Biden Denies He ‘Acted Inappropriately’ Toward Female Candidate

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a possible Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, denied Sunday that he “acted inappropriately” in the face of allegations from a Nevada lawmaker that he unexpectedly  touched her shoulders and kissed her hair at a 2014 political rally.

Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the western state of Nevada, recalled the incident on CNN, saying that “very unexpectedly and out of nowhere, I feel Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders, get up very close to me from behind, lean in, smell my hair and then plant a slow kiss on the top of my head.”

She called the moment “shocking,” adding, “You don’t expect that kind of intimacy from someone so powerful and someone who you just have no relationship (with) whatsoever to touch you and to feel you and to be so close to you in that way.”

Biden said: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

Political surveys show the 76-year-old Biden leading a long list of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to oust Trump from the White House, but he has not yet formally declared his candidacy even as he has made frequent speeches at campaign-style rallies in recent weeks.

He has twice unsuccessfully sought the party’s presidential nomination, before serving for eight years as vice president under former President Barack Obama, ending in early 2017.

In the lead-up to his presumed candidacy, Biden has faced new questions about his public hands-on attention to women in public settings over the years and notably his 1991 treatment of Anita Hill when Biden, as a U.S. senator, chaired the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Hill is a college law professor who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment when they worked together at a U.S. government agency, but the all-male panel headed by Biden largely dismissed her allegations, with Thomas winning narrow confirmation to the country’s highest court, where he still sits.

Biden in recent days has said he regretted that he “couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved,” even though he led the committee.

Biden is not believed to have apologized personally to Hill in the nearly three decades since the hearing. But as he seemingly moves toward another presidential candidacy in an era of new accountability for men in powerful positions of their treatment of women in years past, Biden is facing new calls for further explanation of his role in the Thomas confirmation hearings.

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Zelenskiy Leads Poroshenko in First Round of Ukraine’s Elections

Comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelenskiy defeated incumbent president Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine’s first round of presidential elections, according to exit polls Sunday, leading the two candidates into a run-off election.

Zelenskiy, a comedian who plays the role of the president in a television comedy series, was projected to win 30.4 percent of the vote, easily beating Poroshenko, in power since 2014, who earned 17.8 percent, according to the Central Election Commission’s report as of 6 p,m.

If no candidate wins more than half of the votes, the election will proceed to a run-off to be held on April 21.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seeking to prove life can indeed imitate art. He in the protagonist of a long-running popular series called the Servant of the People in which he plays a teacher who unexpectedly finds himself president after a student posts on YouTube one of his rants denouncing the elite.

President Petro Poroshenko had the support of just 13.7 percent of the voters, according to a pre-election poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

The 53-year-old billionaire dubbed the chocolate king because of his confectionery business has been accused by opponents of running schemes to buy votes, especially in small towns where the pull of political paternalism is strong.

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Center in Havana Opens to Preserve Hemingway’s Legacy

U.S. donors and Cuban builders have completed one of the longest-running joint projects between the two countries at a low point in bilateral relations.

Officials from the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation and Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council cut the ribbon Saturday evening on a state-of-the-art, $1.2 million conservation center on the grounds of Ernest Hemingway’s stately home on a hill overlooking Havana.

 

The center, which has been under construction since 2016, contains modern technology for cleaning and preserving a multitude of artifacts from the home where Hemingway lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

 

When he died in 1961, the author left approximately 5,000 photos, 10,000 letters and perhaps thousands of margin notes in roughly 9,000 books at the property.

 

“The laboratory we’re inaugurating today is the only one in Cuba with this capacity and it will allow us to contribute to safeguarding the legacy of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba,” said Grisell Fraga, director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, spoke at the ceremony and called it a sign of the potential for U.S.-Cuban cooperation despite rising tensions between the Communist government and the Trump administration.

 

McGovern, who met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other Cuban officials during his visit, said that despite tensions over Venezuela, a Cuban ally, he still believed respectful dialogue was the most productive way of dealing with Cuba’s government.

 

The Trump administration has said it is trying to get rid of socialism in Latin America.

 

 

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White House Demands Mexico, 3 Central American Countries Curb Migrant Surge

The Trump administration on Sunday demanded that Mexico and three Central American countries curb the surge of thousands of undocumented migrants heading to the United States, noting that the homeland security chief for former President Barack Obama agrees there is an immigration crisis at the southern U.S. border.

“We need your help,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in an interview on ABC News. He said Mexico needs to solidify its southern border with Guatemala to prevent the caravans from heading north through Mexico to the U.S. and that the three Central American counties need to curb migrants from leaving their countries.

He left open the distinct possibility that President Donald Trump would close the U.S. border with Mexico in the coming days, even as he says he intends to cut off about $500 million in U.S. aid to the three Northern Triangle countries.

“Jeh Johnson admits we were right” about a crisis on the southern U.S. border, Mulvaney said, referring to the Obama homeland security secretary. “We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so.”

On Saturday, Johnson told Fox News, “By anyone’s definition, by any measure, right now we have a crisis at our southern border.”

