Trump may try to claw back as much as $60 billion from spending bill

The White House is ignoring warnings from worried Hill Republicans and moving ahead with plans to cut billions of dollars from the massive spending bill that Congress passed in late March, after President Donald Trump has spent weeks grousing about the legislation.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney — himself a former congressman — is taking the lead on developing the rollback proposal, according to eight current and former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House. The White House expects to release it around May 1, according to one administration official.

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These officials anticipate the White House could propose slashing anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion dollars from the $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill passed for this year — even as Republican lawmakers are openly asking the president not to re-open the negotiations.

“The president is frustrated with omnibus. I also know that his base is frustrated with the omnibus,” said Paul Winfree, who served as Trump’s director of budget policy and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council until he resigned in December to return to The Heritage Foundation. “The main question is: How big will they go?”

The White House has not reached the point yet of circulating a list of areas to cut — though administration officials and congressional aides anticipate the suggestions will involve cuts to foreign aid and nondiscretionary domestic programs targeted in the president’s recent budget.

In a statement, Mulvaney said the administration “will work with like-minded partners on Capitol Hill to see how we can reduce wasteful Washington spending within the law.”

Aiding Mulvaney is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is vying to replace Rep. Paul Ryan as he retires from his leadership position as speaker of the House. But Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, is also interested in the job — potentially complicating the process of trying to cut money from the spending bill, as both men try to curry favor with the president and within their own caucus. Any cuts would also have to pass muster in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 majority.

Even after Congress passed the spending package, narrowly averting a third shutdown this year, Trump surprised aides by threatening to veto it at the last minute over its increase in domestic spending, which he derided as “a waste of money.”

One administration official said the omnibus bill remained on the president’s mind because he views it as another instance of Washington working in a predictable, dysfunctional way, with lawmakers promising to cut spending, build a border wall, or repeal Obamacare, only to do nothing in the end.

Some Republicans have preemptively warned the White House not to try to re-open the omnibus bill. House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said it would amount to Trump going back on his word and veteran appropriator Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told POLITICO the idea is “unrealistic and dangerous.”

White House officials stressed that Trump was not the first president to attempt such retroactive cuts under a 1974 law that allows the president to propose to Congress rescinding certain budget authority. Congress then has 45 days to pass a law codifying the cuts, known as rescissions, or the spending remains in effect.

“Many presidents have used rescission authority,” said White House legislative affairs director Marc Short. “Even Bill Clinton used it multiple times and I think it’s a perfectly appropriate mechanism for the executive branch to send back to Congress opportunities to save taxpayer dollars.”

Short nevertheless said that rescissions are not a long-term solution to the problem of massive spending bills.

“What we’ve always been asking is for Congress to do its job and to complete appropriations bills on time,” Short said. “When they don’t, you’re left in a position where the president is asked to sign a giant omnibus or shut down the government. One way to fix this is for Congress to actually have a normal appropriations process.”

The House typically passes appropriations bills, but appropriations legislation usually can’t get passed on the Senate floor, where Democrats have enough votes to block bills. The White House expects the new Senate appropriations chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), to work with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to change that, although Republicans’ slim majority makes it unlikely.

Trump has threatened not to support another omnibus going forward. ”I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said shortly after signing the omnibus in March. ”I’m not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It’s only hours old. Some people don’t even know what is in — $1.3 trillion — it’s the second largest ever.”

His criticisms, levied hours after he issued his veto threat, echoed those that Democrats and Republicans alike regularly lob at omnibus spending bills, which contain all the discretionary funding for the government in one piece of legislation, as opposed to the 12 separate bills that the appropriations process calls for.

But, with Democrats uninterested in working with Republicans ahead of the midterms, the regular appropriations process likely won’t work this year, either. Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution, maintaining current funding levels, by the next deadline on Sept. 30, 2018. That bill will almost certainly fund the government through the 2018 midterms.

“Theoretically, the Congress should be able to pass individual spending bills and I imagine the House, if not all of them, will pass a good chunk of them. However there’s the Senate and the Dems over in the Senate are going to do the same thing they did in this situation,” said a senior GOP Hill aide. “They have more leverage when you do an omnibus. …. Not to mention they could take the House and try to push any spending bill into the new year.”

“Is he never going to sign an omnibus again? I find that very unlikely,” the aide added. “And frankly, you know, the terms are not going to be as good if the Dems control at least one of the chambers. They’re going to have even more leverage than they have now.”

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify the Senate appropriations process.

