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Friday, July 20, 2018

A government lawyer acknowledged Monday that the Trump administration will miss its first court-imposed deadline to reunite about 100 immigrant children under age 5 with their parents. Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian said during a court hearing that federal authorities reunited two families and expect to reunite an additional 59 by Tuesday’s deadline. She said the other cases are more complicated, including parents who have been deported or are in prison facing criminal charges, and would require more time to complete reunions. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who ordered the administration to reunite families separated as part of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, said he will hold another hearing Tuesday morning to get an update on the remaining cases. He said he was encouraged to see “real progress” in the complicated reunification process after a busy weekend when officials from multiple federal agencies tried to sync up parents and children who are spread across the country. STORY FROM LENDINGTREE Crush your mortgage interest with a 15 yr fixed “Tomorrow is the deadline. I do recognize that there are some groups of parents who are going to fall into a category where it’s impossible to reunite by tomorrow,” he said. “I am very encouraged by the progress. I’m optimistic.” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who leads a lawsuit against the federal government, sounded more skeptical. When asked by the judge if he believed the government was in full compliance of the court order, Gelernt said there was much more work to be done. “Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours has taken significant steps,” he said. “We just don’t know how much effort the government has made to find released parents. I don’t think there’s been full compliance.” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. (Photo: U.S. District Court) The difficulty in reuniting the first 100 children shows the challenge that lies ahead as the Trump administration braces for another deadline in two weeks to reunite nearly 3,000 older children – up to age 17 – with their parents. The process is complicated because of all the different situations that emerged over the weekend. The government initially identified 102 children under age 5 who needed to be reunited but removed three children from that list because investigations into their cases revealed that those children came with adults who were not their parents, Fabian said. Twelve parents were found to be in federal and state custody on criminal charges, making a reunification impossible since the government can’t transfer minors to state and local prisons to protect the well-being of the child. Nine parents were deported, and the government established contact with only four of them, Fabian said. Four children had been scheduled to be released from government custody to relatives who weren’t their parents, leading the government to question whether to allow that process to be completed or to redirect the child back to a parent. Gelernt said he understood many of the hurdles but urged the judge to force the government to scrap its time-consuming investigation into every single case and start a 48-hour clock to reunify families that remain separated by Tuesday. Sabraw said he would decide that during Tuesday’s hearing. Fabian said one of the silver linings of the busy weekend is that her office worked closely with its challengers at the ACLU to share information on each child’s case, to ensure that representatives from immigration advocacy groups and volunteer organizations could be present during each reunification. Gelernt said they’re doing that to help the parents, who are often released from custody with no money and nowhere to go. Fabian said that coordination has led to a more formalized process between government agencies and with the immigrants’ lawyers that should make reunifications go more smoothly in the coming weeks. “I think this process over the weekend helped us see what information, and in what form, is the most useful to share,” she said. “I’d like to make that as efficient a process as possible.” -

Monday, July 9, 2018

Trump denies US opposition to WHO breastfeeding resolution -

Monday, July 9, 2018

Havana plane crash leaves more than 100 dead -

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr bloc wins Iraq elections -

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: ‘We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families’ -

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Donald Trump says he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore -

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trump tells FBI: ‘I have your back 100%’ -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mueller requests emails from Trump campaign data firm: report -

Friday, December 15, 2017

GOP changes child tax credit in bid to win Rubio’s vote -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Trump Jr. is berated for tweet about ‘Obama’s FCC’ chair, net ‘neutality’ -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry on 19 May 2018 -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Walt Disney buys Murdoch’s Fox for $52.4bn -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Roy Moore says Alabama election ‘tainted’ by outside groups -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eric Holder warns GOP: ‘Any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated’ -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Former British prime minister: Trump attacks on press are ‘dangerous’ -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

China says war must not be allowed on Korean peninsula -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Megyn Kelly left Fox News in part due to O’Reilly: report -

Saturday, April 15, 2017

North Korea warns against U.S. ‘hysteria’ as it marks founder’s birth -

Friday, April 14, 2017

British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia -

Thursday, April 13, 2017

FCC plans to fine AT&T $100M over ‘unlimited’ data plans

Getty Images

(The Hill)…The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine AT&T $100 million for misleading customers about what it said were unlimited wireless data plans.

