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  • The Latest: Cleric issues edict forbidding US troops in Iraq

    A leading Shiite Muslim cleric followed by some Iraqi militants has issued a public religious edict forbidding the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. The fatwa issued Friday by Iran-based Grand Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri comes after Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq accused the United States of being behind recent attacks on their bases and weapons depots in Iraq.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:42:57 -0400
  • Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'

    Golocal247.com news

    "There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves," Gingrich argued.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:53:09 -0400
  • Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

    Golocal247.com news

    Russia will launch the world's first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region. Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia. Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:01:09 -0400
  • Japan, U.S. reach framework trade pact, no tariff cuts on Japan cars - Nikkei

    The United States and Japan have reached the broad framework of a trade agreement, with Washington maintaining tariffs on Japanese autos but Tokyo cutting tariffs on U.S. beef and pork, Japan's Nikkei business daily said on Saturday. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi reached the deal on Friday in Washington, and it will be announced at a meeting of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected on Sunday on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, the newspaper said. The report comes shortly after Motegi told reporters in Washington that he and Lighthizer had made "big progress" in their talks.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:26:04 -0400
  • 2020 Toyota GR Supra vs. 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: Which Is the Better Driver's Machine?

    Golocal247.com news

    Vastly different yet similarly capable, one of these rear-drive sports coupes begs to be driven harder than the other.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington

    Golocal247.com news

    An ambitious agenda by the March for Our Lives activists may be the first time the majority of Americans get real representationA young girl looks on as she attends a vigil for the victims of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMarch for Our Lives, the national youth gun violence prevention movement founded by survivors of last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, released a sweeping gun reform agenda this week.The agenda calls for significantly raising the standards for gun ownership in America, and reducing by about 100m the total number of guns in circulation.It’s a dramatic, ambitious plan. And it may represent the first time in decades that the majority of Americans will get any real representation in the gun control debate in Washington.March for Our Lives’ young activists endorsed an Australia-style mandatory government buyback and destruction of “assault weapons”. They want to decrease the number of guns in circulation by 30% – which would mean roughly 100m fewer firearms in American hands. They proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting US law much more in line with European countries. And they want to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms.These proposals are substantially more aggressive, and more ambitious, than anything the Democrats in Washington have fought for in years. In fact, for decades, gun control groups and progressive politicians have done a poor job at representing the majority of Americans in Congress when it comes to gun control. A surprising voidDemocrats have fought for minor new restrictions on gun buying – and been defeated by the Republican party’s gun absolutists – but, fundamentally, the Democratic party has remained supportive of gun ownership.Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to “ban assault weapons”, for example, have not meant an actual ban on these guns, but only a ban on future sales, meaning that Americans could keep the millions of military-style rifles they already own. President Obama’s signature gun control legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a compromise bill that would have closed just a few of the gaping loopholes in the nation’s background check system – a measure so weak it’s doubtful whether it would have had any effect on gun violence at all.The country’s largest gun control groups, too, have made great efforts to portray themselves as pro-“gun safety”, not anti-gun. They routinely advertise themselves as supporters of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms. And they have focused on “commonsense reforms”, such as getting what activists see as particularly extreme weapons off the streets, or requiring a criminal background check before every gun sale.This lack of any explicit anti-gun side in the American gun debate is strange.Although many Americans may not realize it, gun owners are a minority in the United States. American civilians overall own an estimated 300m to 400m firearms, more than one gun per person. But this frequently cited statistic obscures how concentrated American gun ownership is.In recent surveys, roughly 70% to 80% of Americans said they do not personally own a gun, and a majority said that nobody in their household owns a gun. Just 3% of American adults own half the country’s guns, according to a definitive 2015 survey. This small group of gun super-owners have an average of 17 guns each.Gun absolutists – the activists who oppose any gun control measures, who want Americans to be able to own any kind of gun, and carry them everywhere – are a minority within that minority. According to the best available estimates, fewer than 10% of American gun owners overall are members of the National Rifle Association.There appear to be at least as many Americans who are vehemently anti-gun as there are NRA members.Recent Gallup polls have found that 28% of American adults say they would support a law banning handgun ownership, except by the police and other “authorized persons”. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 9% of American adults believed that “almost no one” should be legally allowed to own guns – about the same proportion as the number of adults who believed that “almost everyone” should be able to own them.A coalition of 9% of American adults would translate into more than 20 million people. That’s a group four times larger than the NRA, which claims between 5 million and 6 million members.Only a minority of Americans oppose most private gun ownership. But there’s strong majority support for much tougher gun control laws than the ones currently on the books.A 2017 Pew survey found 68% supported banning assault-style weapons. Seventy-one percent supported having a federal database to track all gun sales. A 2018 Gallup survey found 68% of respondents supported raising the legal age to buy certain guns. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 77% of respondents were in favor of requiring people to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.It’s not hard to find Americans who oppose the country’s current gun culture. They show up at gun control rallies, holding signs that say things like “Repeal the Second Amendment”. They live in neighborhoods burdened by decades of daily gun violence. They’ve lost family members or friends to shootings. They keep asking: why can’t we just get rid of the guns?But for years, these Americans’ views have not been well represented by America’s “gun safety” groups, and they have had virtually no representation in Congress.This may finally be starting to change. Moving the gun debateIn 2016, a progressive activist launched Guns Down America, a small organization that advocates not simply for “gun sense laws”, but for “a future with fewer guns”. Following the Parkland shooting, the young March for Our Lives activists have advocated unapologetically for bold reform, though they, like other American gun control activists, say they’re not anti-gun and their proposals for stricter regulation represent the interests of “responsible gun owners”.It’s not yet clear how much the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will move towards embracing these majority opinions on gun control policy. But there’s already been movement towards the actual middle of the debate.In 2016, Obama argued in a CNN Town Hall that “issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it”. This year, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker made gun licensing the center of his 2020 gun control platform.After the mass shooting targeting Latino families in El Paso, the former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said he endorsed not just an assault weapon ban, but a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. On Wednesday, he became the first Democratic 2020 candidate to tweet that he supported March for Our Lives’ new policy agenda.O’Rourke’s campaign did not back away from the most controversial elements of the youth activists’ plan, including their desire to revisit the supreme court’s current interpretation of the second amendment, enshrined in the Heller decision.“While Beto agrees with the court’s holding that the second amendment allows for regulation, he does not agree with the entirety of the Heller decision,” said Aleigha Cavalier, O’Rourke’s national press secretary. “One piece of the Heller case Beto believes should be revisited is the court’s decision to strike down DC’s safe storage requirements.”America’s gun debate may soon actually have two sides.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 01:00:08 -0400
  • China Buys American Soybeans after Vowing to Boycott U.S. Farm Products

