Maduro declared winner in disputed Venezuela election
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan officials declared socialist leader Nicolas Maduro the easy winner of Sunday’s presidential election, while his leading challenger questioned the legitimacy of a vote marred by irregularities and called for a new ballot to prevent a brewing social crisis from exploding.
The National Election Council announced that with almost 93 per cent of polling stations reporting, Maduro won nearly 68 per cent of the votes, beating nearest challenger Henri Falcon by almost 40 points.
The disputed victory is likely to heighten international pressure on Maduro, as voter turnout was the lowest in a presidential race since the start of Venezuela’s leftist revolution two decades ago. Even as voting was taking place Sunday, a senior State Department official warned that the U.S. might press ahead on threats of imposing crippling oil sanctions on the nation that sits atop the world’s largest crude reserves.
The election “without any doubt lacks legitimacy and we categorically refuse to recognize this process,” Falcon told supporters before the results were announced.
Falcon was joined in his call for a new election by third-place finisher Javier Bertucci, who got around 11 per cent of the vote. Bertucci, a TV evangelist, stopped short of challenging the results, saying what he called a mistaken opposition boycott also boosted Maduro.
As Trump pressures DOJ, Giuliani says probe may end by Sept
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign, an extraordinary order that came hours before his legal team said that the special counsel indicated its investigation into the president could be concluded by September.
Trump tweeted: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”
Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department —it asked its watchdog later Sunday to expand an existing probe of FBI actions — reached a new intensity with the demand, and came amid a White House strategy to combat the threat posed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. And the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said that Mueller recently shared a timetable that suggested that its probe could end by Sept. 1 if Trump were to sit for an interview in July, which is the legal team’s new working plan.
“We said to them, ‘If we’re going to be interviewed in July, how much time until the report gets issued?'” Giuliani told The Associated Press on Sunday, referring to the report Mueller is expected to issue to Congress at the conclusion of his investigation. “They said September, which is good for everyone, because no one wants this to drag into the midterms.”
Giuliani said he did not want a repeat of what happened in 2016, when FBI Director James Comey announced in the campaign’s final days that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, a decision Democrats believe cost Clinton the race. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, also said that Mueller’s team indicated that the entire probe could end by September, not just its investigation into potential obstruction of justice.
10 Things to Know for Monday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
1. WHEN RUSSIA COLLUSION PROBE COULD END
The special counsel’s investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian meddling in the 2016 election could wrap up by September, says Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer.
2. ‘HOW DO WE GET THROUGH THIS?’
Church congregations in Santa Fe, Texas, gather to mourn the victims of a high school shooting that claimed 10 lives.
US, China putting trade war on hold after progress in talks
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China are pulling back from the brink of a trade war after the world’s two biggest economies reported progress in talks aimed at bringing down America’s massive trade deficit with Beijing.
“We are putting the trade war on hold,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.
After high-level talks Thursday and Friday in Washington, Beijing agreed in a joint statement with the U.S. to “substantially reduce” America’s trade deficit with China, but did not commit to cut the gap by any specific amount. The Trump administration had sought to slash the deficit by $200 billion.
Still, Mnuchin said the two countries had made “meaningful progress” and that the administration has agreed to put on hold proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products. China had promised to retaliate in a move that threatened a tit for tat trade war.
He said they expect to see a big increase — 35 per cent to 45 per cent this year alone — in U.S. farm sales to China. Mnuchin also forecast a doubling in sales of U.S. energy products to the Chinese market, increasing energy exports by $50 billion to $60 billion in the next three years to five years.
Investigators finally get look at materials from Cohen raid
NEW YORK (AP) — Criminal investigators are getting their first look at materials gathered from raids on the home and office of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer as a process to separate items subject to attorney-client privilege appears to be meeting a judge’s demand that it occur speedily and efficiently.
The progress comes just days before U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood will preside over a fourth hearing resulting from Michael Cohen’s efforts to gain influence over what potential evidence seized in the April 9 raids can be deemed subject to the privilege and blocked from the view of criminal prosecutors. Prosecutors say they are investigating possible fraud as they study Cohen’s personal business dealings.
Wood last month designated a former federal judge, Barbara Jones, to serve as a neutral party — known as a special master — and resolve disputes over what items can be kept secret and out of the view of investigators.
Twice, Jones has filed letters updating the status of the privilege search, most recently a week ago. She said she will provide Wood with a timeline for concluding the privilege review once she has received enough of Cohen’s electronic property.
