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Help NOQ Report hire an editor

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Help NOQ Report hire an editor

One of my favorite things to do is edit here at NOQ Report. It’s a 6-day a week job and in many ways is my dream job. I don’t get paid for it, but that’s okay. Someday I hope the site can be profitable.

Unfortunately, being a one-man editing team means life events can hurt the site. Recently, illness has struck in the family and finding time to work on NOQ Report and The New Americana site is difficult. I have a little backup; Konstantinos Roditis has been doing everything he can to help while also running for office, but when I’m dealing with illness in the family, it’s too much for Konstantinos to handle everything as a volunteer.

As some of you know, my son had two open heart surgeries before he turned three-months old. He’s my top priority, so when he gets sick, the sites don’t get the attention they need. We need to hire a full- or part-time editor who can continue to make the sites grow when I’m out from time to time. It would also free me up to do more writing rather than just editing all the time. This is where I’m asking for your help.

We stopped advertising the GoFundMe page a couple of months ago, opting to use that space to get more writers. Now, it’s time to get it back up and running. Please give, spread the word, and help keep these sites moving in the right direction.

We need to get as close to our goal as we can as quickly as possible. This recent string of health concerns has hurt traffic just when we started demonstrating real momentum building again. Please visit our GoFundMe page and give what you can. America needs more Constitution-defending voices to be heard.

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News

UK’s May wins no-confidence vote by MPs unhappy over Brexit

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UKs May wins no-confidence vote by MPs unhappy over Brexit

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a political crisis over her Brexit deal Wednesday, winning a no-confidence vote by Conservative lawmakers that would have ended her leadership of party and country.

But the margin of victory — 200 votes to 117 — leaves May a weakened leader who has lost the support of a big chunk of her party over her handling of Britain’s exit from the European Union. It also came at a steep price as she promised not to run for re-election in 2022. Britain’s Brexit problem, meanwhile, remains unsolved as May seeks changes to her EU divorce deal in order to make it more palatable to Parliament.

May said she was “pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues” but acknowledged that “a significant number” had voted against her in Wednesday evening’s secret ballot.

“I have listened to what they said,” May promised as she stood in a darkened Downing St. after what she called a “long and challenging day.”

The threat to May had been building as pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers grew increasingly frustrated with the prime minister’s handling of Brexit. Many supporters of Brexit say May’s deal, a compromise that retains close economic ties with the EU, fails to deliver on the clean break with the bloc that they want.

The balloting came after May’s Conservative opponents, who circled the beleaguered prime minister for weeks hoping to spark a no-confidence vote, finally got the numbers they needed to call one.

The vote was triggered when at least 48 lawmakers —15 percent of Conservative legislators — wrote letters asking for a no-confidence ballot.

On Monday, May postponed a vote to approve the divorce deal to avoid all-but-certain defeat. She has until Jan. 21 to bring it back to Parliament after— she hopes — winning concessions from the EU.

The result of the vote was announced to loud cheers from lawmakers gathered in a stuffy, ornately wallpapered room in the House of Commons. Under party rules, May cannot be challenged again by fellow Conservatives for a year.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, an ally, said the result showed that May “has the support of her party.”

“This is a clear statement by the parliamentary party they want her to go forward, they want her to lead us through Brexit,” he told Sky News.

But pro-Brexit lawmaker Mark Francois said the result was “devastating” for May, who has lost the support of a third of her party in Parliament.

“If I were her, I wouldn’t be pleased with this at all,” Francois said. “I think she needs to think very carefully about what to do now.”

Before the vote Wednesday, May had vowed to fight for the leadership of her party and the country “with everything I’ve got,” and spent the day holed up in the House of Commons trying to win over enough lawmakers to secure victory.

In a bid to win over wavering lawmakers, May indicated she would step down before the next election, due in 2022.

Solicitor-General Robert Buckland said May told lawmakers at a meeting that “it is not her intention to lead the party in the 2022 general election.”

