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U.S. brings fraud charges against firm that vetted Snowden

( ) – The爱上海 U.S. Justice Department accused United States Investigations Services (USIS), the largest private provider of security checks for the government, of bilking millions of dollars through improper background verifications.

USIS – which had vetted former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden – filed at least 665,000 flawed background checks between March 2008 and September 2012, which was about 40 percent of total submissions, the Justice Department said in a court filing on Wednesday.

The DOJ accused USIS of receiving millions of dollars that it otherwise would not have received had the government been aware that the background investigations had not gone through the quality review process required by contract.

Through a software known as “Blue Zone,” USIS was able to quickly make an electronic “Review Complete” notation without fully going through the mandated review process, DOJ said.

“USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits,” DOJ said in its filing.

USIS said it has been cooperating with the government’s investigation, and the allegations in the complaint related to a small group of people over a specific time period. The company said it had appointed a new leadership team, enhanced oversight procedures, and improved control protocols.

“The alleged conduct referenced in the civil complaint is contrary to our values and commitment to exceptional service,” a USIS spokesperson said via email.

USIS has a contract with the government since 1996 to vet individuals seeking employment with federal agencies. Such background checks include investigative fieldwork on each application.

The company is a unit of Altegrity Inc, whose debt prices fell slightly on Thursda,上海夜生活桑拿会所Quiana,y on news of the fraud charges.

A former employee of USIS filed a whistleblower lawsuit in July 2011 under the False Claims Act, which lets people collect rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud against the government.

The lawsuit alleged that USIS failed to perform quality control reviews in connection with its background investigations.

The DOJ filing said federal payments to the firm ranged from $95 to $2,500, depending on the type of background investigation. It requested a jury trial and seeks to recover treble damages and penalties.

USIS also vetted Aaron Alexis, the technology contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in September. The lawsuit is not about the firm’s review of Alexis or Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. government for leaking documents about the surveillance programs at the National Security Agency.

Private equity firm Providence Equity Partners LLC acquired Altegrity from Carlyle Group LP and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stow in 2007 for $1.5 billion. Altegrity later expanded its intelligence and security consulting b,上海夜网Gabi,usiness through its $1.13 billion acquisition of Kroll Inc in 2010.

Even before the fallout from the Snowden controversy, Providence’s bet that Altegrity would benefit from government spending had turned sour, as sequestration and defense spending cuts weighed on the business of government contractors.

Altegrity has tapped Evercore Partners Inc for advice on shoring up its finances, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

The case is United States Of America ex rel. Blake Percival vs U.S. Investigations Services, Case No. 11-cv-527, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama (Northern Division)

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

Greek seaside town remembers lives lost to wildfire

MATI, Greece ( ) – Mourners gathered in a church in the Greek coastal town of Mati on Sunday where they wept and lit candles in memory of those killed when a massive wildfire swept through the popular resort near Athens earlier this week.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is facing fierce recriminations for the government’s response to the fire and has promised a national plan to avoid a repeat of the disaster.


Rescue crews are still looking for survivors of the blaze which began last Monday in Mati, 30 km (17 miles) east of Athens, as the death toll rose to at least 91 with dozens more injured.

“Some people survived but for those who died I wish they are well in heaven,” said 77-year old Theano Tsikoulou.

“Fires were burning everywhere, my husband and I were going and putting them out so that our house would not be burnt,” she said.

A total of 25 people remain missing whilst 59 bodies have been identified and a further 28 are still to be named, the fire brigade said on Sunday. Another four people have died in hospital.

Tsipras has accepted full political responsibility for the disaster and pledged a series of changes, including on illegal and haphazard construction which is thought to have worsened the blaze.

The main opposition New Democracy party, which leads in the polls, earlier called on the government to say how many people remain unaccounted for and criticized Tsipras’ television appearance on the night of the fire as a “sorry show.”

The wildfire left the area dotted with burnt-out trees, ashen earth and destroyed buildings as a clean-up operation continues.

Downpours on Sunday hit parts爱上海419 of the region after heavy rainfall and flash floods in areas on Saturd,上海夜生活桑拿会所Madelyn,ay, making it harder for the authorities trying to locate survivors and locals hoping to salvage what they can from the disaster.

But there were also signs of a return to normality as a children’s camp, which closed due to the blaze, was reopened on Sunday. The mayor of Athens invited youngsters affected by the fire to come along.

“The smiles should return,” George Kaminis wrote on Twitter.

On-the-job training: A German export hit losing favour at home

WINSEN AN DER LUHE, Germany ( ) – Nina Lorea Kley urgently needs young people to train as vehicle builders at her company’s factories in northern and eastern Germany. She has enough orders and money to hire 20 this summer but can only find 14.

Feldbinder makes 2,000 customised trailers, railway wagons and containers a year but won’t be able to keep that up without new recruits, especially because many employees are due to retire in the next few years.

Graphic: German education – tmsnrt.rs/2JRuDCK

“If we don’t manage to fill jobs that become free we’ll have to think about which orders we can fulfil,” said Kley, 41, a man爱上海aging director at the firm her father co-founded four decades ago. “We simply wouldn’t be able to take on certain orders anymore due to a lack of staff.”

Feldbinder is not alone. More than a third of German companies could not fill all of their training places last year while almost one in ten received no applications for such roles, a survey by the DIHK Chambers of Commerce found.

Last year, the number of vacancies for training positions was at its highest for more than 20 years.

Germany’s twin-track vocational training system, which involves up to 3-1/2 years of on-the-job learning in firms alongside theory lessons at vocational school, is credited with giving Germany the European Union’s lowest youth jobless rate – 6.8 percent in 2017 against an EU average of 16.8 percent.

Widely admired abroad, the training system is being exported in various forms to Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. But its popularity is waning at home as young people increasingly prefer the higher status of a university degree.

That could hurt growth in Europe’s largest economy by exacerbating a skilled labour shortage, which is partly caused by hundreds of thousands of ageing employees leaving the labour market every year.

“It’s a dangerous trend – Germany is running out of skilled workers,” said DIHK President Eric Schweitzer. “At first, orders lie around for longer, then firms have to reject them outright – to the point where entire sectors run into problems.”

In response, the government has vowed to strengthen the training system and make it more attractive during this legislative period, which runs to 2021.

It plans to invest in equipment so vocational schools can adjust to the digital age, put a minimum trainee wage into law, boost career guidance at secondary schools, promote part-time training to help people reconcile their work and family life, and reduce the problem of regional imbalances in the jobs market by improving mobility.


