight foreigners — including two US citizens — were bludgeoned to death.
    • The men were brought to the US for trial, but the case against them was dropped, Politico wrote.
    • They were recently bargained off as part of a migrant swap between the US and Australia, and have since been quietly resettled in Australia under humanitarian protection.
    • The story made waves in Australia as it prepares for a federal election on Saturday.

    Two men accused of butchering foreigners were resettled in Australian society under humanitarian protection as part of a secret swap deal between the US and Australia, according to a report published by Politico on Wednesday.

    The story has made waves in Australia as it prepares for its federal election on Saturday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is seeking re-election, has been eager to paint his coalition government as tough on immigration, though news of the men's resettlement may muddle that image.

    The two men, Leonidas Bimenyimana and Gregoire Nyaminani, as well as a third man who remains in an ICE detention center near Miami, confessed to their involvement in a grisly 1999 attack on a group of vacationers participating in a gorilla-watching trip in Uganda, Politico said.

    In the attack, a large group of Rwandan rebels descended onto Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and bludgeoned eight tourists to death, including citizens from Britain, America, New Zealand, and Uganda. Several other foreigners were taken hostage in the exchange.  

    The three men, who identified as members of the Hutu rebel group, were flown to US soil in 2003 for trial over the killing of two US citizens. They were charged under terrorism statutes, Politico said, but eventually the case was dropped after a US judge ruled that the men had been tortured in Rwanda and confessed to the crimes under duress.

    The men were jailed at US detention centers, and claimed they could not return to Rwanda as they faced persecution on ethnic grounds. Without US citizenship, the men were left waiting in detention as their circumstances were reassessed, the report said.

    Bimenyimana and Nyaminani are said to have been swapped as part of an alleged "one-off deal" struck between the Obama administration and then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016. Under the secretive agreement, the US said it would take in up to 1,250 migrants held by Australia in offshore detention centers Manus Island and Nauru, in exchange for Australia taking Central American refugees that the US was eager to deport.

    Read more: Everything we know about what Trump called the 'worst deal ever' between the US and Australia

    At the time of these discussions, Australia was desperately seeking a solution to its controversial policy of sending asylum seekers that arrived by sea to offshore sites, a policy that eventually reached crisis and garnered international scrutiny.

    "Please, if we can agree to stick to the deal, you have complete discretion in terms of a security assessment," Turnbull told Trump during a heated phone discussion leaked to the Washington Post in August 2017. "Basically, we are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take."

    According to the transcript, Trump responded by saying the deal was "rotten," and said the deal made him look like a "dope." The official details of the exchange have mostly been kept under wraps.

    News of the resettlement is a bad look for Australia's tough immigration policies

    australia refugees nauru

    According to Politico, the two men are said to have been resettled late last year, around the time when Australia was locked in heated debate over proposed legislation to bring sick detainees on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia for medical treatment. In February, Prime Minister Morrison said passing the bill would pave the way for 'rapists and pedophiles' to enter the country. Legislation eventually passed in February, though as of April only one person is thought to have been transferred to Australia for treatment under the law.

    Morrison has since responded to questions about the alleged migrant swap and did not explicitly deny the Politico report.  

    "Every single person that comes to Australia under any such arrangements are the subjects of both character and security assessments," he said on Thursday during a press conference in Canberra.

    "I don't intend to make a commentary on allegations that have been made in open source information, but simply to assure Australians that they are the processes that we undertake and these are the same security agencies that have thwarted 15 terrorist attacks."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Nxivm founder Keith Raniere began his trial. Here's what happened inside the alleged sex-slave ring that recruited actresses and two billionaire heiresses.

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  • People tied to Trump and Congress may have affected Flynn's 'willingness to cooperate' with Mueller, according to a new court filing>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 11:41 PM:)
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    Michael Flynn

     

    • Former national security adviser Michael Flynn testified to the special counsel Robert Mueller that people connected to President Donald Trump and Congress tried to interfere with the Russia investigation, according to an unredacted court filing released on Thursday.
    • Mueller's office said it was "unaware" of some of the communication until Flynn informed prosecutors of them, and that the contacts "could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation."
    • The unsealed court document is the first indication that a person with congressional ties sought to communicate with Flynn during Mueller's investigation.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Former national security adviser Michael Flynn testified to the special counsel Robert Mueller that people linked to President Donald Trump and Congress sought to interfere with the Russia investigation, according to a newly unsealed part of Flynn's December sentencing memo.

