LONDON — Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is stepping up his campaign to be Britain’s next prime minister by challenging the European Union over Brexit terms.
Johnson told the Sunday Times he would refuse to pay the agreed-upon 39 billion pound ($50 billion) divorce settlement unless the EU offers Britain a better withdrawal agreement than the one currently on the table.
Johnson told the newspaper he is the only Conservative Party leadership contender who can triumph over the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
He is threatening to leave the EU on the Oct 31 deadline even if there is no deal in place.
The contest for leadership of the Conservative Party officially begins Monday. The post was vacated Friday by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Associated Press
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Trump’s Mexico deal: a political win, even if it falls short
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s deal to avert his threatened tariffs on Mexico includes few new solutions to swiftly stem the surge of Central American migrants flowing over America’s southern border.
But it delivers enough for Trump to claim a political win.
The decision — announced by tweet late Friday — ended a showdown that business leaders warned would have disastrous economic consequences for both the U.S. and one of its largest trading partners, driving up consumer prices and driving a wedge between the two allies. And it represented a win for members of Trump’s own party who had flooded the White House with pleading calls as well as aides who had been eager to convince the president to back down.
But ultimately, it gives Trump the ability to claim victory on a central campaign promise that has been largely unfulfilled as he prepares to formally launch his 2020 campaign.
“In the face of naysayers, President Trump yet again delivered a huge victory for the American people,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement, applauding the president for using “the threat of tariffs to bring Mexico to the table” and “showing that he is willing to use every tool in his toolbox to protect the American people.”
Mexico-US tariff deal: Questions, concerns for migration
MEXICO CITY (AP) — As Washington and Mexico City both took victory laps Saturday over a deal that headed off threatened tariffs on Mexican imports, it remained to be seen how effective it may be and migration experts raised concerns over what it could mean for people fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.
Other than a vague reiteration of a joint commitment to promote development, security and growth in Central America, the agreement focuses almost exclusively on enforcement and says little about the root causes driving the surge in migrants seen in recent months.
“My sense is overall the Mexican government got out of this better than they thought. The agreement though leaves a lot of big question marks,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. “It’s good that the two sides reached an agreement which allows both of them to save face, but it’s not clear how easy it is to implement.”
The deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops appears to be the key commitment in what was described as “unprecedented steps” by Mexico to ramp up enforcement, though Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said that had already been planned and was not a result of external pressure.
“I have said before, migration into Mexico also has to be regulated … orderly, legal and safe,” Sánchez Cordero told The Associated Press. “So the National Guard that we were going to deploy anyway, we’re going to deploy. It’s not because they tell us to, but rather because we’re going to do it anyway.”
Sex abuse crisis tops agenda as Southern Baptists convene
The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one sobering topic — sex abuse by clergy and staff — overshadowing all others.
Inside the meeting hall in Birmingham, Alabama, delegates representing the nation’s largest Protestant denomination will likely vote on establishing criteria for expelling churches that mishandle or cover up abuse allegations. They also may vote to establish a new committee which would review how member churches handle claims of abuse.
Outside the convention centre, abuse survivors and other activists plan a protest rally Tuesday evening, demanding that the SBC move faster to require sex-abuse training for all pastors, staff and volunteers, and to create a database of credibly accused abusers that could be shared among its more than 47,000 churches. They will also be urging the church, which espouses all-male leadership, to be more respectful of women’s roles — a volatile topic that’s sparked online debate over whether women should preach to men.
Sex abuse already was a high-profile issue at the 2018 national meeting in Dallas, following revelations about several sexual misconduct cases. Soon after his election as SBC president at that meeting, the Rev. J.D. Greear formed an advisory group to draft recommendations on how to confront the problem.
However, pressure on the church has intensified in recent months, due in part to articles by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News asserting that hundreds of Southern Baptist clergy and staff have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years, including dozens who returned to church duties, while leaving more than 700 victims with little in the way of justice or apologies.
Kamala Harris says prosecutor past will help defeat Trump
WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democrat Kamala Harris played up her experience as a prosecutor on Saturday, telling a mostly black crowd in South Carolina that her prosecutorial credentials have given her a window in to helping improve the criminal justice system and also make her uniquely qualified to take on President Donald Trump.
