Dr. Happer is the Right Person to Lead an Objective Federal Climate Commission

The left-wing media’s rumor mill has been rumbling in recent weeks like an upset stomach in need of an antacid at the thought President Donald Trump will soon form a Presidential Commission on Climate Security (PCCS) to objectively examine the science behind the oft-repeated claim humans are causing dangerous climate change.

A PCCS is long overdue, and award winning physicist William Happer, Ph.D., the administration’s senior director of the National Security Council office for emerging technologies, is the perfect person to run it.

Such a committee should have been formed before 1992 when President George Herbert Walker Bush brought the United States into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Bush put the cart before the horse, agreeing to the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) despite the fact no comprehensive assessment of the state of climate science had been undertaken.

The IPCC was not charged with examining the causes and consequences of climate change, but rather it was directed from the start to limit its enquiries into the “human causes” of change.

One can’t understand a problem if one is directed to study only one aspect of it. It’s like the parable of the blind men and the elephant—if all the blind men had only been allowed to touch the trunk.

Since then many scientists advanced their careers and raked in big government research grants by towing the party line that humans were causing dangerous climate change and we needed a government takeover of the economy, something like the Green New Deal, to fix it. Time and again, data has been manipulated or altered, and research questioning whether humans are causing dangerous climate change has been suppressed or ignored, to make the facts conform to the theory.

Happer at the Helm

Before joining Trump’s National Security Council, Happer had a distinguished career in academia and in government service. He was the Cyrus Fogg Brackett professor of physics at Princeton University, served as the director of the Office of Energy Research at the U.S. Department of Energy, is a fellow the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

William Happer in an undated photo taken at an event in Teaneck, N.J. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org)

With Happer at the helm, the PCCS will assemble a group of qualified scientists to examine and debate the causes of current climate change, and its purported impacts on national security, agriculture, sea level, and extreme weather.

Happer has written previously on two critical aspects on climate change science: the need for quality data, and a fair examination of the potential benefits of increased carbon dioxide.

In 2015, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rushed into publication research announcing “the observational evidence related to a ‘hiatus’ in recent global surface warming” did not “support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.” This claim conflicted with every extant temperature data base, and the findings of many organizations worldwide, including the IPCC, that there had been a lengthy hiatus in global warming.

Along with more than 300 other scientists, Happer objected, noting in an article in Environment & Climate News that in the rush to get their findings published in time to influence the then forthcoming Paris Climate Agreement negotiations, NOAA’s researchers had violated the 2001 Data Quality Act (DQA).

In response, Happer and more than 300 experts signed a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology criticizing NOAA’s actions and stressing the need for climate research to comply with DQA requirements.

Beneficial Carbon Dioxide

Aside from his strong stand on behalf of scientific transparency, the liberal media has been hyperventilating over Happer’s previous statements on climate change, which he explored in an interview I conducted with him in 2015 for Environment & Climate News:

Doubling the carbon dioxide concentration will probably cause a warming of around 1 degree Celsius. … A warming of 1-2 degrees Celsius will be beneficial in itself by lengthening growing seasons and cutting winter heating bills. … The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “most likely” warming estimate if carbon dioxide is doubled [is] 3 degrees Celsius[, which] is almost certainly much too large.

In addition to the direct beneficial effects of modest warming, there will be a huge benefit to agriculture from more carbon dioxide. By the standards of geological history, … , we have been in a carbon dioxide famine over the past tens of millions of years, with low concentrations of several hundred ppm. More carbon dioxide will increase crop yields, make plants more tolerant to droughts, and will shrink deserts. Yet, we keep hearing about “carbon pollution.” Carbon dioxide is beneficial, not a pollutant.

Thousands of experiments, the actions of greenhouse operators worldwide, and the fact the earth has been greening and crop yields continue to set records year after year, all confirm Happer’s assertions on the agricultural benefits of higher carbon dioxide and a modest warming.

