Author: Maga First News
The Trump administration on Friday informed Congress the president will invoke his emergency authority to bypass lawmakers’ approval of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the threat to the United States from Iran.
The move comes as Trump announced plans Friday to send about 1,600 troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran.
“Iran’s malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to Americans at home and abroad. We took this step of prudent diplomatic deterrence to augment our partners’ long-term capacity for self-defense and threat mitigation,” a senior State Department official told Fox News.
The official added, “Congress won’t act, but we will. “
The administration is using an emergency loophole in the Arms Export Control Act to move ahead with sales of $7 billion in precision-guided munitions, other bombs, ammo and aircraft maintenance support to Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, without lawmakers’ approval.
The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, said he was “reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications.”
The administration pointed out that this authority has been invoked by past presidents on multiple occasions, including in 1979, 1984, 1990 and 2006.
The plan was swiftly condemned by Democratic senators.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” said New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“President Trump circumventing Congress to sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia is unacceptable,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“President Trump is only using this loophole because he knows Congress would disapprove of this sale,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In his notification, Pompeo said he had made the determination “that an emergency exists which requires the immediate sale” of the weapons “in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region.” He said the transfers “must occur as quickly as possible in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East.”
It comes as the administration has actively courted close ties with Saudi Arabia over congressional objections, notably following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based columnist for The Washington Post, by Saudi agents in October.
There is a precedent for using the emergency exemption for arms sales to Saudi Arabia. President Ronald Reagan invoked it in the 1980s, and both Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush used it for sales before the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq war, respectively.
Fox News’ Rich Edson, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Administration officials, according to Axios Friday, debated to decide between two different provisions — a religious-based exemption and striking down the previous administration’s rule altogether — to accomplish their goal without facing defeat in the courts.
The policy change would likely come in July and through the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Civil Rights, a group that has been at the forefront of angering progressives with rules advancing Trump’s religious freedom agenda.
Roger Severino, director of that office, reportedly refused to comment directly on the issue.
The administration’s reported decision reflected a broader battle in which states struggled to balance religious interests with those of same-sex couples. Multiple Catholic adoption agencies have already shut down, refusing to comply with anti-discrimination policies due to Church teaching on marriage and sex.
The reported policy drew swift condemnation from the Human Rights Campaign, which has derided similar measures at the state level.
“Quite literally the definition of cruel and evil,” HRC president Chad Griffin tweeted on Friday.
“Our leaders should be making it easier for children in need of a loving home to find one, not trying to find new ways to license discrimination,” he added. “This is unconscionable and an attack on families.”
Conservatives have maintained that same-sex couples could seek opportunities with secular agencies. They’ve also argued that without religious exemptions, foster children would lose even more resources as longstanding agencies drop their practices altogether.
In Philadelphia, foster families sued the city over an ordinance that would force Catholic Social Services to end its program. The suit, according to the firm that brought the case, represented the first opportunity to test how courts viewed religious freedom in that context. A Christian adoption agency similarly sued the city of Syracuse after it gave them an ultimatum: serve same-sex couples or close shop.
The Supreme Court eventually dismissed a request to grant a preliminary injunction on behalf of the foster families in Philadelphia. Becket Fund senior counsel Lori Windham, who spearheaded that case, said HHS’s current rules violated the First Amendment.
HHS did not immediately provide comment when requested by Fox News.
“We need all hands on deck finding loving homes for kids. We have already seen this regulation used to try to shut down faith-based agencies in Michigan,” Windham said in a statement provided to Fox News.
“HHS should admit that this rule violates the First Amendment. Then it should remove barriers to the full participation of faith-based adoption agencies.”
News of the administration’s decision came on the same day that HHS faced blowback over a rule excluding “gender identity” from sex discrimination protections for health care.
HHS, along with the Education Department, took the controversial step of interpreting Title IX — a sex discrimination statute — as only applying to biological attributes rather than self-described identity.
Source: Fox News Politics
Since announcing my campaign to challenge Thom Tillis to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate two weeks ago, the Swamp – Washington politicians and their consultants – have come out of the woodwork to challenge my support of President Trump.
In 2016, during the presidential primary, like other conservatives I had my doubts about Mr. Trump. Without a policy record, I questioned whether he would govern as a conservative. Like millions of Americans, I could not more delighted, and frankly amazed, at how he has transformed this country in the last two years. His policies and leadership have more than fulfilled his commitment to conservatives and to the American people and I proudly stand with him in his initiatives.
Mr. Tillis, on the other hand, has publicly opposed the president numerous times. My doubts were in 2016. In 2019, Thom Tillis wrote a scathing op-ed opposing the president on the emergency funding for the border wall and he placed it in The Washington Post, the biggest opponent of the president in media, save MSNBC and CNN.