“We’ve got to hold this guy accountable by prosecuting the case in front of the American people against four more years of this administration,” Harris told a gathering of the state conference of the NAACP. “And I’ve prosecuted a lot of cases. But rarely one with this much evidence.”
In addition to portraying her ability to take on Trump directly, Harris aimed to use the speech in this early-voting state, where the Democratic primary electorate is primarily African American, as a way to explain her prosecutorial experience to anyone potentially skeptical of her background as a district attorney and state attorney general who was tough on crime.
In her campaign rollout earlier this year, Harris said she was ready to defend vulnerabilities related to her legal career. Criticized by some criminal justice advocates as being too tough on the accused during her tenures as the San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general, Harris answered those criticisms by declaring, “Too many black and brown Americans are locked up” and suggesting she supports reforms.
Echoing that sentiment Saturday, Harris said her motivations have been questioned in the election.
Buttigieg’s high college debt draws attention to the issue
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg knows firsthand the burden of six-figure student loan debt. He and his husband, Chasten, are far from alone, though, and their personal college indebtedness is helping to keep the issue on the national stage.
With loans totalling more than $130,000, they are among the 43 million people in the United States who owe federal student loan debt.
The debtors are so numerous and the total debt so high — more than $1.447 trillion, according to federal statistics — that several of the Democratic candidates have made major policy proposals to address the crisis. Their ideas include wiping away debt, lowering interest rates, expanding programs that tie repayment terms to income and making college free or debt-free.
Student loan debt is often discussed as an issue that mostly affects millennials, but it cuts across age groups. Federal statistics show that about 7.8 million people age 50 and older owe a combined $291.9 billion in student loans. People age 35 to 49, a group that covers older millennials such as Buttigieg as well as Generation X, owe $548.4 billion. That group includes more than 14 million people.
One of the most detailed plans to help solve the problem has come from Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who says she would entirely erase student debt for 75% of borrowers while making public colleges and universities free. Her plan would be paid for by a tax on “ultra-millionaires,” those households with a net worth of $50 million or more. Warren wants to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for each borrower with a household income under $100,000 and would cancel smaller amounts for those who earn more.
Panic at DC pride parade sends people running
WASHINGTON (AP) — A panic caused by a mistaken belief that a gun had been fired during a pride parade in Washington, D.C., sent people running through the streets of the nation’s capital on Saturday evening, city officials said. Police said some of the people who ran sustained minor injuries and seven were taken to hospitals.
“As the officers were going to the scene, there was a crowd of people going away from it and some of the individuals in the crowd said there was a man with a gun and that someone had fired a shot,” said Guillermo Rivera, a commander with the Metropolitan Police Department.
The man was taken into custody and is facing a gun possession charge, Rivera said.
City officials said no shots were fired.
“There is NO Active Shooter at Dupont Circle. There are injuries from people running from what they thought were gunshots. But there is NO ACTIVE SHOOTER at Dupont Circle,” Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor for public safety, said in a tweet posted shortly after the incident.
California utility proactively cuts power because of weather
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric implemented a controversial practice of cutting power to selected portions of Northern California on Saturday to guard against wildfires as the weather turned very windy, dry and hot.
Electricity was turned off around 6 a.m. to 1,600 customers in parts Napa, Solano and Yolo counties. Just as that shutdown was called off, the utility warned 27,000 customers in Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties that their power would be cut from 9 p.m. through Sunday morning.
The end of the earlier shutdown was announced around 4 p.m., and the utility said power would be restored in those areas as soon as crews finished checking lines for any weather-related damage.
Conditions ripe for fire — winds, low humidity, dry vegetation and heat — were expected to last into Sunday. The National Weather Service office reported a 71 mph (114 kph) gust on one peak in the region.
A fire that erupted late in the day in Yolo County was estimated at 100 acres; firefighters halted the spread of another after 25 acres burned northeast of Calistoga in Napa County. The causes were not immediately known.
Cambodian leader flips the script on opponents’ noodle ploy
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The bitter decadeslong rivalry between Hun Sen, Cambodia’s strongman leader, and Sam Rainsy, his self-exiled chief political rival and critic, has sometimes played out in deadly violence. But on Sunday, soup rather than blood was likely to be spilled.
The two titans of Cambodian politics, who normally agree over nothing, made stunningly similar calls to their followers this past week. On Sunday, they said, all Cambodians should gather with their neighbours and sit down for a meal of num banh chok, a popular Cambodian rice noodle soup usually consumed at breakfast.