    The special counsel's office wrote it was "unaware" of some of the communications until Flynn informed prosecutors of them, and that the contacts "could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation."

    Read more: The Mueller report has been submitted — here's everyone who has been charged and convicted in the Russia probe so far

    The unsealed filing is the first indication that connected to Congress tried to meddle in the investigation.

    It also adds to a growing list of evidence — much of which was laid out in Mueller's report — demonstrating the lengths Trump and his allies went to in order to thwart the investigation.

    The court filing said the president's personal lawyer left a voicemail for Flynn's legal team after Flynn withdrew from his joint defense agreement with Trump and the president's lawyers.

    The Mueller report, which was released last month, noted that Trump's personal lawyer left a voicemail for Flynn in November 2017 that touched on the possibility of him cooperating with the government.

    "[I]t wouldn't surprise me if you've gone on to make a deal with ... the government," the lawyer said in the voicemail.

    [I]f... there's information that implicates the President, then we've got a national security issue [so] ... we need some kind of heads up. Just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can .... [R]emember what we've always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains."

    Two of Trump's personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, have said they never communicated with Flynn or his lawyer.

    Thursday's court filing also adds a layer to previous reporting that in the summer of 2017, Trump's attorney at the time, John Dowd, floated the possibility of presidential pardons for Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in exchange for their refusal to cooperate with prosecutors.

    Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of lying to the FBI about his communications with the former Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. He has since been cooperating since then with the Justice Department and Mueller's office.

    In its sentencing memo, the government recommended Flynn get little to no jail time, citing the "substantial assistance" he provided to not only the special counsel's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, but separate, ongoing investigations.

    SEE ALSO: The Mueller report has been submitted — here's everyone who has been charged and convicted in the Russia probe so far

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: White House photographer Pete Souza reveals what it was like to be in the Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden

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  • Trump made $40.8 million last year from a hotel that critics say he's using to illegally profit from the presidency>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 10:53 PM:)
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    trump international hotel washington dc

    • President Donald Trump made at least $434 million in 2018, according to his annual financial disclosure, including $40.8 million from his hotel down the street from the White House.
    • Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, has been at the center of several lawsuits alleging the president has violated the foreign-emoluments clause of the Constitution.
    • The emoluments clause bars public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.
    • A lobbying firm with ties to the Saudi government paid $270,000 to Trump's hotel in Washington between October 2016 and March 2017, and such payments are driving the lawsuits against him.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    President Donald Trump made $40.8 million last year from a hotel that critics say he's using to profit from the presidency in violation of the Constitution.

    Trump made at least $434 million in 2018, according to his annual financial disclosure that the White House released on Thursday.

    This includes the nearly $41 million from Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, which is less than a mile from the White House.

    The hotel has been at the center of several lawsuits alleging the president is violating the foreign-emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

    Read more: Democrats have just subpoenaed for Trump's tax returns after weeks of defiance

    A lobbying firm with ties to the Saudi government paid $270,000 to Trump's hotel in Washington between October 2016 and March 2017, and such payments are driving the lawsuits against him.

    Trump has been accused of violating the emoluments clause by the attorneys general of both Maryland and Washington, DC, as well as congressional Democrats. The Justice Department is actively fighting these efforts.

    The subject of Trump's finances has been an issue since his campaign — particularly in relation to his ongoing refusal to release his tax returns, which breaks decades of precedent and continues to put his administration at odds with Democratic lawmakers.

    The president has also broken precedent by maintaining ownership of his business empire. In the past, many presidents have placed their assets in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest, but Trump did not follow this trend.

    Trump's financial disclosure for 2018 also revealed he earned roughly $22.7 million from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a property where he's hosted foreign leaders and which has come under scrutiny on a variety of issues.

    SEE ALSO: Trump says ‘I hope not’ when asked if the US is going to war with Iran

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This video shows the moment Sarah Sanders lied to a room full of reporters about FBI agents telling her they were happy Trump fired Comey

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  • Here are all the people Trump has pardoned so far — and who he could choose next>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 10:32 PM:)
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    conrad black

    • President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued two rare pardons.
    • One went to Conrad Black, a Canadian-born newspaper publisher who has written flatteringly of Trump in the past.
    • The other went to Patrick Nolan, a former lawmaker who is now a criminal-justice reform advocate.
    • The Constitution grants the president sweeping powers to pardon people or grant clemency.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued two rare pardons,  a form of executive clemency granted to the president by the Constitution.

