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    TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — The leader of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia announced Friday that a referendum would be held in July on joining Russia. Russia has exercised effective control over the region since fighting a brief war with Georgia in 2008. Russia and a handful of other countries recognize South Ossetia as an independent state, but most of the world still considers it to be part of Georgia. “We did it!” South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov wrote on Telegram on Friday in announcing that he had signed a decree setting the referendum for July 17. “In legalese, we fulfilled yet another important legal requirement,” he said. “And in normal language, we took a life-changing step — we are going home, we are going to Russia.” About a month into Russia’s war with Ukraine, Bibilov said South Ossetia would take the legal steps necessary to join Russia. The referendum roughly follows the pattern of Crimea. After Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, a referendum was held on joining Russia and 97%...
    This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today. Since a draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion overturning abortion rights in Roe v. Wade leaked last week, a group of Marylanders has started a push to repeal a bill that the General Assembly recently passed allowing health practitioners besides physicians — such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants — to provide abortion services. A handful of supporters of The Campaign to Protect Women, which formed last week, gathered in Lawyers’ Mall in Annapolis on Wednesday to launch a petition drive to bring House Bill 937 to a referendum. If the advocates succeed in putting the question on the ballot in November, Maryland voters can choose to essentially veto HB 937, which the General Assembly passed this year. The law takes effect July 1, expanding insurance coverage for abortion procedures and directing $3.5 million as a mandated annual expense beginning in 2023. But an amendment to the next fiscal year budget could release the funding as soon as July...
    Student elections going on this week at the University of California, Davis, include a referendum to make the campus’s mascot a cow. The aim of the so-called MOOvement is not to tamper with the Aggies name — that would remain — but to change the mascot from Gunrock the Mustang to a cow. Organizers of the referendum argue that the Davis needs “a unique identity … a mascot that can build community.” Many universities, they point out, have mustang mascots, and Davis students feel more affinity with the cows that live on and near the rural campus. Gunrock, currently represented as a grinning blue horse, has its historical roots in an actual horse (but not a mustang) that was brought to the University of California’s Davis farm in the 1920s as part of a breeding program for the U.S. Army cavalry. Mick Hashimoto, the undergraduate who is spearheading the referendum, told the California Aggie that Davis students voted in 1993 to change the mascot to a cow, but the administration rejected the decision. He cited UC Santa Cruz’s banana slug...
    Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized Democrats for their response to a leaked draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, hinting the high court was on the verge of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Graham told FNC host Sean Hannity the response to the decision was to pass a national law codifying late-term abortions. “Well, it doesn’t codify Roe,” he said. “What it would do is allow abortion to be had right up to the moment of birth. That’s not Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade says the state can regulate abortion after viability of the fetus is about 23 to 24 weeks. This goes well beyond Roe. So their answer to Roe v. Wade being potentially repealed is to nationalize a law that allows abortion right up to the moment of birth. That’s pretty extreme.” “This will be a referendum on Joe Biden’s economic and national security policy,” Graham continued. ‘It won’t be a referendum on Roe v. Wade. The election in 2022 will be decided about, you can’t buy a baby formula. I bet of...
    Russia is planning on holding a "sham referendum" on two eastern Ukrainian regions sometime this month, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said. Ambassador Michael Carpenter announced at Monday's State Department briefing that there was "highly credible" evidence indicating "that the Kremlin may try to hold a sham referendum to try to add a veneer of democratic electoral legitimacy." He said that this could happen as soon as "mid-May" and that Russia may try the same ploy in Kherson. The Donbas region is in the eastern part of Ukraine, and there is a significant pro-Russian separatist presence there. Fighting between the two sides has occurred since 2014. Russia is hoping to gain control of the Donbas region and the land territory that connects this region and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. AN UPDATED LOOK AT RUSSIA'S MILITARY CAPABILITIES 10 WEEKS INTO UKRAINE WAR Russia reoriented its military objectives to focus on the Donbas region after its forces were unable to take over Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, during the first couple...
    FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Broward taxpayers will be asked to dig deeper this August and pass a referendum to help fund teachers supplemental pay, school security, and mental health initiatives. The ‘Secure The Next Generation Referendum’ was first approved by Broward voters in 2018 and is about to expire. READ MORE: Expanded Hours For Gator Hunting EyedVoters will decide whether to renew the referendum during the August 23, 2022 primary. The tax rate would double, which means if your home is valued at $400,000 you would pay $275 dollars in school property tax, which is about double what it is now The funds from the 2018 referendum allowed the hiring of 500 school safety personnel, 100 mental health professionals, and $82 million in salary supplements for teachers and staff, according to the school district. On Tuesday, the Broward School Board will vote on how to divide the funds should voters approve the referendum renewal. Currently, the proposal is to split the money as follows:  75% for supplemental teacher and staff pay, 18% for public safety, and 7% for essential services...
