Donald Trump seeks return to political spotlight with first post-White House speech

Former US president Donald Trump will give a speech later this month to a gathering of political conservatives in Orlando, Florida, a source familiar with the plans said Saturday, his first extended public address since leaving the White House.

The appearance is scheduled for Sunday, 28 February at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), one of the country’s largest annual gatherings of political conservatives.

Mr Trump will be “talking about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement,” the source told AFP.

He is also expected to challenge the “disastrous amnesty and border policies” of his successor, President Joe Biden, the source added.

Mr Trump, who was impeached for an unprecedented second time for his role in fomenting the 6 January assault on the US Capitol, nevertheless remains a potent force in US politics.

Three-quarters of Republicans want Mr Trump to play a prominent role in the party, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University this week.

Since reluctantly departing the White House on 20 January and ceding to Mr Biden – despite his constant but unsubstantiated claims that the election had been stolen – Mr Trump has largely kept to himself at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Stripped of his Twitter megaphone, he called into friendly cable TV news programs this week after the death of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, musing on far-right channel Newsmax about the possibility of a future political run.

“I won’t say yet but we have tremendous support. And I’m looking at poll numbers that are through the roof.”

“Let’s say somebody gets impeached, typically your numbers would go down, they would go down like a dead balloon. But the numbers are very good, they’re very high,” he said.

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And in perhaps a preview of what might come at CPAC, Mr Trump issued a statement Tuesday ripping into top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who had delivered a scathing rebuke of the former president despite voting to acquit him of inciting an insurrection.

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Mr Trump said in the statement.

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”

A number of top Republicans who are considered possible candidates for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination are also due to speak at CPAC, including Mr Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota.

Mr Biden, who is trying to steer the United States through the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic crisis, has tried to avoid discussing Mr Trump, at one point calling him “the former guy.”

Lawmakers from his Democratic Party have unveiled legislation to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, reversing Mr Trump’s hardline policies.

Small numbers of asylum seekers, most of them Central Americans forced to wait in Mexico under Mr Trump, have also begun crossing into the United States as their cases are being processed.

With reporting by Reuters.

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COMMENTARY: Recent Liberal announcements seem like little more than political distractions

The pandemic obviously doesn’t preclude the federal government from addressing other issues, even if the response to the former isn’t going as well as it should.

Given the current public mood, it’s fair to ask to what extent the “other issues” are intended to be a distraction from the pandemic response, specifically the vaccine rollout.

Case in point: the Liberals’ new gun control legislation, the details of which were released earlier this week. While there are those who think that gun control should indeed be a priority, it’s hard to see a lot of urgency on the government’s part.

Read more:
Alberta justice minister accuses feds of targeting ‘law-abiding Canadians’ with new gun legislation

First of all, the government has waited until rather late in this session of Parliament to bring this legislation forward. It’s hard to see how there’s enough time for this to pass. And even if and when this legislation does pass, we’re still left at the moment with all sorts of questions.

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The Liberals, for example, are proposing a “gun buyback” scheme for certain firearms (the so-called “assault weapons,” a term for which the government has no working definition) that they’ve now prohibited, but we have no idea how much that is going to cost or how it is even going to work.

The Liberals are also proposing to allow municipalities to “ban” handguns. But again, it’s unclear how such a ban will work or what, specifically, cities might be able to do to further restrict the possession or sale of handguns.

Feds prepared to support cities with handgun ban in face of provincial opposition: Blair

Feds prepared to support cities with handgun ban in face of provincial opposition: Blair

Questions aside, though, it’s clear that despite the government’s lofty rhetoric, the legislation is much more modest in terms of what it actually does. The so-called “assault weapons ban” doesn’t actually remove any of these firearms from their current owners. The buyback will be one option; the other option will be to simply keep the firearm.

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Similarly, the “handgun ban” doesn’t actually ban any handguns. The legal status quo for handguns will remain unchanged upon passage of this legislation. Depending on what exactly municipalities are willing and able to do on this front, it’s possible that little or nothing will change in the weeks and months after this legislation is enacted.

