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South Texas Mayor Is Arrested on Election Fraud Charges, Fueling Bitter Political Fight

— The mayor of a South Texas border city was arrested Thursday on charges that he orchestrated an illegal voting scheme in which he asked residents of nearby towns to change their addresses so that they could cast votes for him. The arrests of Richard Molina, the mayor of Edinburg, and his wife, Dalia Molina, came amid a bitter political fight in Texas over election fraud, and were made in a region with a long history of voting improprieties and public corruption scandals. Ken Paxton, the state’s Republican attorney general, whose office oversaw the investigation of Mr. Molina, has aggressively prosecuted voter fraud cases, even as a recent attempt by the state to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls was plagued by problems and inaccuracies. According to court documents, Mr. Molina and his wife were both registered as volunteer voter registrars in the 2017 election and were authorized to help people fill out voter registration applications. “The mayor is innocent of what he’s being accused of,” said Mr. Molina’s lawyer, Carlos A. Garcia. There’s a power struggle in Hidalgo County, specifically in Edinburg.” Cary Zayas, the spokeswoman for the City of Edinburg, said in a statement defending the mayor that the arrests “have no impact on the city’s day to day operations.” Mr. Molina and his wife were arraigned late Thursday morning in Edinburg, a city of 90,000 residents that is next door to McAllen and home to a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus. In January, the Texas Secretary of State’s office said it had discovered that about 95,000 people identified as noncitizens had matching voter registration records in the state, and that about 58,000 of them had voted in one or more Texas elections. Mr. Molina was arrested in the Democratic stronghold of the Rio Grande Valley, the result of an investigation led by a Republican attorney general. The Rio Grande Valley, which borders Mexico, has a long history of voter fraud. In January, Mr. Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit arrested a woman in Starr County for using a dead person’s identity to vote illegally in a 2016 Democratic primary.

Pete Buttigieg confronted by religious protester

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — In his first visit to Iowa since officially launching his campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that the state with the initial nominating votes "will be really central to our strategy." "There's a political style here that rhymes a lot with my home territory in Indiana," Buttigieg said in an interview with The Associated Press. The South Bend mayor has surged from a relatively unknown candidate in the field to a media darling who's gained support in nationwide polling and posted a stronger-than-expected fundraising number in the first quarter. He's drawn attention for his plainspoken style, and the historic nature of his candidacy, as the first openly gay contender. In Iowa on Tuesday, both aspects of his campaign— his rhetorical strengths and his unique personal story — were highlighted when a religious protester confronted him during a town hall in Fort Dodge. After Buttigieg spoke about the need for marriage equality, the protester stood up and shouted, "You betray your baptism!" He was then escorted out. Buttigieg joked to the crowd, "Coffee after church gets a little rowdy sometimes." Buttigieg also said: "We're so dug-in, in such passionate ways, and I respect that, too. That gentleman believes that what he is doing is in line with the will of the creator.

Cory Booker promises to ‘bring a fight to the NRA’ at launch of national...

“We won’t wait for more thoughts and prayers for communities that have been shattered by gun violence from Pittsburgh to Parkland to Charleston,” he told the crowd in Newark, where he served as mayor for seven years before becoming a senator. “We will pass universal background checks, we will ban assault weapons and close loopholes that allow people who never should have a gun to get one.” “And folks, we will bring a fight to the NRA like they have never, ever seen before -- and we will win,” he said. Booker’s remarks mark the start of a two-week tour across America for the 2020 hopeful, who has at times struggled to distinguish himself from the large pack of Democrats seeking the party’s nod and has languished in single digits in polls. On Saturday, Booker led the rallying cry “We can’t wait” as he listed his policy goals, including fighting climate change, enacting comprehensive immigration reform ending “mass incarcerations” and facilitating federal legalization of marijuana. "Critics will tell us that a campaign powered by grace and love and a deep faith in each other" cannot prevail, Booker said. "But I say it's the only way we win. The president wants a race to the gutter and to fight us in the gutter. To win, we have to fight from higher ground in order to bring this country to higher ground." The campaign is directing most of its firepower to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the four states will kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar in February and can provide crucial momentum for the primaries to follow.

