The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Friday in a bid to block Alabama’s strictest-in-the-nation abortion ban, touching off a legal battle that could eventually land before the Supreme Court.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of abortion providers, said the new law “directly conflicts” with the Roe v. Wade decision and “more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent affirming its central holding” on abortion rights.
“For over 46 years — since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade — U.S. law has recognized the fundamental constitutional right to make the profoundly important and personal decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy,” the lawsuit reads.
The Alabama law would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.
The law is set to take effect in November unless blocked by a judge. The suit, filed in federal court in Alabama, asks the court to block the law and declare it unconstitutional.
The Alabama law was only the latest – albeit the strictest – anti-abortion measure to be passed at the state level in recent months. It comes as conservative lawmakers prepare for a possible battle on the issue before the Supreme Court – where a conservative majority has emerged during the Trump administration.
Even the Alabama bill’s sponsor has acknowledged the far-reaching legislation is aimed at sparking a new Supreme Court review of the landmark Roe v. Wade.
Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. The Alabama law, meanwhile, would appear to shatter one of the few areas of consensus in the abortion debate — allowing exceptions in anti-abortion laws for rape and incest, which the Alabama legislation does not.
None of the laws has taken effect and all are expected to be blocked by the courts as the legal challenges play out with an ultimate eye on the Supreme Court.
“The American people want a fresh debate and a new direction, achieved by consensus and built on love for both mothers and babies. The time is coming for the Supreme Court to let that debate go forward,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of pro-life organization the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement after the Alabama law passed.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Longtime radio host Howard Stern this week stuck by his theory that President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign began as a publicity stunt to promote his NBC reality show, “The Apprentice.”
Trump was a frequent guest on Stern’s show for many years. During a recent interview to promote his new book, Stern claimed to have “inside information” that told him Trump’s campaign was an attempt to boost ratings for his show, increase his own profile and secure a new deal from NBC.
“This is a publicity stunt,” Stern told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday. “I have no doubt because I have some inside information.”
Stern said that the scheme was a “PR guy’s idea.” Back in 1987, when Trump released his first book.
“He said, ‘Donald, what you need to do is we’ll … make sort of a rumor that you’re running for president’” to increase sales of his books, “The Art of the Deal,” and “The Art of the Comeback.”
“So all of a sudden he was being interviewed. The book goes right to No. 1,” Stern said.
He added that, “In the last election, ‘The Apprentice’ ratings were not what they were; NBC was not going to give him a raise, and what’s a better way to get NBC’s interest? ‘I’ll run for president, get lots of press,’ and I think that’s what happened.”
Trump on Thursday night issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.
Trump also ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr.
The memo read: “The heads of elements of the intelligence community… and the heads of each department or agency that includes an element of the intelligence community shall promptly provide such assistance and information as the Attorney General may request in connection with that review.”
“Today, at the request and recommendation of the Attorney General of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information. Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.”
Responding on “America’s Newsroom,” Wisenberg said the memo essentially puts U.S. intelligence agencies “on notice” that they need to “cut the stonewalling out.”
Wisenberg said the move is “obviously necessary” and he was “overjoyed” when he heard the news. He said new information about the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe is still coming out to this day.
“People are tired of the stonewalling. Barr is the person who’s been given the authority to help get to the bottom of it. Unless you give that authority to someone with the power and gravitas of Bill Barr, people are gonna continue to stonewall,” he said.
Wisenberg, however, tamped down expectations from some that former officials could “go to jail” or be tried for crimes as a result of the Justice Department’s review of the Russia probe’s origins.
Fox News’ Talia Kaplan and Mike Arroyo contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Sen. Lindsey Graham said “not one Democrat will give a damn” about the documents that could be declassified in relation to the surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.
“You’re gonna find out the mentality of the people investigating the president. You’re gonna find out exactly what they did, you’re gonna find out [George] Papadopoulos was not working with the Russians. They knew early on he had no contacts with the Russians,” Graham said during a Friday appearance on “Fox and Friends”.
“The bottom line is there’s gonna be a lot of information about, they were warned about still this is a bad guy you can’t trust him. They blew through every stop sign,” he added.
The senator’s comments came after President Trump on Thursday night issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to spying on the Trump campaign.
Trump also ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr. The memo read: “The heads of elements of the intelligence community… and the heads of each department or agency that includes an element of the intelligence community shall promptly provide such assistance and information as the Attorney General may request in connection with that review.”
But Graham believes that while some will find the declassified documents interesting, “not one Democrat will give a damn.” Still, he believes the disclosure will warrant an action to ensure no other presidential campaign gets spied on without a good reason.
