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Analysis: For U.S. Republicans, political makeover has few changes

WASHINGTON ( ) – A year after Republican leaders vowed to “rebrand” their party to broaden its appeal in light of a dispiriting election loss to Democratic President Barack Obama, the Republican strategy for 2014 is looking a lot like the one from 2012.

At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting this week in Washington, it was clear the panic that hit the party after the 2012 elections has subsided, although polls indicate that efforts to make the party more attractive to single women, minorities and gays, groups that favor Democrats by big numbers, have not made any headway.

Many Republicans remain concerned about the party’s long-term prospects in the face of such problems, but they have been heartened by the troubled launch of Obama’s healthcare overhaul and by polls that suggest Obama’s Democrats are not much more popular than Republicans.

So in many ways, this week’s meeting of Republican officials has been an affirmation of the party’s reluctance to change its core strategies for the 2014 midterm elections: Opposition to abortion and an assault on Obamacare, as the president’s healthcare overhaul is known.

It is a familiar platform that analysts say represents the influence of the most conservative elements of a party that continues to be plagued by bitter infighting between compromise-resistant Tea Party conservatives and more pragmatic “establishment” Republicans.

The focus on abortion and Obamacare, analysts say, also could undermine Republican efforts to lure women and minority voters who strongly support abortion rights and Obama’s efforts to help millions of uninsured Americans get health coverage.

“There hasn’t been any significant rebranding for Republicans. When the goals of rebranding have been largely ignored by major figures in the party, you have to be a little skeptical,” said political analyst Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.

On Capitol Hill, a sweeping immigration overhaul that some Republican officials hoped would help the party gain ground with the nation’s rapidly growing Hispanic community, which overwhelmingly backed Obama in 2012, has been blocked by conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives who are wary of giving millions of undocumented immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship.

Republican officials say they do not believe their stances on issues such as immigration and abortion have harmed the party, but that some Republican candidates’ inability to clearly and sensitively express their views on such subjects has hurt.

“We don’t need to move away from our core values. We need to more clearly communicate those values,” said Kris Warner, an RNC member from West Virginia.


Republican efforts to attract women voters also continue to be complicated by indelicate rhetoric.

During a speech before the RNC on Thursday, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called on Republicans to aggressively argue to women voters that they are not “weaklings” who need to rely on the government for help.

In doing so, he served up the latest sound bite for Democrats who accuse Republicans of waging a “war on women.”

Arguing against government-funded birth control, Huckabee accused Democrats of telling women that, “t,上海夜生活Felicia,hey are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido.”

Leading Democrats quickly pounced. They said Huckabee’s comments reminded them of the 2012 campaign, when insensitive remarks about rape by two Republicans running for the U.S. Senate fueled Democrats’ claims that the Republican Party was an out-of-touch bastion of older white males.

“Mike Huckabee has no idea what he’s talking about,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. “If this is the (Republican) rebrand a year later, then all they’ve gotten is a year older.”

Huckabee’s comments followed a recent controversy over a memoir by Republican Representative Steve Pearce of New Mexico, who wrote that a wife should “voluntarily submit” to her husband, although that does not make her inferior.

Steve Munisteri, the state Republican chairman in Texas, said Republican candidates still need to watch the way they talk about controversial issues.

“The party still has a problem with people who don’t understand that how you say things can turn people off. Your tone matters. We have a multi-cultural society, and people have to believe you want them in your party,” he said.

The Republican House and Senate campaign committees have organized sessions with candidates and staff to teach them how to address controversial topics and avoid such self-inflicted wounds, officials said.

At the same time, the party is signaling it will be more aggressive in pressing for abortion restrictions, even though surveys have long shown that a majority of Americans support abortion rights.

On Wednesday, the party sent two bus loads of RNC members to attend the anti-abortion “Mar,上海夜生活桑拿会所Tash,ch for Life” on the National Mall in Washington. RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said the party needed to “get back on offense” in fighting abortion.


So far, the Republican effort to reach out to women, minorities and other Democratic voting blocs has involved adjusting tactics more than changing the party’s platform.

The RNC has added more than 175 staff members to organize at the state level and reach out to black, Asian and Hispanic voters, party officials say.

The party also has hired technology specialists and open上海419论坛ed an office in California’s Silicon Valley to counter the Democrats’ data-driven voter turnout operation.

Still, polls indicate that more than half of Americans view the Republican Party unfavorably, a trend that does not bode well for a party that has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

The RNC is expected to adopt rules changes to shorten its presidential primary season in 2016 and move the party’s nominating convention from late August to June or July.

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada would retain their right to kick off the process in February 2016, and the rest of the contests would be held between March and May.

The changes could make it more difficult for surprise contenders to emerge, but would help limit a combative presidential primary process that many Republicans blame for weakening party nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

“We feel like there are some good things happening now,” said Shawn Steel, an RNC member from California. “We are going into communities that have never heard the Republican message, and we’re finding good candidates.”

Written by shyw on July 30, 2019 Categories: wkmeiwsovh Tags: , ,

Nuns get partial win in U.S. Supreme Court contraception fight

WASHINGTON ( ) – The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday that, while litigation continues, an order of Roman Catholic nuns need not comply with a part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law requiring employers to provide insurance that covers contraception.

In the latest skirmish over religious objections to providing government-mandated contraception, the four-sentence court order was a partial victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Baltimore-based order of nuns that runs nursing homes, and Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services, which manages healthcare plans for Catholic groups.

The unusually worded order by the court imposed a requirement on the groups before they can claim the exemption. First, they must send written notification to the Department of Health and Human Services saying they object to the contraception mandate.

