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Britain’s Theresa May refuses to relax Northern Ireland abortion rules

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British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with ministers and lawmakers in her Conservative party after refusing to back reform of Northern Ireland’s highly restrictive abortion rules after neighboring Ireland’s vote to liberalize its laws.

Voters in Ireland, a once deeply Catholic nation, backed the change by two-to-one, a far higher margin than any opinion poll in the run up to the vote had predicted. [L5N1SY0CM]

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The prime minister is facing calls from within her cabinet and from opposition parties to scrap the strict rules on abortion in Northern Ireland, bringing the law in the province in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Penny Mordaunt, Britain’s women and equalities minister, said the victory to legalize abortion should now bring change north of the Irish border.

“A historic and great day for Ireland and a hopeful one for Northern Ireland,” Mordaunt said. “That hope must be met.”

A spokeswoman for May said on Sunday changing the rules should only be undertaken by a government in Northern Ireland, which has been without a devolved executive since January last year after a power-sharing agreement collapsed.

May tweeted on Sunday to “congratulate the Irish people on their decision” but she made no mention of what the result would mean for Northern Ireland.

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Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe with even rape and fatal foetal abnormality not considered legal grounds for a termination. And unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, abortions are banned apart from when the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.

The penalty for undergoing or performing an unlawful abortion is life imprisonment.

Since the collapse of a power sharing administration in Northern Ireland, British officials have been taking major decisions in the region and this means the government could legislate directly despite health being a devolved issue.

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But any moves to change the law could destabilize the British government by antagonizing the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party, which May depends on for her parliamentary majority.

DENIED RIGHTS?
The opposition Labour party called on the government to support legislation to extend abortion rights in Northern Ireland because women are being denied fundamental rights.

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“This is an injustice. No woman in the UK should be denied access to a safe, legal abortion,” said Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities.

More than 130 members of Britain’s parliament, including lawmakers in the ruling Conservative party, are prepared to back an amendment to a new domestic violence bill to allow abortions in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Anne Milton, an education minister, on Sunday urged the prime minister to allow a free vote in Britain’s parliament and said she thought there would be “a significant majority” in favor of liberalizing the abortion laws.

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Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the health select committee and a lawmaker in May’s party, said she would support the proposed amendment and said Northern Ireland should at least be given a vote to decide.

This creates a fresh headache for May who is already struggling to unite her top ministers over plans to leave the European Union and is facing the prospect of a series of rebellions in parliament over her Brexit plans.

Northern Ireland’s elected assembly has the right to bring its abortion laws in line with the rest of Britain, but voted against doing so in February 2016 and the assembly has not sat since the devolved government collapsed in January 2017.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Alexander Smith and Alexandra Hudson

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Trump may even pardon former Detroit mayor in November to score Black Michigan votes: Root editor

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One of the things President Donald Trump's pardons revealed Tuesday is that Trump isn't above using the judicial system for political purposes, said Jason Johnson, politics editor at "The Root."

In a panel discussion with MSNBC's Brian Williams, Johnson said that it's all indicative of a man who wants to believe that he is an all-powerful king of the United States.

"The goal is Donald Trump wants to use all of the sort of pardons and this commuting of sentences in order to create a commercial," he explained. "It's theater. 'I'm the benevolent king. I can put my thumb up or down like a powerful emperor. Look at all these people I can rescue.' And when he does that, and people come out like Rod Blagojevich, and they say, 'Oh, hey, I owe him this or I'm going to give school (sic) to that person,' it allows him to sort of demonstrate that he's got an imperial presidency."

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America’s millionaires just stopped paying into Social Security for the rest of 2020

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On Wednesday, not even two full months into 2020, millionaires will stop paying into Social Security for the year due to the program's payroll tax cap.

The cap limits annual wages subject to the Social Security payroll tax to the first $137,700. Sarah Rawlins, program associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), wrote Tuesday that the cap means "someone who makes $1,000,000 per year stops paying into the program on February 19, 2020."

"That makes a millionaire's effective tax rate well below the 6.2% of income that most Americans pay," Rawlins noted. "Instead, it is less than 1% of a millionaire's income. The Social Security tax is only levied on wages, excluding income from other sources like capital gains, meaning those with wages over the cap likely have an effective tax rate even lower than this estimate."

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DOJ puts out bizarre late-night statement: AG Bill Barr ‘has no plans to resign’

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The Department of Justice put out a statement Tuesday evening denying that Attorney General Bill Barr would be resigning from office.

Kerri Kupec, the director of communications and public affairs at DOJ, issued the statement at 10:28 p.m. in Washington, DC.

"Addressing Beltway rumors: The Attorney General has no plans to resign," Kupec announced.

The denial came after a Washington Post report that Barr was considering quitting if Trump continues to tweet about active investigations.

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