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Top House Armed Services Republican: Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' but not impeachable

Top House Armed Services Republican: Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' but not impeachableRep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said President Trump's call with Ukraine's president was "inappropriate" — but it did not warrant his impeachment.




POSTED NOVEMBER 10, 2019 11:57 AM

At an Iowa rally, progressive voters already talk about an Ocasio-Cortez presidency

At an Iowa rally, progressive voters already talk about an Ocasio-Cortez presidencyAs she took the stage in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Friday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noted it was her “first time” in the key presidential primary state. But many of the thousands of people who came to see her campaign for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were confident it wouldn’t be her last visit. 




POSTED NOVEMBER 11, 2019 9:18 AM

Shootings, blasts prompt Denmark to tighten border controls

Shootings, blasts prompt Denmark to tighten border controlsDenmark will temporarily reinstate border controls with Sweden and step up police work along the border after a series of violent crimes and explosions around Copenhagen that Danish authorities say were carried out by perpetrators from Sweden. The checks, which start Tuesday for six months, will take place at the Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmo, and at ferry ports.




POSTED NOVEMBER 11, 2019 10:50 AM

A black man was put in handcuffs after a police officer stopped him on a train platform because he was eating

A black man was put in handcuffs after a police officer stopped him on a train platform because he was eatingBay Area Rapid Transit police said Steve Foster, of Concord, California, violated state law by eating a sandwich on a BART station's platform.




POSTED NOVEMBER 11, 2019 5:06 PM

Jordan foils plot against U.S., Israeli diplomats and American soldiers: newspaper

Jordan foils plot against U.S., Israeli diplomats and American soldiers: newspaperJordanian intelligence recently foiled a plot by two suspected militants to mount terror attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomats alongside U.S. troops deployed at a military base in the south of the country, state-owned al-Rai newspaper reported on Tuesday. Militants from Islamic State and other radical jihadist groups have long targeted the U.S.-allied kingdom and dozens of militants are currently serving lengthy prison terms. King Abdullah, a Middle East ally of Western powers against Islamist militancy, has been among the most vocal leaders in the region in warning of threats posed by radical groups.