The court’s decision means that, as long as the groups send the letters, they are effectively exempt while litigation continues in lower courts, putting off for now any conclusive decision on this latest legal test of Obamacare, as the president’s 2010 Affordable Care Act has become known.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the groups, hailed the court’s order.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” attorney Mark Rienzi said in a statement. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people. It doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department stressed in an email to that the order was not final. “This injunction applies only to the plaintiffs and is not a ruling on the merits of their case. And plaintiffs have always been eligible for an accommodation from the contraceptive coverage requirement.”


Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federa,上海夜生活Paige,tion of America, which supports the mandate, said in a statement the case focused only on the way groups like the Little Sisters can claim an exemption. “This is a case about paperwork, not religious liberty,” she said.

Dozens of other Catholic groups are involved in similar litigation, and most have won temporary injunctions. So far, no federal appeals court has ruled on the merits of the groups’ claims, according to the Becket Fund.


Th上海419论坛e organizations have accused the federal government of forcing them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs, or face steep fines.

The Little Sisters lawsuit was filed also on behalf of hundreds of other groups that obtain benefits via Christian Brothers Services, although that has not been certified as a class-action at this stage. The Becket Fund said it would also benefit from the court’s order.

The unsigned Supreme Court order said it “should not be construed as an expression of the court’s views on the merits.”


The Obamacare law requires employers to provide health insurance policies that cover preventive services for women, including contraception and sterilization.

The act makes an exception for religious institutions such as houses of worship that mainly serve and employ members of their own faith, but not for schools, hospitals and charitable organizations that employ people of all faiths.

As a compromise, the administration agreed to an accommodation for non-profits affiliated with religious entities that was finalized in July. But the Little Sisters and other Catholic groups said the compromise process still violated their religious rights.

In court filings, the government had conceded it could not enforce the mandate against the Little Sisters in any case because of the nature of their health-care plan.

A federal judge in Colorado, William Martinez, denied the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction on December 27. The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals followed suit on December 31, prompting a last-minute plea to the Supreme Court.

Although Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary injunction on December 31, the court then spent more than three weeks weighing how to proceed.

In separate cases, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in March on whether for-profit corporations can object to the contraception mandate on religious grounds.

Michelle Obama picks disaster heroes, gay athlete as speech guests

WASHINGTON ( ) – Heroes of the Boston Marathon bombing, a firefighter who led the rescue response to an Oklahoma tornado, and an openly gay basketball player will be among U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s guests at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The White House uses Mrs. Obama’s seating area in the chamber of the House of Representatives during her husband’s annual speech to Congress to highlight people and issues that are important to her and the administration.

A Washington, D.C. teacher and the youngest intern at Intel Corp will also join the first lady, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in the box on Tuesday, the White House sa,上海夜生活Carter,id.

Below are the names and descriptions of the gues,上海夜生活桑拿会所Kalista,ts the White House has released so far:

1) Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman of Boston

Arredondo, wearing a white cowboy hat, was photographed helping a severely injured Bauman during last year’s bombing of the Boston Marathon. The picture became a hopeful symbol of the devastating attack. Bauman lost both of his legs. The two men have become close friends, the White House said.

2) Gary Bird, fire chief in Moore, Oklahoma

Bird led the rescue response to the tornado, which struck Moore, killing 25 people including children. “Fire Chief Gary Bird represents all of those who rallied together to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma – firefighters, police officers, teachers, neighbors – in its greatest time of need,” the White House said.

3) Jason Collins – basketball player

Veteran basketball playe上海419论坛r Jason Collins announced last year that he was gay. A 12-year player in the National Basketball Association, he became the first active athlete from any of the four major U.S. men’s professional sports leagues to come out publicly as gay.

4) Joey Hudy, 16, intern at Intel Corp

Hudy met President Obama when he was 14 at a White House science fair in 2012 and impressed him with his “extreme marshmallow cannon.” Now 16, he is the youngest intern at U.S. chip manufacturer Intel Corp.

5) Kathy Hollowell-Makle, a teacher in Washington, DC

Hollowell-Makle was the 2013 District of Columbia public school teacher of the year. “By the school year’s end, more than 90 percent of her students demonstrate early literacy at proficient or advanced levels and last year, more than 80 percent of her students advanced two or more reading levels,” the White House said.

Pakistan opposition party calls for investigation of election…

LAHORE ( ) – Pakistan’s main opposition party called on Sunday for a judicial investigation into what it said was rigging at an election this week that it lost.

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Pakistan Movement for Justice, emerged as the largest single party in Wednesday’s vote, defeatin上海龙凤419g the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) party of j,上海夜网Opal,ailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

During the campaign, Sharif said the military had influenced the judiciary to deny him a second term. The military denied this. It has ruled Pakistan for about half the time since the country’s formation in 1947.

“We demand constitution of a judicial commission to probe incidents that took place on July 25,” senior party leader Khawaja Asif told reporters in Lahore. “We will issue a white paper on the election rigging and other incidents.”

“PML-N will not accept these elections as legitimate and we are ready to … start movement along with other parties,” Mushahid Ullah Khan, a senior leader, told reporters.

PTI did better than expected to win 16.86 million votes and beat PML-N, which got nearly 13 million votes. PTI opened coalition talks with at least one smaller party and independent politicians on Saturday.

European Union observers were critical of the political climate in the run-up to the vote, saying that some parties had been disadvantaged. The United States voiced similar concerns.

“Pakistan witnessed the most disputed elections in the country’s history,” Ahsan Iqbal, a senior leader of PML-N and former interior minister, told reporters.

Sharif was taken to hospital in Islamabad on Sunday with a possible heart problem, said a government official and Sharif’s party.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested on July 13, minutes after they returned from Britain seeking to revitalise their flagging PML-N party ahead of a July 25 election.

