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Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report is set to be publicly released, with some redactions, on Thursday but Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member William McGurn says the American people still don’t know when the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign really began and called on Attorney General William Barr to appoint a grand jury to find out.
“This is still the open question. We don’t really know when the FBI investigation began and what they were doing in the investigation,” McGurn, a Fox News contributor, said on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday.
“They’re sticking to this idea that it was a conversation with (former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser) George Papadopoulos, but that increasingly looks suspicious and so forth. And I think the reason is, to cut through all this, it’s looking increasingly as though the FBI launched an investigation into a presidential campaign based on opposition research commissioned by Hillary Clinton, her team, and performed by a known Trump hater, Christopher Steele to spy on Trump people.”
The Mueller report’s Thursday release is expected to shed more light on the Russia investigation’s conclusions, as reported by Barr, that the Trump campaign did not improperly collude with Russia, despite multiple attempts by Russian-affiliated individuals to involve the Trump team in computer hacking.
“It is a big deal when the FBI spies on any citizen, right? They’re given these powers for a reason and it’s a big deal. It’s a bigger deal when you launch one into a presidential campaign,” said McGurn.
He said he thinks Barr needs to appoint a grand jury because, “A grand jury can subpoena. A grand jury can indict. You indict someone at the FBI and we’ll get to the story pretty quickly.”
He added, “Grand juries clarify testimony, clarify the mind and I think one reason we saw such a frenzy when Bill Barr just said ‘I’m going to take a look at this,’ you would have a very different Washington if there is a grand jury and some of these former FBI, DOJ, maybe even CIA officials are brought before it.”
Source: Fox News Politics
Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran is speaking out about her brother’s death amid an FBI investigation into seemingly mysterious tourist deaths that have occurred over the past year in the Dominican Republic.
TMZ reported Wednesday that the ABC star’s brother John died of a heart attack at 60 in April during an annual vacation to the Dominican Republic, with Corcoran calling into question the surrounding circumstances to the outlet months later.
The businesswoman called John her “favorite brother” among her nine siblings, and revealed he was waiting on his girlfriend’s arrival at the hotel at which he was staying when he was found dead in his hotel room. Corocan did not specify the hotel at which he was staying, but told the outlet there has yet to be an official autopsy done.
John’s death came amid a rash of U.S. tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic, with NBC News reporting six people being found dead under similar circumstances since June 2018 — two at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, and four at various Bahia Principe resorts. Three of these deaths have been attributed to heart attacks, while another listed pulmonary edema as a contributing factor, with respiratory failure also being noted in the death of a Maryland couple found dead in their room last month.
The FBI is investigating the deaths of three of those Americans who died at the same resort, the U.S. embassy in the Caribbean nation told NBC Tuesday.
Further toxicology results on the three U.S. tourists could take up to 30 days, the FBI noted, with the embassy saying in a statement, “We ask everyone to be patient while these investigations run their course.”
A statement from Bahia Principe Resorts denied the deaths had anything to do with one another or the property, saying in a statement to NBC, “We completely disagree with the dissemination of false information issued publicly which threatens the image and reputation of the company and the integrity and rights of our employees and their families, reserving, where necessary, the right to take appropriate legal action.”
Photo credit: Instagram/Barbara Cocoran
BERLIN – The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog is urging world powers to continue dialogue with Iran to keep it in the landmark 2015 deal aimed at preventing the country from building nuclear weapons.
In his regular update to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors on Monday, Yukiya Amano said he’s “worried about increasing tensions over the Iran nuclear issue,” adding it’s “essential that Iran fully implements its nuclear-related commitments.”
In its May report to member states, the IAEA said Iran has stayed within key limitations for uranium and heavy water stockpile, but said stockpiles were increasing.
The nuclear deal has been complicated by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States last year and Washington’s increased sanctions, which has been taking a toll on the Iranian economy.
Source: Fox News World
Sen. Ted Cruz said he agrees with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the federal government should pass a lifetime ban on former members of Congress becoming lobbyists.
“Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC,” the Texas senator said Thursday on Twitter. “Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”
Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation? https://t.co/jPW0xkH2Yy
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 30, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted earlier in the day that members of Congress who leave should be banned from getting paid to lobby.
