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CARLSBAD, Calif. — In the days and weeks after California Republicans suffered staggering losses up and down the ticket last November, the party’s outlook for the future was anything but sunny.

Voter turnout across the state in 2018 set a record for a midterm election, which was not a good sign for the GOP. High voter participation traditionally benefits Democrats, and turnout across the state is all but certain to increase even more in the coming presidential campaign year.

Running as a Republican, especially now in President Trump’s long, overbearing shadow, has never been tougher in California, where two out of three voters either disapprove or downright despise the president.

Combined with the GOP’s anemic voter registration here, which last week slipped to a reported 23.5 percent — five points behind “no-party preference” — many state Republicans are preparing for another major blow in 2020.

A month ago, however, state party delegates may have avoided a complete death spiral by electing Jessica Patterson (pictured), an attractive millennial Latina, as the party chair, opting against unrepentant Trump acolytes Travis Allen and Steve Frank. Supporters applauded Patterson’s energetic pledge to unite and reorganize the party, though many still didn’t see a clear path forward.

But then national Democrats and the party’s leftward lurch, led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, started lighting the way.

“I am certainly more optimistic today than I was after the election and significantly more so,” said Stephen Puetz, a GOP campaign consultant with Axiom Strategies who previously served as chief of staff to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican re-elected in 2016 in the majority Democratic city. “We’re going to take back some of these House seats. I don’t know if we’ll take back six – but we’ll take back some.”

Puetz is fresh off an invigorating campaign win in a special election contest for an Orange County Board of Supervisors seat. Irvine Mayor Don Wagner defeated Loretta Sanchez, a well-known liberal former congresswoman.

The hard-fought victory in the once-Republican stronghold, which has been trending more liberal in recent years, was particularly gratifying for Puetz and other Republicans after Reps. Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher, who have represented the county for decades in the state legislature and Congress, fell to Democratic challengers in November.

“Some California Republicans might have been concerned about the direction of the party [under Trump], but now they have seen the alternative and this push toward socialism – and it scares them, as it should,” Puetz told RealClearPolitics. 

California Freshmen Dems Fret Over Socialism Push

Republicans aren’t the only ones recoiling from national Democrats’ far-left turn. Newly elected California House Democrats from traditionally red districts, such as Katie Hill and Harley Rouda, now fear the socialist label could cost them re-election and swing the House majority back to the GOP.

Over the last week, some Democratic House freshmen have started lashing out against their brasher colleagues’ support for socialism, impeachment and the divisive Green New Deal.

Hill, who last November flipped a Los Angeles-area district that Republicans had held for decades, made it clear she’s not jumping on the Ocasio-Cortez bandwagon. “As we run up to this presidential [election], we need to show that Democrats, as a whole, are not socialists,” she told Politico last week. “We’re not pushing for impeachment without serious cause and serious evidence.”

Rouda, a businessman and former Republican who defeated 15-term Rep. Rohrabacher, also distanced himself from his freshman class’s far-left flank.

“I’d like to think that the Republican Party is not run by a bunch of folks that subscribe to be nationalists, like Steve King does,” he said, referring to the Iowa congressman who lost his committee seats after making controversial statements on white supremacy and nationalism. “So while Steve King’s views don’t represent the entire Republican Party, those on the far left of the Democratic Party do not represent the mainstream caucus.”

This open Democratic grousing is music to California GOP operatives’ ears.

 “[Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is not in control of her caucus, and she has got to figure out a way to rein in these three complete narcissists,” said Jason Roe, a Southern California-based Republican campaign strategist, referring to Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar. “Any punishment that Pelosi can mete out is a victory for them. They are disrupters, and if they are being punished for disrupting, it’s exactly what they want. You can’t use traditional levers of power with them.”

Roe is telling his GOP clients running for office in California to “stay away from litigating Trump and start litigating AOC and the left – this is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Murphy: California GOP Must Tack Center-Right

Republicans shouldn’t get too excited about the Democratic clashes playing out on the national stage, according to Mike Murphy, one of the most high-profile and longest-serving GOP political consultants in the country.

Murphy acknowledged that national Democrats are making significant mistakes right now but cautioned that Pelosi still has time to straighten it all out before voters really start paying attention to the 2020 presidential election.