    Golocal247.com news

    China purchased a comparatively small amount of U.S. soybeans several days ago after promising to boycott U.S. farm products amid deteriorating trade negotiations with the Trump administration.Beijing reached agreements last week to buy 9,589 metric tons of American soybeans for the current marketing year and 66,000 metric tons for the following year, which starts September 1, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Thursday.An August 5 statement from China's Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies would boycott American farm products in response to the Trump administration's heavy tariffs on Chinese products. In May, the White House upped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, claiming Beijing had reneged on the previously agreed terms of a trade deal. The U.S. also currently has a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese high-tech products.In response, China has slapped 25 percent tariffs on tens of billions in U.S. goods, including cars, planes, propane, soybeans, beef, and whiskey. The duties caused a steep drop in American farm exports, and the Trump administration has since compensated farmers up to $28 billions for their losses.Despite apparently breaking its boycott, China, which is the world's largest soybean importer, is still not purchasing anywhere near as many American soybeans as it has in the past. Last year, American sales of soybeans to China dropped 74 percent as Beijing gave its business to South America.President Trump has long complained about China's trade practices, accusing the country of contributing heavily to the U.S. trade deficit as well as stealing intellectual property from American companies.“Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!” the president wrote in a tweet around the time of China's retaliatory tariffs.The administration had said it planned to impose tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese goods by September 1, but later said it would delay imposing them until December."Despite the U.S. decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese goods . . . if the United States rides roughshod over China’s opposition and imposes any new tariffs, China will be forced to adopt retaliatory actions," Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:05:27 -0400
  • An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth

    Golocal247.com news

    Leon Haughton told The Washington Post he was jailed for 82 days after customs officials in Baltimore alleged that the three jars of honey were meth.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:42:21 -0400
  • Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America

    Golocal247.com news

    As she cleans up the counter where the teenagers at her church’s Vacation Bible School ate their cookies and yoghurt, Luba Yanko complains about the state of the country. President Donald Trump is trying to act on Christian values, she believes. But from what she reads online, it seems that a certain group keeps getting in the way.Trump, she says, “is surrounded by a Zionist environment with completely different values from Christians. It’s kabbalist. It’s Talmudic values. Not the word of God.”

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:21:00 -0400
  • Russian opposition leader Navalny released from jail

    Golocal247.com news

    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released on Friday after spending a month in jail for calling for an unsanctioned protest. Navalny, along with several opposition activists, has led a protest movement earlier this summer against Russian election authorities' decision to bar nearly two dozen independent candidates from running for the Moscow city legislature in the Sept. 8 election. One of these rallies was the largest anti-government protest that Moscow had seen in eight years.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 05:14:58 -0400
  • Modi Ally Calls for Boycott of China Companies on Kashmir, Trade

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Indians should stop buying from Chinese companies and the government should reconsider trade concessions to its biggest neighbor after China allied with Pakistan on Kashmir, according to an economic policy group linked with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.Companies like technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. should be barred from accessing the Indian market in the future and Chinese companies should be banned from state tenders, Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, affiliated to the ruling party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said in an interview Thursday.“Not just in Kashmir, we believe that Chinese companies are a security threat to India especially in telecom,” Mahajan said by phone. “Not just in consumer goods, they’re a threat in telecom because their companies have massive support from the state, are allowed to vastly underbid Indian companies and win tenders for critical infrastructure.”The group met Indian telecom companies on Aug. 17 to discuss strategies to be used to curb Chinese industry. The organization had also written a letter to Prime Narendra Modi seeking action against China, Mahajan said. Calls made to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking comment went unanswered.This isn’t the first time that the Swadesh Jagran Manch has called for a ban on Chinese goods and companies. The group, along with the Confederation of All India Traders had called for a similar ban in March this year after China blocked the blacklisting of Pakistan-based Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, at the U.N. Security Council.A ban called by both organizations during the festival of Diwali in 2016 wasn’t successful, although traders anticipated the sale of Chinese products would fall by 30%, the Press Trust of India reported. India has a trade deficit of over $53 billion with China.To contact the reporter on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Abhay SinghFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:00:00 -0400
  • Overstock CEO resigns over relationship with Russian 'spy'

    Golocal247.com news

    The chief executive of the e-commerce firm Overstock.com stepped down Thursday over his relationship with an alleged Russian intelligence operative jailed for meddling in US politics. Patrick Byrne only recently admitted that he had a close relationship with Maria Butina for three years, during the period when she beguiled top Republican and National Rifle Association officials with talk of strengthening Moscow-Washington relations and her flair with guns.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:56:32 -0400
  • Iran ready to work on French nuclear deal proposals, does not want war: foreign minister

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran is prepared to work on French proposals to salvage the international nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015 but it will not tolerate U.S. interference in the Gulf, its foreign minister said on Thursday. At a time of heightened friction between Tehran and Washington, Iran also on Thursday displayed what it described as a domestically built long-range, surface-to-air missile air defense system.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 08:09:30 -0400
  • Sanders campaign boss concedes he may not win New Hampshire

    Golocal247.com news

    The campaign manager for Bernie Sanders emphasized Thursday that New Hampshire is a critical presidential primary state he expects Sanders to win, but he's leaving room for a scenario in which Sanders falls short. Faiz Shakir said he doesn't "like the language of must-win," though he does believe it is an important early voting state.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 20:44:00 -0400
  • Man arrested after using Band-Aids and gauze to repair flat tires

    Golocal247.com news

    Deputies arrested a man who was allegedly under the influence of drugs, using Band-Aids and gauze to repair flat tires.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:43:18 -0400
  • Hotline for detained migrants featured on Orange is the New Black shut down