An anti-corruption court sentenced him on July 6 to 10 years while his daughter and political heir was sentenced to seven years over the purchase,上海夜生活桑拿会所Cameron, of luxury flats in London in the 1990s.

They were moved to Adiala jail in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

“After initially refusing to be shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences … Sharif agrees to be treated outside prison after consulting with his personal doctor,” said a PML-N tweet on Sunday night.

“Doctors at Adiala jail have observed changes in the ECG (electrocardiogram) of Nawaz Sharif,” Punjab Chief Minister Hasan Askari Rizvi told . An ECG checks the heart’s electrical activity.

“We cannot take any risk about Sharif’s health,” Rizvi said.

Comoros holds referendum to extend presidential term limits

MORONI ( ) – Comoros holds a referendum on Monday to extend presidential term limits and end a system of rotating po,上海夜生活Camille,wer among the archipelago’s three main islands, moves the opposition calls a power grab by President Azali Assoumani.

A yes vote would allow Assoumani to run for two more five year terms starting with an early election next year, rather than being required to step down when his present term ends in 2021.

Assoumani has campaigned for a “Yes” vote and has argued that the new constitution would uphold “the principle of the continuity of the state for future leaders”.

The secretary general of the opposition Union for the Development of the Comoros, Youssouf Boina, has denounced the referendum as illegal and described it as a “coup de force of the president”.

The constitution now requires the presidency to be rotated every five years among candidates from the country’s three main islands, an arrangement intended to promote stability and power-sharing in a country that has had more than 20 coups or coup attempts since it declared independence from France in 1975.

Assoumani, a former military officer, first seized power in a coup in 1999. He served an elected term as president from 2002-2006, and was re-elected in 2016. He argues that the system of rotating power makes it difficult to set longterm priorities to govern the country.

The opposition says he is flouting the constitution. He has suspended the constitutional court, and the opposition says a referendum would be illegal until it is restored.

The Director General of elections at the Interior Ministry, Mbaé Toimimou, contacted by on Monday morning, said he had personally voted in his village of Nstudjini, and no problems had been reported in the country.

Later on Monday, a group of at least a dozen young people stormed a polling station in the Sanfils district of the capital Moroni and injured two soldiers.

Interior Minister Mohamed Daoud denounced “the despicable act” and accus上海龙凤419ed the opposition Juwa party of being behind the attack. A soldier had his arm torn off by the attackers, he said.

The African Union has emphasized the need to respect the co,上海夜生活桑拿会所Kate,nstitution and has urged “stakeholders to engage in dialogue without delay and to conduct an inclusive consultation on constitutional reforms under the auspices of the AU.”

Republicans bash U.S. law targeting offshore tax dodgers

WASHINGTON ( ) – The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Friday called for the repeal of a U.S. anti-tax-evasion law, siding with big banks, libertarians and American expatriates that have criticized the Obama administration statute.

At its winter meeting in Washington, the RNC approved by voice vote a resolution in favor of abolishing the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), set to take effect in July, marking the party’s first explicit attack on the law.

FATCA will require most foreign banks and investment funds to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about U.S. customers’ accounts worth $50,000 or more. The law was enacted after a scandal involving Americans hiding assets in Swiss bank accounts to dodge U.S. taxes.

Critics have blasted the law as an unfair government overreach and invasion of financial privacy.

“The Republican National Committee … urges the U.S. Co爱上海419ngress to repeal FATCA,” said the measure, staking out a campaign position ahead of 2014’s mid-term elections.

On Wednesday, with the RNC vote expected to occur, a senior Treasury Department official said the vote would not hurt the administration’s efforts to implement FATCA via a web of tax information-sharing agreements with other countries.

Tax watchdog groups that support FATCA slammed the Republican vote. “It is mind-boggling that a major political party would even consider endorsing a resolution to facilitate tax evasion,” said Heather Lowe, director of government affairs at anti-graft watchdog group Global Financial Integrity.

“Repealing the law would cripple the U.S. and g,上海夜生活桑拿会所Daphne,lobal efforts to fight offshore tax evasion,” she said in a statement.

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a group that advocates for lower taxes and financial privacy, praised the RNC vote. “The GOP’s adoption of FATCA repeal to its platform is a major victory for taxpayer privacy rights,” said the center’s Director of Government Affairs Brian Garst.

Republican Senator Rand Paul last year intro,上海夜生活论坛Peggy,duced legislation to repeal parts of FATCA, citing privacy concerns.

Repeal is unlikely and the issue was not expected to resonate with average U.S. voters, said lobbyists on both ends of the political spectrum. But they said Republican opposition to the law could help the party raise campaign funds.

Philippine police vow ‘surgical and chilling’ war on drugs, crime

MANILA ( ) – Philippine police vowed on Monday to revamp and intensify a fight against crime and drugs, a week after President Rodrigo Duterte promised no letup in a bloody crackdown that has alarmed the international community.

“Surgical and chilling will be the trademark of the reinvigorated anti-illegal drugs and anti-criminality campaign,” police chief Oscar Albayalde told a news conference.

Thousands of suspected drug dealers and users have been killed in the past two y,上海夜生活桑拿会所Lauralei,ears in what police say were shootouts.

Police have rejected accusations by activists that suspects were being systematically executed, based on weak intelligence and with the assumed backing of Duterte.

Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have launched a preliminary examination to assess whether crimes against humanity may have been committed. Duterte in March canceled the Philippines’ ICC membership in protest.

Albayalde said Duterte’s war on drugs would be “recalibrated”, and there would be renewed focus and intensity, with “built-in safeguards” to ensure operations were lawful and protected human rights.

A police oversight committee would be formed, he said.

The police chief warned of “frightful” consequences for anyone who continued to sell drugs.