From his prime minister’s perch of unchallenged authority, Hun Sen promoted eating “the Khmer (Cambodian) noodles of unity and solidarity.” Sam Rainsy, co-founder of the country’s only credible but now disbanded political party, called for “eating Khmer noodles for the sake of friendship in the framework of the entire, giant Cambodian family.”
Both encouraged sharing with folks from the other side of the political fence.
It sounds like a utopian scenario, but its roots are in hard-nosed politics.
US-China trade war sparks worries about rare minerals
PHOENIX (AP) — Rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China have sparked worries about the 17 exotic-sounding rare earth minerals needed for high-tech products like robotics, drones and electric cars.
China recently raised tariffs to 25% on rare earth exports to the U.S. and has threatened to halt exports altogether after the Trump administration raised tariffs on Chinese products and blacklisted telecommunications giant Huawei.
With names like europium, scandium and ytterbium, the bulk of rare earth minerals are extracted from mines in China, where lower wages and lax environmental standards make production cheaper and easier.
But trade experts say no one should panic over China’s threats to stop exporting the elements to the U.S.
There is a U.S. rare minerals mine in California. And Australia, Myanmar, Russia and India are also top producers of the somewhat obscure minerals. Vietnam and Brazil both have huge rare earth reserves.
Another Triple Crown surprise: Sir Winston takes Belmont
NEW YORK (AP) — Sir Winston provided a perfect finish to a crazy Triple Crown.
After a disqualification in the Kentucky Derby and a runaway horse in the Preakness, of course the Belmont Stakes goes to a 10-1 long shot.
Sir Winston captured the $1.5 million race Saturday, holding off favoured Tacitus by a length.
The win gave trainer Mark Casse the final two jewels in the showcase for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. He won the Preakness with War of Will, who was expected to battle Tacitus in the 1 1/2 mile Belmont.
Instead, Casse’s other’s colt took the lead after a ground-saving ride by Joel Rosario.
The Associated Press
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The new voter protection director for Florida Democrats told party activists on Saturday that they should assume there will be a recount during next year’s presidential election.
“We are going to be prepared,” Brandon Peters told a packed room of Democratic activists at the state party’s Leadership Blue 2019 meeting at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Peters, who was hired by the state party last month, said there will be teams of volunteers trained in how to monitor county canvassing boards for recount problems around the state, should one take place in the 2020 presidential election.
Florida became famous for recounts after the 2000 presidential election, and last year there were recounts in three statewide races. The Florida Democratic Party is the second state Democratic party in the nation to hire a voter protection director, behind the Georgia Democratic Party.
Peters said by July 2020 he hopes to have 15,000 lawyers and volunteers in place around the state to address any voter problems.
Those problems include making it difficult for ex-convicts to register after Florida voters last year passed a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to as many as 1.4 million felons and creating earlier deadlines for mail-in ballots, Peters said.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to sign a bill requiring repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights are restored.
Other nonelectoral changes in Florida could have consequences for voters, such as the rollout this month of new driver’s licenses with magnetic strips removed, Peters said.
Voters often check in at polls where information on the strip is run against a database for ID verification. Without that, poll workers may have to resort to manually checking the ID against paper rolls, creating long lines, Peters said.
The state party is co-ordinating with the Democratic National Party to set up a tool to track election problems in real time. There also will be a hotline for volunteers to call in problems, Peters said.
“If you see something, say something,” Peters said. “Once we are aware of the problem, we will do something about it.”
Even though President Trump is announcing his re-election campaign in Orlando in less than two weeks, and Florida promises to be crucial for any path to the White House, none of the major Democratic presidential candidates were at the Florida conference since most of them were attending a competing event hosted by Iowa Democrats this weekend.
Some candidates sent video messages that were played at a dinner for the Florida Democrats, and two candidates, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, made plans to send their spouses. But Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, was a no-show after running into a transportation snafu.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez encouraged the Florida Democrats “to date” all the presidential candidates.
“Fall in love with multiple people at one time. Date as many people as you want,” Perez said. “And then when we have our nominee, fall in line together as Democrats. Our unity is our greatest strength and it’s Donald Trump’s biggest fear.”
Follow Mike Schneider at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP
Mike Schneider, The Associated Press
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