A man has been arrested on suspicion of terror offenses after a car was driven into barriers near the UK's Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London on Tuesday morning, injuring two people. Police said counter-terrorism officers were leading the investigation.
The suspected attack came months after a spate of similar vehicle attacks in 2017, including one in the same area of the city. Here's what we know so far:
At 07:37 a.m. a silver Ford Fiesta crashed into barriers outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, after reportedly swerving into the wrong lane and hitting a group of cyclists.
Armed police quickly surrounded the vehicle and arrested its driver, a man in his late 20s, who was the sole occupant. A video showing police vehicles crowding the car quickly went viral on Twitter.
Breaking: Big armed police response to car which has cashed into Parliament barriers we are now being moved back pic.twitter.com/rYAqExq6rn
Photos from the scene showed multiple people lying in the road. A video captured by a rooftop camera appeared to show the moment the car left the road and crashed into barriers, narrowly avoiding two police officers.
The area was put into lockdown and Westminster underground station closed.
London Ambulance Service said it treated two people at the scene and that their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
What have eyewitnesses said?
Eyewitnesses said the car appeared to deliberately target members of the public, according to the BBC.
"I heard lots of screams and turned round,” said Barry Williams, a BBC member of staff who was in the area at the time. "The car went onto the wrong side of the road to where cyclists were waiting at lights and ploughed into them. Then it swerved back across the road and accelerated as fast as possible and hit the barrier at full pelt.”
"It was a small silver car and he hit it at such speed the car actually lifted off the ground and bounced,” Williams continued. "Then the police just jumped. Two officers managed to leap over the security barriers and then the armed police vehicles all sped towards the scene."
Another witness, Jason Williams, told the BBC the driver had "driven at speed - more than 40 mph."
"There was smoke coming out of the car,” he added. "I saw at least 10 people lying down. I was told basically to move away, to run. I have run for my life."
“It looked deliberate,” he said. “It didn't look like an accident.”
What were the other similar attacks?
On March 22, 2017, a car mounted the sidewalk on Westminster Bridge - just south of where Tuesday’s attack occurred - and hit 11 pedestrians before the attacker exited the vehicle with a knife and attempted to enter Parliament, fatally wounding a police officer before being shot.
Those incidents prompted officials to install concrete and steel barriers around the area to prevent a similar event happening again. It appeared to be one of these barriers that the car crashed into on Tuesday.
What have officials said?
Police said that counter-terrorism officers were leading the investigation into the incident, but that they were “keeping an open mind” as the motive remained unclear.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, praised first responders.
I’m in close contact with @MetPoliceUK Commissioner about the incident at Parliament Square.
Thank you to the first responders who were on the scene so quickly.
(KABUL, Afghanistan) — The Taliban overran a base in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers, even as Afghan forces battled the insurgents for the fifth straight day in the eastern provincial capital of Ghazni on Tuesday, trying to flush them out of the city's outskirts, officials said.
There were fears for the fate of the other troops from the base, known as Camp Chinaya, as the Taliban claimed that dozens had surrendered to them while others were captured in battle.
The attack in the north took place in Faryab province, in the district of Ghormach, according to the spokesman for the defense ministry, Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed. Along with the 17 troops killed, at least 19 soldiers were wounded, he said.
The Taliban had besieged the base, which housed about 140 Afghan troops, for three days before the massive push on it late on Monday night, said the local provincial council chief, Mohammad Tahir Rahmani.
Rahmani said the base fell to the Taliban after the soldiers, who had resisted the three-day onslaught, failed to get any reinforcements and ran out of ammunition, food and water. He said 43 troops were killed and wounded in the attack but didn't give a breakdown.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying 57 Afghan soldiers had surrendered to the Taliban while 17 others were captured in battle. He said eight military Humvees were also seized.
Meanwhile, Afghan security forces on Tuesday pushed back the Taliban from Ghazni, the provincial capital of a province with the same name, and were trying to flush the insurgents from the city's outskirts.
