Trump reaches critical number to clinch nomination

May 26 at 1:17 PM
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.The good news for Trump, reported by The Associated Press after a nationwide survey of unbound delegates, was tempered by continuing problems for his campaign. Those include the abrupt departure of Trump’s political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders to declare their support for his upstart candidacy.Trump was put over the top in the AP delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

Speaker Paul Ryan has backed away from his pledge to support whoever becomes the nominee, saying he’s “not ready” to endorse Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Other GOP heavyweights, including the Bushes, are also not giving endorsements. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.

But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced him as a plain-speaking populist.

Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman. “Leadership is leadership,” House said. “If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”

May 26 at 1:17 PM
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.The good news for Trump, reported by The Associated Press after a nationwide survey of unbound delegates, was tempered by continuing problems for his campaign. Those include the abrupt departure of Trump’s political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders to declare their support for his upstart candidacy.Trump was put over the top in the AP delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

GOP establishment splits over supporting Trump

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Speaker Paul Ryan has backed away from his pledge to support whoever becomes the nominee, saying he’s “not ready” to endorse Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Other GOP heavyweights, including the Bushes, are also not giving endorsements. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.

But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced him as a plain-speaking populist.

Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman.

“Leadership is leadership,” House said. “If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”

Replay

 

Trump’s pivotal moment comes amid a new sign of internal problems.

Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the abrupt departure of political director Rick Wiley, who was in the midst of leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

Poll: Most voters see Trump and Clinton unfavorably

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Here’s what a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted May 16-19, 2016 said about the race between Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and GOP candidate Donald Trump. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

His hiring about six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were embracing Trump’s campaign. But a person familiar with Wiley’s ouster said the operative clashed with others in Trump’s operation and didn’t want to put longtime Trump allies in key jobs. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal campaign dynamics.

Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best.

Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.

“If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,” Linton said. “He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.”

Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination began with an escalator ride.

Trump and his wife, Melania, descended an escalator into the basement lobby of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, for an announcement many observers had said would never come: The celebrity real estate developer had flirted with running for office in the past.

His speech then set the tone for his ability to dominate the headlines with provocative statements, insults and hyperbole. He called Mexicans “rapists,” promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and proposed banning most Muslims from the U.S. for an indeterminate time.

He criticized women for their looks. And he unleashed an uncanny marketing ability in which he deduced his critics’ weak points and distilled them to nicknames that stuck. “Little Marco” Rubio, “Weak” Jeb Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, among others, all were forced into reacting to Trump. They fell one-by-one — leaving Trump the sole survivor of a riotous Republican primary.

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to solve our biggest global challenges and bring people everywhere a better quality of life.

 

His rallies became magnets for free publicity. Onstage, he dispensed populism that drew thousands of supporters, many wearing his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting, “Build the wall!”

The events drew protests too— with demonstrators sometimes forcibly ejected.

When voting started, Trump was not so fast out of the gate.

He lost the Iowa caucuses in February, falling behind Cruz and barely edging Rubio for second. He recovered in New Hampshire. From there he and Cruz fiercely engaged, with Trump winning some and losing some but one way or another dominating the rest of the primary season — in votes or at least in attention — and ultimately in delegates.

He incurred relatively low campaign costs — just $57 million through the end of April. He covered most of it with at least $43 million of his own money loaned to the campaign.

Trump entered a new phase of his campaign Tuesday night by holding his first major campaign fundraiser: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los Angeles.

Trump, 69, the son of a New York City real estate magnate, had risen to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing major real estate deals, watching his financial fortunes rise, then fall, hosting “The Apprentice” TV show and authoring more than a dozen books.

___

Associated Press writers James Nord in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, Jill Colvin in Anaheim, California, Steve Peoples in Washington and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the abrupt departure of political director Rick Wiley, who was in the midst of leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

Here’s what a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted May 16-19, 2016 said about the race between Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and GOP candidate Donald Trump. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

His hiring about six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were embracing Trump’s campaign. But a person familiar with Wiley’s ouster said the operative clashed with others in Trump’s operation and didn’t want to put longtime Trump allies in key jobs. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal campaign dynamics.

Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best.

Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.

“If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,” Linton said. “He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.”

Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination began with an escalator ride.

Trump and his wife, Melania, descended an escalator into the basement lobby of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, for an announcement many observers had said would never come: The celebrity real estate developer had flirted with running for office in the past.

His speech then set the tone for his ability to dominate the headlines with provocative statements, insults and hyperbole. He called Mexicans “rapists,” promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and proposed banning most Muslims from the U.S. for an indeterminate time.

He criticized women for their looks. And he unleashed an uncanny marketing ability in which he deduced his critics’ weak points and distilled them to nicknames that stuck. “Little Marco” Rubio, “Weak” Jeb Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, among others, all were forced into reacting to Trump. They fell one-by-one — leaving Trump the sole survivor of a riotous Republican primary.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to solve our biggest global challenges and bring people everywhere a better quality of life.

 

His rallies became magnets for free publicity. Onstage, he dispensed populism that drew thousands of supporters, many wearing his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting, “Build the wall!”

The events drew protests too— with demonstrators sometimes forcibly ejected.

