By Alistair Smout and Gabriela Baczynska LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour Party said on Friday that talks with the government on a last-ditch Brexit deal had made no progress, as EU leaders said Prime Minister Theresa May had not convinced them that they should let Britain delay its departure next week. May wrote to Brussels asking European Union leaders to postpone Britain's exit from next Friday until June 30. But they have insisted that she must first show a viable plan to secure agreement on her divorce deal in the deadlocked parliament. Labour, which she turned to reluctantly after failing three times to get her deal passed, said the government "has not offered real change or compromise" in three days of talks. "We urge the prime minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal," a statement said. Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said his party wanted the talks to go on, and a spokesman for May's office said the government had "made serious proposals" in the talks and wanted them to continue over the weekend "in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides". May badly needs evidence of a viable divorce strategy to persuade the other 27 EU leaders at a summit next Wednesday to grant a delay, preferably on her preferred departure date. Any extension would require unanimous approval from the other EU countries, all weary of Britain's Brexit indecision, and could come with conditions. "If we are not able to understand the reason why the UK is asking for an extension, we cannot give a positive answer," said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. German Justice Minister Katarina Barley tweeted: "This playing for time must end." Deep divisions in May's Conservative Party and government, and in Labour, have led to a marathon of votes in parliament, in which scenarios ranging from abandoning the EU with no transition period to cancelling Brexit have all been defeated. Last Friday, May did the unthinkable by asking Labour to negotiate with her on a deal that might work for both - although some in Labour said she was luring the party into sharing responsibility for her failure. LETTER TO BRUSSELS Hoping this would satisfy EU leaders, May wrote to EU summit chair Donald Tusk proposing a delay until June 30 at the latest, accepting that Britain might have to hold European Parliament elections on May 23, which she had hoped to avoid. "The government will want to agree a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before 23 May, 2019, and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible," the letter said. So far, there has been little appetite in Brussels for an extension that could create another cliff edge in three months. May asked two weeks ago for a delay until June 30, only to be turned down. Tusk is planning to propose an extension of a year, which could also be shortened if Britain ratifies the withdrawal agreement, senior EU officials said. "The only reasonable way out would be a long but flexible extension. I would call it a 'flextension'," one official said. "It seems to be a good scenario for both sides, as it gives the UK all the necessary flexibility, while avoiding the need to meet every few weeks to further discuss Brexit extensions." But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said May's letter raised questions, adding: "We hope for more clarity from London before next Wednesday." And France, which wants the EU to move on to other business including reforms proposed by President Emmanuel Macron, indicated it was not ready to accept any delay without a clear plan. "If we are not able to understand the reason why the UK is asking for an extension, we cannot give a positive answer," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Bucharest. Graphic: - https://tmsnrt.rs/2CI8MwU SECOND REFERENDUM? Sterling fell against the U.S. dollar immediately after Labour's comments and stood 0.5 percent down on the day. With time running out, it was not clear how Britain would avoid the abrupt "no-deal" departure that business leaders in Britain and also neighboring Ireland say would cause huge disruption. Germany, as one of those with most to lose from a sudden dislocation of trade, has been one of those most tolerant of Britain's turmoil. Justice Minister Barley tweeted that "there can only be an extension with a clear direction", but also proposed a potential way out by adding: "This includes the question of a second referendum." The idea of asking Britons - who voted by 52 percent to 48 to leave the EU three years ago - to confirm or reject any divorce deal has been gaining ground in Britain. Yet May herself and many lawmakers in both main parties are strongly opposed, saying it would betray voters and undermine democracy, especially if it offered an option to stay in the EU. Both main parties made commitments after the referendum to deliver Brexit, but they never settled on a plan for how to leave or what future relationship to seek. May long insisted that her plan - quitting all EU institutions, with a 21-month standstill period to negotiate a bespoke free trade deal - was the only viable one. But it still split her cabinet and infuriated the most eurosceptic of her Conservatives. Labour wants closer ties than May has sought, including a customs union, which she has so far ruled out. Many Labour members of parliament insist that any agreement must be put to a second public vote. (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski, Gabriela Baczynska, Francesco Guarascio, Alistair Smout, Michael Holden, Steve Addison and David Milliken; Writing by Peter Graff and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
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- Associated Press
Valeri Nichushkin scored his second goal of the game 2:45 into overtime, Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves and the Colorado Avalanche rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the struggling Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Friday night. Nichushkin circled around a defender and then slid a shot past John Gibson for the winner. “That was a beautiful goal,” said teammate Brandon Saad, who had a goal and two assists.
- The Independent
Activist group says Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley ‘deserve most blame for firing up violent mob of Trump supporters that attacked US Capitol and killed five people’
Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said on Saturday he would step down as the leader of Reform UK, the rebranded Brexit Party he launched two years ago to campaign for what was commonly known as "no deal Brexit". Farage, who as leader of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) applied pressure on the government to hold the 2016 EU referendum, said the Brexit Party had helped the Conservatives "come to their senses" and chose Boris Johnson as their leader with a pro-Brexit agenda.
Indian farmers began gathering on Saturday to block a six-lane expressway outside New Delhi to mark the 100th day of protests against deregulation of agriculture markets, to add pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. Farmers young and old headed in cars, trucks and tractors to the highway for a five-hour roadblock to oppose three farm laws enacted in September 2020 they say hurt them by opening up the agriculture sector to private players. Modi has called the laws much-needed reforms for the country's vast and antiquated agriculture sector, and painted the protests as politically motivated.