Another case in point: the government’s recent public transit funding announcement. Again, for many, public transit is a very important issue. The $14.9 billion for public transit announced earlier this month by the prime minister certainly gives the appearance that this is indeed a priority for his government.

Read more:
$14.9B promised to Canadian cities for ‘major public transit projects’

However, the bulk of this money isn’t actually going to be distributed for another five years. In all likelihood, we’ll have gone through at least two federal elections by the time that most of this money starts flowing. We’re still awaiting a new budget from this government and so it seems rather premature to be making assumptions about government spending five years down the road. Plus, it’s not as though the Liberals don’t have a history of falling short on delivering on big promises.

So why trot all of this out right now, then? Why the urgency to announce initiatives that clearly lack any sense of urgency?

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It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this is all political. Clearly, the Liberals have been stung by the fallout on the troubled vaccine rollout. They’d obviously much rather inject some other issues into the national conversation, especially those that they feel are political winners for them.

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Coronavirus: Majority of Canadians say governments should have acted faster amid COVID-19, Ipsos poll shows

Coronavirus: Majority of Canadians say governments should have acted faster amid COVID-19, Ipsos poll shows – Feb 10, 2021

An election is all but guaranteed at some point this year. It’s no coincidence that the announcements on firearms and public transit are aimed at voters in Canada’s big cities. Frankly, they feel a lot like campaign announcements.

At the moment, the vaccine issue simply isn’t a winner for the Liberals. That may change, and — politics aside — we should all hope that vaccinations ramp up significantly over the next few months.

Given how important the vaccination question is, it’s unlikely that Canadians are going to be easily distracted by political hand-waving.

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For as much as the Liberals are looking to change the channel, their political fortunes are still very much linked to whether they can lead us out of this pandemic.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Political workplace culture must change, formal review to take place: PM

An allegation of rape within Parliament House will trigger a cultural and structural review of the way ministers and staff are held to account over claims of harassment, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison promises to fix the system.

Mr Morrison apologised for the treatment of former adviser Brittany Higgins after she said she had felt “dismissed” after the alleged rape in a ministerial office in March 2019.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised the workplace culture at Parliament House will change.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The Prime Minister named his department’s deputy secretary, Stephanie Foster, to lead a review of the complaints process and named Liberal backbencher Celia Hammond, a former university vice-chancellor, to review cultural problems in the treatment of women.

More to come.

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Changing political winds – and a unique crisis – allow Democrats to go it alone on stimulus package

The last time a Democratic administration tried to push through a major economic stimulus in a time of crisis, painstaking negotiations with Republicans resulted in a watered-down compromise. Now, President Biden and the Democratic Party are looking to go big — and potentially go it alone — on a massive stimulus package.

Biden has met with Republican senators and stated his desire to get their votes on his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, meant to help battle both the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic damage it’s done to millions of Americans. However, both the new president and Democratic leaders in Congress are moving forward with a process called reconciliation that would allow them to pass much of the relief plan without a single Republican vote.

Both the size of the package and their approach to gaining GOP votes are departures from how the Obama White House and congressional Democrats handled the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

“The way I see it, the biggest risk is not going too big, it’s if we go too small,” Biden said Friday. “We’ve been here before. When this nation hit the Great Recession that Barack and I inherited in 2009, I was asked to lead the effort on the economic recovery act to get it passed. It was a big recovery package, roughly $800 billion. I did everything I could to get it passed, including getting three Republicans to change their votes and vote for it. But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t quite big enough. It stemmed the crisis, but the recovery could have been faster and even bigger. Today we need an answer that meets the challenge of this crisis, not one that falls short.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-C.A.), and the Chairs of the House committees to discuss a coronavirus relief package in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Friday, February 5, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Pool via Getty Images)

President Biden at a meeting on Friday in the Oval Office to discuss the coronavirus relief package. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Pool via Getty Images)

At the start of Obama’s tenure, with the economy in tatters and large majorities in both chambers, Democrats sought Republican votes while attempting to appease the most conservative members of their own caucus. Obama and Biden did get three Republican votes in the Senate but none in the House, and the total cost — roughly $800 billion — was decried as too small by many economists at the time of its passage, leading to the slower recovery the current White House is hoping to avoid this time around. The price tag came down from $920 billion after negotiations between two Republican senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and Sen. Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat from Nebraska.

