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  • Bloomberg 'weathered the storm' during fiery Democratic debate, his campaign says

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    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came under heavy fire from his rivals during Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate at the Paris Casino but “weathered the storm,” his senior adviser Howard Wolfson said. 

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 01:02:11 -0500
  • A Google manager has been arrested and charged with murder after his wife was reported missing in Hawaii

    Golocal247.com news

    His wife, a Microsoft business program manager, was reported missing Tuesday while the Seattle couple was vacationing in Hawaii.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:11:43 -0500
  • Ukrainians hurl stones at evacuees from China

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    Ukraine's effort to quarantine more than 70 people evacuated from China over the new virus outbreak plunged into chaos Thursday as local residents opposing the move hurled stones at the evacuees and clashed with police. Officials deplored the violence and the country's health minister pledged to share evacuees' quarantine for two weeks in a bid to reassure protesters who fear they'll be infected. Buses carrying evacuees were finally able to reach the designated place of quarantine after hours of clashes.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 03:12:10 -0500
  • Warren Reverses Pledge to Refuse PAC Money, Implies She’s Been Held to Sexist Double Standard

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    Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) changed her tune on the nefarious influence of super PACs just days after receiving the backing of a newly formed PAC, telling reporters on Thursday that because “all of the men” in the race refused to rely entirely on individual donors, she shouldn't be expected to either.“It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don’t,” she said.Warren, speaking to reporters in Nevada, tried to square her past disavowals of super PAC funding with her refusal to disavow a new PAC that made a $1 million television ad buy on her behalf this week. She argued that because she failed to convince other candidates to commit to her proposal of no PAC funding, she was forced to accept PAC support.“The first day I got in this race, over a year ago, I said ‘I hope every presidential candidate who comes in will agree — no Super PACs for any of us,” Warren explained. “I renewed that call dozens of times, and I couldn’t get a single Democrat to go along with me.”The pro-Warren “Persist” PAC filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday and booked $800,000 in television ads to run in Nevada, despite Warren’s previous criticisms of PAC money. During the New Hampshire Democratic Debate, she touted her lack of PAC support, saying “everyone on this stage except Amy [Klobuchar] and me is either a billionaire or is receiving help from PACs that can do unlimited spending.”The day of the New Hampshire primary last week, Warren tweeted that she “won’t take a dime of PAC money in this campaign.”> Let’s be clear: I won't take a dime of PAC money in this campaign. I won't take a single check from a federal lobbyist, or billionaires who want to run a Super PAC on my behalf. > > And I challenge every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to do the same.> > -- Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 9, 2019“Senator Warren is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump and win, and we’re going to ensure primary voters and caucusgoers hear her message,” Persist PAC spokesman Joshua Karp told The New York Times on the new venture. Warren’s campaign released a statement on Wednesday in response, which said her stance was “unchanged” on PACs, but did not direct the newly formed PAC to stand down.Speaking Thursday, Warren went further, implying that she could not hold out any longer after “all of the men” still running against her “had either Super PACs, or they were multi-billionaires.”“Finally, we reached the point a few weeks ago where all of the men who were still in this race and on the debate stage, all had either Super PACs, or they were multi-billionaires, and could just rummage around in their sock drawers and find enough money to be able to fund a campaign. And the only people who didn’t have them were the two women,” Warren argued.Warren signaled that after a pro-Klobuchar PAC sprang up earlier this week to support the Minnesota Senator, she was not going to stand in the way.“At that point, there were some women around the country who said, ‘you know, that’s just not right.’ So here’s where I stand — if all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in. I'll lead the charge. But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don’t,” she stated.> NEW: Here is video of Warren declining to disavow the new super PAC supporting her:> > “If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in. I'll lead the charge. But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only 1 or 2 don’t.” pic.twitter.com/byxQRjGMfs> > -- Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) February 20, 2020The shift in tone comes after Warren slammed former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg during Wednesday’s Nevada debate for a history of sexist comments and non-disclosure agreements with female employees.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 15:19:14 -0500
  • Racist German Shooter Exposes the Global Network of Hate

