Fed’s Bullard says a ‘robust debate’ is coming over steep interest rate cut

FILE PHOTO: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks at a public lecture in Singapore October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

(Reuters) – Federal Reserve policymakers will have a “robust debate” about cutting U.S. interest rates by a half percentage point at their next policy meeting in September, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said on Friday.

The Fed cut rates by a quarter point at its July policy review although the minutes of that meeting showed a couple OF policymakers favored a 50 basis point reduction.

Bullard said there would be a hardy discussion about a steep cut next month.

“I think there will be a robust debate about 50,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “I think it’s creeping onto the table.”

Bullard said a key reason for further rate cuts is the Treasury yield curve, which recently inverted again.

“The yield curve is inverted here. We’ve got one of the higher rates on the yield curve here. That’s not a good place to be,” Bullard told CNBC in a separate interview.

Bullard had said last week that he was not ready to commit to reducing rates at the Fed’s upcoming Sept. 17-18 meeting.

(Reporting by Jason Lange in Washington and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Alabama Senate to vote on bill banning abortion

FILE PHOTO: The Alabama State Capitol building is pictured in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Alabama’s state Senate was due to vote on a bill on Tuesday that would outlaw nearly all abortions, but will first consider whether to allow the procedure for women and girls impregnated by rape and incest.

Debate on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States was set to begin in the Republican-controlled chamber at 4 p.m. CDT (2100 GMT). It would be the latest in a procession of anti-abortion bills across the country that activists are hoping will result in the issue going before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill previously passed the Republican-dominated Alabama House of Representatives. Republican Governor Kay Ivey has withheld comment on whether she would sign it but generally is a strong opponent of abortion.

The Alabama debate follows passage of anti-abortion laws in states that border it to the east and west, Georgia and Mississippi, creating what abortion rights advocates have warned would be a large “abortion desert.”

Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced in 16 states this year, four of whose governors have signed bills banning abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion rights.

Opponents called that legislation a virtual ban because fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may be aware she is pregnant.

The Alabama bill goes further, banning all abortions except to prevent serious health risk to the mother. People who perform abortions would be subject to a Class A felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison. A woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable.

A Senate committee added an amendment that would create exceptions for cases of rape and incest, but the matter stalled on the Senate floor.

Debate will resume without the rape and incest amendment attached.

Anti-abortion advocates know any laws they pass are certain to be challenged in court, but they are hoping the matter will land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court, now with a majority of conservative justices after Republican President Donald Trump appointed two, could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to an abortion.

Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio have outlawed abortion after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.

Courts have blocked the Iowa and Kentucky laws, and the others face legal challenges.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano has called for a sex strike under the social media hashtag #SexStrike in response to the campaigns against abortion rights, urging women to refuse sex with men “until we get bodily autonomy back.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)

New York’s Reproductive Act Heats up Abortion issues in all states

FILE PHOTO -- A woman holds a sign in the rain as abortion rights protestors arrive to prepare for a counter protest against March for Life anti-abortion demonstrators on the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File PhotoFILE PHOTO -- A woman holds a sign in the rain as abortion rights protestors arrive to prepare for a counter protest against March for Life anti-abortion demonstrators on the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Kami Klein

On the 46th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the state of New York passed a law called the Reproductive Act that not only removes abortion from the criminal code and allows other medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions but is also designed to continue to give access to abortion if the historic case is ever overturned in the Supreme Court.  This new law also allows abortion at 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or when necessary to protect the life of the mother. For those that are Pro-life, this new law is devastating and once again asks the question of when is a child viable or when can it exist (even with help) outside of the womb.

When does an unborn child have rights?  When is the age of viability? These questions plague the abortion debate.  According to studies between 2003 and 2005, 20 to 35 percent of babies born at 23 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive. As medical treatments have advanced, many doctors have the opinion that those percentages have gone up for those born at 23 weeks.

Abortion existed long before Roe V. Wade.  Before the Supreme Court decision, thirteen states allowed abortion in cases of danger to a woman’s health, rape, incest or the likelihood that the fetus was damaged.  Two states allowed only if the pregnancy was a danger to a woman’s health, In one state abortion was allowed only in the case of rape. Four states gave full access to abortion simply on request. But there were thirty states where it was absolutely illegal to have one.