    Speaking in the run up to April 24 French Presidential Election, populist candidate Marine Le Pen has called for a “referendum revolution” to put sweeping policy changes to a democratic vote, claiming President Emmanuel Macron has given power to technocrats. Ms Le Pen gave a press conference in Eure on Wednesday, stating that she would like to see a policy developed in which citizens can initiate referendums on topics, a policy that was a central demand of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protest movement that has been a major feature of the Macron era government. “I intend, during my mandate, to consult the only expert that Emmanuel Macron has never consulted: the people,” Le Pen said during her press conference, which some have suspected may be a bid to win over voters of the far-left former candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who placed third in the first round of the French presidential elections. According to a report from the newspaper Les Echos, Le Pen announced two main policies she wishes to implement if elected president in the second round of voting. French...
    EMMANUEL Macron has accused election rival Marine Le Pen of hatching a secret plan to drag France out of the EU. The French President has cast this month's showdown as a Brexit-style referendum on his country's membership. 2Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are contesting the French electionCredit: AFP 2Mr Macron has cast the contest as a referendum on France's EU membershipCredit: Getty - Contributor His remarks come with polls showing a run-off contest between the pair is set to be much closer than five years ago. During a campaign visit today Ms Le Pen refused to rule out holding a public vote on France leaving the bloc. She said: "The French can reassess their presence on whichever international organisations they choose. “In the case of a referendum that is against the fundamental interests of the country, the president and the National Assembly can oppose it. "But that is not the case with an exit from the EU." The far-right candidate has previously campaigned for a "Frexit" and said France should bin the euro. But she has dropped those policies...
    COLUMBUS — Member schools of the Ohio High School Athletic Association will vote on 14 potential changes to the OHSAA constitution and bylaws during the annual referendum voting period from May 1 to May 16. The OHSAA Board of Directors approved the 13 bylaw issues and one constitution issue to go to the membership for a vote. These referendum issues, along with other important matters involving educational-based athletics, will be presented to school administrators at six upcoming Athletic Discussion Meetings during the month of April. High school principals will vote electronically on the 14 proposals beginning May 1 and ending at 4 p.m. on Monday, May 16. If approved, all items become effective Aug. 1, 2022, unless otherwise noted. A simple majority is needed to pass an item. A complete text of the 2022 Referendum Items can be located here: https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/SchoolResources/refvote/FINAL-2022ReferendumItems.pdf 2 items of note Issue 12B is a Name, Image and Likeness proposal that mirrors changes made at the collegiate level in the last year. This proposed addition would now allow student-athletes to sign endorsement agreements so...
    Ukraine could adopt a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted last night. He told Russian media - who were warned not to report the interview - such a pact would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum.  Zelensky said Russia's invasion had caused the destruction of Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine, and said the damage was worse than the Russian wars in Chechnya. 'Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point,' he said. He said no peace deal would be possible without a ceasefire and troop withdrawals. 'All entries and exits from the city of Mariupol are blocked,' Zelensky added. 'The port is mined. A humanitarian catastrophe inside the city is unequivocal, because it is impossible to go there with food, medicine and water,' he said. 'I don't even know who the Russian army has ever treated like this,' he said, adding that, compared to Russian wars in Chechnya, the volume of destruction 'cannot be...
    Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Ukraine region of Luhansk are set to hold a referendum on joining Russia 'in the near future', prompting a severe rebuke from Ukraine who vowed a 'total' guerrilla warfare to prevent the country splitting in two. Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, today said that it could hold a referendum 'in the nearest time' asking voters whether they support making the region part of Russia. The referendum could mark a precursor to the formal annexation of more Ukrainian territory by Russia, as it did in Crimea after Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia - a vote that most of the world refuse to recognise. The move prompted Ukraine's military intelligence chief to accuse Russia of wanting to split Ukraine in two, as happened with North and South Korea.  'In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,' Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, said in a statement, referring to the division of Korea...
    Any political or territorial compromises Kyiv potentially makes with Moscow to negotiate a peace deal between the warring sides will be submitted to the Ukrainian people in a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (Suspilne) on Monday. In an interview with the Ukrainian government-funded broadcaster on March 21, Zelensky said: I explained to all negotiating groups; when you talk about all these changes, and they can be historic, we will not go anywhere, we will come to a referendum. The people will have to say and respond to certain formats of compromise. And what they will be. This is a matter of our conversation and understanding between Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, in any case, I am ready to do anything if my move is with our people. Suspilne gave as examples of concessions that might theoretically be submitted to a public referendum as the offering of “security guarantees” and negotiations surrounding “the temporarily [Russian] occupied territories of Donbass and Crimea.” “The all-Ukrainian referendum will finally resolve the compromises in the negotiations between Ukraine and...