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Trump blasts Correspondents’ Dinner as ’embarrassment,’ says it’s ‘DEAD as we know it’

President Trump blasted the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as an “embarrassment” to the country and said it’s “DEAD as we know it,” in the latest fallout over Saturday night’s crude comedy routine. 

In a tweet Monday morning, the president slammed the annual dinner held by the White House Correspondents’ Association, following a routine by Michelle Wolf that many — including the head of the association — found inappropriate.

“The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country and all that it stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!” Trump tweeted. 

The president’s criticisms follow backlash from attendees and other media figures over Wolf’s profanity-laced routine that targeted White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. 


“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” the former “Daily Show” writer said. “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe its lies. Its probably lies.”

“I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” the comedian continued. “Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women?”

White House Correspondents’ Association President Margaret Talev criticized Wolf’s performance late Sunday, saying the program “was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people.”

“Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission,” Talev said in a statement.

Typically, the president of the United States attends the WHCA dinner each year, but Trump has broken that tradition for two years in a row. This year, Trump held a rally in Michigan instead.

The president tweeted the day after the event suggesting canceling the dinner all together, or figuring out a way to create a new type of event.

“The White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a failure last year, but this year was an embarrassment to everyone associated with it. The filthy ‘comedian’ totally combed (couldn’t even deliver her lines-much like the Seth Meyers weak performance). Put Dinner to rest, or start over!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

Wolf pushed back on the criticism, saying she didn’t mock Sanders’ appearance and joked about her “despicable behavior.”

“Why are you guys making this about Sarah’s looks? I said she burns facts and uses the ash to create a *perfect* smoky eye. I complimented her makeup and her ingenuity of materials,” Wolf tweeted.

Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

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What Bostonians need to know this week

Jump-start your week — find out what you missed this weekend, along with upcoming events, sports, and weather all in one place. Want the “What Bostonians Need to Know” briefing in your inbox every Sunday? Sign up for our weekly newsletter, which launches soon.

What to know this week:

Warm weather here we come: The week begins a bit chilly on Monday, with temperatures likely to stay in the 50s, but things should quickly warm up later in the week. Greater Boston could even see some summer-like temperatures, with highs forecast to reach the 80s on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Clink, clink! The warmer weather means beer gardens will begin popping up around the city this spring, including four opening in May.  

The Celtics advance: The Celtics won Game 7 of the first round of the NBA playoffs Saturday, advancing to the conference semifinals where they’ll face the Philadelphia 76ers Monday at 8 p.m. The Bruins flew past the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Saturday, with a score of 6-2. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday at 7 p.m.

Al Horford celebrates during the first quarter against the Bucks. The Celtics won Game 7 and advanced to play the 76ers. —Photo by Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

What you missed over the weekend:

The Pats draft a QB: The New England Patriots were busy on the final day of the 2018 NFL Draft. The team started out by trading down for picks—twice. They later selected a couple of linebackers, a wide receiver, a tight end, a defensive back, and LSU quarterback Danny Etling.

Baker’s on the ballot, but he’s not the only one: Governor Charlie Baker officially received the Republican party’s endorsement for re-election at the state’s GOP convention Saturday. However, fringe candidate Scott Lively, who the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a “veteran of the anti-gay movement,” a man who wrote a Holocaust revisionist book saying that the Nazi party was made up of gay men, also got enough delegate votes to land a spot on the ballot. The GOP primary will be September 4. Meanwhile, many Republican delegates at the convention expressed deep support for President Trump.

‘Trump is so broke…’: At Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, comedian Michelle Wolf gave a blunt, raunchy speech that had the audience laughing—and gasping. President Trump did not attend for the second year in a row, but that didn’t stop the jokes from flying his way. Instead, Trump held a rally in Michigan.

What’s happening in Boston:

It’s open (market) season: The Greenway Open Market officially launches next weekend, May 5 and 6, featuring more than 80 local, independent designers and artists. On Saturday, May 5, shoppers can also enjoy the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Spring Food Truck Festival.

Wig Out! It’s the opening week of “Wig Out!” at American Repertory Theater, which was written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Oscar-winning co-writer of “Moonlight.” The popular musical has an R&B soundtrack and explores drag queen and drag ball culture.

“Wig Out!” at American Repertory Theatre plays its opening week. —Liz Slaughter

Say ‘hi’ to HAIM: The sisters of the band, HAIM, come to town this week, playing a show at Agganis Arena on Thursday. Soul and R&B artist, Lizzo, is slated to open the show.   