Because of the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion is now legal in every state and has at least one abortion clinic.  If Roe V. Wade was shot down by the Supreme Court, this would then pass on the responsibility in every state of the union to decide on their own regulations, definitions and laws.   

In a Gallup poll completed in May of 2018, it was found that the country was split 48% to 48% when asked if they were Pro-Choice or Pro-Life.  When asked the question, “Do you believe abortion should be allowed under any circumstances, Legal only under certain circumstances or Illegal in all circumstances”, 50% of those polled said that they believed abortion should only be performed under certain circumstances.  29% said they should be performed in any circumstance and 18% polled said that abortion should not be allowed under any circumstance.

Probably the most surprising poll result was in asking the question, ‘Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe versus Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?’, 64% said they did not want it to be overturned, 28% wanted the decision to be overturned and 9% had no opinion.  

No matter where you stand on these issues, the question of Roe V Wade has spurred many states to make a clear stand on their position.  Eleven states have attempted to pass bills which would prohibit abortion after a heartbeat has been detected during pregnancy.  Most of these have passed through legislation but are now tied up in Federal Courts. Other states such as New York and recently Virginia, have tightened up their support on abortion, designing their laws and bills to continue offering abortion should Roe V. Wade be overturned.  

On January 30th, 2019,  The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) released The State of Abortion in the United States, 2019 report. In addition to summarizing key legislative developments in the states and at the federal level, the sixth annual report also analyzes data on the annual number of abortions in the United States. The report also dissects the 2017-2018 annual report of the nation’s abortion giant, Planned Parenthood.  According to their data collected from abortion clinics and doctors around the country, almost 61 million babies have been aborted since Roe V. Wade.

The key to supporting Mothers as well as supporting the life of the unborn is still under debate but many have suggested that education, financial means to support and untangle the bureaucracy for those willing and wanting to adopt, funding for those who want birth control including tubal ligation and vasectomies as well as counseling for those considering abortion are only a few of the suggestions states are considering.  

Overturning Roe V. Wade would be only the first step to moving beyond the rights of Women, vs Rights of the unborn.  It is when we value ALL lives will this long debated argument be put to rest.

 

Remove barriers to membership talks, Turkey tells EU before summit

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik, speaks during a news conference at Ataturk International airport in Istanbul, Turkey March 26, 2018. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

By Alissa de Carbonnel and Tuvan Gumrukcu

ANKARA/VARNA, Bulgaria (Reuters) – Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said he will seek the removal at a summit with the EU on Monday of all obstacles to a stalled membership bid, which the bloc however believes are of Ankara’s own making.

Criticism from European Union governments of what many view as Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism at home and his intervention in Syria’s war has created an uneasy backdrop to the gathering in the Black Sea port of Varna.

Some countries had called for an end to long-stalled accession talks and had hesitated to agree to meet him.

But Erdogan said it was time for the EU to “keep its promises” to Turkey, which started formal membership negotiations in 2005 that stalled five years and have now effectively collapsed.

“EU membership continues to be our strategic goal,” Erdogan told reporters before departing for the summit. “In today’s EU summit, we will convey our expectations about the lifting of the obstacles our country has faced.”

Erdogan, who has alarmed the West with a massive purge since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, remains an important ally in the U.S.-led NATO alliance and the fight against Islamic militants, and the destination for many Syrians fleeing war.

Turkey shares a border with Iraq, Syria and with Russia in the Black Sea, and the EU is its biggest foreign investor and trading partner.

CASH ONLY

EU leaders are likely to provide Erdogan with 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in fresh cash to extend a 2016 deal on Turkey taking in Syrian refugees.

They will go no further than that, as Brussels considers the EU membership bid a separate process focused on rule of law, press freedoms and economic reforms.

But Erdogan on Monday appeared to conflate the two.

“Our country has fulfilled all responsibilities as part of the 2016 migrant deal, but the EU has not shown the same sincerity in keeping its promises and still does not do so,” Erdogan said.

“In terms of counter-terrorism, we will convey that we expect unconditional support and cooperation from the EU.”

EU officials say Turkey’s post-coup crackdown on civil rights has taken it further from complying with EU membership criteria.

“The differences in views between the EU and Turkey are many,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who will represent the bloc along with European Council President Donald Tusk.