When voting started, Trump was not so fast out of the gate.

He lost the Iowa caucuses in February, falling behind Cruz and barely edging Rubio for second. He recovered in New Hampshire. From there he and Cruz fiercely engaged, with Trump winning some and losing some but one way or another dominating the rest of the primary season — in votes or at least in attention — and ultimately in delegates.

He incurred relatively low campaign costs — just $57 million through the end of April. He covered most of it with at least $43 million of his own money loaned to the campaign.

Trump entered a new phase of his campaign Tuesday night by holding his first major campaign fundraiser: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los Angeles.

Trump, 69, the son of a New York City real estate magnate, had risen to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing major real estate deals, watching his financial fortunes rise, then fall, hosting “The Apprentice” TV show and authoring more than a dozen books.

Associated Press writers James Nord in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, Jill Colvin in Anaheim, California, Steve Peoples in Washington and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Top candidates attack but express cautious optimism about winning

Headlinenews.guru 2/1/2016 – The first major test for the 2016 presidential candidates is now just hours away with the Iowa Caucus on Monday — its outcome a likely sign of whether front-running Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump can hold their leads or if the unpredictable and often-angry electorate has other plans.

Trump and Clinton made their closing arguments Sunday, barnstorming across Iowa and battling on the political shows, in a final effort to beat back close rivals like Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, both eager for an upset in the first-in-the-nation balloting.

“Thirty six hours from now, the men and women of Iowa are going to caucus,” Cruz, who is trailing Trump in Iowa by roughly 5 percentage points, told “Fox News Sunday.” “And we have a grassroots army. We’ve got 12,000 volunteers in the state.”

Still, Cruz, who argues that he’s the true conservative in the GOP field, was, like the rest of this year’s White House candidates, steering clear of predicting a win, then having to face the fallout from a loss or even a below-expectations finish.

“Right now, this is all about turnout,” said Cruz, a Texas senator in a close race for second with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “This is all about who shows up tomorrow night at 7. … If conservatives come out, we will win.”

Sanders, a Vermont independent, told ABC’s “This Week”: “I think we have a shot to win it, if people come out.”

His populist message about the economy being “rigged” against the middle class and “billionaires buying elections” has resonated with the largely disaffected and angry electorate and has posed a clear alternative to the Clinton political dynasty.

Even the supremely confident Trump, who has a double-digit national lead over the GOP field, tamped down Iowa expectations Sunday.

“I don’t have to win it,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m doing really well with the evangelicals in Iowa. But I’m also doing tremendously well all over the country with the evangelicals. … I think we have a good chance of winning Iowa.”

Still, Trump, who has a wider lead among the more independent-minded voters of New Hampshire, who vote second, on Feb. 9, realizes the importance of a lead-off victory.

“I have a very substantial lead in New Hampshire,” he told CBS. “But I think it would be really good to win Iowa. I’d like to win Iowa.”

And at least 9 percent of potential Iowa caucus-goers remain undecided, according to a Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday.

After New Hampshire, the voting continues in South Carolina and Nevada, with the outcomes of those so-called “early-state votes” expected to winnow the GOP’s 11-candidate field.

After Trump and Cruz, Rubio is the only other GOP candidate with double-digit poll numbers.

They are followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former business executive Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Santorum and Huckabee, popular among social conservatives, won Iowa in 2012 and 2008, respectively.

Though none of the candidates below Rubio is expected to make a strong Iowa finish, Kasich, Christie and even Bush could do well in New Hampshire and challenge the frontrunners — as the GOP and Democratic races head across the south and into the late spring before this summer’s nominating conventions.

Kasich was the only candidate in New Hampshire on Sunday, telling potential voters at an Elks Lodge in Salem that cutting regulations that kill small businesses would be a priority of his first 100 days, if elected president.

Trump and Cruz each attended Sunday morning church services with family members.

Trump attended services at the First Christian Orchard Campus, a nondenominational church in Council Bluffs.

Cruz went to the Lutheran Church of Hope, outside Des Moines. The sermon called on politicians to treat their opponents with love, not attack ads.

Trump has tapped into the angry electorate with plans to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out “drug dealers” and others from Mexico. And in the wake of two recent terror attacks, he proposed keeping Muslim from entering the United States until the government improves its immigrant-screening process.

Amid some public outcry, Trump’s poll numbers increased by double digits after his called for the ban, in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre in December.

Since Cruz emerged in recent weeks as Trump’s closest primary rival, Trump has called Cruz “a nasty guy” and a “liar,” particularly about whether Trump essentially supports ObamaCare.

The only other Democratic candidate is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has single-digit poll numbers.

The front-running Clinton, who has a superior fundraising and campaign apparatus, continues to hold a roughly 25-point national lead over Sanders.

However, the former first lady has been stuck defending herself in a controversy about her use of a private server/email setup to conduct official business when secretary of state.

On Friday, the State Department said it had identified 22 “top secret” emails that it would not release, as part of a court order to make public Clinton’s email correspondence.

“It’s a continuation of a story that’s been playing out for months,” Clinton told ABC News.

