Politics Trump, in Japan, attacks Biden over ‘Three Strikes’ law and heaps praise on Kim
Tuesday afternoon, back in Washington and facing growing criticism for siding with Kim over an American vice president, while on foreign soil, Trump attempted to soften his comments, tweeting:Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong Un called him a “low IQ idiot,” and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer “low IQ individual.” Who could possibly be upset with that? The 1994 law has come under criticism for its disproportionate impact on African-Americans and is a prime target of the criminal justice reform movement.“Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing,” Trump tweeted. “That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!”The president added: “Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you. I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, & helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!”Last December, Trump signed into law a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, called the First Step Act, that reduced mandatory minimum prison sentences. The president drew bipartisan praise for his support of the legislation.But Trump wasn’t always a champion of reforming prison laws to help African-Americans. In 1989, after black and Latino teenagers known as the Central Park Five were accused of the brutal rape and assault of a female jogger in New York City, Trump took out full-page ads in four New York City newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty.
Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after DNA evidence and the confession of a convicted rapist and murderer exonerated them.President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Eugene Hoshiko/AP, Matt Rourke/AP) As late as 2016, Trump said he remained convinced of their guilt. And as president, Trump has called for the death penalty for nonviolent criminals, such as drug dealers.Last year, while unveiling a plan to combat the opioid epidemic, Trump ordered the Justice Department to pursue the death penalty for drug traffickers.
“[They] kill so many thousands of our citizens every year,” Trump said. “That’s why my Department of Justice will be seeking so many tougher penalties than we’ve ever had, and we’ll be focusing on the penalties that I talked about previously for big pushers, the ones that are killing so many people, and that penalty is going to be the death penalty.
“Other countries don’t play games,” he added. “But the ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty.”During his weekend trip to Japan, Trump stirred controversy by downplaying North Korea’s missile tests, saying they don’t bother him “personally,” although “my people think it could have been a violation” of the agreement Trump struck with Kim at their earlier summit.Kim’s assessment of Biden was mild compared to his description of Trump in 2017 as a “mentally deranged dotard.” Trump’s simultaneous praise for the North Korean leader and attack on the former vice president did not sit well with the Biden team. On Tuesday, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield issued a statement, writing, “The President’s comments are beneath the dignity of the office. To be on foreign soil, on Memorial Day, and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former Vice President speaks for itself. And it’s part of a pattern of embracing autocrats at the expense of our institutions — whether taking Putin’s word at face value in Helsinki or exchanging ‘love letters’ with Kim Jong Un.”
Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekendEditors•Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend Donald Trump, historic floods and more of the weekend’s top news.Lost in a Hawaiian forest for 17 days A physical therapist survived for more than two weeks in a Hawaiian forest on wild fruit, water, grit and determination. Amanda Eller walked into Maui’s Makawao Forest Reserve on May 8 and wasn’t seen again for 17 days. On Friday, searchers in a helicopter spotted her near a creek bed, and she was airlifted to safety. Eller suffered a leg fracture and abrasions, was sunburned and hungry but was otherwise in good shape. Eller, from her hospital bed, thanked the hundreds of volunteers who conducted exhaustive searches. „It did come down to life and death and I had to choose. I chose life,” she said.The Army asked how military service shaped lives. The answers were heartbreaking. Just before Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Army asked Twitter how serving in the military impacted their lives. The question prompted nearly 10,000 replies, many highlighting veterans issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide and life-long health problems. „I am a Navy vet, I was a happy person before I served, now I am broke apart, cant even work a full 30 days due to anxiety and depression,” one tweet read. „Depression, anxiety, still can’t deal well with loud noises,” another said. The Army responded on Saturday, listing the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. „Your stories are real, they matter,” the Army’s tweet said.Oklahoma, Arkansas cities brace for ‘the worst flood in our history’Oklahoma and Arkansas braced Monday for their worst-ever flooding as a new wave of storms forecast for the region threatened to bloat an Arkansas River that had already reached record crests in areas. Tornadoes, high winds, hail and heavy rain were possible across the region, forecasters said. In Tulsa, the Oklahoma National Guard was patrolling Tulsa’s stressed levee system. Mayor G.T. Bynum urged residents to „proactively relocate” away from levees Monday as the city opened multiple shelters. The storms are the latest to hit the Midwest in the last two weeks, leaving at least nine dead. A powerful EF3 tornado killed at least two and injured 29 in the Oklahoma