“(Varna)…will be a frank and open debate, where we will not hide our differences but will seek to improve our cooperation,” Juncker said after a two-day EU summit that condemned what they said were Turkey’s illegal actions in a standoff over Mediterranean gas with Greece and Cyprus.

DIALOGUE OR CONDEMNATION?

Turkey’s EU membership process is not formally frozen, but talks have not taken place for over a year.

Host Bulgaria, which also shares a border with Turkey holds the EU’s rotating presidency, is eager to keep ties as positive as possible.

“The meeting in Varna is likely to be one of the last opportunities to maintain dialogue,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said.

Meanwhile Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria, the country the most opposed to Turkey’s EU membership aspirations, called in an interview in Die Welt newspaper for the EU to condemn Ankara for escalating the seven-year-long war in Syria.

(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels and Tulay Karadeniz in Varna; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar and Robin Emmott; editing by John Stonestreet)

As militant threats shift, U.S. Senate revives war authorization debate

Flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, U.S. President Donald Trump meets with members of his cabinet at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2017.

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers will grill top Trump administration officials on Monday about a new authorization for the use of military force in the campaign against Islamic State and other militant groups, Congress’ most significant step in years toward taking back control of its constitutional right to authorize war.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the administration’s view of a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, known by the acronym AUMF.

Republican and Democratic members of Congress have been arguing for years that Congress ceded too much authority over the deployment of U.S. forces to the White House after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They are also divided over how much control they should exert over the Pentagon. Repeated efforts to write and pass a new AUMF have failed.

“As we face a wide array of threats abroad, it is perhaps more important than ever that we have a sober national conversation about Congress’ constitutional role in authorizing the use of military force,” Republican Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, has the right to declare war.

Concerns intensified this month after four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger and previously over President Donald Trump’s talk about North Korea and an attack on a airfield in Syria.

“What’s happening in Niger and more broadly in Africa suggests a greater urgency for an AUMF,” Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, a leading advocate for a new authorization, said on Thursday after a classified briefing on Niger.

Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the chamber’s most famous war veteran, had said he might consider issuing a subpoena because the White House had not been forthcoming with details of the Niger attack and threatened to block Trump nominees.

McCain has since said he is pleased with the information he is receiving and would let nominations go ahead.

Congress has not passed an AUMF since the 2002 measure authorizing the Iraq War. But the legal justification for most military action for the past 15 years is the older September 2001 AUMF, for the campaign against al Qaeda and affiliates.

Backers of a new AUMF say the 2001 authorization, which was not limited by time or geography, has let presidents wage war wherever they like, without spelling out any strategy for Congress, or the public. For example, Islamic State did not exist when the 2001 AUMF was passed.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives but there are deep divisions over any possible new authorization within the party, as well as between Republicans and Democrats.

Many Republicans, like McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham, do not want a measure exerting too much control over the Pentagon and say military commanders should decide how to fight America’s enemies.

Many Democrats say they want an AUMF that limits why, where and for how long U.S. forces can be sent to fight.

 

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Bill Trott)

 

Another statue removed amid debate over symbols of U.S. slave past

The statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney is seen on a flatbed trailer after it was removed from outside the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S. early August 18, 2017 in this image obtained from social media. Courtesy @BeeprB/Handout via REUTERS

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Maryland authorities took down a statue on Friday of a 19th century chief justice who wrote an infamous pro-slavery decision, the latest example of action across the United States over memorials that have triggered racially charged protests.

Meanwhile, the mother of a woman killed when a man crashed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in the Virginia city of Charlottesville on Saturday said that after hearing Donald Trump’s latest comments, she did not want to talk to the president.

In what has become the biggest domestic crisis of his presidency, Trump has been strongly criticized, including by many fellow Republicans, for blaming the Charlottesville violence not only on the rally organizers, but also the anti-racism activists who opposed them.

Crews in Maryland’s state capital, Annapolis, removed the 145-year-old bronze statue of Roger Taney from its base outside State House overnight using a crane, local media showed.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, had called on Wednesday for the monument to be taken down immediately. Taney’s 1857 ruling, known as the Dred Scott decision, reaffirmed slavery and said black people could not be U.S. citizens.

