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Dic032016

Deadlock: Board vote means Michigan presidential recount proceeds



Election lawyers Gary Gordon, right, and John Pirich appear on behalf of the Trump campaign before the Michigan Board of State Canvassers regarding Dr. Jill Stein's campaign recount request on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 at the Lansing Center.(Photo: Julia Nagy/Lansing State Journal)

LANSING, Mich. Michigan's Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2Fridayon President-elect Donald Trump's objectionto Green Party candidate Jill Stein's request for a recount of all presidential ballots cast in Michigan, meaning a hand recount of the state's presidential ballots could begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Still, a lawsuit filed Friday by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette places any recount in doubt. Schuette asked the Michigan Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 majority of Republican nominees, to block the recount as a costly and pointless exercise.

Despite the delayed start, Elections Director Chris Thomas said he still hopes all 4.8 million ballots can be recounted. He said he doubts the Dec. 13 deadline that has been frequently cited is a "real deadline," and Michigan may have until Dec. 17 two days before the electoral college is set to meet to complete its recount, though he is still researching that point.

The board deadlocked along party lines, both on whether to accept Trump's protest to the planned recount and on whether to hold a machine recount, rather than the standard recount. Thomas said that as a result, based on previous board policy and state law, a hand recount can begin in two business days. Late Tuesday or early Wednesday is the earliest any counting will start, he said.

Estimates on the cost of the recount have varied and generally escalated, but Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said Friday that nobody will know the cost until the recount is completed, but $5 million is a reasonable estimate. That's more than $4 million higherthan the filing fee Stein paid, and officials said taxpayers at the county level will have to pick up that difference.

Lawyers for Trump argued it's ridiculous to conduct a massive and costly recount for Stein, who received just over 1% of the vote. She can't show she is "aggrieved" by the Nov. 8 outcome, as required by state law, argued Lansing attorneys Gary Gordon and John Pirich. And she waited much too long to request a recount, making it impossible to complete a recount without danger of disenfranchising Michigan's electoral college votes, they said.

The official Michigan count shows Trump won by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, with Stein finishing fourth.

Stein attorney Mark Brewer said his client only has to "allege" that fraud or mistakes may have occurred in order to be aggrieved. And he pointed out that Trump himself has repeatedly alleged vote rigging and fraud in the presidential election process.

Board members split on party lines, with Democrat Julie Matuzak saying "if someone alleges impropriety and pays the fee, they get a recount."

Colleen Pero, a Republican board member, said it "would throw our entire election system into chaos" to allow the recount.

Both Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Trump attorneys wanted a machine recount to be held, if any recount was held at all. Johnson said in a letter to board members that a machine recount would be faster, less expensive, and reduce the chance for errors.

But Thomas said a survey of county clerks suggests that's not true. A machine recount "adds another level of complexity," and is "not faster," because challengers want to see the actual ballots, Thomas said. It also would result in the need for programming of machines and possibly even the use of other facilities, in order to have enough electrical outlets to plug the machines in.

Brewer said he was pleased the board rejected Trump's "frivolous" objections and calls for a machine recount. He said he would have to consult with Stein about how to respond to Schuette's lawsuit.



Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein delivers remarks in Wilkes-Barre, Pa, in September.(Photo: Christopher Dolan, The Citizens' Voice, via AP)

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, whoattended the meeting, said she wasn't surprised by the outcome, given the fact that two of the four members of the Board of Canvassers are Democrats.

It's "very clear" that the Michigan Democratic Party is not on the side of Michigan taxpayers on the recount question, McDaniel said.

Brewer wouldn't comment on whether Stein might be willing to pick up additional costs, if they are incurred by county clerks.

"We've done recounts in this state many times," and state election officials are expert in conducting them, Brewer said, "People need to get out of their way and let them do their jobs."

Pirich, an attorney for Trump, said he couldn't comment on whether Trump, like Schuette, would be suing over the recount.

Stein's campaign had promised to seek a recount partly because of the high number of ballots this election cycle, about 84,000,that did not include a vote for president potentially signaling a computer error, tampering or fraud, Stein has said. Her campaignfiled its request Wednesday, seeking a recount of the nearly 4.8 million ballots cast for president in Michigan.

Brewer filed the request at the state electionsoffice in Lansing with several other attorneys representing the campaign. He brought along a check for $973,250, which represents the $125 per precinct Stein must pay for the recount.