He said police intelligence had identified 893 “high-value targets”, warning that they and “their patrons and p,上海夜生活论坛Tempe,rotectors” would receive a “strong message of the certainty of punishment”.

Albayalde said nearly 1.3 million drug users and street peddlers had surrendered, and that they would be strictly monitored, including 215,0上海419论坛00 who have undergone rehabilitation.

Philippine police have several times promised to overhaul the anti-drugs campaign, although human rights groups say there has been little noticeable change.

Muslim survivors of Indian massacre shaken by citizenship test

NELLIE, India ( ) – Thirty-six years after losing his parents, sister and a four-year-old daughter in one of India’s worst sectarian massacres, Abdul Suban says he is still trying to prove he’s a citizen of the Hindu-majority nation.

Suban is one of hundreds of thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims categorized as “doubtful voters”, who will not find their names in a National Register of Citizens (NRC) the northeastern border state of Assam will release on Monday.

“If the government has decided to brand us foreigners what can we do?” said the 60-year-old. “NRC is trying to finish us off. Our people h爱上海419ave died here, but we will not leave this place.”

Suban was seated with his wife at their house a few hundred meters from a vast paddy field where, in 1983, scores of people were chased down and killed by machete-armed mobs intent on hounding out Muslim immigrants. He survived by running as hard as he could and hiding behind a bush for days.

Work on the citizens’ register has accelerated under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

With an eye on the 2019 national election, the BJP’s Hindu-first campaign has become more strident, critics say, playing to its core base with divisive programs such as the citizenship test in Assam, already a tinderbox of ethnic and religious tensions.

Elsewhere in the country’s northern heartland, lynchings of Muslim cattle traders have risen under Modi in the country where many Hindus consi,上海夜生活论坛Jasper,der cows sacred, further deepening social divides.

The BJP has denied the lynchings have any connection with it being in power. Modi has at least twice publicly spoken out against cow vigilantes.


Several other survivors of the “Nellie Massacre”, which killed around 2,000 people from more than a dozen villages, gave accounts of burying bodies in a mass grave now partly under water.

They said they hoped the release of the NCR list on Monday would not spark further violence. Security has been tightened across Assam.

The citizenship test is the culmination of years of often violent agitations by Assamese demanding the removal of outsiders they accuse of taking jobs and cornering resources in the state of 33 million, known for its tea estates and oil fields.

“The NRC is extremely important to make the Assamese people feel protected,” said Santanu Bharali, the legal adviser to the BJP chief minister of Assam.

“It’s a moral victory. The ethnic Assamese always maintained the presence of foreigners and this will prove that.”

But the opposition Congress party and rights activists say the government is misusing the register to target even legal Indian Muslim citizens who have traditionally voted for non-BJP parties. The BJP and NRC authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.


To be recognized as Indian citizens, all residents of Assam had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in the country before March 24, 1971.

Suban said both he and his father were born in Assam, and showed a soiled yellow document that showed his father’s name in the list of voters in Assam for 1965, before the cut-off date. The local border police declined to discuss individual cases, but said not all documents furnished by suspected illegal immigrants were valid.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled to India from Bangladesh during its New Delhi-backed war of independence from Pakistan in the early 1970s. Most of them settled in Assam, which has a near-270 km (165-mile) border with Bangladesh.

The migrants included many Hindus, but Modi has issued orders stating that no Hindu or members of other minorities from Pakistan or Bangladesh would be considered an illegal immigrant even if they entered the country without valid documents before 2014.

“BJP’s only aim is to do communal politics, including through the NRC,” Congress lawmaker Ripun Bora said.

The BJP said the NRC was monitored by the country’s top court and there was no question of discriminating on the basis of religion.,上海夜生活Ophelia,

Following an outcry from rights groups over possible harassment of Muslims in Assam, Interior Minister Rajnath Singh said that the NRC exercise was being carried out in an impartial and transparent manner.

Singh also reiterated that people finding their names missing from the list could raise objections and appeals, and said that they would not be thrown into detention centers.

Rivals say that as Modi’s government faces disillusionment for failing to deliver on jobs and prosperity, it will step up religious mobilization across the country.


The first draft of the NRC, released on Dec. 31, confirmed the citizenship of 19 million people, leading to jubilation for some and heartbreak among others.

The NRC office, however, told the Supreme Court this month that 150,000 people from the first list, a third of them married women, would be dropped from the next one, mainly because they provided false information or gave inadmissible documents.

Political activists in Assam say most of those are Bengali-speaking Muslims. NRC chief Prateek Hajela, whose office has processed 66 million documents and spent nearly $180 million in the whole NRC process, declined comment on the religion of people who would be removed from the register.

“We are doing an exercise that is unprecedented and if there are course corrections which are required to be done, we will need to do that,” said Hajela, who is guarded round-the-clock by a team of police.

Hajela said that most of Assam’s 126,000 so-called doubtful voters, and an estimated 150,000 of their descendants, would be excluded from the NRC in accordance with a court order.

One of them is Nellie farmer Suban’s son Nabi Hussain, 28, who said he has voted in two Indian elections but now fears arrests.

“We are scared,” said Hussain, his wife looking on from their mud-coated bamboo house, their nine-month-old daughter in her arms. “Terrible things happened to our family once, we don’t want a repeat.”

Cambodian PM’s party claims election rout, opposition sees ‘death…

PHNOM PENH ( ) – Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) said on Monday it had won all 125 parliamentary seats up for grabs in a general election a day earlier that critics said was neither free nor fair.

Cambodia woke to another chapter of rule by strongman Hun Sen a day after an election that was heavily criticized by rights groups, the United States and other Western countries.

