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  • Parnas said he is speaking out because he is afraid of William Barr

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    Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas said he was giving media interviews about his role in President Trump’s attempts convince Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden because he wanted to protect himself from Attorney General William Barr.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:08:31 -0500
  • An ISIS preacher captured in Iraq was apparently so overweight that police had to take him away in the back of a pickup truck

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    Shifa al-Nima was captured in the Mansour neighborhood of Mosul by the Nineveh police command, according to Iraqi police.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:36:48 -0500
  • Wealthy CEOs complain about feeling 'unsafe' because of homeless people in San Francisco

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    A major healthcare conference in San Francisco this week has sparked a debate about the California city’s homeless crisis as wealthy executives and investors complain of feeling 'unsafe'.The city rakes in $51m (£39m) each year from the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference despite growing concerns about the city’s homeless population among attendees of the healthcare industry’s leading conference, according to Bloomberg News.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:01:42 -0500
  • Jordan, Meadows Send Letter to FISA Court Questioning Kris Appointment

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    House Oversight Committee Republicans Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows issued nine demands to FISA Court presiding judge James Boasberg in a Thursday letter in response to the appointment of Obama Department of Justice lawyer David Kris to help oversee the FBI’s reform of FISA applications.The letter, obtained by National Review, asked Boasberg to identify who else besides Kris was considered, whether Kris’s past defense of the FISA application to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page was taken into account, and whether “the FISC bears any responsibility for the illegal surveillance of Carter Page,” among other concerns.“If the FISC’s goal is to hold the FBI accountable for its serious misconduct, Mr. Kris does not appear to be an objective — or likely effective — amicus curiae for several reasons,” the letter states. “At minimum, the selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI to ensure it effectuates meaningful reform.”A Republican official with knowledge of the letter told National Review that the letter signaled a concerted Congressional effort to reform FISA.“For too long, the FBI has remained largely un-checked when it comes to the FISA process. Congress must ensure that FISC stands ready to protect civil liberties without even the slightest indicia of political bias,” he said.The letter appears to be a follow-up to Monday comments from Meadows, who said in an interview that Republicans were “appealing this to the Judge” regarding Kris's appointment. The North Carolina Congressman also slammed the move to appoint Kris, saying that “there’s no way” Kris is the right man to address abuses “if he doesn’t even acknowledge that there is a problem.”Kris, a former assistant attorney general in the Obama DOJ’s national security division, has extensive experience with the FISA Court, serving as an amicus curiae, or special adviser, since March 2016.A frequent contributor to Lawfare blog, Kris was an outspoken defender of the FBI’s authority in surveilling Page, who was accused of being a Russian agent.Following the release of heavily-redacted FISA applications used to surveil Page in July 2018, Kris doubled down. “It seems to me very likely that if we get below the tip of the iceberg into the submerged parts and more is revealed, it will get worse, not better,” for Page, he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow at the time. The letter references Kris's comment to Maddow as evidence that he is biased in favor of the bureau and against Page.DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed in December that the FBI knowingly withheld information that Page was a CIA informant in order to obtain a FISA warrant against him, and even doctored an email to keep the information from the court. The report also revealed that the bureau did not inform the FISC of the partisan origins of the uncorroborated Steele dossier despite its playing a "central and essential" role in their application to surveil Page.In their letter, Jordan and Meadows also request that Boasberg give greater insight into the details surrounding the court’s assessment of the Page applications, including when it “first received any indication that information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page was misleading or false.”

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:10:25 -0500
  • FBI agents visited the home of the Robert Hyde, the Giuliani associate who said he surveilled former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

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    Hyde claimed to have been surveilling former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to a trove of messages turned over to Congress.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:30:54 -0500
  • Princess Cruises responds after 'Marriage Story' actress speaks out, sues alleging bedbugs

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    A "Marriage Story" actress and her husband are suing Princess Cruises, alleging their room was infested with bedbugs.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:57:20 -0500
  • Fires, then floods: How much can a koala bear?

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    A week ago, koalas at an Australian wildlife park were in the path of raging bushfires. On Friday, they were soaking wet and being carried to safety from flash floods. Months of drought that have contributed to Australia's catastrophic bushfire season have this week given way to huge downpours in some of the blaze-ravaged areas.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:53:25 -0500
  • 10 Home Prep Tips Before Going on Vacation

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    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:00:00 -0500
  • Former U.S. Marine: Suleimani’s Killing Is the Apotheosis of American 'Strategy'

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    A strategy that has achieved the opposite of its promises is a failure. Before another moment is wasted, Americans need to ask their leaders the same question General David Petraeus plaintively asked at the height of the Iraq War: “Tell me how this ends.”

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:06:00 -0500
  • Impeachment and a path to redemption for Trump

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    President Trump’s most effective path forward, not only to prevail in the impeachment proceedings but to end this ordeal and create a strong position from which to govern, is to follow the Clinton model rather than the Nixon path. 

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:23:01 -0500
  • Canada says black boxes from Iran crash should be sent to France

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    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday urged Iran to send the black boxes from the passenger plane shot down by its forces to France for analysis and said the first remains of victims should soon arrive back in Canada. Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa that France was one of the few countries with the ability to read the flight and cockpit data recorders from the jet, which he said were badly damaged. Iran says it shot down Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 last week by accident, killing all 176 people aboard, 57 of whom were Canadian.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:10:10 -0500
  • A 'naked philanthropist' who says she raised $1 million for Australia's fires is now sending nudes to people who donate to Puerto Rico

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    Kaylen Ward says she raised $1 million for Australia, sending nudes to people who donated. Now she is doing the same, raising money for Puerto Rico.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 17:06:00 -0500
  • Town on edge in Colombia after 5 killed, 2 vehicles burned