“If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check. I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The New York freshman Democrat has been a frequent critic of lobbyists.
In December, she expressed concern that lobbyists were allowed at congressional orientation, including former congressional members.
“Whoah – looks like our Congressional orientation had a lot more lobbyists than we thought. This is not okay. Lobbyists are not impartial – they are employed to influence legislation. 60+ incoming members were listening to panelists without knowing which were hired lobbyists,” Ocasio-Cortez said in reference to a Washington Post piece that pointed out former congressional members gave talks at the orientation without disclosing the fact they were lobbyists.
Cruz also has a history of bashing lobbyists. In 2015, Cruz called for “No more government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists.” Cruz has also claimed lobbyists were in union with “a cartel of career politicians in both parties.” c
CHICAGO – U.S. immigration officials have told a pregnant Mexican woman who had taken sanctuary inside a Chicago church that she can stay in the United States until after the baby is born.
Adilene Marquina had been told by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that she could be deported this week. But the Chicago Tribune says she was told on Thursday she will not have to leave immediately and should report to ICE on Oct. 23.
Marquina is staying in the Faith, Life and Hope Mission. ICE has a policy against making arrests in places of worship.
She fled to the U.S. in 2015 seeking political asylum. She waited four years for an immigration judge to deny her claim. She has two American sons ages 16 and 3 and a 14-year-old son.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com
Source: Fox News National
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has wielded her power to quash a faction of Democrats rallying for President Trump’s impeachment, but frustrated members within the party say the president is one misstep away from “that dam collapsing,” according to a Sunday report.
Since reassuming leadership over the house, Pelosi has thwarted her party’s liberal wing from going forward with impeachment proceedings, encouraging them to instead focus on other issues like health care.
“I don’t think there’s anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a president of the United States, and so you have to handle it with great care,” Pelosi told CNN on Sunday. “It has to be about the truth and the facts to take you to whatever decision has to be there.”
Some lawmakers say their deference to Pelosi is out of respect for the speaker’s political expertise, and agree that impeachment would do more harm than good.
“She is the single smartest strategist that we’ve ever had…People are not wanting to second guess her because she’s been right on so many fronts,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told the Washington Post.
But other Democratic lawmakers, like Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., admit they toe the party line out of fear.
“One, you want to be a team player and support the leader’s position, but secondly you’re worried about your own self and…what can happen if you don’t follow along,” Schrader told the paper.
Some argue that President Trump’s defiance of congressional investigators will eventually break the divide between moderate Democrats and its liberal wing.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., described Pelosi’s hold over Democrats as “fragile” because “we’re kind of one event, one piece of explosive testimony, one action by Trump away from that dam collapsing.”
The Democrats’ pro-impeachment camp howled this week after Trump said in an interview with ABC that he’d be willing to listen if a foreign government had dirt on an opponent. Yet despite the familiar refrain of impeachment, Pelosi didn’t budge an inch on impeachment after Trump’s comments.
Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
FAISALABAD, Pakistan – With waves of arrests, Pakistani investigators are trying to unravel trafficking networks that convince impoverished Pakistanis to marry off their daughters to Chinese men for cash, and they say evidence is growing that many of the women and girls are sold into prostitution once in China.
At least two dozen Chinese nationals and dozens of their Pakistani partners have been arrested in recent weeks in raids by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency. Pakistani government officials, however, have ordered police to remain quiet about the extent of the networks, fearing it could hurt increasingly close economic ties with Beijing, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
"We are interested only in stopping the trafficking. Make no mistake, this is trafficking," said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the government order. "We think the majority are sold as prostitutes," he said of the women married in the trafficking schemes.
The AP spoke to seven girls who had been forced to marry Chinese men, four of them still in China. Each described how their new husbands handed them over to paying clients to be raped.
"I was living in hell-like conditions, silently weeping, silently praying for help," said 20-year-old Natasha Masih. She told of how her husband locked her in a hotel in the remote northwest Chinese city of Urumqi and forced her into prostitution. The AP does not name rape victims, but Masih agreed to her name being used and now after her escape works to help other victims speak out.
