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Righteous patriotic celebration or ‘ludicrous vanity parade’: Trump front and centre on July Fourth

A reality TV host at heart, U.S. President Donald Trump is promising the “show of a lifetime” for the hundreds of thousands of revellers who flock to the National Mall in the heart of Washington, D.C., every year on the Fourth of July. The tanks are in place for the display of military muscle, and protesters are ready to make their voices heard.

It’s been nearly seven decades since a president spoke there on Independence Day. The U.S. was at war in Korea when Harry Truman addressed a large gathering on the Washington Monument grounds, marking the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

There’s no such historical marker Thursday for Trump, who for the past two years has sought a moment to orchestrate a display of America’s military prowess.

He’s calling his event a “Salute to America,” honouring the armed forces, and he’ll speak at the Lincoln Memorial in front of a ticket-only, VIP crowd of Republican donors, administration and campaign officials, family members and those who flock to see him or protest what they see as a divisive intrusion on a traditionally unifying national holiday.

Trump sounded a defensive note Wednesday, tweeting that cost “will be very little compared to what it is worth.”

A presidential podium is put into place on Wednesday as preparations continue for U.S. President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

“We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door [Andrews], all we need is the fuel,” he said on Twitter, referring to Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews, home for some of the planes that are to fly over the Mall on Thursday. “We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats.”

Trump glossed over the expense of shipping tanks and fighting vehicles to Washington by rail and guarding them for several days, and other costs.

‘I just think it’s cool’

Some of the president’s supporters welcomed Trump’s stamp on the holiday.

Rachel McKenna, a Trump supporter from McKinney, Texas, said her relatives have served in the military and she thought it was important to say, “‘We love you guys, we appreciate everything you do,’ and I love the fact I can see that,” as she pointed to the Bradley fighting vehicle positioned near the Lincoln Memorial.

“I’ve never ever seen one,” she said. “I just think it’s so cool.”

Under White House direction, the Pentagon was arranging for an air force B-2 stealth bomber and other warplanes to conduct flyovers. There will be navy F-35 and F-18 fighter jets, the navy’s Blue Angels aerobatics team, Army and coast guard helicopters and marine V-22 Ospreys.

Flights will be suspended at nearby Reagan National Airport from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET and then again later in the evening for the festivities.

The White House referred questions about the cost of the military participation to the Pentagon, which said it did not have the answer.

For the first time in decades, a sitting president will be part of Washington, D.C.’s annual Fourth of July celebrations on the National Mall, marking a significant departure from the typically non-partisan event. 2:45

The air force said it costs $ 122,311 an hour to fly a B-2 bomber, which is making the round trip from its home at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Officials said the flight will be considered a training event, with the cost already budgeted. The per-hour flying cost of the F-22 fighter is $ 65,128 US.

Two Bradley fighting vehicles were in place Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial, where Trump will speak. To the dismay of District of Columbia officials, two 60-ton army Abrams battle tanks were sent to Washington by rail to be positioned on or near the National Mall, the expanse of parkland that includes the monuments to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, as well as several war memorial displays such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Kevin Donahue, District of Columbia deputy mayor for public safety, told The Associated Press the city expects the federal government to pay for any damage to streets or bridges from moving the tanks. Civil engineers will assess roads and bridges after July 4 to determine if there’s been damage.

Donahue said the city doesn’t have the jurisdiction to reject the use of tanks and other heavy equipment.

Trump has made a muscular show of patriotism at events during his presidency, including in March at an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

White House officials have stressed Trump’s remarks will be patriotic, but the president often finds it difficult to stay on any kind of script.

Tracie Lenihan of Spokane, Wash., an American who says she’s an Independent, said she didn’t understand why military equipment is part of the festivities. “I think it cost a lot of money and I’m not sure what it really has to do with the Fourth of July. I don’t hate it. I’m just confused.”

Many networks appear to be shying away from any controversy, with reports ABC, NBC, CBS and MSNBC will not broadcast the event. It is believed CNN and Fox News will broadcast at least part of the festivities.