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    A remote town was on edge Friday after at least five people were found shot to death, highlighting Colombia's struggle to bring peace to rural areas where drug crops are abundant and illegal armed groups are active. The killings happened overnight in an isolated part of the Jamundi municipality in southwestern Colombia and also left two vehicles incinerated, officials said. It was the third massacre in Jamundi in the past year.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:45:38 -0500
  • Woman pleads guilty to killing husband by putting eye drops in his water

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    A South Carolina woman pleaded guilty to fatally poisoning her husband by putting eye drops in his water for days. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:23:22 -0500
  • Republican tells female reporter 30 schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with her

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    A Republican lawmaker is facing calls for a sexual harassment investigation after he told a young female reporter that a group of high school boys “could have a lot of fun” with her.Peter Lucido, a Michigan state senator, has been accused of making inappropriate comments to local reporter Allison Donahue during a tour of the state Capitol.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:09:00 -0500
  • Huawei exec set to fight Canada court battle against US extradition

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    A Canadian court on Monday will consider a US request to hand over Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest 13 months ago on fraud charges plunged Canada-China relations into a deep freeze. The extradition hearing comes after Beijing detained two Canadians and blocked billions of dollars worth of Canadian agricultural shipments in apparent retaliation for Meng's arrest. Taking her into custody also stuck Canada in the middle of a row between China and the US, which views Huawei as a security risk.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 21:05:14 -0500
  • U.S., Japan May Invest in Indonesia Islands Near South China Sea

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    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S., Japan and South Korea are keen to invest in Indonesia’s Natuna Islands as President Joko Widodo steps up efforts to rebuff Chinese claims over the resource-rich waters in the South China Sea.The countries are interested in building fisheries processing and manufacturing industries in Natuna, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan, told reporters in Jakarta on Friday. Indonesia can manage the sea dispute with China without going into a war, Pandjaitan, a former general, said.“The U.S. investors have expressed their interest, along with investors from Japan, Korea and China,” Padjaitan said. “For us, it doesn’t matter where they come from.”Widodo’s efforts to lure foreign investment into the Natuna islands may ratchet up tension with Beijing following the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels into an area claimed by Indonesia as an exclusive economic zone. Indonesia is not a claimant in the broader dispute over the South China Sea, but it does insist on its sovereign rights to waters around the Natunas.Beijing says while it has no territorial disputes with Jakarta, claims over maritime interests in certain waters in the South China Sea “overlap.”“War is the last resort in our negotiation process,” Pandjaitan said referring to the standoff with China on Natuna. “But under no circumstances will we negotiate our sovereignty and territorial rights.”Jokowi, as Widodo is commonly known, visited the Natuna islands last week and asserted Indonesia’s sovereignty over the waters after authorities deployed fighter jets and warships to push back the Chinese fishing vessels, which were accompanied by coast guard ships. The president also inaugurated a fisheries processing center in the region and days later invited Japan to invest in Natuna to develop the fishing industry.Indonesia is also seeking investment by Vietnamese marine processing companies. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met officials of Hai Nam Co., a seafood importer this week in Ho Chi Minh City, and asked it to explore a joint venture with Indonesian companies for a fisheries processing unit in areas including Natuna, according to a foreign ministry statement Thursday.It has identified a location in north Natuna for a fishing port, while southern Natuna will serve as a base for the navy, Pandjaitan said. The country will also soon acquire its first ocean-going vessel, probably from Denmark, to beef up its sea powers, he said.To contact the reporters on this story: Arys Aditya in Jakarta at aaditya5@bloomberg.net;Harry Suhartono in Jakarta at hsuhartono@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net, Thomas Kutty AbrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 01:39:51 -0500
  • Secrets Stolen: What Will China Do With Data On Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense?

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    If China can break into top-secret Israeli computers, they can break into America’s—and everybody else’s, too.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0500
  • Lev Parnas Reveals Why He Turned on Trumpworld

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    In an interview with The Daily Beast, Lev Parnas—an ex-associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who’s at the heart of the impeachment scandal—said he’s determined to keep speaking out about his work in Trumpworld on Ukraine despite the backlash. Parnas sat with Rachel Maddow for an MSNBC interview that aired Wednesday, and then with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for one early Thursday. In his conversation with Maddow, he said President Donald Trump knew all about his efforts to pressure Kyiv to give him political favors. And he said Giuliani told Ukrainian leaders that Parnas specifically spoke on the president’s behalf. The comments drew attention from Capitol Hill, and Democratic congressional investigators have pointed to them as good reason for the Senate to call witnesses in its impeachment trial of Trump. In another portion of the interview with Maddow that aired late Thursday, Parnas likened Trump to a “cult leader” and said he was “more scared of our own Justice Department” than criminals.He went on to claim that he’d “fired” lawyers connected to Trump after getting the feeling that they “tried to keep me quiet.” Parnas told The Daily Beast that his former friends’ reaction to his arrest has strengthened his resolve to speak out. Parnas said that after he and his associate Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport on Oct. 9 and charged with campaign-finance violations, he was disappointed with Giuliani’s silence. He said Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing—a Trump-friendly husband-and-wife legal team with deep and longstanding ties in Washington’s conservative legal world—also kept mum about their relationship with him. That silence, he said, left him feeling betrayed. “I felt like my family left me,” he said.He noted that the trio rarely shy away from defending controversial clients and allies on TV. But in his case, Parnas said, they were silent. “Knowing everything about me, knowing that this was probably a hit job, they all just clammed up,” he said. He noted that the president also disavowed knowing him, despite pictures of them together at multiple events. And he said he’d hoped to cooperate with congressional investigators as soon as they asked for his help. Toensing, diGenova, and Giuliani did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Trump said on Thursday afternoon that he does not know Parnas and does not “know what he’s about.” Earlier this week, Giuliani—who was shown to be in close contact with Parnas in text messages released by House Democrats this week—dismissed Parnas as a “proven liar,” claiming his decision to provide documents to congressional Democrats was a bid for attention. While Parnas has provided a trove of documents detailing his and Giuliani’s dealings with Ukrainian officials, he also has come under scrutiny for a past that is checkered with legal and financial troubles. The White House pointed to that past on Thursday to dismiss Parnas’ credibility. “This is a man who owns a company called Fraud Inc., so I think that’s something that people should be thinking about,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News. In addition to charges of violating campaign-finance laws, Parnas has repeatedly been hit with lawsuits accusing him of failing to pay rent or live up to his end of various business deals. As recently as 2016, he was ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $500,000 to a family trust after he borrowed money for a movie that never ended up being made. It is not clear if Giuliani was aware of Parnas’ past business troubles when he teamed up with him to seek kompromat on Joe Biden in Ukraine, but Giuliani himself did consulting work for Parnas’ Fraud Guarantee firm in 2018. —Justin Baragona contributed reporting Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 18:59:37 -0500
  • Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls Trump a 'clown,' defends Iran's military

