India: BJD Candidate Arrested For ‘among other things’ Attempted Murder

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJD candidate arrested for leading attack on EC team in Odisha

Pradeep Maharathy has been charged under several sections of Indian Penal Code including an attempt to murder, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, wrongful restraint and rioting and Section 123 of the Representation of People’s Act.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Apr 22, 2019 16:29 IST

Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
BJD candidate,Pradeep Maharathy,Election Commission
The BJD’s candidate for the Pipili assembly constituency in Odisha’s Puri district, Pradeep Maharathy, was arrested on Monday. (Pradeep Maharathy Pipili Delanga/Facebook)

The BJD’s candidate for the Pipili assembly constituency in Odisha’s Puri district, Pradeep Maharathy, was arrested on Monday, hours after he led an attack on a team of officials of the Election Commission at his farmhouse.

Puri’s superintendent of police Umashankar Dash said Pradeep Maharathy, who is a former state minister, was arrested after a lengthy interrogation.

Pradeep Maharathy has been charged under several sections of Indian Penal Code including an attempt to murder, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, wrongful restraint and rioting and Section 123 of the Representation of People’s Act.

Dash said 15 more people were involved in the attack and would be arrested soon.

A flying squad and a static and video surveillance teams comprising 15 members led by executive magistrate Rabi Narayan Patra had raided Maharathy’s farmhouse in Pipili around 12.30am over information that a feast was being held and money and alcohol were being distributed to influence voters.

But as soon as the surveillance team reached the farmhouse in Hunkeipur village, they were attacked with Maharathy taking the lead. Patra and his team, who were bleeding profusely, fled the spot in one of their vehicles as Maharathy’s men chased them.

“We had to flee leaving one of our vehicles on the spot. Had we stayed any longer we would have been killed,” said Patra.

Videographers Purna Chandra Dash, Sushant Pradhan and two others from the EC team were also injured in the attack.

Voting in Pipili assembly constituency under the Puri Lok Sabha constituency is scheduled to be held on Tuesday along with 41 other seats. Six Lok Sabha seats will also poll in the state on the same day.

First Published: Apr 22, 2019 15:59 IST

Israel: The People Have Spoken. They Want To Live In Netanyahu’s Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The people have spoken. They want to live in Netanyahu’s Israel

Israelis were not under-informed or unfairly swayed. They knew what they’d get with a 5th term of Netanyahu. The result was the highest vote ever for right & ultra-Orthodox parties

David Horovitz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at a victory event after polls for general elections closed in Tel Aviv,, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at a victory event after polls for general elections closed in Tel Aviv,, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The people have spoken. And a week after the elections, with the president now in the midst of consultations with our newly elected politicians ahead of the formation of our next government, it’s worth taking a closer look at what the people actually said.

They knew that Benjamin Netanyahu was facing criminal charges in three cases, unless he could persuade the attorney general of his innocence. They knew that he had castigated the opposition, the media, the cops and the state prosecutors for purportedly seeking to frame him as part of a political vendetta to oust him. They knew that, if re elected, he might try to use existing or new legislation to avoid being prosecuted, and would likely seek to stay on as prime minister even if he were to be prosecuted. And that, if reelected, he would make the case that the public had given him a mandate to offset the state prosecutors’ recommendations that he be put on trial.

They knew. And 26.45% of the voting Israeli public chose Likud — a vast number, by Israeli standards, 1,139,079 out of the 4,306,520 legitimate ballots cast nationwide.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

They knew that they had a clear alternative to four more years of a Netanyahu-led Israel, embodied in a party led by three former IDF chiefs of staff — an unprecedented assemblage of security expertise, in a country where security concerns always figure at the very top of voting considerations. They saw Netanyahu portray that party, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, as a group of weak leftists. Even though it included Netanyahu’s own former Likud defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, whose public positions are more hawkish than those of Netanyahu, and even though Netanyahu in 2013 extended Gantz’s term as IDF chief by an additional year in the most overt illustration possible of the confidence he then had in Gantz’s security leadership capabilities.

Members of the Blue White political party Benny Gantz (second left), Moshe Yaalon (right), Gabi Ashkenazi (left) and Yair Lapid hold a press conference at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 10, 2019, a day after the elections. (Flash90)

They watched Netanyahu’s Likud depict Gantz as mentally unstable. They watched Netanyahu attempt to make political capital out of a bizarre saga involving the reported Iranian hacking of Gantz’s phone — a saga in which Gantz and his colleagues did not provide a clear-cut explanation of what had gone on. They watched Gantz veer between an attempted statesmanlike, high-ground approach to beating Netanyahu and a lower-ground trading of insults and accusations.

They watched Netanyahu broker a deal that legitimized the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party as part of a new Union of Right-Wing Parties that would partner Netanyahu in any new Likud-led coalition. They watched URWP’s Bezalel Smotrich declare he’d set his heart on becoming minister of education. They watched the New Right’s Ayelet Shaked vow to curb the power of the Supreme Court if she continued as justice minister.