May’s victory is a reprieve but does not lay to rest uncertainty about Britain’s EU departure, due on March 29.

Opposition lawmakers expressed astonishment and outrage at the Conservative civil war erupting in the middle of the fraught Brexit process.

“This government is a farce, the Tory party is in chaos, the prime minister is a disgrace,” Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford said during a pugnacious Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons.

British business figures expressed exasperation at the continuing political uncertainty.

“With news that the prime minister remains in place, business communities will hope that these political games can finally be put to bed,” said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

“Westminster must now focus all its energy on urgently giving businesses clarity on the future and avoiding a messy or disorderly Brexit.”

The vote confirms May’s reputation as a dogged, determined political survivor. But on Thursday she will head to an EU summit in Brussels facing another difficult task. She is seeking changes to the withdrawal agreement that can win support in Britain’s Parliament. But EU leaders say the legally binding text won’t be reopened, and the best they can offer are “clarifications.”

May said she would “be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns” of lawmakers.

Among EU leaders there is sympathy for May’s predicament — but also exasperation at Britain’s political mess.

The European Parliament’s Brexit point man, Guy Verhofstadt, could not contain a note of annoyance, tweeting: “Once again, the fate of EU-U.K. relations, the prosperity of businesses & citizens’ rights are consumed by an internal Conservative party catfight over Europe.”

On the streets of London, some felt sympathy for the embattled leader.

“It’s embarrassing for a start to the rest of the world and I feel really sorry for Theresa May — she’s being battered by everybody,” said Abby Handbridge, who was selling Christmas cards and wrapping paper at a London street market.

“I hope she stays in power and sorts it out.”

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Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit crisis at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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Associated Press writers Danica Kirka, Jo Kearney and Gregory Katz in London contributed.

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Guns and Crime

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

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Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s once-devoted lawyer and all-around fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after telling a federal judge that his “blind loyalty” to Trump led him to cover up the president’s “dirty deeds.”

Standing alone at the defense table, Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as the judge pronounced the sentence for crimes that included lying about his boss’ business dealings in Russia and funneling hush money to two women who said they had sex with Trump — payments that both Cohen and federal prosecutors said were made at Trump’s direction to fend off damage to his White House bid.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

Separately, prosecutors announced Wednesday that they filled in another piece of the puzzle in the hush-money case: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged making one of those payments “in concert” with the Trump campaign to protect Trump from a story that could have hurt his candidacy.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and cooperate in the federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, but his assistance “does not wipe the slate clean.”

“Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”

The judge also ordered Cohen to pay $1.39 million restitution, forfeit $500,000 and pay $100,000 in fines. He was ordered to report to prison March 6 and left court without comment.

The prison sentence was in line with what prosecutors asked for. Sentencing guidelines called for around four to five years, and the government asked in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break.

“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen, who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump, told the judge before the sentence came down. “Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice.”

Cohen got choked up near the end of his remarks and paused briefly to compose himself. His daughter, seated behind him, sobbed throughout. As he returned to his seat, he ran his hand across her cheek.

Cohen’s lawyers had argued for leniency, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.

“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” defense attorney Guy Petrillo told the judge.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Last month, he also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by concealing that he was negotiating a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow deep into the presidential campaign season. He said he lied out of devotion to Trump, who had insisted during the campaign that he had no business ties whatsoever to Russia.

The sentence was the culmination of a spectacular rise and fast fall of a lawyer who attached himself to the fortunes of his biggest client, helped him get elected president, then turned on him, cooperating with two interconnected investigations: one run by federal prosecutors in New York, the other by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.

Beyond the guilty pleas, it is unclear exactly what Cohen has told prosecutors, and it remains to be seen how much damage Cohen’s cooperation will do to Trump. Legal experts said Cohen could get his sentence reduced if he strikes a deal with prosecutors to tell them more.