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    Hotline shut down by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement connected detained migrants to an advocacy groupFounded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the Netflix production and was named in the show. Photograph: Handout/Getty ImagesUS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has shut down a national hotline that connected detained migrants to an advocacy group, a month after the hotline was featured in a storyline in the hit TV series Orange is the New Black.Founded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants in the world’s largest immigration detention system with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the award-winning Netflix production and was named in the show.Freedom for Immigrants runs and supports visitation programs in detention centers. It sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ice, alleging the government agency was retaliating and violating its right to exercise free speech after its profile grew.“Ice is attempting to silence its critics and block people in immigration detention from connecting with communities on the outside,” said Christina Fialho, the group’s co-executive director. “It’s disappointing, but not unexpected, that Trump’s Ice would engage in such cruel and undemocratic behavior.”Shawn Neudauer, an Ice spokesman, said all Ice facilities provide detainees with reasonable access to phones and that detainees are allowed to make free calls to an Ice-approved list of free legal service providers.“Pro bono organizations found to be violating [Ice] rules may be removed from the platform,” Neudauer said. “However, removal from this platform in no way limits the ability of an Ice detainee to phone such an organization directly should the detainee wish to do so.”The Ice phone system is operated by Talton Communications, which is mandated to provide free extensions to groups such as the UN refugee agency, consulates and Freedom for Immigrants.Freedom for Immigrants had three pro-bono extensions operating in detention centers when Donald Trump took office. Ice shut down two of the extensions before the final one was closed on 7 August.Fialho said the cease-and-desist letter was the first step in potential litigation, though the group was hoping to avoid court.“We very much hope we can resolve this amicably, but our team is also ready to enforce our rights under the constitution,” she said.Before Ice shut down the hotline it closed more than a dozen of Freedom for Immigrants detention center visitation programs. They were ultimately reinstated.The final season of Orange is the New Black focuses on the immigration detention system, which is run by Ice, and highlights how difficult it is for people in prison to contact family or friends because of the high cost of making phone calls in detention.In one scene, Gloria (Selenis Leyva) tells Maritza (Diane Guerrero) about the hotline and warns: “You gotta be careful, though. Apparently as soon as Big Brother figures out you’re using the hotline, they shut it down.”Fialho said the hotline was important for helping migrants connect with the outside world.“We would get calls from people who hadn’t been able to communicate with family members to tell them they’ve been taken by Ice, that they are in this particular immigration detention facility,” she said.While the extension number was supposed to be written on a sheet available to migrants in every detention center, Fialho said Ice had never made it easily available and people learned about the hotline through word of mouth instead.Now that the extension is gone, detained migrants can still use the Freedom for Immigrants hotline, but the group will have to shoulder the cost. The extension was also supposed to be unmonitored. Ice can listen in on a normal call.Orange is the New Black actors including Guerrero, Emily Tarver and Laura Gómez signed a letter to Ice demanding the hotline be restored.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:10:37 -0400
  • L.L. Bean's Huge End-of-Summer Sale Is Taking Up to 70% Off

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    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 14:17:00 -0400
  • Amazon fires: Bolsonaro actively trying to devastate rainforest, leaked documents show

    Golocal247.com news

    Jair Bolsonaro hopes to sabotage conservation efforts in the Amazon, leaked documents show.A series of powerpoint slides reveal that Brazilian government officials intend to build a bridge, motorway and hydroelectric plant through the rainforest.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:26:45 -0400
  • Trump fumes over emissions deal between automakers and California

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    The president decried a deal between the most populous U.S. state and four major automakers.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:22:13 -0400
  • Putin Needs to Bury This Relic of Stalin

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Europe marks 80 years of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which carved up eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Russia is trying to defend the agreement again. There is no political benefit to doing this. President Vladimir Putin needs to abandon his Stalinist inheritance of a foreign policy based solely on national interest.If Moscow needed any reminder that many in eastern Europe still hold the treaty against it and still consider it a threat, plenty came on the anniversary. The governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania – the countries directly affected by the pact’s secret protocol – issued a joint statement saying the document “sparked World War II and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery.”More than a million people gathered to celebrate the Baltic Chain, the 419-mile (675 kilometer) long line of people who protested Soviet rule on Aug. 23, 1989. The demonstrators didn’t pick that day at random – they, too, were making the point that the subjugation of their countries by the Soviet Union began with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.Russia is fighting back. In Moscow, the original of the treaty is now exhibited alongside documents relating to both the 1938 Munich Agreement, where British and French leaders sanctioned the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and Poland’s subsequent invasion of part of Czechoslovakia.At the opening of the exhibition earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of Britain and France’s treachery: By cosying up to Hitler, they forced the Soviet Union to sign a deal with the Nazis to ensure its own security, he said. Had the Western Europeans listened to the Soviets and set up a collective security system, the bloodshed of World War II could have been averted. Lavrov was making a clear analogy with Russia’s efforts to build an alternative security architecture in today’s Europe – an idea the Kremlin hasn’t abandoned despite the rest of Europe’s lack of interest.For its part, the Russian mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group the Kremlin sees as the foundation for its alternative security architecture, tweeted on Aug. 20 that lots of other countries had signed pacts with the Nazis before the Soviet Union did.Kremlin officials can say all this until they go hoarse, but that can’t erase the undeniable fact that the Soviet Union’s security didn’t require it to grab the Baltics and parts of Poland and Romania. Poland, which tried to benefit from the Nazis’ aggression, has admitted it was in the wrong when it invaded part of Czechoslovakia. President Lech Kaczynski apologized for it in 2009.In 1989, the Soviet Union, too, officially condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – but subsequent Russian communications about it, including an entire article signed by Putin himself in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, have come with the caveat that lots of others were at it, too.These excuses are a major reason other European countries don’t trust Russia: To them, Putin and his subordinates are saying that Moscow would do something like this all over again if its interests dictated it, small countries be damned.Concern this might happen was what drove eastern Europeans into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The reality of the annexation of Crimea – another opportunistic move dictated ostensibly by Russian security considerations – is pushing Ukraine in the same direction.If Putin’s goal was to inspire trust and start a meaningful conversation about collective European security in an age of increasing global competition, an unconditionally apologetic stance would work much better. Refraining from invading neighboring countries would be an even more meaningful step.I suspect, however, that Putin doesn’t really believe in such goals, because, like Stalin, he thinks a deal with the devil, based on common interest rather than trust, is the best.My epiphany about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact came when I read the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi ideologue and Hitler’s one-time minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Rosenberg was skeptical about the deal and recoiled in horror when fellow Nazi Richard Darre told him of Joachim von Ribbentrop’s comment that he had “felt as though among old party comrades” when meeting the Soviet leadership.Incredulously, Rosenberg recounted that during Ribbentrop’s visit, Stalin raised his glass not just to Hitler but also to Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi security chief, calling him “the guarantor of order in Germany.”“Himmler has eradicated communism, i.e. those who believed in Stalin, and this one – without any need for it – raises a toast to the exterminator of his faithful,” Rosenberg noted.For Stalin, any kind of ideology took a back seat to expediency. He was a man of interests, not values. In that sense, Putin, an avowed anti-communist who has condemned Stalin on many occasions, is following the dictator’s realpolitik. His adherence to his current Orthodox Christian brand of social conservatism is as flimsy as Stalin’s link to leftist idealism was. If Putin can do a deal that will promote what he sees as Russia’s interests, he will do it with anyone. He will wear any hat required of him while doing so, and raise any toast. He is oblivious to Molotov-Ribbentrop’s biggest lesson of all: That such agreements don’t hold.That’s why eastern Europeans, and especially Ukrainians, are so worried about the possibility of a grand bargain between Putin and a U.S. president, most recently Donald Trump. The consequences for them could be comparable to those of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.What’s needed from Russia isn’t an apology for carving up Europe with Hitler, but a different foreign policy is – one in which principles trump interests. Only such a change can bring closer the idealistic vision of a Europe that stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok, a goal to which both Russian and European leaders still like to refer. And that shift shouldn’t come at a moment of weakness, as it did in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Restoring trust should be a conscious process. It will take some time.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:52:10 -0400
  • Beijing hits back after Trudeau vows to stand up to China

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    Beijing on Thursday accused Ottawa of worsening bilateral relations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to stand up to China amid deepening diplomatic and trade disputes. The two countries have been locked in a feud since last December, when Canada detained top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and -- in apparent retaliation -- China detained two Canadian nationals over espionage-linked accusations. On Wednesday, Trudeau pushed back against Beijing in a speech that promised to "always defend Canadians and Canadian interests" and to not "back down".