From the perspective of climate alarmists and the print and broadcast media that has adopted their cause, Trump’s big sin in forming the PCCS is to question the claim climate science is settled. And Happer’s big sin is to defend the need for high quality data and to point out a modestly warmer world and increased carbon dioxide will bring benefits as well as costs.

All the panic and hyperbolic gnashing of teeth concerning the PSSC in recent weeks comes down to this: Neither good science nor sound policy can be advanced without an unbiased examination and debate of the facts. This is the cornerstone of scientific discovery. So get to work Dr. Happer, and thank you for your service.

Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hburnett@heartland.org) is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.


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Author: Sterling Burnett


China’s “Huawei Strategy” is to Bypass US Intelligence

Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that was caught spying and violating sanctions against Iran, has decided to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government. In the wake of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, and Huawei paying a $1 billion fine, the complaint would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high. But the stakes are very high.

A Serious Threat to US and All Other Users

Huawei is leading the 5G deployment for much of the world, and wants to lead it in the United States as well. What’s more, it is suspected that the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment has or could have installed spyware in hardware systems they’ve supplied for use in U.S. infrastructure, including communications, power grids, nuclear plants and air traffic control, among others.

The threat that Huawei presents to the United States has reached the point where Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have warned other nations that using Huawei equipment will make it difficult for them to work with the United States. Other countries in Europe and elsewhere also have concerns about Huawei as well, including Germany and Poland, which recently arrested two Huawei employees—one a former Chinese diplomat—for espionage.

An Arm of the Chinese Regime

Huawei’s suit against the U.S. government claims that the ban against them is unconstitutional.

The 5G infrastructure and smartphone provider is challenging the constitutionality of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is seeking a declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction against the restrictions because, the company claims, they would leave the American market with “inferior products” that will cost consumers more.

That part may well be true, but there’s much more going on. Huawei has long been considered an arm of the Chinese regime—that is, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—and has been accused by U.S. authorities of spying and gathering technical and defense-related data from America and elsewhere for years. Those suspicions go back to at least 2012 and most likely the Clinton Administration.

The Line Between State and Private Ownership is Blurred

But both Huawei and the CCP deny any connection to the other. That may sound far-fetched—and it is—but the Chinese regime is acting as if Huawei were some isolated company, standing alone in its righteous fight against the United States. And on the face of it, Huawei insists that it is an independent, employee-owned company.

But that doesn’t matter in the slighted and is simply a denial of reality. Does anyone on the planet believe that a company of Huawei’s size, capabilities and scope would be left to act alone, without CCP influence?

The fact is that the CCP uses a variety of ways to direct the behavior of “privately held” companies. A few include industrial associations, which are typically run by former ministers or other Party members to keep firms in line with CCP dictates. Regular interviews with the NDRC, China’s chief economic planning agency are also highly effective. And of course, the CCP has the power —uses it—to force private firms to cooperate in state-led restructuring programs.

When it comes to Huawei’s behavior, just like any other company, person or group in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), their actions are directed and sanctioned by the CCP. This is especially true given the broad diplomatic and strategic impact of Huawei’s actions. This private company is behaving as a state-sponsored actor on the world stage.

The Huawei Strategy is to Reveal US Monitoring Techniques

Given that several countries around the world are sounding the alarm about the espionage risk (and loss of jobs) that Huawei poses to them, what does the company hope to gain from a lawsuit it will likely lose?

First, it isn’t about winning the case. The suit itself is a canvas on which China wishes to paint the United States in a negative light to the international community, specifically the European Union (EU). It’s a propaganda opportunity to sow division between the United States and its European allies, politically and specifically economically. With the United States trying to convince the European Union to trade less with China and more with America, China’s response is understandable.

Secondly, the main point of attack of the lawsuit is U.S. security laws, with Huawei claiming that the U.S. government is using national security as cover for its trade war with China. If the lawsuit hinders the Trump administration’s trade policy toward China, so much the better. Is that likely? One would hope not.

But ultimately, the Huawei Strategy is to get the United States to reveal its secrets. China wants to know how America monitors what companies like Huawei do. Therefore, the value in the lawsuit for Huawei is the disclosure process.