Clinton also said that none of the emails was marked classified at the time, and she again called for their released, in an apparent effort to help end the controversy. She also suggested that Republicans were “grabbing at straws” on the issue.

“I want to see them disclosed,” she told ABC.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

HILLARY CLINTON’S LEAD in the Democratic primary race has narrowed to its slimmest margin yet in the new Fox News national poll, with 49 percent of primary voters supporting the former secretary of state, down from 54 percent two weeks ago, while Bernie Sanders also drops by two points to 37 percent.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic primary race has narrowed to its slimmest margin yet.

The front-runner’s support has slipped under 50 percent, and cracks may be appearing in what some called her “firewall” — the African-American voter bloc.

Here are the numbers from the latest Fox News national poll:

Forty-nine percent of Democratic primary voters now support Clinton — down from 54 percent two weeks ago.

Bernie Sanders also drops — by two points — to 37 percent. Martin O’Malley, down two ticks as well, gets 1 percent.

Ten percent are undecided — a sign the race is more fluid than it seemed two weeks ago when only two percent were undecided.

Last June, Clinton held a 46-point lead over Sanders.  Since then, Sanders’s support has grown slowly but steadily, while Clinton’s support has ebbed and recovered once — and now appears in danger of another reversal.

Clinton’s sagging support is due, at least in part, to erosion among black voters.  While 67 percent support her, that’s down from 78 percent two weeks ago and 84 percent in December.

“This comes against a backdrop of extreme volatility in stock markets and increasing pessimism about the economy,” says Dana Blanton, vice president of public opinion research for Fox News. “For the first time in over three years, more Americans think the economy is getting worse than better.”

A year ago, 53 percent thought the economy was getting better and 36 percent said worse.  Now 46 percent think it’s getting worse and 39 percent better.

Sanders says as president he will, “Break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share.”  He has criticized Clinton for being too close to Wall Street and in the last Democratic debate said the first difference between them is, “I don’t take money from big banks. I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”

The big dividing line among Democrats continues to be age, with Sanders leading by 26 points among those under 45 and Clinton leading by 42 points among those ages 45 and over.

Sanders voters tend to be dissatisfied (69 percent) with the workings of the federal government, while Clinton voters are about as likely to be satisfied (50 percent) as dissatisfied (47 percent).

About one-quarter (27 percent) of Sanders voters will be pleased if Clinton gets the nomination, while one-fifth (19 percent) would be so dissatisfied they’d stay home in November instead of voting for her.

Clinton voters would be more accepting of Sanders as the nominee — 43 percent say they’d be satisfied with him, while 13 percent of Clinton voters say they probably won’t vote if Bernie is the nominee.

One thing Sanders and Clinton supporters have in common is that they’d rather Joe Biden be the nominee than their candidate’s current opponent.  Half (51 percent) of Clinton supporters and 39 percent of Sanders voters would be satisfied with the vice president as the Democratic nominee.

Honesty (30 percent) is the top quality Democratic primary voters want in their nominee, followed by the right experience (22 percent), caring about people like themselves (17 percent) and the ability to win in November (8 percent).

Among those who say honesty is most important, Sanders leads Clinton by 27 points.

Both Sanders (84 percent) and Clinton (93 percent) supporters overwhelmingly approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.  For comparison, 92 percent of Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s supporters disapprove of Obama.

Overall, 45 percent of voters approve and 48 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance.  This is an improvement from early January when 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,009 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 18-21, 2016.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and 5 points for the Democratic primary voter sample (375).

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gunmen-killed-outside-Muhammad-cartoon-contest-in-Texas

2 gunmen killed outside Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas

GARLAND, Texas (AP) — Two gunmen were killed Sunday in Texas after opening fire on a security officer outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad, and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the event was scheduled to end and began shooting at the security officer, the City of Garland said in a statement. Garland police officers returned fire, killing the men.

Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the event inside, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

But he said at a late Sunday news conference that authorities were searching the gunmen’s vehicle for explosives, saying, “Because of the situation of what was going on today and the history of what we’ve been told has happened at other events like this, we are considering their car (is) possibly containing a bomb.”

Drawings such at the ones featured at the Texas event are deemed insulting to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous.

The Curtis Culwell Center, a school-district owned public events space where the Texas event was held, was evacuated after the shooting, as were some surrounding businesses. The evacuation was lifted several hours later and police were not aware of any ongoing threat, but a large area around the center remained blocked off late into the night.

Police helicopters circled overhead as bomb squads worked on the car. Harn said the bodies of the gunmen, who had not yet been identified, were not immediately taken from the scene because they were too close to the car. He said they would be removed once the car was cleared.

The wounded security officer, who was unarmed, worked for the Garland Independent School District, Harn said. He was treated and released from a local hospital.

Harn said the district hires security for events at its facilities, but noted additional security also was in place for Sunday’s event. The sponsoring group has said it paid $10,000 for off-duty police officers and other private security.

Harn said the city had not received any credible threats before the shooting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state officials are investigating, and Dallas FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont said that agency is providing investigative and bomb technician assistance.

The event featured speeches by American Freedom Defense Initiative president Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker known for his outspoken criticism of Islam. Wilders, who received several standing ovations from the crowd, left immediately after his speech.

