Facebook Still Working to Remove All Videos of New Zealand Terrorist Attack

Facebook is continuing to work to remove all video of the mass shooting in New Zealand which the perpetrator livestreamed Friday, the company said Sunday.

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues,” Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand said in a statement Sunday.

Garlick said that the company is currently working to remove even edited versions of the original video which do not contain graphic content, “Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities.”

In the 24 hours following the mass shooting, which left 50 people dead, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack, of which 1.2 million were blocked at upload, the company said.

Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook.

Earlier Sunday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that there were “further questions to be answered” by Facebook and other social media platforms.

“We did as much as we could to remove or seek to have removed some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. Ultimately, though, it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal and support their removal,” she said.

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday’s shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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UK Leader to Lawmakers: Back my Deal or Face Lengthy Delay

British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Sunday that it would be “a potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure” if a Brexit delay meant that the U.K. has to take part in May’s European elections — almost three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May also cautioned that if lawmakers failed to back her deal before Thursday’s European Council summit, “we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever.”

 

“If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension… The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about,” she wrote.

 

May is expected to try to win Parliament’s approval of her withdrawal agreement for the third time this week. After months of political deadlock, lawmakers voted on Thursday to seek to postpone Brexit.

 

That will likely avert a chaotic withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29 — though power to approve or reject an extension lies with the EU. The European Commission has said the bloc would consider any request, “taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension.”

 

By law, Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, with or without a deal, unless it cancels Brexit or secures a delay.

 

May is trying to persuade opponents in her Conservative Party and its parliamentary allies to support the withdrawal agreement, which Parliament has already resoundingly defeated twice.

 

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday his party is against May’s deal — but indicated that it would back an amendment that supports the deal on condition it is put to a new referendum.

 

Corbyn has written to lawmakers across the political spectrum inviting them for talks to find a cross-party compromise.

 

He also told Sky News that he may propose another no-confidence vote in the government if May’s deal is voted down again.

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UK Leader to Lawmakers: Back my Deal or Face Lengthy Delay

British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Sunday that it would be “a potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure” if a Brexit delay meant that the U.K. has to take part in May’s European elections — almost three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May also cautioned that if lawmakers failed to back her deal before Thursday’s European Council summit, “we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever.”

 

“If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension… The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about,” she wrote.

 

May is expected to try to win Parliament’s approval of her withdrawal agreement for the third time this week. After months of political deadlock, lawmakers voted on Thursday to seek to postpone Brexit.

 

That will likely avert a chaotic withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29 — though power to approve or reject an extension lies with the EU. The European Commission has said the bloc would consider any request, “taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension.”

 

By law, Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, with or without a deal, unless it cancels Brexit or secures a delay.

 

May is trying to persuade opponents in her Conservative Party and its parliamentary allies to support the withdrawal agreement, which Parliament has already resoundingly defeated twice.

 

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday his party is against May’s deal — but indicated that it would back an amendment that supports the deal on condition it is put to a new referendum.

 

Corbyn has written to lawmakers across the political spectrum inviting them for talks to find a cross-party compromise.

 

He also told Sky News that he may propose another no-confidence vote in the government if May’s deal is voted down again.

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Gillibrand Launches Bid For 2020 Presidential Race

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has launched her campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination to oppose President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

She formally launched her bid Sunday morning, not with a big speech, but instead with a video that poses the question, “WIll brave win?”

“We need a leader who makes big, bold, brave choices,” Gillibrand says in the video. “Someone who isn’t afraid of progress.”

The lawmaker is set to deliver her first major speech next week in front of Trump International Hotel in New York City.

She gave an indication in the video of the issues she will focus on during her campaign. “We launched ourselves into space and landed on the moon. If we can do that, we can definitely achieve universal health care,”she said. “We can provide paid family leave for all, end gun violence, pass a Green New Deal, get money out of politics and take back our democracy.”

She joins a large group of presidential hopefuls that includes, among many others, some of her fellow female lawmakers: Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kamala Harris of California, along with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate in 2009.  She filled the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, but since then has won three elections to retain the seat.