The developments came on the fifth day after a massive Taliban attack on Ghazni. Hundreds of people have fled the fighting in the city, which has so far killed about 100 members of the Afghan security forces and at least 20 civilians.
Nasart Rahimi, a deputy spokesman at the Interior Ministry, said security forces were searching every inch of Ghazni for remaining Taliban fighters on Tuesday.
Military helicopters were supporting the ground forces' operations in Ghazni, said Abdul Karim Arghandiwal, an army media officer in southeastern Afghanistan.
Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, denied the insurgents have been routed from Ghazni and said sporadic gunbattles were still ongoing.
The Taliban's multipronged assault on the strategic city of Ghazni, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul, began Friday. The insurgents overwhelmed the city's defenses, pushed deep into Ghazni and captured several parts of it in a major show of force.
The United States has carried out airstrikes and sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces in the city of 270,000 people.
The fall of Ghazni, which is the capital of the province of the same name, would be an important victory for the Taliban, cutting Highway One, a key route linking Kabul to the southern provinces, the insurgents' traditional heartland.
The Taliban also destroyed a telecommunications tower on Ghazni's outskirts, cutting off landline and cellphone links to the city.
The fighting brought civilian life in the city to a standstill, and also severely damaged Ghazni's historic neighborhoods and cultural treasures.
In recent months, the Taliban have seized several districts across Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks on security forces, but they have been unable to capture and hold urban areas.
The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but have since then repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces as they struggle to combat the resurgent Taliban
In defiance of weeks of escalating government pressure, a Hong Kong independence activist delivered a highly anticipated address on Tuesday to a packed house of local and international media at the city's Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC), calling for the city to breakaway from China but offering little in the way of a roadmap.
"If Hong Kong were to become truly democratic, Hong Kong sovereignty must rest with the people of Hong Kong. And there’s only one way to achieve this, independence," said Andy Chan Ho-tin, the 27-year-old convener of the fledgling Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), which is currently facing the prospect of an unprecedented ban by the Hong Kong government on the basis that the group poses an "imminent threat" to national security.
As Chan spoke, loudspeakers blared slogans from the throngs of pro-China protesters crowding the pavements outside the club, who waved banners and Chinese flags.
Beijing has sternly indicated that it will not tolerate calls for independence from the former British colony, which is now a semi-autonomous region of China. In a speech delivered in city last year, President Xi Jinping warned, "Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security [or] challenge the power of the central government ... is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible."
When returned to China in 1997, the financial hub was guaranteed protection of its civil liberties and rule of law under a framework called 'One Country, Two Systems.' But the city's autonomy has increasingly come under threat over the last few years, and Chan's appearance at the FCC has given renewed focus to fears of deteriorating free speech in Hong Kong.
Following Tuesday's luncheon, the Hong Kong government issued a statement saying that it "deeply regrets" the FCC's decision to hold the event. "It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable for any person to openly promote and advocate the independence of Hong Kong," a spokesman said. "As such, it is also totally inappropriate and unacceptable for any organization to provide a public platform to espouse such views."
"We have continuously supported the FCC's work over the decades," the statement continued. "However, providing a public platform for a speaker to openly advocate independence completely disregards Hong Kong's constitutional duty to uphold national sovereignty."
China's Foreign Affairs Ministry also issued a statement denouncing the FCC for providing a platform to "poison the minds of the people," calling it a "blatant interference with the rule of law" that "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people."
"Journalists must have professional ethics and cannot use the guise of freedom of the press and speech to do dirty business that harms the sovereign security of other countries." it added. "This is hypocrisy and self-deception."
Earlier this month, Beijing sent a representative from the Ministry of Affairs to the FCC to urge the club to "reconsider its decision” to host Chan. The FCC, a bastion of free speech in Asia, rebuffed Beijing's suggestion and stood by its decision to let Chan speak.
