Day: March 23, 2019

Britain Brexit March

Britain Brexit March

LONDON — Anti-Brexit protesters swarmed the streets of central London by the tens of thousands on Saturday, demanding that Britain’s Conservative-led government hold a new referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union.

The “People’s Vote March” kicked off shortly after noon and snaked from Park Lane and other locations to converge on the U.K. Parliament, where the fate of Brexit will be decided in the coming weeks.

Many marchers carried European Union flags and signs praising the longstanding ties between Britain and continental Europe.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, invited to help lead the march, called the crowd impressive and unified.

“There is a huge turnout of people here from all walks of life, of all ages and from all over the country,” he tweeted. “We are a Remain country now with 60 per cent wanting to stop the Brexit mess.”

A doll resembling British Prime Minister Theresa May stands among demonstrators during a Peoples Vote anti-Brexit march in London, Saturday, March 23, 2019.

More than 4 million people endorsed an electronic petition this week in favour of revoking Article 50, the act that formally triggered the Brexit process.

The march comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May, who opposes a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership, is easing away from plans to hold a third vote on her troubled Brexit withdrawal plan, which has been strongly rejected twice by Parliament.

In a letter to lawmakers on Friday night, May said she might not seek passage of her Brexit withdrawal plan in Parliament next week. The embattled leader said she would only bring her EU divorce plan back to Parliament if there seems to be enough backing for it to pass.

“If it appears that there is not sufficient support to bring the deal back next week, or the House rejects it again, we can ask for another extension before 12 April, but that will involve holding European Parliament elections,” she said.

May’s changing stance reflects the plan’s dismal chances in the House of Commons after two prior defeats.

She also says she would need the approval of House Speaker John Bercow to bring the plan back for a third time. Bercow has said a third vote would violate parliamentary rules against repeatedly voting on the same thing unless May’s Brexit divorce plan is altered.

Almost three years after Britons voted to walk away from the EU, the bloc’s leaders this week seized control of the Brexit timetable from May to avert a chaotic departure on March 29 that would be disruptive for the world’s biggest trading bloc and deeply damaging for Britain.

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels set two deadlines for Britain to leave the bloc of nearly half a billion people or to take an entirely new path in considering its EU future.

They agreed to extend the Brexit date until May 22, on the eve of the EU Parliament elections, if May can persuade the British Parliament to endorse her Brexit divorce deal.

Failing that, they gave May until April 12 to choose between leaving the bloc without a divorce deal or deciding on a radically new path, such as revoking Britain’s decision to leave, holding a new referendum on Brexit or finding a cross-party consensus for a very different kind of Brexit.

A demonstrator holds a poster during a Peoples Vote anti-Brexit march in London, Saturday, March 23, 2019.

Despite May’s letter to lawmakers, it was not clear what path her minority government would take this week.

The anti-Brexit marchers on Saturday included 63-year-old Edmund Sides, who spent the last three weeks walking from Wales to London in order to take part.

Sides, a geologist, said he wanted to be able to speak to people along the way, encouraging families that have been split between Leave and Remain to mend their fences and talk.

“The whole country isn’t doing enough of that,” he said.

He is worried about the vicious tone that Brexit arguments have started to take and worries about national cohesion.

“People fear the atmosphere is very dangerous in this country,” Sides said.

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By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

032319-Que_Italy_Deportation_20190322

032319-Que_Italy_Deportation_20190322

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his role in a Mafia-linked conspiracy, finally ran out of options to stay in Canada and boarded a plane Friday night to his native Italy, his lawyer said.

Stephane Handfield said his client — along with an escort of two Canada Border Services agents — boarded an 8 p.m. flight bound for Italy at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Canada’s public safety minister intervened at least four times in Torre’s case to stop his deportation, Handfield said. But this time, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale did not grant Torre’s request. Handfield said he emailed Goodale’s office Friday morning but “received no response” from the minister or his aides.

Torre, 66, was granted permanent residency to Canada in 1967. He was convicted in 1996 in a cocaine-importation conspiracy linked to the Cotroni crime family and served part of a nearly nine-year prison sentence.

