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FILE PHOTO - The inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex which is still shut down, is seen in this picture taken from the Dora observatory near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju
FILE PHOTO: The inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex which is still shut down, is seen in this picture taken from the Dora observatory near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) – A convoy of dozens of South Korean officials left for an inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea on Monday in a bid to maintain fragile gains in relations with Pyongyang, despite North Korea’s decision to pull out of the office last week.

The liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, was opened in September and had been one of the key developments made in the past year of detente between North Korea and South Korea.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry would not explain exactly what the 64 officials would be doing at the office without their North Korean counterparts, but a spokesman said Seoul is seeking to try to “normalize” operations at the office.

In a major setback for South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s attempts to engage, North Korea announced on Friday it was quitting the office, just hours after the United States imposed the first new sanctions on the North since the second U.S.-North Korea summit broke down last month.

Although South Korea did not directly link the North’s move to the breakdown of the summit, after which U.S. President Donald Trump said he would not be imposing more sanctions, experts said Pyongyang’s move seemed calculated to pressure South Korea into convincing the United States to ease sanctions.

“It appears to be North Korea pressuring South Korea; it could also be signaling how South Korea’s role is not needed or even meaningless, or even that North Korea’s announcement of a ‘new path’ is imminent,” said Kim Dong-yub, a North Korea and military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

Several North Korean state media outlets released statements on Monday criticizing Seoul for not pushing forward with inter-Korean economic projects while sanctions remain in place.

Some 39 South Korean officials and support staff with 17 vehicles left South Korea on Monday morning to work at the liaison office in the North, joining 25 South Koreans who had remained at the office over the weekend despite North Korea’s pullout, South’s Unification Ministry said.

“Although the North side has pulled out of the liaison office, the embers remain, and in order to guard the embers we are going to work today as usual,” Kim Chang-su, deputy chief of the liaison office, said on Monday as he left for Kaesong.

When asked what South Korean personnel will do at the office, Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said “we are operating the Kaesong office, followed by putting in efforts to normalize the liaison office” without elaborating.

There are some North Korean personnel currently in Kaesong, including from North’s Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau and support staff, Baik said at a press briefing on Monday.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the National Australia Bank is displayed outside its headquarters building in central Sydney
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the National Australia Bank is displayed outside its headquarters building in central Sydney, Australia, Aug. 4, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s National Australia Bank said on Monday it would end a profitable system of bonuses for referrals that was criticized by an independent inquiry.

NAB interim Chief Executive Officer and Chairman-elect Philip Chronican said scrapping the referral payments to businesses such as sport clubs and accountants would help to regain customer trust after the inquiry found widespread wrongdoing across the financial sector.

“We want customers to have the confidence to come to NAB because of the products and services we provide – not because a third party received a payment to recommend us,” Chronican said in a statement.

The government-backed inquiry heard that dozen of NAB bankers had falsified loan documents and signatures, and provided unsuitable loans to benefit from the scheme.

NAB’s introducer program brought in over A$24 billion ($17 billion) in home loans during the period when the misconduct occurred from 2013 to 2016, lawyers for the inquiry said.

Consumer group Choice said NAB’s move came too late given the inquiry had revealed Australia’s fourth-largest bank knew there were problems with the program in 2015.

“The Royal Commission revealed that many Australians were duped by introducers into unaffordable loans and defaulted as a result,” Patrick Veyret, CHOICE Policy and Campaigns Adviser said.

“It’s shameful it’s taken this long for them to act.”

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Source: OANN

Two masked men wielding swords tried robbing a dollar store in Alabama last week before they were thwarted by an employee carrying a gun, investigators said.

The suspects burst into a Family Dollar in Birmingham last Wednesday and demanded money from the clerk, but bolted after he showed them his firearm, according to police.

Precious Spencer had only been on the job for a couple of days when she described how one of her managers used a gun to fend off the "medieval" robbers, Fox 6 reported.

The suspects bolted after a clerk pulled out his gun, police said.

The suspects bolted after a clerk pulled out his gun, police said. (Birmingham PD Crime Stoppers)


"He got to the end of the aisle and said, ‘they’re robbing us, they’re robbing us’… they came here with swords and that kind of threw us for a loop because no one really got robbed with swords before,” Spencer told the news station. “What were they going to do, chop our heads off and get the stuff?”