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    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called President Donald Trump a "clown" as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time since 2012.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:35:05 -0500
  • The TSA apologized after an agent pulled a Native American passenger's braid and said "giddyup!" during a pat down

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    Tara Houska was going through security at the Minneapolis airport on Monday when she said an agent humiliated her by whipping her braids.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:43:20 -0500
  • Denver officials won't hand over information sought by ICE

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    Denver officials on Thursday said they would not hand over information requested by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement on four men wanted for deportation. ICE, the Homeland Security agency tasked with arresting and deporting people in the U.S. illegally, sent four administrative subpoenas earlier this week to law enforcement looking for information on three Mexican nationals and one Honduran who had been in custody in Denver. It was the first time subpoenas had been sent to a law enforcement agency — an escalation of the conflict between the Trump administration and so-called sanctuary cities.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:07:08 -0500
  • Former Philippine police chief will be charged for drug war corruption

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    The former chief police enforcer of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs will be charged with corruption for allegedly protecting officers linked to the narcotics trade, the country's justice department said Thursday. Oscar Albayalde resigned in October after serving as Philippine police chief for more than a year, having presided over an anti-narcotics crackdown that left thousands of drug suspects dead.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:25:37 -0500
  • The Best Compact Fitness Equipment Under $300

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    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:56:52 -0500
  • Painting found in Italian museum wall is stolen Klimt

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    A painting found stashed inside a wall at an Italian museum has been confirmed as the stolen "Portrait of a Lady" by Austria's Gustav Klimt, prosecutors said on Friday, two decades after the artwork went missing. The century-old painting was discovered concealed in an external wall by gardeners at the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Piacenza, northeast Italy, last month. "It is with no small emotion that I can tell you the work is authentic," prosecutor Ornella Chicca told reporters.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 16:51:06 -0500
  • Joe Biden says 'you can keep' your private insurance 'if your employer doesn't take it away from you'

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    Former Vice President Joe Biden is still promising "If you like your insurance, you can keep it" — with a twist.In his endorsement interview with The New York Times published Friday, Biden is asked about that phrase both he and former President Barack Obama have said in the past. And after accepting that he actually did say it, Biden promised that "if you like your plan, you can keep it," provided "your employer doesn't take it away from you."While the ObamaCare mantra of keeping the insurance you like ended up not exactly being true, Biden still modified it in a July 2019 primary debate to say under his presidency, "If you like your health care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it. If in fact you have private insurance, you can keep it." There's video proof of Biden saying that but, when confronted with it in his Times interview, Biden replied with "I didn't say that, by the way."The interview moved on, and Biden was asked about how if there was a public health insurance option, employers may stop offering insurance altogether.> The new Biden pitch: ‘If you like your private insurance, you can keep it, assuming your employer doesn’t take it away from you’ pic.twitter.com/65Xtvw2gNr> > — Andrew Perez (@andrewperezdc) January 17, 2020That all devolved into what Biden saying something that would look perfect on a campaign coffee mug as long as it fits: "If you like your plan, you can keep it, assuming — I should add the obvious — if your employer doesn't take it away from you. Okay?"More stories from theweek.com Trump calls Iran's Supreme Leader 'not so supreme' in threatening tweet Ukraine gives Trump the corruption investigation he asked for Trump just ran a two-year trade war experiment. It failed.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 14:35:00 -0500
  • How China Is Practicing—and Perfecting—an Amphibious Invasion of Taiwan

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    It takes a lot of hard work.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 16:00:00 -0500
  • Merkel Spends Big to Kickstart Germany’s Stalled Coal Exit

