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  • Trump denies he betrayed the Kurds: 'We never gave a commitment'

    Golocal247.com news

    President Trump told reporters Monday that the U.S. still has a "good relationship with the Kurds."

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:55:47 -0400
  • Buttigieg, surging in Iowa, has a plan to win it all. Here it is.

    Golocal247.com news

    Reminder: There are 105 days until the Iowa caucuses and 379 days until the 2020 election. It happened to Kamala Harris during the summer. Now it’s starting to happen to South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was widely proclaimed one of the “winners” of last week’s Democratic primary debate in Westerville, Ohio.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:52:12 -0400
  • Truck driver indicted on 23 counts in motorcyclist deaths

    A pickup truck driver accused of causing a collision that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire has been indicted on 23 charges saying he negligently caused the deaths and was under the influence of one or more drugs at the time. Volodymyr Zhukovskyy , 23, of Springfield, Massachusetts, is to be arraigned by video on Nov. 5. The negligent homicide-DUI charges accuse Zhukovskyy of driving under the influence of a controlled drug or drugs at the time of the crash.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 16:53:18 -0400
  • Three people hospitalised by chemical leak on board American Airlines plane

    Golocal247.com news

    Three people have been hospitalised after a cleaning product leaked on an American Airlines flight forcing it to make an emergency landing in Dublin. The plane was less than an hour into its flight from London Heathrow to Philadelphia when two crew members fell unconscious due to the powerful smell. Several passengers complained of burning eyes and skin irritation and one traveller was also taken to hospital in Ireland. 287 passengers and 12 Philadelphia-based crew members were on board flight AA729, which had been cleared for take off despite concerns over the leaked liquid. Reports suggest the product was left behind in one of the bathrooms. In audio from the cockpit, the pilot explained that although the product is believed to be non-toxic, the crew required immediate assistance.  He said: "We’ve actually covered the container of the substance. It was a cleaning product that was used at London Heathrow, if you wait a moment I actually have a picture of the container that I have in a plastic bag.  "It was spilled and for some reason the container itself was left behind in the aircraft in one of the lavatories and continued to seep into the carpeting and produce what I’m told is not, it is not a toxic substance. "We require paramedics to come on board the airplane and render immediate assistance. We’ve had two of our flight crew staff made, excuse me, the cabin staff have actually lost consciousness, but I think they’re back to a state of consciousness just now and there are general complaints about burning eyes and skin problems." The pilot added that the leaking product was an aircraft interior cleaner made by Callington, a leading specialty chemicals manufacturer.  One passenger told The Telegraph the plane had been delayed at Heathrow whilst reports of an "unusual smell" were investigated.  He said: "Before take off the captain came on the loudspeaker saying the flight attendants had reported an unusual smell, and the flight was delayed while they investigated. They must've judged it safe because we flew out after, only to be rerouted to Dublin a short time later." @AmericanAir There aren't even chairs, we're not allowed to leave this area where we're penned in like cattle, and we've not been fed by the likes of you since boarding four plus hours ago. You're the worst. pic.twitter.com/PqnelJ2P2u— Philip Ott (@Blasphevism) October 21, 2019 He added that the flight's 287 passengers were "penned in like cattle" at Dublin airport before been taken by bus to stay overnight in a hotel. They have not been told when they can expect onward travel.  Another passenger expressed concern for others onboard, calling the incident a "sickness outbreak".  Ok, so this hasn’t quite gone to plan. Chemical spillage has led to sickness outbreak and an emergency landing in Dublin. firecrewparamedicspolice— Katie Phillips (@KatieHJP) October 21, 2019 A statement released by American Airlines said: "American Airlines flight 729 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia diverted to Dublin due to an odor caused by a spilled cleaning solution in the galley." "The flight landed safely in Dublin at 1:15 p.m. local time, and taxied to the gate." "Medical personnel have met the aircraft to evaluate any crew members or passengers who may need additional assistance." The Telegraph has contacted Callington for comment.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:24:00 -0400
  • Democrats Seek Insider Trading Probe After ‘Trump Chaos’ Article

    (Bloomberg) -- Democratic lawmakers are increasingly demanding that U.S. authorities investigate allegations raised in a recent magazine article that traders might be using non-public government information to reap huge illegal profits, even as the exchange where the transactions purportedly took place called the story “patently false.”In a Monday letter, 14 Democratic senators urged the heads of the Justice Department, FBI, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission to probe “disturbing reports of suspicious trading in our futures and equities markets” described in a Vanity Fair piece. The magazine referred to the transactions as “Trump Chaos Trades.”Since the story’s publication, the suggestion that White House leaks could be a factor in futures traders making billions of dollars from well-timed bets ahead of major geopolitical announcements has fueled endless chatter from Washington to Wall Street. Still, the article has been met with widespread skepticism from the financial industry.CME Group Inc., the world’s biggest futures exchange, has dismissed the claims, arguing that the trades highlighted in the story couldn’t have been based on inside information because too many market participants were involved. The article describes five big transactions in S&P 500 e-mini futures from June 28 to Sept. 13, ranging from 55,000 to 420,000 contracts.“As it relates to the Vanity Fair article published on October 17, 2019, regarding activities in the E-mini S&P futures contract, the allegations about the trading activity are patently false,” CME said in an Oct. 18 statement.In Monday’s letter, Democrats said they wanted federal authorities “to investigate immediately whether any rules, laws or regulations were violated.” The lawmakers added that “if any wrongdoing is uncovered, we demand that you swiftly hold violators accountable to the fullest extent possible.”Spokesmen for the SEC and Justice Department declined to comment, while spokesmen for the FBI and CFTC didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.The wagers cited by Vanity Fair were made shortly before market-moving news -- three times involving the U.S.-China trade war, once involving the bombing of Saudi oil fields and once involving Hong Kong politics. Thanks to market reactions, the magazine said, people involved in the transactions could’ve booked gains of between $82.5 million on the smallest to $1.8 billion on the biggest.The story’s author, William D. Cohan, has said that finance professionals with decades of experience alerted him to the trades. Cohan, a former Bloomberg Opinion columnist, has said that factors other than illegal buying-and-selling could explain the transactions and that he doesn’t know whether any nefarious activity actually occurred.Earlier Monday, Angus King, an independent Maine senator who caucuses with the Democrats, also called on the SEC to investigate. Last week, Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice requested a federal investigation into the timing around sales of e-mini futures contracts before significant geopolitical events or statements from Trump.\--With assistance from Nick Baker.To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Bain in Washington at bbain2@bloomberg.net;Matt Robinson in New York at mrobinson55@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net, Gregory MottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:09:18 -0400
  • A West Point cadet and his M4 rifle have been missing for three days