Cohen said in court that he will continue cooperating. And his legal adviser Lanny Davis, who previously represented President Bill Clinton, said the former political fixer will tell publicly “all he knows” about Trump after Mueller completes his investigation, and that includes testifying before Congress.

“Mr. Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts,” Davis said in a statement.

In the hush-money case, prosecutors said, Cohen arranged for the parent company of the National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to McDougal. He also paid $130,000 to Daniels and was reimbursed by Trump’s business empire.

Prosecutors said the McDougal payment violated federal law against corporate campaign contributions, while the money that went to Daniels exceeded the $2,700 limit on campaign donations. Also, campaign contributions must be reported under law, and the two hush-money payments were not disclosed.

Shortly after Cohen’s sentencing, federal authorities announced a deal not to prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent, American Media Inc. As part of the deal, AMI admitted making the $150,000 payment to McDougal to buy her silence about the alleged affair and fend off damage to Trump’s candidacy.

In a court filing last week, the prosecutors left no doubt that they believe Cohen arranged the hush-money payments at Trump’s direction, saying the maneuver was part of an effort to “influence the election from the shadows.”

Trump had denied any sexual relationship with the women and argued on Twitter earlier this week that the payments to the women were “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. And if it was a prohibited contribution, Trump said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote, adding, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

An attorney for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the sentencing, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, Jeannie Rhee, said Cohen has “sought to tell us the truth and that is of the utmost value to us” and has “provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation.” She did not elaborate.

But the New York-based prosecutors who handled the case against Cohen had urged the judge to sentence him to a “substantial” prison term and said he failed to tell investigators everything he knows.

In addressing the judge, Cohen described the sentencing as “the day I am getting my freedom back.” He said he had suffered from a “personal and mental incarceration” ever since agreeing in 2007 to work for Trump, a man he admired. “I now know there is little to be admired,” Cohen said.

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who played a major role in exposing the hush-money discussions, said outside the courthouse: “We will not stop until the truth is known relating to the conduct of Donald Trump.” But he added: “Let me be clear, Michael Cohen is neither a hero nor a patriot” and “he deserves every day of the 36-month sentence he will serve.”

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Associated Press writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to fix “felt” to “thought” in Cohen’s quote about covering up “dirty deeds.”

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Guns and Crime

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

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France shooting 2 dead several wounded in Strasbourg

PARIS (AP) — A shooting in the French city of Strasbourg killed two people and wounded up to eight others, officials said, sparking a major security operation around a world-famous Christmas market on Tuesday. Authorities said the shooter remains at large.

The motive for the shooting is unclear. It wasn’t immediately clear if the market was the target of the attack or if there was any link to terrorism.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters that the gunman has been identified, and had a police record for common crimes. He several of the wounded were in critical condition and that he was heading to Strasbourg.

The French Interior Ministry called on the public to remain indoors.

“Our security and rescue services are mobilized,” Castaner said.

Local authorities tweeted for the public to “avoid the area of the police station,” which is close to the city’s Christmas market. Strasbourg’s well-known market is set up around the city’s cathedral during the Christmas period and becomes a major gathering place.

Images from the scene show police officers, police vehicles and barricades surrounding the sparkling lights of the market.

The European Parliament, which is based in Strasbourg, was on lockdown. Spokesman Jaume Duch said that “the European Parliament has been closed and no one can leave until further notice.” It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were inside.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that “my thoughts are with the victims of the shooting …. Strasbourg is like no other a city which is a symbol of peace and European democracy.”

France has been hit by several extremist attacks, including the 2015 Paris shootings, which killed 130 people and wounded hundreds, and a truck attack in Nice that killed dozens in 2016.

Some Strasbourg residents have reported on social media that they heard gunfire in some parts of the city center.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted that “the situation is still underway, priority is given to security forces and rescuers.”

President Emmanuel Macron has adjourned a meeting at the presidential palace on Tuesday night to be able to monitor the events, his office said.

Strasbourg, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Paris, is on the border with Germany.

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