Pakistan became a focus of Chinese marriage brokers last year, and activists say that since then as many as 1,000 women and girls have been married off to Chinese men. Most of the women are from Pakistan's small Christian community, who are among the country's most desperately poor. Brokers offer families cash to give their daughters as brides, promising them well-off Chinese husbands who would give them a good life. The business is fueled by demand in China, where men outnumber women.
In Pakistan, some Christian pastors are paid to help brokers lure members of their flock into marriages, and the girls — married against their will — become isolated in China, vulnerable to abusive husbands, previous AP reporting found .
China's ambassador to Pakistan, speaking on local television, denied girls are trafficked to China and sold into prostitution. Trafficking was not discussed during a visit to Pakistan this month by China's vice president, Wang Qishan. In comments carried in the Pakistani press, Wang denied trafficking was taking place.
"China is denying it is happening, but we are showing the proof," said Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped bring girls back from China.
The two law enforcement officials said one of the trafficking networks raided by police, based in the city of Lahore, had been operating for at least a year. It was protected by corrupt policemen, and the son of a former senior police official served as the lynchpin between the Chinese and Pakistani operatives, the officials said.
One woman, Sumaira, told the AP how her brothers were paid by brokers and forced her into such a marriage in July last year. The 30-year-old said her husband took her first to a house in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, and there she was raped each night by Chinese men for a week.
Before they were to leave for China, she convinced her husband to allow her to go home to say farewell to her sisters. There, she refused to return to the husband and screamed at her brothers, "Why did you sell me? How much money did you get for me?'" she said. The brothers beat her, but she managed to escape to the home of an uncle.
Before her marriage, Sumaira had run a beauty salon in a poor, mostly Christian neighborhood of the Punjab town of Gujranwala. "I was a very different person than what you see now," she said. "Then I had hope. I believed in my future. Now I don't know."
Masih told the AP she was married off in November and soon after left her home in Faisalabad, flying to China with her husband. He took her to the northwest of the country, to a small house in a forested area. Three male and two female friends of her husband shared the house.
Her husband forced her to have sex with the men. Then he took her to the Urumqi hotel, where he confined her to a room and sold her into prostitution.
"I bought you in Pakistan," she said her husband told her. "You belong to me. You are my property."
Natasha made furtive calls to her parents on her mobile phone, and her mother turned to her church for help. One parishioner, Farooq Masih, formed a group of men from the congregation to try to recue Natasha. One of the men had a younger brother who was a student in China, said Masih, who is not related to Natasha. The brother agreed to pose as a client and pay him to sleep with Natasha.
Instead, when the student went to the hotel in a taxi, he called Natasha and told her to slip out to meet him.
"I saw him and quickly I took my clothes and got into his taxi," she said. "I didn't ask his name. I didn't ask anything, I just said, 'Brother, thank you.'" Soon she was on a plane to Pakistan.
Farooq Masih and the men from the church have since dedicated hours to unearthing trafficking networks. They recently conducted their own sting operation in Faisalabad, orchestrating a fake marriage that led the Federal Investigation Agency to the brokers and the pastor who solemnized the unions for a fee.
"I am lucky," Natasha said. "Many girls who were taken there by their husbands are still living a terrible life. ... Now I know what is freedom and what is slavery. In China, I was treated as a slave by my husband."
Source: Fox News World
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland, Oct. 25, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
June 17, 2019
BEIJING (Reuters) – China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) has decided not to cooperate with UBS for a planned dollar-bond sale, a spokesman at the Chinese infrastructure giant told Reuters on Monday.
Earlier, Bloomberg reported that CRCC decided against hiring UBS as a joint global coordinator on the bond sale after remarks about pigs by an economist at the Swiss bank last week sparked a public outcry in China, citing people familiar with the matter.
(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
FILE PHOTO: The Alibaba group logo is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech, in Paris, France, May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
June 17, 2019
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Alibaba Group Holding has proposed a one-to-eight stock split ahead of a listing in Hong Kong later this year that is expected to raise up to $20 billion.
The split, to be presented to shareholders for a vote at an annual general meeting in Hong Kong on July 15, will increase flexibility in the firm’s capital raising activities, including the issuance of new shares, the e-commerce giant said.
The firm’s board recommends shareholders to vote in favor of the proposal, it added in its statement dated Friday but published on the company’s website on Monday.
