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FILE PHOTO: The Supreme Court stands before decisions are released for the term in Washington
FILE PHOTO: The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 19, 2019

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday endorsed U.S. government authority to detain immigrants awaiting deportation anytime – potentially even years – after they have completed prison terms for criminal convictions, handing President Donald Trump a victory as he pursues hardline immigration policies.

The court ruled 5-4, with its conservative justices in the majority and its liberal justices dissenting, that federal authorities could pick up such immigrants and place them into indefinite detention at any time, not just immediately after they finish their prison sentences.

The ruling, authored by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, leaves open the possibility of individual immigrants challenging the federal law involved in the case on constitutional grounds if they are detained long after they have completed their sentences.

In dissent, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer questioned whether the U.S. Congress when it wrote the law “meant to allow the government to apprehend persons years after their release from prison and hold them indefinitely without a bail hearing.”

The Trump administration had appealed a lower court ruling in the case that favored immigrants, a decision it said would undermine the government’s ability to deport immigrants who have committed crimes. Trump has backed limits on legal and illegal immigrants since taking office in January 2017.

The plaintiffs included two legal U.S. residents involved in separate lawsuits filed in 2013, a Cambodian immigrant named Mony Preap convicted of marijuana possession and a Palestinian immigrant named Bassam Yusuf Khoury convicted of attempting to manufacture a controlled substance.

Under federal immigration law, immigrants convicted of certain offenses are subject to mandatory detention during their deportation process. They can be held indefinitely without a bond hearing after completing their sentences.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Oyub Titiev, the head of human rights group Memorial in Chechnya, attends his verdict hearing at a court in the town of Shali, in Chechnya
Oyub Titiev, the head of human rights group Memorial in Chechnya, attends his verdict hearing at a court in the town of Shali, in Chechnya, Russia, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Said Tsarnayev

March 19, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemned the sentence handed out to a prominent human rights activist by a court in Chechnya, calling it “an awful example of Russia suppressing vital work of human rights defenders”.

Oyub Titiev, who runs the office of the Memorial Human Rights Center in the southern Russian region, was sentenced to four years in a penal settlement on Monday after he was found guilty of possessing illegal drugs. His supporters say he was framed, with the drugs planted in his car.

Hunt wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Fabricated charges & absurd sentence imposed on Oyub Titiev are intended to silence his work in holding Russian govt to account for human rights abuses in Chechnya – they must #FreeTitiev.”

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

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U.S. President Trump departs for Alabama from the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs to visit storm-hit areas of Alabama from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the big tech platforms, Facebook, YouTube owner Google and Twitter, were on the side of the left, along with the “corrupt media.”

“But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA,” he said in a tweet. MAGA refers to his 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson)

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U.S. and EU flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

March 19, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Tuesday that Washington’s “selfish” approach to trade was not sustainable, but it was too early to say that EU-U.S. trade talks were doomed to fail.

The Trump administration has imposed stiff tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum and set off a trade war with China in a bid to redress what it sees as unfavorable terms that contribute to a U.S. trade deficit of over half a trillion dollars a year.

The Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the 28-nation European Union, has been in talks with U.S. authorities since last July, seeking to clinch a deal on industrial goods trade.

EU governments are now discussing the details of a negotiating mandate for the Commission, while Washington has until mid-May to decide whether to make good on President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imports of European cars.

“It is too early to say that our trade discussions are doomed to fail,” Katainen told a regular news briefing.

“There are discussions going on on several levels and … we can end up having some sort of an agreement with the U.S. on trade, but let’s not go deeper than this,” he said, adding that the scope of negotiations had to be clear and that a deal would require a lot of good will and political capital on both sides.

Asked about a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Katainen said it was problematic and that attempts to get it done were like pushing a rope.

“Japan, China and the EU are willing to reform the WTO, the U.S. has not been that interested, but they are willing to cooperate,” he said.

“Even though the U.S. authorities may think that selfishness is better than cooperation, it is not a sustainable way of thinking. We need better, rules-based trade in the future where the international community sets the rules,” he said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that the WTO was using an “out of date” playbook despite dramatic changes including the rise of China and the evolution of the internet.

He said Washington was nonetheless working “diligently” to negotiate new WTO rules to address these problems.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Former Trump personal attorney Cohen departs after House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after testifying before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young


March 19, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal authorities sought warrants to investigate Michael Cohen’s email accounts in July 2017, nine months before the office and hotel room of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer were raided, according to documents made public on Tuesday.

Emails were sought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which is probing Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as by the FBI, dating back as far as June 2015, according to the documents.

The nearly 900 pages of documents provide new insights into the investigations into Cohen, who had been Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described fixer for more than a decade, and more detailed accounts of his financial dealings.