    That power is sweeping — Trump can decide carte blanche to legally forgive or free anyone, so long as the crimes were federal ones.

    Pardons essentially forgive people who have been convicted of crimes, removing any remaining punishments and restoring their rights. Commutations, on the other hand, merely reduce a prisoner's sentence.

    A number of Trump's clemencies fall in line with a recent trend of granting pardons to political allies, as well as people who have been championed by conservative media, prominent Republicans, or celebrities.

    Here's who Trump has granted clemency to in the past:

    SEE ALSO: Trump floats a pardon bonanza of high-profile people, including Martha Stewart and Illinois' infamous former governor who was on 'Celebrity Apprentice'

    DON'T MISS: 'Kim has been my war angel': The unlikely story of how Kim Kardashian West is trying to get Trump to free a 63-year-old grandmother from prison

    Conrad Black

    Black is a former newspaper publisher and Trump admirer, who wrote a laudatory biography of Trump in 2018 titled, "Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other."

    Black served three and a half years in prison after being convicted of fraud in 2007, the Associated Press reported.

    In a National Post op-ed published Wednesday, Black described the phone call he received from Trump announcing the pardon.

    "When my assistant said there was a call from the White House, I picked up, said 'Hello' and started to ask if this was a prank (suspecting my friends in the British tabloid media), but the caller spoke politely over me: 'Please hold for the president,'" Black wrote. "Two seconds later probably the best-known voice in the world said 'Is that the great Lord Black?' I said 'Mr. President, you do me great honour telephoning me.'"

    Black continued: "He could not have been more gracious and quickly got to his point: he was granting me a full pardon that would 'Expunge the bad rap you got.'"



    Patrick Nolan

    On May 15, Trump pardoned Patrick Nolan, the former Republican leader of California's state assembly who pleaded guilty to racketeering in 1994 after being caught up in a corruption sting by the FBI.

    Nolan is friends with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who spearheaded the White House's push for the First Step Act to help reform the criminal-justice system.

    "Mr. Nolan's experiences with prosecutors and in prison changed his life," the White House said in a statement announcing his pardon. "Upon his release, he became a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform and victims' rights. In fact, it was because of this work that the President learned of Mr. Nolan's case."



    Michael Behenna

    On May 6, Trump pardoned Behenna, a former US Army Ranger convicted in 2008 of murdering an Iraqi prisoner.

    Though Behenna was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison for the "unpremeditated murder in a combat zone" of Ali Mansur, the military's clemency and parole board reduced his sentence to 15 years, then released him on parole in 2014, five years after his sentence began.

    A top military appellate court raised concerns about the trial court's handling of Behenna's self-defense claim, and Behenna garnered widespread support among military officials and lawmakers in his home state of Oklahoma.

    Behenna was accused of fatally shooting Mansur in retaliation for his alleged connection to an IED attack that killed two of Behenna's fellow soldiers.

    Military court filings say Behenna shot Mansur during an impromptu interrogation after saying, "This is your last chance to tell the information or you will die," according to The New York Times. Behenna has said he only shot Mansur after he reached for his gun.



    Dwight and Steven Hammond

    Trump pardoned Oregon cattle ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond in July, both of whom were serving five-year prison sentences for arson.

    The ranchers had long clashed with the federal government over public land, and the length of their sentences infuriated many conservatives, who saw the prosecutions as an example of federal overreach.

    The Hammonds' cases even sparked the controversy that led to a 41-day standoff in 2016 at Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by a group of armed protesters who argued that federal control of public lands was unconstitutional.

    In a statement, the White House noted that Dwight and Steven Hammond had already served three and four years in prison, respectively, and had paid $400,000 to the federal government in a related civil case.

    "The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West," the White House said.



    Alice Marie Johnson

    Trump granted his second-ever commutation to Alice Marie Johnson in June, freeing the 63-year-old grandmother and great-grandmother from a life sentence in prison.

    Johnson was given the sentence in 1996 over non-violent drug offenses she had committed several years earlier. Her case received nationwide attention in recent months after the reality-television star Kim Kardashian West championed her release and paid a visit to Trump in a high-profile White House meeting last week.

