Nancy Pelosi - Donald Trump - USA Politics Headline Today

Democrats call it a "constitutional crisis." But is it? Stunned by the extent of the White House's blanket refusal to comply with oversight by Congress, the Democrats warn that the Trump administration is shattering historic norms and testing the nation's system of checks and balances in new and alarming ways.

It's not just the House's fight with the Justice Department over the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. The standoff involves President Donald Trump's unwillingness to engage with dozens of Capitol Hill probes of his tax returns, potential business conflicts and the running of the administration — from security clearances for his family to actions he's taken on his own on immigration.

It's a confrontation that's only expected to deepen now that Mueller's work is finished and the investigation focus shifts to Capitol Hill.

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U.S. Seizes North Korean Cargo Ship

The U.S. said Thursday that it has seized a North Korean cargo ship that was used to violate international sanctions, a first-of-its kind enforcement action that comes amid a tense moment in relations between the two countries.

The "Wise Honest," North Korea's second largest cargo ship, was detained in April 2018 as it traveled toward Indonesia. It's now in the process of being moved to American Samoa, Justice Department officials said.

Officials made the announcement hours after North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea, the second weapons launch in five days and a possible signal that stalled talks over its nuclear weapons program are in trouble. The public disclosure that the vessel is now in U.S. custody may further inflame tensions, though U.S. officials said the timing of their complaint was not a response to the missile launch.

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Cyril Ramaphosa - South Africa Today News

Early vote tallies suggest South Africa’s ruling ANC party will retain power after an election on Wednesday, but analysts said its share of the vote could fall below 60 percent for the first time since the end of white minority rule.

As of 0900 GMT Thursday, more than 4 million votes had been counted out of about 26.8 million registered voters. In the parliamentary vote, the ANC was on 55 percent, with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on nearly 26 percent and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on nearly 9 percent.

South Africans voting for a new parliament and nine provincial legislatures had expressed frustration at rampant corruption, high unemployment and racial inequalities that persist 25 years after Nelson Mandela’s former liberation party swept to power in the first all-race poll in 1994.

Based on the early results, the News24 online site predicted the ANC would win between 56 percent and 59 percent of the final vote.

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UK Space Defense

The UK has been designing a space defense mechanism to protect its satellites from possible attacks by Russia and China, leaked documents show.

According to a leaked Ministry of Defense document seen by The Times, London’s frist ever space defense strategy London names missile launches by Russian and Chinese military forces among the top ten risks to British satellites.

“Both China and Russia have admitted testing ground-based interceptor missiles that have the potential to target satellites,” the leaked memo noted.

“Such systems will create significant amounts of orbital debris, putting many hundreds of other satellites at risk,” it added.

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Joe Biden - US Today Headline Stories

Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden on Wednesday held the first of two high-dollar fundraisers in Los Angeles, which he opened to the press in a bid to counter criticism he is relying too heavily on the often closed-door events.

The former vice president’s first Los Angeles event was held at the home of Cynthia Telles, a UCLA School of Medicine faculty member and a board member of Kaiser Permanente, which runs the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. A later fundraiser was due to be attended by Hollywood power broker and film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Responding to potential concerns by voters in Democratic nominating primaries about big-money donations to his campaign, and who exactly is donating, Biden will provide limited media access to all of his fundraising events.

“It’s reflective of Joe Biden’s long-standing commitment to transparency,” a Biden campaign representative said in an email.

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Prayuth Chan-ocha - Thailand Headlines Today Story

Thailand’s pro-army Palang Pracharat party was looking for coalition partners on Thursday from a wide field of potential allies as it seeks to keep military junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a 2014 coup, in office as prime minister.

The party is expected to easily form the next government, since it needs only a few more votes in the elected House of Representatives to choose the prime minister under complicated new electoral rules written by the military regime.

Palang Pracharat is expected to be joined by the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties as well as 11 other smaller parties that are not affiliated with either the pro-army camp or the Democratic Front of parties opposing the military, said Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political scientist from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University,

“Prayuth will certainly be prime minister,” under this scenario, he said, but he added that the government would likely be unstable, with only a slim majority in the House.

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Kim Jong-un - North Korea Politics Today

North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on Thursday, the South’s military said, less than a week after its leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test-firing of multiple rockets and a missile. The projectile was fired at about 4:30 p.m. (8.30 a.m. BST) from the northwest town of Sino-ri, in an easterly direction, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It did not immediately release further details.

A South Korean official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the projectile was believed to have flown around 420 km (260 miles).

“You don’t know what missile it is just from how far it flew,” said Yang Uk, senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum.

“But one thing is clear - there’s no doubt that it is a missile.”

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Iran and EU

European countries said on Thursday they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.

Iran announced steps on Wednesday to ease curbs on its nuclear programme, in response to new U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington abandoned the deal a year ago.

Experts say the new moves announced by Tehran so far are not likely to violate the terms of the deal immediately.

But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers find a way to protect Iran’s banking and oil industries from U.S. sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits allowed in the deal.