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Gillibrand Launches Bid For 2020 Presidential Race

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has launched her campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination to oppose President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

She formally launched her bid Sunday morning, not with a big speech, but instead with a video that poses the question, “WIll brave win?”

“We need a leader who makes big, bold, brave choices,” Gillibrand says in the video. “Someone who isn’t afraid of progress.”

The lawmaker is set to deliver her first major speech next week in front of Trump International Hotel in New York City.

She gave an indication in the video of the issues she will focus on during her campaign. “We launched ourselves into space and landed on the moon. If we can do that, we can definitely achieve universal health care,”she said. “We can provide paid family leave for all, end gun violence, pass a Green New Deal, get money out of politics and take back our democracy.”

She joins a large group of presidential hopefuls that includes, among many others, some of her fellow female lawmakers: Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kamala Harris of California, along with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate in 2009.  She filled the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, but since then has won three elections to retain the seat.

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Biden Stops Short of Saying He’s Running for President

Veteran Democrat Joe Biden campaigned for president in every way but name Saturday, declining to announce his 2020 plans but dropping hints, including a memorable gaffe that suggests he will soon be all in.

As the number of Democratic White House hopefuls keeps growing, Biden is expected to jump into the crowded race to see who will challenge Donald Trump next year, but the former vice president has maintained the suspense.

He received a hero’s welcome in his home state of Delaware, where he told nearly 1,000 party brokers and leaders at a Democratic dinner that it was time to restore America’s “backbone,” but also that political “consensus” was necessary to move beyond the toxic tone of the Trump era.

“Our politics has become so mean, so petty, so vicious, that we can’t govern ourselves; in many cases, even talk to one another,” he said.

A gaffe, or was it?

Then, a startling slip by the notoriously gaffe-prone Biden — perhaps an accident, perhaps a perfectly placed tease as he inches towards a presidential campaign.

“I’m told I get criticized by the new left. I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United” — and then he catches himself. “Anybody who WOULD run.”

A murmur rippled through the crowd, and within moments his die-hard supporters rose to their feet, chanting “Run Joe run.”

“I didn’t mean it!” he chuckled, looking down before crossing himself as the applause lingered.

“Of anybody who would run. Because folks, we have to bring this country back together again.”

Pressure or run or bow out

Biden, 76, sounded at times as if he were rehearsing a campaign speech, repeating lines about the promise of the 21st century and American resolve, and choosing “truth over lies,” that he had used earlier in the week at a Washington speech to firefighters.

“There’s so much at stake,” he said about the next election, calling it the most important in a century. “Our core values are being shredded.”

The Democratic senior statesman has been mulling a challenge against Trump for months.

While he tops nearly all early polls for the Democratic nominations race, strategists and election observers have stressed that he is under pressure to enter the field soon, or bow out.

One of his potential rivals, the former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, launched his presidential bid Thursday, and spent three straight days campaigning in the early voting state of Iowa, sucking up much of the political oxygen.

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Brazil Reportedly Weighing Import Quota for US Wheat

Brazil is considering granting an import quota of 750,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat per year without tariffs in exchange for other trade concessions, according to a Brazilian official with knowledge of the negotiations ahead of President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Washington. 

That is about 10 percent of Brazilian annual wheat imports and is part of a two-decade-old commitment to import 750,000 metric tons of wheat a year free of tariffs that Brazil made — but never kept — during the World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round of talks on agriculture. 

Bolsonaro is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Sunday and meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday.

Farm state senators have asked that wheat sales be on the agenda, in a letter to Trump seen by Reuters. They estimate such a quota would increase U.S. wheat sales by between $75 million and $120 million a year. 

Brazil buys most of its imported wheat from Argentina, and some from Uruguay and Paraguay, without paying tariffs because they are all members of the Mercosur South American customs union. Imports from other countries pay a 10 percent tariff. 

The Brazilian official, who asked not to be named so he could speak freely, said the wheat quota could be sealed during a meeting between Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Teresa Cristina Dias and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Tuesday. 

In return, the Brazilian government is hoping to see movement toward the reopening of the U.S. market to fresh beef imports from Brazil that was shut down after a meatpacking industry scandal involving bribed inspectors. 