"These events are really at the core of the FCC," said first vice president Victor Mallet in the luncheon's opening remarks. "The fact that this lunch now seems to have become far from normal and has generated such exceptional interest in Hong Kong, and around the world, I think tells us more about the political climate in Hong Kong and in Beijing than it does about the FCC."
"Hosting such event does not mean that we at the FCC either endorse or oppose the views of our speakers," Mallet added. "Where we do take stand is on the issue of free speech in Hong Kong in Asia and the world. And the FCC does believe that its members, and the public at large, have the right, and in the case of correspondents and journalists, we have the professional responsibility, to hear the views of different sides in any debate."
Over the recent days, the FCC has drawn the ire of pro-Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong, who have not been shy about voicing their dismay. In a series of nine Facebook posts, Hong Kong's former leader Leung Chun-ying appeared to threaten the club by questioning the terms of its lease, erroneously stating that its historic premises in downtown Hong Kong were rented at a "token price." Francis Moriarty, a former FCC board member, said in a Facebook post that on his departure from the board three years ago that the club was paying about $77,000 monthly in rent—a market rate.
In his address, Chan said that Hong Kong faced “cleansing” from an imperial China and that "Peking is now our colonial master," using the archaic name of Beijing. "Time and time again, our government has shown whatever freedom or democracy they claim to be upholding are just communist mirages," Chan said.
However, he was unable to offer specifics. He declined to give membership party figures or describe the economic basis on which an independent Hong Kong would exist. One member of the audience asked how long Chan planned to carry on "this charade."
Originally a youth group called "Common Sense," named after Thomas Paine's eponymous leaflet that galvanized the American public to revolt against the British in the 18th century, the HKNP is a fringe party founded by Chan in March 2016. With minimal activity and no elected lawmakers, it carries minimal influence. During the 2016 legislative elections, Chan, and four other aspirants, were disqualified from running.
Chan earlier told TIME that efforts to block his speech at the FCC amounted to an attempt by China to “colonize Hong Kong," adding, “[The Chinese government is] restraining journalists from reporting news to the international society just like how they do it in China.”
Independence in Hong Kong enjoys little support. According to one survey, 11.4% of Hong Kongers were in favor of independence, a 6% drop from the previous year
In July, Hong Kong authorities presented Chan with a dossier containing hundreds of pages of surveillance collected over the past two years and gave him until September to respond with reasons why his party should not be banned.
—With reporting by Aria Hangyu Chen/Hong Kong and video by Abhishyant Kidangoor/Hong Kong
Andy Chan knows not to confront his harassers. Sometimes they follow him on the subway. Sometimes they follow his mother. Sometimes they show up at his front door or across the street. At other times he’ll have no idea he was even followed until an article about him runs in a local tabloid.
“Ha ha ha,” Chan says, dryly imitating his girlfriend’s reaction to front-page gossip of his alleged infidelities. The 27-year-old Hongkonger takes the last puff of a skinny menthol—a habit he’s regrettably picked up—and hurriedly jaywalks the intersection of the working class neighborhood of Sham Shui Po, rushing to make his weekly internet radio show. Tonight’s episode consists of updates on the Hong Kong government’s efforts to make his political party—the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP)—the first to be banned since Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony.
“They’re trying to provoke me,” he says. "They" being the notoriously intrusive Hong Kong media.
Or you could say that Chan, an easy target, has aroused their predatory instinct. And not just theirs but that of the governments of Hong Kong and mainland China, who have zero tolerance for the HKNP. It calls for this semi-autonomous region—the world's freest economy—to declare its full independence from China, which resumed sovereignty over it in 1997. In a speech made during a visit to Hong Kong on the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, President Xi Jinping warned that, "Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security [or] challenge the power of the central government ... is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible."