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    BERLIN—Late Wednesday night in the central German city Hanau, a gunman that police have identified as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen opened fire at two shisha bars. They’re the kind of places favored by people who enjoy a laid-back atmosphere as they puff tobacco bubbling through water-filled hookahs, and on any given evening, many of those folks may be from Turkish, Kurdish, or North African backgrounds. They’re quiet places for conversation and minding your own business. Do Germans Know a Hate Crime When They See It?But Rathjen just started blowing people away. He first opened fire at a hookah bar called Midnight in the center of Hanau. He then drove five minutes away to the Arena Bar and Cafe, where he opened fire again. He killed nine and injured several others at the two locations, then fled. Police swarmed into the neighborhood. When they tracked Rathjen down and stormed his apartment at 5 a.m., they found his dead body next to that of his 72-year-old mother. Apparently he had shot her, too.Investigators also found a manifesto with racist and ultranationalist views, and the federal prosecutor is treating the case as an example of extreme-right terrorism and it is already clear the shooter was drawing on the international propaganda of hate that has inspired murderers from New Zealand to the United States. It is also apparent that, despite condemnation of the killings by the ascendant far-right German opposition party AfD, or Alternative für Deutschland, it has contributed to this country's increasingly incendiary atmosphere.Witnesses were stunned.“I got a call from a colleague that there was a shooting,” Can Luca Frisenna, the 24-year-old son of the owner of a convenience store next to the Arena Bar, told reporters in front the taped-off crime scene. “I drove here directly. First I thought that my father had been hit and my little brother... and then I saw both of them, they were in shock, they were crying. Everyone was shocked.“Things like this do not happen in this area,“ Frisenna said. "It’s like a film, like a prank. I can’t yet believe what has happened. I think all of my colleagues, they are like my family, they cannot believe it either.”Both the Midnight and the Arena have owners with Kurdish backgrounds, according to Mehmet Tanriverdi, the chairman of the Kurdische Gemeinde Deutschland, or Kurdish Community in Germany.Tanriverdi said that five of the nine victims have Kurdish backgrounds, but “They are German citizens.” One witness, Kenan Kocak, told the television network station NTV, “It’s very sad in particular that young people—a young lad, and a young girl about 20 or 25 years old—have died. I was there with them yesterday. Someone who worked there was also taken to the hospital. It looks very bad.”The news agency ANF has identified two of the people killed as Ferhat Ünvar and Gökhan Gültekin, both young men. A week ago the killer, who described himself as a bank teller, published a video on YouTube in which he addressed “all Americans.” He spoke English in a light German accent and mouthed bizarre conspiracy theories about “underground military facilities” on U.S. soil. He referred repeatedly to 9/11 as an example of the imminent threat. He said that he, for one, has been under surveillance since birth and called on American citizens to wake up and “fight now.” The video appeared to have been recorded in a private apartment; a bookshelf in the background was stacked with dozens of binders. Meanwhile, Rathjen uploaded a 24-page text on his personal website. It included long sections of white supremacist, ethno-nationalist rambling. He wrote that “not everyone who owns a German passport is purebred and valuable.” He talked about one German Volk—“the people” in the ethno-nationalist sense—which he describes as being the best. Otherwise there are only “destructive races.” The “solution to the puzzle,” he wrote (misspelling “puzzle”—is that billions of people (he named Arab countries and Israel) be “annihilated.”If such demented ravings were limited to one unhinged bank teller with a gun, society might rest easy in spite of the tragedy. But they are not. Last week, police in Germany arrested 12 right-wing extremists who allegedly had been planning terror attacks on mosques across the country, inspired by those carried out in New Zealand last year. They had plans to provoke revenge attacks and bring about a “civil war,” authorities said.This often is part of the global hate network's gospel. The young white supremacist who murdered nine black men and women in a Bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina, one evening in June 2015, preached much the same philosophy.Inside the Head of Dylann Roof, Jihadist for White HateRathjen also wrote about the coming “war” on his website, claiming that it would be a double blow, both against the secret organizations that he says are reading his mind, and against the “degeneration of the Volk.”Right-wing extremists who turn to terror rely on apocalyptic scenarios (“civil war”) to characterize their targets as a threat and thus justify their criminal acts as “self defense.”Politicians from Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), now Germany’s biggest opposition party, have spurred this narrative by spreading conspiracies about “ethnic replacement” and disinformation campaigns about non-existent crimewaves—as exemplified by campaign posters that accused hookah bars of being places of “rape “ and “poison.”For Germany’s radical right, escalation is the goal. Crime levels in Germany are still at an all-time low. Right-wing terrorism aims to spread fear and potentially bring about authoritarian measures that the AfD cannot implement directly. So of course AfD politicians have condemned the terror attack—one AfD politician wrote on Twitter, “Is this still the ‘Germany in which we live well and happily’ that Merkel’s CDU (Conservative party) conjured up in 2017?”Four months ago, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet tried to commit a terror attack against a synagogue in the city of Halle an der Saale, and killed two bystanders. As was the case with Rathjen, he had not been known to intelligence services prior to his act of terror. Meanwhile, Stephan E., the man accused of murdering conservative politician Walter Lübcke on his front porch in June, was a neo-Nazi in the '90s, but only became active again in the past few years. The German newspaper Die Zeit reported Thursday that police found a New Right book in his apartment that propagates the same ethnic replacement theories AfD politicians have cited. In 2016, 18-year-old student David Sonboly killed nine people in Munich on the fifth anniversary of the terror attack in Norway by Anders Breivik. He had been bullied at school, but turned his resentment and fury on people simply for their appearance, claiming that refugees and immigrants were a threat to Germany’s future. In 2018, reporters from the newspaper Taz uncovered a network of people (including soldiers from the German army) who were preparing “kill lists” of left-wing politicians and activists, whom they could execute on the apocalyptic “Day X.”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, 20 Feb 2020 13:08:14 -0500
  • Rare Ethiopian crown, hidden for 21 years in the Netherlands, returns home

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    Ethiopia's government on Thursday assumed custody of a priceless 18th-century crown that a former refugee had kept hidden in his apartment in the Netherlands for two decades. The handover took place at a ceremony in the capital, Addis Ababa, attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation. Sirak Asfaw, the one-time refugee who is now a Dutch citizen, fled Ethiopia during the late 1970s during the so-called "Red Terror" purges.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:45:44 -0500
  • Trump's pardon of Bernie Kerik also apparently wiped out Kerik's $103,300 debt to taxpayers

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    President Trump granted a full pardon to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on Tuesday, clearing him of his eight counts of tax fraud, lying to federal investigators, and other crimes that accompanied his downfall. Kerik had already served his three years in prison for his crimes, but the pardon wipes out more than his criminal record, the New York Daily News reports. "The pardon cancels out $103,300 in restitution that Kerik still owed the Internal Revenue Service as part of his sentence, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan."The White House credited Kerik's friend and former boss in New York City, Rudy Giuliani — now Trump's personal lawyer and Ukraine fixer — for helping persuade Trump to pardon Kerik. Another friend of both Kerik and Trump, Newsmax chief executive Christopher Ruddy, told the Daily News that Trump's pardon was "a just decision" in light of Kerik's "minor stuff" crimes.One of Kerik's former colleagues in the Giuliani administration, NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, recalled Kerik's multifaceted downfall from heroic 9/11 figure to flamed-out reject for Homeland Security secretary slightly differently back in late 2004, The New Yorker recounted: "Officials have gotten into trouble for sexual misconduct, abusing their authority, personal bankruptcy, failure to file documents, waste of public funds, receiving substantial unrecorded gifts, and association with organized crime figures. It is rare for anyone to be under fire on all seven of the above issues."More stories from theweek.com Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils Buttigieg hits Bloomberg and Sanders in 1 swoop: 'Let's put forth someone who is actually a Democrat' Elizabeth Warren defends Amy Klobuchar for forgetting the name of Mexico's president

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 01:43:00 -0500
  • Virginia lawmakers reject assault weapons ban over fears of potential civil war

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    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's push to ban the sale of assault weapons has failed after members of his own party balked at the proposal. Senators voted to shelve the bill for the year and ask the state crime commission to study the issue, an outcome that drew cheers from a committee room packed with gun advocates.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 10:11:53 -0500
  • 'Cheap shot': Sanders fires back when Bloomberg goes after 'socialism'

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    Michael Bloomberg attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders at Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, with the billionaire former New York City mayor claiming the self-described democratic socialist’s ownership of multiple homes makes him a hypocrite.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:22:40 -0500
  • Joe Biden says his DACA proposal will help Asian Americans

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    The former vice president says Asian immigrants are part of the “reason why America is who we are.”