“Politics is very dynamic – and yes, Democrats may be stumbling around right now, but that doesn’t mean they are going to keep doing it and hand Trump the election,” said Murphy, an admitted Never-Trumper who has run more than 20 statewide or national campaigns, including Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential, as well as gubernatorial races for Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Murphy now co-directs the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Center for the Political Future, along with Democratic consultant Bob Shrum.

Republicans in California battlegrounds, he argued in an interview, should stop catering to GOP primary voters and instead distance themselves from Trump and tack to the center-right.

“[The party] needs to recruit younger candidates who look a lot more like Californians – Latinos and Asians – and become a brand known for kitchen-table economic issues that are attractive to small-business owners, where a lot of the jobs are created,” he told RealClearPolitics. “We need to be perceived as the party who has remedies for that – we need to get out of the issues surrounding hypersensitivity to immigration and [promoting] nativism and hostility” that’s perceived by the gay community and others.

“We need to align the message to be center-right, not totally responding to the cult of Trump, which resonates more with the primary voter. Making them happy makes sure you lose statewide,” he added.

Murphy supports Patterson, the newly elected GOP chairwoman, but says she faces a near-impossible task of rebuilding the party with Trump still in office, comparing the California GOP’s future to that of the Democratic Party’s seemingly permanent minority status in Utah.

“I think our best chances are in 2022, because I think [Trump] will lose” the presidential race, he predicted.

New GOP Chairwoman: One-Party Rule Is Failing California Voters

Unsurprisingly, Patterson threads the needle more carefully.

An experienced political operative who worked for former Gov. Schwarzenegger, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and 2008 presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, Patterson has set up extensive statewide political networks and worked closely with party donors. For the past few years she’s served as executive director of California Trailblazers, an organization that trains Republican candidates.

Patterson, 38, knows those candidates must reflect their districts to have any chance of winning. Indeed, the political makeup of GOP-leaning districts varies wildly throughout the state, from pro-Trump eastern San Diego County and parts of the Central Valley, to northern Los Angeles stretching into Ventura County where Latinos make up nearly 40 percent of the population and voters chose Hillary Clinton over Trump, 50 percent to 44 percent.

 “I was always the person in the race that was talking about uniting the party – I didn’t try to break the party into factions,” Patterson said. “We are all Republicans, and I would rather focus on the 90 percent of things we can agree on than the things that we don’t. So I will always be about addition, not subtraction, and growing and engaging more people.”

While Patterson is the first woman to run the state GOP, she doesn’t play the gender card even while stressing that her top priority will be broadening the party’s appeal beyond its base.

“Being a woman is just kind of a bonus,” she said.

During a lengthy interview, Patterson wasn’t critical of Trump but she also clearly didn’t want to tie the party too closely to him. She quickly deflected when asked if she supports the president’s signature campaign promise to build a border wall.

“I support border security,” said Patterson, whose paternal grandfather was born in Mexico. “Republicans and Democrats in Washington are going to have to get to an agreement on what they think that looks like.”

Pressed further, specifically regarding Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to fund the barrier, she said, “That’s something for the people in Washington, D.C., to hash out.”

As to whether the California GOP is going to campaign for the president’s re-election, she said Trump will be focused on winning swing states, not California, leaving Golden State Republicans to run highly localized races.

“The issues that are affecting Californians the most aren’t coming out of Washington, D.C. – they are the silly things that are coming out Sacramento … that will make your life less affordable and your schools worse and worse.”

California has the second highest gasoline tax in the nation; home prices are high because environmental and other regulatory red tape is stifling construction; groceries are more expensive than they would otherwise be because the state has over-regulated farming and the high gas taxes lead to higher transportation costs, she argued.

“Instead of fixing those problems, the Democrats are focused on plastic straws, reusable cups and plastic [grocery] bags,” she said. “When our education system has fallen to 47th in the nation, something is wrong. When we are the poverty capital of the entire country, something is wrong. What [Democrats] are doing is not working.”

Patterson went on to cite a February survey by Edelman Intelligence showing that 53 percent of all of Californians and 63 percent of millennials in the state think they’re going to have to leave because the state has become unaffordable.

“This has all happened under one-party rule in California,” she said.