In a letter to the court on Friday, Cohen’s lawyers indicated they were encouraged by the system that was set up, noting the “careful review procedure that is currently being overseen by the special master.” The letter was filed as they sought to exclude Michael Avenatti, an attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, from joining the court case.
Police response to Texas school shooting remains unclear
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Santa Fe High School had conducted active shooter drills, armed police officers patrolled the hallways and students went through a scare in February after a false report of a campus gunman.
But in the aftermath of the deadliest public school shooting in Texas history, early witness accounts and recordings from emergency dispatch describe a 30-minute nightmare as the real thing unfolded last week, even as authorities continued to keep details close Sunday.
Among the biggest unknowns is when the confrontation began at the high school outside Houston between police and 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who authorities say opened fire on an art lab with a shotgun and .38 calibre handgun shortly after the first bell Friday morning. Pagourtzis wasn’t hit in the attack even though officials have described him engaging in a drawn-out firefight with police.
Ten people were killed, most of them students. Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady declined to answer questions about the shootout and investigation Sunday, including whether police may have hit any students in a gunfight with the shooter.
He also said autopsy reports won’t be released while the case is pending.
Faster-moving Hawaii lava gushes into sea, spews new danger
PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — A volcano that is oozing, spewing and exploding on Hawaii’s Big Island has gotten more hazardous, sending rivers of molten rock pouring into the ocean Sunday and launching lava skyward that caused the first major injury.
Kilauea volcano began erupting more than two weeks ago and has burned dozens of homes, forced thousands of people to flee and shot up ash clouds from its summit that led officials to distribute face masks.
Lava flows have picked up speed in recent days, spattering molten rock that hit a man in the leg.
He was outside his home Saturday in the remote, rural region affected by the volcano when the lava “hit him on the shin and shattered everything from there down on his leg,” Janet Snyder, Hawaii County mayor’s spokeswoman, told the Hawaii News Now TV station.
Lava that’s flying through the air from cracks in the Earth can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces can be deadly, officials said.
In North Korea nuke site closing, spectacle trumps substance
TOKYO (AP) — Foreign journalists will be allowed to journey deep into the mountains of North Korea this week to observe the closing of the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site in a much-touted display of goodwill before leader Kim Jong Un’s planned summit with President Donald Trump next month.
Expect good imagery. But not much else.
The public display of the closure of the facility on Mount Mantap will likely be heavy on spectacle and light on substance. And the media will be spending much of their time in an unrelated tourism zone that North Korea hopes will be the next big thing for its economy if Kim’s diplomatic overtures pay off in the months ahead.
For sure, the closure is a milestone, marking an end to the world’s last active underground testing site and offering some important insights into Kim’s mindset as he sets the stage for his meeting with Trump.
A look at what’s hype and what’s worth paying attention to:
Jackson rocks Billboard Awards with performance and speech
Janet Jackson rocked the 2018 Billboard Music Awards with an energetic and powerful performance of her past hits in an epic week that included her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking “janet.” album,
In a glittery gold sweater-dress and thigh-high boots, Jackson sang “Nasty,” ”If” and “Throb” as audience members such as Ciara and Tyra Banks danced along at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Bruno Mars made a surprise appearance to introduce the singer, who earned the Icon Award on Sunday.
Jackson used her speech to pay tribute to powerful women.
“Women have made it clear that we no longer will be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind,” she said onstage as she accepted the honour.
Curry comes alive to score 35, Warriors rout Rockets by 41
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry got his groove back to score 35 points with five 3-pointers, shooting over James Harden and driving past the Houston star as the Golden State Warriors made a second-half statement to beat the Rockets 126-85 on Sunday night for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Kevin Durant added 25 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Draymond Green grabbed 17 rebounds to go with 10 points and six assists. The Warriors won an NBA-record 16th consecutive home post-season game, surpassing the Chicago Bulls’ mark of 15 in a row from April 27, 1990-May 21, 1991.
The defending champions got defensive — and maybe a little mad — after a 127-105 Game 2 defeat Wednesday night at Houston, determined to make stops to ignite the transition game and open up 3-point shooters.
And they eventually got Curry going with 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the third quarter.
Harden had 20 points and nine assists, while Chris Paul added 13 points and 10 rebounds as they combined to shoot just 12 for 32.