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By Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — Republicans in one of the most populous counties in Texas will decide this week if they should remove a party vice chairman who is Muslim following allegations he has denied that suggest he prefers Islamic over U.S. law and opposes the GOP’s pro-Israel stance.

Infighting over Shahid Shafi has deterred some potential donors from giving to the Tarrant County Republican Party’s main fundraiser ahead of the vote set for Thursday, one party leader told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Some have even speculated that the ouster of Shafi could drain fundraising efforts and jeopardize the party’s 2020 campaign.

“This (Shafi) story has gained national attention and has put the party in a bad light, all thanks to the actions of a few,” said William Busby, a former precinct chairman and leader for the Tarrant County Republican Party. “Corporate donors, the big donors, don’t want to be associated with a party that’s going in the direction of excluding people based upon their religious beliefs.”

Shafi, a surgeon and city council member in a Fort Worth suburb, has repudiated the allegations that he favors Shariah law, insisting he supports the American court system. Shafi, who was born in India and raised in Pakistan, became a U.S. citizen in 2009.

Busby said the display of bigotry gives Democrats “more ammo to use in 2020.”

Precinct Chairman Dorrie O’Brien led the call to reconsider Shafi’s appointment, an issue that gained traction with some party members after Tarrant County turned blue in the U.S. Senate race in November. They say the issue isn’t about religion but whether Shafi is connected to terrorist organizations, which he has also denied.

Many top Texas Republicans including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Land Commissioner George P. Bush have condemned the efforts to oust Shafi. The State Republican Executive Committee in Austin responded by passing a resolution recently that stressed Republican members across Texas have the “freedom to practice all faiths.”

“I heard from a few people that if Shafi is removed they’ll resign,” said Brian Bledsoe, a Tarrant County GOP precinct chairman. “I don’t know how serious they were about it, though. Regardless of the outcome, hopefully this Thursday will be the end of all of this.”

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CANCEL BREXIT: Brexit petition update – will Britain EVER leave the EU?

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A PETITION to cancel Brexit continues to gather momentum, with more than 5.5 million signatures to date. So will Brexit ever really happen?

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New Jersey Senate postpones vote on legal recreational pot

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By Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey lawmakers dealt a blow to the prospects of legal recreational marijuana use Monday, when the state Senate president postponed a vote after his and the governor’s lobbying campaign failed to muster enough support in the chamber.

But Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said the issue isn’t going away, and though he didn’t specify when a vote would happen again, he promised to hold one.

“We’ll be back at this, so anybody that thinks this is dead — they’re wrong. We’re gonna get back, and one way or another we’ll get this passed,” Sweeney said at a news conference Monday.

Legal recreational pot has been widening its footprint across the country despite a federal prohibition. New Jersey would join the District of Columbia and 10 other states if the measure succeeds.

But it’s not clear when or if that will happen despite the strong backing of legislative leaders and the Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

The delay is a setback for the first-term governor, who campaigned on legalizing recreational weed and comes even though his party controls both chambers of the Legislature as well.

Murphy had said he was burning up phone lines leading up to the vote trying to persuade enough lawmakers to back the measure that would have made New Jersey the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

After the delay in the Senate, the Democrat-led Assembly also decided to postpone a vote on the measure, according to Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s spokeswoman Liza Acevdeo.

In a statement, Coughlin said he was “disappointed” the measure didn’t get enough support and said he’s committed to continue working to get it passed.

“We moved closer to the goal than ever before,” Coughlin said.

New Jersey’s Statehouse was a hive of supporters, opponents and TV cameras covering the stalled vote on the measure to allow those 21 and over to possess or buy up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana, as well as to expunge the records of many people convicted of marijuana crimes.

Opponents declared the canceled vote a win and took credit for “flooded phones and email boxes” among lawmakers.

“This is a huge victory for us,” said Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Act. “They told us legalization was inevitable, and this action proves them wrong.”

Supporters downplayed the significance of the delay. Scott Rudder, the head of the state’s pro-legalization CannaBusiness Association, said he was confident that lawmakers would eventually come to support legalization and that they needed more time to understand the intricacies of the bill.

New Jersey’s bill calls for a tax of $42 per ounce, setting up a five-member regulator commission and expediting expungements to people with marijuana-related offenses.

The bill would also let towns that host retailers, growers, wholesalers and processors levy taxes as well, up to 3 percent in some cases.

Tax revenue would go into a fund for “development, regulations, and enforcement of cannabis activities,” including paying for expungement costs.

The expungement provisions, which Murphy says would set New Jersey apart from any other state with legal weed, waive any fee for expungement processing and permit clearing of records for possession up to 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms).

That unsettled some lawmakers, including Republican state Sen. Michael Doherty. The change appeared to permit felons, and not just low-level offenders, to qualify for expungement, he said.

Under earlier versions of the bill, the expungement provision covered people convicted of possession roughly 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana.

Lawmakers said during hearings that while 5 pounds sounds like a lot, it’s necessary to allow for an expedited expungement process because the statute covering possession for small amounts of cannabis goes up to 5 pounds.

The measure calls for an investigation on the influence of cannabis on driving and for funding drug-recognition experts for law enforcement.

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EU reacts after anti-Brexit campaigners march through London – 'VERY TELLING IMAGES'

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THE European Commission has described the images of a reported one million people marching through the streets of London against Brexit as “very telling” as the UK continues to stumble over its withdrawal from the European Union.

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