There were 4,000 apprehensions of migrants at the border one day last week and the U.S. is on pace for 100,000 for all of March.

“That is by far a greater number than anything I saw on my watch in my three years as secretary of Homeland Security,” Johnson said.

Mulvaney said if the three Central American countries do not curb migration to the U.S., “there’s little reason to continue sending them money.”

Current Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen last week signed a regional border security compact with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to curb the illegal migrant surge and interdict the flow of drugs into the U.S.

But Mulvaney said the three countries’ “actions will speak louder than words.”

Blaming Democrats

The White House official said, “Congress can fix this” with tougher immigration controls along the U.S., but that “it’s clear the Democrats are not going to help us. So we’re looking to cutting off aid and closing the border.”

Trump said on Twitter Saturday, “It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat inspired immigration laws. In less than one hour, and then a vote, the problem would be solved. But the Dems don’t care about the crime, they don’t want any victory for Trump and the Republicans, even if good for USA!”

He added, “Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA. Our detention areas are maxed out & we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the Border! This will also help us with stopping the Drug flow from Mexico!”

After Congress earlier this year refused to fund Trump’s request for money to build a border wall, he declared a national emergency to tap money allocated for other programs to build the wall. Both houses of Congress passed legislation to overturn Trump’s national emergency declaration, but he vetoed it and the House of Representatives last week failed to override the veto.

‘Reckless’ policy?

Congressional action would be needed to cut off aid to the three countries. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump’s order a “reckless announcement” and urged Democrats and Republicans alike to reject it.

 

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, warned in a statement released Saturday that cutting off aid will further destabilize the Northern Triangle countries.

 

“By cutting off desperately needed aid, the administration will deprive El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of critical funds that help stabilize these countries by curbing migration push factors such as violence, gangs, poverty and insecurity. Ultimately, this short-sighted and flawed decision lays the groundwork for the humanitarian crisis at our border to escalate further,” he said.

 

Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at The Center for Global Development, says the administration’s strategy to shape migration through aid needs to be done right.

 

“If what the United States wants to do is prevent irregular child migration in a way that works and is cost-effective, it should not do what it has traditionally done — spend 10 times as much on border enforcement trying to keep child migrants out as it spends on security assistance to the region,” he said. “In fact, smartly packaged security assistance” is the only thing that has been “shown to reduce violence effectively and cost effectively.”

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Thousands March in Spain to Demand More Help for Rural Areas

Thousands of Spaniards gathered in Madrid on Sunday to demand that the government take steps to curb the depopulation of rural areas.

Sunday’s march under the slogan “The Revolt of the Emptied Spain” was organized by grassroots groups from rural areas in the southern European Union nation.

 

In Spain, 90 percent of the population is now concentrated in 30 percent of the country’s territory, namely in Madrid and the coastal areas. That leaves 10 percent of its people spread over large swaths of the interior.

 

On Friday, the government announced measures to improve internet networks in the countryside.

 

The march comes before Spain’s April 28 general election, when rural areas could play a key role in deciding if the Socialists stay in power. Spanish election law gives more weight to underpopulated areas.

 

 

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Is Britain Heading for Constitutional Crisis?

At no time since the Great Depression of the 1930s, when a Labour leader had to break with his party and head a national unity government, has a British prime minister been so boxed in as Theresa May, say analysts.

British lawmakers, exhausted and on edge from the political turmoil of last week — when the country was meant to have left the European Union, but didn’t — fear this coming week could be more traumatic for a constitutional order that’s cracking under the stress of a Brexit impasse that’s also fracturing Britain’s two storied parties, the Conservatives and Labour.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, outraged party activists by suggesting Saturday a national unity government may have to be formed to find a way out of the political dead-end.

“If needs must, we have to then do what’s right,” he said.

Former Conservative minister Nicky Morgan has also hinted that a national government might be the only option, if May declines to implement any alternative Brexit policy for lawmakers to vote on Monday in a second stage of so-called indicative voting.

Last week, for the first time since 1906, lawmakers seized control of the parliamentary agenda from the government, aided by the House Speaker, to debate 16 Brexit options.  They voted in the end on eight, although none secured a majority.

But two came close — one calling for a second referendum and another for a so-called soft Brexit that would see Britain remaining in a customs union with the bloc.  A third that would see an even closer relationship with the European Union also did fairly well and behind-the-scenes is reportedly picking up more promises of support.

May has reserved the right not to implement what the House of Commons decides, but could be forced by parliament to do so, a further overturning of constitutional practice.  She still hopes to secure backing for her thrice-defeated and highly contentious Brexit withdrawal deal that’s anathema to a large group of hardline Conservative Brexiters and a Northern Irish party she relies on in her minority government.

No-deal Brexit

More than half of her Conservative lawmakers signed a letter Saturday insisting May decide to go for a no-deal Brexit and leave without any agreement with Brussels, a move that could wipe out 10 percent of Britain’s trade, according to economists, disrupt crucial supply chains and push Britain into a recession.

It would also leave up in the air the fate of 3.5 million Europeans living in Britain and as many as 1.5 million Britons living on the continental mainland.