Instead of banking on the socialist label to help flip seats back into Republicans hands, Patterson said the party is committed to building the infrastructure and outreach needed to compete for independents.

Still, she noted, federal Democratic lawmakers who have supported their Sacramento colleagues’ tax-and-spend policies for years can’t suddenly start casting themselves as sensible centrists.

“The opportunity for local Republican candidates to contrast their value and vision with Democrats is how we will regain seats and our standing,” Patterson said. “The good news is that Democrats in California and across the nation are singing from the same songbook, and they’re out of tune with middle-class families.”

“While they continue to take Californians for granted, we’ll be working overtime to earn their confidence,” she pledged.

Susan Crabtree is a veteran Washington reporter who has spent two decades covering the White House and Congress.

Vietnamese who live in Japan celebrate Vietnamese New Year at a Catholic Church in Kawaguchi, near Tokyo
Vietnamese who live in Japan celebrate Vietnamese New Year at a Catholic Church in Kawaguchi, near Tokyo, Japan February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

March 18, 2019

By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) – When a young Vietnamese woman found out late last year that she was pregnant after arriving in Japan on a “technical trainee” visa, she was given a stark choice: “Have an abortion or go back to Vietnam.”

But returning home would leave her unable to pay back the $10,000 she borrowed to pay recruiters there.

“She needs to stay to pay back her debts,” said Shiro Sasaki, secretary general of the Zentoitsu (All United) Workers Union, who has advocated on her behalf and said such threats were common.

Buoyed by hopes of higher wages but burdened by loans, Vietnamese youth – the fastest-growing group of foreign workers in Japan – will be among those most affected by a new scheme to let in more blue-collar workers that kicks off in April.

“Trainees from China have been declining as wages there rise with economic growth, while in Vietnam, unemployment is high for youth with high education levels, so many young people want to go abroad to work,” said Futaba Ishizuka, a research fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies, a think tank.

The technical trainee program is widely known as a back door for blue-collar labor in immigration-shy Japan. Reported abuses in Japan include low and unpaid wages, excessive hours, violence and sexual harassment. In Vietnam, unscrupulous recruiters and brokers often charge trainees exorbitant fees.

Such problems will persist and could worsen under the new system, aimed at easing a historic labor shortage, according to interviews with activists, academics, unionists and trainees.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose conservative base fears a rise in crime and a threat to the country’s social fabric, has insisted that the new law, enacted in December, does not constitute an “immigration policy.”

That worries critics.

“In fact, Japan is already a country of immigrants. But because they say it is not an ‘immigration policy’ and the premise is that people will not stay, they only take temporary steps,” said Japan Civil Liberties Union director Akira Hatate. “The needs of society are not met, and the needs of the workers are not met.”


The trainees system began in 1993 with the aim of transferring skills to workers from developing countries. But persistent abuses developed early on, experts say.

Those issues were spotlighted last year during debate over the new law.

Among the high-profile cases was that of four companies’ using trainees for decontamination work in areas affected by radiation after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Two firms, also accused of not paying appropriate wages, were banned from employing trainees for five years; the others got warnings from the justice ministry.

A labor ministry survey published in June showed more than 70 percent of trainee employers had violated labor rules, with excessive hours and safety problems most common. That compared to 66 percent for employers overall.

The Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT), a watchdog group, was set up in 2017. This month, it issued a reminder to employers that trainees are covered by Japanese labor law. It specifically banned unfair treatment of pregnant workers.

Harsh conditions led more than 7,000 trainees to quit in 2017, experts say, many lured by shady brokers promising fake documentation and higher-paying jobs. Almost half were from Vietnam.

Because trainees are not permitted to switch employers, leaving their jobs usually means losing legal visa status. A few go to shelters run by non-profit groups or get help from unionists; many disappear into a labor black market.

“The situation is completely different from what they were told back home,” said Shigeru Yamashita, managing director of the Vietnam Mutual Aid Association in Japan. “They have debts they cannot repay with their salaries at home, so the only option is to flee into the black market for labor.”


The new law will allow about 345,000 blue-collar workers to enter Japan over five years in 14 sectors such as construction and nursing care, which face acute labor shortages. One category of “specified skilled workers” can stay up to five years but cannot bring families.