    Golocal247.com news

    Officials said that the cadet, member of the class of 2021, is not believed to be a threat to the public, but could be a threat to himself.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 13:16:01 -0400
  • The U.S. Army Has Big Plans to Smash Enemy Drones in a War

    Golocal247.com news

    The U.S. Army is fast-tracking what could be called an entire sphere of counter-drone weapons

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 06:56:00 -0400
  • Hong Kong leader visits mosque struck by blue water-cannon dye

    Golocal247.com news

    Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader and the city's police chief apologised Monday as they visited a mosque that was struck with blue dye from a water cannon during the latest bout of violent protests. The entrance to the Kowloon Mosque, the international hub's largest, was sprayed by a water cannon truck on Sunday, causing anger among both local Muslims and protesters. Police use the dye -- often mixed with an irritant -- as a way to identify protesters but it has frequently left streets and buildings daubed in a garish blue.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:17:45 -0400
  • Indonesian human rights lawyer Koman refuses to be cowed on Papua

    Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer sought by Indonesian police over Twitter posts authorities blame for fanning unrest in the Papua region, has a tattoo on each wrist. The first, inked when she was in her late teens and a fervent nationalist, reads simply "Indonesia" and, she says, meant that "Indonesia is running through my veins". "I've actually been experiencing this weird systematic attack, if you like, online since I think it was almost two years ago," Koman said in an interview in Australia, where she is now living.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 05:06:05 -0400
  • Trump blames Constitution's ‘phony Emoluments Clause’ for G-7 debacle

    Golocal247.com news

    President Trump on Monday defended his initial plan to host next year’s summit of world leaders at his golf resort near Miami, dismissing concerns that he would have personally profited from the decision.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:27:35 -0400
  • Michael Bloomberg ‘still looking at’ a presidential run ... but only if Biden is out

    Golocal247.com news

    The former New York mayor’s attitude towards wealth is staunchly opposite to Elizabeth Warren’s, with whom he’s repeatedly clashedMichael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, is teasing a presidential run if former vice-president Joe Biden were to fall back. Photograph: Ritzau Scanpix/ReutersFormer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is at it again – teasing a presidential run. At 77, he won’t even be the oldest in the field, and the billionaire is certainly not short of funding to be able to throw his hat in the ring.Over the past several weeks, he’s signaled renewed interest in the democratic nomination, telling friends and associates he’s “still looking at” running for president. But he has cautioned he’d only join the race if former vice-president Joe Biden’s faltering centrist campaign takes a decisive hit or pulls out early in primary season, according to a report by CNBC.Biden’s collapse would likely leave Elizabeth Warren as frontrunner, a liberal candidate with whom he has repeatedly clashed over her anti-corporate policies and fears she will push the party too far to the left and eliminate the chance of a Democratic candidate unseating Donald Trump next year.Bloomberg’s disagreements with Warren are stark. In January, when he was considering a run for president, he described Warren’s wealth tax proposals in extreme terms .“We shouldn’t be embarrassed about our system,” he said. “You want to look at a system that’s not capitalistic, just take a look at what was perhaps the wealthiest country in the world and now people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela.”More recently, at an anti-gun event in Iowa hosted by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, a group Bloomberg founded and supports, he was again asked about Warren’s wealth tax proposals.“I just said to Senator Warren on the way out, ‘Senator, congratulations, it’s a nice talk. But let me just remind you if my company hadn’t been successful, we wouldn’t be here today, so enough with this stuff’,” he said.Bloomberg’s attitude to wealth is diametrically opposed to Warren, whose criticisms of the financial sector’s excesses are legion. Before he ever ran for New York mayor, his company threw a party in London complete with entertainers – representing avarice – instructed to wave bundles of cash and shout: ‘Money, ain’t it gorgeous?’Forbes recently put his wealth at $51bn.Bloomberg has previously flirted with presidential ambitions, but he decided not to run in 2016 after concluding he might split the Democratic vote. It is not clear that dynamic has changed, nor whether Democratic primary voters really have the taste for a billionaire candidate. But others see a possible centrist path to the White House.“The reality is both parties, Republican and Democrat, are in serious trouble, they are not functioning, and they’ve gone to extremes,” says veteran strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “Could Mike Bloomberg unite the centre of the party and bring people to the center if he can prove he can win? The answer is yes.”“Bloomberg has up-top professionals ready if he needs them, and he could assemble an operation in days and go to work. Whether the Democrats like him as centrist or not, they want to win the White House. He provides an extraordinary alternative to losing.”People familiar with Bloomberg’s thinking says his aims are clear – and they’re grouped neatly as gun control, climate change, coal, education and health.“He doesn’t understand why people don’t talk about his five points more. If he happens to mention something about the presidency at a cocktail party and they get talked about more, that’s a good thing for him,” one source said.Strengthening the rumor mill is Bloomberg’s appointment of his former deputy Patti Harris to his company’s management committee. Harris has been at the company since 1994. As Bloomberg’s deputy during his three terms as New York mayor, Harris was regarded, in personal and political terms, as the keeper of the Bloomberg brand, his personal gate keeper and point person on all strategic and staffing decisions.“She’s the most important person in his life and director of all his political aspiration,” says the source. “If you believe in this line of gossip, putting Harris in to run the company frees him up to run for president. You can argue that he’s setting himself up to do something.”When Bloomberg was last considering a run, almost exactly a year ago, a Quinnipiac University poll found he had an overall unfavorable rating of 32%, and 19% of Democrats viewed him negatively. Howard Wolfson, a top political advisor, hinted at how much Bloomberg would look to invest in a campaign for president.“Mike spent more than $100m in his last mayor’s race. Last time I looked, NYC is a fraction of the size of the country as a whole,” Wolfson explained, pointing out that he spent at least more than $110m backing Democrats during the 2018 congressional midterm elections.Asked what Bloomberg would spend on his own campaign, Wolfson replied, “Whatever is required.”With Biden appearing to be running low on funds, and a Warren or possibly Bernie Sanders candidacy looming, it’s not surprising that Bloomberg’s interest is again stirring. Last month, Fox Business reported that he still has a team of political advisors on the payroll.“I think it’s something he wants. He has not been shy about that,” a Bloomberg ally told CNBC. “Bloomberg is in if Biden is out,” a billionaire friend added.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 02:00:19 -0400
  • Judge asked to stop student suspension over note about rape