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    (Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel clinched a deal to kickstart Germany’s stalled coal exit, offering billions in compensation to utilities and affected regions so that closures of plants can start this year.In talks that began Wednesday evening and lasted well into the night, the government hammered out a timeline with state leaders to shut down the country’s coal-fired power generation by 2038, a plan that includes 40 billion euros ($44.6 billion) in compensation for impacted regions.Utility RWE AG, Germany’s biggest coal-fired power producer, will receive 2.6 billion euros in payments, according to a person familiar with the matter. The stock was up 1.7% mid-morning and a spokesman said the company would comment later Thursday. Lignite operators in eastern Germany will receive 1.75 billion euros, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin. Merkel has been in a tight spot on the issue, facing pressure from environmentalists and miners alike. Climate tops voter concerns, and Germany will already miss its 2020 targets under the Paris Agreement. On the other hand, the poorer states in the former Communist East, where the bulk of the mines are, fear a growing gap to the West. Her predicament feeds into a broader political challenge, with the Greens party and the far-right Alternative for Germany gaining support on both sides of the political spectrum to squeeze Germany’s traditional mainstream parties, including her Christian Democrats. The AfD has been particularly strong in the eastern mining states.“It was a long night -- it lasted until 2 a.m. -- but we were able to achieve a sensible agreement,” Armin Laschet, premier of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio. “The time frame that we’ve agreed on is ambitious, but realistic.”Laschet estimates that around 3,000 jobs in his state will be affected by the closures. The premier also confirmed closures will take place more rapidly in west German states. The biggest resistance to the plan had come from states in the former communist East, which relies most heavily on coal and has a lower per capita income than in the West.Under the agreement announced early on Thursday, LEAG’s Jaenschwalde power plant is to be transformed into a gas-fired unit. The Hambach Forest, which was threatened with destruction to make way for an RWE lignite mine, will be preserved, according to the government.The federal government will also pay for retraining programs for power and lignite mine workers affected by plant closures.The deal is part of a broader effort this week to showcase measures to combat climate change. On Tuesday, the government announced massive investment in railways so as to lure passengers from cars and planes, which have a higher carbon footprint.(Rewrites throughout)\--With assistance from Andrew Blackman and Chris Reiter.To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.net;Birgit Jennen in Berlin at bjennen1@bloomberg.net;William Wilkes in Frankfurt at wwilkes1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond Colitt, Iain RogersFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:09:27 -0500
  • Trump warns Iranian supreme leader who called him a 'clown' to be 'very careful with his words'

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    President Donald Trump warned Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be "very careful with his words" after Khamenei called him a "clown"

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 18:34:40 -0500
  • USS Abraham Lincoln shatters US Navy's record for longest post-Cold War carrier deployment with 10-month around-the-world tour

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    The Lincoln broke a cruise record set nearly two decades earlier, sailed around the world, and sent warnings to both Russia and Iran.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:25:59 -0500
  • US court dismisses suit by youths over climate change

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    A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by 21 young people who claimed the U.S. government's climate policies and reliance on fossil fuels harms them, jeopardizes their future and violates their constitutional rights, potentially dealing a fatal blow to a long-running case that activists saw as an important front in the war against environmental degradation. The Oregon-based youth advocacy group Our Children's Trust filed the lawsuit in 2015 in Eugene on behalf of the youngsters. It sought an injunction ordering the government to implement a plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide emission.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 13:32:36 -0500
  • Life in a Troubled Mississippi Prison, Captured on Smuggled Phones

    Golocal247.com news

    ATLANTA -- The cellphone rang once before someone picked up. On the other end was an inmate inside Unit 29 of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. "Hello," he said.Then, in a steady voice that competed against a cacophony of rowdy conversations and a fuzzy signal, he urgently described to a complete stranger the turmoil he said existed on the inside. Some inmates needed medical attention, he said. All of them could use a hot shower."Mold everywhere, rats everywhere," said the inmate, who was serving time for armed robbery, aggravated assault and other charges.Then the line suddenly fell silent. When the inmate returned a moment later, he explained that an officer had walked past and that he had needed to quickly stash his phone. He had paid $600 for the smartphone -- contraband in prisons nationwide. If caught with it, years could be tacked onto his already lengthy sentence.He then handed the phone to another inmate. "They're treating us like animals," that inmate said, before passing the phone on yet again.And so it went, from one prisoner to the next, in a phone call with a reporter that stretched on for roughly an hour. The inmates complained about unreliable electricity and water, injuries that had not healed, and the vermin that forced them to hang leftover food from the ceiling. One inmate mentioned his girlfriend; another, the countdown to his release, now almost a month away.The meandering conversation was punctuated by lulls, as the phone was hidden or passed around, capturing the ambient noise of life inside the maximum-security prison.Parchman, the oldest prison in Mississippi, with a notorious reputation for harsh conditions, has descended into dilapidation and chaos, including a recent burst of violence that left several inmates dead.Inmates have used illegal cellphones to capture and transmit images -- inmates fighting, broken toilets, holes in prison walls, dangling wires and dead rodents caught in sticky traps -- that have come to define the crisis in Mississippi. Many photos were texted to The New York Times.Across the country, prisons are rife with smuggled cellphones, allowing inmates access to the internet, social media and their old lives outside the prison walls. But state officials said the phones have been used by inmates to propel unrest, and by gangs to orchestrate attacks on rivals, inside and outside of prison.Officials said the pervasiveness of cellphones -- nearly 12,000 were seized in Mississippi in 2018 -- has threatened prison security. And, by providing an uncontrolled link to the outside world, they also have undermined the very notion of incarceration."There is a lot of misinformation fanning the flames of fear in the community at large, especially on social media," Pelicia E. Hall, the state corrections commissioner, said in a recent statement. "Cellphones are contraband and have been instrumental in escalating the violence."Gang warfare, decrepit accommodations and a severe shortage of corrections officers has attracted widespread attention and come to dominate the state's political agenda. Activists and others say the problems are long-standing, but they credit the images with igniting a surge of outrage."The story never really would have broke" without cellphones, said Honey D. Ates, whose son is serving a 15-year sentence at the state prison in Wilkinson County."We can hear all about it," she said, "but actually seeing it, it's times a hundred."It has been nearly impossible for corrections officials to curb the use of cellphones, as they have been difficult to ferret out. "As fast as you take them out, they're back in," said Martin F. Horn, a former top corrections official in New York City and Pennsylvania, who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice."It sort of defeats the purpose of a prison wall, if you will," Horn said.In recent years, an inmate on death row in Texas used a smuggled phone to make threatening phone calls to a state senator. After an hourslong riot killed seven prisoners at a state prison in South Carolina, officials there blamed phones as a reason for the violence. Even Charles Manson, the closely guarded notorious mass killer who died in 2017, was repeatedly caught with phones.In Mississippi, inmates, their relatives and activists said that phones are often brought in by corrections officers and case managers, and the devices, usually pay-as-you-go burner phones, can cost upward of $300 inside. Elsewhere, visitors have sneaked them in, and there have been documented cases of phones being shot over prison fences with potato guns and deposited by drones.State officials in Mississippi have resorted to a range of measures, including seeking court orders to get service providers to shut down specific devices. In a statement, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said that it also used technology to interrupt cellular signals, regularly conducted shakedowns and used dogs to sniff out the devices.Mississippi's prisons have been rocked by an outbreak of violence and disorder in recent weeks. Five inmates have been killed, including three at Parchman, and many others have been injured. In the chaos, two inmates escaped but were later caught. For several days, all of the prisons were locked down.Critics said the unrest reflected a pattern of problems in state prisons, which are stretched thin under the weight of an inmate population still swollen from the tough-on-crime measures of the 1980s and 1990s. Some elected officials and civil rights groups, in a complaint calling for a federal investigation, described "extreme" staff vacancies despite having the third-highest incarceration rate in the country.State leaders have acknowledged the severity of the concerns, and corrections officials have warned of a brewing crisis as they press lawmakers for more funding. On Monday, Hall, the corrections commissioner, issued a statement reiterating concerns over Unit 29 at Parchman, quoting a letter she had sent in August describing a facility that was "unsafe for staff and inmates due to age and general deterioration."As the violence flared, inmates broadcast live on Facebook as fires raged inside one prison. They posted images of faucets spewing discolored water, and walls splotched with mold.Those images catapulted the crisis into public, coming at a pivotal moment as a new legislative session begins and Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, was sworn in on Tuesday.Officials and others have said that much of the unrest has quieted. The state Department of Corrections has lifted lockdowns at all of its facilities except for Parchman. But the recent turmoil has brought new scrutiny, including from the rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, who filed a lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of prisoners, assailing what they described as an "utter disregard" for inmates and their rights.State officials have countered that the depictions shared on social media only added to the discord. The outgoing governor, Phil Bryant, told reporters recently that the inmates craved limelight. "You're making them stars," he said, "and they're convicts."Albert Sykes, an activist on criminal justice issues, said many inmates feared repercussions over cellphones, a lifeline for staying in touch with families, especially as rolling lockdowns caused by staffing shortages have curtailed visitation.The inmates' fears have been fueled by the case of Willie Nash, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for having a cellphone in a county jail. He was being held on a misdemeanor count when he asked a jailer if he could charge his phone's battery, an inquiry that led to the new charge. The sentence was upheld last week by the Mississippi Supreme Court, even as justices noted that it was "obviously harsh" and "seems to demonstrate a failure of our criminal justice system."Ates said that her son had expressed his own fear, but that she had encouraged him to be defiant. "You can't shut all of us up," she said, "and you can't take all the cellphones." In recent weeks, she has become something of a switchboard operator, receiving messages on Facebook from inmates across the state.One video that has been widely shared showed an inmate at Parchman, who spoke on the phone briefly the other day, with an open wound that he said he had received after being struck by what he thought was a rubber bullet. His back was covered in blood and he walked over to a sink, where he turned the knobs but no water came out."Please try to help us," said the inmate, who was convicted on aggravated assault and gun possession charges. "Let the world know."He then passed the phone back to its owner. Its battery was draining, and the electricity had flickered out again. The inmate apologized for cutting the conversation short, but said he needed to go.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:28:42 -0500
  • 'You're a liberal hack': Republican senator snaps at CNN journalist who asked her about impeachment trial