A second category of visas – currently limited to the construction and shipbuilding industries – allows workers to bring families and be eligible to stay longer.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Phuong, 29, left her husband and elementary-school-age child home in Vietnam to work as a trainee in a knitwear factory in Mitsuke City in northern Japan.

The textile industry was not included in the new visa program after coming under fire for the high number of labor violations in its trainee programs.

Now she wishes she could bring her family and stay longer than three years.

“Life in Japan is convenient, and the air is clean,” she told Reuters in careful Japanese during a break from work.

For-profit employment agencies and individuals can register as liaisons between recruiters and employers. These “registered support organizations” will not need licenses.

Immigration authorities will provide oversight of the new foreign workers; the labor ministry’s immigration bureau will become an agency on April 1, a bureaucratic distinction that gives it more clout.

On Friday, the justice ministry issued fresh rules for the new system, including a requirement that foreign workers be paid at least as much as Japanese employees.

But Sasaki said the agency’s focus would be residence status, not labor conditions.

Some companies have woken up to the risk of losing investors if they or their suppliers violate workers’ rights, said Japan Civil Liberties Union’s Hatate.

But the rush to implement the new law has left local authorities worried that too little has been done to support and integrate more foreigners.

“If there is not a proper framework to accept them and they are thought of as purely a way to fill the labor shortage, for certain there will be major problems,” Yuji Kuroiwa, governor of Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo, told Reuters.

Takashi Takayama, whose Vietnamese name is Cao Son Quy, fled Vietnam as a refugee in 1979. He recalled how foreigners were laid off in droves after the 2008 global financial crisis and fears a similar scenario when demand for labor eases after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“When the Olympics are over, I think a tragic event will occur,” Takayama said at a Vietnamese New Year celebration at a Catholic church outside Tokyo. “I don’t want to see that.”

(Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

Audrey Conklin | Reporter

Wisconsin manufacturing facility Foxconn Technology Group announced Monday that it will open a new $10 billion plant by 2020 after talks with President Donald Trump.

Following his visit to the White House on Feb. 1, Dr. Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, said the company plans to begin production at its new plant by the 4th quarter of 2020, Reuters reports. Construction for the plant is likely to begin over the summer.

“Our commitment, from day one, has been to establish a winning formula for Foxconn and for Wisconsin,” Woo announced. “We continue to expand our presence around the state, create jobs and deepen our partnerships while innovating and adapting to meet changing market needs.”

Terry Gou (2nd L), chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, shakes hands with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ... (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Terry Gou (2nd L), chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, shakes hands with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker … (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Trump tweeted after his February meeting with Gou and Woo, “Great news on Foxconn in Wisconsin after my conversation with Terry Gou!”

The group will announce contractors for various construction jobs throughout the next year, and of those contracts, 95 percent will be rewarded to Wisconsin-based companies, Fox Business reports.

Wisconsin offered a nearly $4-billion incentive package in the form of tax and local tax credits in 2017 for the Taiwan-based group to move to the state and hire 13,000 people.

The Apple supplier specializes in creating liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, which are used for devices such as phones, tablets and more. The new facility is expected to be a “Generation 6” factory, meaning it will be able to create screens ranging in size from that of an iPhone to a television.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou ... (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou … (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

It was initially speculated that the facility would be “Generation 10,” meaning it would be able to create screens as large as up to 11 ft. After Friday’s meeting with the president, however, Woo said Foxconn will continue with plans for the smaller facility.

Foxconn and Trump came under scrutiny in January when Woo told Reuters that the manufacturing company might not build a factory, despite having accepted the state’s significant incentive package: “In Wisconsin, we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment.”

Trump called Foxconn an “incredible company” last year at a rally in Wisconsin: “They came to Wisconsin with the most incredible plan. Has anyone seen this place? It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.”

Source: The Daily Caller

Acting Pentagon Chief Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had provided Congress with a list of projects from the military construction budget that could be cut back in order to help pay for a wall on the border with Mexico.

Last month Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

The emergency declaration allows the Trump administration to use money from the military construction budget, if needed.

Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday to block a measure passed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress that would terminate his emergency declaration for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration and crime.

Speaking before the start of his meeting with his French counterpart, Shanahan was asked if he had sent the list of projects to Congress.

"I have," Shanahan said.