The education ministry is working with 16 countries including Greece, China, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States to reform their vocational training systems to make them more like the German system.

During her first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in March 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel and company managers spent around an hour discussing vocational training with him, and Ivanka Trump met trainees on a vocational scheme at Siemens during her visit to Berlin the same year.

Foreign interest in the system has grown since the global financial crisis and its success lies partly in the heavy involvement of companies, which ensures it produces workers who can be deployed immediately.

Since 2013 the education ministry has been supp,上海夜生活论坛Garth,orting a project called VETnet whereby German Chambers of Commerce Abroad in 11 countries develop pilot vocational training projects with local companies.

They now offer 45 different occupations, with mechatronics fitter (technology combining electronics and mechanical engineering), tool mechanic and industrial mechanic the most popular. More than 820 companies are involved, with 7,400 trainees in China, Greece, India, Italy, La,上海夜网Sal,tvia, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Thailand and the United States.

“The German government supports the internationalisation of vocational training because it guarantees competitiveness, social harmony and economic stability even during crises,” Thomas Rachel, the deputy education minister, told .

But the DIHK’s Schweitzer said the system is no longer as highly regarded in Germany as it used to be and it was vital to turn that around by showing young people how good their career and financial prospects are on the scheme.

“We need to ensure vocational training is as valued at home as it is as abroad,” he said.

University studies are increasingly popular. There were 515,327 new students in 2017, or 41 percent more than in 2005, the education ministry said.

That compared with 490,267 young people who started a traineeship in the dual system last year. Since 2013 the number of young people starting university degrees has been higher than the number starting as trainees, the education ministry said.

A record high total of almost 2.85 million students were enrolled in university degree courses in the 2017/2018 winter semester, according to the statistics office.

Those with university degrees earn more on average over their lifetime than those who do vocational training, a 2017 study by the Ifo institute found. Many believe going to university will ensure better career prospects too.

A government push that started in 2008 to get more young people into university also contributed to the rise in student numbers.

People with relevant professional experience can now study for some degrees despite not having higher education entrance qualifications, thereby widening the pool of people who can attend university.

Companies and industry groups complain that schools focus too much on sending young people to university and should also stress the benefits of the dual system, which offers training for 327 occupations at more than 426,000 companies.

“Of course we need engineers and mathematicians but not only them – we also need very well-qualified skilled tradesmen,” said Rainer Dulger, head of Gesamtmetall – a metal industry employers’ association.

Many firms are also preparing for a mass exit of experienced employees from 2020 as the post-World War Two baby boomers retire. There are around 300,000 fewer school leavers each year than people going into retirement, the DIHK said.

Kley said Feldbinder would have more people retiring in two to three years than it would be able to replace with its own trainees. Some 10 percent of her 950 employees are due to retire in the next five years.

“That means we’ll get smaller, we’ll shrink – it’s a real problem. We can no longer find people on the market,” she said.


Last year nearly 49,000 training positions, especially in the manual trades, hotel and catering sectors, were vacant – the most since 1995. At the same time, the number of applicants without trainee contracts rose to almost 24,000, highlighting a mismatch between employers and candidates.

In southern Germany, for example, there were far more trainee places on offer than applicants but in Berlin the opposite was true and some sectors like administration and IT were oversubscribed.

Another problem for Feldbinder, Kley said, is that many children no longer grow up in homes with a workbench or repair their own bikes, so they do not get a feel for manual jobs.

Almost half of companies are wooing university dropouts to help cover the shortfall and 16 percent are offering benefits like smartphones, extra holidays, gym membership or better wages to lure new trainees, the DIHK found.

But even firms that do find trainees are not always happy, telling the DIHK that many lack motivation or German and maths skills. A quarter of trainees end their contracts early, according to the education ministry.

At Feldbinder, Kley is trying to prevent costly dropouts by offering internships to make sure young people like the work before getting hired. She hopes to find more trainees by inviting schools to visit her company, sponsoring a carnival club and attracting more females.

The company hires one or two female trainee vehicle builders a year and would like to employ more, but many girls do not think of the traditionally male-dominated job when considering their options, Kley said.

“If we could attract girls, we’d suddenly have 50 percent more potential applicants,” she said.

Nigeria to send air force and 1,000 security personnel to tackle…

ABUJA ( ) – Nigeria will deploy its air force and 1,000 security personnel to fight banditry in the northwest of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday.

The move underscores how security has broken down across much of Nigeria, where an ineffective police force has exacerbated already-weak enforcement, particularly outside urban areas. The military is now deployed in more than 30 of the 36 states.

Nigeria is tackling a nine-year conflict with Boko Haram and Is,上海夜网Jason,lamic State West Africa in the northeast. There is also a conflict across much of its hinterland between farmers and herders that is now more deadly than the war against those insurgencies.

In addition, there are oil-fueled militancies in the Delta to the south and banditry and kidnappings through much of the country.

Banditry has plagued the northwest for years, particularly around Zamfara state and its border with Kaduna state, though a recent spate of kidnappings and killings in the region has put the region in the public eye.

“The Federal Government has assembled (a) 1,000-strong military force … (comprising) the army, air force, police and the civil defense to launch fierce att,上海夜生活论坛Carly,acks on the bandits terrorizing the villages and towns of Zamfara State,” the statement from the presidency said.

Under Buhari, Nigeria has often turned to the air force to carry ou上海龙凤419t policing, despite criticism from rights groups.

In 2015, Buhari came to power on a pledge to restore security. He is now seeking a second term in elections next February elections, though his critics say the situation has become worse.

As U.S. pushes for Mideast peace, Saudi king reassures allies

RIYADH ( ) – Saudi Arabia has reassured Arab allies it will not endorse any Middle East peace plan that fails to address Jerusalem’s status or refugees’ right of return, easing their concerns that the kingdom might back a nascent U.S. deal which aligns with Israel on key issues.

King Salman’s private guarantees to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his public defense of long-standing Arab positions in recent months have helped reverse perceptions that Saudi Arabia’s stance was changing under his powerful young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, diplomats and analysts said.

This in turn has called into question whether Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam and site of its holiest shrines, can rally Arab support for a new push to end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, with an eye to closing ranks against mutual enemy Iran.