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:02:06 -0500
  • China kicked out 3 Wall Street Journal reporters after it published an op-ed using a term that invokes the biggest humiliation in Chinese history

    Golocal247.com news

    China's foreign ministry cited a February 3 headline, titled "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia," as the immediate reason for the expulsions.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 06:32:24 -0500
  • Family of man killed by trooper seeking more than $10M

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    Relatives of a black Connecticut man killed by a state trooper are seeking more than $10 million in wrongful death damages from state and local police, according to legal notices filed Thursday. Lawyers for the family of Mubarak Soulemane, 19, asked the state claims commissioner for permission to sue the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and top state police officials including Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella for $10 million. West Haven's counsel, Lee Tiernan, said the town's policy is not to comment on pending litigation.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:38:13 -0500
  • 9 Rural Farms of the 21st Century Featuring Stunning Modern Design

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    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 14:53:47 -0500
  • Don't Sleep on Russia's Super-Fast "Avangard" Hypersonic Missile

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    It'll keep you up at night.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:00:00 -0500
  • US military truck caught on camera ramming Russian jeep off the road in Syria

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    A video circulating on Twitter shows US military forces in Syria running a Russian military vehicle off the road.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:50:55 -0500
  • E. Jean Carroll, columnist who says Donald Trump raped her, fired from Elle

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    E. Jean Carroll, who helmed the "Ask E. Jean" column for Elle magazine since 1993, was fired in December, according to a court filing.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 15:49:42 -0500
  • Google Manager Arrested After Wife’s Body Found on Hawaii Beach

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    On Wednesday, distraught Google product manager Sonam Saxena spoke to a local Hawaii newspaper, pleading for help in finding his missing wife.The couple from Washington state, who had two young daughters, were on their annual family vacation to Hawaii when Smriti Saxena disappeared at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday. Sonam said he’d left his wife on a secluded beach south of Anaehoomalu Bay to take a 20-minute walk back to their Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort room to retrieve Smriti’s asthma inhaler. When he returned, her purse and phone were there but she was gone.“She got an asthma attack right there on the beach and she was feeling weak, he told West Hawaii Today. “So, I said, ‘Hey, you know what? You stay here, you have your phone with you and I’ll just go to the room grab your inhaler and pump and come back.’”Sonam pleaded for Big Island residents to help find Smriti. He even tweeted a message to Hawaii’s governor and shared it with his LinkedIn network. “Can you please promote this tweet so that I can tell my daughters where their mom is,” he wrote.However, on Wednesday, Hawaii Island Police arrested Sonam on one count of murder in the second-degree after a female body believed to be Smriti’s was found near Anaehoomalu Bay in the district of South Kohala. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of death.Smriti, a 41-year-old business program manager for Microsoft, was last seen on Tuesday night at the Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa, police said. Her husband, a 43-year-old who works in Google’s Seattle office as the head of product for Google’s Cloud Deployment Manager, said they’d taken a stroll to the beach shortly after. He told West Hawaii Today that he was “disturbed” when he came back from fetching the asthma inhaler to find his wife missing. He said he rushed back to the hotel to check if she’d returned to the room before calling 911.Hawaii Police put out a missing persons alert for Smriti at about 1:30 a.m. the following morning, and discovered her body six hours later. By that afternoon, they had arrested Sonam.The pair had been married for 17 years with two daughters, aged 13 and 8. They celebrated the older daughter’s birthday in Hawaii each year, Sonam had said. According to his LinkedIn, Sonam moved to Seattle from India in 2008 and worked for SkyKick and Microsoft before joining Google.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, 20 Feb 2020 14:06:29 -0500
  • Buttigieg attacks Bernie and Bloomberg: 'Let's put forward somebody who's actually a Democrat'

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    Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders sparred during Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, with the former South Bend, Ind., mayor calling the Vermont senator too “polarizing” to be the Democratic nominee, and Sanders taking a jab at Buttigieg’s big-money donors.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:58:53 -0500
  • 26 of the Best Stainless-Steel Bathroom Faucets 

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    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 15:29:57 -0500
  • Pompeo says 'mature, responsible countries' don't 'restrict speech' after China expels reporters

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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is condemning China for its decision to expel three reporters from The Wall Street Journal from the country."Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions," Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday. "The correct response is to present counter arguments, not restrict speech."This came after China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said three journalists from the Journal would have their credentials revoked over the paper's recent headline, "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia," The New York Times reports. The reporters weren't actually involved with the article, which was an opinion piece, but Beijing called the story "racist" and "malicious." The journalists, two of whom are American and one of whom is Australian, have been ordered to leave China within five days, although the Times notes it's not clear if that's possible, as one of is currently in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus.Journal editor Matt Murray called China's actions "harsh and unprecedented," saying the paper "will continue in the coming days to push for this action to be reversed." The Foreign Correspondents' Club also called the expulsion "an extreme and obvious attempt by the Chinese authorities to intimidate foreign news organizations." The Journal noted this is "the first time in the post-Mao era that the Chinese government has expelled multiple journalists from one international news organization at the same time."Pompeo's condemnation came after he warned African countries in a speech Wednesday to "be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises" in an apparent swipe at China. The State Department also told China Tuesday that five major Chinese news outlets will be treated as foreign state operatives by the United States going forward.More stories from theweek.com The growing crisis in cosmology The Democrats gave Mike Bloomberg what he deserved A deluge of new, belated Baby Yoda merchandise is on the way