    "Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades. Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates," the White House said in a statement. "While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance."

    Johnson's daughter Catina Scales told Business Insider the Wednesday afternoon she was en route to pick up her mother from the Aliceville correctional facility in Alabama, where Johnson was released.

    "I have been literally shaking ever since I heard this news — this is the best present anyone could have gave me in my life," Scales said. "Nothing will ever trump this feeling."



    Dinesh D'Souza

    Trump granted an unexpected pardon to the conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza in May.

    D'Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to illegally using straw donors in 2012 to donate to a Republican Senate candidate in New York. He used the straw donors to funnel his funds to the candidate under their names to try and get around campaign finance laws.

    Though D'Souza fully admitted to knowingly violating the law, he lashed out at prosecutors at the time, arguing he was being singled out because of his conservative beliefs.

    Though he was spared prison time, D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation and a $30,000 fine. A pardon relieved D'Souza of any remaining punishments stemming from his conviction, and would restore certain rights, such as his right to vote.



    Jack Johnson

    Trump granted a rare posthumous pardon on May 24 to Jack Johnson, the American heavyweight boxing champion who died in 1946 and was convicted in 1913 of taking his white girlfriend across state lines.

    Johnson's conviction reeked of racism and injustice at the height of the Jim Crow era. An all-white jury found Johnson guilty of violating the White Slave Traffic Act, also known as the Mann Act, which criminalized transporting women across state lines "for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose."

    Johnson's conviction and one-year prison sentence has prompted debate for years — and Trump is not the first president to consider a pardon.

    Former President Barack Obama faced the same decision, but his Justice Department recommended against one, so as to focus more on pardons that could benefit living people, a former Obama administration official told The New York Times.

    Johnson's case received a recent publicity boost from the actor Sylvester Stallone, who visited the Oval Office to watch Trump sign the pardon.



    Lewis "Scooter" Libby

    Trump in April pardoned Scooter Libby, a former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice after a special prosecutor's investigation into the 2003 leak of the CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

    Libby was originally sentenced to 30 months in prison, but former President George W. Bush commuted it. Despite intense pressure from his vice president Dick Cheney, who had hired Libby as his chief of staff, Bush declined to grant Libby a pardon, as well.

    Trump said in a statement announcing the pardon that he didn't know Libby, but "for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly."

    Libby's case contained echoes of Trump's own legal battles — the president is the subject of a similar probe by a special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.



    Kristian Saucier

    In March, Trump pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor who took photos of classified areas inside a nuclear submarine in 2009. Saucier pleaded guilty in 2016 and served one year in prison.

    He has previously said he took the photos merely as mementos for his military service. But federal prosecutors accused him of undermining national security by taking the photos, and then obstructing the investigation by destroying a laptop and camera.

    Conservative media outlets such as Fox News had compared Saucier's case with that of Hillary Clinton, who used a private email server while she was secretary of state but was never prosecuted.

    Trump used Saucier's case during his 2016 presidential campaign as a means to portray the perceived double standard of Saucier's treatment by federal investigators with that of Clinton's.

    "Now you can go out and have the life you deserve!" Trump tweeted after granting Saucier's pardon.



    Sholom Rubashkin

    In late 2017, Trump issued his first commutation to Sholom Rubashkin, an Iowa meatpacking executive convicted of bank fraud in 2009 and sentenced to 27 years in prison.

    Rubashkin had served eight years by the time Trump commuted his sentence and set him free.

    Unlike Trump's other clemencies, the decision to commute Rubashkin's sentence had earned widespread bipartisan support, including from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

    Rubashkin's clemency bid also received the support of more than 100 legal professionals, including US attorneys general and federal judges.

    They argued in a letter to Trump that Rubashkin was a first-time, non-violent offender who received a much tougher sentence than many people sentenced to "murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse, child pornography, and numerous other offenses exponentially more serious than his."



    Joe Arpaio

    In August 2017, Trump gave his first-ever pardon to Joe Arpaio, the bombastic former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.

    The 85-year-old ex-lawman is best known for illegally detaining Latinos and keeping inmates in brutal jail conditions during his 24-year tenure as sheriff. His aggressive tactics ultimately led to a criminal conviction after he violated a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

    Arpaio had been an early and vocal supporter of Trump during his presidential campaign, often parroting Trump's hardline stance on immigration, so the move was widely expected.

