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  • New Disclosures Confirm: Trump Himself Was the Target of Obama Administration’s Russia Probe

    Golocal247.com news

    Long-sought documents finally pried from U.S. intelligence agencies prove that the Obama administration used the occasion of providing a standard intelligence briefing for major-party candidates as an opportunity to investigate Donald Trump on suspicion of being a Russian asset.I say investigate Donald Trump advisedly.As I contended in Ball of Collusion, my book on the Trump-Russia investigation, the target of the probe spearheaded by the FBI -- but greenlighted by the Obama White House, and abetted by the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies -- was Donald Trump. Not the Trump campaign, not the Trump administration. Those were of interest only insofar as they were vehicles for Trump himself. The campaign, which the Bureau and its apologists risibly claim was the focus of the investigation, would have been of no interest to them were it not for Trump.Or do you suppose they moved heaven and earth, surreptitiously plotted in the Oval Office, wrote CYA memos to cover their tracks, and laboriously sculpted FBI reports because they were hoping to nail . . . George Papadopoulos?My book was published a year ago. It covered what was then known about the Obama-administration operation. In collusion with the Clinton campaign, and with the complicity of national-security officials who transitioned into the Trump administration, the Obama White House deployed the FBI to undermine the new president, dually using official investigative tactics (e.g. FISA surveillance, confidential informants, covert interrogations) and lawless classified leaks -- the latter publicized by dependable journalists who were (and remain) politically invested in unseating Trump.Now the paper trail is finally catching up with what some of us analysts long ago surmised based on the limited information previously available.You don’t like Donald Trump? Fine. The investigation here was indeed about Donald Trump. But the scandal is about how abusive officials can exploit their awesome powers against any political opponent. And the people who authorized this political spying will be right back in business if, come November, Obama’s vice-president is elected president -- notwithstanding that he’s yet to be asked serious questions about it.How to Conceal a Politicized Investigation It seems mind-boggling that, for so long, the FBI and Justice Department were able to keep a lid on the documents now being released. President Trump could have directed their disclosure at any time over the last four years. But when you think about it, concealing the paper trail was the easy part. The real challenge was: How to continue the probe even after Trump had taken office and was, at least nominally, in a position to shut it down?The Obama officials, including holdovers who transitioned into the Trump administration, pulled that off by intimidation: not-so-subtle suggestions that they could disclose damaging allegations at any time (e.g., the notorious “pee tape”), and that White House efforts to inquire into the scope of the investigation would be portrayed as criminal obstruction.Prior to the 2016 election, the FBI intentionally concealed the existence of the Trump-Russia probe from the congressional “Gang of Eight” (the bipartisan leadership of both houses and their intelligence committees). Senior Republicans were thus kept in the dark regarding purported suspicions that the Republican presidential campaign was a Russian front, unable to pose tough questions about the probe’s gossamer predication.Crucially, the Trump-Russia fabulists managed to sideline two Trump loyalists who would have been positioned to thwart the effort: national-security adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That left in place Obama holdovers and Trump-appointed placeholders. They were indifferent to Trump himself and cowed by the prospect of being framed as complicit in a Trump–Russia conspiracy, or a cover-up.The paper record is profoundly embarrassing, so it is only natural that the FBI and Justice Department resisted its disclosure. But documents about the investigation were demanded by congressional investigators starting years ago -- particularly by the investigation led in the House by then–Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.).Congress’s investigation was stonewalled. The more revelation we get, the more obvious it is that there was no bona fide national-security rationale for concealment. Documents were withheld to hide official and unofficial executive activity that was abusive, embarrassing, and, at least in some instances, illegal (e.g., tampering with a document that was critical to the FBI’s presentation of “facts” to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).Democrats wanted this information suppressed all along. So of course, once Democrats took control of the House in 2019, there was no possibility of pressing the question of why the Justice Department and FBI failed to comply with House information demands back in 2017–18, when Republicans led the relevant committees.One wonders, though, why the GOP-controlled Senate had so little interest in finding out why this paper trail stayed hidden despite repeated inquiries. Ditto the House Republican leadership in the first two years of Trump’s term. It is hard to draw any conclusion other than that the GOP establishment bought the “Russian interference in our democracy” hysteria.Moscow always meddles in U.S. elections. The 2016 interference was par for the course and, as always, utterly ineffective. This time, though, Democrats were perceived as the victims, rather than the beneficiaries. For once, they and their media megaphone demanded that the political class treat Russia as a serious threat. On cue, Washington Republicans genuflected, lest they be portrayed as covering up for Trump, or as soft on Putin. Meanwhile Democrats, the party of appeasement (very much including appeasement of Moscow through the Obama years), were transmogrified into Russia hawks. And Russia hawks they’ll remain . . . right up until the moment Joe Biden takes the oath of office.Exploiting Politics to Surveil the Opposition Among the most significant of the newly declassified documents is a memorandum written by FBI agent Joe Pientka III, the case agent on Trump-Russia. It was Pientka who, at the FBI’s New York City headquarters on August 17, 2016, purported to brief Trump and two top campaign surrogates -- the aforementioned General Flynn and then–New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was slated to run the transition if Trump won.In reality, Pientka and the FBI regarded the occasion not as a briefing for the Republican presidential nominee but as an opportunity to interact with Donald Trump for investigative purposes. Clearly, the Bureau did that because Trump was the main subject of the investigation. The hope was that he’d blurt things out that would help the FBI prove he was an agent of Russia.The Obama administration and the FBI knew that it was they who were meddling in a presidential campaign -- using executive intelligence powers to monitor the president’s political opposition. This, they also knew, would rightly be regarded as a scandalous abuse of power if it ever became public. There was no rational or good-faith evidentiary basis to believe that Trump was in a criminal conspiracy with the Kremlin or that he’d had any role in Russian intelligence’s suspected hacking of Democratic Party email accounts.You didn’t have to believe Trump was a savory man to know that. His top advisers were Flynn, a decorated combat veteran; Christie, a former U.S. attorney who vigorously investigated national-security cases; Rudy Giuliani, a legendary former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor who’d rallied the country against anti-American terrorism; and Jeff Sessions, a longtime U.S. senator with a strong national-defense track record. To believe Trump was unfit for the presidency on temperamental or policy grounds was a perfectly reasonable position for Obama officials to take -- though an irrelevant one, since it’s up to the voters to decide who is suitable. But to claim to suspect that Trump was in a cyberespionage conspiracy with the Kremlin was inane . . . except as a subterfuge to conduct political spying, which Obama officials well knew was an abuse of power.So they concealed it. They structured the investigation on the fiction that there was a principled distinction between Trump himself and the Trump campaign. In truth, the animating assumption of the probe was that Trump himself was acting on Russia’s behalf, either willfully or under the duress of blackmail. By purporting to focus on the campaign, investigators had the fig leaf of deniability they needed to monitor the candidate.Just two weeks before Pientka’s August 17 “briefing” of Trump, the FBI formally opened “Crossfire Hurricane,” the