After tolerating it for a couple of years, the Hong Kong government now says that Chan’s party poses an “imminent threat” to national security. “Freedom of speech is not absolute,” says Ronny Tong, a barrister and member of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing cabinet. “If you...start activities to overthrow the government, how else would it not affect national security?”
The city's Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) came under intense pressure to cancel a luncheon address that Chan made to its members on Aug. 14, in which he argued that China was an imperialist power bent on erasing Hong Kong's culture and identity. Shortly after the lunch, the Hong Kong government issued a statement calling it "totally inappropriate and unacceptable for any organization to provide a public platform to express such views."
Chan has even provoked people who might have been expected to support him. Many Hongkongers who want greater autonomy for the territory fear that the HKNP will simply court Beijing's fury and make things more difficult for the city's democratic movement, which, in the main, is not campaigning for independence but simply for a system of genuine universal suffrage and for Hong Kong to be given the right to elect its leader. Some have even asked if Chan is an agent provocateur—or the dupe of agents provocateurs. (What better excuse could Beijing want to crackdown on political freedom, after all, than a separatist movement that reviles China as just another "colonizer" to be kicked out?) On the day of his speech at the FCC, Hong Kong's newspaper of record, the South China Morning Post, referred to him as "public enemy no. 1" on its front page.
Separatism is not new in China. Beijing has made it clear that it will invade Taiwan should the self-ruled island ever declare formal independence, and China's machinery of repression has long been brought to bear on Tibetans and Uighurs seeking freedom, or at the very least greater autonomy, from Chinese rule. To be sure, the 2016 inaugural rally of the HKNP was different. This was not a group of ethnic minorities in some far-flung province agitating for independence. This was a crowd of young Han Chinese, in one of China's showpiece cities, listening soberly and calmly as speakers asserted their right to a nation state of their own. Nothing like it had ever happened within the sovereign territory of the People's Republic since its foundation in 1949.
But then, it is difficult to say how large the independence movement is. Chan refuses to divulge the number of members in the HKNP. Thus, while the police put it between ten and a hundred, for all anyone knows it could simply consist of Chan himself. Police estimates put the number of people at the party's inaugural rally at just 2,500. The results of a local university poll, published a couple of weeks before the rally, found that 1 in 6 Hongkongers supported independence, but whether they would be prepared to take to the streets in defiance of Beijing is, of course, a very different matter.
Interest in independence grew during pro-democracy protests in 2012 and 2014 (the latter a 79-day occupation of downtown streets dubbed the Umbrella Revolution) and flared again in 2015 when the New York Timespublished an essay by Chin Wan, a professor of Chinese at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University advocating for a “Chinese confederacy,” in which Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau would be considered "federate entities" on an equal footing with a democratic China. The poster boy of Hong Kong's democratic movement, Joshua Wong, wrote an essay for TIME that same year, calling for self-determination for the territory.
“From the perspective of Beijing, once there is a spark, then the spark has to be extinguished,” says Dr. Sonny Lo, veteran political commentator on China-Hong Kong relations. “Otherwise it can spread into a bigger fire.”
A statement party
It has to be said that the flames of Hong Kong separatism are not likely to be sparked by a man like Andy Chan. The HKNP infuriates pro-Beijing figures but local activists deride it as a "statement party," because it mostly issues communiques instead of taking action. Neither has the charisma-free Chan made any substantial impression on the public or the media—at least not until the Hong Kong government's attempt to cancel his FCC speech shoved him into the international spotlight.