    Yet it was still an unusual pardon, as Arpaio had not even been sentenced at the time. Though Trump may pardon whomever he wishes, people who petition for presidential pardons are told by the Justice Department to wait at least five years after completing their prison sentences before they file applications.



    Who could be next?

    Trump has also weighed pardons and commutations for a variety of other high-profile cases.

    He told reporters last May he was considering pardoning Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois in a string of clemency announcements he unexpectedly made in June.

    A jury found Stewart guilty in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about the reasons she sold shares of a company. She served five months in prison.

    Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence after being convicted of corruption stemming from a scheme to sell the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama, who was elected president in 2008. Blagojevich is not eligible for release until 2024.

    The Constitution is quite sweeping in granting presidents the power to pardon, so Trump can pretty much decide carte blanche to legally forgive or free anyone who's been convicted of a federal crime.

    "He shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment," Article II, Section 2 reads.



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  • Ukraine's top prosecutor says he has no evidence of wrongdoing against Joe Biden or Hunter Biden as Trump allies push for them to be investigated>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 9:53 PM:)
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    Joe Biden

    • Ukraine's top prosecutor told Bloomberg News this week that he has no evidence of wrongdoing against former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, over the latter's involvement with Burisma Group, a Ukrainian gas company owned by an oligarch.
    • In 2016, when he was vice president, Biden pushed hard for the former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to be fired for corruption. At the time, Shokin was leading an investigation into Burisma, whose board Hunter Biden sat on.
    • President Donald Trump claims Biden has conflicts of interest stemming from his involvement in the matter, and Rudy Giuliani has pushed the incoming Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into Biden and his son as part of an effort to help Trump's 2020 bid.
    • Giuliani was planning to travel to Ukraine to discuss the investigation with lawmakers, but he canceled the trip amid accusations that he was trying to get a foreign government to meddle in the upcoming US election.

    Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine's prosecutor general, said this week that he had no evidence of wrongdoing against former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, over the latter's involvement with a private Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Group, Bloomberg reported.

    The development comes after President Donald Trump's personal defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani revealed he was planning to travel to Ukraine to press the president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky, to move forward with two investigations Giuliani believed would be politically beneficial to Trump.

    One focused on the origins of the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The second focused on the motivations behind Biden's efforts to get the former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, dismissed in 2016. At the time, Shokin was leading a broad corruption probe into Burisma Group, whose board Hunter Biden sat on.

    Read more: Former Vice President Joe Biden says he 'absolutely agrees' with comment that Trump is an 'illegitimate president'

    Giuliani eventually canceled his trip after facing widespread criticism for what appeared to be an attempt to push a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 US election. But Trump and his allies have continued claiming Biden was acting in his own personal interest and was trying to shield his son when he pushed for Shokin's ouster in 2016.

    The former vice president has long said he never discussed the matter with his son and that he only found out about Hunter's involvement with Burisma from media reports.

    Lutsenko said this week that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma were now the focus of an investigation, according to Bloomberg.

    "I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of US presidential elections," Lutsenko said. "Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws ... at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing."

    Read more: Kamala Harris swipes at Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, saying he 'would be a great running mate'

    But he added that he is planning to give US Attorney General William Barr details about Burisma's payments to its board members so the Justice Department can investigate whether Hunter Biden paid taxes on the income.

    Giuliani initially defended his planned trip to Ukraine after critics accused him of engaging in conduct similar to what Mueller investigated: working with a foreign government to tilt a US election. "We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do," Giuliani told The New York Times when he was asked about the similarities to Mueller's probe.

    "There's nothing illegal about it," he said at the time. "Somebody could say it's improper. And this isn't foreign policy — I'm asking them to do an investigation that they're doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I'm going to give them reasons why they shouldn't stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government."

    When Giuliani announced that he had canceled the trip, he blamed Democrats for "spinning" the story and called accusations that he was meddling in the election "ridiculous."