They watched. And they made their choice. Very few voters from the right of the political spectrum threw their support behind Gantz and the other generals. While Blue and White also topped the million-vote count — 1,124,805 — much of its support came from the center and the now decimated Labor, and that wasn’t enough to thwart Netanyahu’s fifth election victory.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

They recognized other likely and possible implications of another Netanyahu victory. He’d vowed in the final days of the campaign to extend Israeli sovereignty to all West Bank settlements — a move that, if realized, would have major consequences for what was once called the peace process. It was clear his most reliable coalition partners would be the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism — on whose behalf he reluctantly froze the Western Wall compromise deal, and whose key agenda items include making Israel more Shabbat-observant and minimizing the number of young ultra-Orthodox males required to share the rights and responsibilities of military and national service.

Self-evidently, enough Israeli voters either share this agenda or are not deterred by it. Enough to hand Netanyahu another term.

The people have spoken.

Residents of the Gaza envelope communities of southern Israel have for years complained about Netanyahu’s policies in dealing with Hamas. They have protested that the government has turned them into rocket fodder. Sderot, the most rocket-battered city of all, voted 43.52% for Netanyahu’s Likud. (The next most popular party was Yisrael Beytenu at 10.14%.) To the east of Gaza, Netivot voted 32.46% Likud (second only to 33.35% Shas.) Ashkelon, to the north, voted 42.61% Likud (followed by Blue and White at 15.62%). By contrast, kibbutzim and moshavim in the Gaza periphery area generally voted overwhelmingly for Blue and White.

The people have spoken.

Early on election day, reports started circulating about Likud-paid activists bringing hidden cameras into polling stations in Arab areas. Some of those involved have since acknowledged that they were indeed acting on behalf of Likud; a PR agency has claimed responsibility, saying it was hired by Likud; the Likud party’s lawyer, on the day, claimed the operation was open and legal, and necessary to ensure the “integrity” of the vote in districts ostensibly prone to voter fraud; Netanyahu himself championed the use of public cameras for the same purpose. (Needless to say, the Central Elections Committee has its own, nonpartisan procedures for preventing election fraud.) In fact, ruled the judge overseeing the elections, the deployment of the cameras was illicit; the equipment was ordered removed.

Israel’s voters watched and read about all these developments in real time.

Some analysts have suggested that the camera gambit depressed Arab turnout — it’s not comfortable showing up to do your democratic duty, as members of a minority that was traduced by the prime minister on the previous election day, when you hear on the news that you’re going to be filmed in the process by his supporters. Arab turnout does appear to have been down last week (an estimated 52%) as compared to 2015 (an estimated 63.7%). And while the Joint (Arab) List won 13 seats in the last Knesset, its constituent parties, now running in two separate lists, managed only 10 this time.

But if the camera ploy worked to Netanyahu’s advantage, possibly costing his political rivals a seat or three, and maybe boosting support for a Likud seen to be taking on the Arabs, there was a more dramatic arithmetical factor on the right-hand side of the spectrum that worked against him. Between Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s New Right (138,491 votes, or 3.22% of the national total) and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut (117,670 votes; 2.73% of the national total), a staggering 6% of right-wing votes went down the drain — a potential six or seven more Knesset seats for a Netanyahu-led coalition. And yet Netanyahu still has a clear, if complex, path (involving reconciling the ultra-Orthodox parties with the fiercely secular Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu) to a 65-strong coalition.

Over 57% of counted votes went to right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties (Likud; Shas; UTJ; Yisrael Beytenu; United Right-Wing Parties; Kulanu; The New Right; Zehut, and Gesher). This is the highest proportion in Israeli history. Only 34% went to centrist and left of center Zionist parties (Blue and White, Labor and Meretz).

The two ultra-Orthodox parties, it is worth noting, had repeatedly stressed in the run-up to polling day that they would only consider joining a Netanyahu-led coalition. Even when the polls closed and for a brief moment Gantz was claiming victory on the basis of a predictably inaccurate exit poll, UTJ rushed to say that it would go into the opposition with Netanyahu rather than partner with Gantz.

Menachem Begin, center, speaks to supporters at his party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on May 18, 1977, as they celebrate the Likud Bloc’s election to government after 29 years of Israeli Labor Party rule. (AP Photo)

By way of comparison, the 2015 elections saw over 56% voting for right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties (Likud, Kulanu, Jewish Home, Shas, Yisrael Beytenu and Yachad). In 2013, the comparable figure was 48% (Likud, Jewish Home, Shas, UTJ, Otzma LeYisrael). In 2009, it was 54% (Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, UTJ, National Union and Jewish Home).

Going way back to 1977, when Menachem Begin’s Likud first won power, the comparable proportion was about 53% — and that’s including the then-relatively centrist National Religious Party, which had partnered with Labor-led governments for the past three decades.

The people have spoken.

Were some worried by Gantz’s warnings that Netanyahu is turning Israel into Turkey — becoming our un-oustable leader, gradually marginalizing opposition, taking control of ever more of the media, bending the cops and the prosecutors and the courts to his will? Doubtless, many were. But not enough to unseat him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a voting slip for his Likud party in a video filmed at a beach in Netanya on election day, April 9, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The people saw Gantz caught by a camera in his car, toward the end of election day, looking exhausted. They saw Netanyahu, sweating in his suit on the beach at Netanya, imploring potential supporters to get out of the sea and vote Likud.