This week’s Red Sox schedule:

Monday, April 30: 7:10 p.m. versus the Kansas City Royals on NESN

Tuesday, May 1: 7:10 p.m. versus the Kansas City Royals on NESN

Wednesday, May 2: 1:05 p.m. versus the Kansas City Royals on NESN

Thursday, May 3: 8:05 p.m. at the Texas Rangers on NESN

Friday, May 4: 8:05 p.m. at the Texas Rangers on NESN

Saturday, May 5: 8:05 p.m. at the Texas Rangers on NESN

Sunday, May 6: 3:05 p.m. at the Texas Rangers on NESN

This week’s Bruins schedule:

Monday, April 30: 7 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Lightning on NBC Sports

Wednesday, May 2: 7 p.m. versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on NBC Sports

Friday, May 4: 7 p.m. versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on NBC Sports

Sunday, May 6: TBD, versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on NBC Sports (if needed)

This week’s Celtics schedule:

Monday, April 30: 8 p.m. versus the Philadelphia 76ers on TNT

Thursday, May 3: 8:30 p.m. versus the Philadelphia 76ers on TNT

Saturday, May 5: TBD, at the Philadelphia 76ers on TNT

This week’s Revolution schedule:

Saturday, May 5: 1 p.m. at the Montreal Impact

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Was BuzzFeed Right to Publish Accusations Against Donald Trump? – Room for Debate

Thanks to BuzzFeed the Untouchable Story Is Open to Discussion


BuzzFeed did the right thing when it chose to publish the dossier of unverified allegations about Donald Trump’s supposed entanglements with Russia. Some experts on media ethics were quick to argue otherwise this morning.

This kind of second-guessing generally proceeds from the underlying premise that journalistic ethics is some set of straightforward rules about right and wrong, which, when dutifully followed, will reliably produce good journalism. This is a deeply useless approach. Any decision to publish any piece of reporting involves balancing competing principles and coming to a conclusion that fits the subject matter, the broader context and the publication’s own mission and appetite for risk.

Whether the ultimate scandal turns out to be about Trump’s alleged conduct, his relations with Russia, his feud with the intelligence services or some combination, follow-up reporting will help the public sort through the dossier’s claims.

This case, in particular, is a good reminder of the fact that the flip side of deciding to publish something is deciding not to publish something. But journalists are rarely called to account for their errors of omission. Multiple news organizations reportedly had their hands on the Russia dossier for weeks, and before yesterday, even as the circle of public officials who deemed it a serious concern kept widening, none of those media outlets could figure out how to share it.

Now the untouchable story has become a matter of open discussion, whether the ultimate scandal turns out to be about Trump’s alleged conduct, his relations with Russia, his feud with the intelligence services or some combination of all of those. Follow-up reporting is helping the public sort through the dossier’s claims. BuzzFeed’s decision was the key to all of this.

Judgments about what and how and why to publish vary from publication to publication, and that variation is healthy and productive. What CNN and BuzzFeed executed last night was a classic high-low interaction: CNN reported that the dossier existed and that it was of great public importance; BuzzFeed produced the dossier. CNN’s vagueness was redeemed by BuzzFeed’s specificity, and BuzzFeed’s risk-taking was justified by CNN’s testimony about the ultimate news value.

Sometimes the transaction simply goes from low to high: A less respectable outlet publishes a story, and the subject of the story responds, and the subject’s response becomes a fact in the world that is safe for judicious publications to discuss in the open. Thus this morning’s Times was liberated to discuss “sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump,” or, more precisely, reports of memos describing those sex videos.

However the process unfolds, we know more today than we did yesterday, and tomorrow we will know more still. BuzzFeed’s rhetoric about “publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds” was maybe a little pious, but those of us at the former Gawker Media learned a painful lesson last year about what can happen when journalists talk about their mission less than piously.

Journalism is a rude business and we live in rude times. Blind appeals to principle won’t make things any nicer, but they could make things worse.

BuzzFeed Let Trump Cast a Shadow of Doubt on All Reporting


By publishing an unverified report alleging the Russians have compromising information on President-elect Donald J. Trump, BuzzFeed made it less likely that truth will be journalists’ only goal and less likely that when the truth surfaces, the public will believe it.

In his news conference on Wednesday morning, Trump conflated the work of BuzzFeed and CNN, although they were very different forms of reporting. He started by complimenting all the newsrooms that did not post the document, criticizing those who did without initially naming them, and suggesting that the reason for keeping it out of public view is because it is “fake news.”

Had BuzzFeed taken a different approach, the story today would be that intelligence officials were seriously concerned about the report.

