Pelosi warns Democrats of liberal ‘menace’ ahead of 2020 vote

Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., center, smiles as she stands between Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, left, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as Democrats rally outside the Capitol ahead of passage of H.R. 1, "The For the People Act," a bill which aims to expand voting rights and strengthen ethics rules, in Washington, Friday, March 8, 2019. (AP)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Pelosi warns Democrats of liberal ‘menace’ ahead of 2020 vote

  • Pelosi touted her own liberal upbringing and accomplishments representing the deeply Democratic voters of San Francisco

LONDON: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday her Democratic Party must avoid the “menace” of liberal policies pushed by rising political stars if it wants to beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The top congressional Democrat used an appearance at the London School of Economics to set out a centrist vision that could help woo Republican voters frustrated with Trump’s approach.
She followed standard US diplomatic protocol of senior officials not criticizing the president while abroad.
But she made explicitly clear that new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — an emerging force in US politics who is often simply referred to as AOC — and fellow young progressives elected in 2018 represented only the margins of American society.
“When we won this election, it wasn’t in districts like mine or Alexandria’s,” Pelosi said in reference to the November midterms in which the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives.
“Those are districts that are solidly Democratic — this glass of whatever would win with a D next to its name in those districts,” said the Speaker after picking up a glass off a coffee table.
Pelosi touted her own liberal upbringing and accomplishments representing the deeply Democratic voters of San Francisco.
“I can compare my liberal credentials across the board. I said to them: ‘Anything you’re about, I got that sign in my basement 20 years ago’,” Pelosi said.
But “what we are saying is, to have a message that appeals to people in a way that does not menace them,” she said.
“I share those values — but we must win.”

Pelosi is officially in London to gauge progress in Britain’s stalled efforts to withdraw from the European Union after 46 years.
But her stay has coincided with an ugly war of words that has pitted Trump against the new breed of Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
Trump accused Omar — the first black Muslim woman elected to Congress — in a tweet Monday of making “anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful US HATE statements.”
Their latest spat concerns Omar’s remarks about the treatment of American Muslims since the September 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.
Yet Omar’s comments about US political backing for Israel being fueled by money from a pro-Israel lobbying group led to criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
Pelosi used a meeting with Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday to speak out against anti-Semitism in politics.
She tweeted after the meeting that she and Corbyn discussed the importance of “protecting human rights, and the necessity of forcefully confronting anti-Semitism & Islamophobia.”
Corbyn has been under pressure from Jewish groups to more thoroughly investigate and clamp down on anti-Semitic incidents involving Labour members.
But Pelosi also stuck up for Omar in her current standoff with Trump.
“I don’t think any president of the United States should use the tragedy of 9/11 as a political tool,” Pelosi said.


Firefighters battle wildfire in Portugal, 32 people hurt

Updated 22 July 2019
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Firefighters battle wildfire in Portugal, 32 people hurt

COLOS, Portugal: More than 1,000 firefighters battled a major wildfire Monday amid scorching temperatures in Portugal, where forest blazes wreak destruction every summer.
About 90% of the fire area in the Castelo Branco district, 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) northeast of the capital Lisbon, was brought under control during cooler overnight temperatures, according to local Civil Protection Agency commander Pedro Nunes.
But authorities said they expected heat in and winds to increase again in the afternoon, so all firefighting assets remained in place. Forests in the region are tinder-dry after weeks with little rain.
The Portuguese Civil Protection Agency said 321 vehicles and eight water-dumping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze, which has raced through thick woodlands.
Nunes told reporters that the fire, in its third day, has injured 32 people, one seriously.
Police said they were investigating what caused the fire amid suspicions it may have been started deliberately.
Temperatures were forecast to reach almost 40 C (104 F) Monday — prolonging a spell of blistering weather that is due to hit northern Europe late this week.
Recent weeks have also seen major wildfires in Spain, Greece and Germany. European Union authorities have warned that wildfires are “a growing menace” across the continent.
In May, forest fires also plagued Mexico and Russia.
Huge wildfires have long been a summer fixture in Portugal.
Residents of villages and hamlets in central Portugal have grown accustomed to the summer blazes, which destroy fruit trees, olive trees and crops in the fields.
In the hamlet of Colos, 50-year-old beekeeper Antonio Pires said he had lost half of his beehives in the current wildfire. Pires sells to mainly Portuguese and German clients, but also to Brazil and China.
“(I lost) 100 out of 230 (hives), so almost half,” Pires said. “A lot of damage.”
The country’s deadliest fire season came in 2017, when at least 106 people were killed.
The average annual area charred by wildfires in Portugal between 2010 and 2016 was just over 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres). That was more than in Spain, France, Italy or Greece — countries which are significantly bigger than Portugal.
Almost 11,500 firefighters are on standby this year, most of them volunteers. Volunteers are not uncommon in fire brigades in Europe, especially in Germany where more than 90% are volunteers.
Experts and authorities have identified several factors that make Portugal so particularly vulnerable to forest blazes. Addressing some of them is a long-term challenge.
The population of the Portuguese countryside has thinned as people have moved to cities in search of a better life. That means woodland has become neglected, especially as many of those left behind are elderly, and the forest debris is fuel for wildfires.
Large areas of central and northern Portugal are covered in dense, unbroken stretches of forest on hilly terrain. A lot of forest is pine and eucalyptus trees, both of which burn fiercely.
Environmentalists have urged the government to limit the area of eucalyptus, which burns like a torch. But it is a very valuable crop for Portugal’s important paper pulp industry, which last year posted sales worth 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion). The government says it is introducing restrictions gradually.
Experts say Portugal needs to develop a diversified patchwork of different tree species, some of them more fire-resistant and offering damper, shaded.
Climate change has become another challenge, bringing hotter, drier and longer summers. The peak fire season used to run from July 1 to Sept. 30. Now, it starts in June and ends in October.
After the 2017 deaths, the government introduced a raft of measures. They included using goats and bulldozers to clear woodland 10 meters (33 feet) either side of country roads. Property owners also have to clear a 50-meter (164-feet) radius around an isolated house, and 100 meters (328 feet) around a hamlet.
Emergency shelters and evacuation routes have been established at villages and hamlets. Their church bells aim to toll when a wildfire is approaching.
With 98% of blazes caused by human hand, either by accident or on purpose, officials have also been teaching people how to safely burn stubble and forest waste. Police, army and forest service patrols are also increased during the summer.