Indeed, he appears unable to make a strong case for an independent Hong Kong. His prepared remarks at the FCC were very short on specifics, revealed a populist antipathy for mainland Chinese immigrants, and painted an apocalyptic vision of Hong Kong's future in which the city's identity is crushed by sinister communist apparatchiks. It also featured a curiously affected preference for the term "Peking" instead of Beijing. Afterward, he gave off-topic and evasive answers to questions from the floor, much like he did on the warm Thursday morning when he sat down with TIME in the lounge of the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
He arrived for his interview in spectacles and a white shirt, looking like any young office worker on the streets of Hong Kong's central business district—except that he is jobless save for the occasional gig in interior design. Over the course of two hours, the business and engineering graduate was unable to describe the roadmap by which Hong Kong could achieve independence or defend itself against China. He offered no picture of what an independent Hong Kong might look and feel like, who its international allies might be, who would lead it, or how that leader might be chosen. He could not name an author or a historical Hong Kong figure who inspired him politically. He spoke warmly but without notable zeal about the territory, its people, history and culture ("I don't know, I just feel like Hong Kong is such a great place; it's my home"). In fact, he became most animated when talking about the year he spent as a transfer student in Uppsala University. "Oh, Sweden!" he said, brightly. "Sweden is much better than Hong Kong."
Neither could he offer any dramatic account of political awakening or the coalescing of a Hong Kong identity. When pressed about the former he says, fairly bloodlessly, that he attended the Umbrella Revolution protests, and could feel "something wrong with Hong Kong," but described no eureka moment when he vowed to dedicate his life to the struggle and could not convincingly say why anybody should be expected to take such risks. When pressed on identity, he said that at Uppsala he began drawing a distinction between Hong Kong and China when other students asked where he was from. But thousands of young Hongkongers studying abroad make the same distinction without becoming revolutionaries and independence activists.
Chan, in short, is a strange individual to be leading a pro-independence party. His existence is a real-life Being There. But it gets weirder. Not only does he not disclose his party's numerical strength, he won't talk about the types of people in it, beyond a vague and unsupported boast of "Oxbridge graduates, lawyers and doctors." He also makes the odd revelation that party members do not meet in person for security reasons, preferring instead to convene online—leaving, one imagines, a far more incriminating trail, all of it in writing, than if they had simply gathered together in a bar.
'The concept of so-called independence is an illusion'
Chan's quest may be a Children's Crusade but none of this is to deny the Hong Kong identity. Call a Hongkonger Chinese, and they will be quick to clarify. A 2017 poll found just 3.1% of Hongkongers aged between 18 and 29 identify as Chinese, a 20-year low, compared to 65% who identified as Hongkongers (most of the remainder said they felt like a mixture of both). The Cantonese-speaking territory is linguistically and culturally distinct from the mainland, and 156 years of British presence has created a population that has come to expect common law, freedom of speech and a liberal education as its birthright.
“The concept of One China is really problematic because it’s a communist vision that wants Hong Kong to totally conform to their plans and their policies,” says Michael Ingham, a professor at Lingnan (the same university from which Chin Wan brought forth his confederacy manifesto) and the author of Hong Kong: A Cultural History. “Young people are not accepting that.”
But young people's best approach may be to preserve existing political freedoms, or expand upon them, without making a declaration of independence. Were Hong Kong to do that, it would be impossible to defend it militarily from mainland China, and no world power would come to Hong Kong's aid because it would mean making an implacable enemy of Beijing. China wouldn't even need to seize Hong Kong back by force. It could simply turn off the taps and close the border: the territory, which depends on China for most of its fresh water and food, would be starved into submission. And this is to say nothing of the disastrous effects on business—multinationals and professionals would decamp elsewhere in their droves. Independence would be a catastrophe.
When put to Chan, this is, verbatim, the sum total of his response: "Hong Kong does not need to survive militarily. We need to tip the balance among different powers, like Switzerland, to become independent, so we can balance the powers in Hong Kong, and every power can gain what they want. Hong Kong is an international city, we are not just an ordinary city, like in Tibet or not in Mongolia [sic]."
Says Lo, the political commentator: “Hong Kong is historically a part of China. “The concept of so-called independence is an illusion.”
Curiously, even Chan accepts this. He says he is unable to find a real job or even open a bank account and admits that the work of his party is “definitely” an act of political suicide, conceding that the party is “doomed,” but that “someone has to [make a] sacrifice.” He floats the idea of fleeing to Taiwan.