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 05:38:34 -0400
  • Encouraged by Johnson's visit, UK officials now hoping rest of EU agrees to work on Brexit solution

    Golocal247.com news

    Britain is hoping the rest of the European Union falls in behind France and Germany and agrees to work on solving a deadlock over Brexit, with officials sensing a glimmer of hope after meetings this week, but conscious of the need for a wider consensus in Europe. Britain is on course to leave the EU, its biggest trading partner, on Oct. 31 without any formal deal to soften the unprecedented divorce, unless both sides agree to reopen stalled talks and find a way to resolve their differences. This week, some British newspapers cheered what they called a major breakthrough and sterling rose after both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron offered Prime Minister Boris Johnson what he described as "positive noises" on their willingness to consider an exit deal agreement.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:36:13 -0400
  • Hong Kong protesters form human chains to call for democracy

    Golocal247.com news

    Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement lined the streets and part of the city's harbor front Friday, inspired by a human chain in a historic Baltic states protest against Soviet control 30 years ago. It was the latest protest in a nearly 11-week-old movement that began with calls to scrap a now-suspended extradition bill and has widened to include demands for full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality at protests. In a protest dubbed "The Baltic Way," nearly 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians formed a human chain more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) long on Aug. 23, 1989.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:34:39 -0400
  • A woman caught a fish with two mouths and the photo is just as shocking as you would expect

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    A woman in upstate New York surely found the "catch-of-the-day" when she reeled in a fish with two mouths. A photo of the fish has since gone viral.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 14:04:42 -0400
  • 20 of the Craziest Pickup Trucks Ever

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    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:55:00 -0400
  • 'An impossible choice': Why a Maine family planning clinic gave up $2 million of federal funding for reproductive health care

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    Under a Trump administration rule, US family planning clinics will not qualify for federal funding under Title X if they provide abortion services.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:32:56 -0400
  • Jeffrey Epstein: 15 prison guards subpoenaed after two accused of sleeping on the job

    Golocal247.com news

    The warden and the head of the US Bureau of Prisons have been reassigned. Two employees accused of sleeping on the job and falsifying records have been placed on administrative leave.Now, roughly 15 employees at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in his jail cell have been subpoenaed as the criminal investigation into the events around his suicide intensifies, according to a prison official and a person with knowledge of the matter.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:40:14 -0400
  • Governor criticized for 'disgusting' anti-immigrant email sent day before El Paso attack

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    Letter from Greg Abbott warns over ‘illegal immigrants’ and says ‘we’ll need to take matters into our own hands’The letter from Greg Abbott echoed Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. Photograph: Eric Gay/APThe day before a gunman in El Paso carried out the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern US history, the Texas governor sent out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter calling on Republicans to “DEFEND TEXAS NOW” and “take matters into our own hands”, according to news reports.The 2 August letter from the governor, Greg Abbott, lamented that in “just three weeks in June, 45,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the Mexican border into Texas!” It continued: “That amounts to the entire population of Galveston – every three weeks. In just six months, we’d add the population of Arlington!”“If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” Abbott wrote in the mailer, which was reported by the Texas Signal website. The Guardian has seen a redacted copy but not the original document.The fundraising appeal echoed the xenophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump, who has spoken of an “invasion” of migrants into the US. It also echoed the language in the racist “manifesto” allegedly written by the 21-year-old suspect before he killed 22 people at a Walmart near the US-Mexico border. The suspect, who traveled from a Dallas suburb 600 miles away, said the mass shooting was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” in his hate-filled document.In the weeks since the massacre, law enforcement officials across the country say they have thwarted similar white supremacist attacks and mass shootings from potential gunmen who espoused far-right and racist viewpoints. In El Paso, which is 80% Latino, residents have said that Trump’s escalating attacks on immigrants and racist campaign speeches have created a climate that encourages this kind of violence.Abbott and other GOP leaders in Texas have also faced increasing scrutiny over their anti-immigrant language in the wake of the 3 August attack.“Doing nothing will only lead to disaster for Texas,” the governor’s fundraiser letter said, adding of immigrants at the border: “How many are we NOT catching because of Washington DC’s inaction – and members of BOTH parties’ refusal to work with President Trump to secure our border?”“It’s disgusting,” Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic party, said in an interview on Thursday. “They know exactly what they are doing when they are using this kind of language and using this racist rhetoric to energize their base. It’s really disturbing. It’s alarmist, it’s threatening, it’s hostile.”David Stout, an El Paso county commissioner who represents the district where the tragedy occurred, said it was impossible to ignore the connection between the language of the governor and the suspect in the shooting, which is being investigated as domestic terrorism: “If the leader of the government in Texas is utilizing these types of words, and talking about defending our country and having to take matters into their own hands, that sounds to me like a call to folks to do exactly that.“This is what this guy who came to El Paso from Dallas was trying to do. He was trying to defend what he thought he needed to defend, and to take things into his own hands,” Stout continued. “It’s really, really upsetting.”In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Abbott and other state leaders focused on mental health and other factors, downplaying concerns about access to guns and xenophobic hate speech. Abbott has previously tweeted that Texans should “pick up the pace” in buying guns and was supportive of the widely criticized effort by the Trump administration to deploy the national guard to the border last year.Abbott’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday.When Abbott was asked about the president’s rhetoric at a recent town hall, he responded by repeating a Trump talking point about low unemployment rates among black and Hispanic workers, according to the Texas Tribune. The governor also created a taskforce to study extremism and domestic terrorist threats in the wake of the shooting.Studies have repeatedly disproven key anti-immigrant claims by Trump, Abbott and others. Research has shown that immigrants do not take away jobs from US-born people, and El Paso has long been considered one of America’s safest cities. More than 23,000 people cross the border from its Mexican twin city, Ciudad Juárez, for work each day.“Mexico is a part of the fabric of Texas. We should be proud of that,” said Garcia. “We’re a state of immigrants.”