“In Saudi Arabia, the king is the one who decides on this issue now, not the crown prince,” said a senior Arab diplomat in Riyadh. “The U.S. mistake was they thought one country could pressure the rest to give in, but it’s not about pressure. No Arab leader can concede on Jerusalem or Palestine.”

Palestinian officials told in December that Prince Mohammed, known as MbS, had pressed Abbas to support the U.S. plan despite concerns it offered the Palestinians limited self-government inside disconnected patches of the occupied West Bank, with no right of return for refugees displaced by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967.

Such a plan would diverge from the Arab Peace Initiative drawn up by Saudi Arabia in 2002 in which Arab nations offered Israel normal ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.

Saudi officials have denied any difference between King Salman, who has vocally supported that initiative, and MbS, who has shaken up long-held policies on many issues and told a U.S. magazine in April that Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land – a rare statement for an Arab leader.

The Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, Basem Al-Agha, told that King Salman had expressed support for Palestinians in a recent meeting with Abbas, saying: “We will not abandon you … We accept what you accept and we reject what you reject.”

He said that King Salman naming the 2018 Arab League conference “The Jerusalem Summit” and announcing $200 million in aid for Palestinians were messages that Jerusalem and refugees were back on the table.

The Saudi authorities did not respond to a request for comment on the current status of diplomatic efforts.


Diplomats in the region say Washington’s current thinking, conveyed during a tour last month by top White House officials, does not include Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, a right of return for refugees or a freeze of Israeli settlements in lands claimed by the Palestinians.

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has not provided concrete details of the U.S. strategy more than 18 months after he was tasked with forging peace.

A diplomat in Riyadh briefed on Kushner’s latest visit to the kingdom said King Salman and MbS had seen him together: “MbS did the talking while the king was in the background.”

Independent analyst Neil Partrick said King Salman appears to have reined in MbS’ “politically reckless approach” because of Jerusalem’s importance to Muslims.

“So MbS won’t oppose Kushner’s ‘deal’, but neither will he, any longer, do much to encourage its one-sided political simplicities,” said Partrick, lead contributor and editor of “Saudi Arabian Foreign Policy: Conflict and Cooperation”.

    Kushner and fellow negotiator Jason Greenblatt have not presented a comprehe,上海夜生活桑拿会所Kayla,nsive proposal but rather disjointed elements, which one diplomat said “crossed too many red lines”.

Instead, they heavily focused on the idea of setting up an economic zone in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with the adjacent Gaza Strip possibly coming under the control of Cairo, which Arab diplomats described as unacceptable.

In Qatar, Kushner asked Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to pressure the Islamist group Hamas to cede control of Gaza in return for development aid, the diplomats sa爱上海419id.

One diplomat briefed on the meeting said Sheikh Tamim just nodded silently. It was unclear if that signaled an agreement or whether Qatar was offered anything in return.

“The problem is there is no cohesive plan presented to all countries,” said the senior Arab diplomat in Riyadh. “Nobody sees what everyone else is being offered.”

Kushner, a 37-year-old real estate developer with little experience,上海夜生活Harmony, of international diplomacy or political negotiation, visited Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Israel in June. He did not meet Abbas, who has refused to see Trump’s team after the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem.

In an interview at the end of his trip, Kushner said Washington would announce its Middle East peace plan soon, and press on with or without Abbas. Yet there has been little to suggest any significant progress towards ending the decades-old conflict, which Trump has said would be “the ultimate deal”.

“There is no new push. Nothing Kushner presented is acceptable to any of the Arab countries,” the Arab diplomat said. “He thinks he is ‘I Dream of Genie’ with a magic wand to make a new solution to the problem.”

A White House official told reporters last week that Trump’s envoys were working on the most detailed set of proposals to date for the long-awaited peace proposal, which would include what the administration is calling a robust economic plan, though there is thus far no release date.

No evidence Russia helped Snowden to steal U.S. secrets: Feinstein

WASHINGTON ( ) – The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said on Tuesday she has seen no evidence that Russian spies helped former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden steal U.S. eavesdropping secrets.

The Democrat’s comments on the MSNB,上海夜生活Fabi,C TV channel contrast with statements by her Republican counterpart in the House of Representative Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers.

Rogers suggested earlier this month that Russia had acquired influence over Snowden before he left his job as an NSA contractor and traveled to Hong Kong, where he leaked tens of thousands of classified documents describing U.S. and British eavesdropping operations.

“I have no information to that effect. I’ve never seen anything to that effect. I’ve asked some questions since and nothing has been forthcoming,” Feinstein said.

A senior U.S. official familiar with the matter said that he had seen no evidence Snowden had been recruited or influenced by Russia to acquire and leak U.S. eavesdropping secrets. Other U.S. security officials have privately offered similar assessments in recent weeks.

Rogers said on television 10 days ago that Snowden had likely been collaborating with Russia before he fled there last year.

“Let me just say this. I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow,” Rogers said, referring to Russia’s intelligence service.

Rogers described Snowden as a “thief who we believe had some help.”

A Rogers’ spokesperson, Susan Phalen said on Tuesday that the House Intelligence Committee chairman stood by his earlier statement.

Earlier this month, in what was described as an interview conducted by encrypted means from Moscow, the New Yorker website quoted Snowden as d,上海夜生活论坛Oliver,enying claims that he had earl上海龙凤419ier spied for Russia.

Text of official Republican response to Obama’s speech

WASHINGTON ( ) – Following is a text of the official Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday as delivered by U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Republican Caucus.

“What an honor it is for me to be with you after the President’s State of the Union. Tonight we honor America, a nation that has witnessed the greatest rise of freedom and opportunity our world has ever seen, a nation where we are not defined by our limits, but by our potential, and a nation where a girl who worked at the McDonald’s drive-through to help pay for college can be with you from the United States Capitol. But the most important moments right now aren’t happening here. They’re not in the Oval Office or in the House chamber. They’re in your homes, kissing your kids good night, figuring out how to pay the bills, getting ready for tomorrow’s doctor’s visit, waiting to hear from those you love serving in Afghanistan, or searching for that big job interview.

After all, “We the People” have been the foundation of America since her earliest days – people from all walks of life, and from all corners of the world – people who come to America because here, no challenge is too great and no dream too big. That’s the genius of America.

Tonight, the president made more promises that sound good, but won’t actually solve the problems facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The president wants that, too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen. So tonight, I’d like to share a more hopeful Republican vision, one that empowers you, not the government. It’s one that champions free markets and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable. And it’s one where Washington plays by the same rules that you do. It’s a vision that is fair and offers the promise of a better future for every American.

