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Ohio governor signs ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill into law

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Ohio governor signs 'heartbeat' abortion bill into law

Ohio Gov. Bill DeWine signed into law on Thursday one of the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion.

The Republican governor signed the so-called “heartbeat” bill after the state legislature approved the legislation on Wednesday.

TEXAS BILL THAT COULD IMPOSE DEATH PENALTY ON WOMEN WHO UNDERGO ABORTIONS FAILS IN COMMITTEE

John Kasich, DeWine’s Republican predecessor, vetoed the measure twice while in office. He said such a law would create a costly court battle and likely be found unconstitutional.

Before DeWine signed the legislation Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said they were preparing a constitutional challenge to the law on behalf of Pre-Term Cleveland and three other Ohio abortion clinics.

“Similar versions of this unconstitutional abortion ban stand 0-4 in federal court. Soon to be 0-5,” the Ohio chapter tweeted, while the ACLU said: “We’ll see you in court.”

The bill — which makes no exceptions for rape or incest — is among the most restrictive abortion measures in the country.

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Other states like Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississipi, Missouri, South Carolina and West Virginia are among the states that have either passed “heartbeat” legislation or are hoping to do so.

This comes as states like New York, New Mexico, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, among other Democratic-leaning states, are supporting bills that allow abortion up to the moment of birth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cory Booker’s tax returns shows income from lucrative speaking gigs, royalties

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Cory Booker's tax returns shows income from lucrative speaking gigs, royalties

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker’s tax returns show most of his wealth stems from lucrative speaking engagements and royalties.

Booker, the 2020 candidate who has yet to make a splash in the crowded Democratic field, released 10 years of tax returns on Wednesday after numerous other candidates released their records in recent weeks.

WHO ARE THE WEALTHIEST 2020 DEMS? WITH TAX RETURNS IN, THE ANSWER MAY SURPRISE YOU

The New Jersey senator reported income of $152,715 in 2018 for his salary, $22,781 in taxes which amounts to an effective tax rate of 15 percent, significantly lower than Sen. Kamala Harris’ 37 percent or Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 26 percent.

Most of Booker’s wealth comes public speaking fees and royalties, including $2 million in speaking fees between 2009 and 2014, nearly $1 million in royalties from 2015 to 2017 after the release of his book, “United.”

But the lower effective tax rate may have something to with Booker’s sizeable charitable donations. In 2018, he donated $24,000 to charity. In total over the 10-year period, the senator donated nearly $460,000 to various organizations and causes.

BETO O’ROURKE CONFRONTED AT TOWN HALL ABOUT STINGY CHARITABLE DONATIONS

This appears to be significantly more in proportion than his opponents like Sanders or former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who faced questions over his household giving to charity just $1,166 in 2017, or about 0.3 percent of their income that year.

At the same time, more than half of those donations made by Booker came in 2013 amid criticism of his role in the founding of a social media company called Waywire, prompting him to give massive amounts of stock to charities in his city.

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The New York Times revealed that Booker’s wealth at the time – $5 million – consisted mostly of shares in the company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Vice President Biden launches White House bid as Democratic frontrunner

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Former Vice President Biden launches White House bid as Democratic frontrunner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a moderate who has made his appeal to working-class voters who deserted the Democrats in 2016 a key part of his political identity, launched a bid for the White House on Thursday as the party’s instant frontrunner.

Biden announced the third presidential bid of his career by video on YouTube and other social media, drawing a stark contrast between himself and President Donald Trump in a contest he said was a fight for the future of American democracy.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” he said. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and let that happen.”

Trump responded in a post on Twitter, slamming Biden’s “intelligence” and vowing to meet him “at the Starting Gate” if the Democrat wins his party’s “nasty” nomination fight.

Biden, 76, had been wrestling for months over whether to run. His candidacy will face numerous questions, including whether he is too old and too centrist for a Democratic Party yearning for fresh faces and increasingly propelled by its more vocal liberal wing.

Biden starts as leader of the pack in opinion polls of a Democratic field of 20 contenders seeking a chance to challenge Trump, the likely Republican nominee, in November 2020.

Critics say his standing in polls is largely a function of name recognition for the former U.S. senator from Delaware, whose more than four decades in public service includes eight years as President Barack Obama’s No. 2 in the White House.

Obama’s spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement that Obama has long said selecting Biden to be his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made. The statement fell short of a formal endorsement, but said Obama relied on Biden’s insight, knowledge and judgment through both election campaigns and his entire presidency.

Biden will travel across the country in the coming weeks to detail his plans to rebuild the middle class, kicking off his tour with a visit on Monday to Pittsburgh, his campaign said.

On May 18, he will hold a rally in Philadelphia to “lay out his vision for unifying America with respected leadership on the world stage—and dignified leadership at home,” it said. 

Pennsylvania, not far from Biden’s home state of Delaware, is a key battleground state and former industrial hub that backed Trump in 2016. The Republican president is seeking to capture the state again even as Democrats saw wins there in the 2018 midterm congressional election.

Democratic U.S. Senators Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania threw their support behind Biden in statements early on Thursday.