    A high school activist's comment about rape posted on a bathroom mirror represents constitutionally protected free speech — and punishing her would discourage young victims from coming forward, an attorney said Monday. The sticky note that proclaimed "There's a rapist in our school and you know who it is" aimed to call attention to the unaddressed problem of sexual assaults, said Emma Bond from the American Civil Liberties of Maine. U.S. District Judge Lance Walker, who listened to the arguments on Monday, said he'll rule soon on Aela Mansmann's request to intervene to stop a three-day suspension imposed by school administrators.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:47:24 -0400
  • 'Lost' Road Built by Christ's Executioner Unearthed

    Golocal247.com news

    Pontius Pilate likely commissioned the street during or after 31 AD.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:52:00 -0400
  • View Photos of the 2020 GMC Acadia AT4

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 07:59:00 -0400
  • Brothers who allegedly left their grandma to die in a fire, but saved meth lab equipment indicted

    A Steuben County grand jury two men in connection with a May fire that was reportedly caused by a meth lab and killed their grandmother.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 18:10:32 -0400
  • China Is Building 'The Mother of All Bombs': Report

    Golocal247.com news

    America already has one.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 10:44:00 -0400
  • US targets Cuba tourism with tighter airline sanctions

    Golocal247.com news

    The US moved to further hurt Cuba's vital tourism industry by tightening the ability of the country's airlines to lease aircraft. The US Department of Commerce said it was revoking existing licenses for US companies leasing aircraft to Cuban carriers, and will deny future applications for aircraft leases. The move could make it harder for Cuba to service its rapidly growing tourism sector, a key source of foreign revenue for the poor country.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:57:01 -0400
  • Trump 'like a squirrel caught in traffic' during Pentagon meeting: Aide

    Golocal247.com news

    In President Trump's first full briefing at the Defense Department, he requested a grand "Victory Day" parade with "vehicles and tanks on Main Street" and down Pennsylvania Avenue, like the "amazing" parade he'd just witnessed in France, Guy Snodgrass, a top aide to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, recounts in his new book, "Holding the Line." "The Fourth of July is too hot," Trump added.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:41:23 -0400
  • Mark Levin: ‘Hasn’t Even Been a Hint of Scandal’ in Trump’s Presidency

    Golocal247.com news

    Right-wing talker and Fox News host Mark Levin hilariously claimed this week that President Donald Trump, who is currently embroiled in an impeachment inquiry for allegedly pressuring a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political rival, hasn’t even had a “hint of scandal” during his time in the White House.During a recent broadcast of his Blaze TV show, Levin—who also hosts a Fox News weekend program—took aim at Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) over the former GOP presidential nominee ramping up his criticism of Trump as the Ukraine scandal has deepened. With it recently being revealed that Romney had a clandestine Twitter account used for criticizing Trump’s behavior, among other things, Levin took the opportunity to claim that Romney “known nothing about” the personal lives and behavior of former President Barack Obama or ex-Vice President Joe Biden “outside of what we’ve been told.”“And they kept the [John] Kennedy stuff hidden for decades, they kept the [Lyndon] Johnson stuff hidden for decades, they kept the FDR stuff hidden for decades, and his affairs and so forth,” the conservative commentator added, implying that Obama/Biden had skeletons in their closets.Levin proceeded to go on a largely confusing rant in which he said he wanted to question Romney about the Founding Fathers’ sexual affairs and whether he thought it was right for Franklin Roosevelt to team up with Russia during World War II.“What do you think about that, Willard?” Levin grumbled. “I can go through history, one case after another, about how people are so terribly imperfect.”“But I will say this about our president,” the pro-Trump host continued: “While he’s been president there hasn’t even been a hint of scandal. Not a hint!”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.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 12:15:00 -0400
  • Presidential hopeful Warren rallies with Chicago teachers as strike enters fourth day