Spencer said one of the men was holding a short sword and the other was holding a long one. She says the manager decided to get involved to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

“He said, ‘they rob us too much and that’s why I have my gun,’ and I understand why he feels the way he feels. He’s trying to secure himself and protect the people that are in here,” she added.


None of the other employees was allowed to carry firearms, Spencer said, adding that the store was planning to hire an armed guard after recent break-ins. Spencer says the store had been involved in 13 robbery attempts in just the last five months.

“Luckily no one was injured,” said Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams. “We want everybody to realize that although this may seem funny to some, we still consider these guys dangerous. That weapon of choice at that time was a machete or a sword, but these guys can easily escalate to using other weapons like firearms.”

Source: Fox News National

New Zealand’s prime minister has announced a top-level inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the massacre of 50 people in two Christchurch mosques.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country’s highest form of investigation, a royal commission of inquiry, was appropriate for "matters of the gravest public importance."

Her Cabinet had previously agreed on holding an inquiry, but had not decided what kind of investigation would be held.

She said the Cabinet agreed Monday a royal commission of inquiry "will look at what could have or should have been done to prevent the attack."

An Australian white supremacist has been charged with murder for the March 15 attacks.

Source: Fox News World

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham sent a cryptic message to James Comey on Sunday, hinting at what might be in store for the former FBI director.

It began with a photo Comey tweeted earlier in the day, captioned simply, “So many questions.”

“Could not agree more. See you soon,” Graham tweeted at Comey in response.

Graham, who is currently the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has long promised an investigation into alleged FISA abuse — which he believes may have played a role in the early stages of the Mueller investigation — along with investigations of key players like McCabe and Rosenstein. (RELATED: Lindsey Graham Pledges Investigation Of McCabe, Rosenstein Over ‘Bureaucratic Coup’)

In pursuit of those ends, Graham has already requested all FBI and DOJ documents related to investigators’ attempts to verify allegations made in the Steele dossier.

The South Carolina senator’s Sunday tweet appeared to indicate that Comey should also expect to spend some time before the Senate Judiciary committee in the near future.

Follow Virginia on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Although not mentioned by name, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., clearly was on the minds of many speakers at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington.

Speaking at the conference on Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland hit back at some of the most visible new Democrats in Congress: “By the way, there are 62 new Democratic freshmen in the House, not three.”

Hoyer apparently was referring to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Omar, who regularly have fought the Trump administration’s policies since entering Congress.

Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, said Sunday: “Many of you know that there are people out there today, including in the halls of Congress, who believe that America supports Israel because AIPAC is powerful.”

Omar drew condemnation from members of both parties last month after she suggested in a tweet that AIPAC has been paying members of Congress to support Israel. She later apologized for the tweet — and for other comments widely criticized as anti-Semitic — but also insisted on what she called “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics.”

Hoyer, in his speech Sunday, also condemned sanctions against Israel: “Support for Israel should never be a partisan issue or be perceived as a partisan issue.”

At the end of his speech which lasted about 15 minutes, he said, “Yes, we stand with Israel because we stand for America’s security. Yes, we stand with Israel because we stand for freedom. Yes, we stand with Israel because we reject bigotry and prejudice.”

Multiple Democrats competing for the 2020 presidential nomination said Thursday they wouldn’t attend.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York were among the 2020 contenders who said they wouldn’t attend, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as The New York Post reported, assured the conference Sunday afternoon Democrats as a whole were not moving away from supporting Israel.


“There’s a rather cynical attempt right now to portray some kind of drift that I don’t see and I don’t experience,” de Blasio said. “Again the vast majority of Democrats and the vast majority of progressives believe in the state of Israel and believe the United States of America needs to defend the state of Israel.”

“Period, period,” the mayor added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report “raises as many questions as it answers," and thus the full document should be released to the public, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said in a joint statement on Sunday, The Hill reported.

"The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay," the Democratic Party leaders said.

They issued the statement after Barr sent a letter to Congress summarizing the key findings of Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties with Russia.

