Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

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13-08-19 10:50:00,

It is astonishing that in the wake of the two mass killings in Dayton and El Paso that have been attributed both by the media and the Democrats to “racism,” a senior U.S. Congressman has led a delegation of 41 of his Democratic Party colleagues plus spouses on a week-long luxury all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, which is one of the few countries in the world that defines its full citizenship as a matter of race and religion. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland is, however, apparently tone deaf to some critics of the annual excursion, having made the pilgrimage to Israel more than fifteen times. “I am pleased to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical U.S. ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” he said shortly before departing for Tel Aviv.

Hoyer did not mention how he had managed to pull together such a large group of co-conspirators in spite of critical issues that need to be confronted at home during recess in town hall meetings, which, due to the trip, will operate on a short schedule if at all. As Majority Leader, he is reported to be skilled at strong-arming new colleagues to compel them to make the trip to demonstrate the loyalty of the U.S. Congress and the Democratic Party to the Jewish state, which is his top priority. According to The Intercept, “Hoyer…uses his power over the House floor agenda to coerce participation. A member who refuses an invitation can find it difficult to have their bills brought to the floor for a vote. ‘His senior staff lock down cooperating members by getting their bills to the floor and punishing non-cooperators,’ said one former representative who rejected the invitation. ‘I was tortured for a decade because I refused to go on that trip…’”

Of course, the Israelis are themselves seasoned professionals when it comes to mass shooting, something that they do every Friday across the fence into Gaza, but they are unlikely to demonstrate their marksmanship to the visiting congressmen. They in any event know that Israel will never be condemned in fora like the United Nations Security Council because of the exercise of Washington’s veto.

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20+ arrested, leader fined: Yellow Vest protests open ‘Act 21’ in France (VIDEO)

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07-04-19 07:57:00,

More than a dozen people have been arrested as Yellow Vest protesters flood the streets of French cities, marking the 21st consecutive week of mass demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron and his government.

Some 28 protesters were arrested in Paris on Saturday morning, local media reported, citing police. Eric Drouet, one of the leaders of the Yellow Vests, was fined 135 euro ($150) for violating public protest laws. The ruling was slammed by his lawyer who said that “if Drouet wants to have a cup of coffee at the Champs-Elysees, he has an absolute right to do so.”

Nevertheless, the rallies in the French capital and elsewhere remain largely peaceful. The Yellow Vests are singing songs and holding placards as they march to denounce the policies of Emmanuel Macron and demand his resignation.

As of 2pm local time, some 6,300 people had taken to the streets across France, including 3,000 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.

The rallies were met with an increased police presence. Videos from the scene showed the crowd booing police motorcades.

The authorities upheld the ban on demonstrations in some places, including the iconic Avenue des Champs-Elysees, as well as the areas surrounding the parliament and the president’s residence at the Elysee Palace. Similar bans were placed in a number of other cities.

Two rallies were authorized in Paris. The protesters have occupied downtown Place de la Republique from where they plan to march all the way up to the La Defense business district. A separate group of Yellow Vests, gathering at Montparnasse Boulevard, is expected to march to one of the city’s largest parks, Parc de la Villette.

Minor scuffles with police officers were reported in the northern city of Rouen where thousands of protesters are marching.

The Yellow Vests emerged in November as a grassroots movement against the planned fuel tax hikes. It gradually grew into nationwide protests against the elites and perceived low living standards.

On several occasions, the rallies turned into fierce street battles with police in Paris and other cities. The upheaval led President Macron to scrap the fuel tax hike and offer other concessions. At the same time, he refused to fulfill some of the protesters’ other demands,

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Chinese Leader’s Trip to Europe | New Eastern Outlook

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01-04-19 07:38:00,

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The visit by the President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Xi Jinping, to Europe in March was a significant event in world politics for the first half of 2019. The tour began only a week after a routine, but invariably important internal political event, called the Two Sessions, came to an end.

During this gathering, scheduled annual plenary sessions of the China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (PCC) take place.

As was the case in recent years, the last Two Sessions events focused on resolving the fundamental problem facing modern China, i.e. its need to reconcile two opposing trends. The first stems from the increasing control the communist party and the state exercise over all the aspects of life inside the country, the second trend, yet again confirmed by China’s leader, is the course the nation has taken towards greater “openness” (mainly in the economic sphere) to cooperation with the rest of the world.