Workers’ rights are a 2020 campaign focus this weekend

DENMARK, S.C. (AP) — The issue of workers' rights is a focus this weekend for some of the Democrats running for president. Beto O'Rourke is campaigning in rural South Carolina, saying he wants to show up for communities that are often overlooked by politicians or "left for last." O'Rourke spoke specifically about using federal infrastructure spending to address issues like the water crisis in Denmark, where residents have been dealing with brown-tinted drinking water that smells foul and is filled with sediment. At a house party in New Hampshire on Saturday, the Massachusetts Democrat said the reason the country is headed in the wrong direction is because of corruption. "This is not ignorance," Warren said. The people in Washington, oh, they get it. But it's so much more than campaign contributions, she said. "The key that we've got to play into, unlock, fixing the problems we need to fix, starts with, we have got to push back on the influence of money in Washington," Warren said. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker returned his Newark home on Saturday to kick off a two-week, nationwide "Justice For All" tour that will focus on issues that include gun control and criminal justice reform. John Hickenlooper said on Saturday Democrats can't beat President Donald Trump with anger.

Trump says Dems have let anti-Semitism ‘take root’ in their party

President Trump said Saturday that Democrats have allowed anti-Semitism to “take root in their party and their country” as the party’s base is pushing it to the left and to positions more critical of Israel. “They’ve allowed that.” Trump noted that in January, Democrats blocked legislation to confront the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Democrats cited the ongoing government shutdown at the time for their opposition to the bill, saying that only legislation that would reopen the government should be passed. But Democrats have struggled with accusations of anti-Semitism, a controversy that blew up in March when Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., suggested that supporters of Israel were pushing for U.S. politicians to declare "allegiance" to that nation. “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," Omar said. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she tweeted, a remark for which she later apologized. Those comments led to a broad resolution against bigotry that passed the House -- but that only indirectly condemned Omar’s comments, and did not mention her by name. At the beginning of his remarks on Saturday, Trump “thanked” Omar before issuing a mocking apology when the friendly crowd booed the reference. On the escalating migration crisis on the southern border, for instance, he said that some migrants claiming asylum are “the roughest people you’ve ever seen.” “People that look like they should be fighting for the UFC,” he said to laughs from the audience.

Guantánamo Trials Grapple With How Much Evidence to Allow About Torture

Seventeen-and-a-half years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and a decade after President Barack Obama ordered the C.I.A. black sites. By law, prosecutors cannot use evidence gained through torture — or any other involuntary statements — at the war court, where eight of Guantánamo’s 40 prisoners are accused of being complicit in terrorist attacks. Prosecutors have made clear that nothing the defendants said at the black sites will be used as evidence. Defense lawyers in those cases have sought for years to get access to eyewitnesses and graphic details from the C.I.A. sites. The lawyers want to use descriptions of torture to ask the judge to exclude some of the defendants’ own statements after they left the black sites. In his second year of C.I.A. calls this “rectal feeding.” Defense lawyers call it rape. Mr. Khan’s lawyers now want to call witnesses and gather evidence to show his sentencing jury what happened to him.