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 13:35:00 -0500
  • Suspects in abduction, murder of 7-year-old Mexican girl detained

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    Mexican authorities arrested a couple believed to have kidnapped, tortured and murdered a seven year-old girl on Wednesday, days after the discovery of the victim's body sparked protests in the violence-wracked country. The suspects "were detained in a town in the State of Mexico," Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted, without giving more detail. Prosecutors on Tuesday released pictures of the two suspects -- identified as Giovana and Mario Alberto "N" -- after searching a house near the victim's home.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:52:11 -0500
  • A Japanese disease expert who inspected the Diamond Princess said he was 'so scared' of catching the coronavirus because hygiene on the cruise ship was so bad

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    Kentaro Iwata said that while he had weathered the Ebola, SARS, and cholera crises, he was scared of catching COVID-19 on the quarantined cruise ship.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 09:07:59 -0500
  • Airports warn of chaos with looming Real ID license deadline

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    Without a special Real ID driver's license or card, airline passengers will be required to present a passport, military ID or Global Entry card to pass through security, even for domestic flights, starting in October.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 19:17:00 -0500
  • A police officer was fired and told to immediately turn in his uniform at a town meeting, so he stripped down to his underwear and walked home in the snow

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    The Police Chief in Croydon, New Hampshire, was fired Tuesday night and ordered to turn over his uniform. He walked home in his underwear.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:55:24 -0500
  • Putin hails US for helping prevent terror attack in Russia

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    Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hailed the FBI for sharing information that helped thwart a terror attack by adherents of the Islamic State group in St. Petersburg during the New Year holidays. The FSB in December announced the detention of two Russian men who confessed to plotting the terror attacks in St. Petersburg.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:41:30 -0500
  • India's Military Is Quite Deadly (China and Pakistan Should Worry)

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    Missiles, carriers, and more.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 07:44:00 -0500
  • Who won the Nevada Democratic debate? Our panelists' verdict

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    The debate was so vicious at times that it resembled a circular firing squad. So who emerged as the victor? Jessa Crispin: ‘Angry Elizabeth Warren is back – and that’s good’So thrilled to have lived long enough to witness Mayor Bloomberg’s performance on the debate stage. Oh, to revel in his deadly charisma, in his power to unify the nation and lead us into a better future. He was so magnetic I simply kept forgetting he was on the stage. He was so inarticulate, timid, easily flummoxed, and filled with an obvious contempt for the proceedings, it’s no surprise so many (who may have undisclosed financial ties to the man and his company) have declared him the obvious winner.Was the audience drunk? Why am I not? Everyone’s inhibitions seemed lowered, including the very vocal crowd, Amy Klobuchar seemed seconds away from throwing a binder at Mayor Pete’s head, and we finally got angry Elizabeth Warren back for an evening. Angry Elizabeth Warren is the best Elizabeth Warren. Where has she been? Give her more to do, we miss her.There’s no real winner here. Everyone took a lot of hits from their colleagues and no one crawled out unscathed. But I think we can easily declare a loser, and that would be the moderators. The moderators have indeed been the losers through this whole process. They ask the same questions their colleagues asked in the last 84 Democratic debates, they often don’t follow up when answers are vague or misleading, they pose gotcha questions that have very low stakes. When a host for The View has more perseverance on making a squirming Amy Klobuchar answer for her problematic prosecutorial past, particularly as it involves the lack of justice in police-related shootings, maybe it is time for some soul-searching, public resignations, and replacement by journalists with spines. We have a moderator who referred to one candidate’s followers as brownshirts, and he’s just allowed to pretend to be an objective interlocutor? OK, cool, seems fine.The result was not as substantive as it could have (should have) been, but it made for some good TV. And at the end of the day, that’s probably enough for our distinguished men and women of television media.There must be something to the idea that pressure and pain have the ability to shape one’s character in transformative ways. * Jessa Crispin is the host of the Public Intellectual podcast and a Guardian US columnist Benjamin Dixon: ‘Bloomberg has no chance’Mike Bloomberg demonstrated tonight that, in his life as a billionaire, he must not have had to deal with any character-building pressures in a very long time. All of the money in the world could not purchase charisma enough to make up for the dull and glum presentation he gave tonight.I will admit that, up until this point, I believed Bloomberg was an existential threat to our democracy because of his ability to purchase everything from talent to silence. But no one could look at the debate tonight and honestly believe that the former mayor would stand a chance against Donald Trump. No one could look at Bloomberg’s performance and believe that this man could inspire the movement necessary to win in November.Michael Bloomberg spent more than $400m only to get on the national stage and show that he is not ready for primetime. This is what happens when you sit on the outside of the democratic process and use your money to create an image of you that is bigger than life.And it’s hard to live up to that image when you lack the charisma and character that those of us in the working class earned the hard way. * Benjamin Dixon is the host of The Benjamin Dixon Show Art Cullen: ‘Elizabeth Warren might have saved her campaign’Elizabeth Warren closed Wednesday’s debate by describing herself as a fighter. She brought plenty of punch to the stage from the get-go by slicing and dicing billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Warren put her rivals on their heels – she said Bloomberg referred to women as “fat broads and horse-faced lesbians”, said Pete Buttigieg’s healthcare plans boiled down to a Power Point presentation and that Amy Klobuchar’s could fit on a postage stamp. Mike Bloomberg was awful. Klobuchar was on the defensive. And the elephant in the room, Bernie Sanders, was able to point out that Medicare for All will actually save $450bn – and universal healthcare is what put him at the front of the pack in the first place. He did not appear to lose stride. Warren saw Klobuchar’s breakthrough in the New Hampshire debate. She spared no one, and savaged Bloomberg. Everyone was throwing punches but nobody hit as hard as Warren. With Super Tuesday less than two weeks away, this raucous debate was a clincher, and Warren might have saved her struggling campaign with direct appeals to minority women so important in the Nevada caususes. Joe Biden, not so much. * Art Cullen is editor of The Storm Lake Times in north-west Iowa, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. He is a Guardian US columnist and author of the book Storm Lake: Change, Resilience, and Hope in America’s Heartland. Arwa Mahdawi: ‘Bloomberg bombed, Warren won’Looks like Michael Bloomberg just found out money can’t buy you everything. The multibillionaire has spent almost $400m on ads but apparently zero time preparing for the debate stage. He had embarrassingly inadequate responses for predictable questions on stop-and-frisk and the silencing of women in his companies with NDAs. His lack of substance was matched with a complete lack of charisma. According to some in the Establishment, we should forgive Bloomberg’s history of sexism and racism because he’s the only person capable of beating Trump. If they still think that after this pitiful debate performance then we’re in trouble.While Bloomberg bombed, Elizabeth Warren had her best debate ever. She was impeccably prepared and utterly eviscerated Bloomberg. Warren has been lagging in the polls, leading some to prematurely write her off; big mistake. Pete Buttigieg’s performance was also noteworthy. The mayor may be able to read Norwegian but he can’t seem to read a room. Buttigieg’s constant attacks on Amy Klobuchar made him look like a mansplaining bully.“Mayo Pete” has been gliding through this election but I wouldn’t be surprised if more people start to find his patronizing demeanour a little hard to stomach. * Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian US columnist Lloyd Green: ‘Bernie Sanders emerged as the winner’The Democrats’ Game of Thrones-style debate was a two-hour extravaganza that boosted Donald Trump’s chances. Obviously, that’s not what the Democratic National Committee intended but it’s what happened – a circular firing squad more intent on unloading on each other than at going at the president.Elizabeth Warren flayed Mike Bloomberg with a helping hand from Joe Biden. New York’s ex-mayor appeared rusty and unprepared. The attacks were predictable yet he looked flatfooted. When you’re defending non-disclosure agreements, you’re losing. On Wednesday night, money didn’t buy everything.Lest Warren get cocky, it is worth remembering that early voting in the Nevada caucuses was well under way before the Massachusetts senator took the stage. As a result, any post-debate bounce will probably be short lived.Come Saturday evening, the headlines will either be about the order of finish or how Nevada botched its caucuses. Warning: Iowa redux is a real possibility.In the end, Bernie Sanders emerged as the winner in the room. He entered as the Democrats’ frontrunner and nothing altered that reality. According to the polls, Sanders is leading by double digits both in Nevada and nationally among Democrats. The question is whether his lead becomes insurmountable. We will know soon enough. * Lloyd Green was opposition research counsel to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign and served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:25:20 -0500
  • Southwest Airlines urges passengers to report 'any unwelcome behavior' during flight