If you had told me as a little girl that I would one day put my hand on the Bible and be sworn in as the 200th woman to serve in the House of Representatives, I wouldn’t have thought it possible. I grew up working at my family’s orchard and fruit stand in Kettle Falls, a small town in Eastern Washington, getting up before dawn with my brother to pick apples. My dad drove a school bus, and my mom worked as a part-time bookkeeper.

They taught me to work hard, help others, and always, always dream for more. So when I showed my 4H animals at the county fair, my parents used to say to me, “Cathy, you need to save this money so you can go to college one day.” And so I did. I saved, I worked hard, and I became the first in my family to graduate from college. The chance to go from my Washington to this one was unexpected. I came to Congress to help empower people, not politicians, to grow the working middle class, not the government, and to ensure that everyone in this country can find a job, because a job is so much more than a paycheck. It gives us purpose, dignity, and the foundation to build a future.

I was single when I was elected, but it wasn’t long before I met Brian, a retired Navy commander, and now we have three beautiful children, one who was born just eight weeks ago. Like all parents, we have high hopes and dreams for our children, but we also know what it’s like to face challenges. Three days after our son was born, Cole, we got news no parent expects. Cole was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The doctors told us he could have endless complications, heart defects, even early Alzheimer’s. They told us all the problems. But when we looked at our son, we saw only possibilities. We saw a gift from God.

And today we see a 6-year-old boy who dances to Bruce Springsteen, who reads above grade level, and who is the best big brother in the world. We see all the things he can do, not those he can’t.

And Cole and his sisters, Grace and Brynn, have only made me more determined to see the potential in every human life, that whether we’re born with an extra 21st chromosome or without a dollar to our name, we are not defined by our limits, but by our potential, because our mission, not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become.

That is the gap Republicans are working to close. It’s the gap we all face, between where you are and where you want to be. The president talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality. And with this administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide. We see this gap growing every single day. We see it in our neighbors who are struggling to find jobs, a husband who’s now working just part-time, a child who drops out of college because she can’t afford tuition, or parents who are outliving their life savings.

Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many peo,上海夜网Gael,ple are falling further and further behind, because, right now, the president’s policies are making people’s lives harder.

Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that will focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape. Every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree, and small business at a time. We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school, so college is affordable, and skills training is modernized. And, yes, it’s time to honor our history of legal immigration. We’re working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest, and hardest working from around the world.

And with too many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, we have solutions to help you take home more of your pay, through lower taxes, cheaper energy costs, and affordable health care. Not long ago, I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who had hoped the president’s health care law would save her money, but found out instead her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month. We’ve all talked to too many people who’ve received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or 爱上海who can no longer see the doctors they always have.

No, we shouldn’t go back to the things — the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s, and that whether you’re a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.

So we hope the president will join us in a year of real action, by empowering people, not by making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes, and fewer jobs. As Republicans, we advance these plans every day because we believe in a government that trusts people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started.

That is what we stand for. It’s for an America that is every bit as compassionate as it is exceptional. If we’re successful, years from now, our children will say that we rebuilt the American dream, we built a working middle class that could take in anyone, and a workforce that could take on the world.

Whether you’re a girl in Kettle Falls or a boy from Brooklyn, our children should be able to say that we closed the gap. Our plan is one that dreams big for everyone and turns its back on no one. The president said many things tonight, but now, we ask him to listen to you, for the true State of the Union lies in your heart and in your home.

Tomorrow, I’ll watch my son, Cole, get on the school bus. Others will wait in the do,上海夜生活桑拿会所Fabian,ctor’s office or interview for that first job. Some of us will celebrate new beginnings. Others will face great challenges. But all of us will wake up and do what is uniquely American. We will look forward to the boundless potential that lies ahead. We will give thanks to the brave men and women who have answered America’s call to freedom, like Sergeant Jacob Hess from Spokane, who recently gave his life to protect all of ours.

So, tonight, I simply offer a prayer, a prayer for Sergeant Hess’s family, your family, and for our larger American family, that with the guidance of God, we may prove ourselves worthy of his blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for when we embrace these gifts, we are each doing our part to form a more perfect union. May God guide you and our president, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”

Obama administration nominates new NSA boss

WASHINGTON ( ) – The U.S. Navy’s top cyber warrior was nominated by President Barack Obama on Thursday to head the National Security Agency at a time when the embattled unit is under fire for spying on Americans and allies.

Navy Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, the head of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, is not expected immediately to change the NSA, shaken by revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden.

If confirmed by the Senate, Rogers would take over as head of both the NSA and the military’s Cyber Command from Army General Keith Alexander, who is likely to retire in March or April.

A 30-year Navy veteran, Rogers is a trained cryptologist.

“This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Admiral Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama’s reforms,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.

“I am also confident that Admiral Rogers has the wisdom to help balance the demands of security, privacy and liberty in our digital age,” Hagel said.

The NSA is under fire for monitoring the communications of U.S. friends and allies, as well as those of U.S.,上海夜生活Magda, enemies, with a sweeping eavesdropping program whose scope was disclosed to the media by Snowden.

It has been criticized for collecting vast amounts of metadata from the telephone calls of American citizens, information that could be mined to trace potential security threats.

In a major speech earlier this month, Obama said he was banning eavesdropping on the leaders of allied countries and would begin reining in the collection of America爱上海ns’ phone data.

Rogers will also lead Cyber Command, the military force responsible for defending the United States against cyber attacks.

Obama initially had considered splitting the leadership of the two organizations, but decided against it.

Hagel also said Rick Ledgett had ,上海夜生活论坛Dakota,been appointed as deputy director and senior civilian leader of the NSA. He replaces Chris Inglis, who retired this month.

Myanmar floods force more than 100,000 to flee homes

YANGON ( ) – Monsoon floods in Myanmar have killed at least 11 people and forced more than 100,000 to flee their homes, government officials said on Monday, as rescue workers ferried stranded residents to safety by boat.

Heavy rain has hammered southern, eastern and central parts of the country since last week, cutting off highways, destroying bridges a,上海夜生活论坛Gemma,nd submerging vast swathes of land.

Nway Nway Soe, assistant director at the department for disaster management, said 11 people had been killed, including three soldiers assisting relief efforts who were reported missing over the weekend.

“Eleven deaths so far,” she said. “More than… 119,000 are currently displaced. The disaster management department is providing the flood victims with rice and other dry rations such as noodles and canned fish.”

