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US Democrat Tulsi Gabbard announces 2020 presidential run | USA News



Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat member of US Congress, has announced that she is running for president in 2020.

Gabbard, a delegate for Hawaii in the House of Representatives, told CNN in an interview set to air on Saturday night that she will formally announce her candidacy the next week.

“There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision,” Gabbard told the broadcaster. “There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I’m concerned about and that I want to help solve.”

The 37-year-old Iraq War veteran is the first Hindu elected to Congress and the first member born in the US territory of American Samoa.

Gabbard is joining what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has already formed an exploratory committee and is moving quickly with trips across early primary states. 

Trump, the Democrats, and the future of US democracy – UpFront (25:50)

California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are weighing their own presidential bids and are expected to announce decisions in the coming weeks.

Former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro is also expected to announce his candidacy on Saturday.

Gabbard said although her “main issue” will be “war and peace”, she will push for combating climate change, reforming the criminal justice system and providing healthcare for all Americans.

Secret meeting with Syria’s Assad

Gabbard’s run would not be without controversy. In 2016, she alarmed fellow Democrats when she met Donald Trump during his transition to the presidency.

She also met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a meeting she claimed was “important” to “achieve peace” for the Syrian people.

Assad is accused of war crimes, including the killing of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Gabbard has questioned whether the Syrian leader was actually responsible for a chemical attack on civilians that killed dozens and led to a retaliatory US attack on a Syrian airbase.

Minutes after Gabbard’s announcement, Republicans released a “cheat sheet” about the Hawaii congresswoman dubbing her “Assad’s mouthpiece in Washington”.

Gabbard backed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, even resigning her position as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to express her support.

Asked last year whether she would still consider running if Sanders ran, Gabbard said Sanders is a friend and she didn’t know what his plans were.

“I’m thinking through how I can best be of service and I’ll make my decision based on that,” she said.

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British PM Theresa May survives no-confidence vote | News




Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote on Wednesday, a day after members of parliament dealt a crushing blow to the Brexit plan she negotiated with the European Union (EU).

Parliament members voted 325 to 306 against the motion called by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had earlier urged May to resign.

It was expected that May would survive the vote, after she secured the backing of her own party’s rebels and the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.

“I am pleased that this House has expressed its confidence in this government tonight,” May said. “My government will continue its work to increase our prosperity, guarantee our security and to strengthen our union.”    

With her leadership secure for the time being, May has to decide the next step, as the March 29 deadline for Brexit looms.

Later on Wednesday, May said that the Labour Party had yet to discuss a new approach to Brexit with her and urged politicians to put self-interest aside. 

“I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has not so far chosen to take part – but our door remains open,” May said, adding she had talked to representatives from the Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats and Welsh party Plaid Cymru. 

UK parliament rejects Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Earlier on Wednesday, she ruled out calling a general election, saying that it would be the worst thing Britain could do now.

“I believe [an election] is the worst thing we could do, it would deepen division when we need unity, it would bring chaos when we need certainty and it would bring delay when we need to move forward,” May told parliament.

The other options on the table are a second referendum, a renegotiation with the EU or an EU departure without a deal.

May pledged to work with senior politicians to find a compromise that would avoid a disorderly “no-deal” Brexit or another referendum on membership.

During the debate on Wednesday, Labour’s Corbyn said that the Brexit vote on Tuesday night has left May’s government ineffective to deliver on her promise.

“This government has failed our country. It cannot govern, it cannot command the support of the people, facing the most important issue at the moment, which is Brexit,” said Corbyn, who opposes a second referendum. 

Following the vote on Wednesday, Corbyn called on May to “remove clearly” the prospect of a “no-deal” Brexit, “and all the chaos that would come as a result of that”.

Labour’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said May could eventually get a deal through parliament if she negotiated a compromise with the opposition party, which wants a permanent customs union with the EU, a close relationship with its single market and greater protections for workers and consumers.

But May’s spokesman said it was still government policy to be outside an EU customs union, while May insisted Britain would leave the bloc on March 29, leaving little time for a solution to be found.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Theresa May survives another Brexit skirmish | News




London, United Kingdom – Theresa May’s victory in a second no-confidence vote over her strategy for leaving the European Union will give the British Prime Minister a breathing space, as she tries to resolve her political woes – yet by no means assures her survival.

Parliamentarians threw out a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition Labour Party a day after May’s humiliating defeat on the Brexit deal she negotiated with the EU.