    Golocal247.com news

    Warren, a Massachusetts senator and former teacher, joined a crowd of hundreds of teachers and parents outside an elementary school to back the Chicago teachers' demands for more resources, and promised to boost funding for U.S. public schools if elected president in 2020.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 06:02:44 -0400
  • Hillary Clinton says she would run again in 2020 if she thought she could win, report says

    Golocal247.com news

    Hillary Clinton has told people privately that she would consider joining the 2020 Democratic primary, but only if she thought she could win.The private conversations were aired publicly in a new report from The New York Times, which spoke with several people involved with Democratic politics, many of whom are concerned that the current crop of candidates is less than ideal.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 10:33:05 -0400
  • Northern Irish Loyalists Warn of ‘Angry’ Backlash to Brexit Deal

    (Bloomberg) -- Northern Irish loyalists vowed to resist what they see as the economic reunification of Ireland implicit in Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, warning of civil disobedience on the streets of Belfast that risks tipping over into violence.In London on Tuesday, Parliament will vote on the general principles of Johnson’s accord with the European Union, which binds Northern Ireland tightly to the bloc to avoid the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.“You are going to have an organic explosion of anger” if Johnson’s deal is passed, Jamie Bryson, who has emerged as a de-facto spokesman for loyalists, said in an interview. “We are going to have a difficult position to prevent loyalists taking to the streets and we would hope that would be peaceful. But you are asking people to go along with surrendering their country -- it is not going to happen. It’s a very fluid situation and it wouldn’t take much to spark it off.”The Democratic Unionist Party is opposed to the deal, suggesting it weakens Northern Ireland’s place in the union. The U.K. effectively split Ireland in 1921 to placate a largely Protestant, unionist majority in the north in the face of increasingly demands from the Catholic-dominated south for independence from Britain.“If this goes ahead we are into an economic United Ireland, the whole basis of the Union is gone, it’s weakened,” Bryson said. “It is going to have to be resisted.”Still, other forces in unionism cautioned against inflaming the situation. The Orange Order, which celebrates Northern Ireland’s place in the U.K., said it’s not the time for widespread protest which could paralyze the region, Reuters reported.“There is a feeling people need to do something but I would be encouraging people that it isn’t a case for street protest at this time,” Orange Order Grand Secretary Mervyn Gibson told Reuters.Bryson said all sides want to avoid a return to violence.“There’s a danger if you get a massive amount of people on the streets,” he said. “Violence would be foolish but I can’t predict the future.”Meanwhile, in Dublin, Sinn Fein suggested a vote on a uniting Ireland could take place sooner rather than later. The U.K. government can only call a unification referendum when it considers it likely a vote would be carried. “Germany was reunified in in one year,” Michelle O’Neill, leader of the party’s Northern Irish wing, said in a speech on Tuesday. “In less than one year, and that’s something for everybody to think about. Sometimes events can over take you.” To contact the reporter on this story: Rodney Edwards in London at redwards102@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Dara DoyleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 11:41:34 -0400
  • Gun control advocate: Pushing mandatory buybacks will hand victory to the NRA, again

    Golocal247.com news

    We can pass significant gun safety laws but not if the 2020 campaign is about confiscating assault weapons. This is not timidity, it's reality.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 05:00:16 -0400
  • Connecticut College Students Charged With Violating State Law Prohibiting ‘Ridicule’ after Using Racial Slur

    Golocal247.com news

    University of Connecticut students Jarred Karal and Ryan Mucaj were arrested by campus police Monday night and charged with violating a Connecticut hate crime statute for using a racial slur in an incident captured on video.One night earlier this month, Karal and Mucaj — both described by police as white — walked with another individual through the parking lot of a student apartment complex playing “a game in which they yelled vulgar words,” according to the incident report. Police allege that the two switched to saying “n*****” when they reached the parking lot, which was loud enough for two people inside to hear.The two were charged under a Connecticut State law that criminalizes ridiculing “any person or class of people on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality, or race.” The misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of $50, or both. The third individual was not charged for saying the slur.It is unclear whether the statute violates First Amendment grounds. “It is supportive of our core values to pursue accountability, through due process, for an egregious assault on our community that has caused considerable harm,” UConn President Thomas C. Katsouleas said in a statement late Monday.Karal and Mucaj were released after promising to return for a scheduled court date on October 30.After the video went viral online, Campus blowback was swift. The administration, which learned of the incident October 11, faced severe criticism from students and activists. On Monday, the university’s NAACP chapter published a letter to the editor in the campus newspaper lambasting the university’s administration.“If the university does not adequately address and handle these occurrences of racism appropriately, it will create a culture in which racism is tolerated and normalized,” the NAACP letter reads. “We demand for your full assurance that you will take appropriate measures to hold the students involved in these heinous acts of racism accountable.”On Monday afternoon, hundreds of students chanted “it’s more than just a word” during an on-campus march and rally. During the march, Katsouleas voiced support for the students and extended an invitation to discuss the incident during his open office hours scheduled for Friday morning.UConn’s president also announced a nationwide search for a chief diversity officer in a letter to students on Friday. But students and professors criticized the president for his slow and inadequate response.“No stance is a stance,” Conn senior Areon Mangan told the Chronicle. “Not saying anything says a lot.”In its letter to the campus newspaper, the NAACP released a list of eight demands, including new student guidelines and punishments for instances of racism, a new first-year course on diversity training, and increased hiring of black administration, faculty, staff, and police officers.Democratic State Senators Mae Flexer and Gregory Haddad, both UConn alums, voiced their support for students during the Monday rally.“White people can’t just say they care about this with words,”Flexer said. “You can’t just say you’re an ally. You need to be a co-conspirator.”“I’m here because I want to lift your voices up,” Haddad added.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 10:06:40 -0400
  • This Is the Robot Tank Russia Used in Syria