codename for the Trump-Russia investigation. The Bureau also opened four Trump-Russia subfiles, related to Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Flynn.There was no case file called “Donald Trump” because Trump was “Crossfire Hurricane.” The theory of Crossfire Hurricane was that Russia had blackmail information on Trump, which it could use to extort Trump into doing Putin’s bidding if Trump were elected. It was further alleged that Russia had been cultivating Trump for years and was helping Trump’s election bid in exchange for future considerations. Investigators surmised that Trump had recruited Paul Manafort (who had connections to Russian oligarchs and pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs) as his campaign manager, enabling Manafort to use such emissaries as Page to carry out furtive communications between Trump and the Kremlin. If elected, the theory went, Trump would steer American policy in Russia’s favor, just as the Bureau speculated that Trump was already corruptly steering the Republican party into a more pro-Moscow posture.Get Them Talking Besides obtaining FISA surveillance warrants against Page, the Bureau’s favored tactic -- a common one in criminal investigations -- was to create or exploit situations in which the suspects would be at ease. Either the settings would not seem investigative or, in Trump’s case, repeated assurances were provided that he was not under investigation. With no notice that the FBI was trying to catch them and even prompt them into making incriminating statements, Trump and his campaign advisers would be invited to talk about Russia. Agents parsed their statements and scrutinized their demeanor, searching for any indication of pro-Russia sentiment or uneasiness about the topic -- anything that could be portrayed as incriminating. If the Bureau’s contacts with Trump officials were not covertly recorded (as they were, for example, when informants interacted with Papadopoulos), agents would generate written reports about them, the kind of reports the FBI routinely writes when building a criminal case.This is exactly what Pientka did in connection with the August 17 “briefing,” under the supervision of Kevin Clinesmith, the rabidly anti-Trump FBI lawyer later found by the Justice Department’s inspector general to have tampered with a key email, and Peter Strzok, the rabidly anti-Trump counterintelligence agent who was later fired.Pientka’s significantly redacted seven-page memo is worth reading. The point of it is not the national-security information provided to the candidate; that is just context for the Bureau’s documenting of statements made by Trump in response. For example, when the topic is differences in methodology between Russian and Chinese espionage, Pientka carefully notes that Trump asked, “Joe, are the Russians bad? Because they have more numbers [of FBI cases] are they worse than the Chinese?” After all, maybe we’ll find out he was reporting back to the Kremlin. When the topic turned to signals intelligence, Pientka notes that Trump interjected, “Yes I understand it’s a dark time. Nothing is safe on computers anymore,” and elaborated that his then-ten-year-old son had broken the code for access to a computer -- you know, just the kind of badinage you’d expect from a co-conspirator in a Russian hacking scheme.Pientka then recounts that when other intelligence-agency briefers took over to continue the briefing on other topics, Pientka did not leave; he stayed in the room “actively listen[ing] for topics or questions regarding the Russian Federation.” Here, in a classified report they figure no one will ever see, there is no pretense: FBI agents are monitoring Trump. Pientka notes that when one briefer said the U.S. was the world’s leader in counterterrorism, Trump interjected, “Russia too?” And when the discussion turned to cheating by Russia and China on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, “Trump asked, ‘Who’s worse?’” When the briefer replied, “They are both bad, but Russia is worse,” Pientka took pains to relate, “Trump and Christie turned toward each other and Christie commented, ‘Im shocked’” [sic].You’re thinking, “So what?” Yeah, well, that’s the point. They had nothing, but the agents were exploiting the U.S. political process to try to turn nothing into a federal case. And would any public official voluntarily attend a security briefing, ostensibly meant to help him perform his public-safety mission, if he thought the FBI might be spying on him and writing reports with an eye toward portraying him as a hostile power’s mole?Just as we’ve seen in the Flynn investigation, Pientka’s official FBI report is marked in bold capital letters: “DRAFT DOCUMENT/DELIBERATIVE MATERIAL.” Why deliberate over a draft when the purpose is to document a suspect’s statements? After all, he said whatever he said; there shouldn’t be a need to edit it. Drafts and deliberations are necessary only if a report is being massaged to fit the perceived needs of the investigation. Observe that, although the briefing was August 17, the memo is dated August 30. Nearly two weeks later, and it’s still in the form of a deliberative draft, meaning they’re not done yet.This is not materially different from the Obama administration’s plan on January 6, 2017. That is when the FBI’s then-director, James Comey, “briefed” Trump in New York City. This briefing came just a day after Comey met with his Obama-administration superiors -- the president, Vice President Biden, national-security adviser Susan Rice, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. They discussed withholding information about the Russia investigation from President-elect Trump and his incoming team.Consistent with this White House strategy session, Comey did not actually brief Trump about the Russia investigation; he buzzed Trump with an allegation that the Putin regime might be in possession of blackmail material -- the pee tape -- that it could hold over Trump’s head in order to get him to do the Kremlin’s bidding.The point was not to give information. It was to get information: to provoke Trump into making incriminating or false statements, or statements evincing consciousness of guilt. Outside Trump Tower was an FBI car equipped with a laptop so Comey could immediately write an investigative report. The director and his team treated this as an investigative event, not a briefing. Comey memorialized Trump’s statements, as well as his physical and emotional reaction to the suggestion that Moscow might have video of the soon-to-be president cavorting with prostitutes. If a case had ever been made on Trump, Comey could then have been a witness, with his investigative report available to refresh his recollection about Trump’s comments and comportment.That is one of the main reasons such reports are done.The FBI did the same thing with Flynn: a sandbag interview, against Justice Department and White House protocols, conducted after extensive planning about how to put him at ease, how to make sure he doesn’t think he’s a suspect, how to refrain from advising him of his rights. Then, knock him back on his heels by portraying a legitimate conversation between the incoming national-security adviser and the Russian ambassador as if it were nefarious. Don’t play him the recording or show him the transcript; just grill him and hope he says something incriminating or redolent of guilty knowledge. And then, instead of following the FBI rules for promptly completing interview reports, generate another “deliberative draft” that can be kneaded for a few weeks . . . with the help of a former prosecutor (Lisa Page) who serves as counsel to the second-highest-ranking FBI official (then–deputy director Andrew McCabe).There is still plenty of paper trail to uncover. I haven’t even referred here to the Steele dossier, which investigators knew was bogus but relied on to seek -- and obtain -- court-authorized eavesdropping. I haven’t mentioned the unmasking of Trump officials indirectly targeted in foreign-intelligence collection. We haven’t considered the collaboration of American and foreign intelligence agencies in the scrutiny of Trump, or the collaboration of Obama officials and congressional Democrats, as well as the media, to promote the narrative that Trump was a Russian operative. There is much still to learn and to weigh.But this much we know: In the stretch run of the 2016 campaign, President Obama authorized his administration’s investigative agencies to monitor his party’s opponent in the presidential election, on the pretext that Donald Trump was a clandestine agent of Russia. Realizing this was a gravely serious allegation for which there was laughably insufficient predication, administration officials kept Trump’s name off the investigative files. That way, they could deny that they were doing what they did. Then they did it . . . and denied it.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 06:30:21 -0400
  • As COVID-19 sweeps across the South, the Army finds it’s not immune