POSTED NOVEMBER 12, 2019 1:52 AM

With Rising Violence, China Pushes Hong Kong Toward Civil War

With Rising Violence, China Pushes Hong Kong Toward Civil WarA traffic police officer in Hong Kong shot an unarmed 21-year-old pro-democracy protester at point-blank range on Monday. on Monday. Hours later, a man was set on fire after defending Beijing in an argument. Both individuals were listed in critical condition.Over the weekend, wide-scale disturbances scarred the territory, a semi-autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. There is essentially a rebellion in Hong Kong. Riot police in green uniforms are doing battle with youthful demonstrators dressed in black. How Hong Kong Protesters Show Which Businesses Are Friend or FoeProtests began in April after Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s top official, proposed legislation authorizing the extradition of fugitives to various jurisdictions, including Mainland China. Starting June 9, when an estimated one million Hong Kongers marched in the streets, demonstrations have been almost continuous. Lam has since permanently withdrawn the extradition bill from consideration, but the protests have not abated. Especially this week. Hong Kong braced for a weekend of disturbances after Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, died on Friday after falling from a car park the preceding Sunday while running away from police tear gas. Many have accused the police of delaying medical assistance to the mortally injured Chow.Chow has been called “the first fatality linked to police action during a protest,” but many believe the police have killed others. Demonstrators believe three of their number were beaten to death on August 31 in the Prince Edward Mass Transit Railway station in Mong Kok. Since then, the above-ground entrance to the station has become a shrine, protestors have repeatedly rallied in front of the adjacent Mong Kok police station, and youth have continually trashed MTR trains and stations because they believe management of the rail system has withheld surveillance-camera footage.Even a single death creates a cycle of revenge and retaliation that is almost impossible to control. Chow’s passing sparked a weekend of rage.Moreover, Chief Executive Lam added to the tensions. In her most recent press conference, held Monday after the shooting and burning incidents, she called protesters the “enemy of the people.” Her provocative Cultural Revolution-speak comment came on the heels of her November 4 meeting with Chinese ruler Xi Jinping. China is apparently controlling events, and either out of obliviousness or maliciousness it is making the situation worse. Beijing has been doing that by forcing Lam to take a hard line. Apart from the withdrawal of the extradition bill—doomed because the normally pro-Beijing business community came out against it early on—she has been intransigent. That intransigence was evident from her Monday remarks. She said she would not yield to violence, but she had previously left Hong Kong people no choice. She had, with her stubbornness, earlier foreclosed the possibility of peaceful change.Hong Kong people may not be able to change her mind, but she cannot change theirs either. The army in black—as well as many other people in the territory—have continued to protest.Analysts say Beijing will eventually lose patience and use force. “This kind of extreme, violent, and destructive activity would not be tolerated or accepted in any country or society in the world nowadays,” said Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng as he met with Lam early this month in Beijing.Han’s words were taken as a threat to formally deploy units of the People’s Liberation Army or the People’s Armed Police to the streets of Hong Kong to “crush” the protests and reestablish order. Beijing could move in troops, but the move is unlikely to work. Hong Kong, after all, is ideal territory for defenders, like guerilla fighters supported by an overwhelming portion of the public. Every apartment building there is a fort where hostiles can rain down explosives or petrol bombs on Chinese troops and then disappear into their homes or back alleys. Xi Jinping surely does not want his first war to take tens of thousands of soldiers, last years if not decades, and end in a loss for China.In the meantime, there is credible evidence suggesting Mainland Chinese personnel—troops or police—are now operating on Hong Kong streets in police uniforms. This sly tactic is not working, however. Why not? The Hong Kong police department, once considered the most professional force of its kind in Asia, has lost discipline, something evident from the shooting of the protester Monday and countless other incidents. The breakdown in discipline roughly coincides with early evidence that Chinese forces were mixed in with the Hong Kong police, and the resulting rough tactics have resulted in a loss of support of ordinary residents tired of being tear gassed, clubbed, and manhandled. All this raises the question whether Beijing has given the green light to police officers to act as brutally as they want. Yet whether China did so or not, harsh action by the police is sustaining support for the protesters. Demonstrators this past weekend were chanting “Revenge.” Hong Kong is now at war with itself. There is no end in sight to the fighting.LeBron James Bends the Knee to China, Fails His First Big Test as the NBA’s ConscienceRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.




POSTED NOVEMBER 12, 2019 5:21 AM

Do-it-yourself temple waits to move into Indian holy site

Do-it-yourself temple waits to move into Indian holy siteHuge slabs of pink Rajasthan stone, carved pillars and bricks from across India are already waiting to form a Hindu temple to be built on the site of a demolished mosque at the centre of decades of deadly turbulence. Enough stone to build a small mountain was waiting at a complex in the holy city of Ayodhya years before the country's Supreme Court ruled on Saturday that the site should be handed over to Hindus to build a new temple. A mosque stood on the site for almost five centuries until it was demolished by Hindu zealots in 1992, sparking riots across the country in which 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, died.




POSTED NOVEMBER 12, 2019 12:43 AM

Progressive lawyer Boudin wins San Francisco's DA race

Progressive lawyer Boudin wins San Francisco's DA raceChesa Boudin, the son of anti-war radicals sent to prison for murder when he was a toddler, has won San Francisco's tightly contested race for district attorney after campaigning to reform the criminal justice system. The former deputy public defender declared victory Saturday night after four days of ballot counting determined he was ahead of interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus. The latest results from the San Francisco Department of Elections gave Boudin a lead of 8,465 votes.