Concerns about diverting Interior Dept. funds

Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum, who is among lawmakers overseeing the Interior Department, which has jurisdiction over the National Mall and federal parks, said it was “absolutely outrageous” the administration will use park money to help defray Thursday’s event costs. The National Park Service plans to use nearly $ 2.5 million intended to help improve parks nationwide, the Washington Post reported late Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.

“These fees are not a slush fund for this administration to use at will,” McCollum, a Democrat, said in a statement. She promised a congressional hearing.

Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee concurred.

“Trump is raiding funds meant to improve our cherished lands and wasting them on this ludicrous vanity parade,” he said.

Trump and the event’s organizers could be on the hook to reimburse the government millions of dollars if he goes into campaign mode, in violation of federal appropriations law and the Hatch Act, which bars politicking on government time, said Walter Shaub, who left the Office of Government Ethics in 2017 after clashing with the White House over ethics and disclosure issues.

“There’s not a history of disciplined speaking engagements where he sticks to a script,” Shaub said of Trump.

Such questions about improper donations have been raised by critics about Trump’s inauguration as president in 2017.

Trump originally wanted a parade with military tanks and other machinery rolling through downtown Washington ever since he was enthralled by a two-hour procession of French military tanks and fighter jets in Paris on Bastille Day in July 2017.

A planned event last year was scuttled after cost estimates exceeding $ 90 million were made public.

Washington has held an Independence Day celebration for decades, featuring a parade along Constitution Avenue, a concert on the Capitol lawn with music by the National Symphony Orchestra and fireworks beginning at dusk near the Washington Monument.

Trump altered the lineup by adding his speech, moving the fireworks closer to the Lincoln Memorial and summoning the tanks and warplanes.

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John Travolta’s Daughter Ella Bleu Recalls How He Embarrassed Her in Front of Taylor Lautner

John Travolta’s Daughter Ella Bleu Recalls How He Embarrassed Her in Front of Taylor Lautner | Entertainment Tonight

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New documents link Huawei to suspected front companies in Iran, Syria

The U.S. case against the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in Canada last month, centres on the company's suspected ties to two obscure companies. One is a telecom equipment seller that operated in Tehran; the other is that firm's owner, a holding company registered in Mauritius.

U.S. authorities allege CFO Meng Wanzhou deceived international banks into clearing transactions with Iran by claiming the two companies were independent of Huawei, when in fact Huawei controlled them. Huawei has maintained the two are independent: equipment seller Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. and shell company Canicula Holdings Ltd.

But corporate filings and other documents found by Reuters in Iran and Syria show that Huawei, the world's largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment, is more closely linked to both firms than previously known.

The documents reveal that a high-level Huawei executive appears to have been appointed Skycom's Iran manager. They also show that at least three Chinese-named individuals had signing rights for both Huawei and Skycom bank accounts in Iran. Reuters also discovered that a Middle Eastern lawyer said Huawei conducted operations in Syria through Canicula.

The previously unreported ties between Huawei and the two companies could bear on the U.S. case against Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, by further undermining Huawei's claims that Skycom was merely an arms-length business partner.

Huawei, U.S. authorities assert, retained control of Skycom, using it to sell telecom equipment to Iran and move money out via the international banking system. As a result of the deception, U.S. authorities say, banks unwittingly cleared hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions that potentially violated economic sanctions Washington had in place at the time against doing business with Iran.

Meng did not respond to a request for comment by Reuters, and Huawei declined to answer questions for this story. Canicula's offices could not be reached. A Justice Department spokesman in Washington declined to comment.

Meng was released on C$ 10 million ($ 7.5 million) bail on Dec. 11 and remains in Vancouver while Washington tries to extradite her. In the United States, Meng would face charges in connection with an alleged conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge. The exact charges have not been made public.

Huawei said last month it has been given little information about the U.S. allegations "and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng." The company has described its relationship with Skycom as "a normal business partnership." It has said it has fully complied with all laws and regulations and required Skycom to do the same.