‘THREAT TO NATION’

As speculation about his bid mounted, Biden faced new questions about his propensity for touching and kissing strangers at political events, with several women coming forward to say he had made them feel uncomfortable.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in this still image taken from a video released April 25, 2019. BIDEN CAMPAIGN HANDOUT via REUTERS

Biden struggled in his response to the concerns, at times joking about his behavior. But ultimately, he apologized and said he recognized standards for personal conduct had evolved in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Trump and his allies seized on the flap, attempting to weaken the incumbent president’s likely top rival before Biden entered the race.

Even so, Biden was determined to push forward, arguing that his background, experience and resume best positioned him to take on Trump next year.

In his announcement on Thursday, Biden held up the example of the August 2017 attack at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed a female counterprotester as a defining moment for the nation.

“It was there … we saw (Ku Klux) Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open … bearing the fangs of racism,” Biden said, criticizing Trump’s remarks at the time that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

There was no moral equivalence between racists and those fighting such inequality, he said.

“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime,” said Biden.

CENTRIST CANDIDATE

Biden’s candidacy will offer early hints about whether Democrats are more interested in finding a centrist who can win over the white working-class voters who backed Trump in 2016, or someone who can fire up the party’s diverse progressive wing, such as Senators Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

His long history in the Senate, where Biden was a leading voice on foreign policy, will give liberal activists plenty to criticize. As Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, he angered women’s rights activists with his handling of sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas during the justice’s 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

He also has been censured over his ties to the financial industry, which is prominent in his home state of Delaware, and for his authorship of a 1994 crime act that led to increased incarceration rates.

Biden has been one of the party’s more aggressive Trump critics. Last year, he said he would have “beat the hell” out of Trump if the two were in high school because of the way the president has talked about women. That prompted Trump to call him “Crazy Joe Biden” and to claim on Twitter that Biden would “go down fast and hard, crying all the way” if they fought.

Biden later lamented the exchange, saying: “I shouldn’t get down in the mosh pit with this guy.”

Known for his verbal gaffes on the campaign trail, Biden failed to gain traction with voters during his previous runs in 1988 and 2008.

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks at a rally with striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

He dropped his 1988 bid amid allegations he had plagiarized some of his stump oratory and early academic work. But his experience and strong debate performances in 2008 impressed Obama enough that he tapped Biden as his running mate.

Biden decided against a 2016 presidential bid after a lengthy public period of indecision following the death of his son Beau of brain cancer in May 2015. Beau had urged him to run.

Biden faces similar family considerations this time around as he continues to cope with Beau’s demise, while his other son, Hunter, has gone through a divorce.

Reporting by John Whitesides and James Oliphant; additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Rich McKay and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis, Peter Graff and Bernadette Baum

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Ocasio-Cortez’s right-hand man mocked for supporting Bernie Sanders’ idea to allow felons to vote

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AOC calls new campaign finance complaint 'bogus'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff has been slammed after saying prisoners are “most affected by unjust laws” while endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ idea to allow convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and other violent criminals to vote in elections.

“What’s the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote? Shouldn’t the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?” Saikat Chakrabarti said on Wednesday.

His comment came in the wake of Sanders’ eyebrow-raising admission earlier this week that he believes felons, including terrorists and those convicted of sexual assault, should have a right to vote.

TRUMP CAMP CALLS SANDERS’ SUPPORT OF VOTING RIGHTS FOR BOSTON MARATHON BOMBER ‘DEEPLY OFFENSIVE’

The comments by the chief of staff of Ocasio-Cortez drew an immediate backlash for the use of words “unjust,” many questioning whether he suggests terrorists or other violent criminals were actual victims.

“Who knew the law against putting a bomb by an 8 year-old (sic) and blowing people up was unjust?” tweeted NRA spokesperson Dana Dana Loesch.

“Yes, because the ONLY people in prison on felony sentences are the victims of unjust laws,” tweeted journalist Nate Madden. “You know, like the ones against rape, murder, kidnapping and terrorism.”

A few hours later, Chakrabarti doubled down in another tweet, this time naming an example of “unjust” laws, yet dismissing the significance of giving voting rights to the Boston marathon bomber.

BERNIE SANDERS SAYS BOSTON MARATHON BOMBER, SEXUAL ASSAULTERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO VOTE

“Marijuana possession is one law I consider unjust affecting thousands. Are you seriously arguing that one vote from the Boston bomber would be enough to change our terrorism laws?” he asked.

The tweet was ridiculed again for being flippant about terrorists or other violent offenders being given a right to participate in elections.

“‘One vote from the Boston bomber.’ Hard to believe this debate is happening, but it’s only going to get crazier,” National Review editor Rich Lowry tweeted.

“‘We should let convicted terrorists vote because their vote likely won’t matter anyways!’ is certainly a take,” seconded another Twitter user.

During a CNN town hall on Monday night, a Harvard student asked Sanders, the leading 2020 candidate, if his position on expanding voting rights to felons in prison would support “enfranchising people” like the Boston Marathon bomber as well as those “convicted of sexual assault,” whose votes could have a “direct impact on women’s rights.”

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The Vermont senator argued that the Constitution says “everybody can vote” and went on to declare that “the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people.”

Other Democratic candidates such as Sen. Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke somewhat toyed with the idea as well, with but drew a line at people who committed “extreme types of crimes.”

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