In 2006, Torre again found himself swept up by police during a massive operation aimed at dismantling Montreal’s powerful Mafia. He spent nearly three years in custody but was ultimately acquitted. Since 2013, federal authorities have sought to remove Torre for “serious criminality and organized criminality.”

Torre and his family claimed it was unfair to deport him so long after his last conviction, which now dates back 23 years. They argued he should have been allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds since he had lived in Canada so long and his wife, children and grandchildren are here.

He was on the verge of being deported in 2016 before a ministerial reprieve arrived 90 minutes before his flight. He was then given a two-year temporary residence permit. After that expired, the Canada Border Services Agency scheduled a deportation date, this time for Feb. 28, but Goodale’s office intervened again — on the morning of Torre’s scheduled flight — and granted a reprieve.

Handfield said that on March 11 the CBSA gave Torre another deportation date, scheduled for March 22.

The lawyer decried the plan to have his client accompanied by CBSA agents on the flight to Italy, which he said will single him out for interrogation by authorities upon arrival.

“We worry about his arrival. What will be the attitude of the Italian customs officials?” Handfield said.

A spokesman for Goodale’s office said the minister cannot comment on an individual case.

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By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

032319-Que_Italy_Deportation_20190322

032319-Que_Italy_Deportation_20190322

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his role in a Mafia-linked conspiracy, finally ran out of options to stay in Canada and boarded a plane Friday night to his native Italy, his lawyer said.

Stephane Handfield said his client — along with an escort of two Canada Border Services agents — boarded an 8 p.m. flight bound for Italy at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Canada’s public safety minister intervened at least four times in Torre’s case to stop his deportation, Handfield said. But this time, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale did not grant Torre’s request. Handfield said he emailed Goodale’s office Friday morning but “received no response” from the minister or his aides.

Torre, 66, was granted permanent residency to Canada in 1967. He was convicted in 1996 in a cocaine-importation conspiracy linked to the Cotroni crime family and served part of a nearly nine-year prison sentence.

In 2006, Torre again found himself swept up by police during a massive operation aimed at dismantling Montreal’s powerful Mafia. He spent nearly three years in custody but was ultimately acquitted. Since 2013, federal authorities have sought to remove Torre for “serious criminality and organized criminality.”

Torre and his family claimed it was unfair to deport him so long after his last conviction, which now dates back 23 years. They argued he should have been allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds since he had lived in Canada so long and his wife, children and grandchildren are here.

He was on the verge of being deported in 2016 before a ministerial reprieve arrived 90 minutes before his flight. He was then given a two-year temporary residence permit. After that expired, the Canada Border Services Agency scheduled a deportation date, this time for Feb. 28, but Goodale’s office intervened again — on the morning of Torre’s scheduled flight — and granted a reprieve.

Handfield said that on March 11 the CBSA gave Torre another deportation date, scheduled for March 22.

The lawyer decried the plan to have his client accompanied by CBSA agents on the flight to Italy, which he said will single him out for interrogation by authorities upon arrival.

“We worry about his arrival. What will be the attitude of the Italian customs officials?” Handfield said.

A spokesman for Goodale’s office said the minister cannot comment on an individual case.

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By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

AP News in Brief at 12:00 a.m. EDT

Mueller concludes Russia-Trump probe with no new indictments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller closed his long and contentious Russia investigation with no new charges Friday, ending the probe that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency but launching a fresh wave of political battles over the still-confidential findings.

The report’s details remained a mystery, accessible to only a handful of Justice Department officials while Attorney General William Barr prepared to release the “principal conclusions” soon. But the closure of the 22-month probe without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump’s orbit who had feared a final round of charges could ensnare more Trump associates, including members of the president’s family.

The Justice Department said the report was delivered by a security officer Friday afternoon to the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and then it went to Barr. Word of the delivery triggered reactions across Washington, including Democrats’ demands that it be quickly released to the public and Republicans’ contentions that it ended two years of wasted time and money.

The next step is up to Barr, who is charged with writing his own account of Mueller’s findings and sending it to Congress. In a letter to lawmakers , he declared he was committed to transparency and speed. He said he could provide details as soon as this weekend.

The White House sought to keep some distance from the report, saying it had not seen or been briefed on the document. Trump, surrounded by advisers and political supporters at his resort in Florida, stayed uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.