Meng's arrest on a U.S. warrant has caused an uproar in China. It comes at a time of growing trade and military tensions between Washington and Beijing, and amid worries by U.S. intelligence that Huawei's telecommunications equipment could contain "backdoors" for Chinese espionage.

Meng 'repeatedly lied,' U.S. claims

The firm has repeatedly denied such claims. Nevertheless, Australia and New Zealand recently banned Huawei from building their next generation of mobile phone networks, and British authorities have also expressed concerns.

Articles published by Reuters in 2012 and in 2013 here about Huawei, Skycom and Meng figure prominently in the U.S. case against her. Reuters reported that Skycom had offered to sell at least 1.3 million euros worth of embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran's largest mobile-phone operator in 2010. At least 13 pages of the proposal were marked "Huawei confidential" and carried Huawei's logo.

Huawei has said neither it nor Skycom ultimately provided the U.S. equipment.

Reuters also reported numerous financial and personnel links between Huawei and Skycom, including that Meng had served on Skycom's board of directors between February 2008 and April 2009.

Several banks questioned Huawei about the Reuters articles, according to court documents filed by Canadian authorities at the request of the U.S. for Meng's bail hearing in Vancouver last month.

According to the documents, U.S. investigators allege that in responding to the banks, which weren't named, Meng and other Huawei employees "repeatedly lied" about the company's relationship with Skycom and failed to disclose that "Skycom was entirely controlled by Huawei."

U.S. authorities also allege that at a private meeting with a bank executive, in or about August 2013, Meng said Huawei had sold its shares in Skycom, but didn't disclose that the buyer was "a company also controlled by Huawei."

The court documents allege that Huawei told the executive's bank that the Chinese company had sold its shares in Skycom in 2009 — the same year Meng stepped down from Skycom's board. Skycom's buyer wasn't identified in the documents.

But Skycom records filed in Hong Kong, where the company was registered, show that its shares were transferred in November 2007 to Canicula, which was registered in Mauritius in 2006. Canicula continued to hold Skycom shares for about a decade, Skycom records show.

A "Summary of Facts" filed by U.S. authorities for Meng's Canadian bail hearing states: "Documents and email records show that persons listed as 'Managing Directors' for Skycom were Huawei employees." None of those individuals were named.

A company record filed by Skycom in Iran that was entered in the Iranian registry in December 2011 states that a "Shi Yaohong" had been elected as manager of Skycom's Iran branch for two years. Huawei employs an executive named Shi Yaohong.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Shi was named Huawei's "President Middle East Region" in June 2012. An Emirates News Agency press release identified him in November 2010 as "President of Huawei Etisalat Key Account." Etisalat is a major Middle Eastern telecommunications group and a Huawei partner.

Shi, now president of Huawei's software business unit, hung up the phone when Reuters asked him about his relationship with Skycom.

The Syrian connection

Many corporate records filed by Skycom in Iran list signatories for its bank accounts in the country. Most of the names are Chinese; at least three of the individuals had signing rights for both Skycom and Huawei bank accounts. (One of the names is listed in the Iranian registry with two slightly different spellings but has the same passport number.) U.S. authorities allege in the court documents filed in Canada that Huawei employees were signatories on Skycom bank accounts between 2007 and 2013.

Records in Hong Kong show that Skycom was voluntarily liquidated in June 2017 and that Canicula was paid about $ 132,000 as part of the resolution. The liquidator, Chan Leung Lee of BDO Ltd. in Hong Kong, declined to comment.

The Financial Services Commission in Mauritius, where Canicula remains registered, declined to release any of its records to Reuters, saying they were confidential.

Until two years ago, Canicula had an office in Syria, another country that has been subject to U.S. and European Union sanctions. In May 2014, a Middle Eastern business website called Aliqtisadi.com published a brief article about the dissolution of a Huawei company in Syria that specialized in automated teller machine (ATM) equipment. Osama Karawani, an attorney who was identified as the appointed liquidator, wrote a letter asking for a correction, stating that the article had caused "serious damage" to Huawei.