    Golocal247.com news

    (But it didn't fight well.)

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 06:15:00 -0400
  • Thailand arrests German man for allegedly disposing of body

    Golocal247.com news

    Police in Thailand are investigating the death of a German woman after arresting a German man for allegedly dumping her body into a canal. Thailand's Immigration Police Commissioner Lt. Col. Sompong Chingduang said Tuesday that the dead woman, 77-year-old Margund Schaefer, co-owned a bar in the resort town of Pattaya with Richard Stanislaus and shared a house with him and his Thai girlfriend. The police began their investigation of the case at the request of German authorities after Schaefer's relatives reported losing contact with her.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 05:24:10 -0400
  • Lebanon's Hezbollah under rare street pressure

    Golocal247.com news

    When mass anti-government protests engulfed Lebanon, a taboo was broken as strongholds of the Shiite Hezbollah movement saw rare demonstrations criticising the party and revered leader Hassan Nasrallah. This shattered the myth of absolute acquiesence among Hezbollah's popular base, baffling even those who hail from the movement's strongholds. "No one ever expected that in any of these areas in south Lebanon we would hear a single word against Nasrallah," or Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri, said Sara, a 32-year-old activist who participated in protests in the southern city of Nabatiyeh.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 20:53:10 -0400
  • Justice Department Distances Itself From Giuliani

    Golocal247.com news

    The Justice Department distanced itself Sunday from Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, declaring that department officials would not have met with Giuliani to discuss one of his clients had they known that federal prosecutors in New York were investigating two of his associates.Several weeks ago, Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, and lawyers from the division's Fraud Section met with Giuliani to discuss a bribery case in which he and other attorneys were representing the defendants.That meeting took place before the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan publicly charged the two Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, with breaking campaign finance laws and trying to unlawfully influence politicians, including former Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. Parnas and Fruman were part of Giuliani's effort to push Ukraine for an inquiry into Democrats."When Mr. Benczkowski and fraud section lawyers met with Mr. Giuliani, they were not aware of any investigation of Mr. Giuliani's associates in the Southern District of New York and would not have met with him had they known," said Peter Carr, a department spokesman.The Justice Department's public statement Sunday illustrates the unusual and broad set of roles that the president's personal lawyer has played in the scandal that has engulfed the White House and imperiled Trump's presidency.Even as Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president's political enemies -- which is now at the heart of an impeachment inquiry against Trump -- he and his business associates were under criminal investigation for unlawfully wielding political influence. And while all of this was happening, Giuliani still served as a lawyer to clients with cases to plead before the Justice Department.In distancing itself from Giuliani and trying to draw bright lines around how the Justice Department will and will not engage with him, the department has also undercut the perception that Giuliani can influence some of Washington's most important lawyers and decision-makers. That could make it harder for Giuliani to represent clients who are under Justice Department scrutiny in the future."This is an incredibly unusual statement from the Justice Department, which does not comment on ongoing investigations or even acknowledge them, and it's the kind of statement that would give clients pause about who is representing them," said Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor.Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.While the Southern District of New York has been investigating Giuliani's associates -- an inquiry that may be tied to a broader investigation of Giuliani himself -- prosecutors there had not told Benczkowski of the Criminal Division of the case, as he does not oversee or supervise their work. The U.S. attorney's offices report to the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.Prosecutors in Manhattan informed Attorney General William Barr about the investigation of Parnas and Fruman soon after he was confirmed in February, according to a Justice Department official. They were required to do so under the department's rule that requires prosecutors to notify the attorney general of any cases that could generate national news media or congressional attention.When Giuliani and other lawyers requested the meeting with the Justice Department to discuss a foreign bribery case, Benczkowski and the lawyers in the Fraud Section had not been informed of the Manhattan case and agreed to meet.Last week, Giuliani told The New York Times that he was being unfairly attacked by reporters and lawmakers and that questions about his behavior would "destroy" his business."I can't publicly defend everything I do because I'm presumed guilty," Giuliani said in a text message. "If I did, my business and firm would be unable to have any clients."Foreign business leaders and politicians have long hired those with ties to the White House as consultants, paid back channels to the administration who could plead their cases and present their interests to U.S. decision-makers.Trump, however, was not connected to the usual array of Washington power brokers who had built lucrative businesses off their ties to U.S. leaders, and Giuliani was perceived as the rare figure who could provide a direct line to the president.Now that tie to the Justice Department seems to be gone, and Giuliani himself is a person of interest in at least two federal investigations.While The Times and other publications have reported that Giuliani is being investigated by prosecutors in Manhattan, the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York have declined to confirm or deny an investigation into him. But any such inquiry would make it difficult for the department to work with him on any of his clients' cases."Giuliani can continue to represent clients before the department because people are innocent until proven guilty, but it's unclear whether a client would want to have a lawyer who is being scrutinized in so many investigations," Vance said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 08:05:06 -0400
  • Poll: Majority of Mexicans say organized crime stronger than government after El Chapo’s son released

    Golocal247.com news

    A majority of Mexicans see organized crime as more powerful than the Mexican government after government forces capitulated to drug-cartel strongmen and released the son of the former cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán, known as “El Chapo.”