POSTED NOVEMBER 10, 2019 9:59 PM

South Korea President’s Biggest Headache Is Prosecutor He Picked

South Korea President’s Biggest Headache Is Prosecutor He Picked(Bloomberg) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in -- swept into office on a vow to clean up government after his predecessor was ousted for graft -- wanted a prosecutor who wouldn’t hesitate to go after the most powerful.Problem is, Moon may have gotten what he wished for in Yoon Seok-youl.Almost immediately after being appointed as the nation’s chief prosecutor in July, Yoon launched a series of probes that have rocked Moon’s two-year-old administration. The scandal has forced one justice minister to resign and helped push Moon’s approval rating to a record low -- just as he girds for an April parliamentary election that will shape the second half of his term.The investigations are only the latest in string of high-profile cases brought by Yoon, 58, over the years, including probes of two former presidents, a chief justice and the heads of Samsung Electronics Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. After then-President Park Geun-hye demoted Yoon, he joined the special prosecutor’s team whose findings laid the groundwork for her impeachment and removal.“I’m not loyal to anyone,” he famously told lawmakers when asked about one such probe in 2013.Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Yoon’s latest case involves a man whom Moon once predicted would make a “fantastic duo” with the chief prosecutor: Former Justice Minster Cho Kuk. Last month, Cho was forced to resign after just five weeks on the job amid investigations into whether members of his family inflated college admission applications and improperly benefited from investments in a private equity fund.While Cho has denied wrongdoing and hasn’t been accused of any crimes, his wife and nephew have been indicted on various charges while his brother has been detained for questioning. Any expansion of Yoon’s probe to implicate him personally would pose problems for Moon, who decided to force through Cho’s appointment even after the investigations began. “I don’t know what allegations I’ll be charged with but it seems like the indictment against me has already been planned,” Cho wrote on his Facebook page late Monday.“Moon’s presidency was empowered by high public expectations for clean government,” said Park Sung-min, head of MIN Consulting, a political consulting firm in Seoul. If Cho “faces additional allegations related to his duty as part of the prosecutor’s probe into his family, Moon and the ruling party will receive a megablow,” he said.The investigations add a new worry for Moon on top of a slowing economy and a North Korean regime that has mocked his efforts to play a mediating role in nuclear talks with the U.S. The opposition Liberty Korea Party has drawn almost even with the ruling Democratic Party in some polls, raising the prospect that it could gain control of the National Assembly in April and stymie Moon’s agenda.Moon’s office declined to comment Monday, referring to remarks he made in Yoon’s presence Friday praising the prosecutor’s progress toward “political neutrality.” Moon said it was important to establish a fair anti-corruption system that could endure after “Yoon leaves office and regardless of who replaces him.”When announcing Yoon’s appointment, Moon praised him as “a man of integrity who’s not swayed by pressure from power.” Still, the Yonhap News Agency quoted a Moon administration official in September as saying that the investigation was on a scale that would only be necessary for “probing a conspiracy of a rebellion or completely mopping up the mafia.”The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office declined a request for comment. When asked about the investigation during a parliamentary hearing last month, Yoon vowed to follow the facts: “We prosecutors are not swayed by circumstances. We process the case only in accordance with principles and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”Yoon’s reputation for challenging authority goes back at least to his time in law school when he was forced to flee Seoul after participating in a mock trial in which he sought the death penalty against former coup-leader-turned-president Chun Doo-hwan. Back then, Yoon was known for belting out “Ave Maria” and “American Pie” in karaoke sessions, according to a person who has known him for more than 40 years.Yoon became a prosecutor at the relatively late age of 33 after failing the now-defunct annual bar exam eight times. His age and penchant for making bold speeches against powerful elites earned him the nickname “Big Brother” among his fellow prosecutors.In 2006, Yoon displayed characteristic bravado in seeking the arrest of Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo -- one of the country’s most powerful corporate titans, who was later convicted and pardoned. Yoon is someone who wouldn’t let a friend get away with wrongdoing, according to the person who has known him for more than 40 years.The investigations into Cho’s family have dealt a blow to Moon’s plans to overhaul a prosecutorial system that long been seen in South Korea as a tool for the country’s political elite to suppress dissent. While Moon had hoped Yoon would help push through legislation to weaken his own office, the chief prosecutor has publicly disagreed with a key part of the plan: delegating more investigative decisions to the police.Shortly after Yoon took office, the welcome note on the Supreme Prosecutors’ website was revised to include a pledge to “always serve the public by sternly holding those who wield power accountable for their abuses and violence.”In remarks that take on new significance in light of Yoon’s subsequent investigations, Moon urged the incoming chief prosecutor in July not to shy away from inquiries involving his own administration.“I want you to be really strict, even should there be influence-peddling and corruption within my office, government or the ruling party,” he told Yoon. “Thankfully, unlike the past, there hasn’t been a big, contemptible corruption case within my office, government or the ruling party yet.”(Adds comment from Cho in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Jihye Lee.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Pae at ppae1@bloomberg.net;Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.