The company’s chief legal officer, Song Liuping, all but acknowledged this when, in a recent news conference, said that the ban on Huawei in the United States is “based on numerous false, unproven and untested propositions.” Huawei has an excellent security record and program. No contrary evidence has been offered.

But their objective is to see the “proof” that the United States has against them and to test “the propositions.” In essence, China hopes that the lawsuit will compel the United States to disclose how it knows what it knows about Huawei’s activities and equipment.

From China’s perspective, they don’t care and probably don’t even expect to “win” the case in the common sense of the word. But if the end result is that they find out U.S. intelligence techniques, then they will have won much more than the case. It would be a strategic intelligence and technological victory because Chinese companies will know much more about U.S. intelligence techniques and how to avoid such monitoring in the future.

The U.S. courts must not allow the case to go forward.

James Gorrie is a writer based in Texas. He is the author of “The China Crisis.”

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Author: James Gorrie

World Leaders Should Welcome Shen Yun, Says Gold Coast Political Candidate

GOLD COAST, Australia—Shen Yun Performing Arts should be embraced in every country of the world including Mainland China, an independent candidate for Australia’s 2019 general election has said after watching the second performance at the Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA), on March 12, 2019.

Michael Kaff, who is standing for election in the federal seat for McPherson, was thrilled to see New York-based Shen Yun and loved the world-class entertainment it offered.

“I loved it, I thought it was beautiful, I thought it was elegant, it was funny … I love the western music, the Chinese instruments, how they come together beautifully, seamlessly, in fact—a wonderful, wonderful production,” said Kaff who was previously a stage performer in various Australian productions and appreciates how much time and effort goes into the choreography, music, and dancing at each show. “It’s just amazing.”

He commended Shen Yun’s high caliber classical Chinese dance, live orchestra music, and 3-D animation that combine to showcase 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.

“It brings out the Chinese culture wonderfully,” Kaff said. “The music, the characters, the history was fascinating.”

Kaff felt sad to learn from the bilingual emcees that Shen Yun cannot be shown in China today.

“Its very, very sad,” he said. “I can’t understand why the Chinese government isn’t proud of this show, isn’t proud of the people [and] instead trying to stop the show being performed around the world.”

While it may seem difficult at the moment for Shen Yun to be organized despite attempts to stop it by the Chinese regime, Kaff believes the results are well worth the effort.

“I think the effort is very much worthwhile,” he said. “More people should see and hear and laugh with these sorts of productions that tell you all the best parts of the Chinese culture … they will learn a lot more about it, they will have a better understanding and embrace it like I do.”

He described the traditional values promoted through the show as absolutely fantastic.

“They are genuine, they are honest,” he said. “They are values that we should all process everyday and its wonderful how it depicts these values.”

Kaff also found the performance had a profound message about the divine origins of Chinese culture.

“The divine is everywhere, the divine is part of who we are, which created us and guides us,” he said. “This production helps you to understand how we are all one and we are all connected, people should not feel like they are alone or that they are not being guided, or not being helped or supported in anyway by the divine, because they are, at all times.”

He revealed his ongoing support for the local Falun Dafa group was a factor in his decision to come to see Shen Yun, and encouraged others to come and experience the performance for themselves too.

“Take your children, take your parents, take your friends and go and see it, I totally recommend it,” Kaff said.

Rodrigo Palacio Oksana Palacio Shen Yun Gold Coast
Equine Researcher Rodrigo Palacio (L) and Doctor in Arts Oksana Palacio (2nd from L), and their relatives saw Shen Yun at the Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts, in Australia, on March 12, 2019. (Richard Szabo/The Epoch Times)

Other members of the audience felt compelled to travel more than eight hours to see the show.

Oksana Palacio who lives in Inverell, New South Wales traveled 442km (275 miles) to HOTA to see Shen Yun. The Ukrainian doctor in arts felt completely satisfied that the show was worth the long journey.

“It’s just amazing, amazing, you can forget about everything and think about the story,” Palacio said.