After the shooting, authorities escorted about 75 contest attendees to another room in the conference center, where a woman held up an American flag, and the crowd sang “God Bless America.”

The group was then taken to a separate location, where they were held for about two hours until being briefly questioned by FBI agents before being released.

Johnny Roby of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who was attending the contest, told the Associated Press he was outside the building when he heard around about 20 shots that appeared to be coming from the direction of a passing car.

Roby said he then heard two single shots. He said he heard officers yell that they had the car before he was sent inside the building.

Geller told the AP before Sunday’s event that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to outcries and violence over drawings of Muhammad. She said in a statement issued Sunday night that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”

In January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions and used depictions of Muhammad. Another deadly shooting occurred the following month at a free speech event in Copenhagen featuring an artist who had caricatured the prophet.

Tens of thousands of people rallied around the world to honor the victims and defend the freedom of expression following those shootings.

Geller’s group is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center site and for buying advertising space in cities across the U.S. criticizing Islam.

When a Chicago-based nonprofit held a January fundraiser in Garland designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: “Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!” Others held signs with messages such as, “Insult those who behead others,” an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

Baltimore-tries-to-recover-after-unrest

Baltimore tries to recover after unrest leads to damage, multiple arrests

BALTIMORE — Residents here shaken by violent protests over the death of a man in police custody awoke Sunday to sweep up shattered glass and board up broken windows, while authorities upped the count of those arrested to nearly three dozen.http://wapo.st/1J1sGNU

The impact of the Saturday demonstrations was felt in both the seascape of boarded, abandoned homes in West Baltimore and in the gleaming waterfront along the Inner Harbor, where protesters had vowed to shut down the city with the slogan “no business as usual.”

Authorities said Sunday that 35 people had been arrested — 31 adults and four juveniles — on charges ranging from failure to disperse to rioting, assaulting police, burglary, theft and destruction of property. Police said two journalists were “inadvertently detained” and were freed without charges.

A spokesman for the Maryland prison system said one of the protesters arrested was from Philadelphia, another from the District and a third from a suburb north of Baltimore, but most were from Baltimore.

City leaders and the NAACP blamed the violence on “outside agitators,” and they said the arrests of so many from Baltimore did not reflect instigators who escaped apprehension. One of the last speakers at a City Hall rally Saturday told the crowd he understood they wanted to go to Camden Yards, and assured them they would soon “be released” and be on their own.

Both affected areas of the city returned to quiet Sunday, and community leaders said protests were suspended in deference to wake on Sunday afternoon and funeral on Monday for the man whose death sparked the protests. Freddie Gray, 25, died April 19, a week after he was arrested on a West Baltimore corner, pinned to the ground and dragged to the back of a police wagon. Police said he died of severe injuries to his spine and are trying to determine how the injuries occurred.

Six officers have been suspended, and police plan to turn over their cases to prosecutors on May 1. But demonstrators demanding murder indictments have turned Baltimore into the latest in a long list of cities grappling with deaths of young black men at the hands of police.

Rage boiled over late Saturday, and on Sunday the city tried to recover from hours of unrest that led to damaged police cars, the trashing of three crowded outdoor bar patios near Orioles Park at Camden Yards and fights that followed six hours of peaceful protest.

Business owners covered broken windows as fans filled the downtown ballpark Sunday afternoon to watch the Orioles play the Boston Red Sox. The night before, frightened spectators had to navigate angry demonstrators and police in riot gear before the game, and were held after the last out of the game until police “were absolutely sure it was safe for them to depart.”

People living next to the police station in West Baltimore — where Gray was pulled unconscious from the transport wagon April 12 – also spent the morning cleaning up from overnight clashes, in which police said protesters threw rocks and bricks at officers. People there too urged calm, but their emphasis was on justice and reform.

City work crews cleaned the corner of Riggs Avenue and Mount Street, in front of the barricaded police station, and a resident hung a sign on a light pole: “Please protest peacefully for your community.”

The streets were empty, but the pews of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church a block away from the station were full. Inside, the Rev. Alfreda L. Wiggins likened Gray’s death to martyrs of the civil rights movement.

“Freddie Gray died under mysterious and vicious circumstances,” she thundered to the congregation, “so that the attention of the world could focus on the injustice that African Americans are subjected to, over and over again.”

Parishioners then took to the streets “to pray outside, to pray for our community.” Wiggins noted that “Freddie was a black boy. His mother and father were black. His sisters and brother were black. We are black. He could be our son, our grandson. . . . We need to reach out, and cry.”

At Camden Yards, the epicenter of the downtown disturbances Saturday, there was little evidence Sunday that anything was amiss. It was Little League Day, and parents poured into the stadium with children in baseball uniforms in tow.

Marvin Hott, 42, came with his son Nathan, 12, a player for the Bel Air Reds, from north of Baltimore. Having monitored accounts of Saturday, Holt said, “I was a little bit nervous. I thought, if it was like it was last night, I would skip the game.”

But Hott said the situation appeared calm. “People are angry, and they want to be heard,” he said. “If it’s peaceful, then I understand.”