What’s worse, Tillis co-sponsored a bill with liberal Democrat New Jersey Senator Cory Booker to protect the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s search and destroy investigation against President Trump.
When President Trump proposed cuts to foreign aid spending by 30%, Thom Tillis said ‘No.’
Thom Tillis voted to bust President Trump’s 2018 and 2019 budgets by $200 billion and voted to give Congress a veto over President Trump’s tariffs.
Veto power over the most successful negotiating position the President could put us in?
This is what Washington insiders do, they claim to be something that they are not. Tillis has proven, time after time, that he does not have the president’s back. When it comes to difficult decisions to do the right thing for the American people, President Trump goes one way, Tillis goes the other.
The Senate Leadership Fund, the Washington insider Super PAC that ran ads supporting anti-Trump Senator Jeff Flake two years ago, is now trying to tell the media and voters in North Carolina that Tillis is pro-Trump. I say actions speak louder than words.
That’s why President Trump has turned Washington upside down. He is actually accomplishing what he told the voters he would do in 2016. He cut taxes and cut onerous regulations on businesses to allow them to thrive, which they, and the economy have done. Job numbers at an all-time low. On foreign policy, he has crushed ISIS, brought home three hostages and Otto Wambier from North Korea. Despite all the naysayers, President Trump got North Korea to the table, is standing up to Russia and China and Iran and affirming our close alliance with Israel in the Middle East.
President Trump has been the most pro-life president in the last several decades and he has stood strong to protect religious liberty both on the domestic and international front.
After elected he worked quickly to repeal Obamacare only to be stymied by John McCain. On his signature issue, he has done everything in his power to build the wall he promised the American people he would build and is getting it done by finding bloated bureaucratic spending that could be better spent on protecting the American people.
Fulfilling your promises to the American people is foreign to the elite powerbrokers in Washington who want to keep the status quo and their padded consulting and lobbying fees.
The powerbrokers and establishment in U.S. Senate, like Tillis and Mitch McConnell, want to keep their power and have shown they will oppose the president at will to do so.
These are the reasons North Carolinians need a new, fresh, outside-the-Beltway conservative to represent them. Someone who can admit when they are wrong about this president and who can work with him to continue to fulfill his promises to the American people.
Garland Tucker, a respected entrepreneur, founded Triangle Capital Corporation, in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is the author of Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Changed America – Jefferson to Reagan.
This opinion piece first appeared in The American Spectator.
FILE PHOTO: Apr 4, 2019; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Michelle Wie tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Former U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie has pulled out of next week’s major tournament because of continuing wrist problems, she said on Friday.
“While I’m making progress with my recovery, I have decided to withdraw from the U.S. Women’s Open,” Wie announced in a statement.
The 2014 champion underwent surgery on her right hand in 2018 but problems returned this year.
“It was a difficult decision to make because the U.S. Open was one that I was looking forward to playing in all year, but my recovery and health is the priority,” the 29-year-old said.
Currently ranked 46th in the world, Wie tied for 23rd in the Honda LPGA Thailand, withdrew in the middle of the first round of the HSBC Women’s World championship and missed the cut in the ANA Inspiration, shooting 74-77.
She has no timeline for returning, but hopes to do so this season.
The U.S. Women’s Open begins on May 30 at the Country Club of Charleston, South Carolina.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn is the defending champion.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)
FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A330 of Avianca airline takes off at the Simon Bolivar airport in Caracas, Venezuela October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
May 24, 2019
By Marcelo Rochabrun and Sanjana Shivdas
(Reuters) – United Airlines launched a management overhaul at Colombia’s Avianca Holdings on Friday, removing top shareholder German Efromovich from controlling the cash-strapped airline, according to regulatory filings.
United, which is proposing a three-way joint business agreement with Avianca and Panama’s Copa, said the move follows a default by Efromovich’s holding company BRW Aviation on a $456 million loan it made six months ago.
The Chicago-based airline, part of United Continental Holdings Inc, is seeking a deeper foothold in Latin America, which is considered ripe for air travel growth.
United’s loan was backed by Efromovich’s 51.5% stake in Avianca. However, the U.S. airline’s contract with its pilots restricts the company from majority ownership in another carrier. As a result, United is ceding voting rights to Kingsland Holdings, the Colombian carrier’s second-largest shareholder.
Kingsland is controlled by Roberto Kriete, who was embroiled in a long and bitter legal fight with Efromovich over the best strategy for heavily indebted Avianca.
Another Efromovich carrier, Avianca Brasil, filed for bankruptcy protection in December and its operations were suspended on Friday by Brazil’s civil aviation regulator ANAC.