Brazil is also seeking U.S. market access for its exports of limes that are facing phytosanitary certification hurdles. 

The world’s largest sugar producer also wants tariff-free access to the U.S. market. But Washington is not expected to budge on that issue until Brazil lifts a tariff it slapped on ethanol imports when they exceed 150 million liters in a quarter. 

That is a major demand by U.S. biofuels producers, who are the main suppliers of ethanol imported by Brazil. 

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Iran’s Oil Minister Blames US for Market Tensions 

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Saturday that frequent U.S. comments about oil prices had created market tensions, the ministry’s news website SHANA reported. 

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made the U.S. economy one of his top issues, has repeatedly tweeted about oil prices and the Organization of the Petroleum Producing Countries. He has expressed concern about higher prices, including last month and ahead of OPEC’s meeting in December.

“Americans talk a lot and I advise them to talk less. They [have] caused tensions in the oil market for over a year now, and they are responsible for it, and if this trend continues, the market will be more tense,” SHANA quoted Zanganeh as saying. 

U.S. crude futures briefly hit a 2019 high on Friday but later retreated along with benchmark Brent oil as worries about the global economy and robust U.S. production put a brake on prices. 

OPEC and its allies including Russia, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed last year to cut production, partly in response to increased U.S. shale output.

Washington granted waivers to eight major buyers of Iranian oil after the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil sector in November, after withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. 

“We do not know whether U.S. waivers would be extended or not. We will do our job but they [the U.S.] say something new every single day,” Zanganeh said. 

South Pars

Zanganeh was speaking at a news conference ahead of the planned inauguration on Sunday of four development phases at South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, by President Hassan Rouhani. 

He said Iran had invested $11 billion to complete the phases 13 and 22-24 of the giant field, which Tehran shares with Qatar, and expected to operate 27 phases by next March, SHANA reported. 

France’s Total and China National Petroleum Corp suspended investment in phase 11 of South Pars last year after the United States threatened to impose sanctions on companies that do business in Iran. 

But Zanganeh said talks with CNPC were continuing. 

“Negotiations are ongoing. A senior delegation from China is due to come to Iran for talks. They have promised to come to Iran soon,” said Zanganeh, according to the semiofficial news agency ISNA. 

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Trump Seeks More Workarounds to Avoid Congress

President Donald Trump’s first veto was more than a milestone. It signals a new era of ever perilous relations between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Trump’s agenda was stymied even before his party lost unified control of Washington at the start of the year, and he has grown increasingly frustrated by his dealings with Congress, believing little of substance will get done by the end of his first term and feeling just as pessimistic about the second, according to White House aides, campaign staffers and outside allies. 

 

Republicans in Congress are demonstrating new willingness to part ways with the president. On the Senate vote Thursday rejecting the president’s national emergency declaration to get border wall funding, 12 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against Trump. 

 

The 59-41 vote against Trump’s declaration was just the latest blow as tensions flare on multiple fronts. 

 

Trump tweeted one word after the vote: “VETO!” And he eagerly flexed that muscle on Friday for the first time, hoping to demonstrate resolve on fulfilling his 2016 campaign pledge. 

​Proposed deals fall flat

 

GOP senators had repeatedly agitated for compromise deals that would give them political cover to support Trump despite their concerns that he was improperly circumventing Congress. But the president was never persuaded by any of the proposals, said a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

 

A last-ditch trip to the White House by a group of senators Wednesday night only irritated Trump, who felt they were offering little in the way of new solutions. 

 

As the vote neared, Trump repeatedly made clear that it was about party fealty and border security and suggested that voting against him could be perilous. 

 

“It’s going to be a great election issue,” he predicted. 

 

Looking past the veto, Trump’s plans for future collaboration with Congress appear limited. With the exception of pushing for approval of his trade deal with Mexico and Canada, the president and his allies see little benefit in investing more political capital on Capitol Hill. Trump ran against Washington in 2016, and he is fully expected to do so again. 

 

Trump once declared that “I alone can fix it.” But that was before getting hamstrung in Washington, and he is now exploring opportunities to pursue executive action to work around lawmakers, as he did with his emergency declaration on the border wall. He is directing aides to find other areas where he can act — or at least be perceived as acting — without Congress, including infrastructure and drug prices. 