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:41:22 -0400
  • U.S. Supreme Court tosses challenge to Republican-drawn Michigan electoral maps

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a challenge to Republican-drawn electoral districts in Michigan that Democrats said were illegally configured to dilute their voting power, an action taken in the aftermath of major rulings by the justices in June prohibiting federal courts from hearing such claims. The Supreme Court's action voided an order in April by a three-judge panel to rework 34 districts in the state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives whose boundaries were crafted purely to advantage Republicans, a practice known as partisan gerrymandering. In a blow to election reformers, the justices found that federal courts have no role to play in reining in electoral map manipulation by politicians aimed at entrenching one party in power.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 09:54:05 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Still Has a Bazooka at His Disposal

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It turned out last week that the key to getting a new Brexit agreement in Brussels wasn’t so complicated: Boris Johnson simply gave in on a couple of major negotiating red lines and then declared victory. He’ll have a much harder time repeating the trick in Parliament this week.The price of Johnson’s concessions to the European Union became clear on Saturday. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose interests were sold out by the British prime minister so he could strike the deal, gave their backing to a parliamentary amendment that vastly complicates Johnson’s task. The Letwin amendment, named after the former Conservative lawmaker who drafted it, says the new Brexit deal isn’t done until Parliament passes the legislation to implement it.That had two effects. First, it forced Johnson to ask the EU for an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline, as required by a law that he said he’d rather “die in a ditch” than comply with. Second, it has set up another epic battle between the executive and Parliament that will determine whether Britain leaves on Halloween. It might also determine the shape of future U.K.-EU customs arrangements, whether there’s a second referendum and even the timing of new elections.The new battlefield is over the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would turn Johnson’s agreement into British law, including things such as controversial new customs arrangements and institutional frameworks, among many others.Unlike the U.K.-EU deal itself (a formal treaty), the withdrawal bill can be amended by Parliament. Given the bitter opposition to Johnson’s administration from many lawmakers, expect it to be larded with attempted amendments to tie his hands in implementing the new treaty. The two most important ones being discussed are an amendment from the opposition Labour Party that would seek to keep the U.K. in the EU customs union and one to put the deal to a referendum. Johnson would probably abort the effort rather than submit to either.For those who just got their heads around the “Irish backstop” — the guarantee in former prime minister Theresa May’s deal to keep the Irish border fully open — my sympathies. Her backstop would have effectively locked the whole of the U.K. into the EU customs union (anathema to Brexiters), while Johnson’s deal effectively does that only for Northern Ireland, to the displeasure of his erstwhile allies in the DUP. There was no wriggling out of May’s backstop in a way that satisfied Brexiters without exactly these consequences.The central feature of Johnson’s deal is a permanent customs arrangement that leaves Northern Ireland in the U.K.’s customs regime legally but that creates a complex customs system in the Irish Sea between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland. The system will require the filling in of detailed customs forms for each good being transported from the mainland to Northern Ireland that might end up in Ireland and the EU. And it creates an entirely untested system by which EU tariffs would be paid for those goods, and then refunded if they didn’t go to the EU in the end.And people thought the backstop was a brain twister.This arrangement imposes a new barrier on mainland-Northern Ireland trade, however much Johnson tries to dress it up as a simple matter of box-ticking. As such, it drives a cart and horses through the DUP’s one main demand: that Northern Ireland be treated no differently from the rest of Britain. It would be surprising, to put it mildly, if the famously recalcitrant DUP moved at all.Johnson has two strong cards, however. First, momentum. Such is the general exhaustion with Brexit (and fear that further delay will see it never delivered) that his parliamentary support is already greater than any registered for May’s deal. The European Research Group of hard-core Brexiters, most of the Conservative moderates he booted out of the party for defying him and some Labour MPs seem to be on board. His deal could squeak through if given the chance.The prime minister had hoped to keep the momentum going with a vote on Monday to show his deal could pass Parliament. But the House of Commons speaker John Bercow disallowed the motion. Tuesday will see the government seek approval from lawmakers for the so-called second reading of the withdrawal bill — which would be a huge win for Johnson. If it passes, a second vote would follow immediately on an expedited three-day timetable to try to get the legislation through this week. If his attempt to speed up the legislative process fails, then it will be up to the EU to offer an extension.If the legislation does indeed become bogged down or unacceptable amendments are attached, Johnson would probably play his second card and move to get a general election agreed this week, to be held at the end of November. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may run out of excuses to deny him a vote, especially once the EU approves Johnson’s request for an extension.Another bit of good news for Johnson: Polls suggest that Leave voters express a greater preference for his deal than a no-deal exit, which might just banish his fears of losing support at the ballot box to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Things could change once the withdrawal bill gets an airing, but Johnson’s election strategy, as I wrote Saturday, is now clear: It’s his deal or no deal.Having retreated once in Brussels, the withdrawal bill may be a hill Johnson can’t hold either. But once again, he could fall back, this time asking Britain’s electorate to arm him for the next battle with a bazooka: a parliamentary majority.(This column was updated with details of the plan to expedite the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.)To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 03:50:48 -0400
  • Trump Cheated (Shocker!) on Property Tax; But Will Anyone Go to Jail?