Three people drowned on Monday in the southern Mon state, Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye told . “They were washed away in the water,” he said.

The government has urged people to leave low-lying areas and move into relief shelters.

“We are trying to raise awareness among people who think that the flood might drop within three or four days to be more cautious,” Win Myat Aye said.

Torrential dow上海龙凤419npours washed away a section of a 60 meter (200 feet) concrete bridge in northern Shan state, while rice paddies and roads in the central Kayin state suffered extensive damage, state media reported.

Aerial images shared on social media showed a muddy brown deluge covering ,上海夜网Hayley,vast tracts of land and residents, including monks carrying their alms-bowls, wading through chest-deep water.

The Myanmar Red Cross Society has sent workers to help ferry people to safety in small boats and hand out first-aid kits and water purification tablets.

“Regarding those who are stranded, we try to rescue them depending on the situation of the location and if we have the capacity,” said Ye Wint Aung, deputy communications director at the Red Cross Society.

Parts of Myanmar flood annually at the peak of the monsoon season, causing frequent landslides and widespread damage to farmland and infrastructure in the Southeast Asian nation.

The country experienced the worst monsoon flooding in a decade in 2015 when around 100 people reportedly died and more than 330,000 were displaced.

The United Nations said in a statement on Sunday it was following developments with “great concern”.

“The UN in Myanmar is mobilizing its partners, resources and capacity and is offering to provide support to the ongoing assistance delivered to the victims of the floods by the government of Myanmar,” said Knut Ostby, the U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator.

U.S. pastor appeals for release, lifting of travel ban: lawyer

ISTANBUL ( ) – A Christian American pastor standing trial in Turkey on terrorism charges has appealed to a Turkish court to release him from house arrest and lift his travel ban, his lawyer told on Monday.

Relations between Turkey and the United States have spiraled into a full-blown crisis over the trial of pastor Andrew Brunson, who was in custody for 21 months in a Turkish prison until he was transferred to house arrest last week.

Presiden上海419论坛t Donald Trump last week threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey unless it frees Brunson, who is accused of helping the group Ankara says was behind a failed military coup in 2016. Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty of the charges, which he denies.

The appeal document seen by said although Brunson was freed from jail, the pastor was still deprived of his freedom and was unable to return to his normal life and carry out his religious duties.

Brunson’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said it would take the Turkish court in Aegean province of Izmir, where Brunson stood trial, three to seven days to make a decision on the appeal request.

His next hearing as part of the trial is scheduled for October.

Brunson was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the coup attempt against President Tayy,上海夜生活论坛Karlie,ip Erdogan in which 250 people were killed. He was also charged with supporting outlawed PKK Kurdish militants.

Gulen denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

Speaking to reporters during his trip to South Africa, Erdogan said Turkey would stand its ground in the face of Trump’s sanctions threat.

It was not clear what would be the nature of sanctions threatened by Trump but Washington was already working on bills related to Turkey.

The U.S. Senate has demanded a block on sales of F-35 jets to Turkey unless Trump certifies that Turkey is not threatening NATO, purchasing defense equipment from Russia or detaining U.S. c,上海夜生活Karina,itizens.

Factbox: Zimbabwe’s voting system

HARARE ( ) – Zimbabwe holds presidential and parliamentary elections on Monday in which the top two contenders, President Emmerson Mnangagwa,上海夜网Malia, and main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, have promised to revive an economy ruined under Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.

Below are five facts about the voting:

* Zimbabwe has 5.7 million registered voters who are expected to cast their ballots at 10上海龙凤419,985 polling stations dotted around the southern African nation.

* Voters directly elect a president, 210 members of parliame,上海夜生活Ned,nt and more than 9,000 councillors. Sixty women will be appointed through proportional representation to the House of Assembly while 60 people will be appointed in the upper Senate chamber via the same system.

* Voting starts at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) and ends at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT). Vote tallying and counting starts immediately after the close of polls and results for council, parliament and president are posted outside each polling station.

* The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will announce winners for parliament in their constituencies, while results for president will be announced at the commission’s headquarters in Harare within five days of voting.

* A presidential candidate requires 50 percent plus one vote for an outright win. If no candidate gets that, a runoff will be held on Sept. 8 between the top two contestants.

Italy’s Conte says he is organizing a conference on stabilizing Libya

WASHINGTON ( ) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday he was organizing a conference to look for ways to stabilize Libya, a main departure point for migrants from North爱上海419 Africa trying to reach Europe.

“In agreement with President (Donald) Trump, I’m going to organize a conference on Libya,” Conte told reporters at the White House after meeting with the U.S. president.

“We would like to deal (with) and discuss all of ,上海夜网Galt,the issues related to the Libyan people, involving all of the stakeholders, actors, protagonists in the whole of the Mediterranean,” said Conte, who took office last month promising a crackdown on immigration.

Italy has ,上海夜生活论坛Faye,told its allies it wants to hold an international conference on Libya this autumn and Conte was eager to get Trump’s blessing for the gathering at their meeting on Monday.

Italy is competing with neighboring France over how best to deal with Libya, which has been wracked by violence for years.

Conte believes a conference in Rome, backed by the United States, will help Rome establish itself as the major interlocutor for Libya’s warring factions.

After their meeting, Conte said Trump had agreed Italy would become “a reference point in Europe and the main interlocutor for the main issues that need to be faced … with particular reference to Libya.”

“We are going to discuss economic aspects, but also social aspects: the need for protection of civil rights; the problem of constitutional process – of issuing and passing laws so as to enable Libya, in particular, to get to democratic elections in a condition of the utmost stability,” Conte said.

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Trump praises Italy’s immigration policies at meeting with Conte

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. President Donald Trump praised Italy’s increasingly hard-line approach to immigration on Monday, at the start of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the White House.

“I agree very much with what you are doing with respect to migration, and illegal immigration, and even legal immigration,” Trump told Conte in the Oval Office. “He has taken a very firm stance on the border, a stance that few countries have taken. And frankly he is doing the right thing in my opinion.”

Conte took office last month promising to bring radical change to Italy, including more generous welfare provision and a cr,上海夜生活桑拿会所Lauren,ackdown on immigration.

As Senate campaigns begin, some Democrats flee Obama

WASHINGTON ( ) – Spooked by President Barack Obama’s low approval ratings, some of his fellow Democrats in tough November election races have begun their campaigns by distancing themselves from the White House and asserting their independence from Obama’s policies.