She became very emotional when she heard the soprano singer.

“I was ready to cry, I don’t know why,” Palacio said. “People who believe in something, something good always have to win … evil cannot be the winner.”

She also liked how the dancers interacted with the 3-D animated backgrounds.

“Just a miracle,” she said. “People just have to come and see it, it’s beautiful.

With reporting by NTD Television, Nina Yan, and Richard Szabo.

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.

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Author: Epoch Times Australia Staff

China Reportedly Recruiting Taiwanese Officials to Serve in Government

Taiwanese authorities are investigating reports by Chinese media that eight Taiwanese local officials have taken up government positions in China.

The investigation was announced by Chen Tsung-yan, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of Interior, according to a March 10 article by Taiwanese daily newspaper Liberty Times.

In an interview with Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Chen confirmed that his ministry will be conducting the investigation.

These eight unnamed individuals are either village or borough chiefs, the lowest-ranking officials in Taiwan’s political system. They have taken up positions as executive directors of community and village Chinese Communist Party committees in Pingtan County, located in southern China’s Fujian Province, which is directly across the Taiwan strait, according to Chinese media reports.

According to the Taiwan edition of Hong Kong-based newspaper Apple Daily, there are 7,828 villages and boroughs in Taiwan.

Chinese media were the first to report on the occurrence, including an article by state-run media Xinhua in December 2018.

Chen stated that the ministry has not yet fully identified the individuals, as Chinese media reports did not name them, according to Liberty Times.

Chen also noted that authorities would only be able to determine whether these individuals had broken Taiwan law if the ministry is able to collect evidence confirming their government positions in Taiwan and China.

Under a law governing cross-strait relations, Taiwan residents are forbidden to hold any position within Chinese agencies, institutions, or organizations that are affiliated with the Chinese military, political apparatus, or government administration. Violators can be fined of up to 500,000 New Taiwan Dollars ($16,176).

Taiwan is a de-facto country with its own constitution, military, and currency. However, China views the island as part of its territory, and has threatened to unite the island with the mainland using military force.

In response to the latest incident, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, a government agency that deals with issues regarding China, warned that Beijing’s effort to recruit Taiwanese is part of its unification campaign so that the Taiwanese public would be more acceptable to the idea of giving up Taiwan’s sovereignty and embracing Chinese rule, according to the Liberty Times. [original Chinese]

Liberty Times, through research involving earlier Chinese media reports, has identified one of the eight individuals as Tseng Ning-yi, a borough chief in Taipei.

In an interview with Liberty Times, Tseng explained that her executive director position in Pingtan County, China was merely a “title,” and that she does not receive a monthly salary. Rather, she receives a stipend for her transportation and living expenses in China, where she spends a few days every month for the purpose of sharing her experience in managing Taiwan’s community. She also gives lectures around China and receives speaking fees.

There are in fact many Taiwanese who have taken up similar government positions in China.

In June 2018, the Fujian government’s official website reported that Haichang District located within Fujian’s port city of Xiamen has hired 35 Taiwanese to be assistants to local community directors. It is not known if any of these 35 individuals held any public office in Taiwan.

The overseas edition of China’s state-run mouthpiece People’s Daily reported in December 2018 that 66 Taiwanese were working as assistants to community directors in Xiamen. It is not clear if the 35 Taiwanese above were also counted among the 66.

Apple Daily published an editorial on March 11 in response to the investigation of the eight individuals, warning that China’s efforts to recruit low-ranked Taiwanese officials is just the beginning—as Beijing probably has the ambition to advance from village chiefs to city officials.

The concept of “seizing the countryside and then using rural bases to encircle and capture cities” was first coined by former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, who adopted this method during China’s civil war to proclaim victory.

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Author: Frank Fang

A Native American Tribe Will Cover the Costs of the Funerals for All of the Alabama Tornado Victims

Often times the worst situations will bring out the best in people.

That’s proving true once again, this time in southeastern Alabama, where residents are still reeling from an outbreak of tornadoes that killed 23 people this week.