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White cop cleared in fatal shooting of black teenager

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A jury acquitted a white former police officer Friday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager as he was fleeing a high-stakes traffic stop outside Pittsburgh, a confrontation that was captured on video and led to weeks of unrest.

Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld was charged with homicide for killing Antwon Rose II last June. Rose was riding in an unlicensed taxi that had been involved in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier when Rosfeld pulled the car over and shot the 17-year-old in the back, arm and side of the face as he ran away.

The panel of seven men and five women — including three black jurors — saw video of the fatal confrontation, which showed Rose falling to the ground after being hit. The acquittal came after fewer than four hours of deliberations on the fourth day of the trial.

Rose’s family remained stoic as the verdict was read, with his mother telling his sister not to cry. Rosfeld’s wife began sobbing, and she and Rosfeld were hustled out of the courtroom by deputies.

There were tears and gasps in an overflow courtroom, and several people broke out in song: “Antwon Rose was a freedom fighter, and he taught us how to fight.”

___

With Washington abuzz, Mueller’s report is delivered quietly

WASHINGTON (AP) — The manila envelope in her hand held a single sheet of paper.

Wearing a black puffer coat, the woman and her delivery were so unassuming in appearance that she was able to quietly slip past the crowd of reporters gathered in the hallways of the Rayburn House Office Building. Without being noticed, she was able to deliver to Congress the simple envelope that contained a monumental message: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference into the 2016 election was over.

The probe had taken nearly two years and imperiled a presidency. It divided Washington, delivered charges against 34 people and drew the wrath of President Donald Trump. Speculation about its findings, and when they would be delivered, had consumed Washington for weeks. Fittingly for Mueller, who never once spoke publicly about the probe, the investigation concluded in a by-the-book, under-the-radar manner.

___

Before dawn, television crews and photographers began lining the sidewalk outside Mueller’s Washington office.

___

Now what? Mueller ends the Russia investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Now what?

Special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his Trump-Russia investigation and on Friday delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr.

But what the report looks like isn’t clear. Justice Department regulations required only that Mueller give the attorney general a confidential report that explains the decisions to pursue or decline prosecutions. It could have been as simple as a bullet point list, but the Justice Department has described it as “comprehensive.”

Whatever is in the report, we may not get all the juicy details that were uncovered over the past 22 months — at least not right away. But this story is far from over.

Here’s what to expect next:

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Beyond Mueller report, Trump faces flurry of legal perils

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump portrayed Robert Mueller as the bane of his existence, but even with the special counsel’s Russia investigation wrapped up, he may still have to contend with state and federal investigators in New York.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan continue to pursue at least two known criminal inquiries involving Trump or people in his orbit, one involving his inaugural committee and another focused on the hush-money scandal that led his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty last year to campaign finance violations.

The president also faces inquiries from New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who recently opened a civil inquiry into Cohen’s claims that Trump exaggerated his wealth when seeking loans for real estate projects and a failed bid to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Meanwhile, a state regulatory entity is looking into whether Trump gave false information to insurance companies.

Cohen told Congress in testimony last month he is in “constant contact” with prosecutors involving ongoing investigations.

Trump has dismissed the New York investigations as politically motivated.

___

Trump intervenes, reverses North Korea sanctions with tweet

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he had reversed his administration’s decision to slap new sanctions on North Korea — a move that left officials at the Treasury Department and observers across Washington scratching their heads.

Trump delivered the news from his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, writing, “It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

The problem: The Treasury did not announce any new action affecting North Korea on Friday, let alone “additional large scale Sanctions.” The administration on Thursday did sanction two Chinese shipping companies suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions — but not the country itself.

So what was Trump referring to? The White House wouldn’t say. Press secretary Sarah Sanders issued only a brief statement saying that Trump “likes” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and “doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”

But a person familiar with the action later told The Associated Press that Trump’s tweet was not about reversing existing sanctions. Instead, the person said, the president was talking about not going forward with additional large-scale sanctions on North Korea at this time. The person was not authorized to discuss the president’s comments and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Watchdog: FEMA wrongly released personal data of victims

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency wrongly released to a contractor the personal information of 2.3 million survivors of devastating 2017 hurricanes and wildfires, potentially exposing the victims to identity fraud and theft, a government watchdog reported Friday.

The Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General found the breach occurred when FEMA was working with a contractor that helps provide temporary housing to those affected by disasters. FEMA is one of Homeland Security’s many agencies; the sprawling 240,000-person department also includes immigration enforcement, and the U.S. Secret Service.

FEMA officials said that since the discovery of the issue, the agency was no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system and has found no indication to suggest data has been compromised.

The agency said in a statement it is working with the contractor to remove the data from its system and has instructed staff to complete additional privacy training.

“FEMA’s goal remains protecting and strengthening the integrity, effectiveness, and security of our disaster programs that help people before, during, and after disasters,” FEMA Press Secretary Lizzie Litzow said in a statement.

___

Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

A Texas flight attendant who was enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers” flew to Mexico for work and was stopped by immigration authorities who forced her to spend more than a month in detention, her attorney said.

Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, who immigrated illegally to the U.S. as a child, was released Friday from a detention centre in Conroe, Texas, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Being released is an indescribable feeling,” she said through a spokesman. “I cried and hugged my husband and never wanted to let go. I am thankful and grateful for the amazing people that came to fight for me, and it fills my heart. Thank you to everyone that has supported. I am just so happy to have my freedom back.”

Originally from Peru and married to an American citizen, she raised concerns with Mesa Airlines about her immigration status after being assigned to an international flight, attorney Belinda Arroyo said.

The airline assured her she would be fine, but she was stopped by U.S. authorities on Feb. 12, when she returned to Houston, and was sent to detention, where she remained for more than five weeks, Arroyo said.

___

R Kelly defence emerges, including saying accusers are lying

CHICAGO (AP) — R. Kelly yelled through tears in a recent TV interview before an audience numbering in the millions, saying he’s in a fight for his life to disprove sexual abuse charges. That fight will ultimately be waged in court, with the only audience that matters numbering just 12 jurors.

While the day lawyers deliver opening statements to jurors inside a Cook County courtroom is still many months or even years away, court filings as well as comments by the R&B star himself and his attorney after charges in February provide clues about an emerging legal strategy.

Signs are they intend to question the veracity of his accusers and argue that, if he had sex with them, it was consensual and he thought they were of age. His attorney has also signalled he’ll push to have some counts tossed on grounds statutes of limitation ran out or because some are too closely related to crimes for which Kelly was acquitted at his 2008 child pornography trial.

Kelly, 52, was right in more ways than one when he cursed during the interview with Gayle King of “CBS This Morning,” saying: “I’m fighting for my … life.” If convicted on all ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse of three underage girls and one adult, the Grammy winner faces an effective life sentence of up to 70 years in prison.

The defence is expected to fine tune their argument over coming months that Kelly’s accusers are misrepresenting the facts. For now, there’s not much finesse.

___

NCAA play resumes with all eyes on Zion Williamson, Duke

The first round of the NCAA Tournament is set to conclude Friday with plenty of star power taking the floor, notably Zion Williams and No. 1 overall seed Duke.

The Blue Devils play North Dakota State in the East Region.

Virginia tries to avoid losing as a top seed for the second straight year, while fellow No. 1 seed North Carolina opens its tournament against Iona. Mid-major powers Houston and Buffalo also get going while upset-minded 12-seeds Liberty and Oregon are in action.

The first game on the docket is Iowa, the No. 10 seed in the South Region, against seventh-seeded Cincinnati. The winner takes on the Colgate-Tennessee winner on Sunday.

___

The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off

With Washington abuzz, Mueller’s report is delivered quietly

WASHINGTON — The manila envelope in her hand held a single sheet of paper.

Wearing a black puffer coat, the woman and her delivery were so unassuming in appearance that she was able to quietly slip past the crowd of reporters gathered in the hallways of the Rayburn House Office Building. Without being noticed, she was able to deliver to Congress the simple envelope that contained a monumental message: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference into the 2016 election was over.

The probe had taken nearly two years and imperiled a presidency. It divided Washington, delivered charges against 34 people and drew the wrath of President Donald Trump. Speculation about its findings, and when they would be delivered, had consumed Washington for weeks. Fittingly for Mueller, who never once spoke publicly about the probe, the investigation concluded in a by-the-book, under-the-radar manner.