POSTED NOVEMBER 11, 2019 9:00 PM

Feud Between Trump Advisers Underscores a White House Torn by Rivalries

Feud Between Trump Advisers Underscores a White House Torn by RivalriesWASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's chief of staff and former national security adviser clashed in court Monday. Two new books describe how top aides to the president secretly plotted to circumvent him. And nearly every day brings more testimony about the deep internal schism over the president's effort to pressure Ukraine for domestic political help.In the three years since his election, Trump has never been accused of running a cohesive, unified team. But the revelations of recent days have put on display perhaps more starkly than ever the fissures tearing at his administration. In the emerging picture, the Trump White House is a toxic stew of personality disputes, policy differences, political rivalries, ethical debates and a fundamental rift over the president himself.The fault lines were most clearly evident Monday when Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, abruptly withdrew his effort to join a lawsuit over impeachment testimony after a sharp collision with his onetime colleague John Bolton, the former national security adviser. Mulvaney retreated only hours after a lawyer for Bolton and his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, went to court arguing that his clients wanted nothing to do with the staff chief because they had vastly different interests.In withdrawing his motion, Mulvaney indicated that he would now press his own lawsuit to determine whether to comply with a subpoena to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. But it left him at odds with the president, who has ordered his team not to cooperate with the House, an order Mulvaney essentially has refused to accept as other administration officials have until he receives separate guidance from a judge.Mulvaney's lawyers emphasized that he was not trying to oppose Trump, maintaining that he was actually trying to sue House Democrats, and an administration official who insisted on anonymity said there was "no distance" between the president and his chief of staff. Still, Mulvaney hired his own lawyer instead of relying on the White House counsel, and he consciously made clear that he was open to testifying if left to his own devices.The situation underscored long-standing enmity between Mulvaney and the counsel, Pat Cipollone, who have repeatedly been at odds throughout the impeachment inquiry, according to four administration officials briefed on the events.Mulvaney, who has been left with an "acting" title for more than 10 months and therefore insecure in his position, is said to see Cipollone as angling for his job as chief of staff. People close to Cipollone deny that and say he is not interested, although they acknowledged that there were previous discussions with Trump about such a shift.Hoping to bolster his own place in the White House, Mulvaney has recommended to Trump that he hire Mark Paoletta, the general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget, where Mulvaney is still technically the director, according to people familiar with the maneuvering. Paoletta would not displace Cipollone but would give Mulvaney an ally on the legal team as the impeachment battle plays out.Another person familiar with the latest moves said that Paoletta was considered but that West Wing officials decided they were pleased with the hiring of Pam Bondi, a former attorney general of Florida, and Tony Sayegh, a Republican strategist, both of whom began full time this week.The latest personnel struggle echoed an attempt by Mulvaney several weeks ago to hire former Rep. Trey Gowdy, a fellow South Carolina Republican, to join the president's legal team. Cipollone and others were said to take issue with the idea, concerned it was an effort by Mulvaney to run his own legal team. Cipollone told allies he had no such concerns, but eventually, Gowdy bowed out, facing an issue with a ban on former House members lobbying Congress.Despite his own tenuous job status, Mulvaney has privately told associates in recent days that there is no easy way for Trump to fire him in the midst of the impeachment fight, the implication being that he knows too much about the president's pressure campaign to force Ukraine to provide incriminating information about Democrats.The court fight between Mulvaney and Bolton on Monday brought their long-running feud into the open. Mulvaney was among those facilitating the Ukraine effort while Bolton was among those objecting to it. At one point, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry, Bolton declared that he wanted no part of the "drug deal" Mulvaney was cooking up, as the then national security adviser characterized the