In what amounts to a survival-first strategy among embattled Democrats crucial to the party’s effort to keep control of the Senate, some candidates in conservative states Obama lost in 2012 are aggressively criticizing his healthcare, energy and regulatory policies.

The group includes three incumbent senators, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska, as well as Natalie Tennant, who is seeking to replace retiring Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Other Democratic senators facing tough battles for re-election have not been as critical of Obama, but have signaled they might not do much campaigning with him.

Democratic Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina recently passed on a chance to appear publicly with Obama,上海龙凤419 saying she had another commitment. Begich and another Democrat up for re-election, Mark Udall of Colorado, have expressed skepticism about the idea of campaigning with the president.

Each of the Democratic senators is facing persistent criticism from Republicans who cast them as rubber stamps for parts of Obama’s agenda that are particularly unpopular in their states.

The growing distance between these Democrats and Obama’s White House was evident this week in Washington, where their responses to the president’s State of the Union address ranged from muted to chilly.

Begich said after the speech that, if Obama came to Alaska, he would be “not really interested in campaigning” with him, but would “drag him around” to show him how the administration’s policies have hurt the state by limiting oil and gas development and the issuance of logging permits.

“I don’t need him campaigning for me. I need him to change some of his policies,” Begich told CNN.

Democratic senators are not the only candidates in their party keeping some d,上海夜生活Ben,istance from Obama. In Wisconsin, a state the president won in the 2012 election, Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke skipped an appearance by Obama in Waukesha on Thursday. She said she had a previously scheduled commitment.

Deciding how to handle a president in their party whose approval ratings are down is a common quandary for candidates in midterm elections. Many Republicans stayed away from then-President George W. Bush in 2006, when his slumping approval ratings and the unpopularity of the Iraq war helped fuel a Democratic blitz that gave the party control of both houses of Congress and most state governorships.

This year, the problem for Democrats is reflected in Obama’s sagging approval ratings after a year in which his healthcare overhaul got off to a rocky start, and critics have cast his policies as causing a decline in American influence around the world.

/Ipsos tracking polls on Thursday indicated that 38 percent of Americans nationwide had a favorable view of the job Obama is doing, while nearly 53 percent disapproved. A year ago, 52 percent viewed Obama favorably and 43 percent did not.


Obama’s low ratings have contributed to Democrats’ worries that regaining a majority in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives could be out of reach, and losing control of the Senate is a possibility.

In the 100-seat Senate, where Republicans need to win a net six seats in the November 4 elections to reclaim a majority, Democrats must defend seats in seven states where Republican Mitt Romney beat Obama in 2012. Obama’s ratings are particularly low in those states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Republicans have launched ads in several states reminding voters of the ties between Obama and local Democrats, especially Senate Democrats who supported the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 healthcare law also known as Obamacare. The law aims to help millions of uninsured Americans get health coverage and provides a range of consumer protections. Republicans say it will raise costs and limit healthcare choices.

“It’s going to be very difficult for a lot of these Democrats because they will own Obama’s agenda, no matter how hard they try not to,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“Obama will be a drag on them because he reminds voters of how far the party has shifted to the left.”


Obama and his aides have largely sidestepped questions about the efforts of fellow Democrats to distance themselves from the president, who will talk with senators at a Democratic retreat next week.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said this week he exp,上海夜生活桑拿会所Ollie,ected the party’s Senate candidates to welcome Obama into their states to campaign. Democratic strategists, meanwhile, are casting the November elections as contests between candidates, not a referendum on the president.

“What those candidates have to decide, especially in those tough states, is how they are going to talk about these big issues like Obamacare,” said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. “They have to be on the offensive.”

Senator Landrieu, who is likely to face a difficult re-election battle against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, recently introduced legislation to allow people to keep their health insurance policies even if those policies did not meet Obamacare’s new requirements for coverage. In her first campaign ad, she criticized Obama for breaking his promise that all Americans who liked their health plan could keep it.

“This is a promise that you made. This is a promise that you should keep,” Landrieu, who voted for Obamacare, says in the ad.

Pryor, who faces a challenge from Republican Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas and is perhaps the most vulnerable Senate Democrat up for re-election, seemed to echo Republicans’ criticism of Obama after the president’s speech before Congress on Tuesday.

Pryor highlighted his opposition to Obama’s push for gun control and additional farm regulations. Pryor also was critical of delays by Obama’s administration in deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would help bring oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Pryor supports the pipeline.

“I’ve always said that I’ll work with the president when I think he’s right, but oppose him when I think he’s wrong,” Pryor said in a statement. “I’ll continue to oppose his agenda when it’s bad for Arkansas and our country.”

West Virginia Democrat Tennant, who has an uphill battle against Republican Shelly Moore Capito to keep a Democrat in Rockefeller’s seat, has been criticizing the administration’s regulation of the coal industry, saying it was eliminating jobs in her state.

“If the president wants to promote opportunity, he needs to rethink his energy policies. The president is wrong on coal and I will fight him or anyone else who wants to take our coal jobs,” Tennant added.

Longest-serving Pentagon comptroller since 1950s to step down

WASHINGTON ( ) – Pentagon budget chief Robert Hale, the department’s longe上海龙凤419st-serving comptroller since the 1950s, has decided to step down after a five-year tenure that spanned a shift from peak wartime spending to shrinking budgets in a period of fiscal uncertainty.

The Pentagon confirmed Hale’s decision to leave on Friday after the White House – in a note to Congress on Thursday – nominated his top deputy, Michael McCord, to replace him as undersecretary of defense (comptroller).

Hale issued a statement on Friday praising McCord’s nomination and saying he would remain in the job until the confirmation process was completed. The Pentagon is expected on March 4 to unveil the 2015 fiscal year defense budget, which would be Hale’s sixth rollout if he is still in office.

“Having been in this job for about five years – longer than any DoD (Defense Department) comptroller since the 1950s – I know it is getting close to the time when I should pursue other opportunities and challenges,” Hale,上海夜网Felix, said in the statement.

“When the time does come to leave … I will do so with decidedly mixed feelings,” he added. “With the help of a large number of outstanding men and women … we have guided this department through some very turbulent times while also making progress on key initiatives.”

Jim McAleese, a Virginia-based defense consultant, said McCord was a good choice to replace Hale, whose tenure he said was characterized by deep knowledge, candor, transparency and energy.