We would like to highlight that, objectively speaking, both trends are equally real, hence neither of them can be completely ignored. In the current environment with its closely interwoven internal and external challenges the Chinese society is facing, the tightening of the screws on the “lid” of the cauldron in which this community is “stewing” is an inevitable by-product.

At the same time the fact that China is becoming a world power has predetermined its course of greater opening-up towards the global community. The most recent manifestation of this trend was the government-sponsored annual China Development Forum (CDF). During his speech at this event, Vice Premier Han Zheng said, among other things, that “greater opening-up is a must for the economy’s future high-quality development”.

For now, this problem (we reiterate, fundamental in nature) has no obvious solution in sight, which would satisfy both the people and the rulers of the PRC. We would simply like to emphasize that the latter is searching for a solution, which is what any responsible government of a nation, vying to become a global leader, should be doing.

The visit of China’s leader to Europe ought to be viewed in the context of this search. This was Xi Jinping’s fifth official trip since he became the President of the PRC,

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Can a Yellow Vest leader declare himself president? French MP denounces recognition of Guaido

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07-02-19 08:07:00,

France’s recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president sets a dangerous precedent, MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon has warned, arguing it’s similar to declaring a Yellow Vest protester as France’s legitimate ruler.

Mélenchon, a firebrand of the left and outspoken critic of Emmanuel Macron, said that France’s decision to support Guaido was tantamount to “recognizing an adventurer who proclaims himself president.” Describing such a policy as “not a good thing,” the head of the leftist La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party drew a parallel to the current political upheaval in France.

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“If we do that, Mr Drouet will be President of the Republic,” Mélenchon quipped, referring to a prominent figure in the protest movement which has rocked France since November.

Mélenchon previously expressed support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, condemning the “coup plotters” who are trying to overthrow him.

Ce n’est pas la France qui soutient les putschistes au #Venezuela. C’est seulement #Macron. Résistez ! Avec L’ONU nous disons : @NicolasMaduro est le président du Venezuela. Paix et liberté pour le Venezuela !

— Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) February 4, 2019

“France does not support Venezuela’s coup plotters – only [President Emmanuel] Macron does!” the MP tweeted on Monday. “Resist! Nicolas Maduro is the president of Venezuela. Peace and freedom for Venezuela.”

France was among a handful of European states that issued an ultimatum to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in January, demanding that the South American country hold elections within eight days. With their demand unmet, Paris joined Germany, Spain, the UK, and others in announcing that it would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate ruler.

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US gives opposition leader Guaido control over some Venezuelan assets

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29-01-19 03:21:00,

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, to take control of US-held assets belonging to the country’s government.

The certification, issued on Tuesday, applies to certain Venezuelan government and Central Bank property held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other US insured banks.

“This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.

#BREAKING : #US gives opposition leader @jguaido control over some #Venezuelan/n assets. Now this is a huge development in the domain of world politics, esp its “interference” aspect: strip assets from official gov using your influence to empower whoever else you like.

— Maxim A. Suchkov (@MSuchkov_ALM) January 29, 2019

Opposition leader Juan Guaido swore himself in as Venezuela’s interim president last Wednesday and was recognized as the country’s legitimate leader by the United States shortly afterwards. President Nicolas Maduro denounced Guaido’s claim as a “vile,” Washington-sponsored coup attempt, and severed diplomatic relations with the US in response.

Much of the Western world followed suit in recognizing Guaido and isolating Maduro. The Bank of England reportedly blocked Maduro from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth of gold stored in the UK late last week, and Secretary Pompeo announced that $20 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuela will be distributed through Guaido.

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US sanctions have effectively barred Maduro’s government from borrowing on international markets and targeted anyone involved in gold sales from Venezuela. Venezuela’s gold reserves are estimated at more than $8 billion, while the value of its assets in American banks is unclear.

The Trump administration further ratcheted up its pressure campaign on Maduro by announcing sanctions against Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA on Monday. The US Treasury Department seized $7 billion in PDVSA assets, and the sanctions will affect $11 billion worth of oil exports over the coming year.

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‘Good for business’: Trump adviser Bolton admits US interest in Venezuela’s ‘oil capabilities’

Venezuelan petroleum company Citgo will continue operating in the US,

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