Karawani said the article suggested that Huawei itself had been dissolved, not just the ATM company. In his letter, which was linked to on the Aliqtisadi website, he said Huawei was still in business.

"Huawei was never dissolved," he wrote, adding that it "has been and is still operating in Syria through several companies which are Huawei Technologies Ltd and Canicula Holdings Ltd." Huawei Technologies is one of Huawei's main operating companies.

Karawani didn't respond to emailed questions from Reuters about Canicula.

U.S. investigators are aware of Canicula's connection to Syria, according to a person familiar with the probe. Canicula had an office in Damascus and operated in Syria on behalf of Huawei, another person said.

That person said Canicula's customers there included three major telecommunications companies. One is MTN Syria, controlled by South Africa's MTN Group Ltd, which has mobile phone operations in both Syria and Iran. MTN has a joint venture in Iran — MTN Irancell — that is also a Huawei customer. MTN advised Huawei on setting up the structure of Skycom's office in Iran, according to another source familiar with the matter.

"Skycom was just a front" for Huawei, the person said.

An official with MTN said no one at the company was available to comment.

In December 2017, a notice was placed in a Syrian newspaper by "the General Director of the branch of the company Canicula Ltd." He was not named. It announced that Canicula had "totally stopped operating" in Syria two months before. No explanation was given.

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On the front line of a crisis, overdose-prevention staff could use some help

Kelly White kicks used needles to the side of the path where she walks to work in Toronto's east end. Nearby, she can see people tucked behind cars, in alleyways, and even out in the open using drugs at all times of the day.

White is one of four front-line workers at an overdose-prevention site in the Moss Park neighbourhood at the crossroads of Sherbourne Street and Dundas Street East. The temporary site is operated by a non-profit organization called Street Health, which provides nursing care and harm-reduction services from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Every day she hopes to bring drug users off the streets and into safer spaces, where they can use under the supervision of both medical professionals, and support workers like herself who have been trained on the job. But unlike safe-consumption sites, which are permanent and offer a wider range of support, overdose-prevention sites across Ontario were emergency, pop-up solutions to an escalating crisis that were never meant to be long-term.

In December 2017, Health Canada announced that it would allow temporary prevention sites like Street Health's to operate across the country. The sites were given limited provincial funding for up to six months. But White says sites like hers are understaffed and under resourced given the size of the crisis they face.

As a result, the job can be stressful and demanding for those who work there. And when it comes to dealing with the mental toll of being on the front line of an opioid epidemic each day, workers like White say it feels like they've been left to help others without much help for themselves.

The reality is that it's constant loss. It's tough for this community. It's tough for the people that work here.— Kelly White

"A lot of people that talk to me about the work that I do always ask how I do it," said White from inside the small room where she sees clients everyday, surrounded by stockpiles of clean syringes and drawers labelled 'crack pipes.' "Honestly, to me, the hard part is bashing your head against a system that isn't designed to help people."

Although the Ontario government recently announced a new plan to replace existing overdose-prevention sites with more permanent safe-consumption sites, it's not clear that it will provide any more support for front-line workers.

Reality is 'constant loss'

White was one of the four original workers at the volunteer-run Moss Park tents that popped up last summer during a spike in overdose deaths. She has seen the devastation the Toronto community has faced with the continued loss of life to unsafe drug use.

Since the Street Health overdose-prevention site opened at the end of June, White said it has helped over 500 users by giving them access to a safe space and clean supplies. As the co-ordinator of the facility and one of the hands-on workers tending to clients, she's also responsible for greeting visitors, prepping tables and responding to medical emergencies.

Street Health provides sterile injection supplies, overdose prevention and intervention, nursing and other services for clients. The site has served over 500 people since it opened in June. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Workers like White respond to overdoses daily, and some of the losses have been personal.

Holding back tears, she talks about her frustration and the difficulty of taking on an avalanche of problem that she believes requires more government intervention. Data from the federal government shows that, on average, more than 11 Canadians die because of opioids each day.