The fine is in response to AT&T drastically reducing network speeds for phone customers who purchased an unlimited plan once they used a certain amount of data.

AT&T offered unlimited data plans in the past but changed course in 2010 as smartphones became more prevalent. The company, however, allowed millions of existing customers to renew their unlimited data contracts.

In 2011, those unlimited-plan customers began seeing data speeds slow by up to 90 percent after AT&T began implementing the model, known as throttling. The change spurred thousands of complaints.

“Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement Wednesday. “The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”

The commission’s investigation found that the wireless provider’s notices to customers about the throttling policy were not sufficient. The agency said Wednesday that AT&T slowed data for millions of customers for an average of 12 days of every billing cycle.

The company has acknowledged that the throttling creates difficulties for customers but has argued the business model is above board and transparent.

Action by the FCC had been expected since early this year, when AT&T revealed the agency’s enforcement bureau was “actively considering” whether the policy violated federal transparency rules.

The Federal Trade Commission has also taken AT&T to court over the issue. In filings earlier this year, AT&T revealed the FCC was already looking into the throttling practice and asked a court to dismiss the FTC case because of a lack of jurisdiction, which the court denied.

AT&T disputed the FCC’s charges, saying it has disclosed the terms of its unlimited data plans to customers in billing statements, texts and online. It also asserted the FCC had endorsed the business model in previous net neutrality rules.

“We will vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions,” AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris said. “The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it. We have been fully transparent with our customers, providing notice in multiple ways and going well beyond the FCC’s disclosure requirements.”

In the commission’s new net neutrality rules, which went into place last week, the FCC allows throttling for reasonable network management. But the FCC specifically said that excuse could not be used to “justify reneging on its promise to supply a customer with ‘unlimited’ data.”

L’Afrique donne le coup d’envoi à un marché commun « du Cap au Caire »


Cecil Rhodes en rêvait : construire un continuum économique et politique en Afrique « du Cap au Caire ». Un siècle et quelques années plus tard, à Charm el-Cheikh, vingt-six dirigeants de pays d’Afrique ont, mercredi 10 juin, posé les bases d’un vaste marché unique courant de l’Afrique du Sud au Caire. Ce n’est plus, là, le mythe impérial d’un colonialiste anglais qui voulait relier, à la fin du dix-neuvième siècle, toutes les colonies de son pays, mais un projet porté par les Africains eux-mêmes, auxquels il reste nombre d’obstacles à surmonter avant d’accomplir ce rêve.

Sur le papier, ce projet, né après cinq ans de négociations, est séduisant. Par la fusion de trois organisations régionales – le Marché commun des états d’Afrique australe et de l’est (Comesa), la communauté des états d’Afrique de l’est (EAC) et la Communauté de développement d’Afrique australe (SADC) – la nouvelle Zone tripartite de libre-échange (TFTA) réunit 625 millions d’habitants, répartis dans 26 des 54 pays africains, cumulant un PIB de 1 000 milliards de dollars (900 milliards d’euros).

Cette « Tripartite » pourra compter sur la puissance des trois locomotives économiques d’Afrique de l’Est et du Nord : l’Egypte, le Kenya et l’Afrique du sud. Les promoteurs de ce projet – notamment l’Egypte, le Kenya et Maurice, les plus actifs lors des négociations – visent un triple objectif : libérer les échanges, développer les infrastructures et conduire des politiques industrielles communes.

Nouveaux marchés

« La volonté des dirigeants africains d’accélérer le processus d’intégration régionale par le biais du commerce signifie qu’ils ne veulent pas rater la période de changement que le continent connaît ces dernières années », explique Henri-Bernard Solignac-Lecomte, chef de l’Unité Europe, Moyen-Orient et Afrique au Centre de développement de l’OCDE.

La croissance économique moyenne qui dépasse les 5 % par an depuis quinze ans, très supérieure aux taux des années 1980, couplée à une forte vitalité démographique génèrent en effet de nouveaux marchés de consommation.

Les pays africains entendent profiter de ce gâteau, ne pas le laisser exclusivement à l’appétit des exportateurs ou investisseurs originaires des économies développées ou émergentes de plus en plus présentes sur le continent.