Saying that Michigan should not grant "this lawless, insulting request," Trump's campaign filed an objection Thursday afternoon to the recount request.

Michigan's "voters should not risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges all because a 1% candidate is dissatisfied with the elections outcome," the objection stated. "Given her tiny vote total, Stein does not and could not possibly allege a good faith belief that she may have won the state of Michigan."

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Sep182016

Morocco's elections pose test for law on vote observers - Washington Post

RABAT, Morocco Moroccos elections next month will draw attention from around the region and beyond but not all eyes will be welcome.

Election authorities approved 4,000 national and international observers for the Oct. 7 legislative elections, rejecting requests for about 1,000 others, as new regulations on vote monitors are being put to the test. Among those rejected were observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center.

More than 30 political parties are running in the elections, which will determine the makeup of the government and political direction of the kingdom, a U.S. ally and important regional economy.

Its only the second time Moroccans are voting for parliament since thousands took to the streets in 2011 demanding reform through the February 20th Movement. Since then, a coalition of several parties led by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has governed, coming to power alongside a new constitution and new laws intended to meet the demands for reform.

One law passed in 2011 dictated the terms and conditions for national and international election observation in Morocco. Civil society groups had wanted a law spelling out the rules, but some now fear it could be used to stifle criticism of the election process.

Election observation in Morocco has been taking place since 1997, but it was only in 2011 that the Moroccan government instituted a clear, legal framework, said Nadir Elmoumni, director of studies at the National Council of Human Rights.

The council is charged with overseeing the observation process, including reviewing requests to observe from both international and national organizations. Requests must also be approved by a commission including representatives from the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Communication Ministry.

The council told The Associated Press that it has accredited 92 foreign observers affiliated with five international organizations. The council did not explain why the numbers are lower this year.

The council received requests to accredit some 5,000 Moroccan observers from political parties and local non-governmental groups but approved only 4,000, according to state news agency MAP.

The Moroccan government denied accreditation to at least one international organization, the Atlanta-based Carter Center.

Were disappointed by that, said David Carroll, director of the Carter Centers Democracy Program. The Carter Center has a long history of impartial election observation, having monitored 103 elections in 39 countries, and we hope our observers might be welcome in Moroccos future elections.

The National Council of Human Rights said the organization submitted its request directly to the Moroccan government, not to the council. I suspect it had to do with the wording of their request, says Ahmed Taoufik Zainabi, the councils director of human rights promotion.

Moroccan government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi did not respond to requests for comment.

A U.S. group, the National Democratic Institute, was accredited but says it wont send an observation mission due to funding constraints. NDIs report after observing the 2011 legislative elections describing the voting process then as by and large, procedurally sound and transparent but not without flaws.

Eric Goldstein, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, says the rebuff to the Carter Center could well be part of the trend since 2015 of expelling international NGOs that monitor freedoms in Morocco.

Its a shame to see Morocco destroy its standing among countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are most transparent with respect to international NGOs, said Goldstein, whose group was long active in Morocco but came under pressure from the Moroccan government last year.

Many of these NGOs monitor human rights in the contested Western Sahara territory, which Morocco annexed in 1975. Within the past year, the Moroccan government has dealt harshly with those it perceives as undermining its claims on the territory, including the European Union and the United Nations.

Official campaigning for the elections begins Sept. 23, with the Islamist PJD and rival Party of Authenticity and Modernity among the top contenders. A law bans political polling in the weeks ahead of the elections, in an effort to avoid swaying voters.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Jul142016

Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad Speaks to NBC News - NBCNews.com

DAMASCUS Syria's president criticized the lack of experience in U.S. presidential politics, telling NBC News it is "dangerous" for the country.

NBC News sat down with President Bashar al-Assad at his office on Wednesday for a wide-ranging interview on ISIS, Syria's civil war and the U.S. presidential election.

Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have traded blows over U.S. policy in Syria with the former secretary of state a vocal advocate for Assad's removal while Trump has cited ISIS' defeat as a higher priority, amid withering critiques of his foreign-policy proposals.

Syria's president made little distinction between the two candidates, however, when asked if he was worried about Trump's lack of foreign policy experience.

"Who had this experience before? Obama? Or George Bush? Or (Bill) Clinton before? None of them had any experience," he told NBC News. "This is the problem with the United States."

He said a "few years" in Congress or foreign affairs doesn't count and that having someone without experience in the White House "of course it is dangerous for the country generally."