The people saw everything, internalized what they chose to internalize, and made their decision. No nefarious forces, as far as we know, skewed these elections. The public was not under-informed; nor was it disaffected. The turnout was a healthy 67.9% (compared to 61.4% in the 2016 US presidential elections, or 66.1% in 2015’s British parliamentary elections).

The people want to live in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

Israelis’ choice. Israelis’ consequences.

Note: Figures cited in this piece for the 2019 elections are from the completed-count totals announced by the Central Elections Committee at midnight on April 11; the totals have fluctuated slightly since then, and are to be made official on April 16.

Senator Warren New Education Plan: Make College Free, Forgive Student Loan Debt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday proposed eliminating the student loan debts of tens of millions of Americans and making all public colleges tuition-free, staking out an ambitious stance on one of the central policy debates of the 2020 Democratic primary.

Student debt and college affordability have become a key dividing line in the Democratic race, between more progressive candidates who favor sweeping new tuition and student-loan benefits and others who support more incremental adjustments to the way Americans pay for education.
Warren’s new plan would forgive $50,000 in student loans for Americans in households earning less than $100,000 a year. According to analysis provided by her campaign, that would provide immediate relief to more than 95% of the 45 million Americans with student debt. The Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 contender is also calling for a drastic increase in federal spending on higher education that would make tuition and fees free for all students at two- and four-year public colleges and expand grants for lower-income and minority students to cover costs like housing, food, books and child care.
The campaign estimates that the plan would cost $1.25 trillion over 10 years.
The revenue from Warren’s wealth tax proposal — a 2% tax on wealth above $50 million and a 3% tax on wealth above $1 billion — would pay for her newest proposal, her campaign said. According to details shared by her campaign, the massive debt cancellation and free college plan additionally asks states to chip in to cover the cost of tuition and fees. Warren has also said her universal child care proposal would be paid for by her wealth tax.
Asked about connecting the viability of her new proposal to another, Warren insisted that there is broad support for the idea of taxing the ultra-rich.
“For two cents on the dollar, we could pay for universal child care, universal pre-K, universal college and knock back the student loan debt burden for about 43 million Americans and still have nearly, just short, of $1 trillion leftover,” Warren said in an interview with CNN. “It tells you how badly out of whack our economy is right now.”
Warren — a co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2017 legislation that would make four-year public colleges tuition-free for some students — said her new plan is “bigger” and “goes further” than Sanders’, who is also vying for the Democratic nomination.
“It covers more and it addresses both the access question of going to college and the problem of the debt burden for our students,” she said.
The former college dropout and law professor described the proposal as one of the most “personally important” of her growing White House platform.
“I got married at 19 and I took a job answering phones and I thought that was going to be my whole life. And the fact that there was a commuter college about 45 minutes away that I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job — you know, it opened a door,” said Warren, who has made the story a fixture of her stump speech. “It all started with that chance in college.”
“Free college” has become a popular progressive rallying cry in recent years, with Sanders helping bring the idea mainstream during his 2016 presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton also ran on a tuition-free proposal for low-and middle-income students, and several states, including New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Rhode Island have recently implemented some form of a tuition-free plan. Public polls have shown broad support for tuition-free colleges and making higher education more affordable.
But Warren’s proposal of forgiving outstanding student debt goes a significant step further than previous Democratic policy plans. (One bill introduced in Congress last year did call for using revenue from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts to cancel all student loans, but it was largely viewed as a political rebuttal to the President and gained little traction in Congress.)
Warren’s plan would offer debt relief based on income. Households that make less than $100,000 a year would get $50,000 in loan cancellation, with the amount of relief getting gradually smaller as income level goes up, with households that make more than $250,000 not eligible for any debt relief.
Altogether, it would wipe out all student debt — including both federal and private loans — for more than 75% of Americans with outstanding loans, according to analysis provided by Warren’s campaign.
The “Universal Free College” portion of Warren’s plan makes public college free for everyone, regardless of their finances. While Sanders’ 2015 proposal offered free tuition for everyone, a 2017 bill scaled back eligibility based on income — language built on a compromise proposal agreed on between Sanders and Clinton during the 2016 election.
Warren’s proposal also makes significant investments to help lower-income and minority students afford the non-tuition costs associated with attending college. She wants to invest an additional $100 billion in Pell grants over the next 10 years, making them available to more students and increasing the size of the award. Currently, the lowest-income students are eligible to receive about $6,200 a year from the federal Pell program.
“It’s not just paying the tuition. It’s how they pay for books,” Warren told CNN. “It’s how they pay for the expenses of having a baby taken care of if they already have a child at home or being able to cover commuting expenses or maybe it’s a chance to live in a dorm and have the kind of college experience that other kids can.”
There is broad support among the Democratic presidential candidates for making college more affordable, though they differ on how to do so. Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand — along with Warren — are all co-sponsors of Sen. Brian Schatz’s Debt-Free College Act. It would establish a matching grant to states that commit to helping students pay for the full cost of attendance without taking out loans.
But other candidates — including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — have stopped short of embracing a free-college platform.
“I am not for free four-year college for all, no,” Klobuchar said at a CNN town hall in February, though she noted she would support making community colleges free.
Buttigieg has argued that free college would result in those who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidizing those who did go to college and tend to enter higher-paying careers. But he has called for expanding Pell grants and incentivizing states to invest more money in higher education.
Asked whether she agrees with Buttigieg’s analysis, Warren answered: “No.”
“The way we build a future where everyone’s got a chance is we start out by investing in their education,” Warren said.
Since announcing an exploratory campaign on New Year’s Eve, Warren has released sweeping policy proposals at a rapid clip. They include the wealth tax, universal child care and a proposal to break up the biggest tech companies.
Warren is unapologetic about her heavy focus on policy.
“Look. Policy is personal. It touches people’s lives,” she said. “People come up to me in tears talking about their student loan debt. People talk to me about their fear that healthcare is going to be taken away. People talk to me about drugs, prescription drugs that they take that they simply can’t afford. The way we fixed these problems? It’s with policy. It’s policy that touches where people live.”