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    The addition to Southwest Airline's pre-flight safety briefing comes amid high-profile claims of sexual assault on airlines.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:57:47 -0500
  • China says will help manage Mekong as report warns of dam danger

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    VIENTIANE/BANGKOK (Reuters) - China on Thursday said it was helping its downstream neighbors cope with a prolonged drought by releasing more water from its dams on the Mekong River, adding it would consider sharing information on hydrology to provide further assistance in the future. The statement came as a new economic report predicted that the building of dams to harness hydropower on the Mekong River would reshape the economies of five countries along the waterway, fuelling long-term inflation and dependence on China. The drought over the past year has severely hurt farming and fishing in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, and many blame China's 11 dams on the upper Mekong - which China calls the Lancang River - as well as climate change.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 09:35:01 -0500
  • Four things to know about Pope Pius XII's archives

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    The March 2 unsealing of the archives of Pope Pius XII, the controversial World War II-era pontiff, whose papacy lasted from 1939 to 1958, has been awaited for decades by Jewish groups and historians. The controversy over Pius XII hinges on whether the head of the Catholic Church, a former diplomat of the Holy See in Germany, remained too silent during the Holocaust, never publicly condemning the Nazis. The most sensitive archives, comprising the World War II period, have already been largely published by the Vatican.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:04:26 -0500
  • Bernie Sanders splits from AOC and says Medicare for All is 'already a compromise'

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    "My view is that Medicare for All, the bill that we wrote, is in a sense already a compromise. It is a four-year transition period," Sanders said.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:47:24 -0500
  • Stone’s sentencing to begin after judge refuses new trial request

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    Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Trump and a self-described political dirty trickster, is set to be sentenced on Thursday for his attempts to sabotage a congressional investigation that posed a political threat to the president.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:39:32 -0500
  • Crash near Orlando kills 4 members of Massachusetts family

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    The Smith and Fay families, who were vacationing together, were driving Tuesday night when a pickup rear-ended their vehicle, causing it to roll over.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:24:00 -0500
  • 'We don't have a history of murdering our citizens': A Saudi official says reports that the Saudi Crown Prince is connected to the death of Jamal Khashoggi are 'ridiculous'

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    Saudi Arabia has made "great progress in terms of human rights," Adel al-Jubeir said, urging outsiders to educate themselves better on its state of affairs.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 17:04:11 -0500
  • Abbott says top Malaysian leaders suspected pilot of MH370

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    Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the “top levels” of the Malaysian government long suspected that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 almost six years ago was a mass murder-suicide by the pilot. Australia, working on Malaysia's behalf, coordinated what became the largest search in aviation history, but it failed to find the plane before being ended in 2017. Speaking in a Sky News documentary to air on Wednesday and Thursday, Abbott said high-ranking Malaysian officials believed veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately downed the jet.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:02:31 -0500
  • At Phoenix rally, Trump says it doesn't matter who secures the Democratic nomination: 'We're going to win'