“These aren’t easy times, obviously, for America,” said Snowe when explaining her vote. “Given the gravity of the circumstances economically, I thought it was important to be part of a process that could yield a consensus-based solution.”

Despite concessions meant to earn Republican support that weakened the legislation, Obama was still criticized for not following through on his promises of bipartisanship and unity.

“That this is bipartisan legislation is simply not accurate,” Sen. John McCain said at the time. “We want to work with the other side, and this is not the example that I think the American people wanted.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, complained that Republicans “didn’t have a chance to negotiate,” while the GOP’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, decried the cost, saying, “Yesterday the Senate cast one of the most expensive votes in history. Americans are wondering how we’re going to pay for all this.”

Democrats were also displeased with the final package, with then-Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa stating, “I am not happy with it. You are not looking at a happy camper. I mean, they took a lot of stuff out of education. They took it out of health, school construction, and they put it more into tax issues.”

The crises are different — a pandemic that has killed nearly 500,000 Americans while upending life for millions more versus a total economic collapse. But while today’s Republicans have also attempted to turn Biden’s calls for bipartisanship and unity against him by criticizing him for going it alone on COVID-19 relief, the White House has taken a broader view of bipartisanship.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters after the weekly Republican caucus policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2021.  (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 26. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly said that the relief legislation is bipartisan because of the wide support it shares in the country, even among Republicans, even if it doesn’t garner any GOP votes. A recent poll from Yahoo News and YouGov showed more Americans supporting than opposing all 20 pieces of Biden’s agenda, including 74 percent support for $2,000 checks and 58 percent support for a minimum wage increase.

“The president ran on unifying the country and putting forward ideas that would help address the crises we’re facing,” Psaki said Friday. “He didn’t run on a promise to unite the Democratic and Republican Party into one party in Washington. This package has the vast majority of support from the American public. This is something that people want. They want to see it passed. They want these checks to get into communities. They want this funding to go to schools. They want more money for vaccine distribution.”

Republicans have also attempted to criticize Biden for both the cost of the package and the process of using reconciliation, citing the deficit and national debt. But their use of reconciliation to pass a massive tax overhaul in 2017 primarily benefiting the wealthy has undercut their argument and earned a dismissal from the president.

“What Republicans have proposed is either to do nothing or not enough,” Biden said Friday. “All of a sudden, many of them have rediscovered fiscal restraint and the concern for the deficits. But don’t kid yourself: This approach will come with a cost. More pain for more people for longer than it has to be.”

The shift in Democratic strategy has a number of roots. There are the presidential campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist who now chairs the Budget Committee and will be a key figure in reconciliation, along with the rise of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a prominent figure in Democratic politics and an outspoken advocate for progressive positions.

There were also the actions of former President Donald Trump, who advocated for $2,000 checks and paid little attention to the deficit throughout his term, diminishing arguments from the right about fiscal concerns, in addition to the Federal Reserve changing its policies on inflation and unemployment. Finally, Democrats have dealt with over a decade of McConnell slowing the Senate to a crawl while in the minority and running roughshod while in the majority. Their frustrations finally boiled over when combined with the urgent crisis facing Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., during a hearing on Jan. 27, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Jan. 27. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

This time around, even senators hailing from states Trump won easily aren’t balking at the 10-digit price tag on the legislation. Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he wasn’t opposed to the administration’s $1.9 trillion cost but wanted a bipartisan process. Manchin has expressed opposition to some details of the rescue plan, including a $15-per-hour minimum wage and eligibility for $1,400 checks, but he voted to advance the reconciliation process. Trump won the Mountain State by nearly 40 points in 2020.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a state Trump won by 16 points, said earlier this month in a CNN interview, “I don’t think $1.9 trillion, even though it is a boatload of money, is too much money. I think now is not the time to starve the economy.”

The Senate is key in these negotiations, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a narrow Democratic majority.