    The Kremlin may be seeking to stage a "referendum" in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson in an effort to legitimize the Ukrainian city as a "breakaway republic," the British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday. The move would be reminiscent of 2014 referendums that took place in the Donbas region, in which Russian-backed separatists sought to legitimize Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea as independent republics. "Reporting suggests that Russia may seek to stage a 'referendum' in Kherson in an attempt to legitimise the area as a 'breakaway republic,'" the British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update on Tuesday. "Russia is likely to make further attempts to subvert Ukrainian democracy as it attempts to consolidate political control of Ukraine," the update continued, highlighting other Russian attempts to gain political control in captured Ukrainian cities. 'HUGE' EXPLOSIONS ROCK DOWNTOWN KYIV "Russia has reportedly installed its own mayor in Melitopol following the alleged abduction of his predecessor on Friday 11 March. Subsequently, the Mayor of Dniprorudne has also reportedly been abducted by Russian forces," the U.K.'s Defense Ministry...
    By JARI TANNER HELSINKI (AP) — Denmark will hold a referendum in June, spooked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on whether to join the European Union’s defense pact and scrap the Nordic country’s 30-year-old opt-out from the bloc’s common security and defense policies. Danish Prime Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said late Sunday that “historical times call for historical decisions.” Russian President Vladimir Putin “has heralded a new time, a new reality. Ukraine’s struggle is not just Ukraine’s. We stand together in Europe,” Frederiksen told a news conference in Copenhagen. The referendum on joining the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, or CSDP, will take place on June 1. “It is now that everyone in the Western world must make up their minds,” Frederiksen said when asked by reporters why such drastic a change in Denmark’s security policies vis-a vis the EU was necessary right now. “Ukraine is the difference. A free, democratic country is under attack from Russia,” she said, adding that parties represented in her government were all supporting the referendum and related measures. Denmark would also boost military...
                 The Richmond City Council voted eight to one to again pursue bringing an Urban One casino to the city, despite voters rejecting the casino in a November referendum. Pro-casino spending hit about $2 million, but local grassroots activism and $200,000 defeated the proposal. Shortly afterwards a survey about the casino proposal began circulating, and Councilmember Reva Trammell began collecting signatures for a petition to hold another referendum, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Trammell’s district includes the proposed site of the casino. Before the Monday evening vote, she said that misinformation and difficulty voting were part of the reason the referendum failed. “So many people have said to me that they did not know that this was not going to cost the taxpayer. They thought that we were going to have to pay for this,” Trammell said. “They didn’t realize that the casino, it was on the back of the ballot. And they were calling me, standing in line, voting, saying, ‘I don’t see it.’ I said, ‘Turn it on the back, you’ve got to turn it on the...
    CRESSKILL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A referendum in Bergen County to spend more than $20 million to repair a middle and high school damaged by Hurricane Ida is expected to pass. The Cresskill Schools superintendent reports that more than 1,500 people voted in favor of the repairs and 196 opposed. Results are expected to be finalized in about 20 days. Repair costs for the school building are estimated at more than $20 million. A thousand students have been learning remotely since the storm in September.
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Kosovo on Friday rejected a call from Western governments to let its ethnic Serb minority vote in a referendum of neighboring Serbia, as it had done in Serbian elections until now, in what could fuel tensions in the volatile part of the Balkans. A joint statement by Kosovo’s top authorities said the Serbs can cast ballots only via mail or at a liaison office, without following the past practice of setting up voting stations in Serb-dominated areas. Kosovo laws “do not recognize the right of one state to hold a referendum in the sovereign territory of another state,” said a statement from Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani’s office. “The practices applied so far since 2012 have been unconstitutional.” The decision is likely further strain relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that Belgrade has refused to recognize. A delegation of Kosovo Serbs on Friday discussed the issue in Belgrade with Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic. The referendum on Sunday focuses on amendments that Serbia’s government says would...
    President BidenJoe BidenMcConnell: Rounds 'told the truth' about 2020 election Abrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Overnight Health Care — Biden officials take heat at Senate hearing MORE is debuting sharper attacks against Republicans, seeking to make the upcoming midterm elections into more of a choice between his party and the GOP. The strategy has proven difficult for past presidents to successfully execute but is one that Biden’s allies say is vital in order for Democrats to hang on to their narrow majorities in Congress.  “When you have the bully pulpit, you don’t cede it to your opponents,” said former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelStopping the next insurrection A congressional Christmas miracle Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress MORE (D-N.Y.), who served as the chairman of the Democratic National Campaign Committee. “The President is doing exactly what he must to show the contrast between those who are trying to manage the pandemic and the economic recovery responsibly and those who are blocking progress,” Israel added. “Especially facing a midterm, which...
    The Maryland legislature is moving toward placing a voter referendum on legalizing marijuana on ballots in 2022. Text of the proposed legislation was written by Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), who is chairman of Maryland’s House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup, formed last summer to study the issue. The House bill to place the question on next year’s ballot, House Bill 1, has been pre-filed and will be introduced when the Maryland General Assembly convenes on Jan. 12, 2022. If passed by the legislature, the bill will set up the following referendum question for voters: “Do you favor the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Maryland?” If the referendum is successful, Maryland’s legislature would add an amendment to the state constitution and advance a law allowing Maryland adults over the age of 21 to use and possess cannabis. As written, that law that would go into effect as early as July 2023. In order for the question to make it to the ballot, it will need to be approved by three-fifths of members in both the House and Senate. If the...