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    President Trump held a rally in Phoenix on Wednesday night at the same time Democrats were debating in Las Vegas, and he was sure to get in several digs against the candidates.He called Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) a "phony," referred to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as "crazy," and called former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg "Mini Mike." Trump proclaimed that it doesn't matter who the Democratic nominee is, because "we're going to win," but seemed to hint that he thinks it will be a close race in Arizona in November. While he won the state in 2016, he only beat Hillary Clinton by 3.5 percentage points. "We'll be back a lot," he said.Trump also told an oft-repeated story about a man who allegedly told Trump "my wife used to look at me like I'm a total loser," but because of how high his 401(k) is, "she loves me again. She thinks I'm a genius." The man's profession and his 401(k)'s rate of growth always changes when he tells the story, and Trump kept Wednesday's version of the man shrouded in mystery, simply referring to him as "Henry," USA Today reports.More stories from theweek.com The growing crisis in cosmology Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils Mick Mulvaney says the United States is 'desperate' for 'more immigrants'

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:46:00 -0500
  • Former Australian PM suspected pilot of mass-murder mission in MH370 tragedy

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    Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the “top levels” of the Malaysian government long suspected that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 almost six years ago was a mass murder-suicide by the pilot.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 14:30:59 -0500
  • Coronavirus is Spreading Rapidly in China (And One Minority Group Is Under Serious Threat)

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    If the Chinese government cannot or does not curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus in Xinjiang, it’s possible that it will evolve, as the influenza virus did in 1918, to become even more dangerous to humans

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:12:52 -0500
  • Man who bought 100-round magazine for Dayton mass shooter sentenced to 32 months

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    Ethan Kollie bought parts for the assault-style rifle used by Connor Betts in last year's mass shooting in Dayton.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:30:25 -0500
  • Apple has been granted a temporary restraining order against a man it says has been stalking Tim Cook

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    Apple alleged the man has been harassing Tim Cook, and has shown up at his house in Palo Alto twice, once with champagne and flowers.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:26:39 -0500
  • Mexican President Lopez Obrador says unaware of probe into ex-President Pena Nieto

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    Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday said he is not aware of an investigation into his predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, after a media report that law enforcement authorities are probing the former leader. "There is no investigation that I know of against the former president Pena Nieto," Lopez Obrador said in his daily morning press conference.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 10:22:21 -0500
  • This cauliflower tater tot recipe will be your new go-to side dish

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    Cauliflower has been having a long moment — but it's not slowing down any time soon. Here are some creative ways to use the versatile veggie.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 12:26:00 -0500
  • Russia warns Turkey, blocks UN bid to end Syria bloodshed

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    Russia on Wednesday warned Turkey against intervening in Syria as it blocked a UN bid to end the Damascus regime's brutal assault on the last rebel enclave. Syrian aid workers called urgently for a ceasefire and international help for nearly a million people fleeing the regime onslaught in the country's northwestern Idlib province -- the biggest wave of displaced civilians in the nine-year conflict. Turkey, supporter of some rebel groups in Idlib, has been pushing for a renewed ceasefire in talks with Russia, which backs the Syrian regime.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 16:39:40 -0500
  • US judge sides with migrants in case against Border Patrol

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    A U.S. judge in Arizona sided Wednesday with migrants who have long-complained about inhumane and unsanitary conditions in some U.S. Border Patrol facilities in the state. The ruling came weeks after the conclusion of a seven-day trial in which attorneys for migrants who sued in 2015 argued that the agency holds immigrants in extremely cold, overcrowded, unsanitary and inhumane conditions. The order makes permanent a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury issued in 2016 requiring the Tucson Sector to provide clean mats and thin blankets to migrants held for longer than 12 hours and to allow them to clean themselves.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 15:55:06 -0500
  • 8 Statement-Making Cabinets to Make Any Room

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    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 08:00:00 -0500
  • The Democrats gave Mike Bloomberg what he deserved

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    The new contestant in the 7,000th Democratic debate, which took place in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, was former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who got on the debate stage by spending 400 million dollars, and most of the key discussion focused on his candidacy and his record.Practically the whole field united to savage Bloomberg. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders all attacked him more aggressively than any candidate has attacked another at any previous debate, and Bloomberg was all but helpless before the withering assault. Though he has bought off dozens of Democratic politicians and think tanks, it seems like all but one of his competitors are not at all keen on their party being bought wholesale by a billionaire oligarch.The most riveting moment of any Democratic debate so far came almost immediately, when Warren nailed Bloomberg on his appalling record of sexual harassment, racism, and plutocratic corruption:> I'd like to talk about who we're running against — a billionaire who calls women 'fat broads' and 'horse-faced lesbians.' And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg. Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk … Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another. [Elizabeth Warren]Later, when Bloomberg tried to deflect a question about allegations of workplace harassment, Warren pounced again: "He has gotten some number of women — dozens, who knows? — to sign non-disclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace. So Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all those women from those non-disclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?" (By the way, the total number is at least 64 women as part of 40 different lawsuits.)Bloomberg again tried to deflect, arguing that the agreements were made to protect the privacy of the women involved. "They decided when they made an agreement that they wanted to keep it quiet." Biden then joined in, pointing out the obvious fact that this is not what NDA agreements are really about. People take the money, and in return they agree not to discuss the horrible event. It's basically hush money, and the American people deserve to know the truth. "All the mayor has to do," Biden said, is tell those people, "'You are released from the nondisclosure agreement.'"Bloomberg still did not agree to release the agreements, but he was completely nonplussed by the exchange. He clearly was not prepared for these rather obvious questions, perhaps because he is a cloistered plutocrat surrounded by yes men and toadies, or perhaps because there is no defense at all. He appeared very much like what he in fact is — a very rich man who is likely facing bitter, unfiltered criticism to his face for the first time in years.The only candidate who largely refused to leap on the dogpile was Pete Buttigieg. When Biden and Warren were mercilessly destroying Bloomberg on his sexual harassment history, Buttigieg did not join in. When Klobuchar was attacking Bloomberg for failing to release his tax returns (as Trump has also refused to do), Buttigieg stood aside. When Sanders was attacking Bloomberg for endorsing George W. Bush in 2004, and for being a gigantic vector of corruption in the political system, Buttigieg said nothing.In his one clear attack on Bloomberg, Buttigieg triangulated himself between Bloomberg and Sanders. "Most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks money ought to be the root of all power," he said. "We shouldn’t have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out."Every other candidate, especially Warren, seemed genuinely infuriated at the prospect of a racist, sexist, authoritarian former Republican like Bloomberg buying the Democratic nomination like a slurpee at 7/11. But Buttigieg, well, he's cut from a different kind of cloth.It remains to be seen how much Bloomberg's epic debate faceplant will matter when it comes time to vote in upcoming states. He is spending a totally unprecedented amount of money on this primary. But this was by far the most interesting and dramatic debate of the primary season, and he ate it big time. It doesn't speak well for his ability to hold up under the scrutiny of a general election campaign, where his money will be a lot less useful than it is right now.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com The growing crisis in cosmology Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils Mick Mulvaney says the United States is 'desperate' for 'more immigrants'