In addition to moderate Democrats being open to the large number, the White House has publicly rejected an economist who has previously had an outsize influence in the party. Larry Summers was treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and a key adviser for the Obama administration who pushed for the 2009 stimulus to be smaller. Last week, in a Washington Post op-ed, Summers made a similar argument, saying $1.9 trillion was too large and could open the door to a devastating inflationary cycle.

Speaking at the White House podium on Friday, Biden’s economic adviser called Summers’s assertion that Biden’s team wasn’t properly concerned with the potential for inflation “flat-out wrong.”

“I think that the idea now is that we have to hit back hard, we have to hit back strong if we’re going to finally put this dual crisis of the pandemic and the economic pain that it has engendered behind us,” Jared Bernstein said. “We’ve constantly argued that the risks of doing too little are far greater than the risks of going big, providing families and businesses with the relief they need to finally put this virus behind us.”

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii summarized a popular Democratic response to Summers, writing, “Why would we listen to the economist who admits he went too small last time if he’s warning us to go small again? I swear this town is nuts. It’s like people can only remember thirty names and so they just keep going back to the same people.”

Cover thumbnail photo illustration; Yahoo News; photos: AP, Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Getty Images.


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Hongkongers in Australia are applying for visa extensions rather than return home to a political crackdown

Life may become even more difficult for Hong Kong citizens seeking refuge abroad, with Canada, Britain and now Australia changing travel advice to warn dual citizens they may be unable to seek consular assistance in Hong Kong.

The Federal Government issued a new travel warning for the region on Wednesday to advise that dual citizenship is no longer recognised by Hong Kong authorities, bringing the city into line with Chinese law.

An estimated 100,000 Hongkongers hold an Australian passport, but if the local laws are enforced dual nationals will be recognised as Chinese citizens only, and could be prevented from accessing Australian consular support.

As Beijing’s influence over Hong Kong grows, thousands of Hongkongers already living in Australia have quietly had their visas extended, instead of returning home.

There are more than 12,000 Hong Kong passport holders currently in Australia on temporary visas.

In response to the crackdown on pro-democracy activity in Hong Kong, the Federal Government announced a program dubbed the “safe haven” scheme that allows Hongkongers on temporary skilled and graduate visas to have their stay extended by five years, with the possibility of a path to permanent residency.

The extension is automatic but several Hong Kong citizens in Australia have told the ABC’s AM program they are growing increasingly fearful of returning home.

Raymond, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, is one of more than 2,500 who have already had their visas extended.

“Since I left [Hong Kong], things are getting worse and worse,” he said.

“They are trying to control the people.”

Raymond wants to remain in Australia, even if that means eventually renouncing his Hong Kong citizenship.

The 30-year-old chef arrived in Australia in 2015 with his partner, shortly after Hong Kong’s so-called Umbrella Revolution, which was a series of pro-democracy protests against proposed electoral reform.

Protests in Hong Kong erupted again in 2019 over plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Raymond said the administration had not listened to its people.

“I truly support democracy,” he said.

“Like everyone, I truly hate to see violence, but the protests that happened in 2014, that was really peaceful protests at that moment, and we see [no positive change].”

Pro-democracy supporters protest for the release of recently detained Hong Kong activists.(Reuters: Tyrone Siu)

It’s unsafe to return home, say Hongkongers in Australia

Raymond said he was grateful for the opportunity to stay in Australia because he did not feel safe returning home.

“If I have a chance to go back to Hong Kong, I would for sure not bring my own phone because I always say something about political [subjects] on Facebook or on Twitter,” he said.

“If they check [my social media], maybe I would get arrested as well.”

Hong Kong at night.
Since the introduction of the new national security law in Hong Kong, authorities have begun a crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners.(Reuters: Tyrone Siu)

Claudia, another Hongkonger whose name has been changed to protect her identity, lives in Canberra and has also had her visa extended for an additional five years after she originally arrived on a graduate visa in 2014.

“There is no justice and no freedom of speech in Hong Kong,” she said.

As a member of the pro-democracy group Australia-Hong Kong Link, Claudia spends time lobbying politicians and advocating against China’s influence.