Ideals For A Third Party Platform Here In The U.S.

Ideals For A Third Party Platform Here In The U.S.

 

1.) The Supreme Court decides the policy on abortion, not a politician.

2.) Guns and/or ammunition can not be outlawed from the public. To me, the only exception should be such things as machineguns. Grenades, C-4 and such weapons should be banned unless you have a specific permit to own them, like with a licensed collector.

3.) Recreational marijuana should be just as legal as alcohol, Federally! This government prohibition is just as ignorant and illegal as the prohibition of alcohol was in the 1930’s.

4.) Flat tax rate of 10% on all things, no write-offs, no exemptions, no loopholes. 6% Federal tax. 2% State tax. 1% each for County and City. I look at taxes this way, the Lord asks us to donate at least 10% toward Him which He requires us to help others with like our communities.

5.) All people running for any office must supply the prior 10 years of tax returns when they officially or unofficially announce they are ‘running’ for an Office.

6.) Mandatory retirement age for any Office of 72 years old. If a person is wanting to be elected to any office if they will turn 72 or older during that 2, 4 or 6 years then you are not allowed to be in that or any such Office. You say that is not legal that it is age discrimination, I say no, I believe you are incorrect. The reason is, you have to be a minimum of 35 to be allowed to be President. If that isn’t discrimination then neither is my idea of being to old.

Just a thought folks on what I would like to see as the Platform of a 3rd political party. so here it is.

A Comedian Just Became UKraine’s Next President

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

A comedian just became Ukraine’s next president

Volodymyr Zelensky rode a populist, anti-corruption message straight to the presidency.

Volodymyr Zelensky was just voted in as Ukraine’s next president. Here he talks to journalists after taking a drug and alcohol test at the Eurolab diagnostic center on April 5, 2019.
 Pyotr Sivkov\TASS via Getty Images

Ukrainians on Sunday overwhelmingly voted to make a comedian their next president — ushering in a new era of politics in the struggling country.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a famous comedian who portrayed Ukraine’s head of state for years on a popular comedy show, defeated the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014.

According to exit polls, Zelensky won a staggering 73 percent of the vote. Poroshenko conceded the race not long after polls closed.

It’s all quite the rise for an ordinary guy who, well, played an ordinary guy-turned-president on television.

Zelensky — or “Ze,” as he’s more popularly known — has no prior political experience and hasn’t offered a detailed blueprint for how he would govern. But he struck a populist, anti-corruption message during the campaign that clearly resonated with millions of Ukrainians suffering from poverty and government graft. That, plus his previous celebrity, made him a formidable force during the Eastern European country’s election.

The big question now is if he can follow through on his promises to stamp out undue oligarch influence in Kyiv and turn Ukraine’s economic fortunes around. After all, the comedian has no prior political experience and didn’t offer a detailed governing blueprint during the campaign.

Clearly, though, Ukrainians believe Zelensky embodies the change they hope he can bring to a struggling nation.

“There’s been a desire for a new face for a long time,” Melinda Haring, a Ukraine expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, told me before the election. “It was clear the people wanted someone without the same baggage and connections to political dinosaurs.”

Ukraine’s struggles led to Zelensky’s rise

Experts say Zelensky’s remarkable story stems from Ukrainians’ dissatisfaction with decades of failed political leadership.

“After almost 30 years of electing to the presidency either relatively pro-Russian or officially pro-Western candidates from the economic and political elite, Ukraine remains one of the poorest nations in Europe,” Andreas Umland, an expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, wrote for the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank on April 16.

World Bank chart below showing Ukraine’s massive dip in gross domestic product per capita starting around 2013 illustrates this point. And while the country has been experiencing a bit of growth lately, Ukraine is still among Europe’s poorest — if not the poorest — countries.

Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
 World Bank

The country’s troubles have led millions of Ukrainians to flee in search of a better life.

“Ukrainians just want a normal standard of living,” Haring told me, but “Ukraine has gotten poorer as Poroshenko has gotten richer.”