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:45:50 -0400
  • Chinese buyers pull back from U.S. housing market, hurting home sales

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    Chinese investors are buying fewer U.S. homes because of money controls in China. That's lowering prices and giving U.S. buyers a better chance to buy

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:13:52 -0400
  • Ex-US marine says injured by Russian prison guards

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    A former US marine who was arrested in Moscow on espionage charges said Friday he had been injured by guards in the prison where he is being held awaiting trial. "I was injured in the prison... the prison doesn't want to tell you," Paul Whelan told journalists from a cage in a Moscow court, which was to decide on whether to extend his provisional detention. Whelan arrived in the court handcuffed and escorted by two security guards wearing black masks and plain clothes.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:11:38 -0400
  • Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq. A series of blasts in the past few weeks have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Israel's regional foe Iran. The groups blamed the United States and Israel for the blasts on Wednesday.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 16:33:16 -0400
  • Man Throws Brick at Woman's Head in One of Several Random NYC Attacks

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    A man has attacked at least four people in random Manhattan attacks this August, police said.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:38:39 -0400
  • Rep. Steve King wants to make abortion point in 'softer way'

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    Backed by supporters at a news conference in Des Moines, the Iowa Republican affirmed his belief that abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. King faced criticism for his comment Aug. 14 that questioned whether there would be "any population of the world left" if not for births due to rape or incest. The remarks were condemned by numerous groups and individuals, including Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to oust King, Democratic presidential candidates as well as the Iowa Republican Party and Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:31:07 -0400
  • Brexit Held at the Border

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    In the last two days Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed that Ireland temporarily leave the European Union to align with the economic rules of a post-Brexit U.K. German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested, somewhat flippantly, that the U.K. could figure out a special trading arrangement for itself and Ireland in the next 30 days. And French president Emmanuel Macron has said that there’s still room for negotiation between the U.K. and the EU, but he’s willing to be “the hard boy.” Maybe Macron is taking the EU marriage metaphor a little too personally . . .What on earth is going on?It’s been three years since a majority of the U.K.’s electorate voted to leave the European Union. And so far, all that Brexit has generated is a great deal of nearly incomprehensibly vocabulary. First we got Theresa May’s red lines, her attempt to define how it was exactly that Brexit means Brexit, and what the future relationship, if any, the United Kingdom would have with the EU. These red lines, an end to freedom of movement from EU member states into the U.K., and an exit from the EU’s customs union ruled out the Norway option but not Canada Plus Plus. Or Canada Plus Plus Plus. Yes, I’m serious.According to the withdrawal agreement negotiated between Theresa May and the rest of the EU, that future relationship has to be figured out in the transition period. That’s a two-year window after the U.K. leaves the EU in which it would continue to follow EU rules until they came to a trade agreement. That is, unless there is a no-deal Brexit and the U.K. simply exits the European Union on October 31 and conducts business with the world based on World Trade Organization rules. Got it? Well, sort of.The focus is now on the Irish-border backstop. Basically, the backstop is a promise that there will be no hard border — a customs border across the island of Ireland, between the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland. Irish public officials have argued (with the support of the EU) that a frictionless border is necessary for economic and political reasons. The frictionless border is understood there as part of the the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. So too the “all-island economy” that it creates. The backstop is a promise by the U.K. to keep Northern Ireland following a number of regulations and customs rules that match it to the Republic of Ireland.This promise became the focus of Tory and Brexiteer anger at Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. First, because it created what seemed like a negotiating trap for the U.K. during the transition period. Having already agreed to keep Northern Ireland (and the rest of the U.K. with it) aligned with the EU’s rules as part of a backstop, the EU would have less incentive to come to another, different trade relationship to supersede that agreement. The price to be paid for testing and pushing the EU might carve up the United Kingdom itself. If Great Britain diverged from the EU at the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland would be partially politically detached from the Union, and perhaps its citizens would have to go through customs to travel within their own country, from Belfast to Birmingham.Recently Johnson has begun calling the backstop “undemocratic” and hinting that it violates the Good Friday Agreement. He has a point. The backstop would keep Northern Ireland subject to EU rules and regs in which they have no say. It would deprive Northern Ireland’s elected ministers to Parliament of any voice on matters that would be routine for MPs in any other constituent nation of the United Kingdom. That seems quite a lot like a partial form of Irish unification. But the Good Friday Agreement ensures that Irish unity can be achieved only by a majority vote for it in the six counties and another one in the Republic of Ireland.Proponents of the backstop hold that this measure would merely be the decision of a sovereign Parliament over a part of its territory. It is an agreement between Parliament and the EU and doesn’t legally touch Ireland. That’s true. But, the reality is that it would create checks between constituent parts of the U.K. that normally exist between two different countries. It does so in order to prevent those checks on the island of Ireland. And it does so to meet the expectations of the Irish government based in Dublin. To whom would Northern Irish people turn when trade policy affects them? Nobody they directly elect would have a constitutional say.Effectively these economic rules would be imposed on Northern Ireland as if it were a kind of EU colony, and done in the interests of the Republic of Ireland. This may satisfy the historical imagination of Irish nationalists. (Believe me, there is a delicious irony to be savored here.) But it is hard to argue that such a result is consonant with the Good Friday Agreement. Or a wise way to endear Northern Irish unionists to the Irish government.All of this confusion is the result of a kind of gamesmanship. The EU and U.K. each want to use the Irish border as a reason to crack the other’s negotiating position. The EU would like to see the U.K. bounced into a permanent customs union in which it has no say, effectively maintaining the economic size and power of the EU while reducing the political influence of Eurosceptical Britannia. On the other side, the U.K. would like to see the Irish-border issue work in the opposite way, forcing the EU to strike an especially good and liberal trade deal with the U.K. that comes with fewer strings attached than those on Norway or other states that have non-standard arrangements.The lesson is rather obvious. You cannot predetermine what kind of infrastructure will be at a border and what laws will be enforced at it, in the absence of a durable agreement on trade in goods and materials. The EU and the U.K. have been trying to resolve questions in the wrong order. Both have done so out of a reasonable fear of loss.But the hour is late, and the real work must be done.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:22:09 -0400
  • Cathay Pacific cabin crew union leader fired as Hong Kongers warn of spread of 'white terror'

