Author: Willa Frej

Obama Takes Stand Against Populism, Endorses France’s Emmanuel Macron

THE HUFFINGTON POST Former President Barack Obama officially threw his support behind French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron in a video released on Thursday. “I’m not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don’t have to run for office again,” Obama said. “But the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about.” Macron, a centrist and relative political novice, created his own political party last year called “En Marche!” ― or “Onward!” He comes from an investment banking background and worked as current French President François...

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NATO Confronts Turkey On Human Rights Concerns After Donald Trump Lets Them Slide

THE HUFFINGTON POST The North Atlantic Treaty Organization didn’t shy away this week from speaking out about mass arrests in Turkey, one of its member states. But the United States, also part of the organization, hasn’t responded to the crackdown. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thrown 47,000 people in jail since last summer and has eliminated about 120,000 government jobs. Turkish police arrested 1,000 people just this week for allegedly supporting Fetullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric who the government believes is behind an attempted coup that took place last July. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Turkey Thursday about potentially unlawful arrests....

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Lindsey Graham: House Healthcare Bill Is ‘Mortally Wounded’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered a grim outlook on the prospects of the House’s proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “It is mortally wounded, I don’t know if it’s died yet,” he told NBC’s “Today” Wednesday when asked whether the bill that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presented this month is “dead on arrival.” That’s because the Senate won’t vote for the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, Graham explained. Both he and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) refuse to vote for the bill, he said. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also publicly opposed it. “The bill allows open enrollment for the entire country all the way through 2019 for Medicaid, which is fundamentally broken,” Graham added. “I don’t like that.” Instead, he said wished President Donald Trump would “try to get a good deal.” And if that’s impossible, then it would be better to just “let Obamacare collapse and challenge the Democrats to help him fix a problem they created.” Graham then addressed the controversy surrounding the bill. Not only was it presented hastily but it would also likely increase the number of people without coverage to 24 million, a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday shows. “We’re trying to do too much too quick as Republicans, we’re running through stop signs,” he said. “Slow down, get it...

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Putin Welcomes Idea Of Meeting With Trump In Slovenia

  Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Ljubljana would be a good place for him to meet U.S. President Donald Trump, but that the decision about where to meet was not Moscow’s alone. Putin made the comments after Slovenia offered its capital as a venue for a first meeting between the Russian and U.S. leaders, though no date for such a meeting has yet been agreed. “As regards Ljubljana, Slovenia in general, it is of course a brilliant place to have a dialog of such a sort. But it doesn’t depend only on us, it depends on a whole series of circumstances,” Putin told reporters after meeting Slovenian President Borut Pahor in Moscow. “If these meetings ever happen, we don’t have anything against...

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Assad Seems To Express Support For Trump’s Muslim Ban

  Syrian President Bashar Assad appeared to take a page right out of President Donald Trump’s book when he asserted that some refugees from his own country are “definitely” terrorists. He knows this, he said in an interview with Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, because, “You can find it on the [internet].” Trump signed an executive order during his first week in office to indefinitely ban the entry of all Syrians, including refugees, into the United States to protect the country from “radical Islamic terrorism.” Assad’s justification seemingly fell in line with Trump’s reasoning, even though he wouldn’t overtly comment on Trump’s ban. “Those terrorists in Syria holding the machine gun or killing people, they [appear as] peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West in general,” he said. The Trumpian tone of Assad’s next response was undeniable ― it only takes a few radicals to endanger a country. “The September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States were committed by [fewer than 20 terrorists], Assad said, “out of millions of immigrants in the United States.” The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee resettlement, with the assistance of the United Nations that refers people to the government. People then undergo between 18 to 24 months of stringent vetting before their case can be accepted. War has been raging in Syria since 2011 and has created...

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Lindsey Graham: Silencing Elizabeth Warren Was ‘Long Overdue’

  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) joined the chorus of Republicans backing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for cutting off Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during a speech criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week. “The bottom line is it was long overdue with her, I mean she is clearly running for the nomination in 2020,” he told radio host Mike Gallagher on Wednesday in a clip obtained by CNN’s KFile. Warren quoted a letter on the Senate floor Tuesday night written by civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, in an effort to highlight concerns about Sessions when he was under consideration for a federal judgeship in 1986. He was rejected for the position over allegations of prejudice against African-Americans. “Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation,” McConnell said later. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Sessions was confirmed as attorney general on Wednesday. Graham broadened his assault on Warren out to what he views as a fractious Democratic Party. It “is really being pushed by the most extreme forces in their community and they just don’t know how to handle it,” he said. “If they empower her, I think the Democratic Party is going to lose its way.” Warren, however, argued that her speech was an attempt at unifying Democrats around their opposition to Sessions. “It’s helped us...

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Refugee Resettlement Offices May Be Forced To Shut Down Under Donald Trump’s Ban

U.S. refugee resettlement offices may have to downsize because of President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting the number of persecuted people welcomed to the United States and will likely have to carry out major fundraising campaigns to stay afloat. What they fear the most is that it will hurt refugees who are already here and who rely on resettlement offices to help them adjust to life in a new country. “We definitely need the community’s support to move forward over the next 120 days,” said Megan Johnson, director of the Church World Service office in Jersey City. Trump’s order, signed one week ago, halts refugee resettlement entirely for 120 days and blocks Syrian refugees indefinitely. It also cuts refugee admissions for the 2017 fiscal year from the 110,000 proposed by President Barack Obama to 50,000. Lower refugee numbers means less funding for resettlement organizations (particularly those that primarily serve Syrian refugees), which now may have to fire staff or potentially close their doors. Implicit in any halt of the refugee program is also a pause in federal funding for refugee resettlement organizations. The break in funding will begin March 31, according to Mark Hetfield, CEO of HIAS, one of the nine domestic resettlement organizations. The amount of funding the government doles out is contingent on the number of refugees each organization resettles, Jane Graupman, executive director of the International Institute...

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Philly Inquirer: Donald Trump’s Presidency Is Like A ‘Tin-Pot Dictatorship’

President Donald Trump should expect to be greeted by swarms of protesters in Philadelphia on Thursday due to the despotic way he’s running the government after less than a week in office, The Philadelphia Inquirer warned in an editorial. “From spreading bald lies to suppressing basic facts and information, the early days of the Trump administration are suggestive of a tin-pot dictatorship,” the article said. “That’s not the look he wants, and neither do most Americans.” Labeling him a narcissist for obsessing over inauguration crowd sizes and accusing millions of illegal immigrants of costing him the popular vote, the editorial also attacked him numerous times for lying. Trump announced Wednesday that he planned to launch a major investigation into alleged voter fraud, the editorial continued. “Just last month, when Jill Stein was seeking recounts in several states, Trump’s lawyers said in a Michigan court filing: ‘All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.’” Trump has kept busy this week signing a number of executive orders, including ones that move forward with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines as well as a border wall with Mexico. He’s also slated to sign another before the end of the week that would block the admission of Syrian refugees to the U.S., enacting a so-called Muslim ban and putting a halt on the country’s refugee resettlement program...

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