But their loved ones won’t have to worry, at least about the costs of the funerals. A Native American tribe says it will cover the funeral and burial expenses for all the victims of Sunday’s tornadoes.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians tribe will be making a $184,000 donation to cover the costs, Lee County Coroner Bill Harris confirms to CNN.

Thank you to all individuals and organizations who have donated to the EAMC Foundation Lee County Disaster Relief Fund….

East Alabama Medical Center 发布于 2019年3月8日周五

The Tribe Increased its Commitment

That’s more than the tribe had originally agreed to, but it increased its commitment when another donor that had agreed to split the costs backed out of the arrangement.

The original donation made by the tribe was going to be $50,000. However the other group stopped returning Harris’ calls, he said. When he explained that to the tribe, it asked what it would take to cover everything. The check will be hand delivered by the tribe early next week.

“My goal was to be able to provide what the families wanted” for “this casket or this service without having to scrimp because they didn’t have the money,” Harris said. “These folks have stepped up for a community need, and I appreciate that.”

Harris did not name the company that didn’t follow through on its commitment.

The money will be donated to the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation so that none of the money is spent on administration costs.

“It is at times of greatest need that we often see our communities coming together to help one another, this is one of those times,” Stephanie A. Bryan, the tribe’s CEO, said in a Facebook post. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.”

“The Tribe is making a $184,000 donation to the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation to assist in the burial of the…

Poarch Band of Creek Indians 发布于 2019年3月7日周四

Tam Yvonne, who lost 10 family members to the Tornado, replied to Bryan’s post: “Thank you so very much for this generous donation. 10 of my family members were lost … I will be forever grateful for what you and your tribe have done for not only our family but, everyone affected by this horrible event.”

The Tribe Has Been in Alabama for Generations

Harris said he delivered the news personally about the funerals and burials being covered to the grandparents of Armando “AJ” Hernandez, the youngest victim. He said the two were thankful.

“I spoke with AJ’s family, his grandma and granddaddy, they were very humbled and very appreciative,” he said. “I feel so bad for them. I told them, y’all don’t worry about that (the cost), I have it covered.”

Other local organizations have also come forward and donated toward the fund for the funerals, according to Harris. Additionally, a notable person from Alabama—Harris isn’t sharing the man’s name just yet—is donating $10,000 for foot markers for the graves.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in Alabama, and it operates a number of businesses, including casinos and hotels, in the region. The tribe descends from the original Creek Nation that once resided in Alabama and Georgia. The tribe was never removed from its lands and has kept a presence in the area for 200 years around the Poarch, Alabama reservation.

NTD News reporter Venus Upadhayaya contributed to this report.

2019 CNN Trademark

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Author: Wire Service Content

Land Sales Dropped 40 Percent in 300 Chinese Cities

In February, total land sales across 300 cities in China decreased by 40 percent from January, and 30 percent year-over-year. Both sales volume and prices fell.

According to Shanghai-based Tospur Real Estate Consulting Co, there were a total of 1,168 land transactions in 300 Chinese cities in February, a decrease of 44 percent from January (2097 transactions) and down 19 percent from February last year (1443 transactions).

Sales volume in February reached 19.85 billion yuan ($2.95 billion). Average price per square meter was 2,320 yuan ($32 per square foot), a 16 percent increase from the previous month and down 7.5 percent year over year.

In first-tier cities, average price per square meter was 11,008 yuan ($152 per square foot), a big increase of 106 percent from January, and 13 percent increase year-over-year.

In second-tier cities, average price per square meter was 2,554 yuan ($35 per square foot), up 1 percent from January, and down 24 percent from last year. In the third and fourth-tier cities, average price per square meter was 1,118 yuan ($15 per square foot), down 2 percent from January, and down 7 percent from last year.

According to Centaline Group’s Real Estate Research Center, in the first two months of this year, land premium rate in the most sought-after cities remained at a low level around 10 percent.

