Category Archives: Around The World

Japanese Billionaire Seeks Life Partner For Trip To Moon

(AP) — The Japanese billionaire who’s paying to be the first private citizen to fly around the moon wants company and the deadline to apply is this Friday. Yusaku Maezawa  has set up a website to help find a woman with a desire for world peace to be his life partner.

The 44-year-old online fashion empire founder says applicants must also be single women who are over the age of 20, interested in going into space and preparing for it.

Maezawa’s looking for someone with “a bright personality” who “wants to enjoy life to the fullest.”

Most Of Puerto Rico Has No Power, Many Without Water

(Ponce, PR-AP) – More than two-thirds of Puerto Rico residents are still without power as the island continues to rebound from a series of earthquakes.

Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority said it had restored service to only a third of its one-point-five-million customers. Also, a quarter million people do not have running water because of no power at those plants.

The Trump Administration approved a federal disaster declaration request, which provides some money to deal with debris removal and help for families that lost their homes.

More Than 1 Billion Animals Estimated To Be Dead, At Least 24 People and 2000 Homes Destroyed In Australia Fires

(Sydney-AP) — A prominent scientist believes more animals are dying in Australia’s bushfires than he originally thought. Chris Dickman now thinks more than one-billion animals have been killed in the fires.

That includes more than 800-million in New South Wales alone. The University of Sydney ecology professor first estimated the death toll would be under half a billion.

The fires have been burning for months, charring millions of acres of land and leaving at least two dozen people dead.

Twenty-four people have been arrested in connection with the fires including a teenage firefighter. Crews are fighting as many as 146-brushfires, 65-of which aren’t contained.

Lawmakers Expected To Get Classified Briefing On Airstrike This Week

(Washington, DC-AP) – Democrats are angry that congressional leaders were not briefed before the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian military leader in Iraq.

Lawmakers are expected to get a classified briefing on the incident this week. The briefing will likely be conducted by CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Meantime, House Democrats are planning a vote this week on a war powers resolution aimed at limiting President Trump’s military actions on Iran. The House resolution would have little chance of passage in the Republican-led Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the airstrike endangered U.S. service-members and diplomats by “risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.” The House resolution would have little chance of passage in the Republican-led Senate.

Jeff Bezos Still Leads List Of Billionaires

(AP) – Even after his divorce settlement, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos  is still the richest man in the world.

Bloomberg released its Billionaire Index for 2019 and Bezos was first with a net worth of 115-billion-dollars. Second was Microsoft founder Bill Gates at 113-billion.

The only other billionaire in triple digits is French businessman Bernard Arnault  at 105-billion. Bezos gave up at least ten-billion-dollars of his fortune in a divorce settlement with his ex-wife.

Coming in fourth is investor Warren Buffett and fifth is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Eight of the top ten billionaires on the list are Americans.

No Cap: The U.S. Had A Trade Agreement With Wakanda….

(USA) – The U.S. doesn’t have a free trade agreement with the Kingdom of Wakanda, despite what the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

The fictional African nation, home to Marvel superhero Blank Panther, was included in an online USDA list of nations with U.S. trade deals.

The listing was removed this week after a software engineer called it out on Twitter. A USDA spokesman said the fake country was included by mistake as part of a test.

Germany Marks 30th Anniversary Of Fall Of The Berlin Wall

(Berlin -AP) – Germany is marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Berlin where he said the German people are celebrating a “monumental victory” for freedom.

Pompeo met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and praised the strong relationship between the two nations.

Along with speeches and a candle lighting ceremony at the Wall Memorial today, the celebration wraps up with a party at the Brandenburg Gate featuring the Berlin symphony orchestra.

Obama, Clinton Offer Tributes To Late Congressman Cummings

(Baltimore, MD-AP) – Two former presidents are heaping praise on the late Congressman Elijah Cummings. Speaking at Cummings’ funeral in Baltimore, Barack Obama said Cummings’ life validated “what is possible in life.” He noted that Cummings was a kind and compassionate man of “dogged determination.” Obama said Cummings’ commitment to justice and the rights of others would “never waiver.” He stressed that Cummings was a man of “noble and good heart.” Bill Clinton called Cummings the “real deal.”

Clinton said, no matter how hard he fought and how passionately he argued, Cummings tried to “treat everybody the way he wanted to be treated.” The veteran Maryland Democrat chaired the powerful House Oversight Committee and was one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Cummings lived the American dream and wanted everyone else to have that opportunity. Pelosi noted the bipartisan tributes that have poured in since Cummings’ death last week at the age of 68.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Cummings a great man, a moral leader and a friend. She said Cummings was a fierce champion for truth and justice. Clinton also noted that Cummings “led from his soul.”