“I’m gonna look at all of it to make sure it never happens again,” the senator said. “I want to make sure we have FISA laws that can detect when somebody is giving the court a bunch of garbage.
“I wanna make sure we have rules that you just can’t open up a counterintelligence investigation on a presidential candidate without having a good reason.”
Graham added that that FISA court is important “because the people are out to get us,” but “if you can take the law into your own hands for political purposes, it is not good for democracy.”
During the same appearance, Graham also fired back at the New Yorker magazine over its portrayal of him – together with Barr and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell – as someone shining the shoes of Trump.
“If I’m helping the president it is good for the country, because I think I got something to offer to him,” Graham said.
“He is doing a really good job. If you want a strong military you got one. If you want a humming economy you got one. If you want to take on the enemy differently than Obama did – that’s exactly what we are doing.”
Source: Fox News Politics
The White House could be forced to turn over President Donald Trump’s tax returns in the heat of the 2020 campaign, Politico is reporting.
The website noted federal courts are ruling quickly in the president’s other efforts to block Congress. And should the Supreme Court find the tax case doesn’t present any new legal issues, there’s a decent chance the White House could have to turn over the tax returns before the presidential election, Politico said..
He’s gambling,” said Michael Stern, a former senior counsel in the House of Representatives’ Office of General Counsel. “I don’t think anyone would say that it’s impossible for there to be a final order for him to produce the tax returns by the middle of next year.”
If so, it could focus public attention on what it is in tax returns just as voters get set to go to the polls.
Politico noted House Democrats are set to go to court to enforce a subpoena for the tax records. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected their request saying it “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”
FILE PHOTO: Rafa Nadal of Spain hits a return against Fabio Fognini of Italy during their men’s singles semifinal match at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, China, October 10, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
May 24, 2019
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal will have to get used to new surroundings as his favorite hunting ground, the court Philippe Chatrier, has been revamped ahead of the May 26-June 9 French Open.
The Spaniard, chasing a record-extending 12th French Open title, has already practiced on the new main court, which has been extended by 10 meters and features new seats before getting a retractable roof in 2020.
But he is not bothered by the changes after court Philippe Chatrier was 80% rebuilt.
“The feeling with the ball, the feeling with the court, personally I had the same feeling on court. No, no, I don’t see a difference in terms of game experience,” Nadal told reporters on Friday.
“I think the wind is going the same way, and the feeling on court is exactly the same. Then of course it is a different court, and especially is a little bit different looking from behind the royal (officials’) box. For me, that’s the main difference.”
Nadal had reason to be concerned after failing to win clay court titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona or Madrid, but he got back to winning ways just in time for Roland Garros when he prevailed at the Italian Open last week.
He now heads into his first round against a qualifier with a positive mindset.
“I feel myself playing well, being honest, and my goal is just to keep playing at that level, because these things always that I can improve, small things, and just working on small things,” the second seed explained.
“But in general terms, it is just about being healthy, main thing, and then just compete well and be fresh mentally and physically.”
A usually slow starter at Roland Garros, Nadal is expected to face two qualifiers in the first two rounds and things should only get really tough in the semi-finals, where he could face either Roger Federer or Stefanos Tsitsipas.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Catherine Evans)
Afghan security forces keep watch outside a mosque after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
May 24, 2019
KABUL (Reuters) – A bomb exploded in a mosque in the Afghan capital, Kabul, during Friday prayers, officials said, killing three people including a senior preacher and wounding at least 20 men who had gathered for worship.
The preacher, Samiullah Raihan, was a supporter of the Western-backed Afghan government which Taliban militants are trying to bring down. He was also a member of the National Ulema Council, Afghanistan’s top Muslim clerical body.
Firdaws Faramarz, a police spokesman, said explosives were apparently placed near the altar of the Al-Taqwa mosque, a place used by the mosque leader to initiate the prayers.
The neighborhood where the bombing took place is dominated by Sunni Muslims. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban and Islamic State fighters regularly stage attacks in the capital.
The explosion hit at a time when dozens of men had gathered for prayers. The death toll could rise, said a second official.
(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Hameed Farzad, Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by Nick Macfie)
FILE PHOTO: Rahul Gandhi, president of India’s main opposition Congress party, speaks after casting his vote at a polling station in New Delhi, India, May 12, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo
May 24, 2019
By Mayank Bhardwaj
AMETHI, India (Reuters) – For many outsiders, Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi losing the seat his family has held for decades was the biggest shock of India’s election, which was won, as expected, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling alliance.
But for many voters in Amethi, a sleepy town in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, it was no surprise.