« Le lancement de la Tripartite est un message fort montrant que l’Afrique travaille à son intégration économique et à créer un environnement favorable au commerce et à l’investissement », s’était félicité le gouvernement sud-africain, quelques jours avant la signature de Charm el-Cheikh.

Les statistiques économiques montrent en effet le retard de l’Afrique, peu compétitive, dont la part dans les échanges mondiaux s’élève seulement à 2 % et portent essentiellement sur des matières premières brutes. Ce que les économistes appellent « la faible participation de l’Afrique aux chaînes de valeur mondiales ».

Lire aussi : L’Afrique attend encore ses « trente glorieuses »

Ce phénomène apparaît également au regard de l’activité intérieure africaine. En effet, seuls 12 % des échanges commerciaux ont lieu entre pays de ce continent, contre 55 % en Asie et 70 % en Europe.

Obstacles non tarifaires

Il y a plusieurs raisons à cela. D’une part, les économies africaines – où 80 % de la main-d’œuvre travaille dans l’agriculture et le secteur informel – pâtissent d’une faible complémentarité entre elles. Elles sont ainsi contraintes d’importer les produits introuvables sur le continent.

D’autre part, l’Afrique est handicapée par « l’épaisseur de ses frontières intérieures qui alourdissent les coûts commerciaux », rappelle Henri-Bernard Solignac-Lecomte. « Cette épaisseur » se mesure notamment par le nombre de documents qu’il faut produire pour l’importation et l’exportation – sept à huit papiers de douane en moyenne en Afrique, contre quatre ou cinq en Europe -, les délais et coûts de franchissement des frontières.

Dans un premier temps, la « Tripartite » devra donc identifier les obstacles non tarifaires au commerce et les éliminer. Il faudra ensuite faire preuve d’une volonté politique forte pour mettre en œuvre ces mesures destinées à faciliter la circulation des marchandises entre les pays avec un niveau de taxe inférieur à celui appliqué aux produits hors zone tripartite.
Source: Le Monde

States enlist prisoners, plan biosecurity to combat avian flu threat

(Reuters)…Indiana is training 300 prisoners to kill infected chickens and banning bird shows at county fairs. Mississippi is considering road barricades and planning biosecurity measures. Iowa is trying to figure out how to deal with a mountain of dead – and reeking – chickens.

Federal health experts are hopeful that the virulent bird flu that has devastated Midwestern poultry farms in recent months has reached its peak and will taper off as the weather warms. But worried state officials aren’t taking chances.

Fears that the virus, which has led to the deaths of nearly 45 million birds in 16 states and Canada, could come roaring back in the fall, when temperatures cool, have agriculture officials across the U.S. preparing for the worst.

Even states that haven’t been hit yet are taking no chances.

“We’re better safe than sorry,” said Dr. Robert Cobb, state veterinarian for Georgia, the nation’s leading producer of chickens raised for meat, which has not had any cases so far. “All the research I’ve been able to find is showing that this virus could likely stick around for years.”



After a backyard flock in northeastern Indiana tested positive in early May – the state’s first case of the virus – Indiana’s State Board of Animal Health banned all bird shows at county fairs this summer, following similar moves in Iowa, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

The board and other state agencies also began planning what they would need in the event of a wider outbreak, including portable toilets and protective gear for personnel.

And they asked the Department of Corrections to begin training non-violent offenders to help with any culls needed.

In late May, the first group of 50 inmates were fit-tested for respirators, and began training on how to safely remove chickens from cages and transfer them to an enclosed cart used to asphyxiate the birds.

Denise Derrer, spokeswoman for the state board of animal health, said crews of low-level offenders have also helped with state recovery efforts after floods and tornadoes and will be used in the event of a wider outbreak.

“We can’t count on warm weather killing off this virus,” Derrer said.

To the south, Mississippi State Veterinarian Jim Watson, whose state has so far escaped the outbreak, is prepping for the virus to arrive later this year or in early 2016. He and his team have discussed road barricades, biosecurity and the possibility of declaring a state of emergency.

The team has purchased a second foam-based system, used to spray inside infected barns and suffocate birds.