"If fighting for freedom and dignity is criminal, let it be,” he tells TIME. “If I ask for democracy, human rights, and then I damage national security, let it be.”
But first there is another internet radio show to broadcast. Sitting in the studio, surrounded by cardboard boxes and beside a messy whiteboard, Chan settles in to address some 2,000 to 3,000 listeners.
Earlier, when asked by TIME why he has taken up such a difficult cause, he says: “I don’t want to waste my life.”
(LONDON) — London's Metropolitan Police say that they are treating the crash outside of Parliament as a terrorist incident.
Authorities said in a statement Tuesday that a man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses after the silver Ford Fiesta collided with a number of cyclists and pedestrians before crashing into the barriers during the morning rush hour.
He is in custody. No one else was in the car, which is being searched at the scene of the accident.
Two people were hurt, but authorities said none of the injuries were life-threatening.
(DETROIT) — Queen Bey dedicated her performance with husband, Jay Z, to the Queen of Soul drawing a thunderous roar from Aretha Franklin's hometown of Detroit.
The Detroit Free Press reports the moment came early in the show Monday night at Ford Field with Beyoncé saying, "We love you" and thanking the ailing 76-year-old for her "beautiful music."
Opening the show, DJ Khaled got the crowd excited when he played one of Franklin's biggest hits, "Respect."
A person close to Franklin, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic, told The Associated Press on Monday that the singer is seriously ill. No more details were provided.
Fans and friends, including Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott, have offered prayers and well wishes to the iconic soul singer.
U.S. President Donald Trump said the creator of “The Apprentice” confirmed that there was no tape in which Trump uttered a racial slur, as former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman has charged in recent days.
Trump wrote Monday night on Twitter that “.@MarkBurnettTV called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa.”
“I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have,” the tweet continued. “She made it up.”
Mark Burnett was the creator of “The Apprentice,” the NBC show that made Trump a reality TV star. Manigault-Newman became a celebrity herself as a contestant in the program’s first season. She also appeared in two “Apprentice” spinoffs.
Manigault-Newman — the director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison before she was fired last year by Chief of Staff John Kelly — has been promoting a book about her time in the West Wing.
In several interviews, she has accused Trump of being a racist and a misogynist and said that he was mentally unfit. She claimed that a tape captured Trump making racial slurs during the run of “The Apprentice.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Omarosa said Trump never made such comments in her presence, but that she had “heard his voice” on tape “as clear as you and I are sitting here.” The White House has fiercely denied Manigault-Newman’s account and Trump himself has lambasted her several times on Twitter.
In a tweet earlier on Monday, he said he wanted to ensure the “Fake News Media” doesn’t lend her story an air of plausibility. “While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication,” he said.
(LINCOLN, Neb.) — Nebraska is preparing to carry out its first execution since 1997 on Tuesday in a bewildering about-face driven largely by the state's Republican governor.
Carey Dean Moore, 60, is scheduled to be executed at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln with a never-before-tried combination of drugs. Moore was condemned to die for the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers, Maynard Helgeland and Reuel Van Ness Jr., and is one of the nation's longest-serving death row inmates.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, a wealthy former businessman, helped finance a ballot drive to reinstate capital punishment after lawmakers overrode his veto in 2015. His administration then changed Nebraska's lethal injection protocol to overcome challenges in purchasing the necessary drugs and withheld records previously considered public that would identify the state's supplier.
"It wouldn't even have made it to the ballot without him," said Matt Maly, an anti-death penalty activist who has joined daily protests outside the governor's residence. "To get something on the ballot takes a lot of money and resources. Nobody else would have cared enough."
Ricketts recently said he was fulfilling the wishes of voters who opted to overturn the Legislature's decision in the 2016 general election. He said he views capital punishment as a matter of protecting public safety and an important tool for law enforcement.