“Mike is the only one who can seamlessly replace Bob Hale at this critical juncture,” McAleese said. “He has been steeped in the DoD budget and programs for the past four years.”

The first Defense Department comptroller, Wilfred J. McNeil, served for 10 years from 1949 to 1959. Since then most comptrollers have served less than four years in the challenging post, which is responsible for the largest budget of any federal department.

Since being appointed by President Barack Obama in January 2009, Hale has o,上海夜生活论坛Hadrian,verseen an annual Pentagon budget of some $600 billion.

His tenure saw the peak in wartime spending in the early part of the Obama administration, followed by congressionally mandated cuts that aimed to shrink planned defense spending by nearly $1 trillion over a decade.

During the 2013 fiscal year, after months of delay and uncertainty, congressionally mandated budget cuts went into effect midway through the year, forcing the department to put most civilian workers on temporary unpaid leave.

The Pentagon continues to face spending cutbacks, but officials say a two-year budget deal approved by Congress earlier this year has eliminated some of the uncertainty and given the department the ability to more effectively manage the decline in its spending.

Cambodia to form new government after election that opposition…

PHNOM PENH ( ) – The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will form a new government within 60 days, its spokesman said on Tuesday, two days after a general election that critics called neither free nor fair, after the main opposition was disbanded last year.

King Norodom Sihamoni will invite all of parliament’s new members-elect to a meeting to be held within 60 days of the July 29 vote, said ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan.

“After the meeting, a government will then be formed … there will be a new cabinet,” Sok Eysan told .

“It will be between September 25th and 26th.”

Exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy called Sunday’s election a farce.

“It was a farce, a sham election, it doesn’t represent the will of the people,” Sam Rainsy told during an interview at his Paris apartment.

The CPP has said it won all 125 parliamentary seats up for grabs in an election heavily criticized by rights groups, the United States and other Western countries.

As Western nations cool ties with Cambodia, regional powerhouse China remains a close ally. By far the biggest investor in Cambodia, it is also its biggest trade partner and has voiced support for the general election.

China’s foreign ministry on Monday said it hoped the international community would remain supportive of Cambodia.

Referring to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for more than three decades, Sam Rainsy said China was the “only backer of such a totalitarian regime”.

Critics call the election a step backward for democracy, following last year’s diss,上海夜生活桑拿会所Carol,olution of the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges.

“The lack of genuine electoral competition and the absence of an i,上海夜生活论坛Pamela,nclusive political process mean that the 29 July election is not representative of the democratic will of the Cambodian electorate, and therefore its outcome lacks credibility,” the European Union said in a statement.

Opposition members had urged voters to boycott the election. Invalid and spoiled ballots accounted for 8.4 percent of the 7.64 million cast, representing a protest against the election, the opposition and an analyst have said.

The White House said it would consider steps, such as an expansion of visa restrictions placed on some government members, in response to the “flawed” elections.

The United States has imposed visa curbs on some Cambo爱上海419dian officials over the crackdown and levied sanctions in June on a high-ranking official close to Hun Sen.

Still, the government appeared unruffled on Tuesday.

It will work to ensure economic growth and fight corruption, said its spokesman, Phay Siphan.

“Good governance, keeping high economic growth and peace and social stability are the goals for the new government,” he told .

Australian church abuse victims welcome archbishop’s resignation

MELBOURNE ( ) – Australians welcomed on Tuesday the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson, who had resisted quitting for two months after he became the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be found guilty of concealing child sex abuse.

Wilson, 67, came under pressure from abuse victims, other bishops, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after being convicted for having failed to disclose to police that two victims had told him in 1976 they had been abused by another priest, James Fletcher.

Wilson, who has maintained his innocence, had stepped down from his role as archbish,上海夜网Nicola,op of上海419论坛 Adelaide in South Australia state but refused to resign while he was appealing against his conviction.

He said he sent a letter of resignation to Pope Francis on July 20, who accepted it on Monday.

“Philip had dug his heels in and I thought he would continue that way for a bit longer, so it did come as a surprise, but it is very, very welcomed news,” Peter Creigh, one of Fletcher’s victims, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

Fletcher was found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail in 2006 after a stroke.

Wilson said in a statement late on Monday he had decided to resign because he had “become increasingly worried at the growing level of hurt that my recent conviction has caused within the community”, especially to Fletcher’s victims.

Broken Rites, a support group for victims of Catholic Church abuse, said Wilson’s resignation was “too little, too late”.

“It’s disappointing to victims that he’s claiming that he’s doing it for them. Why didn’t he do it before?” said Broken Rites spokeswoman Chris MacIsaac.

,上海夜生活论坛Kaylee,Bishop Greg O’Kelly, who was appointed to run the Archdiocese of Adelaide until Francis names a new archbishop, told reporters Wilson’s resignation brought to a close a spell of uncertainty and anxiety in the archdiocese and beyond.

He hailed Wilson’s advocacy for victims in recent years but acknowledged that his refusal to resign after his conviction had reignited memories of the pain the church had inflicted on victims of abuse.

“That’s something which we regret very much – the hurt of people who have already been hurt,” O’Kelly told a news conference in Adelaide.

Germany urges U.S. court to dismiss lawsuit over Namibian genocide

NEW YORK ( ) – A lawyer for Germany on Tuesday urged a U.S. judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the country on beha,上海夜生活桑拿会所Paulina,lf of the Herero and Nama people of what is now Namibia over genocide and seizure of property carried out by German colonists more than 100 years ago.

The lawyer, Jeffrey Harris, argued to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan that the American court did not have jurisdiction over the dispute, citing Germany’s status as a sovereign nation and a legal doctrine that courts should ,上海夜网Tammy,refrain from deciding purely political questions.

“You should abstain from this case under the political question doctrine and let the bilateral negotiations proceed between these two sovereigns,” he said, referring to Germany and Namibia.

Kenneth McCallion, who represents the Herero and Nama leaders and organizations that brought the lawsuit, said Germany’s sovereignty did not shield it from the lawsuit because the genocide was a violation of international law.

The genocide, which Germany has acknowledged, took place from roughly 1904 to 1908, when Namibia was a German colony known as German South-West Africa, after the Herero and Nama groups rebelled against German rule.

Victims were also subjected to harsh conditions in concentration camps, and some had their skulls sent to Germany for scientific experiments, according to historians.