‘The campaign begins’

 

Trump made his intentions clear recently as he assessed that Democrats would rather investigate him than cooperate on policy: “Basically, they’ve started the campaign. So the campaign begins.” 

 

His dealings with Congress were inconsistent even when Republicans controlled both chambers, and he has made few overtures to Democrats since they won control of the House. 

 

Trump initially predicted he could work across the aisle, but that sentiment cooled after the bitter government shutdown fight and in the face of mounting investigations. His frustrations are evidence of the difficulty that the Washington neophyte and former business executive has had with the process of lawmaking, and the challenges yet to come. 

 

The White House argues there are still opportunities for collaboration, listing ratification of the Canada-Mexico trade pact as a priority. But passage is anything but assured. 

 

Trump’s ire has been directed at both parties for some time, aides said. He was upset with the Republicans’ performance during the recent congressional hearing featuring his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, telling allies that he was not impressed with their questioning.  

Trump’s budget proposal this past week was viewed as a shot at Democrats, with its proposals to increase money for the border wall and cut to social safety net programs. The plan, which had little in the way of new or bipartisan ideas, was declared dead on arrival by Democratic House leaders. 

Stoltenberg address

 

Further stoking tensions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., invited NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to address an upcoming joint meeting of Congress, in what was widely seen as a rebuke of Trump’s criticism of the trans-Atlantic alliance. The invitation was backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and followed votes earlier this year in which Republicans voiced opposition to Trump’s plans to draw down U.S. troops in Syria and Afghanistan. 

 

Presidential complaints about Congress — and efforts to find a workaround — are nothing new. 

 

President Barack Obama in 2014 resorted to what became known as his “pen and phone” strategy. 

 

“I’ve got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won’t, and I’ve got a telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission,” he said. 

 

Obama’s strategy yielded years of executive orders and regulatory action, but many proved ephemeral when Trump took office and started unwinding them.

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Federal Court: Mississippi Must Redraw Senate District

A federal appeals court told Mississippi lawmakers to redraw a state Senate district where a judge found that black residents’ voting power had been diluted.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the order Friday, denying a request by state officials to delay the impact of a ruling that U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued last month.

Reeves said Senate District 22 should be redrawn because it fails to give African-American voters an “equal opportunity” to elect a candidate of their choice. The appeals court wrote that a majority of members on its three-judge panel found “there is not a strong likelihood” that state officials ultimately would persuade them to overturn Reeves’ ruling.

State sued in July

Three black residents sued the state in July, saying the composition of the district violates the Voting Rights Act. It stretches through parts of six counties, including poor and mostly black parts of the Delta into the affluent and mostly white Jackson suburbs of Madison County. It has a 51 percent black voting-age population and a white senator, Republican Buck Clarke of Hollandale, who was first elected in 2003 under a somewhat different configuration of the district. Clarke is not seeking re-election this year because he’s running for state treasurer.

“The Court of Appeals quite properly confirmed Judge Reeves’ ruling that lines of District 22 should be changed for this year’s election. That configuration added wealthy majority-white suburbs in Madison County to an otherwise largely African-American rural district in the Delta to dilute African-American voting strength in violation of the Voting Rights Act,” Rob McDuff, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said in a statement Friday.

McDuff, Mississippi Center for Justice and the Washington-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law were among those representing African-Americans who brought the lawsuit, including a former state lawmaker who lost to Clarke in 2015.

An attorney for the state could not immediately be reached after business hours Friday.

Deadline to draw districts April 3

Mississippi has 52 state Senate districts, and all of the state’s legislative seats are up for election this year. The current district lines were set in 2012 and have been used since the 2015 legislative elections.

Both Reeves and the appeals court judges acknowledged that redrawing District 22 will require at least one nearby Senate district to be redrawn, as well.

The appeals court set an April 3 deadline for lawmakers to draw the new districts. Candidates’ qualifying deadline for all legislative races was March 1, but the appeals court said the qualifying deadline in the newly drawn districts will be April 12.

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