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WASHINGTON — The State Department has formally nominated Poland for entry into the visa waiver program.

President Donald Trump made the announcement as he departed the White House on Friday. The program allows pre-approved travelers from participating countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a non-immigrant visitor visa.

The White House calls the move an “important step in continuing to increase economic, security, cultural, and people-to-people connections between our two nations.”

Poland has been pushing to be included in the program for years, and Trump administration officials had made clear the decision was expected.

Trump said during the United Nations General Assembly last week that details of the program would be worked out “over the next couple of months.”

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Jeff Sessions announces Senate run

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Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Thursday that he is jumping into the race for his old Senate seat in Alabama — despite warnings from allies of President Donald Trump that he should sit out the election.

Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse Trump’s campaign, suffered a huge falling out with the president over his decision to recuse himself from the federal probe into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Trump has said naming Sessions as attorney general was the “biggest mistake” of his presidency, and he has called his leadership of the Justice Department “a total joke.”

Sessions resigned at Trump’s request exactly one year ago.

In a statement posted to his campaign website, he offered effusive praise of the president despite their rift.

“As everyone knows, President Trump and I have had our ups and downs. But here’s the important part: the President is doing great work for America,” he said. “When President Trump took on Washington, only one Senator out of a hundred had the courage to stand with him: me. I was the first to support President Trump. I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again.”

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In an interview on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Sessions said he was “honored” to serve as attorney general.

“We were able to serve, to push the Trump agenda,” he said. “I don’t regret that.”

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Sessions’ Senate announcement comes the night before the deadline to file in the hyper-competitive Republican race, which already includes former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct as he lost to Democrat Doug Jones in the 2017 special election to replace Sessions.

Tuberville released a digital ad Thursday that started with Trump saying the one thing he’d like to do over would be naming Sessions his attorney general. Grit PAC, a political action committee supporting Tuberville’s candidacy, also released a 15-second online ad calling Sessions a “traitor.”

Sessions’ participation comes despite his being told behind the scenes and publicly by allies of the president that Trump would campaign against him in the crowded Republican primary field.

“Jeff Sessions returning to the Senate is a terrible idea,” Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida tweeted Wednesday.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, however, told reporters on Thursday that he’d “absolutely” endorse his former colleague if he got into the race.

“Jeff Sessions is a friend. I worked with him every day up here for 20 years. He’s a man of integrity. Of course, he’ll have to run his own race, and you know that’s up to the people of Alabama, but I believe he’ll be a formidable candidate,” Shelby said.

David Ingram and Julie Tsirkin contributed.



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Outrage as Corbyn fails to properly bow in respect to war dead at Remembrance ceremony

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JEREMY CORBYN’S appearance at the annual Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall has caused a Twitter row to erupt as people clashed over whether the Labour leader bowed his head low enough to honour the war dead at the cenotaph.

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Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former mayor, prepares for a presidential bid

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WASHINGTON — Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is positioning himself to enter the Democratic presidential primary, a longtime Bloomberg adviser confirmed to NBC News Thursday, though he has not yet made a final decision.

“Yes and yes,” Kevin Sheekey wrote in an email responding to the questions about whether Bloomberg, 77, a billionaire businessman, was preparing to run and collecting signatures in Alabama, moves first reported by The New York Times on Thursday afternoon.

Bloomberg’s rationale for getting in the race now would be that the field of Democrats isn’t strong enough to beat President Donald Trump, according to his spokesman, Howard Wolfson, who noted that Bloomberg has helped fund Democratic congressional and state legislative campaigns.

“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated — but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned to do that,” Wolfson said in a statement to NBC News. “If Mike runs, he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist.”

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Bloomberg’s wealth would allow him to compete without having to worry about the fundraising challenges faced by other candidates. But if he were to formally launch a presidential bid, it would almost certainly be a target for progressive rivals such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who have been running populist campaigns that argue the rich should be paying more to underwrite programs for the rest.

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Shortly after the news broke, Sanders tweeted simply: “The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared,” though he did not clarify whether he was speaking about Bloomberg specifically. Asked directly about a potential Bloomberg campaign, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said that “more billionaires seeking more political power surely isn’t the change America needs.”

Bloomberg, one of the wealthiest men in the world and a popular three-term mayor of New York, has flirted with running for president before. But, after exploring a bid earlier this year, he announced in March that he would not run.

“I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election,” he wrote in an opinion column for the Bloomberg news service at the time. “But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”

But that field has winnowed, and Bloomberg still sees himself beating Trump.

“Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win,” Wolfson said.

Alabama’s Democratic Party chairman, state Rep. Christopher England, said Thursday night that he was unaware of a potential Bloomberg candidacy, noting the 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET) Friday deadline. It’s still a possibility a new candidate could meet the requirements and submit paperwork before the deadline, England said.

To get on the Democratic presidential primary ballot in Alabama, a candidate must present 500 signatures from across the state or 50 signatures from each congressional district. The prospective candidate must also pay a $2,500 fee.

Gary Grumbach and Ali Vitali contributed.

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