“The CPP won 77.5 percent of the votes and won all the parliamentary seats,” CPP spokesman Sok Eysan told by telephone. “The other parties爱上海419 won no seats.”

The White House said it would consider steps, including an expansion of visa restrictions placed on some Cambodian government members, in response to “flawed elections” in which there was no significant challenger to Hun Sen.

Critics say the election was a backward step for democracy in Cambodia following the dissolution last year of the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges.

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy, who lives in exile, said the election was a “hollow” victory for Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who has ruled Cambodia for nearly 33 years.

The United States has imposed visa curbs on some Cambodian government members over a crackdown on critics and levied sanctions in June on a high-ranking official close to Hun Sen.

The European Union has threatened Cambodia with economic sanctions.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Sunday’s vote “failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people”.

Exiled Congo opposition leader Katumbi to return home for…

KINSHASA ( ) – Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi plans to return home this week after two years in exile to submit his candidacy for December’s presidential election, his political platform said on Monday.

But both Katumbi and another prominent opposition politician, Jean-Pierre Bemba, could be barred from contesting the election, potentially easing the way for sitting President Joseph Kabila or his chosen successor.

Katumbi, a millionaire businessman and former governor of the copper-mining Katanga region, left Democratic Republic of Congo in May 2016, accused by the 爱上海419government of plotting against Kabila.

He was sentenced to three years in prison the following month for real estate fraud. Katumbi denies the charges and says they are aimed at preventing him from contesting the election.

“The general secretariat of Ensemble Pour le Changement informs the public … of the return to the country this Friday, August 3 … in the city of Lubumbashi of its president, his excellency Moise Katumbi,” Ensemble spokesman Jean Bertrand Ewanga said in a statement.

Katumbi also wrote to Congo’s civil aviation authority on Monday to request permission to land his private plane in Lubumbashi.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the question of whether Katumbi’s plane would be allowed to land was beyond his competency. Once on Congolese soil, he said, Katumbi would be “at the disposition of the prosecutor. Now, what will the prosecutor do with him? That I don’t know.”

Kabila, who took power in 2001 after his father’s assassination, is barred by constitutional term limits from standing for a third term in the Dec. 23 vote.

However, he has refused to commit publicly to stepping aside and some of his allies have in recent weeks argued that a legal technicality allows him to stand again. The deadline to submit candidacies is ,上海夜生活Sabia,Aug. 8.

Security forces have killed dozen of protesters since Kabila overstayed the expiry of his mandate in December 2016, saying that elections could not be organized in time.

Bemba, a former vice president and militia leader, plans to return to Congo on Wednesday to file his own candidacy.

He was acquitted on appeal in May by the International Criminal Court of war crimes after spending o,上海夜生活桑拿会所Lake,ver a decade in prison but Kabila’s ruling coalition says he should be disqualified from the race due to a witness tampering conviction.

Taxi strike targeting Uber brings chaos to Spanish cities

MADRID ( ) – Spanish taxi drivers blocked major city streets including Barcelona’s Gran Via and Madrid’s Castellana on Monday in a protest to pressure the government to curb licenses to online ride-hailing services such as Uber.

Union representatives were due to meet officials of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government later in the day to try to resolve the dispute, in which taxi drivers have choked main roads and snarled airports, bus and train stations since Saturday.

Along with counterparts in many other European countries, Spain’s taxi drivers say that ride-hailing apps have made it impossible to compete.

“Uber and Cabify are putting the viability of the taxi sector and 130,000 jobs at risk…The union considers this unfair competition intolerable,” the UGT union said in a statement.


Union representatives say the current law of one ride-hailing license for every 30 taxi licenses is not being respected and want an end to the ,上海夜生活桑拿会所Leonie,practice of transferring ride-hailing permits between drivers.

Wi,上海夜生活Madge,th backers including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock and valued at more than $70 billion, Uber has faced protests, bans and restrictions around the world as it challenges traditional taxi operators, angering some unions.

London cab drivers are examining the possibility of bringing a class action suit against Uber after the mobile app was granted a temporary license renewal to operate in the British capital.

Obama speech calls for U.S. housing system overhaul

WASHINGTON ( ) – President Barack Obama renewed his call on Tuesday to wind down mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and revamp the housing finance system to include a more limited government backstop.

In his State of the Union address, Obama urged Congress to pass legislation that rebuilds the mortgage market to rely more on private capital but that also maintains support for creditworthy borrowers.

“Send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeowners上海龙凤419hip alive,” Obama said. “The most important investment many families make is their home.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-run companies that own or guarantee 60 percent of all U.S. home loans, play a huge role in keeping borrowing costs low for homeowners.

Reducing the government’s footprint in the housing system would likely increase the cost of taking out a mortgage. The White House said the government must still play a role to preserve easy access to 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages that support the market and benefit middle-class consumers.

A new system, details of which Obama did not spell out, would replace Fannie and Freddie, which drew $187.5 billion in aid from the U.S. Treasury since the U.S. financial crisis as a growing number of loans they backed went sour. Since ,上海夜生活论坛Idaleen,their 2008 bailout, they have returned to profitability and paid about $185.2 billion in dividends to the government thanks to a surge in the U.S. housing market.

“It is time to turn the page on an era of reckless lending and taxpayer bailouts, and build a new housing finance system that will provide secure homeownership for responsible middle class families and those striving to join them,” according to details of the president’s proposals provided by the White House.


Obama first endorsed a plan to reform the U.S. housing system during a speech last August. The legislative ,上海夜生活桑拿会所Patton,process and implementation of an overhaul will likely take years.

His approach coincides with bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate to reform the housing finance system. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson and Senator Mike Crapo, the panel’s top Republican, started work on a bill last year.

