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Flight attendants union warns of possible airport chaos if there’s another shutdown

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By Dareh Gregorian

The head of the flight attendants’ union on Monday called for demonstrations at the country’s airports if there’s another government shutdown — and warned that her members might have to stop working.

While avoiding the term “strike,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA head Sara Nelson said the recently concluded 35-day partial shutdown had stretched the airline industry to the breaking point and “made all of us less safe.”

And, she noted, flight attendants have a right to a safe workplace.

“We will not participate in a system that is not safe,” Nelson said. She called on Americans to come out to the country’s airports for mass demonstrations on Saturday to show their support if the government does shut down again Friday night. She urged those who were interested to sign up on the website, generalstrike2019.org.

“We believe it is time to talk about a general strike,” the site says. “A true general strike would take months of planning. But we cannot allow that to stop us from taking action now. We must do what we can immediately.”

Talks between Republicans and Democrats stalled over the weekend, increasing fears negotiators won’t be able to strike a deal on funding for border security.

While flight attendants were not directly impacted by the shutdown, flight controller and transportation safety officers were, leading to lengthy delays at some airports.

Nelson noted some of those employees have yet to receive their pay.

“They won’t be able to take care of their families. They were already stressed to the nth degree,” she said.

“Congress is creating an extremely chaotic situation,” Nelson said, and if it doesn’t get its act together, “We’re going to create order where Congress is creating chaos.”

The last shutdown ended on Jan. 25, after airports across the Northeast experienced major delays because air traffic controllers did not show up to work.

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U.S. secretly filed charges against Assange last year

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in late 2017, more than two months earlier than disclosed in the indictment when he was arrested last week, court documents released Monday revealed.

Assange was taken into custody April 11 after spending more than six years under the protection of Ecuador’s embassy in London. A federal indictment unsealed after his arrest accused him of trying to help a U.S. Army private crack an encrypted password to hack into a Pentagon computer and steal classified documents.

But charges for the same offense were actually filed in secret on Dec. 21, 2017, in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The 26-page affidavit accompanying the charges listed what it said were hundreds of online exchanges between Assange and the Army private, Chelsea Manning, who provided hundreds of thousands of government documents, many of them classified, to WikiLeaks.

After one transmission of documents, the charges said, Manning messaged, “thats all i really have got left.” When Assange suggested getting more, Manning replied, “ive already exposed quite a bit, just no-one knows yet. ill slip into darkness for a few years, let the heat die down,” according to the newly unsealed court filing.

Manning was arrested two months later while on duty in Iraq.

Despite filing the criminal charges, the Department of Justice sought a grand jury indictment only a few months later in order to make a stronger case for extradition in the event Assange was arrested, an administration official said Monday.

The Obama Justice Department had concluded that Assange was, for legal purposes, a journalist and that charging him for gathering and disseminating government secrets would be no different than prosecuting an American news organization for the same conduct. A former Obama administration official said last week that the United States had not considered bringing the kind of computer hacking charges that were later filed against Assange.

But the Trump administration took a different view and began exploring other ways to seek Assange’s prosecution. As early as April 2017, Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, said arresting Assange was a priority. The Trump administration’s first CIA director, Mike Pompeo, called WikiLeaks “a nonstate hostile intelligence service.”

Ecuador’s foreign minister, Jose Valencia, said Monday that it was not unfairly targeting Assange when it revoked his political asylum last week, calling his behavior “undeserving, disrespectful.” Valencia said his country had made a sovereign decision to revoke Assange’s asylum over concerns about possible computer hacking in Ecuador.



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Bill Weld announces run against Trump on GOP line

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By Dareh Gregorian

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced Monday he was officially running for president on the GOP line — making him the first Republican to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 primaries.

“America deserves better,” Weld’s campaign announcement video said, before showing video clips of Trump mocking John McCain, imitating a disabled reporter, praising Wikileaks and the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape where he was caught on audio making inappropriate comments about women.

“It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight,” Weld said in a statement.

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Sanders releases 10 years of tax returns showing income bump from campaign book

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By Shaquille Brewster

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., released 10 years of tax returns Monday evening, showing the majority of his income came from his U.S. Senate salary until 2016, when his income jumped with the publication of a book on his first presidential run.

His total income popped to over $1 million in 2016 and 2017, after he wrote “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In” in November 2016, raising his effective tax rate for those years to over 30 percent.

“I consider paying more in taxes as my income rose to be both an obligation and an investment in our country,” Sanders said in a statement released by his campaign. “I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people.”

His book debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at #3, and has sold approximately 227,000 copies, according to the industry tracker NPD BookScan. Two subsequent books, “The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution” and “Where Do We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance” sold over 27,000 and 26,000 copies, respectively.

During his 2016 campaign, Sanders initially released just a summary of his 2014 tax returns, before releasing his full return later in the primary.

“We had a good idea based on his 2014 returns what to expect,” Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, told NBC News after reviewing his returns. “He made a whole bunch of money as an author now, which is sizable. Running for president has been a lucrative business for him.”

Sanders has been under pressure to release his returns since he launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in February. In a televised CNN town hall shortly after, the senator promised to release them “sooner than later.”

However, after several weeks without producing documents, questions continued to grow. Sanders then told reporters he would release them by tax day, April 15th.

“You sort of wonder why he resisted releasing more returns in prior years,” Rosenthal said. “Now he’s released 10 years of returns but they all look the same, all of which is pretty modest in what he’s showing.”

On the trail, Sanders — who makes the fight for economic justice a fundamental theme of his candidacy — routinely rails against the millionaire and billionaire class, saying the “1 percent may have unlimited resources and power, but they are the 1 percent. We are the 99 percent.” In January, he introduced the “For the 99.8 Percent Act” that his office says would raise $2.2 trillion through a dramatic increase to the estate tax on wealthy families.

Sanders now joins several other 2020 candidates who have released their tax documents to the public. Sunday, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., released 15 years of returns. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., added 2018 to the 10 years of returns released last August. In March, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was the first to release her 2018 returns, publishing 12 years total, and started an online petition that calls on every candidate to disclose their taxes.

Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have released their returns for this year as well.



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