Since Poroshenko, who once led the very successful company Roshen, took power in 2014 corruption only worsened as the government’s ties to oligarchs have strengthened. That made it harder for Ukraine to attract foreign investment and help the country’s economy rebound.

In February, Ukraine’s finance minister said that if the country grows at the same economic rate for 50 years — a big if — Ukraine will have the same economic strength as Poland. That, to put it mildly, isn’t an optimistic outlook it may take a half-century to become a European economic success story.

So while Poroshenko got high marks from many for pushing back against Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine’s east and south, a record he touted throughout the election, experts said that counted for very little.

“Poroshenko either misread the voters or thought his campaign themes — army, language, and faith — would carry the day,” Steven Pifer, the US ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, told me on Thursday. “It looks like he greatly misjudged the electorate.”

Voters clearly wanted to hear new ideas for a new Ukraine, and that meant stemming the country’s rampant corruption and kick-starting the nation’s sputtering economy.

Poroshenko was such a symbol for Ukraine’s old ways that it was almost funny. Enter a comedian.

Zelensky represents what Ukraine wants to be

Zelensky, 41, made his name on Servant of the People, a comedy program that you can watch on Netflix in the US. It follows the life of Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, an everyman schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president and takes on the nation’s oligarchs.

The actor wants to do the same thing — but now in real life.

It’s probably not surprising that such an unconventional candidate ran an unconventional campaign. He held few big rallies and rarely spoke to the press. Instead, he mainly toured the country with comedy troupes to perform in skits and make audiences laugh, experts told me. But he leveraged social media to directly connect with voters and make his pitch.

Not much is known about his foreign policy except that he is mainly pro-Western, wants Ukraine to enter the European Union, and would seek NATO membership for his country — all positions that didn’t separate him much from Poroshenko.

There are two big worries Ukrainians still have about Zelensky, however. The first, of course, is his inexperience. But Ukrainians have shrugged that off in the past, though, like when voters in Kyiv voted in 2014 to make former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko their mayor.

The second, and more important, is just how close he is to a Ukrainian oligarch: Igor Kolomoisky.

Zelensky’s show appeared on Kolomoisky’s TV channel, and the billionaire has long been a Poroshenko rival. Some worry that the comedian may simply be a tool of another Ukrainian fat cat trying to wield power, a charge Zelensky denies.

But those concerns didn’t dissuade Ukrainians from choosing Zelensky on Sunday. And so now a Ukrainian comedian who entered an election to take on the entrenched corruption in his country will be the next president. It sounds like a joke, but it’s reality.

Legal Marijuana: This Is Where All 2020 Presidential Politicians Stand On This Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

With an ever-growing field of contenders running for president, especially in the Democratic Party, once-fringe measures like marijuana legalization have become a litmus test for the candidates’ commitment to progressive politics.

“It’s very encouraging to see so many presidential candidates taking a position in line with what the American people want. For decades there’s been a disconnect between the positions of the American public and their elected officials,” Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Newsweek.

National polling shows that the country overwhelmingly supports legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, two in every three Americans support legalizing weed. That figure was backed up by a CBS poll conducted on the eve of 4/20, a date has long been a national holiday for those inclined to celebrate cannabis culture even before the rush of states legalizing marijuana in recent years.

Ten states and Washington D.C. have already legalized marijuana and over 30 states have medical marijuana laws. During the 2018 midterm elections, three states voted in favor of marijuana legalization including Michigan, which was the first Midwest state to do so.

Schweich said that it is “clear that these policies work and that has helped bring presidential candidates to the position of support.” In return, 2020 candidates who support cannabis reform are helping to further normalize the issue.

Here’s where all of the 2020 presidential candidates stand on marijuana:

Cory Booker (D)

Senator Booker has supported cannabis reform efforts in Congress and has been an outspoken critic of the war on drugs.

In February, Booker reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which he first introduced in 2017. The legislation would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Several other 2020 Democratic candidates have co-sponsored the bill, including Harris, Gillibrand, Sanders and Warren.

Pete Buttigieg (D)

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor doesn’t appear to have signed any legislation regarding marijuana reform but he has stated he supports legalization. In an interview with The Boston Globe, Buttigieg said that the “safe, regulated, and legal sale of marijuana is an idea whose time has come for the United States, as evidenced by voters demanding legalization in states across the country.”

Julian Castro (D)

The former Housing secretary does not have a large record on marijuana policy, but he stated his favor for legalization at a CNN town hall earlier this month.

“I actually support the legalization of marijuana,” he said. “On top of that, we need to go back and expunge the records of people who were imprisoned because of using marijuana.”

John Delaney (D)

The former House representative has suggested support for legalization and said that the federal government should get out of the way.

“There’s such a movement at the state level to legalize marijuana, to decriminalize it, and at a minimum to allow it to be legal for medical purposes,” Delaney said at a town hall event at SXSW. “And I think the federal government should get out of the way and let that movement continue.”

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

The congresswoman from Hawaii supports the legalization of marijuana. During her time in Washington D.C. she’s co-sponsored various marijuana-related bills. She was also the prime sponsor of a proposal to force the federal government to study the impact of legalizing cannabis.