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:22:21 -0500
  • Virus Surge in Japan Risks Undoing Abe’s Efforts to Woo China

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    (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has so far managed to keep the coronavirus outbreak from damaging his hard-won relationship with China. That’s getting even more difficult with each new case confirmed in Japan.Abe has taken a softer approach to China over the virus than the Trump administration, winning Tokyo praise in Beijing. That chimes with his efforts to nurse Japan’s relationship with its giant neighbor and biggest trading partner back to health since he took office in 2012 amid the worst crisis in decades.Unlike others including the U.S., Australia and Singapore, Abe’s government has avoided a blanket ban on visitors from its neighbor, instead restricting entry from just two provinces. While acting quickly to evacuate its citizens from the virus epicenter of Hubei, Japan also used the planes to fly in aid packages for China.That’s contrasted with Japan’s counterparts in the U.S., who have questioned China’s commitment to transparency during the crisis -- leading to bickering between the two sides. China is also keen to keep ties strong with Abe amid a painful trade war with the U.S. that has battered its economy.“Japan’s attitude has been very helpful for China,“ said Noriyuki Kawamura, a professor at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies. “China’s initial response to the virus was insufficient. The question is what Japan will do when those problems are exposed. Will it criticize China or close its eyes?”China has shown its appreciation for Japan’s approach, marking an unusual interlude in a relationship between Asia’s two biggest economies long rocked by disagreements over history and territory. Personal touches like a fragment of ancient Chinese poetry attached to aid packages from a Japanese group and a video of a Tokyo-based ballet troupe singing the Chinese national anthem won widespread praise on Chinese social media.But as coronavirus infections rise in Japan, Abe is likely to find his position harder to maintain, especially given that an earlier alert from China could have slowed the spread of the disease. Before global warning flags were raised, thousands of Chinese tourists visited all parts of Japan and have since been linked to cases of virus transmission. Three people have so far died of the infection in Japan.‘Cherry Trees Bloom’Chinese visitors to Japan in January rose 22.6% from a year ago, data released Wednesday showed. Even though infection numbers in China grew dramatically in late January, Abe’s government only banned entry from Hubei province on Feb 1.While the virus outbreak initially provided an opportunity for Japan to show solidarity, it’s likely to interfere with Abe’s plans for a state visit by President Xi Jinping, meant to crown the seven-year slog to restore relations. Japanese officials have repeatedly said there’s no change to the plan to treat Xi with full state honors “when the cherry trees bloom” in early April, but both sides may find the trip harder to manage.The virus also appears to be eating away Abe’s long-solid voter support. A poll published this week by the conservative Yomiuri newspaper, which generally backs Abe, showed 52% of respondents were dissatisfied with the way the government has been handling the outbreak. His support rate dropped in all three media surveys published Monday.Japan’s Abe Arrives in China Vowing to Lift Ties to ‘New Level’The opposition Democratic Party for the People has called for a ban on all foreigners visiting from China. Former premier Yukio Hatoyama’s Twitter announcement that an organization he heads had donated a million masks to China was met with a barrage of online criticism amid a serious shortage of such items in Japan.Clampdown coming?Some in Abe’s own ruling Liberal Democratic Party oppose Xi’s state visit, partly because of the ongoing incursions by Chinese ships into what Japan sees as its territorial waters around disputed East China Sea islands.Japan Needs to Do More to Fix China’s Image Problem, Xi SaysAn annual poll by think tank Genron NPO published in October found 46% of Chinese had a favorable impression of Japan, the highest since the survey began in 2005, as more tourists experience the country for themselves. Nearly 10 million Chinese visited Japan last year.Almost 85% of Japanese respondents to the same poll said they had an unfavorable impression of China. By contrast, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said gratitude would bring the two peoples together.“Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Japanese government and people have expressed sympathy, understanding and support to us,” she told reporters Feb. 4. “What the virus has done is cruel and will not last. What the people have done is touching and will be remembered forever.”She later tweeted in Japanese about China sending testing kits to its neighbor, saying “there are no borders in the fight against the virus.”Skeptics point out that there are still deep divisions between the neighbors, including over Japanese citizens detained in China and restrictions on Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang. The territorial dispute over East China Sea islands that brought them close to a military clash in 2012-13 is no nearer resolution.“Neither side has reduced its number of patrols close to the islands,” said Tsai Hsi-hsun, director of Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of Japanese Political and Economic Studies in Taiwan. “They still don’t trust each other in terms of national security and that distrust is deeply ingrained on both sides even though, on the surface, the relationship looks better.”(Updates with China spokesperson comment)\--With assistance from Samson Ellis.To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon HerskovitzFor 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, 20 Feb 2020 20:08:03 -0500
  • Execution for a Facebook post? Why blasphemy is a capital offense in some Muslim countries