United said it was willing to loan up to $150 million to Avianca Holdings.
(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paulo,; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Phil Berlowitz)
Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, (D-Hawaii), said Friday she would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal if elected to the White House.
On “America’s Newsroom,” Gabbard told hosts Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith that the United States is on the brink of war with Iran, echoing comments she made during an appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Thursday night.
“I know where this path leads us and I’m concerned because the American people don’t seem to be prepared for how devastating and costly such a war would be,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard, 38, referred to her time as a service member, saying, “I’m very familiar with the region, the cost of war, and where this path leads us. And, the American people need to understand how devastating and costly such a war would be, how it would impact almost every part of our lives.
“It would undermine our national security. It would strengthen terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. It would take a terrible human toll: the cost of countless American service members’ lives: my brothers and sisters in uniform. The cost to civilians in the region…Increasing the refugee crisis across Europe…And, it would cost trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars that would come out of our pockets. Taxpayers’ pockets. To pay for this endless war. Resources that we would not be able to use for things like rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.”
President Trump approved the Pentagon’s plan to send about 1,600 troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran, U.S. officials told Fox News on Friday.
Fewer than 1,000 new troops are deploying, but about 600 soldiers who are already deployed will be extended. The 600 are part of a Patriot missile battalion currently deployed in the region.
Gabbard said that the decisions the Trump administration has taken towards Iran have made relations even more strained. “The decisions that this administration has taken towards Iran have made things worse not better. They have made our country, the American people, less safe—not more secure—by pulling out of this Iran nuclear deal.”
Gabbard acknowledged there were “flaws” and “concerns” in the Iran nuclear deal, “…that should’ve been addressed separately while maintaining and upholding the Iran nuclear deal to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
“Instead, by the Trump administration pulling out from this deal, they’ve essentially given Iran an excuse to be able to restart this Iran nuclear weapons program,” said Gabbard. “That makes us and the world far less safe.
“So, as president, I would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. I would work out the difference separately outside of that and de-escalate the tensions that are, unfortunately, bringing us to the point where we are at a brink of war with Iran today.
“As president, I will end these wasteful regime-change wars. Whether it’s against countries like Venezuela, Iran, or Syria…Work to end this new Cold War that we are in with ever-increasing tensions between the United States and nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China, and end this nuclear arms race and take the trillions of dollars that we would continue to spend on these wars and weapons if we continue down the path we are on. And, take those dollars and put them back in the pockets of the American people. Use those dollars to serve the needs of the American people,” she said.
Source: Fox News Politics
FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes speaks during a seminar about pension reform bill in Brasilia, Brazil May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo
May 24, 2019
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes threatened to step down in an interview published on Friday if his ambitious plans to overhaul the country’s social security system are watered down and diluted into what he called a “little reform.”
“I’ll get on a plane and I’ll live abroad. I’m old enough to retire,” Guedes said, in the interview published on magazine Veja’s website.
“If we do not reform, Brazil will catch fire. It will be chaos in the public sector,” he added, predicting that Brazil could go broke in 2020.
Guedes, who is seen as the economic heavyweight in President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, has taken the lead on selling pension reform to the country, although with mixed results. The proposal is still unpopular with ordinary Brazilians and has yet to win the necessary support of politicians in Brasilia.
Bolsonaro, commenting on Guedes’ reported remarks, said, “Nobody is obliged to stay as cabinet minister.”
“Logically, he (Guedes) is seeing this as a catastrophe, and I agree with him, if we do not approve a reform that is similar to the bill we sent to Congress,” the president told reporters during a public event in the northern city of Recife.
The bill wending its way through Congress aims to save 1.237 trillion reais ($307 billion) over a decade by raising the retirement age and increasing workers’ contributions. The government says it is vital to reviving the lackluster economy.
Guedes said on Thursday he was confident the bill could be approved in 60 days, and that it would pack a heavy fiscal punch.
In his interview with Veja, Guedes acknowledged there will be room for negotiation, which could reduce eventual savings to 800 billion reais. But he warned that anything below that could send him to the exits.
The Economy Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Link to interview in Portuguese: https://veja.abril.com.br/politica/aposta-no-tudo-ou-nada
(Additional reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Tom Brown)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 18, 2019 Germany’s Alexander Zverev celebrates during his third round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
May 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Alexander Zverev continued his preparations for the French Open by sealing a hard-fought 7-5 6-7(6) 6-3 victory on Friday over Argentine Federico Delbonis to reach the Geneva Open final.
Zverev, whose form on clay has been patchy so far this season, takes on Chilean Nicolas Jarry on Saturday in his first ATP title clash on the surface since last year’s Italian Open.