In her campaign speech, Gabbard slammed the criminal justice system for putting “people in prison for smoking marijuana while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people, to walk away scot-free with their coffers full.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

The New York Democrat is now one of the most vocal lawmakers in Congress for cannabis reform, despite not co-sponsoring any pro-marijuana bills during her time in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.

On her 2020 campaign website, Gillibrand highlights her support for marijuana legalization, writing: “We have a mass incarceration crisis, and institutional racism pervades the way we enforce laws. To rectify this, we should legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge past records; reform our sentencing laws so that judges can have more flexibility when dealing with low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.”

Kamala Harris (D)

Harris’s thoughts on marijuana reform have evolved. In 2010, when she was the attorney general of California, she opposed an initiative to legalize marijuana. But in 2018, Harris added her name to Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act​ to make marijuana legal at the federal level​.

In a recent radio interview, Harris said that she has smoked marijuana before: “I have. And I inhaled, I did inhale. It was a long time ago, but yes.”

John Hickenlooper (D)

Hickenlooper oversaw Colorado’s marijuana reform effort in 2012, though he deemed the decision to legalize the drug “reckless.” Since then, he’s signed a number of various marijuana-related bills into law.

During a CNN town hall event in March, Hickenlooper said that he “would not ask the federal government to legalize it for everyone, but I think where states do legalize marijuana, with the voters or through the general assembly, the federal government should get out of the way.”

Jay Inslee (D)

Inslee, the governor of Washington, oversaw the state’s legalization efforts. He also launched a program designed to expedite the expungements of misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions going back to 1998.

Before launching a 2020 bid, Inslee said that he expects recreational use of marijuana to eventually be legalized in all states.

Jay Inslee

@JayInslee

Proud to get the top grade on cannabis policy from @NORML. It’s time to legalize marijuana nationally. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2019/01/16/legal-marijuana-advocates-rank-the-best-and-worst-governors-on-cannabis/#4789a3ed78b3 

Legal Marijuana Advocates Rank The Best And Worst Governors On Cannabis

NORML gave each of the nation’s 50 state governors a grade on cannabis policy. More got A grades than ever before, reflecting how marijuana is now mainstream in American politics.

forbes.com

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Amy Klobuchar (D)

The Minnesota senator said that she is in support of legalizing marijuana. “I support the legalization of marijuana and believe that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders,” she said in February.

Klobuchar is a co-sponsor of the STATES Act, which would protect states’ rights to enact their own marijuana policies. She has also signed onto measures to expand marijuana research and to remove CBD from the federal law’s definition of marijuana.

2020, candidates, legal, marijuana, legalization, weedAdvocates for the legalization of marijuana gather in front of the White House during a demonstration by dozens who were protesting current laws April 2, 2016 in Washington, D.C. MIKE THEILER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Wayne Messam (D)

The 44-year-old mayor of Miramar, Florida, said he believes states should have the right to legalize marijuana without threats from the federal government.

“As long as those states that choose to do so continue to enforce DUI laws, spread economic benefits throughout all communities, and expunge records for those arrested for selling marijuana, they would have my full support as President,” his campaign website reads.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

The Texas Democrat is in favor of ending federal prohibition of marijuana and creating a regulated, legal marijuana market. He also supports expunging the criminal records of people who were arrested for non-violent marijuana crimes. While in Congress he cosponsored a number of drug reform bills.

In March, just before launching his presidential campaign, O’Rourke sent an email to supporters in which he again backed the repeal of the federal criminalization of marijuana.

Bernie Sanders (D)

The Vermont senator was the first major presidential candidate to endorse marijuana legalization during his first presidential bid. He was a more vocal supporter of cannabis reform than his primary rival Hillary Clinton.

In 2015, Sanders filed the first-ever Senate bill to end federal cannabis prohibition. In March, Sanders said that “too many lives are being destroyed” federal laws banning marijuana use.

Eric Swalwell (D)

The California lawmaker supports marijuana legalization. He backed the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow legal marijuana businesses to access banking services. He’s also a co-sponsor for the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019.

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Warren is a sponsor of the STATES Act, which she filed alongside Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. She said that, while she would prefer to legalize the drug completely, she is willing to work with Republicans to support state-lead legalizations efforts.

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, a reporter asked the senator how she currently felt about cannabis reform. Warren replied that she “voted in favor of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts” and that “we should legalize it nationally.”

Marianne Williamson (D)

Williamson is in support of legalizing marijuana. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire this week, she said that in her “opinion is we are so beyond worrying about marijuana. We are onto something so much bigger than marijuana”—like the problems people face with drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

Andrew Yang (D)

The 44-year-old technology executive states on his campaign website that he in support of full-scale legalization of marijuana.

“We need to resolve the ambiguity and legalize marijuana at the federal level. This would improve safety, social equity, and generate tens of billions of dollars in new revenue based on legal cannabis businesses,” the website reads.

Bill Weld (R)

Despite being a longtime Republican, Weld has supported marijuana legalization since serving as the governor of Massachusetts in the early 1990s. In 2018, Weld joined the board of a cannabis company with former House Speaker John Boehner, who had once famously said in that he was “unalterably opposed” to decriminalizing the drug.