    Golocal247.com news

    The U.S. Army is facing a significant COVID-19 challenge as infection rates soar across the south and southeast, where most of the service’s installations are located. And now the disease is having a major impact on the Army’s second-largest installation.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 05:00:35 -0400
  • A Florida couple has been charged after being caught getting groceries, washing their car, and walking their dog despite testing positive for the coronavirus

    Golocal247.com news

    Jose Antonio Freire Interian and Yohana Anahi Gonzalez were filmed by their neighbors breaking their quarantine order.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 05:45:00 -0400
  • India bootleg alcohol death toll rises to 98 as families mourn

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    The death toll from a toxic bootleg alcohol scandal in the north Indian state of Punjab rose to 98 Sunday, officials and reports said. Police have arrested 25 people so far over the worsening tragedy, which starting coming to light late last week, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Hundreds of people die every year in India from illegal alcohol made in backstreet distilleries which sells for as little as 10 rupees (13 US cents) a litre, affordable for even the poorest.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:53:49 -0400
  • An Arizona congressman who tested positive for the coronavirus criticized Republican lawmakers for refusing to wear masks in the Capitol

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    Arizona Democrat Rep. Raúl Grijalva tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday but is currently asymptomatic.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 06:35:00 -0400
  • Manchester-born 'wellness entrepreneur' revealed as Jeffrey Epstein's alleged ex-girlfriend

