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Hillary Clinton promises: ‘I’m going to go after big banks’

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defended her paid speeches to Wall Street, saying in an interview that aired on Friday that they would not soften her campaign pledges for tougher regulation.

The former U.S. Senator from New York and secretary of state is under pressure from rival candidate Bernie Sanders, who has made her Wall Street ties a top campaign issue and called for her to release transcripts of her remarks. Clinton was reportedly paid millions in appearance fees after leaving the State Department.

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Asked whether she could assure U.S. voters that the speeches would not undermine her calls to rein in the financial industry, Clinton told MSNBC: “Absolutely.”

“I’m on the public record. I told them what I’m going to do. I said I’m going to go after big banks that pose a systemic risk. I want you to hold me accountable for that because I will do that exactly,” she told the network’s “Morning Joe” program.

The New York Times, in an editorial late on Thursday, urged Clinton to release the transcripts, saying “voters have every right to know what Mrs. Clinton told these groups.” According to the paper, Clinton earned $11 million in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 from 51 speeches to banks and other groups and industries.

Clinton has said she will release copies of her remarks when other presidential candidates do the same.

On Friday, she said President Barack Obama’s fundraising from Wall Street had not prevented him from enacting Dodd-Frank financial services reforms after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

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Clinton reiterated her position that regulations must go farther, saying, “Dodd-Frank is great. It gives us a foundation. It doesn’t go far enough. We need to look at these other entities that pose systemic risks, as well.”

As far as so-called unwinding of banks that pose a risk, she added: “We’re going to do in an orderly way so there will not be any surprises.”

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, is vying with Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the November presidential election.

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“I do not receive many millions of dollars from Wall Street or the pharmaceutical industry or other powerful, wealthy interests in this country, and have not given speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars to Wall Street,” Sanders told a Chicago rally on Thursday, the Washington Post reported.

The next Democratic nominating contest is on Saturday in South Carolina.

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(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Frances Kerry)


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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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