Carl Mummenthey, 44, brought his children Ainsley, 8, and Andrew, 11, from upstate New York to cheer on the Red Sox. They had been at Saturday’s game, too, and, taking note of the protests, had arrived early to avoid the disturbances.

But they could see lines of police pushing against protesters from inside the stadium’s patio and picnic area, next to the fence along Pratt Street. Ainsley said she was most scared of the police in riot gear. Her father said they all watched the news and he explained what was happening.

“We saw the usher rushing people inside,” Mummenthey said. “We saw police rushing people on a side street. We felt safe, and it looked to me like the police were restrained and handled it right.”

Paul Rossi, who works at a food stand selling peanuts and sausages on Camden Street, said he was injured when protesters overturned two grills and rained water bottles on patrons of outdoor bar patios. They then threw metal gates, overturned tables and broke windows, sending customers fleeing inside already jammed bars.

The scene was one of chaos, with bags and purses stolen, fistfights between protesters and baseball fans, and people scattering in panic before the crowd moved on to attack police cars on another street. One man threw a trash can through the back window of a squad car; a teen used a orange street cone to shatter the windshield of another.

Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, said the violence at the end of what had been hours of peaceful protest trampled the message of the day. “The last two hours was about breaking things up, and nothing about Freddie Gray,” she said.

Hill-Aston said that during the violence, she saw Gray’s cousin sitting on a curb, crying and saying, “We don’t want this.”

At another location, an older woman carrying an umbrella tried to stop a youth from throwing a burning trash can at police. When she failed, she stomped the flames out herself.

Gray’s brother pleaded with a protester to put down a sign that read, “F— the police,” saying, “It’s not what we want.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) called the violence unacceptable as she addressed reporters with lawmakers and religious leaders Sunday evening. “We cannot and will not let a minority of incendiary individuals exploit our community,” she said at a news conference with lawmakers and religious leaders at Bethel AME Church. She said she would not let outsiders “put their own agenda ahead of our community.”

She said outsiders were pushing protesters to “shut this city down,” “inciting” the crowd, and then left. The mayor praised residents who urged calm “and put their lives before the blue line” of police.

“We are seeking answers,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We can seek answers as we seek justice, and as we seek peace.”

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) called the violence a distraction. “We are about to go to a funeral, where a family has lost a son,” he said. “I don’t want to lose sight of that.”

He added, “I didn’t come to ask people to respect the family” and keep protests peaceful, “I’m begging them.”

Cummings said he had faith in city leadership. “I have heard the mayor say it, and you know she means it. I have heard the police commissioner say it, and I know he means it. There will be change.”

Said the Rev. Frank Reid, pastor of Bethel AME, “Business as usual is not an option here.”

Obama holds historic meeting with Cuba’s Castro, pledges to ‘turn the page’

President Obama held a historic formal meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro Saturday, the first between US and Cuban leaders in over half a century, pledging to ‘turn the page’ and develop a new relationship between the two countries.

The two leaders shook hands Friday at the start of the summit and met Saturday on the sidelines of the a Panama City convention center.
Obama holds historic meeting with Cuba’s Castro, pledges to ‘turn the page’
Obama and Castro met for about an hour, with Obama telling reporters before the meeting that, after 50 years of unchanged policy, it was time to try something new and to engage with both Cuba’s government and its people.

“What we have both concluded is that we can disagree with a spirit of respect and civility,” Obama said. “And over time, it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries.”

Obama thanked Castro “for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions” and pledged to do whatever he could to “make sure that the people of Cuba are able to prosper and live in freedom and security.”

Castro, for his part, said he agreed with everything Obama had said. However, he added the caveat that they had “agreed to disagree” at times. Castro said he had told the Americans that Cuba was willing to discuss issues such as human rights and freedom of the press, maintaining that “everything can be on the table.”

“We are disposed to talk about everything — with patience,” Castro said in Spanish. “Some things we will agree with, and others we won’t.”

Not since 1958 have a U.S. and Cuban leader convened a substantial meeting. Dwight Eisenhower and Fulgencio Batista met that year, and the following year, former Cuban President Fidel Castro met with Richard Nixon, who was vice president at the time.

The flurry of diplomacy was aimed at injecting fresh momentum into their months-old plan to restore normal relations between their countries.

The historic gathering played out on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, which this year included Cuba for the first time. Although the meeting wasn’t publicly announced in advance, White House aides had suggested the two leaders were looking for an opportunity to meet while in Panama and to discuss the ongoing efforts to open embassies in Havana and Washington, among other issues.

Obama had pledged earlier on Saturday not to refight the battles of the Cold War.

“The Cold War has been over for a long time,” Obama said at the summit. “And I’m not interested in having battles frankly that started before I was born.”

Castro later rallied to Obama’s defense, absolving the president of fault for the U.S. blockade in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the United States and Cuba.

“In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man,” Castro said — a remarkable vote of confidence from the Cuban leader, who praised Obama’s life and his “humble background.”

In January, the Obama administration began to chip away at the U.S. embargo against Cuba, announcing new changes taking effect Friday that will allow more trade and travel between the two countries.