She said her friends in Hong Kong who took part in protests had been beaten and jailed, and she would fear retaliation for her own political activity if she were to return.

But she also worries about her loved ones back home.

“We don’t even know what will happen if we go back to Hong Kong, so I prefer to stay,” she said.

“[But] I worry about my family, because I am one of the committee of the Australia-Hong Kong Link, I actively do lobbying of some senators and MPs to support Hong Kong democracy, and I often organise some protests; in that case I do worry about my family.”

How serious is the threat to Hongkongers if they return?

Dr Graeme Smith, a fellow at the Department of Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University, said the crackdown on democracy had worsened since the Federal Government introduced its safe haven arrangements for Hong Kong citizens.

“Things have certainly gotten worse. If you talk to people who are there, the police presence is even more claustrophobic than in the past,” he said.

“It’s been an amazing transformation for the Hong Kong police force, from one of the most trusted in Asia to basically a force that is feared.”

Police officers stand guard outside office of District councillor and lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung
Arrests of political activists in Hong Kong have continued in 2021.(AP: Vincent Yu)

National security legislation passed by Beijing in June 2020 gave authorities more powers to suppress dissent and punish protesters in Hong Kong.

Dr Smith said Raymond and Claudia’s concerns about returning were valid.

“The crimes under the national security are so broad as to allow the police incredible latitude in interpretation,” he said.

“So you’ve had people rounded up for collusion with foreign forces for Twitter posts. Literally, they posted on Twitter something against the government, and it’s been broadcast around the world, to followers, therefore it’s collusion.”

What is the future for those who want to leave Hong Kong?

Raymond said many of his friends still in Hong Kong were trying to work out ways to migrate to places like Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

But he said things were more difficult for the older generation, who are limited by the language barrier.

He said many pro-democracy, older Hongkongers would look for Chinese-speaking countries that may take them in.

“Because their English isn’t really good, Australia isn’t really a priority for them,” he said.

“My parents said something about going to Malaysia, they would have more confidence to stay and live there.”

For now he will remain in Australia, although he does not believe Hong Kong will ever return to the society he grew up in.

“[China is] trying to control everyone,” he said.

“They’re trying to [send] real Hong Kong people to other countries or back to China. Hong Kong will just become a city of China.”

The ABC has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for any information on the ability of dual Australian-Hong Kong citizens to access consular assistance, but it is yet to respond.

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Trump lawyers rail against impeachment trial as ‘political theater’ on eve of proceedings

Lawyers for former President Trump on Monday submitted a brief saying that Democrats’ effort to convict the president in an impeachment trial after he’s left office is “political theater,” and that the trial is outside of the Senate’s constitutional authority. 

“Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain,” the brief says, according to the Associated Press. 

The brief also echoes arguments made in the Trump team’s initial answer to the impeachment article that Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen were within his First Amendment rights. 

President Donald Trump reacts after speaking near a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Alamo, Texas. Trump is the only American president to ever be impeached twice. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The brief comes the day before the trial is set to begin in earnest, with arguments over its constitutionality likely, and Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., set to preside. 


House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., are also expected to file a brief of their own on Monday morning. 

The filings from both Trump’s team and the Democrats who aim to secure the former president’s conviction will provide a preview of the arguments they plan to make during the trial hearings.

The Senate has yet to officially agree to a framework for the trial. But a potential one is currently being circulated that would allow for four hours of debate Tuesday about whether the trial is constitutional, followed by a vote on “Constitutionality.”

There could also be debate and a vote on a call by impeachment managers for witnesses. And the trial may switch from the traditional six days per week with Sunday off model to six days per week with Saturday off. Trump lawyer David Schoen observes the Jewish Sabbath and asked that the trial pause Friday at 5 p.m. and resume Sunday. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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NYPD launches probe into ‘domestic terrorist’ cop wearing ‘political patch’ amid calls for purges & cleansing of ‘Trump’s Army’

A New York City police officer was caught on video wearing pro-Trump patches, leading to an investigation after liberals claim the entire force is “Trump’s Army” and label the cop a “domestic terrorist.”