They were released after U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Monday ordered federal prosecutors to make redacted versions public, in response to requests by various news media organizations.

Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators soon after the April 2018 raids on his office and hotel room.

He eventually pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including campaign finance violations in connection with payments of hush money to silence two women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with Trump.

The women included Stormy Daniels, a porn actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who later sued Trump unsuccessfully to end her hush money agreement.

Cohen was sentenced in December to serve three years in prison. Since pleading guilty, he has publicly turned on Trump, telling a U.S. House of Representatives committee last month that his former boss was a “con man” and “cheat.”

Trump has denied having sexual relationships with the women, and said his campaign did not collude with Russia. Moscow has denied meddling in the 2016 election.

The filings showed how the FBI made extensive use of its access to Cohen’s Apple iCloud account, which allowed him to coordinate his work across several devices including an iPhone, iPad Mini and laptop.

They detailed how investigators believed money going to Cohen, including to his firm Essential Consultants, was for political consulting, including from international clients with issues pending before the Trump administration.

Among the payments Cohen was believed to have received was $600,000 from AT&T Inc for consulting about “political issues, including net neutrality, the merger between AT&T and Time Warner and tax reform,” and $583,333 from an investment firm controlled by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg.

FBI agents said they were able to locate where Cohen was staying by using internet protocol, or IP, addresses attached to those devices.

Much of the discussion about campaign finance issues was redacted.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson, Anthony Lin, David Morgan and Andy Sullivan in Washington, and Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Honduran migrant Ariel, 19, who is waiting for his court hearing for asylum seekers returned to Mexico to wait out their legal proceedings under a new policy change by the U.S. government, is pictured after an interview with Reuters in Tijuana
Honduran migrant Ariel, 19, who is waiting for his court hearing for asylum seekers returned to Mexico to wait out their legal proceedings under a new policy change by the U.S. government, is pictured after an interview with Reuters in Tijuana, Mexico March 18, 2019. Picture taken March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

March 19, 2019

By Lizbeth Diaz and Mica Rosenberg

TIJUANA/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A group of asylum seekers sent back to Mexico was set to cross the border on Tuesday for their first hearings in U.S. immigration court in an early test of a controversial new policy from the Trump administration.

The U.S. program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), turns people seeking protection in the United States around to wait out their U.S. court proceedings in Mexican border towns. Some 240 people – including families – have been returned since late January, according to U.S. officials.

Court officials in San Diego referred questions about the number of hearings being held on Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which did not respond to a request for comment. But attorneys representing a handful of clients were preparing to appear in court.

Migrants like 19-year-old Ariel, who said he left Honduras because of gang death threats against himself and his family, were preparing to line up at the San Ysidro port of entry first thing Tuesday morning.

Ariel, who asked to use only his middle name because of fears of reprisals in his home country, was among the first group of asylum-seeking migrants sent back to Mexico on Jan. 30 and given a notice to appear in U.S. court in San Diego.

“God willing everything will move ahead and I will be able to prove that if I am sent back to Honduras, I’ll be killed,” Ariel said.

While awaiting his U.S. hearing, Ariel said he was unable to get a legal work permit in Mexico but found a job as a restaurant busboy in Tijuana, which does not pay him enough to move out of a shelter.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other advocacy groups are suing in federal court to halt the MPP program, which is part of a series of measures the administration of President Donald Trump has taken to try to curb the flow of mostly Central American migrants trying to enter the United States.

The Trump administration says most asylum claims, especially for Central Americans, are ultimately rejected, but because of crushing immigration court backlogs people are often released pending resolution of their cases and live in the United States for years. The government has said the new program is aimed at ending “the exploitation of our generous immigration laws.”

Critics of the program say it violates U.S. law and international norms since migrants are sent back to often dangerous towns in Mexico in precarious living situations where it is difficult to get notice about changes to U.S. court dates and to find legal help.

Immigration advocates are closely watching how the proceedings will be carried out this week, especially after scheduling glitches created confusion around three hearings last week, according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which runs U.S. immigration courts under the Department of Justice, said only that it uses its regular court scheduling system for the MPP hearings and did not respond to a question about the reported scheduling problems.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said there are real concerns about the difficulties of carrying out this major shift in U.S. immigration policy.

“The government did not have its shoes tied when they introduced this program,” he said.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)

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An aircraft engine being built at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix
FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen building an aircraft engine at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods rose less than expected in January, held back by decreases in orders for computers and electronic products, in another indication of slowing manufacturing activity.

Factory goods orders edged up 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, as demand for primary metals and fabricated metal products fell. That followed an unrevised 0.1 percent gain in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders rising 0.3 percent in January. Factory orders increased 3.8 percent compared to January 2018.