In Toronto alone, more than 300 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017, and the city has recorded 120 suspected deaths this year.

"The reality is that it's constant loss. It's tough for this community. It's tough for the people that work here," she said. "But at the same time, we wouldn't want to be doing anything else."

Donations only go so far

How do front-line workers cope with the work they do everyday? White says, "I'd say that primarily our support comes from being united in this battle, the relationships we build with clients and each other."

Street Health has extended comprehensive benefits coverage to overdose-prevention site staff so that that they can get coverage for things like prescription drugs and dental care, White said.

Not all front-line workers are as lucky. In lieu of more comprehensive support, a GoFundMe page was set up to support staff at other Toronto area sites. The donations can be used toward massages, counselling, and acupuncture, but donations can only go so far.

"I've lost people to overdose, and one of the hardest parts is that people are not talking about this. … We need to bring things out of the shadows," White said.

The Ontario government announced that it will allow 21 supervised drug-consumption facilities province-wide. The existing overdose-prevention sites will be expected to re-apply to become permanent facilities. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

She has tried to hold daily briefings to help process what staff witness. She said some days they barely have time to debrief because the demand to meet client needs is so high.

"One of the more difficult things here is that the work is so precarious. We're only funded for six months," she said. Funding for Street Health's overdose-prevention site ends Nov. 30.

New model, new concerns

Last month, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that it is capping supervised drug-consumption facilities at 21 sites province-wide, and will spend just over $ 31 million a year to fund these sites.

But how these sites will be distributed across Ontario is unknown. Also missing from the new model is any mention of support for front-line workers.

The current overdose-prevention sites will be expected to re-apply under the new provincial model to become permanent supervised-consumption sites, and White fears that will force established overdose-prevention sites like Street Health to compete for one of the limited spaces.

Open drug use is an issue in the Moss Park neighbourhood. Shortly after CBC News journalists interviewed White, they saw a man lying on the ground after what appeared to be a drug overdose. He was given CPR and taken away in an ambulance. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

"We are currently worried about losing the flexibility, responsiveness, lack of bureaucracy and red tape, and client-centredness that we have worked hard to maintain," White said.

Steady funding would allow Street Health to hire more staff, and perhaps operate more than two stations for safe drug consumption. It would also allow a facility like Street Health's to be open more days — like weekends — and later at night.

'It's extremely stressful' on front line

One health industry expert suggests that going a step farther and putting safe-consumption sites under the umbrella of the Canadian health-care system would alleviate some of the stress that front-line workers experience, and provide them more help.

Paul-Emile Cloutier is the CEO and president of Ottawa-based HealthCareCAN, an association representing health-care providers in Canada. ​He says that if front-line workers burn out, the health-care system would be there to take care of them.

Cloutier says the injection site in Ottawa on Murray Street receives over 45,000 patients a year and cares for about 135 people a day. He says this safe-consumption site deals with about four to five overdoses a day.

"Front-line providers always work in a crisis environment and of course it's extremely stressful," he said. "We have to ensure that they are also well taken care of."

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In Lightroom and Photoshop, Adobe Puts Profiles and Presets Front and Center

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Besides the rapid rise of smartphones, no other trend has been as hot in photography as one-click filters to quickly give photos a particular look. Made popular initially by mobile apps like Instagram and Snapseed, now they have spread to just about every photo app and sharing service. For users of Adobe’s desktop photography applications, though, Profiles and Presets have had limited utility and been tucked away in inconvenient places. With the latest release of Creative Cloud, Adobe is changing that in a big way.

Profiles Have Become a Creative Tool

Converting a RAW-format image into something you can edit requires an interpretation of the raw data. Adobe has always provided a number of Camera Profiles for most of the camera bodies it supports, including some that are designed to mimic the camera vendor’s own looks, and the default Adobe Standard, that represented Adobe’s generic idea of what looks reasonable.