Ten senators had already co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that has served as a starting point. The measure would provide for government reinsurance that would kick in only after private creditors shouldered large losses.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives has also drafted a bill that would get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but would involve a more limited government replacement. No Democrats support that proposal.

Obama wants to make it clear that “recklessness” on the part of lenders and borrowers that fueled the housing bubble and bust is over, the White House said.

Housing is expected to contribute to economic growth going forward through residential investment and rising home prices that have boosted the net worth of households, allowing for greater discretionary spending.

The White House also said it would support efforts that ensure housing is affordable for first-time buyers and renters.

The housing goals are in line with the theme of Obama’s broader message in the State of the Union address, which promotes measures to help boost economic growth.

Sudanese forces help return missing Egyptian patrol: Egypt army

CAIRO ( ) – Egypt’s military said on Monday that Sudanese security forces had helped to locate and return an Egyptian patrol which had gone missing in the Egypt-Libya-Sudan border area.

Sudan’s embassy in Cairo said in a statement that the Sudanese security and intelligence branches had rescued early on Monday five Egyptian soldiers who were captured by a Libyan armed group.

The Egyptian army di,上海夜网Bastian,d not immediately respond to questions over whether the soldiers had been captured or say how they had disappeared.

“The Egyptian armed forces extend their thanks and appreciation to the Sudanese armed forces and the security services for helping return the missing patrol,” the Egyptian militar爱上海y statement said. It gave no further details.

The Sudanese statement did not say when the soldiers had fir,上海夜生活Eleanor,st gone missing.

Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency in its Sinai Peninsula, but has also fought militants coming across its long Western border with Libya.

It has carried out air strikes against militants inside Libya occasionally since its neighbor descended into factional fighting in the years following the 2011 civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

Cairo supports the Libyan National Army (LNA) of commander Khalifa Haftar who dominates eastern Libya.

Mali presidential race seen facing run-off; attacks could be issue

BAMAKO/TIMBUKTU ( ) – The party of Malian presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse said on Monday that the poll would go to a run-off between Cisse and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a day after a vote that was heavily disrupted by suspected Islamist gunmen.

Cisse’s campaign manager, Tiebele Drame, made the announcement at the party’s headquarters in Bamako, the capital.

Keita’s spokesman said the president was substantially in the lead according to provisional vote count, although he accepted that a run-off was possible.

Spiralling jihadist violence has become a key issue in the campaign, as attacks multiply and the death toll mounts across north and central Mali.

“The law forbids the proclamation of results by anyone except the Ministry of Territorial Administration,” Drame told a news conference. “However, I can tell you that we are going to a second round between Soumaila Cisse and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.”

Mahamadou Camara, the spokesman for Keita, said, “According to our tally, IBK has come substantially ahead,” using the popular nickname for the president, taken from his initials.

The exact numbers of voters who were disenfranchised by violence is n,上海夜网Octava,ot known, but they could easily become a flashpoint if the vote is close. Ministry of Territorial Administration figures showed that, of the roughly 23,000 polling stations that were meant to open, 4,632 were disrupted by “armed attacks or other violence,” of which 644 were unable to operate.

In most of Mali, the vote was peaceful and relatively well organised, with polls opening and closing on time. Most people who were enrolled and turned up were able to vote.


In the mud-walled medieval city of Timbuktu, once a flourishing tourist spot before Islamist militants made it too dangerous, witnesses said gunmen had intimidated voters, seized ballot boxes and in some cases set fire to them in the few polling stations that were attacked outside town.

“They came, they fired their weapons and then they took the ballot boxes away,” witness and Timbuktu resident Insubdar Inaboud, 42, a bus conductor, told . Inaboud said he would have voted for Cisse, who hails from the region, if he had had the chance.

“I’m so angry. I don’t think this vote ,上海夜生活桑拿会所Hanzel,is valid, because we are also Malians,” he said.

Islamist militants took over northern cities like Timbuktu in 2012 on the back of a Tuareg rebellion, imposing Sharia law with harsh penalties like cutting off fingers for smoking, 爱上海419until France intervened a year later to push them back. The Islamist militants regard democracy as an un-Islamic Western imposition.

Since Keita came to power in the 2013 poll, Islamist violence has swept south into Mali’s fertile centre. U.N. mission chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif on Friday urged whoever wins the poll to urgently address jihadist-stoked ethnic violence in Mali’s central “breadbasket.”

The figures from the ministry showed that the central region of Mopti accounted for half of polling stations under attack.

Hamid Bore, 39, a teacher, was in charge of one such station in the village of Dembere. The militants arrived just as polls opened at 8 a.m.(0800 GMT), he said.

“They were firing shots and then they asked for the bureau chief,” he told by telephone. “They beat us up, then stole the ballot boxes and our bikes. I had to walk back. This is our only means of travel. How am I going to survive now?”

At a news conference, the head of the European Union observer mission welcomed the decision to make public the number of polling stations that had not been able to function but urged it to publish more precise information about which ones exactly.

“The lists published by the government do not identify the polling stations precisely as we asked them to do,” mission chief Cecile Kyenge said. “That makes…observing difficult.”

A second round would temporarily cool tensions. Cisse’s campaign has repeatedly accused Keita of tampering with the electoral list to try to steal the election.

“We contest in advance these contradictory results and demand a recount,” Drame said.

The United Nations is heaping pressure on all sides to accept the result — or at least contest it through legal channels — to avert a political crisis on top of the security woes the country is already facing.

Ex-official says Christie knew about bridge lane closures -report

NEW YORK ( ) – The former New Jersey official at the center of a political scandal dogging Governor Chris Christie said on Friday the prominent Republican knew about a traffic jam orchestrated by his top,上海夜生活Katie, aides during the blockage, the New York Times reported.

