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Pope warns G20 leaders: Don’t ignore the poor, poverty leads to crime and terrorism

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Pope Francis has called on G20 leaders not to forget the poor, saying to do so would be “regrettable” as the heads of the world’s most powerful economies prepare to meet in Australia.

The Group of 20 leaders are expected to sign off in Brisbane this weekend on a pledge to boost the level of their combined economic output by at least two percent above the currently projected level in the next five years, creating millions of jobs.

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In a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who holds the G20’s rotating presidency, the pope said world powers “must not forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions”.

“And it would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle,” he said in the letter, sent on November 6 but only made public on Wednesday.

“There are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists.”

He said he hoped the talks would mark a step towards “eliminating the root causes of terrorism, which has reached proportions hitherto unimaginable; these include poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion”.

“It has become more and more evident that the solution to this grave problem cannot be a purely military one, but must also focus on those who in one way or another encourage terrorist groups through political support.”

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The pontiff added that he hoped to see “a substantial and productive consensus” on boosting growth and jobs that took into account “real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality”.

Each country is expected to submit its detailed reform plans to achieve the growth goal in Brisbane, with an emphasis on private sector financing to spur infrastructure investment.

The comments came as a report by the C20 group — a platform for dialogue between G20 leaders and civil society organisations — said merely aiming for stronger growth was not enough, it must also reduce inequality.

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“Australia’s G20 will go down in history for making a billion more people better off, so long as the summit’s leaders stick to their guns and ensure an inclusive growth target benefits the poorest households,” said report co-author Melissa Wells, from Save the Children.

– Extreme attacks on human rights –

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In his letter, the pope also warned about the impact on the environment of “unbridled consumerism” while speaking of the “unbearable humanitarian situations around the world”, pointing to the Middle East.

“I take this opportunity to ask the G20 member states to be examples of generosity and solidarity in meeting the many needs of the victims of these conflicts, and especially of refugees,” he said.

“The situation in the Middle East has revived debate about the responsibility of the international community to protect individuals and peoples from extreme attacks on human rights and a total disregard for humanitarian law.”

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Pope Francis emphasised the need to protect people from abuses in the financial system, referring to the transactions that led to the global recession in 2008 as a “less evident but equally real and serious” form of aggression against human rights.

“Responsibility for the poor and the marginalised must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level,” he said.


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Maddow destroys ‘bad faith’ complaints about impeachment from Republican Trump supporters

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Friday blasted "bad faith" arguments from Republicans about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Maddow recounted the process complaints by Republicans -- each of which has disappeared.

"After going through all of that, they now have unveiled a new objection as to why President Trump cannot actually be subject to this impeachment proceeding, a new noble stand they're taking for fairness and the American way -- they have rolled it out with our friends at the Fox News channel," Maddow said.

She played a clip of former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News.

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Everyone is baffled by Trump’s rambling rant about flushing toilets ’10 times, 15 times’

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Another day, another truly baffling series of words coming from President Donald Trump’s mouth.

Speaking at a White House meeting on Friday about small business and regulation, Trump went on one of his trademark riffs, touching on a number of subjects with the clarity of a muddy puddle. He seemed to be referring to a series of complaints that have been raised over the years about various consumer product regulations (a favorite topic of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) but without making a coherent point about any of them.

Read the whole stream of consciousness rant to get a sense of what it was like:

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Adam Schiff pushes Pence to declassify aide’s secret information — implying it might be embarrassing or illegal

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to declassify the entirety of his Sept. 18 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky for use in the impeachment inquiry.

Though the vice president’s office, along with the rest of the administration, has stonewalled the impeachment inquiry’s requests for documents, Schiff’s committee obtained information about the Sept. 18 call through Jennifer Williams, a Pence aide who has already testified. Initially, Schiff explained, Williams testified about Pence’s call and did not assert that any part of it was classified. When she testified publicly, however, she said Pence’s office had since determined that the call was classified. She later sent the committee a “supplemental submission” after reviewing “materials” that refreshed her memory about the call — and it’s that supplemental submission that Schiff would like to see declassified.

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