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    A Manchester-born publisher has been identified as the alleged former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein named in legal papers relating to Ghislaine Maxwell that were unsealed by a Manhattan court last week. A woman named as “Shelley” was allegedly named by Ms Maxwell as Epstein’s girlfriend between 1999 and 2002, according to an email contained in papers released by US District Judge Loretta Preska. It has now been claimed that the woman is Shelley Ann Lewis, 43, a “wellness entrepreneur”, who runs a company called The Equanimity Expert. There is no suggestion that Ms Lewis was aware of any criminal behaviour by Epstein during the time of their alleged relationship. It coincided with the time when Virginia Giuffre alleges she was coerced into having sex with the Duke of York – an allegation that Prince Andrew has repeatedly and vehemently denied. Ms Lewis could, lawyers believe, be approached by prosecutors and attorneys in the United States acting for Epstein’s victims to ask what she knew about the alleged behaviour of Ms Maxwell and Epstein. The tranche of papers was compiled during a defamation case brought against Ms Maxwell by Ms Giuffre. They were released despite fierce opposition from Ms Maxwell’s legal team. In a January 2015 email to Epstein, Ms Maxwell wrote: “I would appreciate it if Shelley would come out and say she was your g’friend – I think she was from end [19]99 to 2002.” Epstein replied: “OK with me.” Ms Lewis’ name appears repeatedly on the flight logs of Epstein’s private planes, on occasion travelling alone with the disgraced financier, who was found dead in a jail cell a year ago. Destinations included New York and Little St James – the financier’s private island in the Caribbean where many of the offences are alleged to have taken place. It is believed they met in 1999 when Ms Lewis, then 22, was working for Christie’s auction house in New York. Epstein was 46 at the time. The company Ms Lewis now runs says it offers a six-week course hosted by “some of the leading thinkers in the fields of big picture decision making, neuroscience and psychology”. The company’s website adds: “After an experience of direct awakening at age seventeen, Shelley has been on the path of inner transformation ever since.” Her meditation centre, called Sacred Space, is intended to help New Yorkers find respite from the city’s frantic pace and “cultivate practices for Inner Peace”. Ms Lewis is understood to divide her time between New York and west London, where she owns a flat. She was also the author of A Key to the Heart, a bestselling children’s book, which has reportedly been praised by Laura Bush, the former First Lady and author J K Rowling. Ms Lewis’ father, Brian, a retired businessman told The Mail on Sunday: “I’ve not seen my daughter for ages. I have no idea what she would want to say.” Ms Lewis deleted all her social media profiles a short time after the release of the court documents on Friday. Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the late Robert Maxwell, a Labour MP and owner of the Mirror Group of newspapers, is in custody in New York awaiting trial. Charged with six counts of child abuse allegedly committed between 1994 and 1997, Ms Maxwell, who has denied the allegations, is due to stand trial next July. Other documents remain sealed and Ms Maxwell’s legal team are seeking to prevent their release. Some papers, which were due to be released on Monday, will be kept under wraps, including Ms Maxwell’s own deposition in which she has denied knowledge of Epstein’s activities. Judges in the US Court of Appeals agreed to delay their publication in a two-page order published on Saturday. A further hearing has been listed for September. The Telegraph has approached Ms Lewis for comment.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 18:38:24 -0400
  • Southern California wildfire forces thousands to evacuate

    Golocal247.com news

    The Apple fire in Riverside County, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, burned through 12,000 acres and was 0 percent contained Saturday night.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 23:28:00 -0400
  • White House says not optimistic on near-term deal for coronavirus relief bill

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    White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday he was not optimistic on reaching agreement soon on a deal for the next round of legislation to provide relief to Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. "I'm not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term," Meadows said on CBS' "Face the Nation" as staff members from both sides were meeting to try to iron out differences over the bill. Democrats were standing in the way of a separate agreement to extend some federal unemployment benefits in the short-term while negotiations continue on an overall relief package, he said.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:56:48 -0400
  • Florida man once bitten by alligator is chomped by 8-foot shark while on vacation

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    Justin Stuller is now sporting two dozen stitches and a small limp after tangling with an eight-foot lemon shark in the Florida Keys.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 21:41:44 -0400
  • Homeland Security official reassigned after intelligence reports on journalists covering protests

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    A US intelligence official with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been reassigned following revelations that his office compiled "intelligence reports" on journalists and analysed communications between protesters amid ongoing demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.Brian Murphy was removed from his post following a report in The Washington Post revealing that the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis sent open source intelligence reports to federal law enforcement agencies containing information from two reporters who had published leaked unclassified government documents while covering Black Lives Matter protests.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:34:14 -0400
  • Egypt tells Elon Musk its pyramids were not built by aliens

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    Egypt invited the billionaire to visit, after he appeared to tweet support for conspiracy theorists.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 08:10:19 -0400
  • Letters to the Editor: John Lewis deserves to be remembered as a modern-day founding father

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    A reader says "thank you" is not enough to convey the gratitude this country ought to have for the late Rep. John Lewis.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 06:00:48 -0400
  • Connie Culp, 1st US partial face transplant recipient, dies

    Golocal247.com news

    Connie Culp, the recipient of the first partial face transplant in the U.S., has died at 57, almost a dozen years after the groundbreaking operation.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 15:30:01 -0400
  • The USDA has identified some of the mystery seeds sent unsolicited from China as herbs like rosemary and sage

    Golocal247.com news

    An official with the USDA said 14 species of seeds were identified as herbs and plants like hibiscus, mint, and sage.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 10:34:10 -0400
  • A California couple was arrested for hate crimes after yelling 'white power' during an episode of road rage, according to police

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    The couple yelled "White power," and "Only white lives matter b----" to a Black man and his girlfriend during a racist altercation on the road.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 16:14:17 -0400
  • Hurricane Heads for Florida—Just as Coronavirus Deaths Hit New Record