To the untrained eye, it looked like he was making friends with the media by patting them on the back for doing the right thing by ignoring that ludicrous rumor that the Russians have a sex tape.

Here’s what really happened: BuzzFeed posted the dossier, noting that it was unverified and even highly problematic, about two hours after CNN began informing its viewers that the report existed, who had seen it and what the possible implications were to Trump’s ability to run the country.

Those are two distinct acts, with BuzzFeed merely showing its cards to the public, and CNN trying to build context and meaning through reporting and analysis.

But by lumping the two newsrooms together, Trump was able to cast the shadow of doubt on all the reporting that journalists are doing on the dossier. Now, anyone who might have been genuinely curious about the truth has reason to stop listening. If you hate Trump, you automatically assume it’s true. And if you love him, you assume this is one more example of unfair reporting.

Had BuzzFeed taken a different approach, the story today would be that senior intelligence officials were concerned enough about the report to brief the outgoing and incoming president. The follow-up stories would address how America’s senior most leaders were responding.

Instead, BuzzFeed said it wanted to give its readers the opportunity to decide for themselves. So now we’re all engaged in a charade of Spy Kids, trying to determine if the information is likely true or false. Yet average citizens don’t have the tools to sort through these claims.

But the most damaging result of BuzzFeed’s unfortunate decision is Trump’s newfound weapon to dismiss all journalists who criticize him as unfair and unethical. In painting the entire news media as a caricature of BuzzFeed, he undermines the efficacy of solid reporting and legitimate criticism. The president-elect is doing his best to diminish the role of journalism in our democracy. He doesn’t need any help.

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Trump scolds “filthy” comedian. Head of White House correspondents group expresses regret. – The Denver Post

The 24-hour whirlwind of criticism or praise for Michelle Wolf’s controversial roast at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner ended late Sunday with President Donald Trump calling the comedian “filthy” and the association’s president expressing regret that Wolf’s monologue did not live up to the “spirit” of the dinner’s mission, which is “not to divide people.”

Both took some heat for their responses: Trump for being hypocritical; the association for being, in one critic’s words, “spineless.”

Kevin M. Kruse tweeted “Either invite someone who’ll be critical and then have the courage to stand by them when the powerful inevitably complain . . . or else own up to how spineless you really are and bring Rich Little in to do some cute little impersonations.”

They were reacting to Wolf’s 19-minute routine Saturday night which included what some perceived as vulgar comments about the appearance of women in the administration, particularly White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Wolf said Sanders “burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smokey eye.” She also compared Sanders to the Aunt Lydia character in “The Handmaid’s Tale” – a character who indoctrinates the handmaids with sinister beliefs.

Trump’s late-night tweet prompted a torrent of responses recalling some of Trump’s comments about women centering on their bodies or parts of their bodies.

There was a long list of examples.

He has called Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” and insinuated that he thought she must have been menstruating when she moderated a presidential debate.

On the Howard Stern show he has rated women’s looks on a one to 10 scale. He has respectively called Rosie O’Donnell and Arianna Huffington “disgusting” and “unattractive,” “both inside and out.”

And he has called MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” who was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”

“Anyone pearl clutching over [Wolf’s] comments and demanding she apologize needs to demand that Trump apologize for calling women fat pigs, slobs, talking about their bodies,” comedian Kathy Griffin wrote in a widely circulated, 26-tweet thread defending Wolf’s monologue. “Not to mention, apologize for comments like ‘blood coming out of her . . .’ – but no they haven’t demanded that of him because they’re terrified of Trump. Instead, they go after a comic who is paid to make jokes.”

And, of course, there was the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump bragged about how he could “do anything” to women.

The president, who did not attend the dinner for the second year in a row, said in a tweet that the event should either be discontinued or re-envisioned. He also alluded to the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner, when he was mocked by comedian Seth Meyers at a time when Trump was leading the “birther” movement against President Barack Obama.

The dinner “was a failure last year, but this year was an embarrassment to everyone associated with it,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “The filthy ‘comedian’ totally bombed (couldn’t even deliver her lines-much like the Seth Meyers weak performance). Put Dinner to rest, or start over!”

“As someone who has listened to all the Trump-Stern interviews,” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski wrote on Twitter, “I don’t think he should be throwing stones about all the ‘filthy’ comments or jokes.”

Jess Dweck tweeted “Filthy? She was just quoting you!”