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    A Republican senator lashed out at a journalist who asked about Donald Trump's impeachment as she was walking into a hearing room, calling the reporter a “liberal hack” and refusing to answer his questions.Arizona Republican Martha McSally slammed CNN’s Manu Raju on Thursday as he asked a seemingly straightforward question about the start of the US Senate’s impeachment trial.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:18:10 -0500
  • Philippines reimposes ban on workers deploying to Kuwait

    Golocal247.com news

    The Philippines said Friday it was reimposing a ban on its citizens going to work in Kuwait after a Filipina was allegedly killed by her employer, echoing a 2018 row between the two countries. President Rodrigo Duterte approved the ban as his government accused the emirate of covering up the killing of a maid, one of about 240,000 Filipinos working in the Gulf state. Duterte's government briefly banned Filipinos deploying for work in Kuwait two years ago amid a diplomatic row that began with the discovery of the remains of a murdered Filipina maid in her employers' freezer.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 19:16:41 -0500
  • Is There a Hidden 'Super-Earth' Exoplanet Orbiting Our Closest Stellar Neighbor?

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    A new exoplanet only 4.2 light years away would prove that there's plenty left to discover in our own cosmic backyard.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 11:31:00 -0500
  • The 1 Downside to Building Fake Islands China Didn't See Coming

    Golocal247.com news

    Too much land to defend?

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 02:48:00 -0500
  • Marine Le Pen to Run in 2022 French Presidential Election: Report

    (Bloomberg) -- French far-right leader Marine Le Pen plans to make a third bid to become president in the 2022 election, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Thursday.The leader of the National Rally party and daughter of French far-right party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen told reporters she was getting ready for the campaign during an event in Nanterre, near Paris, on Thursday, Le Figaro said. Marine Le Pen’s decision to stand again comes as mainstream parties across Europe have been challenged by populist leaders.Le Pen was defeated by French President Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2017 election, when she gathered about one-third of votes. The top two candidates in the first round advance to a runoff under the French system. Macron’s five-year term ends in the spring of 2022.To contact the reporter on this story: Ania Nussbaum in Paris at anianussbaum@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net, Geraldine Amiel, James ReganFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 09:30:24 -0500
  • When Iran Took Americans Hostage, Bernie Backed Iran’s Defenders