The more than 20-page document seen by Reuters included all the projects that were not awarded funding as of Dec. 31 2018.

The list includes a cemetery at the U.S. Military Academy in New York and a command and control facility at Camp Tango in South Korea.

It is essentially up to Congress to go through the list and figure out which projects will not be affected, including military housing, barracks and projects that have already been awarded funding.

The list is unlikely to satisfy Congress.

"This list is wholly insufficient and just tells Congress what projects it already approved," said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

"This appears to be nothing more than another stall tactic designed to delay the political consequences of President Trump’s emergency declaration," Hollander said.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the pool of projects included was valued at about $12.9 billion. The Pentagon has said it could use about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget this year, if needed.

The issue was highlighted during a tense Congressional hearing on Thursday, when Democratic Senators demanded that they be provided a list of military that could be impacted if funding was used to build a wall.

"We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall, and now we have a list of some of the projects and needed base repairs that could be derailed or put on the chopping block as a result," Senator Jack Reed said in a statement.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, is seen on top of the company's building in Taipei
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, is seen on top of the company’s building in Taipei, Taiwan, March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

March 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Foxconn Technology Group Ltd said on Monday it will complete work on a new factory in Wisconsin to assemble liquid crystal display screens and start production before the end of next year.

Foxconn said the next phases of factory construction will begin by this summer “and the facility will begin production in the 4th quarter of 2020.”

Foxconn initially planned to manufacture advanced large-screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the Wisconsin plant. It later said it would build smaller Generation 6 LCD screens instead.

The initial Gen6 facility will manufacture screens for education, medical and healthcare, entertainment and sports, security, and smart cities products, Foxconn said Monday.

In February, Foxconn reiterated it would still build a factory in Wisconsin after the company’s chairman spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump, following a Reuters report the Taiwanese company was reconsidering its plans.

Reuters reported in January that Foxconn was reconsidering making LCD panels at a planned $10 billion Wisconsin campus and instead intended to hire mostly engineers and researchers there.

Foxconn has stopped using the $10 billion figure in recent releases and has not responded to questions about how much it now plans to invest in Wisconsin.

The planned 20-million-square-foot campus marked the largest investment for a brand new location by a foreign-based company in U.S. history when it was announced at a White House ceremony in 2017. It was praised by Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing.

Heavily criticized in some quarters, the Foxconn project was championed by Wisconsin’s then governor, Scott Walker, a Republican who helped secure around $4 billion in tax breaks and other incentives before leaving office. Critics called the deal a corporate giveaway that would never result in the promised manufacturing jobs and said it posed serious environmental risks.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday that much work on the Foxconn complex appeared to have halted over the last two months.

After the Reuters report in January, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple Inc, issued a statement saying the global market environment had changed since the project was first announced and “necessitated the adjustment of plans for all projects, including Wisconsin.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Brandon Valencia | Contributor

Do you enjoy camping with friends and family but your flashlights burn out and your phone light just isn’t bright enough? For anyone who needs a source of brighter lights, consider thinking outside the box and buying LED lanterns for long-lasting effect.

And for the shocking low price of $19.49, you can buy a 4-pack set of LED lanterns from Etekcity, which is currently on sale for 35% off of its original price of $29.99 via Amazon Prime.

Forget about just one LED Lantern. Grab 4 for under $20 (Photo via Amazon)

Forget about just one LED Lantern. Grab 4 for under $20 (Photo via Amazon)

The Etekcity 4-pack LED lanterns are on sale now for $19.49

These set of LED lanterns are ideal for camp sites, porch lighting, front and back yard lighting, nighttime construction, or for bedroom night lights. And with its low battery consumption, you can always count on the Etekcity LED lanterns to brighten your home or business at any time of the day.

The Etekcity 4-pack LED lanterns features:

  • 360° of energy-saving, luminous light while saving energy
  • 12 hours worth of battery life
  • 12 AA batteries
  • Durable, military-grade construction
  • Lightweight design that collapses into a smaller size
  • Weather resistant for safe operation during the rain
  • 90-day return with refund guarantee
  • 10 year warranty

With these lanterns, you never have to walk, work, or fear the dark ever again. Because of its 30 energy-saving LED lightbulbs and its omni-directional design, its high-intensity luminance can last up to 12 hours.