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    As Florida struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic that has killed at least 7,000 residents, state officials are now scrambling to deal with another dueling disaster gaining momentum: Hurricane Isaias. “It’s just another thing to add to the torture,” Inez Cruz, a teacher in Palm Beach County, told the Washington Post. “It’s another worry on top of what we already had.”While Isaias weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said the natural disaster is expected to regain hurricane strength as it approaches Florida. It is estimated to make landfall in southeast Florida late Saturday or early Sunday as a Category 1 storm after drawing strength from the warmer waters in the Gult Stream. After battering Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the center of the now Category 1 hurricane hit the Bahamas Saturday afternoon. Maximum sustained winds increased to 8o mph, snapping trees and knocking out power. Estimations, however, show the hurricane’s forward motion has slowed to 12 mph as it continues to move northwest. President Donald Trump on Saturday approved an emergency declaration for affected Florida counties to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief efforts if needed. “The situation remains fluid and can change quickly,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Saturday press conference.But the duel emergencies bearing down on Florida are complicating each other. State-run coronavirus testing sites have been shut down in areas likely to be hit by the hurricane and, while normal protocol would call for mass evacuations and community shelters, hurricane evacuation centers are ripe for coronavirus outbreaks.On Friday, Florida set a record for single-day deaths for the fourth consecutive day. The Florida Department of Health on Saturday reported 179 deaths overnight, bringing the state’s death toll to 7,022. There were 9,642 new infections, adding to a state-wide total of 480,028. Saturday’s tally was slightly lower than Friday’s, which saw a record-breaking 257 deaths. ‘Pro-Life’ Group Plans 1,300-Person Conference in Virus’ Deadly PathThe state has, however, reported less than 10,000 positive cases for the last seven days, following several record-high days in early July. Florida now has the second-highest number of cases in the country, behind California, with a positive test rate of about 12 percent. But state officials are now shifting their attention away from the pandemic, and toward the incoming natural disaster. Officials in Palm Beach County on Friday ordered all city recreation facilities, including beaches, to be closed, and opened six emergency evacuation shelters for residents who live in mobile homes or low-income housing. “It’s certainly unprecedented,” Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner said on Friday. “It’s the first time any of us in the [Emergency Operations Center] are aware of, that we’ve had two separate standing states of emergency for two separate issues. But we’re laser-focused on both. We’ll work hard to take whatever is thrown at us.”He said that shelters will have a strict mask mandate and social distancing rules, and residents will be screened before entering.  “I hope this storm doesn’t present a bump in the road in terms of our community response,” he said, adding that law enforcement would be present in shelters to enforce the rules. “We’re starting to see the effects of robust mask-wearing and social distancing, so I’ll be reminding my constituents to remain vigilant and cognizant that this is going on in a pandemic, and we don’t want to retreat from the progress we’ve made.”In Miami, Mayor Carlos Giménez also closed beaches and marinas and put nearly two dozen evacuation centers on standby, but said they would be configured to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Trump has also reportedly canceled a campaign event scheduled for Saturday in Miami-Dade at his Doral golf resort.“We still don’t think there is a need to open shelters for this storm, but they are ready,” Giménez told the Associated Press on Friday, adding that the shelters would give every individual about 40 square feet of space. DeSantis Says Florida Has a COVID-19 ‘Blip.’ Nurses Say It’s Far Worse.The shelters will also not serve cafeteria food to abide by social distancing. Infected evacuees will be isolated in rooms separate from the general population. On Friday, DeSantis declared a state of emergency for counties along the state’s east coast, urging residents to remain vigilant and prepare emergency kits with a week’s worth of supplies. A hurricane watch has also been put into effect from Hallandale Beach to Boca Raton, as well as a storm-surge watch from Jupiter to Ponte Vedra Beach.Stressing that the state is “fully prepared,” the Republican governor added that some state-run coronavirus testing sites would be closed. “Our sites, because they're outdoors with tents, if it were to get 40-, 50-mile-per-hour winds, it would just collapse,” he said Friday, adding that the state is prepared to open shelters and has created a reserve of PPE for the hurricane season. “Safety is paramount for that.”DeSantis said Florida had built a stockpile of 22 million gloves, 20 million masks, 10 million gowns, 1.6 million face shields, 270,000 coveralls and 20,000 thermometers for impacted areas.He said Trump approved his emergency declaration request after attending a roundtable on coronavirus and storm preparedness in Tampa on Friday evening. “I want Floridians to know, the state of Florida is fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” DeSantis said.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.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 12:51:18 -0400
  • Scientists and environmental groups 'alarmed' by huge rise in Amazon wildfires

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    “It’s a terrible sign,” said Ane Alencar, science director at Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM).

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:43:00 -0400
  • Residents forced to evacuate as 'Apple Fire' burns out of control in California

    Golocal247.com news

    Nearly 8,000 residents of Riverside County in Southern California were forced to evacuate their homes on Saturday as a wildfire spread uncontained across more than 4,000 acres, the County fire department said. The fire - dubbed the Apple Fire by local firefighters, who routinely give blazes identifying names - was reported on Friday in Cherry Valley, a community about 75 miles east of Los Angeles. It had destroyed at least one family home as of Saturday evening (Sunday morning UK time). Photographs shared by the Riverside County fire department on Twitter on Saturday showed thick plumes of smoke filling the sky over the mountainous region. Residents of 2,586 homes, totalling around 7,800 people, were told to evacuate, the department said.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 23:50:20 -0400
  • UK lobbies US to support controversial new nuclear warheads