    Lutsenko, meanwhile, wants to stay in his role as prosecutor general. But Zelensky, who will be sworn in on May 20, has said he plans to name a new person to the position.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's strategy of stonewalling Congress is facing a huge legal test

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Joe Biden’s vote for the 2003 Iraq War is coming back to bite him with 2020 voters>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 9:31 PM:)
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    Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at the Community Oven restaurant in Hampton, N.H., Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

    • Former Vice President Joe Biden's vote in favor of the Iraq War could hurt him with a key demographic in 2020.
    • A new poll found 42% of voters between the ages of 18 to 29 said his vote on the war makes them less likely to support him. 
    • Young voters came out in record numbers to participate in the 2018 midterms and are poised to play a big role in the 2020 election, especially for Democrats. 
    • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden's vote in favor of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq could present a big problem for him with younger voters, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

    The poll found that 42% of voters between the ages of 18 to 29 said Biden's vote on the issue makes them less likely to support him.

    "Joe Biden's 2002 vote in favor of authorizing military force against Iraq could hurt his support among the crucial younger voting bloc in the Democratic primary," Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consul t's vice president, told Politico on the poll.

    Young voters came out in record numbers to participate in the 2018 midterms and are poised to play a big role in the 2020 election, especially for Democrats. 

    In 2014, voter turnout for this age group was 20%, but it rose all the way to 36% in 2018. This represented the largest percentage point increase for any age group (a 79% jump), according to the US Census Bureau. And 67% of people in this age group voted for Democratic candidates in 2018. 

    Read more: Bernie Sanders slams Joe Biden's record as the former vice president blows past him to become the 2020 frontrunner

    In 2020, voters aged 18 to 23 (Generation Z) will comprise about 10% of the electorate while voters aged 24 to 39 (Millennials) will make up about (27%), according to Pew Research Center.

    Overall, nearly three-in-ten Democrats said they were less likely to vote for Biden because of his vote on Iraq, according to the new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

    Meanwhile, the poll showed that Biden's Iraq War vote, which took place back in 2002 and passed the Senate with 77 votes in favor, was even more unpopular with Democratic voters than other aspects of his record such as his role in drafting the 1994 crime bill. 

    Biden in 2005 expressed regret over his vote in favor of the conflict.

    "It was a mistake," Biden said on NBC's Meet the Press at the time. "It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly...We gave the president the authority to unite the world to isolate Saddam. And the fact of the matter is, we went too soon. We went without sufficient force, and we went without a plan."

    Most Americans (72%) supported the Iraq War at its onset. But the war was sold to the public under the false pretense Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which were never found. Within a few years, most Americans said the US made the wrong decision in invading the Middle East country and support for the war declined drastically by 2008 as casualties mounted.

    The US still has a military presence in Iraq to this day, which is linked to recent tensions with Iran that have sparked fears of an Iraq War redux. 

    Biden has consistently led in the polls for the 2020 Democratic nomination and is considered to be the frontrunner at the moment. But his closest competitor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has already sought to use the former vice president's Iraq War vote against him

    Sanders was serving in the House in 2002 and voted against the war, which he's touted along the campaign trail so far. 

    The Vermont senator has a history of appealing to young voters, but a new Morning Consult poll suggests his support with this group is declining. 

    Sanders in March had 45% of the first choice vote share among America's youngest voters, according to the poll, but that number has recently declined to 33%

    SEE ALSO: US voter turnout was way up in the 2018 midterms, but it still lags behind most developed countries'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Check out the best messages on the giant wall of Post-Its outside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's congressional office>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 8:20 PM:)
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    The wall outside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) office in Washington.

    • Visitors in the US Capitol have taken to posting small notes along the wall of the office for Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
    • The notes are mostly praiseworthy words of encouragement.
    • Some notes are criticisms or drawings as well.
    • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

    WASHINGTON — Visitors to the United States Capitol Building have taken up a habit of posting little notes on the wall outside of the office for Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

    Ocasio-Cortez has rapidly become one of the most popular young lawmakers on the left, bringing in extra attention from supporters and critics alike, both in her party and the GOP.

    Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez replaces Nancy Pelosi as Republicans' new boogeyman for 2020

    The Post-It notes stuck all along the outside wall of Ocasio-Cortez's Washington office range from words of support, thanks, and praise to criticisms and random slogans.

    Here are some of the many notes stuck to the wall.

    (h/t Pedro da Costa)

    SEE ALSO: Democratic candidates are fighting to get enough attention and money to make the first debate stage — here's everyone who's qualified so far

    Throughout the day, tourists and visitors on official business will stop to read and take pictures of many of the notes.



    There are so many notes along the walls, they even extend into the doorway.



    But you cannot post them on the congresswoman's official seal.

    There is one note on the official seal of New York asking visitors to exclude the plaque that identifies each member of Congress by their home state.