But there is no majority in parliament for such a sharp break.

With all avenues seemingly leading to dead-ends, half her Cabinet is pushing for a general election, hoping it would return a parliament not so undecided.  But the other half is adamantly opposed to a snap poll, pointing out that an early election she called two years ago crippled the Conservatives, losing them their majority in the Commons.

“It would be an act of extraordinary self-harm,” a minister told VOA.  “How can we fight a general election when we are so bitterly divided and with a leader who’s promised to relinquish leadership soon.  What will be the manifesto that can unite the party,” he said.

His fears may not be misplaced. Despite poisonous divisions in the Labour Party over Brexit, allegations of anti-semitism and over the ideology of Jeremy Corbyn, the most far-left leader the party has had since the 1940s, an opinion poll on Saturday put Labour five points ahead of the Conservatives.

If repeated in an election, that would leave Labour the largest party, although shy of an overall majority.  It would likely form a coalition government or agree to voting arrangements with the pro-EU Scottish nationalists, Liberal Democrats and a new breakaway centrist party made up of Labour and Conservative defectors.

But it too has sharp Brexit differences, replicating the irreconcilable difficulties the Conservative government is finding impossible to overcome.

Few lawmakers and commentators now think Britain will escape the mess without wide-ranging and long-term constitutional and political wreckage.  That could possibly draw the queen into the crisis, and right into the center of party politics, something modern-day monarchs have avoided as they are meant to stay above the political fray.

‘Nuclear option’

Two constitutional lawyers have advised the government it would have the legal right to ask the queen to withhold her royal assent to any bill foisted on the government by parliament.  Stephen Laws, a former parliamentary counsel, and Richard Elkins, an Oxford University law professor, argue parliament would be abusing constitutional process and “the government might plausibly decide to advise Her Majesty not to assent.”

Ministers have tagged that approach a “nuclear option.”  It would propel the monarchy onto a collision course with parliament, something not seen since the 18th century.

Exasperation is rising across the country that is angrily split down the middle over staying a member of the EU or quitting.  The one thing uniting the nation is frustration bordering on contempt for the country’s political class.

Commentator Charles Moore, a former editor of the pro-Conservative Daily Telegraph, argues parliament members are putting themselves above a public vote that decided for Brexit.  

But pro-EU commentators, while agreeing the constitutional order is at risk of unraveling, say voters were tricked and many who voted for Brexit had no idea that could put Britain outside the EU single market and customs union, something leading Brexit politicians promised wouldn’t happen.

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Місцеві вибори в Туреччині: двоє членів опозиційної партії вбиті

Двох членів Ісламістської партії процвітання – працівника виборчої дільниці і спостерігача на виборах – застрелили в турецькій провінції Малатья. За даними місцевих ЗМІ, одну людину затримали.

Ще двоє людей отримали ножові поранення в провінції Діярбакир, один з них у критичному стані. Десятки людей отримали ушкодження у сутичках, пов’язаних із місцевими виборами, на східному півдні країни.

Ще одна масова бійка сталася в Стамбулі між прихильниками двох різних кандидатів, одна людина отримала ножові поранення.

Порядок під час виборів охороняють 553 тисячі поліцейських і співробітників сил безпеки.

Читайте також: Посол США в Україні прийшла на виборчу дільницю в Києві​

Партія справедливості і розвитку, яка вигравала кожні вибори з 2002 року, наражається на все більш відчутний тиск опозиції на тлі економічної рецесії в Туреччині, росту безробіття й інфляції.

Зокрема в столиці Анкарі шанси на перемогу має опозиційний кандидат Мансур Явас. Президент і лідер правлячої партії Реджеп Тайїп Ердоган неодноразово звинувачував його у підробці документів і ухиленні від сплати податків. Явас, який програв вибори на посаду мера Анкари 2014 року, всі звинувачення заперечує.

Нинішні муніципальні вибори є першими відтоді, коли в 2017 році президент Реджеп Тайїп Ердоган унаслідок конституційної реформи отримав широкі повноваження.

Внаслідок волевиявлення буде обрано 1 тисячу 389 мерів та тисячі депутатів місцевих рад. З 82-мільйонного населення Туреччини право голосувати має понад 57 мільйонів.

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У Туреччині відбуваються місцеві вибори, партія Ердогана може програти у великих містах

У Туреччині 31 березня відбуваються місцеві вибори. Опитування, проведені до голосування, свідчать, що владна Партія справедливості та розвитку може програти в Анкарі, Стамбулі та інших великих містах.

Нинішні муніципальні вибори є першими відтоді, коли в 2017 році президент Реджеп Тайїп Ердоган унаслідок конституційної реформи отримав широкі повноваження.

Вибори назвуть 1 тисячу 389 мерів та тисячі депутатів місцевих рад.

Ердоган та його Партія справедливості та розвитку незмінно вигравали кожні вибори з 2002 року, але нинішня кампанія, на відміну від попередніх, відбувалася за умов рецесії, зростання безробіття та зростання інфляції.

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