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    Letter from defence secretary seen by Guardian draws Britain into debate pitting Trump administration against many DemocratsThe UK has been lobbying the US Congress in support of a controversial new warhead for Trident missiles, claiming it is critical for “the future of Nato as a nuclear alliance”.A letter from Britain’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, seen by the Guardian, urged Congress to support initial spending on the warhead, the W93.The letter, sent in April but not previously reported, draws the UK into a US political debate, pitting the Trump administration against many Democrats and arms control groups over whether the the $14bn W93 programme is necessary. The US navy already has two warheads to choose from for its submarine-launched Trident missiles.The close cooperation on the W93 casts further doubt on the genuine independence of the UK deterrent – parliament first heard about it when US officials accidentally disclosed Britain’s involvement in February – and the commitment of both countries to disarmament.The UK is also supporting the administration’s efforts to speed up work on the warhead and its surprise $53m request for initial weapon design work in the 2021 budget, two years ahead of the previous schedule.Sceptics believe the rush is intended to lock in funding before the election. A Biden administration would be likely to review or even cancel the W93 programme.“These are challenging times, but it is crucial that we demonstrate transatlantic unity and solidarity in this difficult period,” Wallace told members of the House and Senate armed services committees. “Congressional funding in [2021] for the W93 program will ensure that we continue to deepen the unique nuclear relationship between our two countries, enabling the United Kingdom to provide safe and assured continuous-at-sea deterrence for decades to come.”The British intervention comes as the initial funding for the warhead hangs in the balance. It was approved by the House and Senate armed services committees but blocked at least temporarily, by a House energy and water subcommittee last month.Congressional staffers said they could not recall such a direct UK intervention in a US debate on nuclear weapons.“We’ve never had a letter of this sort before, so it was a little bit surprising that this is the issue that they chose to weigh in on,” a committee aide said. The UK insists its Trident nuclear deterrent is autonomous, but the two countries share the same missiles and coordinate work on warheads. The current UK Trident warhead, the Holbrook, is very similar to the W76 warhead, one of two the US navy uses in its own Trident II missiles.The US and UK versions of the W93 are also expected to resemble each other closely. Both countries will use the same new MK7 aeroshell, the cone around the warhead that allows it to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, which will cost another several hundred million dollars.Little has been disclosed about the W93, but it is thought to be based on a design that was tested during the cold war but not made part of the US stockpile at the time. It will potentially be the first new warhead design in the US stockpile since the cold war and is expected to be of considerably higher yield than the current W76, which is already six times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima 75 years ago next week.The demand for funding for the W93 is particularly controversial in the US as the W76 and a higher-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead, the W88, have already been subject to multibillion-dollar upgrades.“This is excess on top of excess,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, said. “We already have two SBLM warheads. The W76 just went through a major life extension programme and is slated to be good into the early 2040s, and the W88 is going through a major alteration.“The US can continue to assist the UK’s arsenal without rushing the development of an unnecessary, at least $14bn new-design, third SLBM warhead,” Reif added.The total cost of the US nuclear weapons modernisation programme is expected to be far in excess of $1tn.The US and Russia, which is also upgrading its arsenal and developing new weapons, together account for more than 90% of all the nuclear warheads on the planet, and both countries are putting increasing emphasis on them in their rhetoric and defence postures.Under Donald Trump, the US has now left three nuclear agreements and his administration is reluctant to extend the last major arms control deal with Russia, the 2010 New Start treaty, which is due to expire in February.The bonfire of nuclear accords, combined with the huge amounts spent on weapons like the W93, are a threat to the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the fundamental bargain by which countries without nuclear arms pledged not to acquire them on condition the recognised nuclear powers (the US, UK, France, Russia and China) took steps to disarm, under article six of the treaty.“When I look at something like the W93, it’s not, in and of itself, a violation of article six,” said Daniel Joyner, a University of Alabama law professor specializing in nuclear treaties. “It’s just a further data point to evidence, the current non-compliance of the US and UK with article six.”In his letter to the congressional committees, Wallace wrote: “Your support to the W93 program in this budget cycle is critical to the success of our replacement warhead programme and to the long-term viability of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and therefore, the future of Nato as a nuclear alliance.”Alexandra Bell, a former state department official and now senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said the US-UK special relationship had shown greater solidarity in promoting new weapons than in arms control.“The UK is noticeably missing when it comes to emphatic support for New Start extension, but yet at the same time it feels comfortable directly telling members of Congress what they should do about our own modernization plans,” Bell said. “I think that’s weird.”Asked about the purpose of Wallace’s letter, a UK defense ministry spokesman said: “The UK’s existing warhead is being replaced in order to respond to future threats and guarantee our security. We have a strong defence relationship with the US and will work closely with our ally to ensure our warhead remains compatible with the US’s Trident missile.”According to official figures, the US W76 warhead is viable until 2045 at least - and the UK version is expected to last until the late 2030’s, so there is no urgent technical need for replacement.Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, said nuclear weapons hawks at the Pentagon, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Los Alamos National Laboratory were pushing to lock in spending in case there is a change of administration.“They would like to get this program endorsed by Congress this year, and they’re very close to it,” Mello said. “Once it is a programme of record, it will take more for a future administration to knock it out.”

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 11:48:48 -0400
  • Heavy rain hammers South Korea, leaving 6 dead, 7 missing

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    Torrential rain pounded most of South Korea over the weekend, leaving six people dead and seven others missing, officials said Sunday. The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the heavy rainfall triggered landslides in dozens of places, flooded residential areas and roads, and damaged some riverside structures. The ministry said the six dead people were either buried by mud or destroyed building parts following landslides or swept away by swollen waters.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 05:52:29 -0400
  • Marine Corps Plan to Ditch Tanks Could Burden the Army, Experts Say

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    Some Marine Corps tank companies have cased their colors, winding up decades-long missions.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 10:14:46 -0400
  • Record spikes in Asia as WHO issues grim virus warning

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    Southeast Asian countries reported record rises of new coronavirus cases on Saturday as the WHO warned the effects of the pandemic would be felt for decades and the scramble for a vaccine heated up. Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 680,000 people and infected more than 17.5 million, according to an AFP tally. As countries across Western Europe announced new lockdowns and reported historic economic slumps, the World Health Organization said the pandemic was a "once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come."

