AP News in Brief 04-15-19

Pompeo meets Venezuelan migrants in Colombia

CUCUTA, Colombia — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Venezuelan migrants in Colombia on Sunday as he wrapped up a four-nation tour of South America aimed at pressuring Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

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Pompeo went to a migrant center in the border town of Cucuta with Colombian President Ivan Duque. Not far away, Venezuelan security forces with riot gear stood in the middle of the Simon Bolivar international bridge separating the two countries.

The migrant center has been the first stop for some 3.4 million Venezuelans who have fled hyperinflation, severe shortages of food and medicine, and political upheaval in their homeland.

Pompeo described a “very moving” encounter with a Venezuelan mother named Geraldine who crossed into Colombia and was torn about abandoning her country even as she had to scavenge for diapers, medicine and other basic goods she could no longer find in Venezuela.

Mimicking President Ronald Reagan’s famous “Tear down this wall” speech in Berlin at the end of the Cold War, Pompeo urged Maduro to lift a military blockade preventing the entry of tons of humanitarian aid that has sat for months on Venezuela’s borders with Colombia, Brazil and the Dutch Caribbean.

Sanctuary cities not a top choice, says White House

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wants to explore a twice-rejected proposal to send migrants to “sanctuary cities,” but that is not the preferred solution to fix the straining immigration system, the White House said Sunday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was one of many options, though she hoped Congress would work with the president on a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

The Trump administration is dealing with an ever-increasing number of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, an influx that has pushed the immigration system to the breaking point.

Laws make it hard to quickly return Central Americans, and many of them spend years in the U.S. waiting for their immigration cases to play out. Others claim asylum and wait just as long, living and working in the U.S. as they wait.

“Sanctuary cities” are mostly left-leaning places such as New York City and San Francisco where laws prohibit local police and correction officers from working with immigration officials to help arrest and deport people living here illegally.

Pelosi: Trump should take down his Omar video tweet

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she has taken steps to ensure the safety of Rep. Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump’s retweet of a video that purports to show the Minnesota Democrat being dismissive of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The California Democrat also called on Trump to take down the video. Soon after her public request, the video was no longer pinned atop Trump’s Twitter feed, but it was not deleted.

Pelosi was among Democrats who had criticized Trump over the tweet, with some accusing him of trying to incite violence against the Muslim lawmaker. An upstate New York man recently was charged with making death threats against her.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump earlier Sunday, saying the president has a duty to highlight Omar’s history of making comments that others deem anti-Semitic or otherwise offensive and that he wished no “ill will” upon the first-term lawmaker.

From wire sources

Pelosi issued a statement while traveling in London saying she had spoken with congressional authorities “to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff.”

New ruling Sudan military council promises civilian Cabinet

CAIRO — Sudan’s new ruling military council announced Sunday that it will name a civilian prime minister and Cabinet but not a president to help govern the country following the coup that removed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

An army spokesman, Lt. Gen. Shamseldin Kibashi, also said in televised remarks that the military had begun to overhaul security organizations and would not break up demonstrations that have continued outside the military headquarters since Thursday’s coup.

The statement came after a second day of meetings between the army and organizers of the months of escalating street protests that led to al-Bashir’s ouster.

The announcement was unlikely to satisfy protesters, who have demanded full civilian rule. Protest organizers have urged the military to “immediately and unconditionally” hand power to a transitional civilian government that would rule for four years.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has spearheaded the protests, also posted a nine-point list of demands earlier Sunday, including prosecution of those behind the Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, dissolution of all pro-government unions, a freeze on the assets of top officials in al-Bashir’s government and dismissal of all top judges and prosecutors.

NRA has history of promoting gun rights outside US

BOISE, Idaho — The recent revelation that National Rifle Association representatives had met with Australian politicians to discuss talking points after a mass shooting generated outrage from various politicians.

The reality is that the NRA has been exerting its influence on gun debates outside the U.S. for a number of years, exporting its firebrand rhetoric and belief that more guns will lead to less crime.

The lobbying group has sought sway at the United Nations to make it easier to sell American guns overseas and has on more than one occasion guided gun-rights groups in Brazil, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. It advised gun activists in Russia, entanglements that in recent years made the NRA vulnerable to allegations it allowed alleged Russian operatives to use the organization to influence American politics.

While American gun rights are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — something that doesn’t translate to most countries around the world — the group’s track record of aggressively shaping the debate has nevertheless turned it into the go-to group for other gun-rights activists outside the U.S.

There are several reasons why the NRA doesn’t confine itself to the U.S.

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For many ‘Thrones’ fans, season 8 is just the first ending

LOS ANGELES — Devoted “Game of Thrones” fans who’ve watched and re-watched all 73 episodes of the HBO series, and read and reread all 4,000 pages of the books by George R.R. Martin, will at long last get the ending they’ve craved with the series’ eighth and final season that starts Sunday.

But will it be the “real” ending?

The plotlines of the show have long since shot past what’s in Martin’s books, whose own finale may be many years away. While the endings will likely be similar, Martin, the master of this universe, could take a very different path to get there, making the coming end of the HBO show with its showdown between the humans of Westeros and the invading White Walkers possibly just a preview.

For some it all just means twice the fun.

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“It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think they need to be one and the same,” said Adonis Voulgaris, a fan of both formats who lives in San Francisco. “For me, it just means more content I get to immerse myself in.”

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