Christie, seen as a 2016 White House hopeful, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of a plan to snarl traffic at the busy George Washington Bridge as political retribution and severed ties with several top aides over their role in the incident.

David Wildstein, who resigned his post at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey late last year, said he had evidence that proves Christie had knowledge of the jams “during the period when the lanes were closed,” according to a letter sent to the authority’s lawyer and released to the newspaper.

The letter does not indicate that Christie orchestrated the closures in any way, does not specify exactly when he became aware of the jams, and offers no evidence to back up the claim.

The closures last September caused four days of severe traffic jams for commuters and residents of Fort Lee, New Jersey, whose mayor declined to endorse Christie’s re-election campaign, and prompted official investigations into the role 上海龙凤419of the governor’s office.

The governor has seen his national support ratings fall as a result of the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal.

“It’s the first time a high-level official has contradicted the governor,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor who specializes in presidential politics.

The key question, he said, is whether Wildstein can p,上海夜生活论坛Sabina,roduce “smoking gun” evidence proving Christie’s knowledge of the events. State Democrats probing the scandal are likely to jump on that vulnerability, Zelizer added.

Wildstein and Christie attended Livingston High School at the same time, but Christie, a former federal prosecutor, has denied knowing Wildstein well.

“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter said.

The Democratic National Committee, already targeting Christie as its greatest threat in the 2016 presidential election, was quick to pounce.

“He’s repeatedly said that he had no knowledge of the lane closures,” said Mo Elleithee, a DNC spokesman. “Today’s revelations raise serious questions about whether that is true.”

Polls taken since the emails emerged early this month showing a now-fired Christie aide calling for “traffic” in Fort Lee, on the New Jersey side of the bridge, show Christie’s popularity sliding in theoretical 2016 White House and primary matchups.

Christie, who won re-election in a landslide last November, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“If we assume it’s true, then we’re in the realm of an outright lie on the part of the governor, and that changes the entire story,” said David Redlawsk, a New Jersey pollster.

“It’s always the old…It’s the cover-up that gets you.”

As for Wildstein, Redlawsk said, “It very much sounds like the message is quite clear to the U.S. Attorney’s Office: tell us what you need and we’ll cooperate.”

China urges U.S. not to allow stopover by Taiwan president

BEIJING/TA,上海夜生活论坛Safia,IPEI ( ) – China urged the United States on Tuesday not to allow Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to transit its territory when she visits Belize and Paraguay next month, adding to tension between Beijing and Washington that has worsened amid a trade war.

Beijing considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province of “one China”, ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has never renounced t,上海夜网Ilya,he use of force to bring the island under its control.

China regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States, and Beijing always complains to Washington about transit stops by Taiwanese presidents.

Taiwan’s government announced on Monday that Tsai would travel to and from its two diplomatic allies via the United States, standard procedure for visits by Taiwanese presidents to Latin America.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office said Tsai would be stopping off in Los Angeles and Houston, though did not provide exact dates.

Speaking at a daily new上海419论坛s briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had already lodged solemn representations with Washington about the planned transits.

“We have consistently resolutely opposed the United States or other countries with which China has diplomatic relations arranging this kind of transit,” Geng said.

China urged the United States “not to allow the transit of the leader of the Taiwan region, and not send any wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces”, he added.

China has been peeling away the number of countries which maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, amid a concerted effort to pressure Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party espouses independence for the island, a red line for China.

The timing of Tsai’s August visits to the United States comes amid an increasingly bitter trade war between China and the United States.

While the United States has no formal ties with Taiwan, it is the island’s main source of arms and strongest unofficial diplomatic backer, to Beijing’s anger.

Taiwan has official relations with just 18 countries worldwide, many of them poor nations in Central America and the Pacific such as Nicaragua and Nauru.

Taiwan has accused China of using dollar diplomacy to lure away its allies, promising generous aid packages, charges China has denied.

Third candidate claims place in Mali election run-off

BAMAKO ( ) – Three candidates in Mali’s presidential election claime爱上海d on Tuesday to have made it into a two-candidate run-off vote, adding to confusion ,上海夜网Ollie,over a poll beset by claims of irregularities and armed attacks that prevented thousands from voting.

Candidates are forbidden by law to announce results before they are officially published and by 8 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, there was no sign of the Ministry of Territorial Administration releasing any, which did little to calm tensions.

Rival parties have given differing outlooks based on their own polling, raising the political heat in the mostly desert country, already under threat from ethnic and Islamist violence.

Mali has a history of peaceful elections in which disputes are resolved without mass protest or violence. But this election is closer and more contested than past polls, which raises the risk of trouble if candidates are unhappy with the outcome.

A spokesman for the Democratic Alliance for Peace said its candidate, gold magnate Aliou Diallo, had come second and won enough votes in Sunday’s election to force a two-candidate second round poll next month.

“Given the results we compiled, we are in the second round, we claim the second place,” Ibrahim Tiocary said.

His statement follows claims on Monday from incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who is seeking a second term and believes that he is in the lead, and rival Soumaila Cisse, whose camp said it has made it to a second round run-off against Keita.

The differing claims come as the European Union mission to observe the election said the vote was marred by irregularities, echoing concerns voiced in recent days by opposition parties.

“We observed several irregularities in the distribution of electoral cards…which were done in ways that did not follow the law,” mission head Cecile Kyenge said.

“A lot of polling agents did not master the procedure well … They were not well trained in procedure.”

The African Union (AU) meanwhile commended the way the poll was carried out.

“The vote happened under acceptable conditions,” said AU Mali and Sahel representative Pierre Buyoya, a former Burundian military ruler. “We call on politicians to accept the results.”


Armed attackers succeeded in shutting down 644 polling stations on Sunday, representing about 3 percent of the total. About a fifth were troubled by violence, figures from the Ministry of Territorial Administration showed.