Roland Scahill tweeted “Relax republicans. It was just locker room talk #WHCD”

High-profile journalists, including Brzezinski and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times were among those who criticized Wolf’s comments about Sanders as unfairly targeting her physical appearance. Haberman said it was “impressive” that Sanders “absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance and so forth” and didn’t walk out. Brzezinski, calling the comments “deplorable,” even said the White House Correspondents’ Association should apologize to Sanders.

By Sunday night, it seemed the pileup of complaints about Wolf’s speech had weighed on the association’s leadership.

The association’s president, Margaret Talev, had previously said that Wolf’s “embrace” of the First Amendment and “her truth-to-power style make her a great friend to the WHCA.” But on Sunday night, she said, “Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people. Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”

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EU makes last-minute attempt to avert US trade war | Business

The EU is making a last-ditch effort to avoid a trade war with just hours to go before tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports to the US are due to come into force.

Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, is due to speak to the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, later on Monday, but EU sources said they fear the White House is set to continue to make impossible demands.

Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel spoke by phone on Sunday to agree that the EU would hit back in response to the imposition of tariffs on European traders.

Merkel said Europe was “resolved to defend its interests within the multilateral trade framework”.

A Downing Street spokesman said the leaders had spoken of “the vital importance of our steel and aluminium industries and their concern about the impact of US tariffs” and “pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs”.

The US administration imposed import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium in March on the grounds of national security.

The EU, along with Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea, were granted a temporary reprieve, due to come to an end on 1 May.

The main focus of the import tariffs is China, with whom the US has a $502tn (£365tn) trade deficit. However Donald Trump has been scathing about the current terms of trade with Europe.

The EU, in response, has insisted that it will only discuss terms of trade with the US once it has received a permanent and unconditional exemption to the steel and aluminium tariffs. Trump has reportedly expressed his irritation that he cannot negotiate bilaterally with the key member states, rather than work through the EU institutions.

In their last phone call, Ross was rebuffed by Malmström after he demanded that the EU voluntarily limit exports of steel and aluminium to 90% of the average 2016/17 level, reducing European imports by 16.3%.

Speaking on Sunday in Abu Dhabi to Bloomberg TV, the Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said a trade war would be “extremely negative” for both sides.

He said: “I admit, I am concerned that there could be some new trade barriers. If it comes to that, I hope that we as the EU can come to agreement very quickly on a common and clear position.

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“I hope that this won’t unleash any negative spiral that leads to a trade war and that, rather, the US will reconsider its ideas about trade barriers.”

In Australia, the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she was also pushing for a permanent exemption.

“The prime minister and other ministers have been relentless in our advocacy for Australia and we will continue to ensure that we receive that exemption,” Bishop said.

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New appointments reflect growth at Aareon

Aareon UK Ltd ( has announced two major internal promotions. The move reflects significant recent success of Aareon as market leader in the UK social housing sector.

Head of Business Development
Ian Lockwood has been appointed as Head of Business Development. Ian will build on the strong position and success Aareon has enjoyed in acquiring new business over recent years. Ian joined Aareon in 2002, having previously worked for both IBM and Xerox in public sector sales roles.

As a key part of the New Business team Ian helped to grow Aareon’s market profile, working closely with mobile workforce technology company 1st Touch during the initial partnership relationship. Here he built a joint customer base prior to Aareon AG ownership and subsequent merger.

Ian is also an active member of the Aareon Group Marketing and Sales community, liaising with colleagues from across our international markets. Ian will assume responsibility for both the Pre-Sales and New Business teams and will be recruiting to further strengthen this team.

Commenting on his appointment, Ian said: “I am looking forward to the opportunity to build on the success we have achieved over the past few years. We have an experienced and widely respected team which has been strengthened by recent new appointments. Our integrated product offering will only improve with developments in our current pipeline, enabling us to offer our prospective customers solutions that meet the challenges faced by UK Housing. This will be an exciting time for everyone involved at the Aareon business.”

Head of Account Management
Paul O’Reilly has been promoted to Head of Account Management having managed the Account Management team at Aareon since January 2016. He has extensive experience of the housing systems market, with senior roles in both Aareon’s consultancy and training teams, including as Professional Services Team Leader.

As a Project Manager, he also had responsibility for a portfolio of projects with a contract value of over £4m and has played a significant role in the sales success of the company over a 13 year period. He has also sat on the Product Board, helping to drive a number of other international initiatives within the Aareon Group. Commenting on his appointment, Paul said:

“I am genuinely excited by my new role within the company. As well as the significance of having Account Management represented at Board level within Aareon UK, I look forward to the challenge of helping my team to build stronger customer relationships and to assist in Aareon’s goal of growing both our market-leading digital solutions and reinforcing our strong ERP business.”