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    Bernie Sanders, a top competitor in the Democratic primaries, has attacked Joe Biden for bringing “just a lot of baggage” into the race. But if past views are a major consideration, consider the baggage that Sanders drags into the campaign.Go back over 40 years, to the start of Iran’s long conflict with the United States. On April 1, 1979, the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had returned to Iran from exile to assume command of the revolt, became Supreme Leader in December of that year. His rise was accelerated by the seizure on Nov. 4 of 52 American diplomats and citizens, and citizens of other countries, at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The hostage crisis became the means by which the Ayatollah crushed political opponents in Iran. Dealing with the hostage taking became the overwhelming political crisis for President Jimmy Carter. It lasted 444 days. Virtually all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents—united in support of the hostages and the international call for their freedom. One prominent political figure on the 2020 stage, then almost completely unknown, stood apart by joining a Marxist-Leninist party that not only pledged support for the Iranian theocracy, but also justified the hostage taking by insisting the hostages were all likely CIA agents. Who was that person? It was Bernie Sanders.  Sanders would like the public to believe, as an AP story put it, that “democratic socialism [is] the economic philosophy that has guided his political career.” But that has not always been the case. In 1977, he left the tiny left-wing Liberty Union Party of Vermont that he’d co-founded, and in 1980 instead aligned himself with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the self-proclaimed Trotskyist revolutionary party, became its presidential elector in Vermont, and campaigned for its candidates and platform that defended the Iranian hostage seizure.  In fact, the SWP’s position on Iran is part of what distinguishes it from democratic socialist groups. When its presidential candidate, Andrew Pulley, came to speak at the University of Vermont in October 1980, Sanders chaired the meeting. Pulley attracted only 40 students to his rally, where he concentrated, according to the SWP’s newspaper The Militant, “on the Iran-Iraq war,” and condemned “anti-Iranian hysteria around the U.S. hostages.” Military action against Iran was not at that point theoretical—Pulley’s speech came six months after the attempt to free the hostages in Operation Eagle Claw had failed. In his standard stump speech, Pulley condemned “Carter’s war drive against the Iranian people,” and said that the U.S. “was on the brink of war with Iran,” which would be fought “to protect the oil and banking interests of the Rockefellers and other billionaires.” Americans, he predicted, would soon “pay on the battlefields with our very own lives.” Their criticism of the Ayatollah was intended “to get us ready for war.” And, Pulley charged, the media who criticized those of us who were against “American imperialism” were “declared insane.”  As for the hostages, Pulley said “we can be sure that many of them are simply spies… or people assigned to protect the spies.”  Pulley’s words were a direct echo of what the Islamic  Society of University Teachers and Students had declared on Nov. 4, 1979 : “We defend the capture of this imperialist embassy, which is a center for espionage.” Six months after the 1980 election, on May 21, 1981, Sanders spoke at another Pulley rally. “For the last 40 years,” Sanders said, “the Socialist Workers Party has… been harassed, informed upon, had their offices broken into, had members of their party fired from their jobs, and have been treated with cold contempt by the United States government.”  Even worse, he went on, apparently referring to the Iranian hostage crisis, “now anybody who stands up and fights and says things is automatically a terrorist.” He claimed that he had been investigated himself by the FBI because “I was an elector for the Socialist Workers Party,” referring to his formal role in the 1980 election with the Trotskyists.    The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Asked about the SWP in 1988, Sanders, then the mayor of Burlington and a congressional candidate, talked down the connection, saying that: “I was asked to put my name on the ballot and I did, that’s true." Today, no mention of Sanders’ association with the SWP appears in any campaign biography he has issued. But Sanders remained tied to the party after 1980. He was a featured speaker at a Boston rally for the SWP’s Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate and the party’s slate for Congress in 1982, the year after he was narrowly elected mayor of Burlington. In 1984, he again spoke on behalf of the SWP’s presidential candidate, this time former Black Panther Mel Mason, telling The Militant that “at a time when the Democratic and Republican parties are intellectually and spiritually bankrupt, it is imperative for radical voices to be heard which offer fundamental alternatives to capitalist ideology." It remains unclear when Sanders’s affiliation with the SWP ended.  Of course, Sanders had a right to his beliefs. But he has not been fully transparent about what those beliefs, connections, and loyalties have been over the years. Sanders says that he has been consistently and firmly dedicated to democratic socialism. His record, however, reveals a very different story around the time of the Iranian hostage crisis. But Democratic voters today concerned above all with defeating Donald Trump and the electability of their prospective presidential candidate need to know the whole of Sanders’ history. He has not always been the democratic socialist he claims to be. Sanders could have supported the Socialist Party, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, or Social-Democrats U.S.A., the three leading democratic socialist organizations existing in 1980. He rejected them. Instead he embraced a Marxist-Leninist communist sect that proclaimed its solidarity with Iran. The preeminent democratic socialist of the time, Michael Harrington, wrote that the hostage taking was “terribly wrong,” and that “the original evil was compounded by the psychological and physical brutalization to which at least some of the hostages were subjected. The moral stance of those who denounce such acts is clear and compelling.” Far from denouncing the acts, Sanders stood with those who applauded the hostage taking. If Sanders were to become the Democratic presidential nominee, all this will come pouring out in Trump ads on television and social media. Voters  will see TV clips of the American hostages, blindfolded and abused, alongside Sanders as the Trotskyist elector supporting the Iranian kidnappers. Rest assured, Trump will make absolutely sure that it is Sanders’ own past that will bury him and perhaps the Democratic Party. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:00:52 -0500
  • McConnell says 'the House's hour is over'

    Golocal247.com news

    During an address on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "The House's hour is over. The Senate's time is at hand."