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    Cathay Pacific fired a cabin crew union leader on Friday, the latest casualty in a fast-spreading “white terror” as mass protests in Hong Kong continue into their third month.  Rebecca Sy, head of the Cathay Dragon flight attendant’s association, said she lost her job of 17 years, without explanation,  after managers saw and confirmed her Facebook account,  which included messages in favour of the protests. “All the employees are being frightened, not just cabin crews, but even the management,” Ms Sy told reporters. “My colleagues are all terrified because of its white terror.” “White terror” is a term used to describe a slew of events that create a climate of fear particularly as companies and employees worry of serious repercussions for voicing their views. Her departure follows a surprise resignation last week by CEO Rupert Hogg, reported first by Chinese state media, underlining the political nature of the decision. Cathay has borne the brunt of Beijing’s anger as authorities look to punish companies with any link to the Hong Kong protests - a direct challenge to the power of the Communist Party. Rebecca Sy was dismissed from her position as flight attendant for Cathay Pacific's subsidiary Cathay Dragon Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images In the crackdown, companies and employees could face serious repercussions for voicing their views. Hong Kong subway operator MTR has also come under fire for arranging additional trains to allow protesters to travel home, accused of “colluding with rioters” in Chinese state media.  Beijing authorities have long put the squeeze on companies over political issues by encouraging its 1.4 billion citizens to snub various brands or by throwing up a number of regulatory roadblocks – a move that can have devastating consequences for even the biggest firms. Simon Cheng, 28, a British consular official in Hong Kong and permanent resident of the city has been detained for two weeks in mainland China for allegedly visiting prostitutes.  Under Chinese law, Mr Cheng should have been released today after a 15-day administrative period but at time of publication he was still in detention. Hong Kong police said on Friday that they did not know Mr Cheng's whereabouts.  Protests in Hong Kong first kicked off over an extradition proposal that would have exposed people to China’s murky legal and judicial system, where authorities have also in the past detained foreigners to express political displeasure. Two Canadians - Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur - were detained in China last year during Beijing’s diplomatic dispute with Ottawa over its arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. It is widely viewed that both men - who are still being held and have been charged with spying – are being used as political pawns. Hong Kong protests | Read more A number of multinationals operating in Hong Kong have sought to stress their political neutrality to avoid their businesses being targeted and to protect staff from arbitrary detention.  Earlier this week, the world’s “big four” accounting firms came under attack after an anonymous group claiming to be made up of their employees took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to express support for protests in Hong Kong and condemn the firms for remaining silent on the issue. Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers all sought to distance themselves from the advertisement, saying it didn’t represent the companies’ views. But Chinese state media had already seized on the situation, calling for the firms to identify and sack the employees behind the ad. FinnAir has also issued a warning to staff to remember to “keep work and politics separate,” reported the South China Morning Post, over concerns that any link to the protests might lead to a customer backlash or flight cancellations in China, its second-largest market for long-haul travel.   “China is obviously putting pressure on companies to ensure that they all hold the same political views,” said Keenan Chuk, 30, a finance manager who attended a lunchtime rally or accountants in Hong Kong’s central business district Friday.  “I am concerned that I will be fired,” he said, adding that “we still have to fight for our rights.” Even universities have warned students against discussing politics and participating in rallies.  “In a modern society, education should be free from politics so as to alleviate the escalation of anxiety and avoid the divisive society caused by chaos,” according to a statement from the City University of Hong Kong issued earlier this month. A woman said she experienced at a police station during her detention in Hong Kong Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter Some banks are also now taking precautionary measures, purchasing full page ads in newspapers to affirm their support for the government. Edwin, 26, an accountant who declined to give his last name, said senior partners in his firm had invited junior employees to lunch that day in an attempt to dissuade people from attending Friday’s protest.  But he participated in the demonstration anyway, turning up again in the evening to join a human chain meant to evoke the Baltic Way, when two million lined up across three countries to protest Soviet rule in 1989.  “In the industry, we switch firms quite often,” he shrugged. Hong Kong police came under renewed pressure on Friday when officers were accused of conducting an unnecessary strip search on a female protester. The alleged victim appeared at a press conference dressed in all black with a black face mask, cap and sunglasses. Facing the cameras in front of a "MeToo" sign, she claimed she was arrested weeks ago at a protest against the now-abandoned extradition bill and was admitted to hospital for injuries she suffered that night. By her account, one officer patted her thighs with a pen, instructing her to open her legs wider after ordering her to take off all her clothes in a police cell. The police said their body search procedures had not changed during the recent outbreak of citywide protests.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:36:29 -0400
  • Gary Ray Bowles: Death row serial killer executed by lethal injection despite last-minute plea

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    A serial killer who admitted killing six gay men in just eight-months in the US east coast has been executed.Gary Ray Bowles was given a lethal injection in Florida late Thursday after more than 20 years on death row.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:46:50 -0400
  • Trump hits China with new tariffs in trade war escalation

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    The tweets captured the president's frustration as his escalating trade war with China heightens the risk of a recession in an election year.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:25:46 -0400
  • Fast-moving wildfire erupts in California, forcing thousands to evacuate

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    Mountain fire races across hundreds of acres in just hours as wildfire season looms large over the stateThis photo provided by Cal Fire shows an aerial view of the Mountain Fire on 22 August. Photograph: APA fast-moving wildfire that broke out on Thursday in northern California has forced the evacuation of nearly 4,000 residents, racing across at least 600 acres within just a few hours, officials say. The Mountain fire, which erupted on the outskirts of a national forest in northern California, has threatened 1,110 homes and structures. As of Friday morning the fire was 40% contained , according to Cal Fire.The cause of the fire is under investigation.Photos of the blaze posted on Twitter by the Shasta county sheriff’s office showed thick black and gray smoke billowing into the area over a highway near the Shasta-Trinity national forest.“Jones Valley and Bella Vista area residents! This situation is very fluid and rapidly changing, if you do not see your road listed but feel you are in danger YOU MAY EVACUATE to Shasta College Gymnasium,” the sheriff’s department said in a separate tweet.The Mountain fire is threatening thousands of homes and forcing evacuations. Photograph: APThe Shasta College campus was closed along with Highway 299 and about a dozen smaller roads. Residents of small communities in the path of the flames were told to evacuate or be prepared to flee on short notice.California was hit by some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in a century last year and state officials have warned this year’s fire season could be similarly intense.The Camp fire, which broke out in Butte county in November and overran the town of Paradise, killed 86 people and left thousands of others homeless. State fire investigators determined that the Camp fire was sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric Co transmission lines.The Mountain fire broke out on the same day that Bernie Sanders, the senator and Democratic presidential candidate, unveiled his $16.3tn climate change plan and toured Paradise, which he called a “wake-up call for our entire nation”.“Climate change is a major, major crisis for our country, and the entire world, and one of the manifestations of that crisis is what happened here,” Sanders said as he walked through a burned-out mobile home park in Paradise alongside people who lost their homes in last November’s deadly blaze.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:23:16 -0400
  • 3 Russian teen sisters on trial for killing their father, citing years of horrific abuse, put a spotlight on domestic violence in the country

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    Krestina, Angelina, and Maria, Khachaturyan stabbed their father 36 times. Their lawyer says they suffered years of abuse, and acted in self-defense.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 06:38:30 -0400
  • Psychologist approved Jeffrey's Epstein's removal from suicide watch