In the beginning of 2019, land transactions in many cities are still in the adjustment stage, chief analyst of Centaline Group’s Real Estate division Zhang Dawei told Chinese state-media Securities Daily. Moreover, there is strict regulations for trust funds, making it very difficult to get financing for real estate investments. Real estate companies are therefore more cautious when considering land at expensive locations.

An executive at a real estate company revealed that 2019 will be a peak year for bond maturities at real estate companies. Some companies have already mortgaged a large proportion of their equity shares to get financing. So people inside the real estate industry are not surprised at all when this year’s purchase activities are greatly reduced.

Overseas commentator Wen Xiaogang believes that China’s economic environment is deteriorating. Apart from first-tier cities and some hot second-tier cities, most second, third and fourth-tier cities are experiencing declining population inflows and end of urban revitalization projects. Most real estate companies are not optimistic about future prospects.  

“The decrease in land sales revenue directly leads to a decline in local tax revenue. In the midst of declining economic growth, the proposed tax reduction of 2 trillion can hardly be achieved. It is very likely that the local authorities will try to retrieve the loss in tax incomes through other ways,” Wen said.

In addition to the sluggish land market, revenues of real estate companies are also falling.

According to Wind Information, a Shanghai-based service provider of financial data, total sales of 33 listed real estate companies reached 334 billion yuan in January 2019, down 18 percent from January 2018. The total living space of the sales reached 23.32 million square meters, down 26 percent from January 2019.

Among the top four real estate companies, Evergrande, Country Garden, Vanke, and Sunac, sales totaled 149 billion yuan in January, accounting for 44.59 percent of the total sales of the 33 listed real estate companies, according to data from Wind. Compared with January last year, total sales of these four companies dropped 33.38 percent.

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Author: Olivia Li

Trump: Socialist Promises ‘Seductive,’ But Would Send Country ‘Down the Tubes’

President Donald Trump warned about the enticing promises of socialist policies like “free” healthcare and college, predicting such a course would ruin the country.

He acknowledged that making such promises is attractive for politicians, but contested the idea that socialism is on the rise in America.

“You always have to be very careful, because socialism is easy to campaign on but tough to govern on, because the country goes down the tubes,” Trump told Breitbart in a March 11 interview.

“When you tell people free medical, free education, no more student loans—all of the different things that you say—it’s a great thing to campaign on, but then ten years later the country is down the tubes. It’s gone.”


Some of the Democrats’ presidential contenders, such as Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.), have already backed the idea of government-run health insurance—the single-payer system.

“It sounds very seductive—single-payer—say what you want, but it’s a very seductive thing,” Trump said. “But it means you’re not going to have good healthcare, it means the country is not going to be able to afford it.”

Sanders’ single-payer proposal came with major tax hikes (pdf) of more than $15 trillion over 10 years, but still nowhere near the $32 trillion price tag of the plan, based on the Urban Institute’s estimate (pdf).

Canceling student debt would cost about $1.5 trillion and free public college for all would add another $750 billion cost over 10 years, The Wall Street Journal estimated in 2015.

“The truth is when you’re up on the debate stage, and they say we’re giving you free education, we’re giving you free healthcare, we’re giving you everything you want and a Rolls-Royce in everyone’s pocket, it’s not an easy situation,” Trump said. “But what happens is ten years later the country is gone.”

Green New Deal

The “Green New Deal” is likely the most extreme example of recent socialist policy proposals.  It came from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), or more specifically from the democratic socialist activists who ran her campaign, and calls for an overhaul of the whole economy, including having the federal government guarantee a job for everyone, as well as abolishing air travel and fossil fuel use, at the cost of $52 trillion to $94 trillion over 10 years, based on estimates from the American Action Forum, a center-right fiscal think tank.

Harris already voiced support for the plan—at least in broad terms.

Trump mocked the proposal in his March 2 speech at the CPAC conference.

“Green New Deal—I encourage it. I think it’s really something that they should promote. They should work hard on. It’s something our country needs desperately. They have to go out and get it,” he said. “But I’ll take the other side of that argument only because I’m mandated to.”