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 11:02:53 -0500
  • Report: Israeli home demolitions in east Jerusalem spiked

    Golocal247.com news

    Israeli authorities demolished homes in Palestinian areas of east Jerusalem at a significantly higher rate in 2019 than the previous year, according to an Israeli advocacy group. In a new report, Ir Amim said 104 housing units were demolished in 2019, compared() to 72 units in 2018. Aviv Tatarsky, the Ir Amim researcher who wrote the report released Wednesday, said the group found that only 7% of housing units advanced by city planners last year were for Palestinian neighborhoods.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:00:52 -0500
  • USC officials doubted Lori Loughlin's daughters were 'serious' athletes, according to newly released emails in the college admissions scandal

    Golocal247.com news

    Federal prosecutors released dozens of emails and call logs between Rick Singer and parents accused of taking part in the college admissions scandal.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 11:50:39 -0500
  • Trump donor allegedly spying on Ukraine ambassador was ‘drunk all the time’, Giuliani associate says

    Golocal247.com news

    An associate of Rudy Giuliani has claimed the Trump donor who allegedly spied on former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was “drunk all the time”.In an explosive interview with MSNBC, Lev Parnas, an associate of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, dismissed suggestions that Republican activist Robert Hyde was tracking the movements of Ms Yovanovitch.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:13:27 -0500
  • Liberia souring on George Weah at two-year mark

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    Dominic Kpadeh heaves a hammer over his head to crack a half-tonne rock in a northern suburb of Liberia's capital Monrovia, knowing his hard labour earns him far less than a year ago. Stories such as Kpadeh's are common in Liberia, where rampant inflation has left many people struggling and increasingly turning their anger on President George Weah. A former football icon whose goals for AC Milan and Paris St Germain dazzled fans, Weah came to power in January 2018, promising to invest in education and create jobs.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:25:38 -0500
  • Trump administration to roll back school lunch regulations on fruits and vegetables

    Golocal247.com news

    The USDA announced they plan to roll back school lunch regulations championed by Michelle Obama to allow schools "more flexibility" in what they serve because “because they know their children best.”

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 16:30:23 -0500
  • Israel's F-35I Adir Is Taking America's Stealth Fighter To A Whole Other Level

    Golocal247.com news

    Israel has a history of improving America's weapons to fit its needs.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:03:00 -0500
  • These clothes use outlandish designs to trick facial recognition software into thinking you're not human

    Golocal247.com news

    Privacy-focused designers, academics, and activists have designed wearable accessories and clothes meant to thwart facial recognition tech.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:47:00 -0500
  • Did Russian Prime Minister Medvedev Drop a Grim Hint About Putin’s Latest Power Grab?

    Golocal247.com news

    At a celebration of the Russian Orthodox New Year on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chose a grim message, the sarcasm of which left his audience on edge. But, then, Medvedev probably knew what Wednesday would bring—the resignation of his entire government—and the audience did not.Putin’s Power Play: Shuffle the Cabinet But Keep CommandOn national television, the prime minister read at length from Anton Chekhov’s story "A Night in the Cemetery," which suggests with ironic wit that celebrating the coming of the New Year is a foolish pursuit, unworthy of a properly functioning mind, since “every coming year is as bad as the previous one,” and the newest year is bound to be even worse. Instead of celebrating the New Year, Chekhov wrote—and Medvedev read—one should suffer, cry and attempt suicide. Every new year brings you closer to death, makes you poorer, your bald spots larger and your wife older, he said.Medvedev’s sour greetings brought on some awkward laughs and sparse applause from confused Russian bureaucrats in the studio audience, most of whom remained stone-faced. The prime minister seemed nervous and almost dropped his papers at the end of the speech.Then Wednesday dawned, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual state of the nation address proposed a constitutional overhaul. It supposedly is designed to boost the powers of parliament and the cabinet, but more likely is intended to give Putin, 67, a firm grip on the country for many more years, even decades, to come. A few hours later, Medvedev submitted his resignation, and his entire cabinet submitted theirs as well. And while some of them may stay on, Medvedev, who once served a term as Putin's placeholder president, will move to a previously nonexistent post.Putin offered the prime minister slot to Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the Russian Tax Service, who has been described as “the taxman of the future,” digitally acquiring receipts of every transaction in Russia within 90 seconds. It's unclear whether Mishustin will be a placeholder technocrat or assume other responsibilities currently known only to Putin. But in his annual address, Putin articulated the need to identify any persons with current or former double citizenships and foreign holdings, eliminating them from government service. Mishustin might become instrumental in such a reshuffling of Russia’s power elites, who are perceived to be unpatriotic by maintaining residences or bank accounts abroad. The added pressure will also give Putin further leverage over them. In the past, Putin and Medvedev have choreographed moves that allowed Putin to remain in charge under different titles, swapping places to circumvent term limits.This time around, Medvedev will assume a newly created position as the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council and all current ministers will remain in an acting capacity until a new government is appointed.Meanwhile, the leader of Chechnya in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region, Ramzan Kadyrov has declared himself to be “temporarily incapacitated,” relegating his duties to the current prime minister of Chechnya, Muslim Khuchiyev.Putin’s sweeping changes are widely interpreted as designed to weaken his successor, reshaping Russia’s power structure in order to create additional opportunities for Putin's continued control over the government, even after the conclusion of his fourth presidential term in 2024. Putin proposed amending the Russian constitution to expand the powers of the legislative branch and investing additional powers in the State Council, leading to speculation Putin is contemplating his future return at the helm of a newly empowered Parliament, after the expiration of his current presidential term.Commentary on the Russian president’s likely intention to carve out a new position for himself has been skillfully avoided by the Russian state media. Instead, Kremlin-controlled news outlets chose to focus on promised subsidies for families with young children, designed to address Russia’s demographic crisis by boosting the birth rate, and the general claim that Putin has, as it were, made Russia great again.On the Russian state television show, The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, the host proclaimed, “The greatness of the country is indisputably tied to the name of Putin.” Soloviev argued that the Russian president “restored respect” towards their country globally. His take was echoed by the State Duma Deputy Chair Irina Yarovaya, who pontificated that Putin, having achieved his foreign policy and national security objectives, could now move on to his domestic agenda. Yarovaya said, “We remember statements by [U.S. President Barack Obama] in 2014—very recently—that Russia is a regional power of minor importance. We remember all of that. We remember how the sanctions started. We remember how we weren’t invited to the G8. And today there is a line of world leaders waiting just to talk to our president over the phone…”The sanctions started and Russia was disinvited after it seized and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, then incited and abetted a separatist war in Ukraine's east. They were intensified after Russia's flagrant interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.Russian state media also highlight Putin’s promises of socioeconomic largesse and his prediction that “Russia's economy will grow faster than the global average in 2021.” During the last decade, the Russian leader has promised in vain that Russia will become the world’s fifth largest economy by 2024. It is currently ranked as the 11th largest economy in the world, with a smaller GDP than that of California. President Putin’s current growth prediction is much more modest. It’s still not realistic, but such promises had to be made as Russia’s declining standards of living have led to political unrest and mass protests.Without providing any direct answers as to his own plans, the Russian leader—who has now been in power for 20 years—created new venues for his continued reign in yet-to-be-revealed future capacities.Amid all the uncertainties, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that Medvedev was reading Chekhov’s story about a blind drunk civil servant who stumbles out of a New Year’s celebration only to get lost in a graveyard—and then discovers in the morning he was somewhere else entirely.Russia Loves the Impeachment Hearings Because GOP Is Parroting Kremlin PropagandaRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:14:51 -0500
  • Abandoned by Allies, EU Censure Pushes Orban Toward EPP Exit