Opponents of monuments to the Confederate states, which fought in the U.S. Civil War for the preservation of slavery, view them as a festering symbol of racism. Supporters say they honor American history, and some of the monuments have become rallying points for white nationalists.

In North Carolina, Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said his officers were preparing for a possible march by white nationalists in front of a Durham city courthouse on Friday, the News & Observer newspaper reported. Protesters tore down a Confederate statue in the city earlier this week.

Several hundred anti-racist demonstrators took to the streets as a result, some carrying a banner reading “We will not be intimidated.” Some downtown businesses closed early.

“Tensions are high right now,” said Taylor Tate, an employee of Scratch Bakery, which shut its doors. “We would rather make sure everyone can get out of the way if anything does happen.”

Efforts to remove many such statues around the country have been stepped up since the Charlottesville rally, called by white nationalists to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

‘I’M NOT FORGIVING HIM’

Trump on Thursday decried the removal of Confederate monuments, drawing stinging rebukes from fellow Republicans in a controversy that has inflamed racial tensions nationwide.

The mother of Heather Heyer, the woman killed in Charlottesville, said in a television interview on Friday that after Trump’s comments, “I’m not talking to the president now.”

“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m not forgiving him for that,” Susan Bro told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

She added she would tell Trump: “Think before you speak.”

“I’ve had death threats already … because of what I’m doing right this second – I’m talking,” Bro told MSNBC separately on Thursday.

There are more than 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces across the United States, with 700 of those being monuments and statues, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.

The large majority of these were erected long after the Civil War ended in 1865, according to the center, with many going up early in the 20th century amid a backlash among segregationists against the civil rights movement.

More than half a dozen have been taken down since Saturday.

In Lexington, Kentucky, government leaders voted on Thursday in favor of moving two Confederate statues from their plinths outside a former courthouse that is being turned into a visitor center, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said.

(Additional reporting by Barry Yeoman in Durham, Gina Cherelus in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Frances Kerry)

Republicans’ push to roll back Obamacare faces crucial test

President Donald Trump (C) gathers with Vice President Mike Pence (R) and Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved the American Healthcare Act, to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with the Republican healthcare plan, May 4, 2017.

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A seven-year Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare faces a major test this week in the U.S. Senate, where lawmakers will decide whether to move forward and vote on a bill whose details and prospects are uncertain.

The Senate will decide as early as Tuesday whether to begin debating a healthcare bill. But it remained unclear over the weekend which version of the bill the senators would ultimately vote on.

President Donald Trump, after initially suggesting last week that he was fine with letting Obamacare collapse, has urged Republican senators to hash out a deal.

“Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on Repeal & Replace after years of talking & campaigning on it,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Republicans view former President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health law, known as Obamacare, as a government intrusion in the healthcare market. They face pressure to make good on campaign promises to dismantle it.

But the party is divided between moderates, concerned that the Senate bill would eliminate insurance for millions of low-income Americans, and conservatives who want to see even deeper cuts to Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The House in May passed its healthcare bill. Senate Republicans have considered two versions but have been unable to reach consensus after estimates showed they could lead to as many as 22 million fewer Americans being insured. A plan to repeal Obamacare without replacing it also ran aground.

If the Senate approves a motion to begin debating a healthcare bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will determine which proposal has the most Republican support and move forward to a vote, Republicans said.

Republicans hold 52 of 100 Senate seats. McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes as Democrats are united in opposition.

Senator John Barrasso, a member of the Republican leadership, acknowledged on Sunday that there remained a lack of consensus among Republicans.

“Lots of members have different ideas on how it should be best amended to replace what is really a failing Obama healthcare plan,” Barrasso said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The Republican effort has also been complicated by the absence of Senator John McCain, who has been diagnosed with brain cancer and is in his home state of Arizona weighing treatment options.

 

(Reporting By Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Caren Bohan and Nick Zieminski)

 

U.N. expert keen to probe Philippines killings, but won’t debate Duterte

Agnes Callamard, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, answer questions during a interview by the local media at a compound of University of the Philippines in Quezon city, metro Manila, Phiippines May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA (Reuters) – A United Nations expert who irked the Philippines with a surprise visit said on Saturday she was keen to return and investigate alleged summary killings, but only if President Rodrigo Duterte drops his condition that she must hold a debate with him.

Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has been vocal about allegations of systematic executions in the Philippines as part of Duterte’s war on drugs. Thousands have been killed since he came to power in June last year.