(Photo via Amazon)

(Photo via Amazon)

Etekcity has designed these durable, high-quality lanterns to be efficiently portable and collapsible and affordable 

And unlike products from infomercials, batteries are included with this purchase. If battery power happens to run low, the lanterns’ brightness will dim in an energy-saving mode that lasts up to 4-hours.

Do you find this product useful but you’re discouraged from having to carry it with you? Not a problem. Etekcity has designed these durable, high-quality lanterns to be efficiently portable and collapsible, weighing 9.14 oz so that you can take it with you on any outdoor adventure with ease.

More importantly, if you’re ever caught in a hurricane, earthquake, blackout, or another life-threatening emergency, don’t count on your drawer flashlights or phone lights to help you get to safety. Sometimes having the most dependable source of light can save you and your loved ones’ lives. And for Etekcity’s low price of $19.49, you can get a set of 4 LED lanterns that will come in handy for your everyday use.

Have a suggestion for a cool product or great deal that you think Daily Caller readers need to know about? Email the Daily Dealer at

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the Saudi Binladin Group is seen in Jeddah
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the Saudi Binladin Group is seen in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Katie Paul/File Photo

March 18, 2019

By Stephen Kalin

RIYADH (Reuters) – The influence of Saudi Arabia’s Bin Laden family on its eponymous construction business has been curtailed in a restructuring that follows an anti-corruption crackdown by Riyadh, a document seen by Reuters shows.

Saudi businessman Khalid Nahas has been named chairman of the newly-established Binladin Group Global Holding Company, which is 36.22 percent owned by Istidama, a finance ministry subsidiary, and 63.78 percent by Binladin Company for Development and Commercial Investment.

Only two Bin Laden brothers, Saad and Abdullah, are represented on the new nine-person board, the document from the kingdom’s commerce ministry reveals, in a break from the family’s exclusive control over its earlier company, Saudi Binladin Group (SBG).

The stake owned by Istidama reflects the ownership relinquished by brothers Bakr, Saleh and Saad last year after they were arrested in the corruption purge led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

SBG, which for decades built Saudi Arabia’s roads, mosques and palaces, is crucial to ambitious new plans for major tourism and infrastructure projects. It is not connected to Osama, one of the younger brothers in the family.

Other board members of the new entity include senior Saudi businessmen with experience at some of the kingdom’s most successful companies such as state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries Corp, and property developer Jabal Omar Development Co.

Two sources familiar with the matter also told Reuters that SBG’s chief financial officer, Klaus Froelich, had resigned following the restructuring. The former Morgan Stanley banker was hired in 2016 to help the firm overcome a crisis sparked by the collapse of a construction crane in Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters in December that SBG would soon have a “normal board” with family members and representatives of government ownership after a five-member committee restructured its governance.

That committee was led by Abdulrehman al-Harkan, a former chief executive of Riyadh-based developer Dar Al Arkan, who is not on the new company’s board.

Jadaan left open the possibility that the Binladin company could eventually be listed on the stock market.

Reuters reported in September that SBG had ended up on a collision course with the government after chairman Bakr Binladin and his shareholder brothers resisted earlier pressure to list.

Saleh and Saad Bin Laden were released last year under the anti-corruption campaign, which netted princes and ministers, shattered investor confidence and was decried by critics as a shakedown and power play. Bakr was temporarily released in January but sources say he later returned to detention.

(Additional reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Marwa Rashad; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

Actor Justin Theroux was not able to settle a lawsuit with his neighbor during talks Monday.

This is Theroux’s second time in court in the past two weeks as he met with Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovitz to talk about the lawsuit between him and his neighbor, Norman Resnicow, according to Page Six.

After meeting with both parties, Lebovitz said, “This matter cannot be settled. The parties are impossibly far apart.”

Both parties declined to comment on the lawsuit. Theroux’s lawyer, Eric Sherman, said they wouldn’t comment because “the case is very fluid right now.”

Resnicow originally sued Theroux over $1 million renovations to his West Village co-op according to the 2017 lawsuit documents. Theroux claimed Resnicow bullied him and Aniston after they didn’t immediately soundproof the apartment during the renovations.