Now, there is a new default Profile, Adobe Color, along with some other profiles with slightly different looks, including Adobe Landscape, Adobe Vivid, Adobe Portrait, and Monochrome. Beyond that, there are lots of creatively oriented Profiles you can apply that Adobe has developed with a number of partners. In addition, expect plenty of third-party profiles to be added to the mix over time. To make Profiles a lot more obvious, they have been moved to the top of the first tab in Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop), and to the top of the Basic adjustment panel in Lightroom.

Profiles can also be used to create a certain look either from a particular film, camera, or style

Profiles can also be used to create a certain look either from a particular film, camera, or style.

You can browse all the available profiles, and mark any that you want to have easily accessible as Favorites. While browsing you’ll also see a thumbnail with a preview of how your image will look if you apply the profile. Of course, you can also use the standard Before/After previewing tools to see the difference on a larger image.

With most of the images I tried, all of the simple Adobe profiles other than Vivid (and of course Monochrome) were subtle. But in a way that is the point. These Profiles do not affect any of the sliders or other adjustments you’ve made or are planning to make, so they are really just a baseline starting point for whatever further image processing you do next. The creative Profiles, logically, do have a larger, and more visible impact.

Lightroom Classic has also promoted Profiles to be front and center along with DeHaze

Lightroom Classic has also promoted Profiles to be front and center along with DeHaze.

Videographers will recognize this use of Profiles, as it is very similar to the way LUTs are used to import D-Log or other deliberately-flat footage into their favorite video editor.

Presets Take Over Where Profiles Leave Off

For the next step in simple editing, Adobe is featuring its Preset capability. Adobe has had Presets for a long time, but they haven’t been consistent across products, or easy to use. Here, too, Adobe is aiming to change that. Presets have a more attractive interface, are organized into groups, and you can pick out Favorites. Adobe has also worked with a number of partners to produce custom Presets, and I expect there will be lots more available soon. Unlike Profiles, which can only be used with RAW images, Presets can be used with any image.

In addition to lots of new camera profiles Adobe has added an array of creative presets to give images a desired look

In addition to lots of new camera profiles, Adobe has added an array of creative presets to give images a desired look.

For those familiar with video editing, Presets are close to Creative LUTs in their usage. They are also similar to what some of Adobe’s competitors already offer. Skylum’s Luminar, for example, has always featured its numerous presets as a quick and powerful way to get started editing an image. In some ways, presets are also filling the role of many of the add-in filters for Photoshop or Lightroom that have been provided in products like the nik filters or Film Pack — both now from DxO. Since Presets can only push sliders around they are much more limited than filters, but can certainly recreate some of the simpler ones.

Luminar from Skylum has always featured a wide-variety of presets among its most important tools

Luminar from Skylum has always featured a wide variety of presets among its most important tools.

Improved Face Detection and Other Enhancements

While Profiles and Presets are the biggest news for users of Photoshop and Lightroom, Adobe has upgraded some other features as well. For starters, face detection is improved, so you may want to use the Library->Find Faces Again command to update your People view.

Like Profiles, Dehaze has also been promoted to where it is easier to find, since Adobe found that users often relied on it in conjunction with the Clarity slider. This release also brings RAW support for additional cameras and lenses. The Tone Curve control has been expanded to make it easier to use as well.

Creative Presets like Soft Mist shown here let you change the entire look of a photograph in a single click

Creative Presets like Soft Mist shown here let you change the entire look of a photograph in a single click

Mobile apps have also been updated, with access to the new profiles, the ability to add film grain effects, and additional color controls for web sharing. The Android version also picks up sharpening and noise reduction, while the iPad version gains a left-handed mode. Perspective correction has also been added to the iOS version. Profiles and Presets now have a cross-platform format based on XMP, so they can be synced between all your Adobe imaging applications. If you use Lightroom Mobile’s built-in camera, then you’ll also have all your images — both RAW and JPEG — synced automatically to your Adobe cloud and desktop apps.

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Steve Bannon tells National Front members in France history is on their side

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told party members of France’s far-right National Front on Saturday that history was on their side and would eventually lead them to victory.