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    Junaid Hafeez, a university lecturer in Pakistan, had been imprisoned for six years when he was sentenced to death in December 2019. The charge: blasphemy, specifically insulting Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. Pakistan has the world’s second strictest blasphemy laws after Iran, according to U.S. Commision on International Religious Freedom.Hafeez, whose death sentence is under appeal, is one of about 1,500 Pakistanis charged with blasphemy, or sacrilegious speech, over the last three decades. No executions have taken place. But since 1990 70 people have been murdered by mobs and vigilantes who accused them of insulting Islam. Several people who defend the accused have been killed, too, including one of Hafeez’s lawyers and two high-level politicians who publicly opposed the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted for verbally insulting Prophet Muhammad. Though Bibi was acquitted in 2019, she fled Pakistan. Blasphemy and apostasyOf 71 countries that criminalize blasphemy, 32 are majority Muslim. Punishment and enforcement of these laws varies. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia. Among non-Muslim-majority cases, the harshest blasphemy laws are in Italy, where the maximum penalty is three years in prison.Half of the world’s 49 Muslim-majority countries have additional laws banning apostasy, meaning people may be punished for leaving Islam. All countries with apostasy laws are Muslim-majority except India. Apostasy is often charged along with blasphemy. This class of religious laws is quite popular in some Muslim countries. According to a 2013 Pew survey, about 75% of respondents in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia favor making sharia, or Islamic law, the official law of the land. Among those who support sharia, around 25% in Southeast Asia, 50% in the Middle East and North Africa, and 75% in South Asia say they support “executing those who leave Islam” – that is, they support laws punishing apostasy with death. The ulema and the stateMy 2019 book “Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment” traces the root of blasphemy and apostasy laws in the Muslim world back to a historic alliance between Islamic scholars and government.Starting around the year 1050, certain Sunni scholars of law and theology, called the “ulema,” began working closely with political rulers to challenge what they considered to be the sacrilegious influence of Muslim philosophers on society. Muslim philosophers had for three centuries been making major contributions to mathematics, physics and medicine. They developed the Arabic number system used across the West today and invented a forerunner of the modern camera.The conservative ulema felt that these philosophers were inappropriately influenced by Greek philosophy and Shia Islam against Sunni beliefs. The most prominent in consolidating Sunni orthodoxy was the brilliant and respected Islamic scholar Ghazali, who died in the year 1111.In several influential books still widely read today, Ghazali declared two long-dead leading Muslim philosophers, Farabi and Ibn Sina, apostates for their unorthodox views on God’s power and the nature of resurrection. Their followers, Ghazali wrote, could be punished with death. As modern-day historians Omid Safi and Frank Griffel assert, Ghazali’s declaration provided justification to Muslim sultans from the 12th century onward who wished to persecute – even execute – thinkers seen as threats to conservative religious rule. This “ulema-state alliance,” as I call it, began in the mid-11th century in Central Asia, Iran and Iraq and a century later spread to Syria, Egypt and North Africa. In these regimes, questioning religious orthodoxy and political authority wasn’t merely dissent – it was apostasy. Wrong directionParts of Western Europe were ruled by a similar alliance between the Catholic Church and monarchs. These governments assaulted free thinking, too. During the Spanish Inquisition, between the 16th and 18th centuries, thousands of people were tortured and killed for apostasy.Blasphemy laws were also in place, if infrequently used, in various European countries until recently. Denmark, Ireland and Malta all recently repealed their laws.But they persist in many parts of the Muslim world. In Pakistan, the military dictator Zia ul Haq, who ruled the country from 1978 to 1988, is responsible for its harsh blasphemy laws. An ally of the ulema, Zia updated blasphemy laws – written by British colonizers to avoid interreligious conflict – to defend specifically Sunni Islam and increased the maximum punishment to death. From the 1920s until Zia, these laws had been applied only about a dozen times. Since then they have become a powerful tool for crushing dissent.Some dozen Muslim countries have undergone a similar process over the past four decades, including Iran and Egypt. Dissenting voices in IslamThe conservative ulema base their case for blasphemy and apostasy laws on a few reported sayings of Prophet Muhammad, known as hadith, primarily: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” But many Islamic scholars and Muslim intellectuals reject this view as radical. They argue that Prophet Muhammad never executed anyone for apostasy, nor encouraged his followers to do so.Nor is criminalizing sacrilege based on Islam’s main sacred text, the Quran. It contains over 100 verses encouraging peace, freedom of conscience and religious tolerance. In chapter 2, verse 256, the Quran states, “There is no coercion in religion.” Chapter 4, verse 140 urges Muslims to simply leave blasphemous conversations: “When you hear the verses of God being rejected and mocked, do not sit with them.”By using their political connections and historical authority to interpret Islam, however, the conservative ulema have marginalized more moderate voices. Reaction to global IslamophobiaDebates about blasphemy and apostasy laws among Muslims are influenced by international affairs.Across the globe, Muslim minorities – including the Palestinians, Chechens of Russia, Kashmiris of India, Rohingya of Mymanmar and Uighurs of China – have experienced severe persecution. No other religion is so widely targeted in so many different countries. Alongside persecution are some Western policies that discriminate against Muslims, such as laws prohibiting headscarves in schools and the U.S. ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries.Such Islamaphobic laws and policies can create the impression that Muslims are under siege and provide an excuse that punishing sacrilege is a defense of the faith.Instead, I find, such harsh religious rules can contribute to anti-Muslim stereotypes. Some of my Turkish relatives even discourage my work on this topic, fearing it fuels Islamophobia. But my research shows that criminalizing blasphemy and apostasy is more political than it is religious. The Quran does not require punishing sacrilege: authoritarian politics do.[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Conservative Islamic views are gaining ground in secular Bangladesh and curbing freedom of expression * Imran Khan hopes to transform Pakistan but he’ll have far less power than past leadersAhmet T. Kuru is a FORIS scholar at the Religious Freedom Institute.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:08:42 -0500
  • The Vietcong Proved That America's Enemies Don't Need Missiles To 'Sink' An Aircraft Carrier

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    Naval vessels often have a mystique about them, but they are vulnerable to attack.

    Thu, 20 Feb 2020 03:00:00 -0500
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