But the implications of the latest vote could ultimately prove to be greater for Labour – whose leadership has placed its bets on unseating her “zombie government” and engineering a general election – by reviving its own demons over Europe.

Professor Anand Menon, director of the The UK in a Changing Europe academic think tank, said: “All those Labour backbench MPs who to date have hidden behind the slogan ‘I want a general election’ are now finally at long last going to have to confront the real choice over Brexit.

“Do they want to leave with a deal, do they want to leave without a deal, or do they want a referendum?”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to topple May and win a subsequent election that would enable him to renegotiate the Conservative prime minister’s unpopular divorce deal.

However, many of his own Labour MPs and party members want a second referendum that they hope could reverse the UK’s decision to leave Europe taken after a plebiscite in 2016.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University London, said: “The Labour leadership did not put forward this motion because they thought it could get them a general election, they did it because they want to avoid having to endorse a second referendum.”

The result of Wednesday’s confidence vote – May won by 325 votes to 306 – was expected, given the parliamentary arithmetic: her minority administration has survived since an election in 2017 with the support of Northern Irish MPs. She defeated a no-confidence motion within her own party in December.

Even though many Conservative MPs hate the prime minister’s Brexit deal – rejected on Tuesday in the so-called “meaningful vote” by a thumping majority – they rallied round her out of hostility to Corbyn.

Labour can call such no-confidence motions again – some of its MPs now see this as a viable strategy – but the latest result effectively rules out a general election for now.

Europe is closely watching the outcome of Theresa May’s Brexit plan [Michael Probst/AP]

Menon said that Labour figures have made contradictory statements about what to do next, with some calling for recurrent confidence motions until they get the result they want, but others insisting this is pointless.

“There is obviously a real fight going on within the Labour Party about this, and no one knows which way it will go.”

Temporary respite

Wednesday’s victory will give May temporary respite as she attempts to convince EU leaders to offer sufficient concessions to convince a majority of MPs to back her Brexit deal.

Maddy Thimont Jack, a researcher at the Institute for Government in London, said: “The vote will show that she does have the confidence of the House of Commons, so it gives her a bit more flexibility going into the next step – when she has to bring back the motion [on her Brexit deal] next week with the government’s plan B following Tuesday’s defeat.

Uncertainty and ‘Brexit paralysis’ fears in UK as deadline looms

“In the immediate term, it might strengthen her, but it doesn’t stop another motion being brought in three weeks’ time and – given how fast things are moving and that the clock is ticking – it could then be a very different situation.”

However, the implications of Corbyn’s decision to move a motion of confidence could be greater for Labour, by prising open its own Brexit divisions – and May knows it, effectively daring Corbyn to challenge her.

Bale said: “She thinks clearly that it is a way of getting the troops to rally round her after Tuesday’s terrible defeat, which it is – and it also then exposes the tensions within the Labour Party because it puts the ball in Corbyn’s court as regards a second referendum and what to do next?

“He has marched his troops to the top of the hill and he can’t really march them down again now.”

Second referendum

Corbyn and other senior Labour figures have used the hope of an election to conceal from their members the fact that they want to proceed with Brexit and oppose a second referendum.

Bale said: “This vote was really not about defeating the government because they know in their hearts that can’t possibly be done.

“The confidence motion is something they have been able to hide behind since the Labour Party conference in the autumn and it allows them to tell their supporters in the country and especially their grassroots members that there is no need for a second referendum yet because they might be able to engineer a general election.

Northern Ireland prepares for worst-case Brexit scenario

“That was always a fiction and it will be exposed as such – but it might be something that they carry on trying to do for two or three weeks, meanwhile running down the clock.”

While Labour is now likely to edge closer to resolving its own policy disagreements, this does not automatically mean it will embrace a second referendum.

Bale said: “It looks as if the leadership is reluctant to do that and is intent instead on pursuing the possibility of some kind of ‘softer’ Brexit in coordination with the government, or indeed tabling another confidence motion in a few days’ or weeks’ time.”

Menon also noted that a recent gathering of Labour MPs who want a “people’s vote” attracted just 71 parliamentarians.

“That isn’t very many,” he said. “There are an awful lot of Labour MPs who don’t want a referendum.”

In principle, it would not be difficult to secure parliament’s commitment to a second referendum through a motion.

However, it would then require complex legislation and an extension of the March 29 deadline under “Article 50” by which the UK formally announced its intention to quit the EU.

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Despite crackdown, Zimbabwe fuel protests continue | News




Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a prominent protest leader, Evan Mawarire, as part of a widening security crackdown on protesters following violent clashes and incidences of looting.