Mapping pot legalization politics: Not just red vs. blue

NEW YORK (AP) — To anyone who figured the path of legalizing recreational marijuana use ran along blue state-red state lines, a sudden setback for pot advocates in New Jersey may show the issue isn’t so black-and-white. But when a state Senate vote was abruptly put off Monday because it didn’t have enough support, the delay was a reminder that the politics of pot legalization aren’t purely partisan. The key question instead can be whether voters or legislators are making the decision, experts say. Several states where it passed — like Massachusetts, Michigan and Vermont — are less blue than purple, with governors and legislative leaders of different parties. The Democratic governors and legislature leaders of New York and New Jersey have been jostling to make their states next in line to legalize, but the effort hasn’t gone as smoothly as they might have hoped. Those are also among the sticking points that prompted the New Jersey Senate to postpone Monday’s planned vote, which would fulfill a campaign promise from Gov. Nine of the 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana did so through voter referendums — not through their legislatures. “I actually see this as a populist-movement-vs.-representative (body) issue,” says Andrew Freedman, who helped set up Colorado’s recreational-pot program and now consults governments on doing so. For all that, lawmakers in 21 states at least proposed legalizing marijuana last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “States are talking about it in the rainbow of red, blue and purple.” ___ Peltz is a member of AP’s marijuana beat team.

Mapping pot legalization politics: Not just red vs. blue

NEW YORK (AP) — To anyone who figured the path of legalizing recreational marijuana use ran along blue state-red state lines, a sudden setback for pot advocates in New Jersey may show the issue isn’t so black-and-white. But when a state Senate vote was abruptly put off Monday because it didn’t have enough support, the delay was a reminder that the politics of pot legalization aren’t purely partisan. The key question instead can be whether voters or legislators are making the decision, experts say. Several states where it passed — like Massachusetts, Michigan and Vermont — are less blue than purple, with governors and legislative leaders of different parties. The Democratic governors and legislature leaders of New York and New Jersey have been jostling to make their states next in line to legalize, but the effort hasn’t gone as smoothly as they might have hoped. Those are also among the sticking points that prompted the New Jersey Senate to postpone Monday’s planned vote, which would fulfill a campaign promise from Gov. Nine of the 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana did so through voter referendums — not through their legislatures. “I actually see this as a populist-movement-vs.-representative (body) issue,” says Andrew Freedman, who helped set up Colorado’s recreational-pot program and now consults governments on doing so. For all that, lawmakers in 21 states at least proposed legalizing marijuana last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “States are talking about it in the rainbow of red, blue and purple.” ___ Peltz is a member of AP’s marijuana beat team.

GOP senator subpoenaed at CPAC was target of ‘political stunt,’ his spokeswoman says

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the target of "a political stunt" when he was served with a subpoena following his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, his spokeswoman said Friday. Mike Parson’s office. “After more than two weeks of evading service, Senator Josh Hawley was personally served with the subpoena at CPAC.” Gross said the subpoena was issued in early February by the Cole County Circuit Court at his request because of Hawley’s alleged mishandling of Missouri’s Sunshine Law – which deals with government transparency – while he was state attorney general, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Gross said in a news release around that time that he had sought records of correspondence between Gov. Kelli Ford, a spokeswoman for Hawley, reacted to Gross's remarks Friday. "The reality is that Mr. The reality is that Mr. — Kelli Ford, spokeswoman for Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Traditional Palestinian Dress Becomes Means of Political Protest

The brightly colored, embroidered woman’s dress is known as a “thobe,” notes the Associated Press. Thobe designs also expressed women’s different social positions: red was the color for women about to be married, while blue was for women whose husbands had died. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homes during the war that led to Israel’s creation. Over years of fighting, Palestinian nationalism has taken on many forms. In the early days of Israel’s establishment, nationalism was linked with calls for Israel’s destruction and deadly attacks. Armed struggle later gave way to calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Now, Palestinian women of all social classes wear thobes to show support for an independent nation at special events. Younger Palestinians, especially those spread far from their homeland, are changing the traditional dresses to modern tastes. Rashida Tlaib said her Palestinian thobe brought back memories of her mother’s West Bank village. having or seeming to have length, width, and depth pocket(s) – n. a usually small cloth bag that is connected to a piece of clothing that is open at the top or side so that you can put things into it catastrophe – n. a terrible disaster nationalism – n. a desire by a large group of people, such as people who share the same culture, history or language, to form a separate and independent nation of their own autonomy – n. the power or right of a country or group to govern itself