City suburb of El Reno over the weekend.Trump agrees with Kim Jong Un’s ‘low IQ’ insult of Joe BidenPresident Donald Trump agreed with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un that former Vice President Joe Biden was „low IQ,” but Trump „doesn’t need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden.” That’s what Sarah Huckabee Sanders told NBC News’ Chuck Todd on Sunday. On Wednesday, North Korea’s state news service blasted Biden as a „fool of low IQ.” Biden had accused Trump of getting too close to „dictators and tyrants” like Kim during his campaign launch the previous week. Trump said that he smiled at North Korea’s insult of Biden, misspelling the Democratic presidential candidate’s name in a Saturday tweet from Japan. There, Trump downplayed North Korea’s launch of short-range missiles to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe for dinner in Tokyo on May 26, 2019.Jayme Closs on her kidnapper: ‘He can’t take my freedom’The man who kidnapped 13-year-old Jayme Closs and murdered her parents was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. The most powerful personal statement in the hearing for the man, Jake Patterson, came from Jayme Closs herself. „He can’t take my freedom,” Closs said in a statement read by family attorney Chris Gramstrup. „He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter. I watched his routine and I took back my freedom. I will always have my freedom and he will not.”Jayme ClossAnother climber dies on Everest as world’s tallest peak overcrowdsA British climber who collapsed on the descent from Mount Everest’s summit became the latest in a string of fatalities on the world’s tallest peak. Robin Haynes Fisher, 44, died Saturday when he fainted in Everest’s „death-zone,” a section at the top of the mountain known for its low levels of oxygen that can be fatal if climbers linger for too long. Fisher’s death is at least the eighth this climbing season on Everest, according to Reuters, and the mountain has been mired with dangerous overcrowding and delays that some have blamed for the deaths. Deaths occur every year on Mount Everest, but some say a recent string of fatalities in 2019 is particularly concerning. ‘Virgin birth’: A captive anaconda became pregnant by herself and gave birth to two babiesA female anaconda in an all-female exhibit birthed two snakes without sexually reproducing with a male, a Massachusetts aquarium recently announced. The 10-foot-long, 30 pound mother — named Anna — gave birth to two babies that appear to be genetically identical to their mother, the New England Aquarium said, citing DNA testing. Anna has never been exposed to an adult male snake, the aquarium said. „The extremely rare reproductive strategy is called parthenogenesis, which translated from its Greek word origins means virgin birth,” a release from the Boston aquarium said.‘Jeopardy!’ phenom James Holzhauer hits the $2 million mark„Jeopardy!” winner James Holzhauer hit another major milestone Friday with his latest victory, crossing the $2 million mark with his 27th win. Holzhauer ended the week with $2,065,535 after earning $74,400 in Friday’s matchup. The professional sports gambler from Las Vegas is the second „Jeopardy!” contestant to cross that threshold in regular-season play. Ken Jennings, the show’s top money winner, took home $2,520,700 during his 74-win run. Holzhauer is No. 2 to Jennings in show victories, too.Bart Starr, Hall of Fame quarterback and Packers legend, dies at 85Hall of Fame quarterback and Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr has died, his family announced Sunday. He was 85. Starr served as the extension of coach Vince Lombardi on the field during the Packers’ glory days of the 1960s. He had been in declining health since suffering a serious stroke in 2014. Starr guided the Packers to five NFL championships, but he is most famous for the legendary drive and score during the Ice Bowl in 1967. Starr’s No. 15 is one of only six numbers retired in Packers history. Bikers contradict Trump on Memorial Day ride Thousands of motorcyclists gathered amid confusion in Washington, D.C., for possibly the last annual Memorial Day ride known as Rolling Thunder. Citing a growing size, permit problems and a price estimated at $200,000, Rolling Thunder officials had announced the D.C. rally would be replaced in 2020. President Trump, however, had other plans: Trump promised on Saturday in a tweet to help the ride he could. „The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come,” Trump tweeted the following day. But Rolling Thunder spokeswoman said Monday the group has no plans to return to Washington. „As of right now this was our final ride, we are done in D.C.” Nancy Regg said. Bill Buckner, infamous for World Series gaffe, dies at 69Veteran first baseman Bill Buckner, whose career spanned four decades and included 2,700 hits in the major leagues, died at the age of 69 after battling Lewy Body Dementia. Buckner played for five different MLB teams, including eight seasons each with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, in a career from 1969 through 1990. However, he will be remembered most as a member of the Boston Red Sox after ground ball went between his legs in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The error allowed the winning run to score in a devastating 6-5 loss to the New York Mets.Bill Buckner, center, is greeted by Red Sox’s Kevin Youkilis, right, and Red Sox Chairman and co-owner Tom Werner, left, at Fenway Park during the 2008 home-opener.This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend
(Bloomberg) — Romania’s de-facto leader Liviu Dragnea woke up to a tough new reality after voters punished his party in European Parliament elections and he headed to face a court ruling that could send him to jail.True to his go-it-alone leadership style, he showed up by himself in a white shirt Sunday night to address supporters and denounce what he called “a hate storm” from Romanians who voted in record numbers against the ruling Social Democratic Party and its swing toward populism.It was a rejection of his two-year effort to overhaul courts and water down a criminal code that’s sent scores of his party members to prison for corruption. He himself is banned from being premier — though he runs the government from behind the scenes — because of an electoral-fraud conviction. A final ruling on another abuse-of-office conviction may actually send him to jail as soon as Monday.“For his party it’s a huge disaster,” Cristian Pirvulescu, the dean of Bucharest’s Political Science University, said by phone. “The illiberal tendencies were rejected.”Read More: Populist Attack on EU Falls Short Despite Gains in France, ItalyWith more than 3 million Romanians — or about one in seven — living and working abroad, the country is among the most pro-EU members. The vote’s result contrasted with those in regional peers that Romania has increasingly been compared with — Poland and Hungary — where populist ruling parties scored easy victories.After a warning from the European Commission that Bucharest could face sanctions if it doesn’t reverse its course on the judicial overhaul, voters thronged polling stations in defiance of the government. Turnout was 49 percent, a record for EU assembly elections since it joined the bloc in 2007.The Social Democrats came in second, with about 23 percent of the vote, half of its result in the 2016 general elections. It was behind the opposition Liberal party, which won 28 percent. The upstart, anti-corruption Save Romania Union — whose leader compares it to French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! party — leaped to an unexpected 21 percent.“It was a hate storm, and yes, maybe we are to blame,” Dragnea told reporters in Bucharest Sunday. While he ignored calls from his rivals to step down, he added that “I’ve always taken responsibility for what I’ve done.”The loss could be one mistake too many for the Social Democrats to accept from Dragnea. He has changed two prime ministers in as many years, triggered the largest protests since Romania’s bloody anti-communist revolution in 1989, and put the party at risk of being being kicked out from their wider EU political family.Dragnea said any decision he takes will have to be debated with party members in the coming days.But he might not get the chance. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a final ruling as soon as Monday on an abuse-of-office conviction that could uphold a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence and end his freedom.To contact the reporters on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at firstname.lastname@example.org;Irina Vilcu in Bucharest at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at firstname.lastname@example.org, Michael Winfrey, Tony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Volodymyr Zelensky is Ukraine’s best chance for reducing church tension, promoting inter-confessional dialogue.
Ukraine’s Crisis of Religion
The recent presidential elections in Ukraine represent the possibility for a significant change of course in the government’s handling of the country’s nascent religious crisis. At the end of 2018, fears of a potentially-major escalation in the country’s internal conflict began to swirl around news of a schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and Constantinople over the latter’s plans to create an independent Ukrainian church. With the news of schism came statements made by former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in which he announced his intention to seize major religious sites belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church’s jurisdiction in Ukraine. In particular, his statements that Kiev’s famous Pechersk Lavra would eventually be taken as part of the new church provoked a strong response from Vladimir Putin, who insisted that Russia would defend the religious freedoms of Russian Orthodox believers from persecution and foreign meddling. A scenario in which the Ukrainian government attempted to seize a site like the Pechersk Lavra, the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church within Ukraine and home to thousands of monks loyal to Kirill, the Moscow Patriarchate, would represent a serious escalation that had the potential to spiral into a much larger and more dangerous conflict.
Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday restored the Ukrainian citizenship of former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili, less than two years after he was stripped of it and expelled.
A one-time regional governor in Ukraine, Saakashvili dramatically fell out with Zelensky’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko over allegations that Kiev was failing to fight endemic corruption.
The bitter dispute saw Saakashvili stripped of his Ukrainian passport in July 2017 with Kiev accusing him of trying to stage a coup sponsored by allies of ousted Kremlin-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych.
In February 2018, the former Georgian president was detained at a Kiev restaurant and flown to Poland.
Several months earlier he had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border despite many border guards deployed to stop him from doing so.
Zelensky restored Saakashvili’s citizenship in a decree posted on the presidential website.
„Thank you, President Zelensky! Glory to Ukraine!” Saakashvili wrote on Facebook.
In 2018, Saakashvili, who lives in the Netherlands, urged European leaders to introduce sanctions on Poroshenko, whom he accused of violating his human rights.
Saakashvili was president of tiny ex-Soviet Georgia from 2004 to 2013. He is also wanted by Tbilisi on charges of abuse of power that he strenuously denies.