The release of the report was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25.

Reports last Friday showed manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February and factory activity in New York state hit nearly a two-year low this month.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, is losing momentum as the stimulus from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades. Activity is also being crimped by a trade war between the United States and China as well as by last year’s surge in the dollar and softening global economic growth, which are hurting exports.

In January, orders for machinery rose 1.5 percent after falling 0.4 percent in December. Orders for mining, oil field and gas field machinery fell 2.7 percent after tumbling 8.2 percent in December.

Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components rebounded 1.4 percent after dropping 0.3 percent in December. Computers and electronic products orders fell 0.9 percent after decreasing 0.4 percent in December.

Orders for primary metals declined 2.0 percent and fabricated metal products orders fell 0.6 percent. Transportation equipment orders increased 1.2 percent in January, slowing from the prior month’s 3.2 percent rise.

Orders for civilian aircraft and parts increased 15.6 percent in January. Motor vehicles and parts orders gained 0.4 percent.

The Commerce Department also said January orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans on equipment, rose 0.8 percent as reported last week. Orders for these so-called core capital goods dropped 0.8 percent in December.

Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, also increased 0.8 percent in January as previously reported. Core capital goods shipments edged up 0.1 percent in December.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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A Wall St. street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Wall St. street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 19, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors remained bullish on longer-dated U.S. Treasuries for a sixth consecutive week on worries about a slowing economy and expectations inflation will stay muted despite a tight domestic labor market, a J.P. Morgan survey showed on Tuesday.

The margin of investors who said they were “long,” or holding more Treasuries than their portfolio benchmarks, over those who said they were “short,” or holding fewer Treasuries than their benchmarks, increased to nine percentage points from 7 points the prior week, according to the survey.

Three weeks ago, the gap between longs and shorts rose to 11 percentage points, the highest since September 2016.

The survey results come the same day Fed policymakers begin a two-day meeting at which they are expected to leave interest rates unchanged.Twenty-eight percent of the investors surveyed said on Monday for a third straight week they were long on U.S. government bonds, the J.P. Morgan survey showed.

The share of investors who said they were short Treasuries fell to 19 percent from 21 percent a week ago.

The percentage of investors who said they were “neutral,” or holding Treasuries equal to their portfolio benchmarks, edged up to 53 percent from 51 percent the week before, J.P. Morgan said.

Positions among active clients, which include market makers and hedge funds, showed no bearish bets on longer-dated Treasuries. Active net longs rose to 30 percent, the highest since May 2018, while the share of these clients who said they were neutral increased to 70 percent from 60 percent.

In early Tuesday trading, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury was 2.6267 percent, up from 2.6050 percent a week ago.

(GRAPHIC: Investors positions in longer-dated U.S. Treasuries – https://tmsnrt.rs/2V9OjHR)

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives to attend his trial at the courthouse in Lyon
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives to attend his trial, charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese, at the courthouse in Lyon, France, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

March 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic cardinal convicted this month of failing to report sexual abuse allegations, said on Tuesday that Pope Francis had turned down his offer to resign.

“On Monday morning, I put forward my resignation to the hands of the Holy Father. Invoking the presumption of innocence, he declined to accept this resignation,” said Barbarin in a statement set by France’s Lyon Catholic Church.

Barbarin is appealing the verdict against him.

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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Molten copper is poured at the KGHM copper and precious metals smelter processing plant in Glogow
FILE PHOTO: Molten copper is poured at the KGHM copper and precious metals smelter processing plant in Glogow May 10, 2013. REUTERS/Peter Andrews

March 19, 2019

WARSAW (Reuters) – Lawmakers from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party proposed on Tuesday to cut mining tax payments so that major copper producer KGHM could spend more money on investment.

The mining levy, introduced in 2012 and calculated using a formula based on local production volumes and prices, primarily affects KGHM, a major employer in southeast Poland and one of the world’s biggest copper and silver producers.

Poland holds general election this year. The tax has been a subject of debate during previous campaigns. In 2015, some politicians had promised to scrap it.

KGHM paid 1.67 billion zlotys ($442 million) in mining tax in 2018, while the group’s profit were 1.66 billion zlotys.

“Lowering the mining levy by 15 percent … will make additional funds available to KGHM, which will significantly translate into long-term stability and development of the company,” lawmakers said in draft law published on parliament’s website.

Reducing the mining levy would lower budget revenues by an estimated 180 million zlotys in 2019 and 240 million zlotys in subsequent years, the draft said.

By 1310 GMT shares in KGHM had risen by 4.2 percent.

(Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Agnieszka Barteczko and Edmund Blair)

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