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    Chip SomodevillaProPublica published a piece Wednesday that put the spotlight once again on some questionable financial practices of the Trump Organization, which showed one set of books to banks (inflating value) and another to New York City tax authorities (deflating value).Is this just the usual Trump mendacity, or can prosecutors see this as part of a pattern? And if so, could it be prosecuted? Who would be tagged as the defendant(s)? If not, what more is needed to bring the guilty parties to justice?Before we explore these questions, let’s look at the facts. Both versions of them.ProPublica obtained property tax docs for four Trump properties. These docs became public when Trump appealed the tax bills, and the loan records became public when Trump’s lenders sold the debt on the properties. Significant discrepancies were unearthed between the tax records and loan records for two of the properties: Trump International Hotel & Tower, on Central Park West, and 40 Wall St.Tax and loan documents for 40 Wall St. showed significant discrepancies in how certain costs such as insurance were reported. Further, Trump representatives reported different occupancy rates to lenders and tax officials: 81 percent to lenders (rising later to 95 percent), and just 59 percent to tax authorities. Rising occupancy rates are valued by lenders because they are indicative of rising income level which is material to securing refinancing, while lower rates, of course, mean lower taxes.Meanwhile, documents for the Trump International Hotel & Tower showed that city tax officials were advised that this property made about $822,000 in 2017 from renting space in the building to other businesses, while loan officials were told that the building made about $1.67 million. ProPublica further notes that Trump appeared not to report income from leasing space for television antennas on tax documents but did report the income on loan docs.Each of the above-noted discrepancies is indicative of potential fraud. But do they represent instances of a prosecutable case?The short answer is: not yet. The discrepancies do reflect a situational ethics approach toward financial obligations and responsibilities. But more evidence will be needed to prosecute anyone should criminal prosecution be considered by the authorities.Who might be prosecuted here? It is unclear just who is responsible for submitting the doctored financial statements to the lending authorities and tax officials. Were the folks who submitted the documents the same folks who prepared them? If so, what were their marching orders? Who directed the Trump Organization officials to tailor the financial statements to minimize property taxes or maximize occupancy rates to obtain loans?Investigators need to home in on the work papers prepared to support the finagled financial statements in order to determine “willful intent,” or “mens rea” that James Comey so infamously referenced. Such evidence may well be found at Mazars USA—the Trump Organization accounting firm that is the subject of intensive litigation with regard to subpoenas served by both the U.S. Congress and the Manhattan DA’s office.Accountant work papers have been found to be beneficial when uncovering evidence of intent to defraud in case after case of white-collar fraud, specifically tax fraud. In fact, accountant work files and testimony provided critical evidence leading to the conviction of Paul Manafort in the Mueller investigations and prosecutions. It should be noted that tax fraud, bank fraud, and the falsification of business records may result in felony charges that could be contemplated by the Manhattan DA and provide for prison sentences that could lead the convicted defendants to land in Rikers Island for a stretch with the aforementioned Manafort. Evidence of corrupt intent to defraud either a financial institution or a public tax authority is critical to a successful criminal prosecution. The use of a double or triple set of books and records by company officials for fraudulent purposes is a terrific example of overt acts of corrupt intent. But further evidence will be needed here to link all those involved in each of the instances denoted above. Email, texts, voice mail, notes to the file and other evidence of directions to finagle the financial docs are needed. Further forensic analysis of the documents, for example fingerprint analysis, ink chemistry analysis and handwriting analysis are investigative tools available to the prosecutors to tighten the vise and provide the links in the chain of potential targets.Cohen was reportedly debriefed in detail recently by the Manhattan DA’s office. His testimony will be needed to outline just who in the Trump Organization was responsible for the preparation of the questionable documents referenced above. Cohen’s credibility will clearly be attacked in court by the defendant(s) and will become a question for the jury to grapple with. Cohen provided the Southern District of New York with a prosecutive path for those responsible for cooking the books at the Trump Organization with regard to the reimbursement of “hush money” payments to Cohen. That path is now available to the Manhattan DA. Add Cohen’s now corroborated congressional testimony outlining the transactional financial ethics referenced above, used by the Trump team in their shady business dealings and the jury will likely be sitting on the edge of their seats. All the DA needs to do now is fill in some blanks in combination with demonstrating a pattern of fraud over time—the closing argument is shaping up to be very persuasive.The allegation that the Trump Organization appeared not to report income from leasing space for television antennas to tax authorities but did report the income on loan docs revives memories of the landmark New York Times tax fraud series on Fred Trump and Donald Trump’s financial shenanigans in the ’90s wherein the Times detailed multiple instances of unreported income streams tailored by Fred Trump for the Donald. While the statute of limitations has long expired with regard to the multi-million dollar gift tax evasion schemes entered into by Donald Trump, prosecutors can use evidence of historical frauds to depict a pattern of fraudulent conduct on the part of a defendant no matter how long ago the fraud occurred. It goes to willfulness or corrupt intent exhibited by Individual-1.The Manhattan DA’s case against the Trump Organization may appear to be on its surface just a mundane business fraud type of case. But fraudulent documents don’t change stories, particularly when there are witnesses available to tie the documents and the corrupt intent together. Add the historical pattern of fraud engaged in by Individual-1 and the Manhattan DA’s case appears to be silently moving along like a stealth nuclear submarine under the radar and there are no available defenses available like an Office of Legal Counsel opinion to protect the prospective defendants from a potentially lethal prosecutorial attack.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.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 07:00:33 -0400
  • Taiwan Asks Hong Kong for Return of the Murder Suspect Whose Case Sparked Months of Protests