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 11:41:33 -0400
  • SpaceX just won an epic, high-stakes game of capture the flag that Barack Obama started 9 years ago

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    On the International Space Station, the American flag that SpaceX claimed had a note: "Do not forget to take with Crew Dragon."

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 17:04:00 -0400
  • Crashed plane packed with cocaine was bound for Australia, police say

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    The overloaded plane - which had over 500kg of cocaine on board - crashed shortly after take-off.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 12:02:52 -0400
  • TikTok teens are making memes saying they'll show up at the White House to confront Trump over app ban

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    President Trump on Friday said he'd issue an executive order to ban TikTok in the US. Creators on the platform responded in true TikTok fashion.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 12:37:37 -0400
  • Record coronavirus case rises reported as U.S. faces stark death toll projection

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    Japan, Philippines, Poland all report spikes as countries clamp down on social distancing.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 10:20:00 -0400
  • China reports 43 new coronavirus cases in mainland vs 49 a day earlier

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    China reported 43 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland as of Aug. 2, down from 49 a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Monday. The National Health Commission said 36 of the new cases were locally transmitted, including 28 in Xinjiang, while another seven cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. This compared with 33 local infections and 16 imported cases reported a day earlier.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 21:15:24 -0400
  • Negotiators huddle in Capitol after $600 unemployment benefit expires

    Golocal247.com news

    Talks on a huge coronavirus relief measure resumed Saturday, focused on restoring a newly expired $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit, a fresh $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, and hundreds of billions of dollars in other aid to states, businesses and the poor.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 12:28:01 -0400
  • Israel's Netanyahu rails at media over protests against him

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday railed at swelling protests against his rule, saying they were egged on by a biased media that distorts facts and cheers on the demonstrators. Netanyahu has faced a wave of protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the long-serving leader, who is on trial for corruption charges. Netanyahu has painted the protests as dens of “anarchists” and “leftists" out to topple “a strong right-wing leader.”

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 06:51:21 -0400
  • U.S. Navy's first Black female fighter pilot gets her Wings of Gold

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    "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people," said Swegle.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 13:36:46 -0400
  • South Africa's coronavirus case toll soars while Lagos continues phased reopening

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    South Africa has become the fifth nation to pass the grim milestone of half a million confirmed coronavirus cases, which account for more than 50 per cent of all Covid-19 infections on the continent of Africa. Zwelini Mkhezi, the health minister, announced a further 10,107 new cases on Saturday, meaning that the Rainbow Nation now only tails the USA, Brazil, Russia and India by number of infections, despite having a significantly smaller population. Despite the dizzying numbers, Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, said he sees “promising signs” that the alarming growth of cases is stabilising and the health care system in his country is coping in most areas. In a letter to the nation on Sunday, Mr Ramaphosa said that despite the high number of confirmed cases, he sees some positive developments. Most notably, the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilizing in the provinces of the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. Gauteng province has become the latest epicentre of the outbreak. Home to the capital, Pretoria, and the largest city, Johannesburg, Gauteng now has 35 per cent of the nation’s cases. Health experts warn that hospitals are struggling to cope and that the virus may not peak until late August or early September.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 08:48:53 -0400
  • Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina declare emergencies as Hurricane Isaias hits the Bahamas and barrels toward the east coast

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    The governors of Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared an emergency for some counties.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 12:48:17 -0400
  • Verdict looms in killing of Lebanon ex-PM Hariri

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    A UN-backed tribunal will give its verdict Friday on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, but questions will remain over a long and costly trial whose suspects remain at large. Four alleged members of the Shiite Muslim fundamentalist group Hezbollah are on trial in absentia at the court in the Netherlands over the huge Beirut suicide bombing that killed Sunni billionaire Hariri and 21 other people. The judgment harks back to an event that changed the face of the Middle East, with Hariri's assassination triggering a wave of demonstrations that pushed Syrian forces out of Lebanon after 30 years.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 21:49:16 -0400
  • 14 photos of the low key Hajj: Only 10,000 Muslim pilgrims in face masks made it to Mecca this year.

    Golocal247.com news

    Attendance was limited to people already residing in Saudi Arabia. Usually, 2.5 million Muslims from across the world pack the holy city.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 04:59:00 -0400
  • Staples customer who told woman to wear mask is thrown to ground, has broken leg

    Golocal247.com news

    Margot Kagan, who recently had a liver transplant and was walking with a cane, was thrown to the ground by another customer she had told to wear a mask.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 09:51:44 -0400
  • As Trump threatens to ban TikTok, Sarah Cooper mocks him, again, on the platform

    Golocal247.com news

    After President Trump threatened to ban Chinese-owned TikTok, Sarah Cooper took to the app to impersonate him yet again and explain"how to tick tack."

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 14:39:52 -0400
  • Coronavirus: How the travel downturn is sending jet planes to 'boneyards'

    Golocal247.com news

    Amid the pandemic, commercial air fleets are grounded in some of the world's most remote locations.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 22:28:26 -0400
  • 'Back To The Future' With Biden’s female VP Pick

    Golocal247.com news

    A woman VP or president is long overdue.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 05:00:15 -0400
  • Navy Seal Hudson River Swim on raising money for veterans

    Golocal247.com news

    Kinny Callahan, Navy ‘Warrior Challenge’ recruiter, and Bill Brown, Navy Seal veteran, join ‘Fox & Friends Weekend.’