He has also endorsed the STATES Act, calling the bill his “favorite piece of legislation that is on the Hill right now.”

Donald Trump (R)

During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump said that he supported medical marijuana but that any other policies should be left up to the states to decide. Then in June 2017, just a few months after being sworn in, Trump said that he would probably “end up supporting” the bipartisan STATES Act.

Russia’s largest yeshiva attacked with arson and swastikas ahead of Passover

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Russia’s largest yeshiva attacked with arson and swastikas ahead of Passover

No one reported injured in fire at Torat Chaim in eastern Moscow, hours before 60 people gathered for traditional seder meal

A person inspects the damage from a fire set at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva on the eve of Passover, April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/Torat Chaim Yeshiva)

A person inspects the damage from a fire set at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva on the eve of Passover, April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/Torat Chaim Yeshiva)

MOSCOW, Russia — Jewish officials said Friday an arson fire was set at the largest yeshiva in Russia just ahead of the Passover meal celebration. Swastikas were also sprayed on the seminary.

No one was reported injured in the early Friday fire at the Torat Chaim school in an eastern Moscow suburb.

Olga Esaulova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s chief rabbi, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the fire was set in a storage area for kosher meat and that swastikas were drawn at the yeshiva’s entrance.

There were about 60 students, rabbis and guests in the building at the time, the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

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Avital Chizhik Goldschmidt

@avitalrachel

Reports from Moscow that the Torat Chaim Yeshiva was attacked last night by what seems to be neo-Nazis. Swastikas painted on the doors and the storehouse entirely burned, the yeshiva community’s precious kosher meat/food for Passover gone.

305 people are talking about this

While Russia has a long history of anti-Semitism, it has noticeably declined under Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Putin has made considerable efforts to reach out to Russian Jewish communities, both within his state’s borders and in Israel. His country’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, is a close confidante.

He has encouraged the restoration of dozens of synagogues destroyed under communism and taken a hard-line on anti-Semitism.

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Has the Affordable Care Act given 200,000-plus West Virginians health coverage?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘POLITIFACT’) 

 

Has the Affordable Care Act given 200,000-plus West Virginians health coverage?

Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., in 2017. (AP/Michael Virtanen)

During the 2018 midterm elections, many Democrats across the country argued that they would be better positioned than their Republican rivals to protect Americans’ health insurance provided under the Affordable Care Act.

The 2018 election cycle may be over now, but the West Virginia Democratic Party continues to make that argument.

In fact, the issue gained new relevance in March 2019 when the Trump administration said it has decided to seek the law’s full repeal in an ongoing court case. (This is the same lawsuit that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey signed on to, as we’ve noted.)

In an April 1 tweet, the state party said that President Donald Trump “is threatening to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act that provided over 200,000 West Virginians with healthcare coverage. Our seniors depend on it for affordable prescriptions and pre-existing condition coverage.”

WV Democratic Party

@wvdemocrats

Trump is threatening to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act that provided over 200,000 West Virginians with healthcare coverage. Our Seniors depend on it for affordable prescriptions and pre-existing condition coverage.

See WV Democratic Party’s other Tweets

Here, we’ll look at whether the party is correct that “over 200,000 West Virginians with healthcare coverage.” (The West Virginia Democratic Party did not respond to an inquiry for this article.)

The Affordable Care Act provides two primary ways to get coverage — individual policies purchased on online marketplaces and an expansion of Medicaid to a wider group of eligible Americans. We turned to data on both types from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

For 2019, the number of West Virginians purchasing health insurance on the marketplace totaled 22,599.

And for fiscal year 2017, West Virginia added 183,100 residents to its Medicaid rolls due to the Affordable Care Act. (Kaiser communications director Craig Palosky said 2017 figures are the most recent available due to state-by-state reporting lags.)

Combined, that works out to 205,699 West Virginia residents securing coverage from the law, making the Democratic tweet accurate.

Palosky added that other West Virginians benefited from the law without specifically securing insurance under the law. For instance, the law required coverage of pre-existing conditions and provided more generous coverage of prescription drugs under Medicare.

Our ruling

The West Virginia Democratic Party said the Affordable Care Act “provided over 200,000 West Virginians with health care coverage.”

The combination of insurance purchases on the marketplace and the increase in Medicaid coverage works out to 205,699, according to the most recent data available. That’s in line with what the tweet said, so we rate it True.

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West Virginia Democratic Party
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The Affordable Care Act “provided over 200,000 West Virginians with health care coverage.”

Foxconn’s Gou may seek Taiwan presidency

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

Foxconn’s Gou may seek Taiwan presidency

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The head of Foxconn Technology Group, having announced plans to step away from day-to-day operations at the world’s largest electronics provider, said Tuesday that he is mulling a run for president of Taiwan.

Terry Gou said he would make a decision “in a day or two” on a possible presidential bid, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency. He said that if he decided to run, he would take part in the opposition Nationalist Party primary rather than mount an independent bid.