The changes were announced despite concerns from members of Congress that the landmark shift in U.S.-Cuba relations is a “one-sided deal” that will benefit the Castro regime.

And they have since been questioned by the only two official Republican candidates for president in 2016 – Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas, and Rand Paul, Kentucky.

At a recent summit in California sponsored by the Koch brothers-backed Freedom Partners, Paul argued that a half-century of economic embargoes have failed to remove leaders Fidel and Raul Castro.

“The Castro brothers are brutal dictators,” responded Cruz, a Cuban-American.

Castro, on Saturday, in a meandering, nearly hour-long speech to the summit, ran through an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban grievances against the U.S. dating back more than a century — a vivid display of how raw passions remain over American attempts to undermine Cuba’s government.

Then, in an abrupt about face, he apologized for letting his emotions get the best of him. He said many U.S. presidents were at fault for that troubled history — but that Obama isn’t one of them.

“I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the revolution,” Castro said through a translator, noting that Obama wasn’t even born when the U.S. began sanctioning the island nation. “I apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility for this.”

Speaking just before Castro, Obama acknowledged that deep differences between their countries would persist. Yet he said he was uninterested in getting bogged down in ideology, instead casting the thaw in relations as an opening to create “more opportunities and resources for the Cuban people.”

“The United States will not be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said. “We’re looking to the future.”

Yet the optimistic tone from the president wasn’t enough to offset the skepticism of some Latin American leaders about U.S. intentions in the region, including many who have sharply criticized recent U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

Even President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, whose country is a close U.S. partner, told the summit that such unilateral policies of isolation are always counterproductive and ineffective. “For that reason we reject the adoption of sanctions against Venezuela,” she said.

Raising the stakes even higher for the two leaders was mounting speculation that Obama would use the occasion of the summit taking place in Panama to announce his decision to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a gesture that for Cuba holds both practical and symbolic value.

The U.S. long ago stopped accusing Cuba of conducting terrorism, and Obama has signaled that he’s ready to take Cuba off the list. Earlier in the week he suggested an announcement was imminent when he revealed that the State Department had completed its lengthy review of the designation.

Removal from the terror list is a top priority for Castro because it would not only purge a stain on Cuba’s pride, but also ease its ability to conduct simple financial transactions. Castro said Cuba should never have been on the list in the first place.

“Yes, we have conducted solidarity with other peoples that could be considered terrorism — when we were cornered, when we were strongly harassed,” he said. “We had no other choice but to give up or to fight back.”

Yet Obama’s delay in delisting Cuba comes as the U.S. seeks concessions of its own — namely, the easing of restrictions on American diplomats’ freedom of movement in Havana and better human rights protections. Obama said the U.S. would continue pressing Cuba on human rights even as he called for Congress to lift the economic embargo on the island nation 90 miles to the south of Florida.

A successful relaunch of U.S.-Cuba relations would form a cornerstone of Obama’s foreign policy legacy. But it’s an endeavor he can’t undertake alone: Only Congress can fully lift the onerous U.S. sanctions regime on Cuba, and there are deep pockets of opposition in the U.S. to taking that step.

Obama was scheduled to take questions from reporters before returning to Washington.

How-To-Reenergize-The-Hard-Hit-Oil-And-Gas-Industry

How To Reenergize The Hard-Hit Oil And Gas Industry

Here’s a piece of legislation the Republican Congress should pass pronto: end the decades old, misbegotten ban on the export of crude oil, as well as the stifling bureaucratic restrictions on the export of natural gas. Astounding advances in technology and new discoveries of oil and natural gas reserves have skyrocketed U.S. energy production. America is drilling and refining more oil than it has in decades. Gas is so abundant that electric utilities can’t build or retrofit plants fast enough to absorb it all.

These barriers were put in place to help American businesses and consumers by keeping the stuff at home rather than letting foreigners get their hands on it. Back in the 1970s people thought we were running out of both resources because nominal prices were going up. The real cause was the weak dollar. When President Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker’s Federal Reserve ended the terrible inflation of the 1970s, commodity prices crashed. Oil fell from almost $40 a barrel to $10 before stabilizing in the $20-to-$25 range.

In the early part of the last decade the Fed, with the connivance of the Treasury Department, weakened the greenback, with the same consequences: Commodity prices zoomed up, with oil reaching a peak of more than $140. Now that the dollar has strengthened—something the Fed didn’t intend, which says something about its competence—commodities such as oil have taken a hit, just as they did in the 1980s. The price of natural gas was already low because of the surplus generated by fracking.

This is why antiquated restrictions on oil and gas exports are especially harmful now. Our oil storage capacity has peaked, which means oil fields will have to cut production because there’s no place to store the stuff. It’s one thing when lower prices or less demand affect output; it’s quite another when production is reduced because of artificial, government-caused reasons. At a time when falling oil prices have put many drillers under serious financial pressure, removing wrong-headed obstacles to increase demand would make all the sense in the world.

Repealing these prohibitions would not only lead to more demand from overseas for our oil and gas but also bring closer the day that the U.S. becomes the world’s leading energy producer. More to the point, rising output at low prices will spur the use of natural gas—an ultraclean fossil fuel—for both new purposes (think transportation) and traditional ones, such as a raw material for the chemicals industry.