Theroux then claimed that Resnicow trespassed on his property and harassed his construction workers. Last month, Theroux accused Resnicow of physically abusing his wife. (RELATED: Justin Theroux Accuses His Neighbor Of Domestic Abuse)

Talks on Monday were had in an effort to reach a settlement before the lawsuit went to trial. However, without a settlement, Theroux will be back in the court room soon. A trial date has yet to be set.

Source: The Daily Caller

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Law enforcement officials are confiscating substantially larger amounts of methamphetamine as Mexican drug cartels increasingly push the drug into U.S. markets.

A drug-tracking system from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicates that a total of 347,807 law enforcement meth seizures were submitted to various labs across the country in 2017, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The number is a 118 percent hike from 2010 submissions.

U.S. meth-related deaths hit 6,762 in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is approximately 3.5 times the amount in 2011. While specific data beyond 2016 is not currently available, provisional data through July 2018 indicates that meth-related deaths are still climbing.

The flood of meth, a popular synthetic drug that is made in labs, has made it much more affordable for U.S. consumers and inflamed the drug overdose crisis currently plaguing the country.

“Everybody’s biggest fear is what’s it going to look like if meth hits us like fentanyl did,” said Jon DeLena of DEA’s New England office said to the Wall Street Journal. Access to fentanyl, a dangerously potent synthetic opioid, has led to mass overdoses across the country. Many fear that the increased trafficking of meth could result in similar death rates.

DEA officials are blaming the situation on Mexican drug cartels, which are more aggressively pushing the drug into the U.S. interior as they attempt to rival South American-made cocaine. The synthetic stimulant is now becoming more prevalent in many regions — such as the U.S. Northeast — where meth was more-or-less scarce.

A member of the German Criminal Investigation Division (BKA) displays Crystal Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth) during a news conference at the BKA office in Wiesbaden November 13, 2014. Police found 4 kilograms of Crystal Meth and 2.9 tons of Chlorephedrine, a base substance to produce Crystal Meth, during a police raid in Leipzig on November 5 and November 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

A member of the German Criminal Investigation Division (BKA) displays Crystal Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth) during a news conference at the BKA office in Wiesbaden November 13, 2014. Police found 4 kilograms of Crystal Meth and 2.9 tons of Chlorephedrine, a base substance to produce Crystal Meth, during a police raid in Leipzig on November 5 and November 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Meth production in the U.S. has generally declined in the past 10 years, but this trend has been offset with an increase in supply from Mexico.

“They’re flooding it through tunnels, they’re flooding it through ports of entry, they’re flooding it between ports of entry,” stated DEA Special Agent Doug Coleman.

News of meth’s rise follows President Donald Trump’s ongoing battle with Congress to secure the U.S.-Mexico border with a massive wall.

Congress allocated just over $1.37 billion to finance 55 miles of border wall in Texas following gridlock between Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Trump accepted that funding in February, but he then declared a national crisis. The president has since requested an additional $8.6. billion for wall construction. (RELATED: Trump To Close Immigration Offices In Other Countries To Save Money)

Trump vetoed a Congressional resolution that disapproved of his emergency declaration — the first veto of his presidency. However, a number of lawsuits are still seeking to block the declaration in court.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

“The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison is back at the Bachelor Mansion and shared the news with a photo of the 75,000-square-foot beauty Saturday.

The massive home was damaged during the California wildfires last November, but it looks like the newest season of “The Bachelorette” will be filmed at the mansion location as usual. (RELATED: Remember The Bachelor Mansion? It’s Burning To The Ground In The California Wildfires)

“She’s never looked so gorgeous,” Harrison wrote. “After what our community has been through this year, I’m more grateful than ever to be back home.”

The main house remained intact after the Woolsey fire, but a structure used for production offices did burn down, according to Us Weekly. Construction began on the mansion in January so that the mansion could be ready for filming of “The Bachelorette.”

Harrison is a big supporter of the community of Agoura Hills. He was determined to have the mansion ready for the new season he told The Hollywood Reporter in December.

“We do a lot of good in the community. We shop here, eat here and stay here at the hotels. And dump a lot of money into the community when we shoot here,” Harrison told The Hollywood Reporter. “So my goal is to make sure we get back into the house and use it, especially this season, to show that we’re back and that the city is good. And hopefully, bring the money and the jobs back here.”

Source: The Daily Caller

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