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Omar defends comments after criticism from 9/11 mourner

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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sought on Sunday to clarify a comment she made about the September 11th terror attacks after one mourner referenced the remark during a memorial event this week.

“9/11 was an attack on all Americans,” Omar told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It was an attack on all of us. And I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel. But I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting, right, the aftermath of what happened after 9/11.”

“Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them,” she continued. “And so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me a suspect.”

At a Manhattan memorial commemorating the anniversary of the attacks on Wednesday, Nicholas Haros Jr. of New Jersey took the stage wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “some people did something,” highlighting a past remark from Omar.

“Today I am here to respond to you, exactly who did what to whom,” Haros, who lost his mother, Francis Haros, in the attack, said. “We know who and what was done, there’s no uncertainty about that.”

Haros also called out the rest of “The Squad,” a group of progressive freshman congresswomen of color that include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass, and Omar.

“Our constitutional freedoms were attacked and our nation’s founding on Judeo-Christian principles were attacked,” Haros said. “That’s what some people did — got that now? We are here today, Congresswoman, to tell you and ‘the squad’ just who did what to whom.”

Nick Haros, left, reads victim names during ceremonies commemorating the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2019.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

During a March speech at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) event, Omar highlighted how many American Muslims saw their civil liberties curtailed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

“Here’s the truth,” Omar said. “For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

“So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant,” she added. “You have to say that this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is the right you have.”

A representative for Omar later said she misspoke about CAIR’s founding. The organization was established in 1994 but expanded its civil rights advocacy after 9/11.

On Wednesday, Omar tweeted, “September 11th was an attack on all of us. We will never forget the thousands of Americans who lost their lives in the largest terror attack on U.S. soil.”



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Nevada caucuses set to kick off amid fears of — and plans to avoid — a repeat of Iowa debacle

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LAS VEGAS — The Nevada caucuses, the third contest in the 2020 Democratic primary and a first test of candidates’ support among a more diverse electorate, will kick off here soon, with Democrats across the nation closely watching how voters choose — and hoping the event doesn’t resemble the disaster that struck Iowa’s nominating contest earlier this month.

The call to caucus officially starts at precincts around the state at 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. local time), with check-in having begun two hours earlier.

What happens after doors close is anyone’s guess.

The actual caucusing will conclude within the hour, and in theory, results could be available a short time after that.

But, politics watchers, citing the debacle in Iowa, aren’t necessarily counting on it.

That’s because Nevada, like Iowa, is introducing in this year’s caucuses several new elements that many experts believe will cause issues for precinct volunteers on the ground.

Caucuses are run by state political parties that rely entirely on volunteers. Among the elements that could contribute to complications in Nevada are: A new early-voting system, high turnout and a never-before-used digital tool being used to process results.

During an early-voting window from Saturday through Tuesday (a new feature for the Nevada caucus), there was a ranked-choice system in place. Early voters had to mark their first choice and at least two additional choices, so that their votes can be realigned if their top choices don’t make the cut. The early votes then get routed to the voter’s home precinct, so those votes will be counted alongside neighbors who are caucusing in person on Saturday.

On Saturday, however, the voting in the Nevada caucuses will proceed much like Iowa’s did. At most Democratic caucus locations, candidates must have support from at least 15 percent of caucusgoers in each precinct to be considered viable. Once all the attendees finish their first alignment, those who supported candidates who met the viability threshold are locked in and cannot change their preference. Those who supported nonviable candidates can realign with a viable candidate in the second round.

With those results, a formula awards delegates to viable candidates by precinct. Candidates have to hit the 15 percent threshold both in congressional districts and statewide to receive a share of the state’s delegates. There are 36 pledged delegates at stake in the state.

The Nevada Democratic Party, however, said it will be using a digital tool they are calling a “caucus calculator” to help process the results. According to state party officials, the tool is a Google Forms program that has been pre-loaded with early vote results specific to that precinct. It’s also pre-loaded with formulas that will be used to calculate delegate allocation.

Party officials have repeatedly said that nothing that was used during the Iowa caucuses — including the smartphone app that caused a significant delay in reporting results due to a “coding issue” — will be used during the Nevada caucuses. Officials also said they had independent security experts test the process, but could not say what the testing looked like. If the iPads fail for any reason, the volunteers will use paper backups.

Caucus volunteers will call in results to the state Democratic Party via a “secure, dedicated hotline.”

Complicating matters is an expectation of high turnout — meaning the sheer amount of work to be done will be enormous — along with the question of how secure the iPads and the digital tool they contain are.

The Nevada Democratic Party announced this week that about 75,000 residents participated in early voting. By comparison, total Democratic turnout was about 84,000 for the 2016 Nevada caucus, when there was not early voting. In 2008, when there also was not early voting, turnout was 118,000.

In anticipation of problems, the Democratic National Committee is going to extra lengths to try to avoid a breakdown in the caucus process that could delay the reporting of results on Saturday.

Nevada Democrats have hired a professional call center with 200 paid operators and dedicated reporting lines to help take in results from caucus sites around the state, diverging from Iowa where lightly trained volunteers manned the phones and reported chaos and jammed phoned lines.

The Democratic National Committee also dispatched some three dozen staffers to the state to help with everything from volunteer recruitment to technical assistance, while another team in Washington will assist with data processing. And DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who stayed away from Iowa on caucus day, will be on the ground here Saturday.

Perez, however, refused earlier this week to commit to releasing the results of the caucus Saturday after the contest concluded, telling The Associated Press he prized accuracy over speed. “We’re going to do our best to release results as soon as possible, but our North Star, again, is accuracy,” Perez said.

Regardless of any potential complications, Saturday’s caucuses could end up being a knockout round for several candidates who have held on through the first two nominating contests in predominantly-white Iowa and New Hampshire.

Polls show Bernie Sanders to be the front-runner heading into Saturday, with Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar, all in the hunt. Mike Bloomberg, surging in national surveys before a rocky debate performance this week, is skipping the first four states and won’t be on the ballot here.

The state also marks a critical test of each candidates’ strength with non-white voters.

Nevada’s Democratic caucus electorate in 2016 was 59 percent white, 19 percent Latino and 13 percent black, according to entrance polls. Latinos form a large part of the electorates in delegate-rich states like California and Texas, which vote on Super Tuesday on March 3. Black voters have propelled every Democratic nominee to the prize since 1992.

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‘Not in the EU anymore!’ Britons DEMAND new post-Brexit blue passports are made in the UK

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BRITONS are demanding the new post-Brexit blue passports be made in the UK instead of the EU.

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‘This ain’t Costa!’ Ex-Labour MP Fiona Onasanya moans about lack of almond milk in jail

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SHAMED former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya penned a memoir about her struggles after spending a month in prison with one inmate hollering “this ain’t Costa!” when she demanded a non-dairy alternative to milk.

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