2020 Will Show

During the Breitbart interview, Trump dismissed the idea that American politics may take a turn to the left after his presidency, pointing to his relatively solid poll numbers over the past week.

He said the 2020 presidential election will show whether the socialist sentiments are on the rise or not.

“I don’t know if there will be a rise, we have to see that—and that we will only know in an election,” he said.

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Author: Petr Svab

Ex-Catalan Leader Puigdemont to Run in European Parliament, Risking Arrest in Spain

BRUSSELS—Carles Puigdemont, the former president of the Spanish region of Catalonia, has announced he will run for the European Parliament in a bid to win immunity from criminal charges linked to a 2017 independence referendum. 

The separatist leader, who is currently living in exile in Belgium, will be the lead candidate for his party Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) in the Europe-wide contest to be held on May 26. 

Announcing his candidacy, Puigdemont tweeted: “It is time to take another step forward to internationalize Catalonia’s right to self determination, right from the heart of Europe to the whole world.” 

In an interview with Catalan radio Rac1 he vowed to return to his home region, claiming that becoming a member of the European Parliament would give him immunity from criminal charges. 

Protesters sit on the railroad tracks after occupying a train station in Barcelona during a strike day against the trial of former Catalan separatist leaders held in Madrid, on Feb. 21, 2019. (Louis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

“From the moment the results are declared, the immunity works. If I am an MEP, I will go back to Catalonia because I will get immunity everywhere, including in Spain,” he said.  

However, that interpretation has been disputed by sources in both Madrid and Brussels, where officials have argued that the former president’s immunity can’t be applied because he has already been charged with offenses. 

The separatist leader has been warned he is likely to be arrested and imprisoned if he returns to Spain to be formally sworn in as a European parliamentarian. 

Officials in Madrid told the Spanish newspaper Libertad that the country’s Supreme Court will lobby the EU Parliament authorities in the European Parliament to annul Puigdemont’s immunity if he is elected. 

Pablo Perez, an official at the European Commission, pointed to European Parliament guidelines that show “immunity does not apply when an MEP has or is suspected by the competent judicial authorities of having committed an offence.”

Puigdemont and several other members of his deposed cabinet fled to Belgium in October 2017 just hours before they were hit with charges of sedition, rebellion, and misuse of public funds. 

Madrid has already jailed senior Catalan leaders over the decision to hold an independence referendum on Oct. 1 last year which wasn’t sanctioned by the central government. Trials for the cases of 12 Catalan politicians for their role in the referendum started in February. 

Puigdemont and five other members of the administration are living in exile in other EU countries, where they have been pursued unsuccessfully by the Spanish government through issuing Europe-wide arrest warrants. 

Four Catalan leaders from his party who are currently in jail in Spain—Jordi Sànchez, Quim Forn, Jordi Turull, and Josep Rull—have also announced they intend to run in the European elections. 

In a letter posted to the party website, they said: “We’re going out to win.  We will make our commitment to honest politics—with a return to dialogue, and harmony between peoples and defence of democracy—central to our action.”

They also vowed to stand on a platform “that will exercise the right to self-determination of Catalonia.” 

Announcing Puigdemont’s candidacy, Elsa Artadi, a spokeswoman for his party, told a press conference in Barcelona: “The best way to continue to internationalize the Catalan conflict and for us to be heard in Europe, for the repression to be made visible, is to have a JxCat [Junts per Catalunya] voice that is free to speak in Europe, and that voice can be none other than Puigdemont’s.” 

The October 2017 independence referendum was marred by scenes of Spanish police brutality that drew condemnation from politicians around the world. 

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Author: Nick Gutteridge

Kentucky Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Into Law

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed a new bill into law on March 11, that allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms in the name of self-defense through permitless concealed carry.

After the Republican Governor signed Senate Bill 150 into law, Kentucky became the 16th such state to eliminate any government documentation requirement. Other states that have eliminated their documentation requirements are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

SB 150 allows anyone over 21 in the state to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. The law goes into effect on July 1 this year. Citizens can still apply for a concealed carry permit. Kentucky residents need the permit if they plan to conceal carry in other states.