That has fueled doubts about the election’s credibility and worries that it will not fully reflect the will of Malians, large numbers of whom are spread across a vast desert where jihadists with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State roam.

Islamist militants took over the north in 2012 on the back of a Tuareg rebellion, imposing Sharia law until French troops intervened a year later to push them back. Militants have s,上海夜生活Macey,ince regained territory and influence.

Jihadists have targeted foreign and local interests, taken hostages and attacked security and peacekeeping forces. The situation in Mali is still in the forefront of the former colonial power’s foreign policy concerns.

The election day attacks were suspected to be mostly the work of jihadists and allied ethnic militia, who far from favoring any candidate reject democracy as unIslamic.

“There is a risk people are going to complain, they might say that because the vote was disrupted, ‘we are not happy with the results,’” said Moussa Mara, campaign director for candidate Cheick Modibo Diarra, whose camp has said it would wait for the results before making any pronouncements.

“We’ve never had violence (over an election result) before, but this one is more close. Violence is very possible, if people take to the streets. We hope they don’t, but there’s a danger.”

Gunmen strike convoy with Mali election materials, 12 killed in…

BAMAKO ( ) – Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying election materials in central Mali, triggering a shootout in which four soldiers and eight attackers were killed, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesman said the attack occurred late on Tuesday on the road between Nampala and Coura in the south-central region of Segou, giving no further details, and declining to say whether it was carryi爱上海ng ballot papers.

“The convo,上海夜生活Lenore,y was transporting some youths and election materials. There were 12 killed in total,上海夜生活论坛Harn,, four soldiers and eight terrorists,” the spokesman said by telephone.

Mali’s presidential election, the second since Tuareg rebels and allied Islamists took over the north in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene the following year to push them back, has been beset by attacks at the hands of suspected Islamist militants and allied ethnic militia.

Armed attackers succeeded in shutting down 644 polling stations on Sunday, representing about 3 percent of the total. A fifth of all polling stations suffered some kind of disruption, figures from the Ministry of Territorial Administration showed.

Jihadists have rendered almost all of north and central Mali unsafe by continually targeting foreign and local interests, taking hostages and attacking security and peacekeeping forces.

Egyptian forces kill five suspected militants north of Cairo: ministry

CAIRO ( ) – Egyptian security forces killed five suspected militants in a shootout in Qalyubiya province, north of Cairo, the interior ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ministry said the militants were members of the Hasm group who were instructed to conduct “terrorist operations aimed at destabilizing the countr,上海夜生活桑拿会所Finley,y” by movement leaders abroad.

Egypt accuses Hasm, which emerged in 2016 and has claimed several attacks on security forces, of being a militant wing of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood denies this. Hasm has sometimes released statements ,上海夜生活论坛Ira,claiming attacks against security forces. It has not claimed links with the 爱上海419Brotherhood.

Hasm did not immediately issue a statement about the shootout.

Police also arrested five other suspected militants during a separate raid in el-marg neighborhood in Cairo and confiscated weapons at a third location, the ministry said.

Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula since the ouster of Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

The Islamic State militants in North Sinai have not signaled any connection to Hasm, which has operated mostly in the Nile Delta region.

The military launched an offensive against militants in February which has focused on Sinai, but which it said was country-wide.

As well as Hasm and Islamic State, security forces have faced attacks in its Western desert by Egyptian militants linked to al-Qaeda who security sources say are based in Libya.

(Corrects location of arrest in paragraph 5 to al-marg from al-Salam)

Colombia’s Uribe withdraws senate resignation amid bribery probe

BOGOTA ( ) – Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, accused of witness tampering and bribery, on Wednesday asked the Senate to ignore his resignation letter so that his case remains with the Supreme Court. 爱上海

Uribe, who was in office from 2002 to 2010 and mounted a military offensive against Marxist guerrillas, said on Monday he would resign his seat in the Senate to concentrate on his defense after the Supreme Court called on him to testify.

Uribe, 66, is a mentor of incoming President Ivan Duque, who won the June 17 election as the candidate for Uribe’s right-wing Democratic Center party.

The former president is under investigation by the court over allegations he made false accusations and tampered with witnesses in a case he himself started by making similar accusations against leftist Senator Ivan Cepeda.

Ur,上海夜生活论坛Dari,ibe has been accused by political foes of resigning from the Senate so his case can be investigated in the ordinary courts and not in the Supreme Court, which he claims is biased against him.

“I have asked Senator Ernesto Macías, president of Congress, to withdraw, without considering, my resignation letter. For reasons of honor, it has never been in my mind that the Supreme Court won’t hear the case for which they are summoning me to testify,” Uribe wrote in a Twitter post.

Uribe’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2012, Uribe accused Cepeda of orchestrating a plot to falsely tie him to right-wing paramilitary groups during jail visits to former fighters.

But in February the Supreme Court, the body charged with investigating criminal matters involving lawmakers, said Cepeda had collected information from former paramilitaries in the course of his Senate work and that he had not paid or pressured them. Instead, the court said, it was Uribe who was at fault.

The activities continued even after the ruling, the court said in a statement on Tuesday.

If convicted, Uribe could face jail time.

He has remained a polarizing kingmaker in Colombian politics as his party has sought to stymie a peace accord with Marxist rebels. He and his family ha,上海夜生活桑拿会所Geraldine,ve long been accused of paramilitary involvement by the opposition, but previous investigations have borne little fruit.

Paramilitary groups in Colombia – originally funded by landowners eager to protect themselves from rebel fighters – became violent organizations connected to drug trafficking, massacres and sexual violence.

The 50-year conflict in Colombia has killed more than 220,000 people.