- Business Insider
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- Business Insider
Prominent Georgia family sued their local grocery clerk after she made claims on Facebook about their role in the Capitol riots, report says
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- Business Insider
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- The Telegraph
The Queen has stressed the importance of keeping in touch with family to “transcend boundaries or division” in her annual Commonwealth Day message. Her Majesty, 94, focused on a message of unity, describing how the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic had created a “deeper appreciation” of the need to connect to others. It came as the world awaited the explosive revelations made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their Oprah Winfrey interview, as the Royal family braced itself for the damaging fallout. The Queen will not watch the controversial interview, which is being broadcast by CBS in the US at 1am UK time, but will receive a full breakfast briefing from aides in the morning. The audio message celebrated collaboration, but it stood in contrast to the troubles facing the monarch's family. The Duchess of Sussex, 39, is expected to claim she felt silenced by "The Firm" and unprotected. Senior royals including the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined forces to appear in a special BBC One programme to mark Commonwealth Day, broadcast on the BBC on Sunday just hours before the two-hour Oprah television special. The Queen used her annual message, below, to highlight the “friendship, spirit of unity and achievements” around the world and the benefits of working together in the fight against the virus.
- The Telegraph
Security beefed up at Trump Tower as ex-president plans first visit to New York since leaving office
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- USA TODAY
A manhunt was underway Sunday in Minneapolis after the fatal shooting of a man near "George Floyd Square."
- Business Insider
Trump said he would travel the 5,000 miles from Mar-a-Lago to Alaska to bury the political career of GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in revenge for her impeachment vote
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- National Review
Two additional women accused New York governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment on Saturday, including a former press aide who detailed an uncomfortable embrace in a dimly lit hotel room and an assistant who said he made her feel like “just a skirt.” Former press aide Karen Hinton told the Washington Post that Cuomo, then head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, forced her into a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000. The married press aide retreated but said “he pulls me back for another intimate embrace.” “I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave,” said Hinton, who is married to lobbyist Howard Glaser, a longtime Cuomo ally who worked as his director of state operations and senior policy advisor until 2014. A representative for the governor denied the allegation, telling the Washington Post the incident “did not happen.” “Karen Hinton is a known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago,” Peter Ajemian said. “All women have the right to come forward and tell their story,” he said, though he called Hinton’s accusation “reckless.” Meanwhile, Ana Liss, a policy and operations aide who worked for Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, told the Wall Street Journal the governor acted inappropriately with her as well, calling her “sweetheart” and asking if she had a boyfriend. She detailed a May 2014 encounter with the governor in Albany’s executive mansion where she said the governor called her sweetheart, hugged her, kissed both of her cheeks, put his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist as they turned to have their photo taken by a photographer. “It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said. A spokesman for Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, defended the behavior as par for the course at public receptions. “Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” Azzopardi said. “At the public open house mansion reception there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.” Liss and Hinton are two of five women to accuse the governor of sexual harassment. Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, on Wednesday published an essay detailing alleged sexual harassment she endured while working for the governor, including unwanted kissing and touching. She wrote in the essay that Cuomo, with the help of top female aides, “created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.” She also detailed an increasingly uncomfortable relationship she developed with the governor, in which he sought her out and set up one-on-one meetings with her. Boylan recounted a flight she shared with the governor from an event in October 2017 in which Cuomo allegedly said, “Let’s play strip poker.” On another occasion, Boylan says the pair met one-on-one for a briefing when Cuomo allegedly kissed her. Days later, former health-policy adviser Charlotte Bennett alleged that the governor harassed her in spring 2020, according to the New York Times. Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked intrusive questions about her sex life, including an incident on June 5 during which the governor asked whether she was monogamous and if she had sex with older men. Cuomo said that he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.” However, the governor did not deny making the statements in question. He has also denied Boylan’s claims. Anna Ruch, a former Biden campaign worker who has not worked for Cuomo, accused the governor of giving her an unwanted kiss on the cheek at a wedding in 2019. She said the action left her “confused and shocked and embarrassed.” New York attorney general Letitia James announced on Monday, after Boylan and Bennett came forward, that her office has received a referral from the Cuomo administration, allowing for an independent investigation of their harassment claims.
- Business Insider
Mississippi governor says his goal 'has never been to get rid of the virus' in defense of his decision to end COVID-19 mask mandate
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- Business Insider
Ted Cruz's claims about undocumented people getting $1,400 stimulus checks were shot down by Dick Durbin as 'just plain false'
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The Senate version of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which cleared the chamber Saturday, was amended to remove taxes on forgiven student loan debt through 2025, the Wall Street Journal reports. Why it matters: The provision, which was included by Democrats this week, paves the way for President Biden to forgive student debt through executive action — one of his campaign promises — without burdening thousands of Americans with a new tax. Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeFederal law usually treats forgiven debt as taxable income. Biden's pledge to forgive up to $10,000 in debt per individual would have increased "the tax bills of many households by a larger amount than the monthly payments they would have paid on the debt for that year," former Obama administration official Adam Looney tells the Journal.Where it stands: The House is now expected to pass the bill for President Biden to sign it into law.The government will lose some $44 million in revenue because of the provision, WSJ writes, citing the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.Details: All federal student loans are eligible, including state education loans, institutional loans, private student loans and private parent loans.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
- LA Times
McManus: McConnell wants to use the filibuster to block Biden's agenda. Here's how Biden can outfox him
As the Senate has become increasingly polarized, the filibuster has become a weapon enabling the minority party to obstruct rather than compromise. But a couple of reforms could fix that.