Mawarire, an activist pastor, had called for a three-day work stayaway to protest a hike in fuel prices that citizens fear could push the country back to the brink of economic collapse.

Clashes between protestors and the security forces continued in Zimbabwe‘s second city Bulawayo on the third day of national shutdown demonstrations.

This is the longest running mass action in more than a decade since labour unions and opposition movements protested against the then President Robert Mugabe.

Mawarire was charged with inciting violence and attempted subversion of the state in 2016, when he called for a day-long shutdown against the policies of Mugabe government.

Mugabe was forced out in a de facto military coup in November 2017 that followed mass people’s protests.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded him, but instead of a new era of freedom that the new leader had promised at his inauguration, he has allowed security clampdown on protesters.

Mawarire is yet to be charged but stands accused of inciting violence along with nearly 60 out of 200 protesters arrested in the past three days. The government blames civil society activists and the opposition of being responsible for the nationwide demonstrations.

At least five people have reportedly been killed as a result of the brutal crackdown, that has brought back the memory of the mass protests that ended President Mugabe’s four-decade rule.

Looting has ceased

In Bulawayo’s western suburbs, tension remained high as security forces continued their crackdown on suspected shop looters, protesters and citizens on Wednesday.

In the suburb of Sizinda, looting has ceased, but a standoff between the people and the army continues. Military trucks were seen patrolling the neighbourhood forcing residents to clear makeshift barricades and clean the streets with their bare hands.

After cleaning, the youths re-erected the stone barricades, but the armed troops returned and lined themselves up along the main highway.

Residents and some elderly people accused soldiers of beating civilians and conducting house raids.

Mafios Mumpuri, 69, a supermarket cleaner, told Al Jazeera he was accused of erecting stone and tyre barricades.

“The soldiers told me to remove the stones because I was one of those who put them on the street. After I pushed them off, they beat me with a belt and told me to go home.

“I am pained by what they did to me, how can we expect our country to be free if they make us do things like this,” he said.

Josphat Ngulube, an activist and independent politician, said he witnessed several beatings during security raids. Ngulube said he had taken at least four people to hospital in Sizinda.

He urged the government to listen to the people and end the violence.

“The demonstration has an impact because people are no longer listening to the government, they are not going to work because no one has confidence in the government.

“They need to engage with the people, they can’t kill us all,” he told Al Jazeera.

According to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), over 100 people have been admitted to hospitals across the African nation, mostly with gunshot wounds.

Mumpuri alleges he was forced to remove stones barricading the streets and then beaten up by the army [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

‘Necessary for change’

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who narrowly lost a disputed election against Mnangagwa, visited the wounded in hospital in the capital, Harare. In a statement issued by the opposition MDC Alliance, the movement urged the Mnangagwa government to end the “siege” on citizens and recall the military.

“You do not have to do this and it does not have to be this way. Zimbabwe can be a prosperous nation, prosperity brings about peace, not guns and murder…

“Order the armed forces back to the barracks, allow peaceful protests and do not prevent a process on national dialogue,” the statement read.

Listing five demands, Chamisa appealed to the government to consider the far-reaching impact of its crackdown on citizen’s rights and urged it to work towards resolving the economic crisis.

On Wednesday, internet was partially restored in major urban centres after access was cut for more than 30 hours.

Adding to the woes of ordinary citizens, shops and fuel stations have remained closed during the stayway. As a result a black market has emerged with basic goods being sold at exorbitant prices.

A loaf of bread which normally sells for $1.40, is being sold for $4, while a litre of fuel costs $3, more than three times the normal price.

The hike of fuel prices by nearly 150 percent is the source of discontent as it has a significant negative impact on the broader state of the economy and the average citizen’s cost of living.

Despite the steep black market prices, shop looting and the state crackdown, many Zimbabweans blame the government for the crisis and still hope the stayaway action will not only find a way to fix the economy, but also result in a change in the rule of Mugabe’s increasingly unpopular successor.

In a bid to win back the nation’s support, Mnangagwa, who is currently in Russia, posted a message on his Twitter account despite the social media blockout.

“I understand the pain and frustration that many of you are feeling. Resolving Zimbabwe’s economic challenges is a monumental task, and while it may not always feel that way, we are moving in the right direction. We will get there,” he said.

Julia Banda is unconvinced and unmoved by the President’s Twitter post.

The 83-year-old, who lived through Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle and Mugabe’s rule, told Al Jazeera that the protests are necessary for change.

Activist Ngulube has carried several wounded protesters to hospitals [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

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