Barr stated in the letter that Mueller found no conclusive evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. However, on the issue of obstruction of justice, the attorney general wrote that “while this report does not conclude the president committed a crime, it does not exonerate him.”

Several Democratic presidential candidates emphasized that point to press for a full release of the report.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker tweeted that "The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately – not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official." 

Source: NewsMax Politics

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Liberty vs Virginia Tech
Mar 24, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) shoots against Liberty Flames forward Scottie James (31) during the second half in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Virginia Tech post player Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the fourth-seeded Hokies over Liberty 67-58 in a second-round game in the East Region in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday.

Blackshear’s work inside helped offset the early hot shooting of the 12th-seeded Flames, who went cold in the second half, going almost seven minutes without a basket until Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz’s 3-pointer brought Liberty within 59-54 with 2:24 left.

Virginia Tech point guard Justin Robinson responded with a jumper, and Blackshear made a layup to help the Hokies hold off Liberty (29-7).

Virginia Tech (26-8) set a school record for victories and will play No. 1 seed Duke on Friday in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C. The Hokies beat the Blue Devils 77-72 on Feb. 26 in the teams’ only meeting this season, though Blue Devils star freshman Zion Williamson was out with a knee injury.

Ahmed Hill scored 14 points for Virginia Tech, and Ty Outlaw had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Robinson, playing in his second game after missing several weeks because of a foot injury, came off the bench to post 13 points and four assists.

Liberty freshman guard Darius McGhee made 5 of 11 3-point shots for a team-high 15 points. Lovell Cabbil Jr. and Pacheco-Ortiz each scored nine. Caleb Homesley, who scored a career-high 30 points in a first-round upset over Mississippi State, shot 3 of 11 from the field and finished with eight points.

Virginia Tech used an 11-0 run to take a 52-44 lead midway through the second half as Liberty endured a five-minute scoring drought. The Flames shot 38.3 percent (18 of 47) for the game.

McGhee sparked the Flames in the first half, hitting 4 of 7 shots from behind the arc. He had scored only three points total in the previous three games.

Liberty led 26-18 before Blackshear led an 8-0 run to tie the game. The Flames scored the next six points, but Hill hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left to bring the Hokies within 32-29 at the half. Blackshear had nine points and seven rebounds before the break.

Virginia Tech will be making its second Sweet 16 appearance in school history — its first since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. The Hokies were also part of the final 16 teams in 1967, when they needed just one victory to reach that round.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, poses for a photo in Palm Beach
FILE PHOTO: Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, poses for a photo in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ann Saphir

March 25, 2019

By Noah Sin

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said on Monday that it’s a good time for the U.S. central bank to pause and adopt a cautious stance even though the economy remains in a strong position.

Evans was speaking at the Credit Suisse Investment conference in Hong Kong.

The comments were among the first by policymakers following the Fed’s decision last Wednesday to signal an end to its tightening after it abandoned plans for further rate hikes in 2019.

(Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by)

Source: OANN

A man was charged with sexual battery after he allegedly hired a driver to transport an underage girl from Texas to his family’s home in Florida before holding her captive for three days, police said.

Richard Brown, 25, allegedly convinced the young girl he was "Instagram famous" and could provide for her. The two met on the social-media site and chatted for several months before Brown convinced her to visit him at his parents’ home in Apopka, Fla., near Orlando, according to an affidavit. He then allegedly paid over $800 for the car taking her from San Antonio to Apopka.

When she got there, however, she realized that he was not who she believed he was — but he responded by claiming she "owed him for bringing her out here," investigators said. She allegedly was sexually battered several times while the suspect took drugs including cocaine over the course of three days, the affidavit stated.


Eventually, after Brown fell asleep, the girl was able to escape the home and tried to walk to a fire station while video-chatting with her mother, according to investigators, who added that she ultimately called 911.

"We see several inconsistencies with this affidavit," Brown’s attorney told Fox 35. "The victim said to police she met Mr. Brown through Instagram but somehow her account was hacked, couldn’t download the messages to show police."


Brown reportedly said that he was friends with the girl and that they had not had sex, and he denied taking drugs.

Brown reportedly faced three charges of sexual battery on a child aged 12-17, and one charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was behind bars in Orange County on $40,000 bond.

Source: Fox News National

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