America Loses A Political Icon: Representative Elijah E. Cummings Dead At 68

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68.

Cummings was a formidable orator who advocated for the poor in his black-majority district , which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore and more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led investigations of the president’s government dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.

Trump criticized the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said.

On Thursday, Trump ordered flags at the White House, military bases and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff through Friday to honor Cummings. He also tweeted his “condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see firsthand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader.” The tweet made no reference to past feuds.

Former President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential bid counted Cummings as an early supporter, said he and his wife, Michelle, were “heartbroken” by the loss of their friend.

“As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it,” Obama said in a statement, describing Cummings as “steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives.”

In a joint statement, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also praised Cummings’ leadership of the committee “in finding facts, exposing fictions, and demanding that our government be accountable.”

Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis said that with Cummings’ death, Americans “have lost a great leader at a time of crisis in our democracy.”

“When this nation needed him most, he became a moral voice ‘crying in the wilderness,’ and his words and actions called a reluctant nation to conscience,” the Georgia Democrat said in a statement.

Cummings’ career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a 1996 special election to replace Kweisi Mfume, who left to lead the NAACP.

By 2016, Cummings was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He believed in much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs to reduce the spread of AIDS.

A key figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry , Cummings had hoped to return to Congress within about a week after a medical procedure for which he didn’t offer details. He’d previously been treated for heart and knee issues.

Cummings’ committee, authorized to investigate virtually any part of the federal government, is one of three conducting the House impeachment probe of Trump. Cummings was among the three chairmen to sign a letter seeking documents into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the family of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, the former vice president. The committees have issued subpoenas of witnesses after the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment probe and have jointly been meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a veteran Democrat from New York, will for now take over leadership of the House oversight committee, according to a senior Democratic leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision publicly.

Separately, Cummings led an effort to gain access to Trump’s financial records. His committee subpoenaed records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm that provided services to Trump. The panel demanded documents from 2011 to 2018 as it probed Trump’s reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled the records must be turned over.

Cummings’ office said he died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and constituents began mourning soon after.

His widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, chairwoman of Maryland’s Democratic Party, said in a statement: “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

Cummings was born Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before winning his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the statehouse, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become the first black House speaker pro tem. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.

Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.

“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said shortly after entering Congress in 1996.

Cummings began his long push for civil rights at age 11, when he helped integrate a swimming pool in Baltimore. This year, during a speech to the American Bar Association in April, Cummings recalled how he and other black children organized protests with help from their recreation leader and the NAACP.

Every day for a week, when the children tried to get into the pool, they were spit upon, threatened and called names, Cummings said; he said he was cut by a bottle thrown from an angry crowd.

“The experience transformed my entire life,” he said.

While serving in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1983 to 1996, Cummings pushed for a ban on alcohol and tobacco ads on inner-city billboards in Baltimore, leading to the first such prohibition in a large U.S. city.

Cummings then chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.

He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had elected Maryland’s first black congressman, Parren Mitchell, in 1970.

In 2015, when the death of black Baltimore resident Freddie Gray sparked the city’s worst riots in decades, Cummings carried a bullhorn in the streets and urged crowds to go home and respect a curfew. He spoke at Gray’s funeral, asking lawmakers in the church to stand up to show Gray’s mother they would seek justice.

“I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want,” Cummings said, quoting from the Bible.

___

Witte reported from Annapolis. Associated Press Writer Alan Fram contributed from Washington.

 

Graham Warns Turkey Against Moving Into Northern Syria, While Other Republicans Condemn Trump’s Decision To Withdraw As Well

(Washington, DC-AP) – Senator Lindsey Graham is warning Turkey about moving troops into northern Syria. The South Carolina Republican said Turkey would face “sanctions from hell” by Congress.

He noted that sanctions would be wide, deep and devastating. There are growing concerns about Turkey plotting movements into northern Syria since President Trump announced plans to remove U.S. troops from the war-torn region. Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And Both of Alaska’s senators are joining with other Republicans in Congress to condemn Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria. S

enator Lisa Murkowski called the move “abrupt and unsettling,” saying that it betrays U.S. alliances with Kurdish forces and give ISIS an opportunity to grow again. Senator Dan Sullivan said the President’s decision will lead to a power vacuum that could be filled by “Russian and Iranian proxies.”