"The people of Nebraska spoke loud and clear that they wanted to retain capital punishment as part of our overall state laws to protect public safety," Ricketts said last week. "Our job is to carry that out."
If the execution occurs Tuesday, it will mark the first lethal injection in Nebraska, which last carried out the death penalty by using the electric chair.
Moore has had execution dates set seven previous times. This time, he has stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him.
A last-minute lawsuit from German pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi also failed to stop the execution. The company accused state officials of improperly using its drugs, but a judge said he wouldn't delay the execution. The state had noted that one of its execution drugs was set to expire on Aug. 31 and that prison officials wouldn't be able to purchase more.
Lawmakers abolished capital punishment in 2015 by narrowly voting to override Ricketts' veto of the legislation. Some legislators expressed doubt at the time that Nebraska would carry out an execution ever again because of costly legal challenges.
That prompted Ricketts to ask for more time to set one in motion. He eventually contributed $300,000 of his own money to a petition drive organized by several close associates to place the issue on the November 2016 general election ballot. The governor's father, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, also donated $100,000 to the effort.
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty raised a total of $1.3 million. The group was outspent by a death penalty opposition group that received nearly $2.7 million, but the reinstatement measure won support from 61 percent of voters.
Death penalty supporters said the Legislature's vote was a fluke that didn't represent the will of voters in the overwhelmingly conservative state. Some moderate, Republican lawmakers who previously voiced support for capital punishment but then voted to repeal it lost their seats in the 2016 election after Ricketts endorsed their opponents.
"The public (in Nebraska) has always agreed with the death penalty — always," said state Sen. Mike Groene, an outspoken supporter of capital punishment. "I'm not the outlier here, and neither is the governor."
(UTICA, N.Y.) — President Donald Trump on Monday dared New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to challenge him in 2020 — and warned the Democrat, "Anybody that runs against Trump suffers."
Trump also said that Cuomo once called him and promised that he wouldn't run against him — a claim that Cuomo's office did not immediately dispute.
The challenge came as Trump delivered remarks at a fundraising event for Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who is running for re-election. The Utica visit marked Trump's first as president to an area he won in 2016.
Trump, a New York native, spent much of the event attacking his home-state governor as well as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also thought to have White House ambitions.
Trump said that Cuomo, who is running for re-election against "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon, called him and told him, "I'll never run for president against you."
"But maybe he wants to," Trump went on, adding: "Oh, please do it. Please. Please. He did say that. Maybe he meant it. The one thing we know — and they do say — anybody that runs against Trump suffers. That's the way it should be."
Trump, who flirted with a gubernatorial run before setting his eyes on the White House, argued that New York could have the lowest taxes in the nation if Cuomo had allowed hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state and claimed Cuomo "wants to take away your Second Amendment."
"It's very sad to see what's happened with New York," he said. "This could have been Boomtown, U.S.A."
Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to the criticism, but Cuomo on Twitter defended his position on gun rights.
"Donald Trump & the NRA - bankrupt bedfellows: literally and morally," he tweeted. "Unlike Trump, I'm not afraid to take on the NRA."
His office released a lengthy statement ahead of Trump's arrival accusing Trump of having "forgotten what made this country great."
"Despite being a native New Yorker, since you took office, you have attacked our healthcare, passed a tax law that punished New York in order to fund corporate tax cuts, ripped immigrant New Yorkers from their families, launched an assault on our environment, and undermined the basic values on which this state and this nation were built," he said.
As for Gillibrand, Trump called her "a puppet" of New York's other Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer.
"She's been up to my office looking for campaign contributions. And she's very aggressive on contributions, but she's not very aggressive on getting things done," Trump said.
Gillibrand responded by Twitter: "The President refuses to acknowledge the work I've gotten done. Sound familiar, ladies?"
Trump's fundraising events are usually closed to reporters, but this time White House staff allowed the small group of journalists traveling with the president inside, giving Trump a broader platform for his remarks.