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Bill to cut off aid to Palestinians passed by US committee

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A U.S. Senate committee approved a bill on Thursday that would cut off $300 million in annual U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops making what lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crimes.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 17-4 for the measure, known as the Taylor Force Act, after a 29-year-old American military veteran who was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel last year.

The bill, which must be approved by the full Senate and House of Representatives before becoming law, is intended to stop the Palestinian Authority from paying the stipends, which can reach $3,500 per month.

Force’s attacker was killed by Israeli police, but his killer’s family receives such a monthly payment.

“What has happened here will hopefully, when passed, prevent other people from having the same fate: an innocent person going about their activities in an innocent way, being murdered by someone who’s being incented to do that by their own government,” Senator Bob Corker, the committee’s Republican chairman and a co-sponsor of the bill, told a news conference.

Separately, 16 Republican and Democratic members of the committee wrote to Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to ask her to lead an international effort for similar action by other countries.

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Force was a graduate student at Vanderbilt University in Corker’s home state, Tennessee, when he was killed.

Force’s parents live in South Carolina, the home state of Senator Lindsey Graham, the act’s other Republican co-sponsor. Graham, who dubbed the payments “pay to slay,” is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid.

Palestinian officials have said they intend to continue the payments, which they see as support for relatives of those imprisoned by Israel for fighting against occupation or who have died in connection with that cause.

To win broader support, the original act was modified to take into account the need for humanitarian aid. It exempts assistance for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, creates an escrow account to hold assistance funds and spells out steps the Palestinian Authority can take for aid to resume.

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Corker said he was confident the bill would become law sometime in the coming months. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Opponents of the bill have said they worry that cutting off economic aid to the Palestinians would increase poverty and instability in the West Bank and Gaza, fueling more violence.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Fatima Bhojani; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Bernard Orr)

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George Conway annihilates Trump’s claim that Twitter censors him

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On Wednesday, following Trump's virtually incomprehensible rant on Fox Business about how Twitter is secretly stifling his content, conservative lawyer George Conway posted a scathing rebuke of his behavior:

https://twitter.com/gtconway3d/status/1143868020424617989?s=21

George Conway, the husband of Trump's former campaign manager and counselor Kellyanne Conway, has been a frequent and vocal critic of the president's behavior.

Republicans have increasingly scapegoated an imagined political conspiracy of social media companies for every problem that they have online, claiming that there is a plot to censor or "shadow ban" conservative content.

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This is how Florida Republicans plan to hand the election to Trump in 2020

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In 2018, voters in Florida passed Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to ex-felons. The measure passed 65 to 35 percent.

Now, Florida Governor and major Trump ally Ron DeSantis is expected to blunt the impact of the measure by approving a bill that would require ex-felons to have paid off all fees connected to their sentence before voting. That means Donald Trump might get a major boost in 2020, reports the Daily Beast.

SB 7066 requires ex-felons to pay off all financial obligations from their sentencing or get them excused by a judge.

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Dear NeverTrumpers: Please quit lecturing actual Democrats about how to win

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As I write this, we are just hours away from the first debate of the presidential primary season. It's hard to believe that four years have passed since the last round of primary debates. It feels like 40. But here we are, getting ready to embark on yet another presidential campaign featuring Donald Trump. Everyone on the planet has advice for the Democratic candidates about what they need to do to beat him. It may be the most annoying conversation in all of politics, and that's saying something.

The pundits are all dully blathering on about "lanes" again, extending the horse race metaphor to ridiculous lengths, as they did in the GOP primaries in 2016. So far they've declared the lanes to be "establishment," "insurgent," "youth," "black vote" and "working class." And yes, they are meaningless, since the person who wins the nomination will have to take up big parts of all these "lanes" and more. But it makes it easy for pundits and analysts to drone on endlessly about polling, despite the fact that there is very little chance this campaign will end up going the way they predict.

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