    (Bloomberg) -- Hungary’s prime minister said he was on the verge of quitting the European Union’s biggest political group after it backed a resolution demanding that the bloc intensify efforts to rein in his perceived democratic backsliding.In a joint resolution on Hungary and Poland, the European Parliament said Thursday that EU probes into the rule of law in both countries haven’t resulted in improvements. EU lawmakers also called for additional mechanisms to reinforce the bloc’s ability to discipline rogue member states.Pointedly for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose ruling Fidesz party is in the EPP, a large majority of the umbrella group supported the resolution. The EPP is considering whether to expel Fidesz over the dismantlement of checks and balances in Hungary.“We were within a centimeter of quitting the EPP,” Orban told state radio in an interview on Friday. “When our allies betray us -- and the majority of the EPP betrayed us -- we have no place there.”The EPP suspended Fidesz in March over the erosion of the rule-of-law. Orban reiterated that he may preemptively withdraw his party from the EPP, and if he does he will most likely create a new EU umbrella platform.Orban has already held talks about possible cooperation with Poland’s nationalist ruling Law & Justice Party, which is a member of a smaller group in the European Parliament.“Things can’t go on like this, that’s for sure,” Orban said, adding that the only reason he didn’t withdraw Fidesz from the EPP already was because Italian, French and Spanish members voted against the resolution. “That gives us some hope, though it’s waning.”(Updates with Orban comments in fourth and last paragraphs.)\--With assistance from Veronika Gulyas.To contact the reporter on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, Andrea Dudik, Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 04:13:27 -0500
  • EU border chief says migrant entries from Turkey on the rise

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    The number of migrants entering Europe from Turkey rose significantly last year as people fleeing strife in Syria and Afghanistan flooded into the country and then set out for Greece, the head of the European Union’s border agency said Friday. More than 82,000 migrants tried to enter Europe without authorization in 2019, an increase of 46% over the previous year, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said in Brussels. “This was mainly due to the situation in Syria, but also instability in Afghanistan, and changing policies towards Afghan nationals by Iranian and Pakistani authorities,” Leggeri told reporters.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 08:17:28 -0500
  • Rain douses some Australian bush fires but flash floods now threaten wildlife

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    Heavy rains in fire-ravaged eastern Australia have brought welcome relief for firefighters and farmers, but sparked flash floods that have led to fresh scrambles to save native animals.  As the rain hit on Thursday the New South Wales State Emergency Services department warned that the sudden heavy downpours in some areas would bring flash flooding, falling trees and landslides where the fires have wiped out vegetation.  On Friday, the warnings were realised when flash floods hit the Australia Reptile Park on the NSW east coast, and the state's koalas - having lost thousands of their number and huge swathes of their habitat - needed to be rescued again as floods thundered down fire-blasted hills empty of vegetation.  Park director Tim Faulkner told local media that the sudden floods on Friday morning were “incredible”.  “Just last week we were having daily meetings to discuss the imminent threat of bushfires,” he said. “Today, we've had the whole team out there, drenched, acting fast to secure the safety of our animals and defend the park from the onslaught of water… We haven't seen flooding like this at the park for over 15 years.” And while the rains have doused fires in some areas, blazes continue to rage across many other parts of the country where the weather stayed dry, including in other parts of New South Wales where 82 fires were still burning, with 30 out of control, and in the state of Victoria, to the south. Parts of the state’s Alpine region were evacuated again as erratic winds caused spot fires around a large blaze at Mount Buffalo.  The rain also completely missed Kangaroo Island, the nation's third biggest off the southern coast of the mainland, where fires have devastated the formerly wildlife-rich national park.  The authorities have warned the crisis could worsen again with Australia only halfway through its summer. The unprecedented fires, fuelled by climate change and a years-long drought, have already claimed 28 lives over the past five months. They have scorched massive tracts of pristine forests in eastern and southern Australia, decimated livestock on already barren farms and destroyed 2,000 homes. In areas where rain has arrived, there are new concerns that muddy ash will be swept into rivers and lakes, exacerbating an emerging crisis as fish die in vast numbers due to ash poisoning the waterways. The NSW Department of Primary Industries has received reports of “hundreds of thousands” of fish dead in the Macleay river since December 2019.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:19:19 -0500
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