“What I’ve learned is that you’re part of a worldwide movement that’s bigger than France, bigger than Italy, bigger than Hungary, bigger than all of us,” said Bannon, an American nationalist and a champion of Donald Trump’s America First agenda.

Bannon, who ran right-wing Breitbart News, was among Trump’s closest aides during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, the presidential transition and his first months in office. But the pair had a bitter public falling out and Bannon was fired by the White House last August, though he continued to speak with Trump and tried to promote the president’s agenda.

“I did not come here as a teacher, I came here to Europe as an observer and to learn,” he added, pointing at recent elections in Italy as a sign of a rising populist wave. 

Bannon advised members how they should handle accusations of racism.

“Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativist. Wear it as a badge of honour because every day we get stronger and they get weaker.”

At a news conference following the address, Bannon waxed lyrical about Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the niece of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, seeing a great future ahead of the “rising star.”

Bannon spoke only about the 28-year-old niece at the joint news conference with Marechal-Le Pen.

“She is not simply a rising star on the right in France. She’s one of the most impressive people in the entire world,” Bannon told reporters without mentioning his host Marine Le Pen.

France US Far Right

Bannon waxed lyrical about Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the niece of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, seeing a great future ahead of the ‘rising star.’ (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

‘Absolutely electrifying’

Bannon met Marion, who temporarily withdrew from politics after her aunt’s presidential election defeat last May, at the CPAC conservative conference in Maryland last month, where he said she was “absolutely electrifying.”

Marion’s U.S. speech was widely commented on in French media as posing a challenge for her aunt. Asked by reporters how she felt about Bannon’s comments, Marine Le Pen turned to the American and said that journalists were trying to stir up competition between the two women.

“They don’t understand that we defend the same ideas, in the education field for her and in politics for me,” she said. “They’re asking me how I feel about the good things you said about Marion, to which I reply: they make me glad.”

Bannon then quipped: “We call that fake news.”

Le Pen was hoping that the National Front congress in Lille would help her reassert her authority, after her defeat to pro-Europe centrist Emmanuel Macron prompted criticism of her style and policies.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a former lawmaker, is more socially conservative and economically liberal than her aunt. She was not present at the congress in Lille on Saturday, having said she is now working on an education project.

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Ted-Jan Bloemen, Ivanie Blondin front Canada's Olympic long track team

A world-record holder, world single distance bronze medallist and a pair of emerging stars will lead Canada’s long track speed skating team into next month’s Olympic Winter Games.

Speed Skating Canada named its 19-member (10 men, nine women) squad on Wednesday in Calgary that will compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea, led by Ted-Jan Bloemen, Ivanie Blondin, Heather McLean and Vincent De Haître, respectively.

Some skaters, including the Dutch-born Bloemen, were pre-selected to the 2018 Olympic team based on results from the first half of the World Cup season and last year’s world single distance championships.

Bloemen, who had qualified to race the 10,000 metres ahead of the just-completed Olympic trials, grabbed the lone quota spot for Canada in the 5,000 by winning the event to begin action at Calgary’s Olympic Oval on Jan. 4. On Dec. 10, the 31-year-old Calgarian set a world record in the 5,000 in a time of six minutes 1.86 seconds to erase the decade-old mark of 6:03.32 by Sven Kramer of the Netherlands.

Canadian Ted-Jan Bloemen breaks a world record in the men’s 5,000m event at the ISU speed skating World Cup with a time of 6:01.868:45

“Skating as fast as I am this season is already a dream come true for me,” Bloemen said in a statement released by Speed Skating Canada. “It’s a great honour to represent Canada at my first Olympic Games. My goal is to … make Canada proud.”

Bloemen also holds the world’s fastest time in the 10,000 at 12:36.30, which he set in 2015.

Blondin, 27, will race the women’s 3,000 and 5,000 at her second Winter Games, along with the new mass start in South Korea. The long-distance specialist prevailed in the 3,000 at trials in 4:04.31.

Last February, the Ottawa native captured her third medal at the world single distance championships with a bronze in the 5,000 at Gangneung, South Korea, site of the Olympic event.