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    A psychologist at the federal detention center in New York City where financier Jeffrey Epstein was jailed on sex-trafficking charges had approved his removal from suicide watch before he killed himself, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday. The disclosure came in a letter dated on Thursday from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd and addressed to the leaders of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking details about the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death earlier this month. Epstein, who was 66, was found dead Aug. 10 in his cell inside a segregated housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:19:26 -0400
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    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • Russian doctor has trace of radiation after explosion

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    More than 100 Russian medical workers who helped treat victims of a recent mysterious explosion at a military testing range have undergone checks and one man has been found with a trace of radiation, officials said Friday. It was followed by a brief rise in radiation levels in nearby Severodvinsk, but the authorities insisted it didn't pose any danger. The Arkhangelsk regional administration said Friday that 110 medical workers have undergone checks that one man was found with a low amount of radioactive cesium-137 in his muscle tissue.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:12:24 -0400
  • Australia urges 'sovereignty' as S. China Sea tensions rise

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    Australia's prime minister on Friday urged nations in Asia to stand up for their "independence and sovereignty", with tensions high in the disputed South China Sea where Beijing is under fire for increasingly bullish behaviour. Scott Morrison's comments came after the United States slammed China for its "escalation" in the waterway, a key global shipping route where Beijing is accused of deploying warships, arming outposts and ramming fishing vessels. Morrison was speaking during a trip to Vietnam, one of China's most vocal critics over competing claims in the resource-rich sea.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 02:52:31 -0400
  • Hawaiian Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing After Smoke Filled the Cabin

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    Seven people were taken to the hospital Thursday after smoke filled the cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines flight from California to Hawaii.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 22:51:56 -0400
  • More than 6,100 flights delayed across the US over thunderstorms in the Northeast

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    The Northeast is being hit with heavy rain, causing a flurry of flight delays and cancellations

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:24:25 -0400
  • Trump claim doctors treating mass shooting victims 'were coming out of operating rooms' to meet him dismissed by hospitals

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    Two hospitals have denied Donald Trump’s claim doctors “were coming out of operating rooms” to meet him when he travelled to Texas and Ohio to console victims of two mass shootings."At no time did, or would, physicians or staff leave active operating rooms during the presidential visit,” University Medical Center (UMC) spokesperson Ryan Mielke told local TV station KVIA. “Our priority is always patient care."

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:35:14 -0400
  • Half of Venezuela's Oil Rigs May Disappear If U.S. Waivers Lapse

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    (Bloomberg) -- A looming U.S. sanctions deadline is threatening to clobber Venezuela’s dwindling oil-rig fleet and hamper energy production in the nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.Almost half the rigs operating in Venezuela will shut down by Oct. 25 if the Trump administration doesn’t extend a 90-day waiver from its sanctions, according to data compiled from consultancy Caracas Capital Markets. That could further cripple the OPEC member’s production because the structures are needed to drill new wells crucial for even maintaining output, which is already near the lowest level since the 1940s.A shutdown in the rigs will also put pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which counts oil revenues as its main lifeline. The U.S. is betting on increased economic pressure to oust the regime and bring fresh elections to the crisis-torn nation, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Latin America’s biggest crude exporter until recent years.Venezuela had 23 oil rigs drilling in July, down from 49 just two years ago, data compiled by Baker Hughes show. Ten of those are exposed to U.S. sanctions, according to calculations by Caracas Capital Markets. The Treasury Department extended waivers in July for service providers to continue for three more months, less than the six months the companies had sought.Most other government agencies involved in the deliberations opposed any extension, a senior administration official said last month, adding that another reprieve will be harder to come by.“Almost half the rigs are being run by the Yanks, and if the window shuts down on this in two months, then that’s really going to hurt Venezuela unless the Russians and the Chinese come in,” said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets.Output RiskA U.S. Treasury official said the department doesn’t generally comment on possible sanctions actions.More than 200,000 barrels a day of output at four projects Chevron Corp. is keeping afloat could shut if the waivers aren’t renewed. That would be debilitating to Maduro because the U.S. company, as a minority partner, only gets about 40,000 barrels a day of that production.The departure of the American oil service providers would hurt other projects in the Orinoco region, where operators need to constantly drill wells just to keep output from declining. The U.S.-based companies are also involved in state-controlled Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s joint ventures in other regions such as Lake Maracaibo.Limiting ExposureHalliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd. and Weatherford International Ltd. have reduced staff and are limiting their exposure to the risk of non-payment in the country, according to people familiar with the situation. The three companies have written down a total of at least $1.4 billion since 2018 in charges related to operations in Venezuela, according to financial filings. Baker Hughes had also scaled back before additional sanctions were announced earlier this year, the people said.Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford, PDVSA and Venezuela’s oil ministry all declined to comment.Halliburton has adjusted its Venezuela operations to customer activity, and continues operating all of its product service lines at its operational bases, including in the Orinoco Belt, it said in an emailed response to questions. It works directly with several of PDVSA’s joint ventures, and timely payments from customers are in accordance with U.S. regulations, it said.Hamilton, Bermuda-based Nabors Industries Ltd. has three drilling rigs in Venezuela that can operate for a client until the sanctions expire in October, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Petrello said in a July 30 conference call, without naming the client.The sanctions carry geopolitical risks for the U.S. If Maduro manages to hang on, American companies would lose a foothold in Venezuela, giving Russian competitors such as Rosneft Oil Co. a chance to fill the void. Chinese companies could also benefit. Even if the waivers get extended, the uncertainty hinders any long-term planning or investments in the nation by the exposed companies.Rosneft’s press office didn’t respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment on operations in Venezuela.\--With assistance from David Wethe, Debjit Chakraborty and Dina Khrennikova.To contact the reporters on this story: Peter Millard in Rio de Janeiro at pmillard1@bloomberg.net;Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at fzerpa@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, Pratish Narayanan, Joe RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:00:01 -0400
  • Uniformed Cop Who Allegedly Gunned Down Screaming Wife Hasn’t Faced Justice