Opening up the export taps would also lead to a more efficient, i.e., cheaper, oil market. Most of our refineries, particularly on the Gulf Coast, are geared toward processing what’s known as “heavy” crudes. The surge in U.S. production, however, has come in what are labelled “sweet” or “light” crudes. It would make sense–and in dollars and cents–to allow us, in effect, to swap light crudes for heavy crudes until the day comes when we can construct new refineries here.

Licensing for liquefied natural gas export facilities should be approved in a timely manner instead of falling victim to the foot-dragging that’s all too common. The House of Representatives has passed such legislation. It should be coupled with a bill to end the ridiculous ban on oil exports and passed expeditiously.

Most people don’t realize that the U.S. is already the world’s largest exporter of fuels, which include diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. We send roughly 4 million barrels of these products overseas each day. In the natural gas arena U.S. producers have used technology to impressively lower costs. Whatever happens to the dollar, we can easily be a major player in the global fuel market.

It makes no sense to ignore this colossal opportunity any longer. According to one report, between 394,000 and 859,000 U.S. jobs could be created by lifting these export bans. Americans would receive lower long-term energy prices, and increased U.S. energy output would make the world a safer place.

Hillary-Clinton-expected-to-announce-2016-presidential-campaign-Sunday

Hillary Clinton expected to announce 2016 presidential campaign Sunday: source

The long wait’s almost over — Hillary Clinton’s official campaign announcement is expected Sunday, a source close to the campaign told the Daily News.

The former secretary of state is likely to throw her hat in the ring via video and social media as she kicks off her long-expected second shot at the White House.

She’s then expected to begin her campaign with a series of smaller events in early-voting states including Iowa and New Hampshire — though it remains to be seen how low-key the high-profile candidate will be able to keep her trip.

Clinton appears to have an easy path to the Democratic nomination — her poll numbers among Democrats have remained strong for months and no serious challengers appear likely to dent her in the primaries.

She’s also led most of her GOP foes in national and state-level polling for much of the past year, though those numbers may be taking a bit of a hit — a new Quinnipiac University poll Thursday showed her slipping in the swing states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia in the wake of stories about the private email server she used as secretary of state.

Democrats are hopeful the official announcement will let her get out there and help right the ship.

It has been known for close to a month that Clinton was aiming for an April announcement, and her campaign’s move towards renting office space in Brooklyn last week confirmed that timeline.
“I think this is great news. As far as I’m concerned the quicker she gets in the better everything will be,” said veteran Democratic strategist Jim Manley. “Among other things, now that she’s getting in she’ll have a full operation to help her not only define her policies but to ward off all these attacks that are coming from the right as well.”

Sources close to Clinton have said for more than a month that she was aiming for an April announcement coinciding with the beginning of the fund-raising quarter, and her campaign’s move toward renting office space in Brooklyn last week confirmed that timeline.

Clinton will be by far the best known of the candidates to jump into the White House scrum. Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas have also thrown their hats into the ring, and Marco Rubio of Florida is expected to do so on Monday.

Republican-turned-Democrat former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced he’s looking at the race in a surprise Monday video, joining former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb in the field of little-known Democrats looking to challenge Clinton. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is also mulling a challenge from the left, as is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Iran-Supreme-Leader-Khamenei-warns-no-guarantee-of-final-nuclear-deal

Iran: Supreme Leader Khamenei warns ‘no guarantee’ of final nuclear deal

His people celebrated news of an interim nuclear deal with world powers.

But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is much less enthusiastic.

And in his first comments on the matter, apparently meant to keep hardline loyalists on side, the Islamic Republic’s most powerful figure has warned about the “devilish” intentions of the United States.

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Khamenei said he was neither for nor against last week’s framework accord.

“What has happened so far neither guarantees a deal – or talks leading to a deal, nor does it guarantee the content of a deal. ….It doesn’t even guarantee the talks will go on until the end and will lead to a deal,” he said.

The Supreme Leader, who has the last say on all state matters, repeated his faith in President Hassan Rouhani’s negotiating team who met world powers in the Swiss resort of Lausanne and are now seeking a final accord before an end of June deadline.

But, like the President, he demanded that all sanctions on Iran be lifted at the same time as any final deal to curb Tehran’s disputed nuclear work amid Western fears it is seeking to build an atomic bomb.

These include nuclear-related United Nations resolutions as well as US and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions.

“All sanctions should be removed when the deal is signed. If the sanctions removal depends on other processes, then why did we start the negotiations?” Khamenei said.

The US State Department however has reiterated its position that sanctions would be removed gradually.

“Under the agreed-upon parameters, sanctions will be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said. He declined to react specifically to the Iranian leadership’s comments.

One problem is that Iran and the world powers may have different interpretations on what was agreed in the framework accord – a point Khamenei made evident.

“Americans put out a statement just a few hours after our negotiators finished their talks … this statement, which they called a ‘fact sheet’, was wrong on most of the issues.” Khamenei said.

He made the same point on Twitter.

“Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed.They always deceive &breach promises.” -@khamenei_ir

Khameni reiterated Iranian denials that Tehran was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

France, one of the powers to forge the interim deal, said on Thursday that many differences, including on sanctions, needed to be overcome if a final agreement was to be reached.

Negotiators from Iran, the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China will resume negotiations in the coming days to try to pave the way for a final deal.

Rand-Paul-and-the-future-of-the-GOP

RUDGLEY: Rand Paul and the future of the GOP

Conventional wisdom tells us that, in 2016, the Republican Party needs a transformational figure who can broaden the party’s appeal for an ever more diverse electorate or else it will become a minority party. The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Their edge in the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014 only underscores the extent of their demographic woes: they can only win when turnout is low — 2014’s turnout was the lowest in 70 years — and when the electorate tilts whiter, older and more conservative. Just as the party needed Reagan over 30 years ago, the GOP needs a leader to realign its narrative, its policy platform and its image to adapt to the demographic and ideological realities of the twenty-first century. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who announced his candidacy for President in Kentucky on Tuesday, is the only candidate in the field that can take up this mantle and is thus the GOP’s best choice for 2016.

Paul, more than any other candidate, has tried to reach out to disaffected voting blocs that when they do vote, vote blue, like African-Americans and college-age voters. His bold ideas, like scaling back surveillance programs or criminal justice reform, represent a departure from establishment Republicans who appear intent on adding to their party’s litany of failures and embarrassments (that range from George W. Bush’s costly, disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Todd Akin’s cringe-inducing comments on rape and pregnancy). In spite of Paul’s ideological purity, charges that he is unelectable seem unfounded as he actually outperforms all of his rivals in polls that have he and Clinton head to head. His uncompromising fiscal conservatism, noninterventionist foreign policy, civil libertarianism and advocacy for criminal justice reform all position him as a transformational candidate the GOP needs.

Paul is the most ideologically consistent candidate whose integrity and honesty highlight the most attractive elements of small government conservatism. Republicans’ rhetoric of limited government, low taxes and free market principles rarely translates to responsible fiscal governance; the Bush administration accrued trillions of dollars in debt with reckless wars in the Middle East while Republicans in Congress more recently have caused countless episodes of hyper-partisan brinksmanship and government shutdowns. As the most consistently conservative candidate on fiscal issues, Paul can build a coalition of libertarians and Tea Partiers that can go all the way in the primaries. Furthermore, Paul’s populist economic message (and unrelenting opposition to corporate welfare) can resonate with independents and disaffected voters in ways similar to how Elizabeth Warren’s anti-Wall street rhetoric has.

Paul’s noninterventionist foreign policy philosophy will be his biggest obstacle in the primaries just as it was for his father and libertarian icon, Ron Paul. His disdain for foreign intervention sharply contrasts with the demagogic war-mongering exhibited by his rivals for the Republican nomination. However, Paul might see an opening following President Obama’s recent triumph — in securing a framework for a nuclear deal with Iran that would defuse tensions in the Middle East by stopping Iran from building a nuclear weapon while lifting its crippling, yet ineffective, sanctions. The deal could be the defining validation of President Obama’s entire foreign policy philosophy — that is predicated on tireless diplomacy rather than hawkish and combative posturing — and if it is, then the public might be sold on more prudent approaches to foreign threats. Furthermore, Paul’s emphasis on national security rather than brash nation-building illustrates his broader affinity for constitutional governance and limited government domestically and overseas.

Where Paul really steps out of the mainstream is in his affirmation, both in rhetoric and voting record, of the inviolable importance of civil liberties. His denouncement of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs that spy on law-abiding American citizens represents that he is the only true maverick on either side of the aisle that would stand up to the executive agencies that quietly erode the constitutional protections and freedoms that this nation was founded upon. Casting himself as an outsider who will fight to reclaim civil liberties from overreaching, unaccountable executive agencies could have huge electoral benefits both in the primary season and the general election. Furthermore, a corollary of Paul’s civil libertarianism is that he takes a more moderate stance on social issues like gay marriage and marijuana legalization where the public is increasingly veering leftwards. The GOP cannot afford to let the Democratic nominee corner his or her (likely her) opponent by highlighting their unpopular conservative positions on social issues; Rand Paul is the candidate who can most feasibly navigate the potentially hazardous social issues that have long plagued Republicans.

Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) bipartisan criminal justice reform package — the REDEEM Act —highlights Paul’s determined effort to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal to minorities (who consistently vote Democratic ostensibly because of a complete lack of courting from the right). Though this legislative initiative won’t be enough to deliver minority votes to the GOP, it is a first step and without the “Obama effect” (80 percent of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans voted Democratic), it is very possible that Paul will siphon enough of the minority blocs to give a GOP ticket the electoral edge in what is likely to be the most diverse election in American history.

Together these pillars of Paul’s campaign approach and governing philosophy set him aside from the familiar cast of establishment figures. His unerring commitment to limited government and constitutional principles lend him the ideological purity necessary to excite the conservative base in the primaries. His vigorous defence of civil liberties and rebukes of hawkish interventionism would also position him well in a general election. Rand Paul is the change candidate that could become a transformative Republican icon for decades to come.

Ben Rudgley is a Viewpoint writer.