Syrian President Bashar Assad is interviewed by NBC News. Syrian Presidential Palace

Assad has clung to his grip on power for 16 years the last six of which have been amidst a bloody civil war.

More than 250,000 people have died in the conflict, though the U.N. stopped keeping track of the toll.

The Syrian president has been accused of deliberately targeting civilians, executions, torture and crimes against humanity.

However, Assad flatly rejected the suggestion he had blood on his hands or was a brutal dictator.

"I hope that history will see me as the man who protected his country, from the terrorism and from the intervention, and saved its sovereignty," he told NBC News. "When you protect your country from the terrorists, and you kill terrorists, and you defeat terrorists, you're not brutal. You are a patriot."

The full interview will air on MSNBC on Thursday.


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Jul112016

Protests against police violence continue for 4th night across US - CBS News

Last Updated Jul 11, 2016 4:31 AM EDT

Protests over police violence continued Sunday evening across the U.S., with demonstrators gathering once again in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and St. Paul, Minnesota, two cities reeling from shooting deaths of black men last week.

Tensions between black citizens and police have risen palpably over the past week or so amid the police shootings of African-American men and the gunning down of five white police officers by a black suspect in Dallas.

A sizable crowd gathered near the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters late Sunday night to peacefully protest after the shooting death of Alton Sterling, reports the CBS affiliate thee, WAFB-TV.

There was no initial police presence and protesters told the station they intend to remain peaceful.

Earlier Sunday night, officers stared down hundreds of shouting protesters near a ramp onto Interstate 110 in Louisiana's capital before another squad in riot gear arrived to make arrests.

Earlier still on Sunday, some 2,000 people rallied outside the Capitol building to protest police killings of black people, State Police Maj. Doug Cain said.

"They didn't have any problems out there. They seemed to be very organized and peaceful," Cain said.

But as night began to fall, a few hundred people aimed for an on-ramp, trying a tactic protesters were using this weekend in multiple cities.

And after a lengthy standoff, more police in full riot gear moved in, pinning some of the protesters as others fled. Some 30 to 40 people were jailed for trying to block a highway, sheriff's spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said.

That pushed Baton Rouge's weekend arrest total above 160, with just one reported injury to a police officer.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he's "very proud" of the Louisiana law enforcement response to protests over the fatal shooting of a black man by white police officers in the city.

Flanked by law enforcement leaders, Edwards said he doesn't believe officers have been overly aggressive by using riot gear to push protesters off a highway.

"The police tactics in response have been very moderate. I'm very proud of that," said the Democratic governor, who comes from a family of sheriffs.

2016-07-10t224431z347438923s1aetovvrzabrtrmadp3usa-police-protests.jpg

Demonstrators carry a "Black Lives Matter" banner and protest the shooting death of Philando Castile as they gather in front of the police department in St Anthony, Minnesota, U.S., July 10, 2016.

REUTERS/Adam Bettcher

The Baton Rouge police spokesman, Sgt. Don Coppola, blamed some violence and the large number of arrests on outside agitators. One officer lost teeth to a projectile thrown outside police headquarters, and police also confiscated three rifles, three shotguns and two pistols during that protest, he wrote in an email.

"It appears the protest at Baton Rouge Police Headquarters have become more violent as out of town protesters are arriving," he said.

But most of those detained live in Louisiana and faced a single charge of obstructing a highway, sheriff's spokeswoman Hicks told The Associated Press.

In Baton Rouge on Saturday, police seized seven guns and arrested 30 protesters at an ongoing confrontation at police headquarters, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reported.

The protesters were demonstrating against Tuesday's shooting death of Sterling, 37. The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into his death, which has angered many in the black community.

One of those arrested on Saturday was Black Lives Matter leader DeRay McKesson, Begnaud reported. McKesson was apparently streaming live on social media when he was arrested.

He was released Sunday afternoon.

batonrouge748406705647.jpg

Police arrest activist DeRay McKesson during a protest along Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.

AP Photo/Max Becherer

On the heels of a violent protest in St. Paul Saturday night, there was another rally and march in the Twin Cities Sunday afternoon, CBS Minnesota reported.

Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer last Wednesday.

Late Sunday afternoon, a group of protesters marched up and down Silver Lake Road in the north metro. It started as a rally at the St. Anthony Police Department earlier in the afternoon. That's where the officer who shot Philando Castile works.