The German government has entered negotiations with the current Namibian government over possible reparations for the genocide. However, the lawsuit contends that Germany violated international law on the rights of indigenous peoples by refusing to negotiate with the Herero and Nama directly.

The plaintiffs said Germany enriched itself by seizing Herero and Nama land and by selling the skulls of murdered victims. They have asked Swain to recognize the case as a class action and award unspecified d爱上海419amages.

Harris argued on Tuesday that the court could only award damages if the wealth Germany stole from Namibia was present in the United States. While the plaintiffs pointed in their lawsuit to several New York properties owned by the German government, Harris said they had failed to link them to Germany’s activities in Namibia.

McCallion countered that the cash flowing into the German treasury from Namibia “certainly can be traced, in an economic theory as well as in a legal theory, to the purchase of buildings in New York.”

Swain did not rule on Germany’s motion to dismiss the case.

Zimbabwe opposition accuses commission of delaying poll results

HARARE ( ) – Zimbabwe’s opposition accused the election commission on Tuesday of deliberately delaying results of this week’s vote to favor the ruling party, reporting irregularities in the first poll since the removal of Robert Mugabe in a November coup.

Even though the election passed off peacefully, several water cannon trucks patrolled outside the central Harare headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as its red-shirted supporters danced in the streets.

Some local results from parallel parliamentary elections have been declared but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has yet to produce any figures from Monday’s presidential vote.

ZEC chief Priscilla Chigumba said the presidential result may not be ready until Saturday.

Former MDC finance minister Tendai Biti and ZESN, the main domestic election monitor, said one in five polling stations – more than 2,000 in all – had not physically posted tallies on their doors, as required by law.

That omission gave room for the ZEC, which ZESN and the opposition have accused of bias, to manipulate the results in favor of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party, Biti said.

“There is a deliberate delay in formally announcing results,” Biti told a news conference, characterizing it as “interference with the people’s will”.

ZESN and other civil society groups were preparing a legal challenge to force the results into the open, Biti said.

Factbox: Some provisions of farm bill

( ) – A U.S. farm bill was passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and sent to President Barack Obama for his expected signature. The legislation, which was approved by the House of Representatives last week, will cost an estimated $956 billion over 10 years, a savings of about $16.6 billion compared with current funding, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The following are some provisions of the wide-ranging legislation, which comprises everything from food stamps and farm subsidies to meat labeling and crop insurance here .


Funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, was cut by about $900 million a year, or roughly 1 percent. SNAP and other nutrition programs account for more than three-quarters of the farm bill’s spending – some $756 billion over a decade. Liberal lawmakers argued against the reduction at a time of relatively high unemployment. Conservatives said the cuts did not go far enough in a program whose spending has more than doubled since 2008. The savings are expected to come from reducing benefits to people who are also enrolled in a federal heating assistance program. An estimated 850,000 households in 16 states and District of Columbia will lose about $90 a month in SNAP benefits.


The legislation ends a nearly two-decade-old program of direct payments to farmers, which cost about $5 billion a year and went to farmers and landowners no matter how much money they made or even whether they actually farmed their land. At a time of rising farm income, the plan had become politically untenable. With the end of direct payments, lawmakers have instead expanded and revised crop insurance programs, and the expansion could put the government on the hook for bigger payouts in times of poor harvests.


This provision, which has been around since the 2002 farm bill, requires meat sold in the United States to be labeled as to where animals are born, grown and processed. It remained in the 2014 bill despite heavy lobbying from the meat industry, which said it was a bookkeeping nightmare for meatpackers. Mexico and Canada, two of the largest exporters of beef to the United St,上海夜生活Madelyn,ates, have challenged COOL at the World Trade Organization. U.S. ranchers and consumer groups largely support COOL, arguing that consumers deserve to know where their meat comes from.


There was a battle between Demo上海龙凤419cratic Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, backed by dairy farmers, and Republican House Speaker John Boehner over Peterson’s proposal to couple a new margin insurance program with a system to cut milk production if prices fell below a certain level. Boehner, who had the support of cheesemakers and food processors who want lower milk prices, said he would not allow a vote in the House if it included Peterson’s supply management plan. The final bill excluded supply management but made changes to the insurance plan, and Peterson said he could live with the compromise.


This amendment,上海夜生活桑拿会所Edison,, intended to block a California law requiring that all eggs sold in the state come from chickens kept in nonconfining cages, was included in the House-passed bill but was dropped from the final legislation. Critics said the provision, pushed by Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa, could have invalidated hundreds of state laws on animal protection and food safety. King, supported by egg growers in Iowa and other states, said the California law violated the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.


Rural counties in the West breathed a sigh of relief after the farm bill included a payment in lieu of taxes program (PILT), which pays local governments for the tax revenue they cannot collect on federal lands. The $400 million-a-year program was a late addition to the farm bill after it was not included in the January budget deal. A bipartisan group of 16 senators had urged that PILT be included in the farm legislation.


U.S. catfish farmers and Southern lawmakers successfully fought to a keep a provision, first authorized in the 2008 farm bill, that shifted catfish inspection to the Agriculture Department from the Food and Drug Administration. Critics including Senator John McCain, Arizona Republican, called the provision a trade barrier designed to protect catfish farmers from imports, mostly from Vietnam. But supporters say USDA inspections would be more rigorous in the interests of food safety. They had a powerful ally in Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, who managed to keep the provision despite the Government Accountability Office saying it was “wasteful and unnecessary.”


With marijuana laws loosening, supporters of industrial hemp saw an opening and pushed through a provision that allows colleges and state agencies to grow and conduct research on the crop in the nine states where it is legal. Kentucky is among them and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, was a big backer of the provision. Industrial hemp, which can be used to make clothing, food, building materials and a number of other products, has low levels of the chemical that gets people high. Growing or using it is illegal under federal law.


A provision removes subsidies for fuel pumps in rural areas that blend gasoline with higher concentrations of biofuels, like corn-based ethanol. Ending the subsidies was a blow to the Obama administration, which in 2010 set a goal of helping gas station owners install blender pumps over the next five years to promote consumption of higher-ethanol gasoline.


Fiscal conservatives are particularly incensed by a provision in the bill that imposes a 15-cent fee on every fresh-cut Christmas tree sold in the United States, with the money being used to promote demand for trees. Critics call it a tax and say it will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Christmas tree growers say the fee, which is expected to raise about $2 million a year, is similar to other commodity “check off” programs, like the successful “Got Milk?” campaign, which use funding to promote an industry.