At a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Brooklyn on Friday evening, video was captured of the officer in uniform with two Trump badges attached to her vest. One is of a skull styled after the comic book character The Punisher – which some have called for to be retired – with Trump’s hair, while the other has a similar image along with Trump’s name and the phrase “make enforcement great again.”

“Where were you on January 6?” one protester asks her, referring to the US Capitol riot. The protester then begins calling her a “domestic terrorist” as others join in. The officer does not respond, but does at one point blow a kiss to an unseen person.

The officer was identified by social media users, but has not been named by the NYPD.

Outraged liberals took to social media on Saturday to blast the NYPD, which prohibits officers from wearing anything that makes a political statement while in uniform, for employing a “white supremacist.”

“NYPD officers wearing Trump badges ? What’s up with that? Get the white supremacists out of the police force forever,” actress Rosanna Arquette tweeted in reaction to the video.

The NYPD acknowledged the video on Saturday after a wave of criticism and said the officer has “received an initial discipline” for “wearing a politically oriented patch.” They also said an investigation into the matter is underway.

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea also responded to the controversy in a tweet saying officers must remain “apolitical.”

“Members of the NYPD must remain apolitical — it’s essential to public trust & officers’ ability to perform their jobs,” he wrote.

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Facebook will stop recommending civic and political groups

The social network wants to ensure that “the communities with which people connect are healthy and positive.”

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Mark Zuckerberg made a post commenting on four topics that Facebook will focus on this year. And within the topic “communities” he explained that the social network will stop recommending civic and political groups.

According to the businessman, the platform must ensure that “the communities with which people connect are healthy and positive.” Likewise, he expressed that one way to do it is by “taking down” groups that include their rules against issues “such as violence or hate speech.

In the post, he also explained that although they do not violate their rules, there are groups that “possibly do not want to encourage people to join.” Zuckerberg said as an example they stopped recommending civic and political groups in the United States before the elections.

“We continue to fine-tune how this works, but now we plan to keep civic and political groups out of the long-term recommendations, and we plan to expand that policy globally,” he said.

They are also making the decision to reduce the political content in the news section. However, he made it clear that people will have the freedom to join political groups if they wish.

“Often these (political groups) can be important and useful. They can be ways of organizing grassroots movements, speaking out against injustice, or learning from people with different perspectives ”.

I just shared our community update and quarterly results. There are four big themes I’m focused on for the year ahead: …

Posted By Mark Zuckerberg On Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

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Failed SA and federal political candidate Mark Aldridge loses gun licence after threatening to shoot hoons

A failed South Australian and federal political candidate and animal sanctuary owner has lost a bid to keep his firearms licence after a tribunal found he threatened to shoot hoon drivers in 2017.

Mark Aldridge — who has run in a number of state and federal elections, both as an independent and One Nation candidate — applied to the SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) to get his firearms licence reinstated after it was cancelled.

The Registrar of Firearms cancelled Mr Aldridge’s firearms licence in June 2020, claiming he was “not a fit and proper” person to hold one after an incident in January 2017.

After a two-day hearing, the tribunal agreed and refused to reinstate Mr Aldridge’s licence.

The tribunal found that Mr Aldridge admitted making “repeated indirect threats to use a firearm to harm others” when he made the comment: “Do you know what I’d like to do? Just go and get the f***en self-loading and f***en knock a few of the c**** off.”

Mr Aldridge told the tribunal that was he well-known in the community, and had previously been a political candidate, so people knew where he lived and that he had an animal sanctuary at his property.

He also gave evidence that he had 5,000 friends and 30,000 followers on his social media.

‘Firework sparks feud with hoon drivers’

Mr Aldridge told the tribunal that people were doing burnouts and setting off fireworks near his home in December 2016, and a cracker was found in his driveway near dry grass.

“In the early afternoon of January 1, 2017, he [Mr Aldridge] put a post on social media with a photograph of the firework he had found noting that it was near dry grass and referred to the people who had left it as ‘childish morons’,” the tribunal stated.

Mr Aldridge told the tribunal that members from the group called him and asked him to meet them at the corner, so he drove there with a friend, and approached them carrying a “night stick” — or extendable baton.