“We’re on the Mississippi River, so there’s going to have to be geese and ducks that are contaminated coming down that flyway,” Watson said. “Even though we have very few chicken farms on the water, those birds are going to stray all over the state during hunting season.”



While the outbreak does appear to be slowing in the Midwest, where most of the 44.6 million affected birds have been located, outbreak spikes can be difficult to spot quickly in the federal data.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reports cases that its labs confirm, but these numbers often come days or weeks after state agencies have identified and reported probable cases.

Just a day after USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford told Reuters last week that the agency believed the worst was over, Nebraska announced that a new egg farm with 3 million hens had tested positive. Iowa also reported another outbreak, resulting in the need to cull 1 million more birds.

The uncertainty led Alabama veterinary officials to meet with Gov. Robert J. Bentley’s staff to outline bird flu response options. The groups were in agreement, said State Veterinarian Tony Frazier, that Alabama, the third largest producer of broiler chickens, couldn’t afford take a wait-and-see approach.



Even if the outbreak is waning for now, cleanup is far from over.

On Friday, the USDA said it wanted to hire more federal contractors “due to the size and scope” of the outbreak. The USDA and Iowa have contracts with three landfills in the state, including one with a large incinerator, to help speed up culling, bird disposal and barn clean-up.

For locals, help can’t come soon enough. In Sioux Center, Iowa, neighbors of an infected Center Fresh Group egg-laying facility told Reuters the stench of dead birds was making them sick.

“We can’t live here,” said John Fuoss, who said he vomited from the smell of dead chickens and manure used as compost on a nearby field. “My head’s ready to explode.”

And it will take time for residents of afflicted areas to believe the crisis is past.

Katie Olthoff’s family has stopped riding bikes around a lake close to their home near Stanhope, Iowa, out of fear their tires could come into contact with water-fowl feces contaminated with the virus. The family, which raises more than 100,000 turkeys a year, is also staying away from the zoo and from friends who have backyard poultry flocks.

The family, Olthoff said, now assumes “that wherever we go, the entire environment is contaminated.”

Russian, Iranian companies discuss barter deal terms: minister

Russia's Energy Minister Novak arrives at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels ahead of a meeting with EU officials

(Reuters) – Russian and Iranian companies are discussing terms for a barter deal which will not include oil deliveries, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday, trying to end confusion over the status of a long-heralded agreement.

Russian officials said on Monday Russia was sending grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in an oil-for-goods exchange, the first step in securing a foothold in a new market since the West imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

But the announcement caused confusion in the oil and grain markets, with traders saying no oil deliveries and no grain supplies had been registered.

Some suggested it was little more than political posturing to try to cement ties with Iranafter an interim deal was reached this month on curbing the Islamic republic’s nuclear program in exchange for removing sanctions.

Politically sensitive talks are now in their final stages on a deal to end a decades-old dispute on the nuclear program between Iran and six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. The West suspects the program has military aims while Tehran says it is peaceful.

Novak told reporters the deal did not envisage any oil supplies to Russia, or Russiashipping cargoes on to other markets.

“There are negotiations between companies, they are working on the terms. We do not foresee oil deliveries,” he said.

“We are not discussing the delivery of Iranian oil (to global markets) … They can freely supply the market themselves it they lift sanctions.”

Russia has been quick to show its enthusiasm for renewed ties with the Islamic republic. President Vladimir Putin also said Russia was ready to supply an advanced S-300 anti-missile system to Tehran, prompting alarm in Washington.

Family couple fraudulently collects $100K with the help of food stamps

AP photo

The police of North Carolina, USA, arrested a married couple, who conducted illegal activities within the scope of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The couple collected over $100,000 by buyingfood stamp credits for 50 cents on the dollar. The detainees – Luz Adriana Walker and David Christopher Walker, 55, are the owners of a meat shop in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The couple would give undercover Guilford County Sheriff’s deputies $200 for $400 worth of electronic foodstamp benefits transfers. The couple would then take reimbursements for the full value of the stamps, also called SNAP Benefits. From Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2014, the Walkers thus collected more than $100,000.

On March 27 of this year, the couple was arrested. The Walkers are accused of obtaining property under false pretenses, fraudulently buying and selling food stamps, accessing government computers for fraud, and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.


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