Commenting on the appointments, Nigel Rees MD of Aareon UK noted, “The appointment of Paul and Ian will not only strengthen the UK Executive team, but will also benefit the Aareon business as a whole. Their experience and knowledge will ensure we continue to deliver and develop market leading solutions that really make an enormous and positive difference to and for our customers. Their intensely customer focussed approach will help us to both attract new customers and strengthen links with those we currently have. I look forward to working closely with both of them.”


About Aareon (
Aareon is the leading European Software Company providing IT solutions to the Social Housing Sector. With many years of industry specific knowledge, our position as a profitable, growing and innovative organisation enables us to set the standard for business processes in the housing sector both today and into the future.

The Aareon Product Suite provides housing providers with an enterprise-wide solution.

Aareon QL Housing, Aareon QL Financials, Aareon QL CRM, Aareon QL Asset Management, Aareon QL Personnel & Payroll, Aareon 1st Touch Mobile, Aareon 360, Aareon QL Reporting Service, Aareon QL Task Centre Alerts & EDRM.

For further information on 1st Touch / Aareon please contact:
Emma Page
Aareon UK
02476 323723


Leigh Richards
The Right Image PR & Marketing Group
07758 372527

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Get ready for the most expensive driving season in years

Get ready for a little bit more pain at the pump this summer.

Crude oil prices are at the highest level in more than three years and expected to climb higher, pushing up gasoline prices along the way.

The U.S. daily national average for regular gasoline is now $2.81 per gallon. That’s up from about $2.39 per gallon a year ago, according to Oil Price Information Service. And across the U.S., 13 percent of gas stations are charging $3 per gallon or more, AAA said last week.

“This will be the most expensive driving season since 2014,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service.

The price of U.S. crude oil has been on a mostly steady incline since last June and last week hit $68.64, the highest since December 2014. Benchmark U.S. crude closed Friday at $68.10. Oil prices near $70 shouldn’t put the brakes on economic growth, however. While they’re boosting costs for some sectors of the economy, the energy sector and related industries have more money to spend on equipment and workers.

But higher oil prices are certainly an inconvenience for drivers, especially those with lower incomes.

“The good news is, both at the global level and the U.S. level, this is occurring at a time when growth is fairly robust,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit. “But consumers as whole will be hurt, mostly because gasoline prices are going up.”

Kevin Lanke, a motion picture lighting technician in Redondo Beach, California, says he’s now paying about $3.39 per gallon to fill up the 25-gallon tank in his 2000 Land Cruiser SUV. That’s about 20 cents more per gallon than a couple of months ago.

“I would fill up my car and it would be $52 or $53,” said Lanke, 51. “Now it’s in the mid $60s for the same amount of gas.”

Lanke keeps the recent increase in perspective, noting that three years ago he and his fellow Californians were paying over $4 per gallon. But he’s already weighing his options, saying if gas goes to $4 a gallon he’ll buy a more fuel-efficient car to use as his main ride and drive the Land Cruiser only when he needs it.

Several factors have helped drive oil prices higher. A wave of global economic growth has driven up demand for oil. At the same time, production cutbacks initiated by OPEC last year have helped whittle down oil supplies.

In the U.S., oil supplies were running 1.1 million barrels lower at the start of this summer’s driving season, which runs from April through September, than a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That has amplified the typical increase in gas prices seen this time of year. Pump prices normally rise as demand increases from families going on vacation and taking to the highways on road trips. Already, U.S. consumer demand for gasoline hit a record high for the month of April, according to the EIA.

Drivers in Western states such as California, Oregon, Washington, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, are paying the most at the pump. The average retail price in those states is running from $2.95 to $3.61 per gallon.

Average retail gasoline prices are lowest in a swath of mostly East Coast states, including Florida, New Hampshire, Delaware and Georgia. They’re ranging from $2.68 to $2.80 per gallon.

Still, prices remain well off from 2008, when crude oil prices jumped above $130 per barrel and average retail gas prices surged to an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon.

“People forget very, very quickly,” Kloza said, noting that the average U.S. gasoline price remains well below where they stood five years ago at $3.60 per gallon.

“We’re seeing a higher price environment… but I don’t think we’re goig to look at really apocalyptic numbers,” he said.

The EIA projects that the U.S. retail price for regular gasoline will average $2.74 per gallon this summer, up from an average of $2.41 per gallon a year earlier. Gas prices to rise each spring through Memorial Day and slowly decline as the summer goes along.