The rally wrapped up at about 5 p.m. back near the St. Anthony police precinct.

Valerie Castile, Philando's mother, released a statement Sunday evening in regards to the protests.

"On behalf of myself and our entire family, we urge all people to remain peaceful in all demonstrations throughout our community and our nation," she said. "When demonstrations become violent, it disrespects my son and his memory. Philando was a man of peace and dignity. Please, I ask you to at all times remain peaceful in your expressions of concern regarding his death at the hands of the police. I promise that we will not rest until justice prevails."

Protesters also gathered in other major cities across the U.S. on Sunday evening for the fourth straight night in a row.

In Atlanta, Georgia, rallies at Centennial Olympic Park and Woodruff Park started around 7 p.m. Sunday, CBS affiliate WGCL reported.

10954584g.jpg

Protesters gather in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 10, 2016.

CBS affiliate WGCL

Atlanta Streetcar temporarily suspended their service due to high traffic in downtown Atlanta.

On Saturday, eleven people were arrested in downtown Atlanta during demonstrations.

In Memphis, Tennessee on Sunday night, a group marched across the city and onto the I-40 bridge.

It started as a peaceful rally at FedExForum with hundreds of people, CBS affiliate WREG reported.

Interim Police Director Michael Rallings was also at the rally, and things heated up when protesters interrupted him.

After rallying at FedExForum, the crowd marched to police headquarters and then continued on, with more people joining them as they went on.

Protesters now chanting "Hands up don't shoot" @3onyourside pic.twitter.com/u665UshYd3

Luke Jones (@LukeJonesTV) July 10, 2016

The marchers attempted to go to the I-40 bridge, but police blocked the entrance to the bridge. They eventually found a way onto the bridge via the exit ramp, and police had trouble stopping them.

Traffic was forced to a standstill, and the bridge was closed as police ordered the protesters to exit.

Police said they have everything under control, but advised the public to avoid the downtown area, WREG reported.

Police cars also entering bridge @3onyourside pic.twitter.com/CXCHogf3LR

Luke Jones (@LukeJonesTV) July 10, 2016

Hundreds of demonstrators marched across the six-city Hampton Roads, Virginia, area as part of a coordinated effort to speak out against violence by police against blacks.

Blacklivesmatter757 organized the protests. The organization called for protesters to shutdown streets in Hampton, Norfolk, Newport News, Chesapeake and Portsmouth and the waterfront in Virginia Beach on Sunday evening.

Video from the scene in Newport News shows protesters on a street corner holding signs and chanting "no justice, no peace" and "black lives matter." Some marchers spilled into the street blocking traffic as police cars stood by.

Blacklivesmatter757 uses the Hampton Roads area code to mark its affiliation with the national group.

In New York, protests also continued for the fourth night in a row.

The crowd of about 300 people started in Times Square on Sunday. Between short speeches, they stood silently, holding signs saying "Black Lives Matter." Some had their fists in the air.

They left in a silent march, making their way south to Bryant Park and then to Herald Square. At Bryant Park, young children who had been brought to the march were showcased as the lives demonstrators were marching to protect.

Jashaun Sadler of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, brought his 6-year-old twins to the demonstration. He says it's "unspeakable" to think of them growing up in a world "where their skin color could make the difference between life and death."

CBS New York reported that the NYPD arrested 20 protesters throughout the city Saturday when the demonstrations became dangerous.

The FDR Drive was shut down by protesters as they made it onto major roads.

"People here are fighting for justice for all in a country that promises it," one protester said.

The fight against police brutality could be seen throughout the area and across the country overnight.

"If only black lives did matter, we wouldn't have to say it," one protester remarked.

The family of Delrawn Small, who was killed last week by an off-duty officer in Brooklyn, was calling for reform in the criminal justice system.

"It's not about me, it's not about any of us as individuals," Zayanahla Vines, Small's nephew, said. "It's about us, what's going on with my people, our people. It needs to stop, something needs to change."

Protests are also already planned for Monday.

On Monday morning, six chapters of "Showing Up for Racial Justice" -- a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice -- will engage in nonviolent direct action together in order to call for immediate changes to policing in the U.S., according to a statement from the group.

The activists in Fairfax, Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Portland Oregon, Madison, Wisconsin, Louisville, Kentucky, and Hudson, New York, say they will demonstrate against police violence, with more cities to follow later in the week.


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Jun302016

8 Incredibly Useful Plumbers For Small Businesses.

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