The 27-year-old Canadian posted a time of 6:57.34 to win silver in the women’s 5000m at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup in Stavanger, Norway.8:14

Heady company

Blondin had only converted to long track from short track four years before her Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia, where the kayak and water skiing enthusiast finished 24th and 14th in the 3,000 and 5,000, respectively.

“At my first Olympic Games,” she said, “I felt like I was just starting out and you are always mesmerized by the grandeur of the event. I learned a lot from Sochi and now I’m more focused on the process instead of the end results. I’m focusing on being on the podium.”

McLean will try to follow in the footsteps of standout Manitobans like Susan Auch, Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen at her Winter Games debut. After qualifying for Pyeongchang with a second-place showing in the 500 at the selection meet for the long track team on Jan. 5, the 25-year-old Winnipegger won the 1,000 on Monday.

A four-time World Cup medallist, McLean has made big strides since joining the national team in 2013, with back-to-back Canadian titles in both disciplines in 2016 and 2017, but has failed to reach the podium in the 500 in any of her international races this season.

De Haître will arrive in South Korea as a medal contender in the men’s 1,000 and 1,500 after his victory in the former event at trials. The 23-year-old from Cumberland, Ont., was a silver medallist in the 1,000 and placed fourth in the 1,500 at last season’s world single distance championships.

Canadian speed skater clinches Olympic spot in the men’s 1000m.1:26

At 18, De Haître beat the odds to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and finished 20th in the 1,000 and 33rd in the 1,500. But he’ll travel to Pyeongchang coming off a breakthrough 2016-17 campaign that included shattering Jeromy Wotherspoon’s 10-year-old Canadian record in the 1,000 (1:06.72) and silver in the 1,000 at the world single distance championships to earn De Haître second place in the overall standings.

Also named to the Canadian team Wednesday was early-season long shot Denny Morrison following his motorcycle crash in 2015 and stroke in April 2016. But the four-time Olympic medallist will compete at his fourth Winter Games after earning Canada’s only two long track medals in 2014 — silver in the 1,000 and bronze in the 1,500.

The 32-year-old Morrison, who hails from Fort St. John, B.C., earned an Olympic berth on Saturday, finishing second to De Haitre in the men’s 1,500. In December, he was part of the team pursuit that won gold at a World Cup in Salt Lake City, where Morrison was also fifth in the 1,500.

‘Humbling experience’

“I’ve had a lot of challenges and I feel grateful to be able to celebrate every little success since then,” said Morrison. “It’s been a humbling experience after being a medallist at each of my first three Olympic Games.

“With each small step, my goals are progressing and I’m continuing to look forward to the next big steps and furthering my progress.”

In Pyeongchang, Canada will look to add to its long track Olympic medal total of 35.

“Every one of our skaters has worked incredibly hard to qualify for this Olympic Games and I am confident they are ready and capable of continuing Speed Skating Canada’s tradition of excellence and make Canada proud,” said Auch, Speed Skating Canada CEO and a three-time Olympic speed skating medallist.

Canada’s Olympic long track team


  • Ivanie Blondin, Ottawa
  • Kali Christ, Regina
  • Marsha Hudey, White City, Sask.
  • Kaylin Irvine, Calgary
  • Heather McLean, Winnipeg
  • Josie Morrison, Kamloops, B.C.
  • Keri Morrison, Burlington, Ont.
  • Brianne Tutt, Airdrie, Alta.
  • Isabelle Weidemann, Ottawa


  • Jordan Belchos, Toronto
  • Ted-Jan Bloemen, Calgary
  • Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, Sherbrooke, Que.
  • Vincent De Haître, Cumberland, Ont.
  • Ben Donnelly, Oshawa, Ont.
  • Laurent Dubreuil, Lévis, Que.
  • Olivier Jean, Lachenaie, Que.
  • Gilmore Junio, Calgary
  • Denny Morrison, Fort St. John, B.C.
  • Alexandre St-Jean, Quebec City

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