For all of 2018, the agency expects that the national retail price for all grades of gasoline will average $2.76 a gallon. That would translate into an additional $190 spent on fuel by the average U.S. household this year compared to last, the agency said.

“At the higher income levels, this won’t really have much of an effect,” said Behravesh. “But it’s a bigger deal for lower-income families, because a bigger share of their budgets goes to things like gasoline.”

In broader economic terms, the rise in oil and gasoline prices will help crude producers in states like Texas and North Dakota and will likely boost capital spending industrywide. Spending by oil companies fell sharply as oil plunged below $30 a barrel in 2016, dragging on U.S. economic growth.

Industries that rely heavily on fuel, such as shipping companies, airlines, vehicle fleet operators and other transportation companies, are seeing rising costs, which eventually will be passed on to consumers. Diesel fuel hit its highest national average price in more than three years over the weekend at about $3.06 per gallon. American Airlines said it spent $412 million more on fuel in the recent first quarter than in the year-ago period.

At current levels, U.S. crude oil prices won’t noticeably hamper the economy, said Behravesh.

“You would have to get up into the $90-$100 range for it to really have a big impact on growth,” he said. “At these levels, it may shave off a tenth of a percentage point off global growth.”

One reason oil likely won’t get to that level is the emergence of the U.S. as a major global oil producer. Higher prices encourage U.S. oil companies to crank up output.

“That rise in U.S. production and further rises in U.S. production will put a cap or a damper eventually on higher oil prices,” Behravesh said.

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Family of Ethiopian-Israeli man, Avera Mengistu, seeks his release from Hamas custody in Gaza

It is among the most heavily guarded borders in the world, yet on Sept. 7, 2014, a slender Israeli man managed to squeeze through rolls of thick barbed wire and cross from Israel into the Gaza Strip. 

He has not been heard from since.

The last confirmed sighting of Avera Mengistu, who was 26 at the time, was on Israeli army security cameras that followed his lonely silhouette marching steadfastly along the beach toward a fate unknown.

His family says he suffers from mental illness and was passed over for duty in the Israeli military for health reasons, and that he unwittingly entered Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian territory that sits at the southern tip of Israel’s coastline.

He is widely believed to be in the hands of Hamas, the militant group that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas has refused to divulge any information, hinting Mengistu and another Israeli civilian, Hisham al-Sayed, are in its custody by tying their fates to negotiations over the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war and the future of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. 

Mengistu’s disappearance has garnered little public attention in Israel, a sharp contrast to the outpouring of concern for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years and eventually released in 2011 in exchange for 1,029 Palestinian prisoners. 

Mengistu comes from a family of immigrants, Ethiopian Jews who arrived in 1991. His parents, who barely speak Hebrew, live in a poor neighborhood of Ashkelon, barely nine miles from the Gaza border. His mother, Agarnesh, said it was an argument over his request to borrow 50 shekels, less than $15, that sent him marching off into enemy territory.

“He’s the son of poor people, so no one comes to his aid,” Agarnesh said through tears on a recent day. “I don’t care who has him, I just want him back. I worry about him 24 hours a day.” 

In recent weeks, Mengistu’s family — his mother, father and an assortment of his 10 siblings and other relatives — have set up camp on the street outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem. It is an attempt, they say, to keep their brother’s plight in the public eye and apply pressure on the Israeli government to secure his freedom, or at least gain a sign he is still alive.

“Avera’s story is completely different to the soldiers. He never held arms. He ended up there by mistake. He is mentally ill,” said Mengistu’s older brother, Ilan. “We know it’s complicated, we understand that, but at the end of the day, we are talking about an innocent man who is being held there against his will.” 

David Meidan, a former Mossad agent who headed the negotiating team that eventually secured Shalit’s release, agreed a year ago to help the Mengistu family.

“Shalit was a very emotional event for Israeli society. He was a soldier on duty. He did not decide to cross the fence of his own free will,” Meidan said. “Everyone in Israel potentially saw themselves, their son or someone they know in the same situation, a very different story to someone who is not a soldier, not a hero and who decided to cross the fence for whatever reason.” 

Meidan added, “Mengistu is not an attractive person. He is a poor person who does not come from a strong Israeli family.”

Meidan, together with a handful of other former security officials and diplomats among others are using their connections to press the case with European ambassadors. Israeli doctors are also raising Mengistu’s situation with Gazans treated in Israeli hospitals, stressing the injustice of his incarceration.

“Our main focus now is to get some sort of sign of life and to have a doctor, any doctor, visit him,” Meidan said.

On Wednesday, the family met with Netanyahu and his coordinator for the issue, Yaron Blum.