Jarry earlier defeated Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-3 6-4 after saving four out of five break points in the contest. The world number 75 is seeking a first tour-level trophy in his second final.
“I am very happy with the win. I am very happy to be in the final and give myself an opportunity to win a tournament here,” Zverev, whose last title was at the ATP Finals in London in November, said.
“I made 15 aces so my serve was doing alright … Delbonis beat great players on this surface already, he has done well on this surface and I think winning against him is a good win.”
Zverev lost his only previous clash with Jarry in the second round of the Barcelona Open last month.
The world number five faces Australia’s John Millman in the opening round at Roland Garros, which begins on Sunday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)
In a fundraising email to supporters titled “We risk falling behind,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote Friday that Biden’s “raising huge sums of money at large fundraising events all across the country. And these are not grassroots fundraising events.”
He said “these are high-dollar functions hosted and attended by corporate lobbyists, health care executives, a Republican casino-CEO, and a union-busting lawyer among others.”
Faiz stressed the independent senator from Vermont’s small-dollar and grassroots approach to fundraising, highlighting that “the truth of the matter is that the American people are pretty sick and tired of the billionaire class of this country buying up our candidates and our elections. We can win elections without begging those people for money.”
Biden has been raising big bucks through small-dollar online donations – his campaign this week touted their online contributions and said those kinds of contributions made up the lion’s share of the whopping $6.3 million it raised in the 24 hours after the former vice president announced his candidacy last month.
But Biden’s also been holding some high-profile, high-end fundraisers. On his first night as a White House contender, he raised $700,000 at the Philadelphia home of a Comcast executive. He also hauled in big bucks at a Hollywood finance event earlier this month and at two Florida fundraisers this week.
The former vice president’s expected to hold two major fundraisers in Boston on June 5, and two more in New York City on June 17, sources close to Biden’s inner circle told Fox News.
Fundraising was far from then-Sen. Biden’s wheelhouse in his unsuccessful White House runs in the 1988 and 2008 presidential cycles. But so far, the third time appears to be the charm, as Biden’s raking in big bucks both at traditional fundraisers with deep-pocketed donors — which he’s opened up to media coverage in a move for transparency — as well as through online contributions.
Biden adviser Brandon English touted in an email earlier this week that the campaign’s “fundraising has been driven by rapid, massive growth over the last month.”
The courting of wealthy donors used to be commonplace, but this time around, the two progressive leaders in the Democratic nomination race — Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have criticized Biden and sworn off those types of donations.
But Sanders reportedly has decided to now hold in-person fundraising events and has hired an official to oversee such finance events.
Source: Fox News Politics
May 24, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; The #14 car reflects in the sunglasses of IndyCar series driver Tony Kanaan on Carb Day for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2019
By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – Tony Kanaan will start from the middle of the gird for the Indianapolis 500 but had his AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet out front on Friday, posting the top speed in final practise for the “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.
Kanaan, who needed 12 years before capturing a maiden Indy 500 in 2013, flashed the type of speed that could take him to Victory Lane a second time – recording a maximum 225.517 mph around the sprawling 2.5-mile oval in the final tuneup for Sunday’s race.
Rookie Santino Ferrucci had the second best effort behind the Brazilian pacesetter, clocking 225.486, while Japan’s Takuma Sato, the 2017 winner, was third quickest under overcast skies.
It marks the second consecutive year that Kanaan has dominated what is known as “Carb Day” and will be hoping it is a better omen than in 2018 when he led for 19 laps before crashing out 13 laps from the checkered flag.
“It was a good day for us, conditions look very similar to what we are going to see on Sunday,” said Kanaan, who qualified 16th and will start inside of row six alongside Graham Rahal and 2008 champion Scott Dixon.
“I wasn’t really happy with my car on Monday and I was extremely vocal about (that), and I think my engineers heard me and made it better today.”
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud flashed little of the speed he displayed putting his Team Penske Chevrolet on pole for Sunday’s race, producing the 22nd best time.
Teammate Australian Will Power, who is bidding to become the first back-to-back winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002, was the quickest of the powerhouse Team Penske four-car entry, clocking the 10th fastest run.
Marco Andretti, who is trying to end the Andretti Curse and become the first member of his clan to win the Indy 500 since his grandfather Mario in 1969, was 23rd best.
Underscoring the ultra-competitiveness of this year’s race, every driver in the 33-car field, with the exception of rookie Ben Hanley, were within one second of each other.
“It is the most competitive field I have ever seen in my 18 years here,” said Kanaan. “Qualifying was really hard and it was extremely tight. I think it is going to be a difficult race.
“I do strongly believe that every single guy starting this race and girl, they think they can win this race.”
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)