A planned visit by Callamard in December was canceled because she refused to accept Duterte’s conditions.

She turned up in an unofficial capacity on Friday, telling an academic conference on human rights issues that she would not carry out any research this time.

“I am committed to continue my dialogue with the government and I am committed to undertake an official visit, either by myself or with the special rapporteur on the right to health,” Callamard told reporters in Manila.

Duterte has sought a public debate with Callamard before allowing her to conduct an inquiry into allegations of human rights violations against him, and that she be placed under oath before answering questions from the government.

The maverick leader has previously stated his openness toward being probed by the U.N. and western governments, but only if he gets to publicly ask investigators questions, during which he said he would “humiliate” them and create a “spectacle”.

The government insists it must be given the opportunity to question U.N. rapporteurs because the Philippines had already been maligned by allegations of systematic state-sponsored killings of drug dealers and users.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said on Friday the government would complain to the U.N. after Callamard failed to notify it of her Manila visit.

It turned out, however, that Callamard had actually informed the government in advance of her trip through the Philippine mission in Geneva.

But on Saturday, the government issued a statement, this time saying Callamard “conveniently failed to disclose” that the Philippine mission had asked her to reconsider the trip since Philippine officials would be in Geneva at the same time and were expecting to see her.

“Her delayed reply came on the day she left for the Philippines. This was neither timely nor proper courtesy accorded to a sovereign nation,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Clelia Oziel)

FBI report expected to show violent crime rise in some U.S. cities

Phone banks of the FBI

By Julia Harte

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Violent crime in certain big U.S. cities in 2015 likely increased over 2014, although the overall crime rate has remained far below peak levels of the early 1990s, experts said, in advance of the FBI’s annual crime report to be released later on Monday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report was expected to show a one-year increase in homicides and other violent crimes in cities including Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., based on already published crime statistics.

Coming on the day of the first presidential campaign debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the report could “be turned into political football,” said Robert Smith, a research fellow at Harvard Law School, in a teleconference on Friday with other crime experts.

A rise in violent crime in U.S. cities since 2014 has already been revealed in preliminary 2015 figures released by the FBI in January.

A recent U.S. Justice Department-funded study examined the nation’s 56 largest cities and found 16.8 percent more murders last year over 2014.

Trump last week praised aggressive policing tactics, including the “stop-and-frisk” approach.

Clinton has pushed for stricter gun control to help curb violence and has called for the development of national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.

FBI Director James Comey warned last year that violent crime in the United States might rise because increased scrutiny of policing tactics had created a “chill wind” that discouraged police officers from aggressively fighting crime.

Increased crime has been concentrated in segregated and impoverished neighborhoods of big cities. Experts said in such areas crime can best be fought through better community policing and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent crime.

“We’re just beginning to see a shift in mentality in law enforcement from a warrior mentality … to a guardian mentality,” said Carter Stewart, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of Ohio, on the teleconference. “I don’t want us as a country to go backwards.”

In Chicago, 54 more people were murdered in 2015 than the year before, a 13 percent jump in the city’s murder rate, according to an April study by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Matthew Lewis)

Ken Ham/Bill Nye Debate Worldwide Hit

If you didn’t think the idea of how the world was created is a major topic in 2014, last night’s debate between scientist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham should change your mind.

The debate between the two men regarding the foundation of the Earth and the origins of life drew a packed house to an auditorium at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

The debate surprised observers by drawing around 800,000 online viewers on top of the 900 people who filled the event hall.  Social media buzz about the event reached a high point on the social network Twitter as tags related to the debate were the top four trending topics worldwide.

Observers were critical of the debate’s format with one noting it felt more like a “science lecture” than an actual debate.  After opening statements, both Ham and Nye had 30 minutes to make a presentation to back up their side of the issue before rebuttals and then finally questions from the audience.

The event received mostly negative responses from atheists and mainstream media outlets.  Some reporters like Elizabeth Dias of Time Magazine showed outright bias against Ham with snide comments in their reporting such as saying Twitter should have a hashtag that says “#OMGWeAreDebatingCreationIn2014” and mocking Ham with statements like “Ham is resurrecting his image as the defender of the faith to the big secular world.”

At the end of the event, neither man said they had changed their positions.