___

Before dawn, television crews and photographers began lining the sidewalk outside Mueller’s Washington office.

The stakeout had grown as the week went on and the speculation mounted. The media frenzy only grew after Mueller, who is rarely spotted outside his office, was photographed arriving just after 7 a.m. Thursday with his face hidden underneath a baseball cap as he pulled up to the office’s parking garage in a grey Subaru.

On Friday, the wind whipped as the journalists kept their eyes peeled on the office’s three different garage entrances. Families and tourists visiting Washington stopped over and over to ask the crowd of photographers and videographers what they were waiting for, some amazed they were right in the middle of a story that had dominated news coverage around the world.

In suburban Virginia, a crowd of journalists gathered outside Attorney General William Barr’s house with their eyes glued on the forest-green front door of his home. As he emerged Friday morning, his keys in one hand and a brown satchel in the other, Barr greeted his security detail and hopped into the back of a waiting SUV in his driveway.

He didn’t address the group of reporters gathered across the street.

___

As the afternoon dragged on, reporters in newsrooms across Washington and onlookers around the globe furiously refreshed their Twitter feeds and stared at cable channels looking for anything labeled “This Just In.”

Television bookers lined up experts days in advance and told them to be on standby in case the report dropped. Twitter users killed time by musing about Mueller as a man with a crippling case of writer’s block, just sitting at his computer with a spinning cursor over a blank document titled, simply, “The Mueller Report.”

“It’s like waiting for a baby to be born,” said Rudy Giuliani, who flew to Washington late Wednesday just in case the report was turned over. “I’ll hand out cigars if it’s good news.”

Giuliani may be the president’s attorney but he wasn’t given any heads-up on the timing; he simply thought he should be near the White House “just in case,” he said.

“I’m watching TV just like everyone else,” Giuliani said.

Even the president was forced to wait without any inside knowledge. As he strode onto the White House South Lawn on his way to Florida on Friday morning, he told waiting reporters that he had “no idea about the Mueller report” and warned again that the investigation was damaging for the country.

As the engines from the idling Marine One helicopter roared, it was hard for reporters to immediately make out everything Trump said, though his repeated declaration of his catchphrase denial of any Russian wrongdoing — “No collusion” — was unmistakable.

Trump was already at his lush Palm Beach estate, a thousand miles from the White House, when the waiting game finally, mercifully, quietly ended.

___

A security officer from Mueller’s office walked into the Justice Department headquarters, just steps from the National Mall, carrying a letter. As established by protocol, the document was to inform the attorney general that Mueller’s work was done.

Within minutes, it was sent to Barr. Around 4:40 p.m., the attorney general’s chief of staff, Brian Rabbitt, spoke to White House counsel Emmet Flood and told him the report was in and read to him a letter that would soon be distributed to House and Senate leaders. Amid the flurry of activity, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called Mueller to thank him for his work over the last couple of years and expressed his appreciation for him and the team.

At 5 p.m., the woman with the manila envelope arrived on Capitol Hill to deliver the letter to aides on the House and Senate Judiciary committees, which have oversight responsibilities of the department. She delivered the letter to lawyers for Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. The lawmakers were back in their home districts.

Nadler’s counsel scanned the letter and sent it to the congressman in New York. Soon after, staff for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, received the letter.

___

Once the news dropped, and cable news stations splashed “Breaking News” chyrons across the television screens, elected official after elected official, some more relevant than others, released statements about the report, many calling for it to be made public immediately. Trump huddled with his attorneys at Mar-a-Lago but, for the moment, held his tongue and Twitter feed.

Firday night, the president and first lady Melania Trump stopped by a Palm Beach County GOP dinner at his resort. Trump spoke for a few minutes but didn’t mention the Mueller report, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share details of the event, which was closed to the press. The official said Trump had a separate dinner with his family.

Barr, in a far less glamorous setting, was reviewing Mueller’s report. In a letter to Congress, he said he may be able to provide some updates about the special counsel’s findings as soon as this weekend.

And the waiting game began again.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire , Balsamo at http://twitter.com/@MikeBalsamo1 and Jalonick at http://twitter.com/@MCJalonick

Jonathan Lemire, Michael Balsamo And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law March 23, 2019 Off