pressure campaign.Their clash was just one of many inside Trump's circle spilling out into public in recent days. The legal conflict Monday came just a day before Nikki Haley, the president's former ambassador to the United Nations, plans to publish a memoir accusing Trump's former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and former chief of staff, John Kelly, of conspiring behind his back while in office. Her account in effect is a mirror image of another book coming out this month by an anonymous senior administration official describing how concerned aides mounted their own internal resistance to Trump.Kelly disputed Haley in a statement Sunday and Tillerson added his own refutation Monday. "During my service to our country as the secretary of state, at no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the president," Tillerson said in a statement.While he offered Trump frank advice, he said, once the president made a decision, he did his best to carry it out. "Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in a position to know what I may or may not have said to the president," Tillerson added.Tillerson was never enamored of Haley when they were both in office, seeing her as a rival trying to upstage him and run foreign policy from her perch at the United Nations. Haley's portrayal of herself fighting off Trump's internal enemies was met Monday with scoffs from several administration officials, who said they were aware of little evidence to back up her self-description. But a former senior administration official who witnessed some of the interactions Haley had with the president described her as heavily involved with policy.The books are being published at the same time new transcripts are released by the House documenting how Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and a coterie of allies, including Mulvaney, sought to sideline career diplomats and other foreign policy officials who warned against enlisting Ukraine to help the president's personal political interests.The dispute pitted one part of Trump's administration against another in a struggle over foreign policy that now has the president on the precipice of being impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.The lawsuit that Mulvaney sought to join was filed by Kupperman, a longtime associate of Bolton, and asked a court to decide whether Kupperman should obey the president's dictate to stay silent or a House subpoena to testify.While not technically a party to the lawsuit, Bolton, who left his post in September after clashing with Trump, is represented by the same lawyer, Charles Cooper, and is taking the same position as Kupperman in waiting for the court to decide whether he should testify or not.Mulvaney's effort to join the lawsuit late Friday night stunned many involved in the impeachment debate because he still works for the president. Mulvaney did not ask Bolton or Kupperman for permission to join the lawsuit nor did he give them a heads up. Bolton and his team considered it an outrageous move since they were on opposite sides of the Ukraine fight and did not want their lawsuit polluted with Mulvaney.Not only did the motion filed Monday by Bolton's camp seek to keep Mulvaney out of the lawsuit, it even advanced an argument that the acting chief of staff may have to testify before House impeachment investigators. The motion noted that in a briefing with reporters last month, Mulvaney appeared "to admit that there was a quid pro quo" before later trying to take back the admission, meaning that he might not have the right to defy a House subpoena since he had already discussed the matter in public."Accordingly, there is a serious question as to whether Mulvaney waived the absolute testimonial immunity claimed by the president," the motion said.Mulvaney's lawyers rejected that. "The idea that Mr. Mulvaney has somehow waived broad immunity by speaking about this" at a briefing "doesn't have any legs," Christopher Muha, one of the lawyers, told the judge in the case Monday afternoon, according to a transcript of a conference call released by the court.Nonetheless, Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District for the District of Columbia, indicated at the end of the call that he was inclined to reject Mulvaney's request to join the suit. Mulvaney then withdrew it and said he would file his own separate action.The motion filed by Bolton's camp noted that Kupperman does not take a position on who is right, the president or Congress, and "will remain neutral on the merits of the constitutional issue," while Mulvaney "has made it clear that he supports the executive" branch interpretation.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company




POSTED NOVEMBER 12, 2019 8:40 AM

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