    Most of the notes are praise and support

    Some notes praise Ocasio-Cortez, like this one that reads, "Keep making the old white dudes uncomfortable!!" [California] loves you!!"



    "Take my cows"

    Another note made an obvious reference to the Green New Deal, which aims to severely curtail beef production. This one reads, "Take my cows!"



    Other notes are encouraging or thankful to Ocasio-Cortez.



    Some visitors will use multiple Post-Its to craft a large message, like "FREE PALESTINE."

    Some visitors will use multiple Post-Its to craft a large message, like "FREE PALESTINE."



    Others will use the notes to back one of Ocasio-Cortez's primary policy goals, like "Healthcare 4 all."



    One note from her New York constituents reads, "From the [Bronx] you inspire us to elevate!"



    Some are criticisms of her past comments.

    But not all are positive. One note criticized Ocasio-Cortez's remarks on the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ocasio-Cortez previously said it is a "myth" the VA is not working, which drew widespread condemnation from veterans groups who have for years been frustrated with the department.



    And some people just decide to draw cartoons to put on the wall.



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  • 'People are dying for no reason': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confronts drug company CEO over HIV medication costing almost $2,000 a month in the US and only $8 in Australia>
    (Politics - May 16 2019 - 8:02 PM:)
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    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    • Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday confronted the CEO of the drug company Gilead over the high cost of an HIV-prevention drug. 
    • Ocasio-Cortez asked why the drug Truvada costs nearly $2,000 per month in the US compared to $8 in Australia. 
    • Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day said that the current monthly list price ($1,780) is a product of the drug's "patent protection" in the US, while a generic version of the drug is sold in other countries.
    • The drug was developed by the US government with taxpayer funds, which Ocasio-Cortez zeroed in on as she rebuked the high cost of Truvada.
    • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

    Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Thursday confronted a drug company CEO about the high cost of an HIV-prevention drug.

    Speaking to Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day, Ocasio-Cortez asked why the drug Truvada for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which can help reduce the risk of contracting HIV via sex, cost nearly $2,000 per month in the US, versus $8 in Australia. 

    O'Day said that the current monthly list price ($1,780) is a product of the drug's "patent protection" in the US, while a generic version of the drug is sold in other countries.

    The Gilead CEO did not offer specifics on the price in Australia, but reports suggest the generic drug costs somewhere in the range of $5 to $30 in the country, depending on the person's circumstances. He also said that  the drug will be generically available in the US as of September 2020. 

    Ocasio-Cortez went on to slam the cost of the drug in the US, stating the "people are dying" because it's not affordable enough. 

    .@AOC to Gilead CEO: The list price [for Truvada for PrEP] is almost $2,000 in the US. Why is it $8 in Australia? pic.twitter.com/kPnMQSZE0G

    — Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) May 16, 2019

     

    Truvada was developed through work by Thomas Folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as through $50 million in federal grant money to San Franciso-based AIDS researcher Robert Grant. The US government patented the treatment in 2015, but hasn't seen a penny as Gilead has made billions off of it — including $3 billion in global sales last year alone, The Washington Post reported in March.

    Gilead won approval to market Truvada in 2012 after successful clinical trials in humans, three years before the government patented the treatment.

    Gilead contends the US government's patent on the drug is invalid, and the government hasn't seen any money from the drug company's sales of Truvada. The drug company's patent on the drug expires in 2021, however. 

    Read more: 'A ruthless, coordinated assault': 2020 Democrats voice outrage over Alabama's bill that would effectively ban abortions and imprison doctors who provide them

    Meanwhile, the number of new HIV infections in the US per year is around 40,000, and the annual number of new diagnoses declined 9% from 2010 to 2016, according to the CDC.

    Thursday's hearing focused heavily on the patent dispute, which Ocasio-Cortez spoke passionately about in her exchange with O'Day.

    "We the people developed this drug," she said. "We paid for this drug. … There is no reason this should be $2,000 a month. People are dying because of it!"

    In a tweet on the hearing later in the day, Ocasio-Cortez suggested the drug was more affordable in Australia because it has a universal health care system.

    SEE ALSO: The vast majority of Republicans support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders' plan to cap credit-card interest rates at 15%

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This video shows the moment Sarah Sanders lied to a room full of reporters about FBI agents telling her they were happy Trump fired Comey

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