“The … subdivision will increase the number of shares available for issuance at a lower per share price,” it added.
Alibaba has filed confidentially for a Hong Kong listing, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month.
Alibaba has also proposed to change the ratio of ordinary shares to American Depositary Shares (ADS) to eight ordinary shares representing one ADS to neutralize the impact of share split on its ADS listed in the U.S. market.
(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
FILE PHOTO: A man looks at an electronic board showing the Nikkei stock index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
June 17, 2019
By Tomo Uetake
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares wobbled near one-week lows on Monday as investors turned cautious ahead of a closely-watched Federal Reserve meeting, while political tensions in the Middle East and Hong Kong kept risk appetite in check.
European stock were expected to open higher, with futures for Britain’s FTSE climbing 0.4% and Germany’s DAX up about 0.2%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed by early afternoon, after opening slightly weaker. Japan’s Nikkei average also closed flat.
Asian markets got a quick boost after Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped as much as 1.4%. At the weekend, the territory’s leader Carrie Lam climbed down on a bill that would have allowed extradition to China.
The Hang Seng fell for three sessions in a row through Friday, after the extradition bill triggered mass protests and some of the worst unrest seen in the territory since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997.
“Last week the issue looked as if it would become another thorny point between the United States and China. As the bill is now being postponed indefinitely, things will likely calm down, which is good for markets,” said Hiroyuki Ueno, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.
Mainland Chinese shares traded within a tight range, with benchmark Shanghai Composite up 0.2% and the blue-chip CSI 300 rising 0.1%.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday that President Donald Trump would raise the issue of Hong Kong’s human rights with China’s President Xi Jinping at a potential meeting of the two leaders at the G20 summit in Japan later this month.
Wall Street stocks ended lower on Friday as investors turned cautious before this week’s Fed meeting, while a warning from Broadcom on slowing demand weighed on chipmakers and added to U.S.-China trade worries.[.N]
Investors were waiting for more clues from the Fed after policymakers raised expectations for a rate cut in recent weeks amid worries about mounting fallout from the U.S.-Sino trade war.
Strong U.S. retail sales data on Friday rolled back expectations of a Fed rate cut at this week’s meeting to 17.5%, from 31% shortly before the release of the data on Friday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool. But bets of an easing by the July meeting remain high at 84%.
“The week ahead is likely to provide some clarification for investors on three fronts that have been a source of uncertainty. The FOMC meeting, with updated forecasts, is center stage,” said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.
A private gauge on eurozone’s manufacturing sector as well as U.S.-China trade frictions will also be watched closely, Chandler said.
Financial markets were sideswiped by a sudden escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tensions in early May, with growing anxiety among investors that a protracted standoff could tip the global economy into recession.
Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East added another layer of uncertainty after the United States blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.
Hopes that global central banks will keep the money spigots open have helped to temper some of the fears, and all eyes are on the Fed’s two-day meeting starting on Tuesday.
The Bank of Japan also meets this week and is widely expected to reinforce its commitment to retain a massive stimulus program for some time to come.
The retail sales report also sent short-dated U.S. Treasury yields higher, flattening the yield curve.[L2N23L10H]
Benchmark 10-year notes was last at 2.106%, while two-year bond yield edged up, shrinking the spread between two- and 10-year yields to 23.7 basis points compared to more than 30 earlier this month.
A Reuters poll showed a growing number of economists expect the Fed policymakers to cut interest rates this year, although the majority still see it holding steady.
In currency markets, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies climbed to 97.583 on Friday, its highest level in almost two weeks, after the U.S. retail sales data eased fears that the world’s largest economy is slowing sharply.
The index last stood at 97.510, while the euro fetched $1.1216, near the lower end of its weekly trading range.
Oil prices rose on Monday after U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said Washington will take all actions necessary to guarantee safe navigation in the Middle East, as tensions mounted following attacks on tankers last week.[O/R]
Brent futures added 0.4% to $62.27 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 0.3% to $52.67.
Spot gold eased 0.2% to $1,338.17 an ounce after hitting a 14-month peak on Friday.
Bitcoin jumped overnight to $9,391.85, its highest level in 13 months. It was last quoted at $9,193.21.