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:28:36 -0400
  • Emirati nuclear plant successfully starts up first reactor

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    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 07:48:03 -0400
  • Deserted beaches, free Covid tests - and no masks: Europe's 'safest' destinations lure British tourists

    Golocal247.com news

    Norway has more coastline than Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Sweden and France combined and ten times as many islands as Greece, the country's tourism agency is boasting in its new advertising campaign for British holidaymakers forced to rethink travel plans in light of Europe's 'second wave'. Space to social distance rather than sunshine is at the core of the new marketing campaigns launched by a string of unusual holiday destinations competing to lure Brits taking last-minute summer breaks. With just three cases per 100,000 people over the last fortnight, and a population density of less than six people per square mile, Norway has a good claim to being both the safest destination, and the most unlikely to see Britain impose surprise quarantine rules. It is 2nd only to Estonia in the number of Codiv-19 cases. Estonia has registered even fewer infections, 2.6 per 100,000, making it is the safest destination in Europe currently completely open to British tourists. Finland and Hungary, on 2.6 and 2.4 respectively, still impose restrictions. There is a caveat, however: it's worth remembering that if the UK's 14-day cumulative rate of new infections rises from today's 12.6 per 100,000 to 16, visitors to Estonia will face quarantine, and if it hits 20, visitors to Norway will.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 10:39:06 -0400
  • A protester says California police forced her to drink cold water to lower her temperature so she could be put in jail

    Golocal247.com news

    14 protesters have accused jail staff in Sacramento of unhygienic practices, citing clogged toilets, cramped cells, and no sanitation.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 11:13:00 -0400
  • Texas will now allow people taking the bar exam to bring their own menstrual products

    Golocal247.com news

    The Texas Board of Law Examiners will allow test-takers to bring their own menstrual products after previously forbiding them over security concerns.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:19:09 -0400
  • Gym owners defy pandemic orders, break into own business closed by state and reopen it

    Golocal247.com news

    Authorities closed the gym Monday, when they charged the owners with contempt and disorderly persons offenses.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 17:33:21 -0400
  • Russia and Belarus at odds over arrest of suspected mercenaries

    Golocal247.com news

    A dispute between Moscow and Minsk over the detention of more than 30 men who Belarus accused of being Russian mercenaries deepened on Saturday, as the two sides contradicted each other about the group's plans. The arrests this week, shortly before an Aug. 9 presidential election in Belarus, could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia, which soured after the neighbours failed to agree on an oil supply contract for this year. Russia said on Thursday that the men, who it described as employees of a private security firm, had stayed in Belarus after missing their connecting flight to Istanbul.

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 05:38:05 -0400
  • Phyllis Omido: The woman who won $12m fighting lead battery poisoners

    Golocal247.com news

    Kenyan activist Phyllis Omido has been ignored, harassed and arrested, but she never gave up.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 03:52:17 -0400
  • Biden has edge in North Carolina, race is tight in Georgia — CBS News poll

    Golocal247.com news

    Concern about President Trump's handling of coronavirus pandemic is continuing to take a political toll on him.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 10:30:00 -0400
  • Washington State Trapped Its First 'Murder Hornet'

    Golocal247.com news

    Trapping Asian giant hornets is a crucial component for catching and killing the invasive species

    Sat, 01 Aug 2020 15:24:33 -0400
  • Philippines virus cases top 100,000 in 'losing battle'

    Golocal247.com news

    Coronavirus infections in the Philippines surged past 100,000 Sunday in a troubling milestone after medical groups declared that the country was waging “a losing battle” against the virus and asked the president to reimpose a lockdown in the capital. The Department of Health reported a record-high daily tally of 5,032, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 103,185, including more than 2,000 deaths. The Philippines has the second-most cases in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, and has had more infections than China, where the pandemic began late last year.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 04:48:49 -0400
  • Whole cities and towns to be tested in case of local Covid outbreak using 90 minute procedure

    Golocal247.com news

    Entire cities will be tested for Covid to contain local outbreaks using on-the-spot tests that give results in just 90 minutes. Starting next week, the tests will be routinely used to check hospital and care home staff and patients, but there are plans for more than a million tests a day by the time winter arrives. Ministers believe the revolutionary new tests, which can be processed by portable machines, will see off the danger of another national lockdown by enabling them to test everyone living in towns or cities where there is an outbreak, swiftly isolating those who have the virus. Until now, tests have had to be sent off to laboratories, often by post, where they then take a minimum of four hours to process, meaning a 24-hour turnaround time is the gold standard. By processing tests on the spot, much larger numbers of people can be tested much more quickly, allowing the swiftest possible action to contain outbreaks at source. They are likely to be used at airports to screen out people with Covid as they enter the country and could be used to cut quarantine times. Teachers will also be randomly tested to determine whether reopening schools in September has any effect on transmission rates. The tests can detect flu as well as Covid, meaning people who have Covid-like symptoms will know whether they are suffering from the more common illness and can avoid self-isolating. It follows a successful pilot of the 90-minute tests in Southampton. The first of the tests to come on stream, supplied by Oxfordshire-based Oxford Nanopore, will be able to process 15,000 tests per day on a portable desktop machine, or 2,000 tests per day using a handheld machine. They do not require scientific experts to operate them, meaning the Government can train lay people to operate as many machines as are needed. The first batch of 450,000 tests will be available from next week.

    Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:55:23 -0400
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