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    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/HandoutChristie Solaro-Formisano was home with her boyfriend and her kids were tucked into bed when her house phone rang at 11:20 p.m. on July 15.Her estranged husband was calling to say he was going to stop by with some eyeglasses for their 8-year-old daughter. Salaro-Formisano peered out the window and saw the gleam of a flashlight, and realized he was already there. She told her boyfriend to stay in the bedroom and locked the door behind her as she went downstairs.“He’s got a gun!” her boyfriend would report hearing her cry out moments later. “Call 911!”Lt. John Formisano had shown up at the front door wearing his Newark police uniform, his service weapon in hand. He allegedly chased his 37-year-old estranged wife from room to room, firing again and again. The blood from her wounds traced her flight through the first floor of her New Jersey home.The 49-year-old cop then allegedly charged up the stairs and broke down the bedroom door. The boyfriend was shot in the abdomen, thigh, arms, and hand, but would survive.  N.J. Cop Claims He ‘Blacked Out’ Before Killing Estranged Wife, Shooting Her Boyfriend: AuthoritiesSolaro-Formisano seized the moment to dash outside despite her wounds and pound on a neighbor’s door, begging for help. Nobody answered and she started up the steps of the next house down, but her estranged husband allegedly caught up with her, shooting her in the head. She also had multiple wounds to her abdomen, arm, and hand. “A man just shot his wife in front of my house,” a woman inside told a 911 operator in the minutes that followed.“He just what?” the operator asked.“You got to hurry up because she’s dying in front of my house. Please!” the female caller said.“Okay, ma’am,” the operator said.“He’s a Newark cop,” the female caller said. “He’s a Newark cop. He lives on the corner. I saw it. I saw him through my window. He’s in his uniform.”A male caller was talking to another emergency dispatcher."There’s somebody shot on my front steps,” the male caller said.“On your front steps?” this dispatcher asked.“I think she’s dying, or she’s dead, I didn’t even want to touch her,” the male caller said. “We heard some pops. I think it’s the woman from two doors down.”The dispatcher could he heard pausing to tell a colleague that a man was reporting a shooting  on his steps. “I’m not reporting it,” the male caller corrected. “I’m standing here looking at it… You guys better hurry up.”“I’m sending everybody,” the dispatcher said.“You better,” the male caller said. “The guy’s a Newark cop. My wife saw him in his car in his police uniform.”John Formisano had allegedly left his estranged wife sprawled on the steps and locked his service weapon in the trunk of his car. He tossed away his cellphone, perhaps so he could not be traced as he drove away. He was nonetheless arrested two and a half hours later in a parking lot 30 miles away, near where he had been living with his mother. “Formisano agreed to speak to law enforcement regarding this incident,” the subsequent police affidavit of probable cause would report. “He stated that he and [Christie Solaro-Formisano] were in the process of getting divorced. He stated that he responded to the residence that evening to drop off glasses belonging to [his daughter]. After entering the residence, Formisano stated he began to suspect that [his estranged wife] had a male guest in the bedroom, at which point he ‘blacked out.’ He stated that he recalls firing his weapon numerous times.”The affidavit as filed with the Jefferson Township Municipal Court stated that Formisano “within the jurisdiction of this court, did purposely do anything which, under the circumstances as a reasonable person would believe them to be, was an act constituting a substantial step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in his purposely or knowingly causing death or serious bodily injury resulting in death to another, specifically by shooting [Christie Solaro-Formisano] multiple times with a handgun.”The usual next step would have been for Formisano to be brought before a judge. He was instead taken to the psychiatric unit at St. Clare’s Hospital in Boonton.“Defendant exhibits suicidal behavior (such as excessive sadness or moodiness) or threatened self-injury,” the affidavit reports.The Newark police immediately suspended Formisano. He had previously reached public attention in 1998, when he and his partner fired a total of 10 times at their own patrol car. An unattended robbery suspect in the back seat had managed to wriggle into the front through a foot-square window in the partition, climb behind the wheel and speed away. The car was hit with multiple bullets, but the fleeing suspect apparently escaped, for no blood was evident when it was found abandoned miles away.Formisano was now a murder suspect, but he was still a cop. And Solaro-Formisano’s family could not help but wonder if that was why he still had not been brought to court more than five weeks after his arrest. The Morris County prosecutor’s office insists that Formisano is not being accorded special treatment because he is a police officer.“If this defendant was a house painter or a businessman on Wall Street in the same circumstances, it would have been handled in the same way,” a spokesman told The Daily Beast.But the spokesman could not immediately name a case that had been handled similarly.“Every case is unique,” he said.The spokesman indicated that the prosecutor’s office was only waiting for the doctors to say Formisano was no longer a danger to himself. Of course, Formisano might prefer to perpetuate the impression that he is in need of psychiatric care, most particularly if he is angling to take advantage of a provision in New Jersey law known as “passion/provocation,” which reduces the potential penalty from life to a term of 5 to 10 years.“Passion/provocation manslaughter occurs when a homicide which would otherwise be murder… is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation,” the New Jersey Supreme Court has found.New Jersey killers who have successfully pleaded passion/provocation include a man who strangled both his parents and buried them in a shallow grave after a heated argument in 2008 and a man who stabbed his wife’s lover to death in 2016. Formisano’s lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. He has emailed a statement to NJ.com.“John is presently receiving medical treatment and when he is well enough to appear in court, the doctors will so advise and a date will be set,” Iacullo wrote. “Until then, the focus of the defense is on addressing those medical issues and seeing to it that he is well enough to hopefully someday return to the person he was before this tragic event.” Meanwhile, the slain woman’s family is at the searing nexus of grief and anger.“Christie was hunted down like an animal,” her aunt, Joy Mandara, told The Daily Beast.Mandara allowed that any such a death is a tragedy, but this one felt particularly so.“She was especially loved,” Mandara noted.Mandara said her niece brightened any room she entered and always pointed to what was positive in a world crowded with negatives. Solaro-Formisano worked as an assistant behavior specialist aiding children with development disorders in the Morris County schools until after she had a second child of her own. She then devoted all of her time as well as her heart to being a mom.“Swimming, scouts, anything,” Mandara reported. “She loved her children. They were above all else.”The stunned and bewildered 8-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy who had awakened to gunfire and a world forever transformed have been placed in the care of their grief-struck maternal grandmother. Formisano’s former partner, retired Newark police officer Almikar Velez, has started a GoFundMe page that should help with the expenses they will face, but they are forever bereft of a mother. Their father is also her alleged killer, and her family hopes he will be held to account.“It’s never going back to the way it was,” Mandra said. “What we feel if we want to have some justice. Any justice can bring a small fraction of peace and closure.”She then observed, “Right now, it seems justice is working very slowly and differently from how we expected.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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, 22 Aug 2019 04:47:18 -0400
  • U.S. will aggressively enforce sanctions over Iran tanker: State Department official

    Golocal247.com news

    The United States will aggressively enforce its sanctions to prevent the private sector from assisting an Iranian oil tanker that is traveling through the Mediterranean and that Washington wants seized, a State Department official said on Thursday. "The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce U.S. sanctions," the official told Reuters days after warning countries not to allow the tanker to dock. Ship tracking data has shown the ship, Adrian Darya, formerly called Grace 1, last heading toward Greece, although Greece's prime minister said it was not heading to his country.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:34:39 -0400
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    Golocal247.com news

    The Hyde Amendment keeps women of color, young people, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and lower-income people from accessing abortion care, writes Congresswoman Barbara Lee. She says it's time for Congress to repeal it.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:26:57 -0400
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