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Former Obama official says Georgia gov-elect not ‘normal head of the state’

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Former Obama official says Georgia gov-elect not ‘normal head of the state’

Georgia Gov.-elect Brian Kemp should not be treated as a “normal head of the state” because of allegations of voter suppression during this month’s election, a former ethics chief for the Obama administration said Sunday.

Norm Eisen, who also served as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014, was responding to allegations about Georgia’s gubernatorial race that were posted on Twitter by Ari Berman, a writer for liberal publications such as Mother Jones and the Nation.

Berman alleged that Kemp, in his role as Georgia’s secretary of state, had purged 1.5 million voters from registration logs, and that the state had placed 53,000 registrations on hold, closed more than 200 polling sites and made voters wait in lines for more than four hours.

Kemp, 55, who asked Georgia’s voters to unite behind him Saturday after the election results were certified, showing he defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams, a 44-year-old attorney, has defended himself against allegations that the election was tainted.

“Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone,” Kemp said, according to Atlanta’s FOX 5. Those laws “make sure we have secure, accessible, fair elections,” he added.

“Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone.”

— Georgia Gov.-elect Brian Kemp

Eisen wrote that if the same conditions Berman described for Georgia had existed in a country to which he was appointed an ambassador, he “would have publicly slammed them & called for economic sanctions.”

“I certainly would not have treated the ‘winning’ candidate as the normal head of the state, & we should not do so here,” Eisen wrote.

Eisen’s tweet linked to Berman’s article in Mother Jones, which accused Kemp of implementing hurdles to the election process while secretary of state.

During the campaign, Democrat Abrams repeatedly accused Kemp of voter suppression. Final tallies showed that Kemp won by about 55,000 votes, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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Abrams acknowledged defeat Friday, 10 days after the election, but stopped short of calling it a concession. She vowed to continue fighting in court to prevent voter disenfranchisement, the Hill reported.

“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified victor in the 2018 gubernatorial elections,” Abrams said. “But to watch an elected official — who claims to represent the people of this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote — has been truly appalling.”

Abrams also told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that she intends to run for public office again in the future.

“I’m going to spend the next year as a private citizen but I do indeed intend to run for office again,” Abrams said, according to the Hill. “I’m not sure for what and I am not exactly certain when.”

“I need to take a nap,” she added. “But once I do, I’m planning to get back into the ring.”

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Washington state could become first state to allow human composting

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Washington state could become first state to allow human composting

Washington state lawmakers on Friday passed a bill that would allow residents take part in “natural organic reduction” of human remains, citing in part research that said careful composted human remains could be safe for use in a household garden, reports said.

The Seattle Times reported that Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s office on Friday said he did not review the final legislation. Inslee– who is running for president— has been active on Twitter since the state Senate and House of Representative passed bill 5001, but did not mention the bill in any posts. The bill reportedly passed easily and had bipartisan support.

The report pointed out that the measure has been several years in the making. There was a trial that involved six backers who agreed to organic reduction. The results were positive and “the soil smelled like soil and nothing else,” the report said.

Troy Hottle, a fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told the paper that the method is as “close to the natural process of decomposition [as] you’d assume a body would undergo before we had an industrialized society.”

An NBC News report last year said the procedure could cost $5,500.

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“People from all over the state who wrote to me are very excited about the prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves,” Democratic state Sen. Jamie Pedersen told NBC.

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Ben Carson explains benefits of investing in ‘Opportunity Zones’ for areas facing economic challenges

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Ben Carson explains benefits of investing in 'Opportunity Zones' for areas facing economic challenges

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spoke on “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton” in an interview that aired Sunday about proposed new regulations aimed at making it easier for investors to take advantage of tax breaks for investing in “Opportunity Zones” in low-income areas.

“Policies have been pretty much aimed at putting people into programs,” Carson said, and now the Trump administration is trying to get poor Americans “out of the programs and self-sufficient.”

President Trump said last week that 8,700 neighborhoods across all 50 states and U.S. territories have received the Opportunity Zone designation and would be eligible for the federal tax incentives he’s proposed.

“The entire island of Puerto Rico is an opportunity zone,” Carson said.

“We are very concerned about the rural areas, too,” he added.

Trump’s proposed regulations were issued by the Treasury Department. They sought to clear up questions that were keeping some investors from using the incentives.

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The program was included in the $1.5 trillion tax cut legislation that Trump pushed through Congress in 2017.

The new Opportunity Zones were set up to enable private investors to re-invest profits into designated areas.

“They are going to invest that money somewhere,” Carson said.

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He noted private investors would do what they do because they “want to be successful.”

As White House officials have explained, investors in Opportunity Zones could get tax benefits by deferring their capital gains taxes invested in the zones until 2026. They also could receive discounts of up to 15 percent on capital-gains profits invested in the zones and would pay no capital-gains taxes on investments in the zones held for at least 10 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tulsi Gabbard: Mueller report found ‘no collusion took place,’ Dems shouldn’t push to impeach Trump

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Tulsi Gabbard: Mueller report found 'no collusion took place,' Dems shouldn't push to impeach Trump

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 candidate for president, told Fox News on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election found “no collusion” between President Trump and Russia — and that it’s time for the country to focus on the issues that matter most to Americans.

Gabbard, a Democrat, told “America’s News HQ” that while she supported the Mueller investigation, “the conclusion that came from that Mueller report was that no collusion took place. Now is the time for us to come together as a country to put the issues and the interests and the concerns that the American people have at the forefront, to take action to bring about real solutions for them.”

She continued, “I don’t think that we should defeat Donald Trump through impeachment. I think it’s really important for us, in this country, to come together and have the American people vote to take Donald Trump out of office in 2020.”

Gabbard’s position came in direct contrast to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who last Friday called on the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings. Warren explained Saturday at an event in New Hampshire, “I know people say this is politically charged and we shouldn’t go there, and that there is an election coming up, but there are some things that are bigger than politics.”

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Also Friday, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, another 2020 candidate, said launching impeachment proceedings would be “perfectly reasonable.”

Gabbard countered, “What I am worried about is the continued divisiveness and putting partisan political interests ahead of the interest of the people,” citing a voter’s concerns about making ends meet while struggling with the costs of health care.

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The Justice Department released a redacted version of Mueller’s report last Thursday. Mueller wrote that he found no proof of collusion between Trump and Russia, and did not draw a conclusion over accusations the president may have obstructed justice.

For his part, President Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Despite No Collusion, No Obstruction, The Radical Left Democrats do not want to go on to Legislate for the good of the people, but only to Investigate and waste time. This is costing our Country greatly, and will cost the Dems big time in 2020!”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Leland Vittert contributed to this report.

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