Over the past few weeks, the measure (pdf) successfully passed the Kentucky Senate and also the House where it went through a two-hour debate. It passed the house on March 1 by a 60 to 37 vote. Previously it passed the Senate in a 29-8 vote.

The new measure—backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA)—drew applause from the associations’ legislative action department.

“This law is a common-sense measure that allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their fundamental right of self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action in a statement.

Current Kentucky law already recognizes the right to carry a firearm openly without a permit, however, the law requires a state-issued permit to carry that same firearm under a coat or in a bag. The new law signed by Bevin extends the current open carry rule to concealed carry.

“Those who obtain permits will still be able to take advantage of the reciprocity agreements that Kentucky has with other states,” the NRA noted.

Supporters of the bill say that it fortifies the state’s constitutional right to bear arms. Some critics of the legislation have voiced concerns about the possible lack of safety and training.

Second Amendment Rights

Speaking to the NRA’s annual convention in Dallas last year, President Donald Trump vowed not to tighten U.S. firearms laws and warned that Democrats are determined to take away Americans’ guns.

“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege. But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president,” Trump told the crowd. “We’ve got to get Republicans elected.”

“The one thing that stands between Americans and the elimination of our Second Amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress,” he said.

Trump also called for the arming of teachers and increasing school security to head off future mass shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida in February last year.

Democratic lawmakers generally support tighter gun laws.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Melania Trump Spokeswoman Blasts ‘The View’ for ‘Shameful’ Body Double Speculation

After hosts of “The View” speculated that Melania Trump was using a body double, a spokeswoman for the first lady criticized the ABC show for peddling “shameful” conspiracy theories.

Stephanie Grisham, said President Trump and the first lady “traveled to Alabama to pay their respects & comfort victims of the tornado devastation.”

“In typical fashion, @theview chooses to laugh in the face of tragedy. Shameful,” she wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet from the show.

“The internet is buzzing again with theories that first lady Melania Trump is using an imposter to stand in for her — the co-hosts investigate,” the show wrote on the social media website, including a video.

On “The View, co-host Joy Behar, a noted Trump critic, claimed that “some people think the first lady is using an impostor,” referring to conspiracy theories being circulated on Twitter with the hashtag #FakeMelania.

The ABC News show then showed tweets where people speculated that she is using a body double.

“I wasn’t going to go along with this but that one, in that picture, doesn’t look like her,” Behar said. “It’s a different shaped face.”

Sunny Hostin, another “View” co-host, then disclosed she spent about an hour looking over Internet rumors and conspiracy theories about an alleged body double.

“Melania is a very tall, statuesque woman and the one that we saw, the first one that we showed, she looks kind of short,” Hostin said. “Look how short she looks.”

CNN’s Ana Navarro, another Trump critic who sometimes appears on the program, said the theory was “absurd” but still urged viewers to partake in speculating about it.

“If you have not gone to hashtag #FakeMelania, you must go see those memes,” Navarro said.

On social media, “The View” was blasted by fellow Twitter users.

“The tragedy of this storm has broken many hearts… yet you sit there, trying to figure out if Melaniia was real or fake. How about sending some love to the people in that community,” wrote one person on Twitter.

Added another: “Why is this show still on tv! To sit there and literally make fun of our First Lady is disgusting. This is our Presidents wife, show some respect. Joy and Whoopi are two of the most bitter people I’ve ever seen and it sounds like the rest of the women on the show are following.”

Alabama Damage

In Alabama, Trump surveyed the damage wrought by a tornado.

“We saw things that you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said last week.

“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes. @GovernorKayIvey, one of the best in our Country, has been so informed. She is working closely with FEMA (and me!),” he tweeted.

Alabama Power begins putting up poles March 4, 2019 to get power restored in Beauregard, Alabama after a tornado.  (TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP/Getty Images)


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Author: Jack Phillips