The Nationalists favor closer ties with Beijing, a policy that accords with Gou’s massive business interests in China. Any candidate is expected to face a crowded field in the 2020 polls, in which President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party says she will seek a second four-year term.

Gou told reporters Monday at an event in Taipei that he would step back from daily operations at Foxconn. He said he wants to work on a book about his management philosophy honed over 45 years and prepare a younger generation to eventually take over operations at the company.

Foxconn counts Apple, Google and Amazon as customers and has said it will build a manufacturing facility in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

“The major direction of the company will still be guided by me. But I will gradually step back from the front-line operations,” the 69-year-old Gou said.

“I feel that I should tone down my personal influence … let young people learn sooner in order to take my position as soon as possible so that I can have more free time to work on long-term planning for the company’s future.”

Foxconn announced in 2017, to much fanfare, that it planned to invest $10 billion in Wisconsin and hire 13,000 people to build an LCD factory that could make screens for televisions and a variety of other devices.

The company said last year that it was reducing the scale of what was to be made in Wisconsin, from what is known as a Gen 10 factory to Gen 6. Those plans now appear to be in flux, although the company says its Wisconsin campus will house both an advanced manufacturing facility and a center of “technology innovation for the region.”

Foxconn earlier this year cited a changing global market as requiring a move away from making LCD panels in Wisconsin. Apple is Foxconn’s main manufacturing customer and it has forecast a drop in revenue from the Chinese market due to decreasing demand for iPhones.

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Most religious groups becoming more Republican, data show

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Most religious groups becoming more Republican, data show

Most religious groups becoming more Republican, data show

Christians in worship in this photo uploaded on November 16, 2017. | Acts 29

Most religious groups in the United States, including mainline Protestant denominations like the United Methodist Church, have become more Republican since 2008, according to a political science researcher.

Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University analyzed data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, between 2008 and 2018, using two-year intervals. He looked at 34 different religious groups in the United States who had at least 100 respondents in the biannual survey.

In an analysis published last week by Religion in Public, Burge found that of the 34 faith traditions charted, 27 of them leaned more Republican in 2018 than they did in 2008. Only seven became more Democrat.

Burge noted that the average shift for all of the groups from 2008 to 2018 was +0.13 on the scale, with a positive change associated with becoming more Republican while a negative change meant becoming more Democrat.

Among surveyed religious groups, major shifts rightward included “Independent Baptist” at 0.69, “American Baptist Churches in USA” at 0.43, “Other Pentecostal Church” at 0.72, and “Eastern or Greek Orthodox” at 0.61.

The United Methodist Church, which has in recent months endured a divisive debate over LGBT issues, shifted rightward by 0.34 from 2008 to 2018, according to the report.

Rightward shifts were also documented for non-Christian traditions like Buddhists (0.29), Agnostics (0.14), and Jewish (0.1).

The religious category that went the most leftward during the time period were respondents who identified as “Mormon,” with an overall shift of -0.31.

Other groups that leaned more Democrat in 2018 than in 2008 included atheists (-0.28), nondenominational Fundamentalist (-0.23), and “other” (-0.16).

“Taken together,” Burge concluded, “this evidence strikes a blow to the argument that there is polarization among Protestant Christian traditions. Looked at here, the overwhelming narrative is that Protestants are more and more Republican every two years. … American religion is becoming more and more synonymous with the Republican Party while those who have no religious affiliation tend to be the (weak) base for the Democrats. If one wants to be an active Christian but disagrees with Republican politics, where do they go? Despite the fact that most Democrats do currently claim a religious affiliation, it seems that the places of refuge are dwindling every year.”

Burge’s analysis of a rightward shift in most religious groups comes as many candidates in the crowded Democratic presidential primary field address faith issues.

Emma Green of the Atlantic noted in a story published earlier this month that “Faith has come up often in the 2020 Democratic race so far.”

“In her campaign-kickoff speech, Senator Kamala Harris of California nodded to the faith of abolitionist and civil-rights leaders, arguing that ‘to love the religion of Jesus is to hate the religion of the slave master,’” wrote Green.

“Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts referred to the Book of Matthew in a CNN town-hall interview in mid-March while talking about the importance of fighting poverty. At a similar CNN event, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey told potential voters that ‘Christ is the center of my life,’ and quoted Jewish teachings in Hebrew.”

Democrat candidate and openly gay South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg garnered attention for recent comments in which he argued that entering a same-sex marriage strengthened his Christian faith.

“My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man — and yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God,” stated Buttigieg at an LGBT Victory Fund event, as reported by USA Today.

“And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand, that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

In response, conservative commentator Erick Erickson argued that Buttigieg’s comments against Pence and others against President Donald Trump showed “why progressive Christianity is so corrupt and flawed.”

“As much as Buttigieg makes a valid critique on the president’s behavior and evangelicals’ excusing that behavior, Buttigieg wants to reject the inconvenient parts of faith he does not like,” wrote Erickson earlier this month.

“Buttigieg wants to use the social obligations as Christians against the president, but wants to avoid any implication on the personal obligations of Christians in terms of clear biblical sexual ethics and how we are to live our lives applying our faith even for ‘the least of these.”

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