“We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

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Nicolas Maduro and Mike Pence - Venezuela News

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has harshly rebuked US Vice President Mike Pence for attempting to entice members of the Venezuelan military to turn against the legitimately-elected government in Caracas.

Maduro said on Wednesday that the US vice president’s recent offer of new incentives to Venezuela’s military potential defectors disrespected the “honor” and “dignity” of the country’s armed forces.

“Yesterday, Mike Pence declared that the soldier who betrays the country and goes for the side of the gringos... they will reward him; [that is] a lack of respect for honor, morals, and the dignity of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces,” the Venezuelan president said, using a derogatory term for Americans.

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Jeremy Corbyn - UK Politics News Headline

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will urge both pro-EU voters and Brexit supporters on Thursday to vote for his opposition party at this month’s European election, a poll he blamed on the Conservative government’s “complete failure” to steer the country out of the bloc.

Again setting out Labour’s stance that a second referendum is an option only to stop the government’s “bad deal” or leaving the European Union without an agreement, Corbyn will call on voters to see beyond divisions over Brexit to back his party.

The need to contest elections to the European Parliament on May 23 - after the country failed to meet an original March 29 deadline and still has not agreed on a deal for the departure - poses difficulties for both Labour and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Both parties have internal divisions over Europe and both were punished by voters in local elections last week over the delay to Brexit.

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Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr - USA NEWS

The Russia probe plunged Washington into turmoil Wednesday as Donald Trump’s son reportedly was ordered to testify before a Senate panel and the White House refused to release material on investigations into the president.

A day after the top Republican in Congress called the Russia probe “case closed,” Trump’s conflict with his Democratic opponents escalated to new heights as a House panel voted to hold the nation’s Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for refusing to turn over key documents.

Following a day of drama that included Trump asserting executive privilege for the first time in his presidency, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee took the surprise step of issuing a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr. to testify as part of its investigation into Russian election interference, U.S. media reported.

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North Korea Missiles

North Korea’s “strike drill” last week at which leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of rockets and at least one short-range ballistic missile was “regular and self-defensive,” the North’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, according to state media.

“The recent drill conducted by our army is nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of the situation in the region,” an unidentified ministry spokesperson said in a statement to the state-run KCNA news agency.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that North Korea launched “rockets and missiles”, the first time the Pentagon has detailed what it believes Pyongyang fired.

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Prayuth Chan-ocha - Thailand

Long-delayed results of Thailand’s first election since a 2014 military coup released on Wednesday produced no clear winner but gave a pro-army party a clear advantage in its bid to install the current junta leader as an elected prime minister.

The opposition threatened legal action against Wednesday’s results, saying that a new seat allocation formula robbed the “democratic front” alliance of a majority in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

The results are likely to set up a period of coalition building, since neither the pro-military bloc of parties nor a “democratic front” opposition alliance so far has enough votes to elect a prime minister under rules written by the junta.

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Hong Kong New Extradition Law

A proposed new extradition law in Hong Kong could extend China’s “coercive reach” into the financial hub and create serious risks for U.S. national security and economic interests there, a U.S. congressional commission said.

Various groups in Hong Kong, including democracy activists, have objected to the proposed legislation, which would allow case-by-case extraditions from the city to countries without formal extradition agreements, including mainland China.

“The extradition bill could pose significant risks to U.S. national security and economic interests in the territory,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a report released on Wednesday.

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Bill Shorten's Emotional Tribute to his mother - Australia News

Australians have rallied behind Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his emotional story of his mum with Twitter users sharing accounts of their own mums who gave up careers to look after their families.

The hashtag #MyMum was trending after Mr Shorten fought back tears during a press conference after questions were raised about his mother’s story.

The Labor leader’s voice broke as he described his mother’s circumstances, to counter claims that he didn’t tell her full story during an appearance on Q&A this week.

“My mum suffered a catastrophic heart attack in her sleep … she never woke up,” he said. “It’s been about five years to last month when she passed away. I miss her every day.

“But I’m glad that she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish,” he said of the reports.

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Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell - US Politics

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER Mitch McConnell on Tuesday urged his Democratic colleagues to move on after the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller's two-year Russia investigation, declaring "case closed."

In a speech from the Senate floor, the Kentucky Republican said Mueller became a "secular saint" for Democrats "destined to rescue the country from the inconvenient truth" that President Donald Trump was elected. McConnell mocked Democrats for "working through the five stages of grief" since last month's release of the 448-page redacted report.

"There's this outrage industrial complex that spans from Capitol press conferences to cable news," McConnell said Tuesday. "They're grieving that the national crisis they spent two years wishing for didn't materialize. But for the rest of the country, this is good news."

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Joe Biden - US Politics

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s removal of protections from deportation for young immigrants and the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border are part of the “battle for the soul of the country” that spurred his White House bid.

Biden, making his first visit as a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to heavily Latino Nevada, said President Donald Trump uses immigration “to demonize people.”

“It isn’t who we are. We’re better than that,” Biden said as he kicked off a rally in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson in front of about 200 people.

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