“We told Netanyahu that he must not remain silent about Avera’s disappearance,” Ilan Mengistu said. He said the family implored the Israeli leader to let human rights groups, including the International Committee of Red Cross, take a greater role in the case. The meeting provided no new information, he said.

A statement issued by Netanyahu said there were both diplomatic and clandestine efforts aimed at securing the release of Mengistu and Sayed, a Bedouin Israeli who disappeared in April 2015, as well as the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers.

Later, Hamas released a statement denying any suggestion of negotiations “over a new prisoner exchange deal.”

In 2016, Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for the Middle East, traveled to Gaza and later co-authored a report condemning Hamas for the inhumane treatment of Mengistu and Sayed, who both have serious mental health conditions.

“We had good access to Hamas officials, and we raised the fact that the two men are civilians,” Goldstein said. “We told Hamas this was a chance for them to change the way they are perceived and make a real humanitarian gesture.”

Among those he met with was Hamas co-founder Mohammed al-Zahar who, said Goldstein, “took a hard line, saying ‘There are no civilians in Israel. They all go to the army.’ ” He said, “The Israelis who entered Gaza are spies.”

 Zahar would not confirm they were imprisoned by Hamas, Goldstein said. 

Multiple applications by Human Rights Watch to return to Gaza and continue work on this case have been denied by the Israeli authorities. COGAT, the military administration responsible for movement between Gaza and Israel, said an exception was made for the group in 2016 but that it was granted only one time.

Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, a columnist at the Hamas-affiliated newspaper Al-Resalah, said the problem with resolving Mengistu’s case does not rest with Hamas.

“It is with the Israelis who are not interested in paying the price,” he said. “If Israel opened a channel of negotiation, then a deal would be achieved.”

 Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and former deputy director general at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said the Israeli government’s hands are tied. He said the “Shalit affair” was a turning point for public opinion.

“The consequences of this agreement was that many of the Palestinian prisoners released went back to terrorism, actively participated in terrorist attacks and even killed Israeli citizens,” Michael said, adding, “Israel will not be willing to pay the price being asked by Hamas.”

Hazem Balousha in Gaza contributed to this report.

Burning tires, tear gas and live fire: Gaza clashes turn deadly

Behind bloody Gaza clashes, economic misery and piles of debt

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Nashville Predators beat Winnipeg Jets in double OT to even Western semifinal series – The Denver Post

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Fiala scored 5:37 into double overtime, and the Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 on Sunday night in Game 2 to even the Western Conference semifinal series.

The Presidents’ Trophy winners had the NHL’s best road record during the regular season, but the Predators got the split they needed before this series switches to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Tuesday night. That’s where the Jets posted the league’s best home record.

Craig Smith and Fiala skated up on a 2-on-1, and Jets defenseman Byflugien failed to block Smith’s cross-ice pass to Fiala who beat goalie Connor Hellebuyck with a backhander.

Ryan Johansen scored two goals, Viktor Arvidsson had a goal and two assists, and P.K. Subban had a goal and an assist as Nashville won both its 100th postseason game as a franchise and coach Peter Laviolette’s 50th with the team. Filip Forsberg also had three primary assists for the first time in the postseason in his career.

Mark Scheifele scored two goals and had an assist. Byflugien had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Tanev had a goal for Winnipeg.

Tanev tied it at 3, putting the puck past Pekka Rinne’s right skate at 5:11 of the third. Johansen answered 34 seconds later, skating around Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom and beating Hellebuyck top shelf.

But Scheifele forced overtime with his fourth goal in this series and eighth this postseason with 1:05 left in regulation and Hellebuyck pulled for the extra attacker.

The Predators brought star Carrie Underwood in for the U.S. anthem as a “proud hockey wife” of Nashville center Mike Fisher, and Marcus Mariota brought the NFL’s Tennessee Titans offensive linemen to wave the rally towels. Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan held up a huge catfish before they chugged beers — Lewan using the catfish as a funnel.

After throwing up a postseason-high 48 shots in losing Game 1 on Friday night, the Predators wasted no time getting on the board this time. Johansen scored 27 seconds in on Nashville’s first shot and a 1-0 lead, snapping Winnipeg’s streak of 10 straight games scoring the first goal with the Jets going 9-1-0 in that stretch dating back to the regular season.

The Jets made up for that by scoring twice 29 seconds apart to grab the lead. Byflugien scored between Rinne’s pads on a 4-on-4 at 12:47, and Scheifele made it 2-1 with a power-play goal at 13:16 of the period.

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