They said that as Gandhi criss-crossed the country trying to stop Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from retaining power, he all but ignored the constituency that had elected a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty – including his father, mother and uncle – at all but two votes since 1980.
Many Amethi residents said they voted for Smriti Irani, a dogged minister in Modi’s cabinet, because they had very little access to Gandhi and demands for infrastructure such as flyovers were not met fast enough.
Meanwhile Irani, a former TV actress, practically camped out in the constituency she lost to Gandhi in the last election in 2014.
“Gandhi used to work for the development of Amethi, but in the past five years there was hardly any progress in the area,” Sidharth Pratap Singh, a college student told Reuters about the three-time Amethi lawmaker.
“After 2014, most projects announced by him failed to take off and voters gradually started drifting toward Irani.”
Although Gandhi won the second seat he contested in the southern state of Kerala, Congress lay decimated nationwide. It won only 52 seats, compared with the BJP’s tally of 303, according to official vote count.
Indian election rules allow candidates to contest from two seats in one election.
In Uttar Pradesh, where millions of first time voters took part in Indian’s mammoth multi-week trip to the ballot box, many young people were looking for progress and change.
Balram Kashyap, another college student speaking to Reuters in and around a library in Amethi, pointed to narrow roads pitted with pot-holes and overflowing, open drains as some of the signs of the town’s poor infrastructure.
“The place desperately needs a flyover to ease traffic congestion,” he said. “Rahul Gandhi time and again assured us it would get built. But he couldn’t keep his word.”
Local Congress workers denied Amethi was ignored by Gandhi, saying he had spent about 35 days in his constituency since May 2014, when Modi first came to power.
But they admitted there were shortcomings in their campaign in Amethi, and the Congress chief of the area resigned on Friday, taking responsibility for the defeat.
“Other than falling short in projecting our work, we also failed to counter jingoistic sentiments and communal polarization – factors that helped the BJP take control of Amethi,” said Brajesh Tiwari, a local Congress worker.
Many analysts say Modi mainly rode a wave of nationalism after tension with old foe Pakistan shot up following a deadly militant attack in Kashmir in February. In response, Modi sent warplanes into Pakistan after that, leading to aerial clashes between the two countries.
“Amethi has been electing Rahul Gandhi for a long time, so it made perfect sense for young voters like us to give the BJP at least one chance,” said Sanjay Singh, who is in his final year of college.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in AMETHI; Editing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Alison Williams)
FILE PHOTO: The Carige bank logo is seen in Rome, Italy, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
May 24, 2019
MILAN (Reuters) – A junior minister from Italy’s ruling 5-Star Movement said on Friday he favored a market solution for troubled bank Carige, adding the government had to put in place the right conditions to ease it.
“The government should work to create right conditions for a market solution for Carige,” Cabinet Undersecretary for Regional Affairs Stefano Buffagni said on the sidelines of an event.
Deputy Prime Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini has said that his party was ready to back a state rescue of Carige in the absence of private investors willing to plug in a capital shortfall at the ailing bank.
(Adds dropped word in lead)
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina, writing by Giulio Piovaccari)
FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
May 24, 2019
By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Friday an “arbitrary and dishonest” U.S. position had resulted in the failure to reach a deal during a second North Korea-U.S. summit, warning the nuclear issue would never be resolved without a new approach.
A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry accused the United States of trying to shift the blame for the breakdown of the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in February by raising a “completely irrelevant issue”. He did not elaborate.
“The underlying cause of setback of the DPRK-U.S. summit talks in Hanoi is the arbitrary and dishonest position taken by the United States, insisting on a method which is totally impossible to get through,” the unidentified spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
“The United States would not be able to move us even an inch with the device it is now weighing in its mind, and the further its mistrust and hostile acts toward the DPRK grow, the fiercer our reaction will be.”
The official was referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The statement was the latest criticism of the United States since the failed summit in Vietnam, where Kim had sought sanctions relief in return for the partial dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program.
Trump called for a full roadmap for denuclearization including the transfer of bombs to the United States.
Tension has again mounted in recent weeks. The North fired short-range missiles early this month and Washington unveiled the seizure of a North Korean ship suspected of illicit coal shipments in breach of sanctions.
Kim has set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility, but Trump and other U.S. officials have brushed that aside, calling for Kim to take action on a commitment to denuclearize.
Unless the United States offered a new method of calculation, the stalled nuclear talks would never be restarted, the foreign ministry spokesman said.
“And by extension, the prospect for resolving the nuclear issue will be much gloomier,” the official said.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Robert Birsel)