(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shri Navaratnam & Kim Coghill)
An 8-year-old boy was attacked by a shark Sunday while swimming off a North Carolina beach, suffering a leg injury that required a trip to a nearby hospital, reports said.
The boy, who was not identified, was swimming off Bald Head Island when authorities said a shark grabbed him by the leg at around 4 p.m., WECT.com reported. First responders who inspected the puncture wounds determined it was a shark. It was unclear what of what kind of shark.
The boy is expected to make a full recovery, the report said.
According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a research organization that tracks shark bite reports worldwide, there were a total of 32 unprovoked shark attacks in the United States in 2018, making up 48 percent of the worldwide total. The number was down from 53 attacks in 2017.
Fox News' Madeline Farber contributed to this report
Source: Fox News National
Sandra Torres, presidential candidate for the National Unity of Hope (UNE) arrives to cast her vote at a polling station during the first round of the presidential election in Guatemala City, Guatemala, June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
June 17, 2019
By Adriana Barrera and Sofia Menchu
GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala’s presidential election appeared to be headed for a runoff as partial results on Monday gave center-left candidate Sandra Torres an early lead but far short of the majority needed to avoid a second round against a conservative rival.
With votes tallied from 42% of polling stations, preliminary results from Sunday’s election gave former first lady Torres 24.18% of the vote, followed by conservative Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei with 15%, the electoral tribunal said.
The presidential race, which groups 19 candidates, appeared all but certain to be headed for a second round of voting on Aug. 11. The head of the electoral tribunal said late on Sunday it could take approximately two weeks to have definitive results from across the Central American country.
Guatemala’s next president will face the daunting challenge of curbing drug gang violence that has ravaged the country and helped spur illegal immigration to the United States, stoking tensions with President Donald Trump.
Torres, of the center-left UNE party, has led the race to succeed President Jimmy Morales, a conservative former television host whose term has been blighted by accusations of corruption made by U.N.-backed investigators.
Nevertheless, Torres also has high negative ratings and may struggle to win a direct run-off if supporters of the many right-of-center candidates unite against her.
In third place with 12.11% was Edmond Mulet, a former U.N. official whose conservative candidacy gained traction in recent weeks.
Torres, who wants to send troops into the streets to fight drug gangs, and use welfare programs to tackle poverty, extended a hand to Guatemala’s business elite when voting on Sunday.
“We have to sort out our problems here, and part of the reason for the migration is the lack of jobs, the gap in wages between the United States and here,” she said. “We need to work with the business community to revive the economy.”
Rampant violence and widespread discontent over corruption and impunity in the country of 17 million have prompted more and more Guatemalans to flee for the United States.
The surge of departures has undermined Trump’s pledge to curb illegal immigration, and the U.S. president has responded by threatening to cut U.S. aid to Central America.
That prospect has caused alarm in Guatemala, where the legacy of the bloody 1960-1996 civil war still casts a long shadow over the country’s development.
Rain fell on Guatemala City during Sunday’s vote and results suggested there was considerable discontent among the electorate about the choice of candidates on offer. More than 12% of votes cast were blank or spoiled ballots, the early count showed.
Morales, who is barred by law from seeking re-election, took office in 2016 vowing to root out corruption after his predecessor was brought down by a probe led by the U.N.-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
Instead, Morales himself became a target of a CICIG probe into allegations of campaign finance wrongdoing and was subject to impeachment proceedings in 2017.
He survived the attempt to oust him, and then engaged in a bitter dispute with the CICIG before finally terminating its mandate, effective from September.
None of the top contenders has unequivocally backed the CICIG, with Torres saying she would consider holding a referendum on whether it should remain in Guatemala.
Fernando Escalante, 41, an industrial design adviser, said the next president must continue the fight against corruption.
“I fear all the progress we’ve made could be lost, but maybe it’s time for us Guatemalans to take on the task,” he said.
Questions of legitimacy have dogged the 2019 contest since two of the front-runners were forced out, including Thelma Aldana, a former attorney general who tried to impeach Morales with the CICIG. The government accused Aldana of corruption, leading to her exclusion last month.
(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; editing by Darren Schuettler)