He said there had been a “brief conversation” before he returned home.


But Mr Aldridge told the tribunal that about three hours later, fireworks were set off on his property so he jumped in his car and drove towards the group to record their number plates before he was assaulted.

The tribunal stated that Mr Aldridge’s wife had contacted police but cancelled the request for help about six minutes later.

Dash cam footage from Mr Aldridge’s car was tendered to the tribunal.

It showed the former political candidate making the following comments: “I only got this as a weapon” and “I wish I had a f***en gun, I’d shoot them all.”

Tribunal hears link to outlaw bikie

It also revealed that Mr Aldridge’s friend ask him if he could “ring what’s-his-name from the [Gypsy Joker Outlaw Motorcycle Club]”. He replied: “Nah, too many of them.”

Mr Aldridge told the tribunal that the comments were made to his friend “in private in an attempt to sound tough” and that he had no intention of acting on them.

Mr Aldridge admitted to SACAT that he had the contact details for a member of the Gypsy Joker outlaw bikie club after meeting him at a rally to protest South Australia’s anti-association laws.

“On the evidence available to the tribunal, I consider there is a risk that the applicant may cause harm to another by the threatened use of a firearm. This reflects adversely on his fitness and propriety,” the presiding member said in his judgment.

“The events of January 1, 2017, show a pattern by Mr Aldridge of confrontational behaviour.

“I reject his evidence that his comments made to his friend and the third party were made to sound tough.

“In my view the evidence clearly shows Mr Aldridge planned to confront the Commodore group armed with weapons. He made multiple threats to harm others. He was aware the police patrol had been cancelled.”

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Kuwait’s government quits, deepening political deadlock

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Kuwait’s Cabinet submitted its resignation Tuesday, the latest development in a cycle of clashes between the government and lawmakers that long has convulsed the sheikhdom with the strongest parliament in the Gulf.

The move, while not a surprise after some 30 lawmakers backed a no-confidence motion against the government this month, reveals how the country’s politicking has caused instability, diminished public confidence and aggravated the oil-rich state’s worst economic crisis in decades.

The ministers quit after the recently elected members of parliament, more than 60% of them new faces, grilled the prime minister to protest his new Cabinet appointments. The decision to reinstate the old parliament speaker, who hails from an elite merchant family, stirred anger among new lawmakers skeptical of corruption and the country’s patronage system.

The prime minister must now submit the resignations to the country’s ruling emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who is widely expected to accept them.

During their interrogation of the prime minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah last week, lawmakers accused him of staffing the Cabinet with “provocative and unqualified members,” according to local media. Other sore points included the choices for interior minister and justice minister, who opposed a draft law on Kuwait’s stateless people that parliament had hoped to pass.

The tensions boiled over in last week’s parliamentary session, with footage showing shouting matches and physical brawls in the chamber. Security guards struggled to restrain lawmakers wearing traditional headdress and robes as they clambered over rows of chairs, screaming at supporters and friends of the parliament speaker.

“The lawmakers are trying to bring reforms, but they feel their hands are tied because the government keeps bringing in the same old faces,” said Mohammed al-Yousef, an independent Kuwaiti political analyst. “The system is designed to create deadlock.”

The resignation of the government raises concerns that the emir may dissolve parliament and force a second election in as many months. It wouldn’t be the first time. Kuwait’s unusual combination of an emir-appointed government and elected parliament frequently gives rise to wrangling that analysts say impedes the country’s economic and social progress. The parliament can introduce legislation and question ministers, though the country’s emir retains ultimate authority and ruling family members hold senior posts.

Last year, the ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Kuwait for the first time in its history as the coronavirus pandemic and plunging oil prices burned a hole in the country’s finances. Even with the treasury rapidly depleting, the government has no legal framework to deficit-spend beyond its current limit of $33 billion without parliamentary approval. Lawmakers have fiercely opposed raising the debt ceiling, fearing the money will be pillaged thanks to corruption.

Thank you for dropping in to My Local Pages and checking out this news update involving current World News named “Kuwait’s government quits, deepening political deadlock”. This post is presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our national news services.

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