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    Chan Tong-kai is set to be released from prison in Hong Kong on Wednesday

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 05:21:32 -0400
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    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:00:00 -0400
  • China Wants To Destroy U.S. Aircraft Carriers in a War (It Won't Be Easy)

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    The story starts in 2005.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 23:00:00 -0400
  • Panel backs removal of sheriff over school shooting response

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    The tragedy of the Parkland school massacre framed a developing political drama in Florida's capital, as a divided legislative panel on Monday sided with the state's Republican governor in removing a county sheriff accused of mishandling the response to the shooting that killed 17 people. The mostly party line vote by Florida's Senate Rules Committee sends the matter to the full chamber, which is expected to consider it Wednesday. The highly charged session was a victory for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel just days after taking office in January.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 21:32:45 -0400
  • Philippine police recommend drug charges against ex-chief

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    Philippine police recommended graft and drug charges against its former chief on Monday over a new scandal that has put President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics crackdown under the spotlight. The police face allegations some officers are involved in the illegal drugs trade and that they had the protection of former chief Oscar Albayalde. It is the latest controversy to engulf the Philippine police force, which is waging a drug war launched by President Duterte in 2016.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 09:30:36 -0400
  • Why more Mexicans wrap themselves in the flag

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    500 years after conquistadors first set foot on Mexican soil, a renewed sense of nationalism is taking root.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 06:09:00 -0400
  • U.S. EPA set to release fuel economy revisions by year-end

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    The Trump Administration’s revised final fuel economy standards for U.S. vehicles should be released by the end of the year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said on Tuesday. Wheeler said the final proposal will not be look "exactly like" the original one announced in August 2018 to freeze fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels through 2026. Work is continuing on revisions to the vehicle efficiency and emissions standards, which are overseen by EPA and the Department of Transportation, he said.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 10:41:26 -0400
  • Billionaire Isabel dos Santos Denies Wrongdoing at Sonangol

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    (Bloomberg) -- Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, said she did nothing wrong when she was chairwoman of state-owned oil company Sonangol and called a probe into the transfer of millions of dollars from the Luanda-based firm “political vengeance.”Angolan newspaper Novo Jornal reported on Oct. 18 that Angola’s prosecuting authority started a criminal investigation into the transfer of $38 million from Sonangol authorized by dos Santos. Her successor at Sonangol, Carlos Saturnino, accused dos Santos last year of authorizing the transfer to a company in Dubai days after she was dismissed as chairwoman. Saturnino was sacked in May.“To say there was a transfer order after my dismissal is simply false,” dos Santos said in statement emailed on Monday. “The fight against corruption can’t be used to feed an agenda of persecution or a witch hunt.”Dos Santos said the fund-transfer was legal and was made while she was still in her position at Sonangol on Nov. 15, 2017, the day she was dismissed and before a new board was appointed the next day. She said payment instructions were given one or two days before her dismissal.If Angolan authorities are serious about fighting corruption they should investigate why Sonangol had about $20 billion in debt at the end of 2015, before her appointment, and how this money was “used and lost,” said the 46-year-old dos Santos.Dos Santos was dismissed as head of Sonangol amid a crackdown on corruption by Joao Lourenco, who replaced her father as president in 2017. Sonangol, long the main engine of Angola’s oil-focused economy, has been at the center of Lourenco’s anti-graft campaign.(Adds dos Santos’s comment about timing of payment instructions in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joao Lima at jlima1@bloomberg.net, Rene Vollgraaff, Alastair ReedFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 16:58:43 -0400
  • Shamima Begum appeals against loss of British citizenship but Home Office suggests plight is her 'own fault'

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    Shamima Begum, the Isil bride, chose to go to Syria and can only blame “her own actions” if she is in danger, the Government said on Tuesday as it argued against her return to the UK.  The Bethnal Green schoolgirl fled to join the terror group when she was 15 with two other friends and married a Dutch fighter with whom she had three children.  As the caliphate crumbled earlier this year, she was tracked down to a refugee camp close to the Syrian border, heavily pregnant and grieving the deaths of her two older children.  Her re-emergence into the public eye prompted Sajid Javid, then Home Secretary, to revoke her British citizenship to prevent her travelling home. Her newborn child died days later. On Tuesday, a legal challenge launched by Ms Begum, now aged 20, reached the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in London, as her lawyers tried to get the decision ruled unlawful. They are claiming the revocation left her stateless, exposed her to the risk of death or harm and deprived her of access to a “fair and effective” appeal.  Concerns were raised that Ms Begum could be “hanged” if she was sent back to Bangladesh - where the Government alleges she has citizenship - or rendered to face trial and possible execution in Iraq by the forces currently running the al-Roj camp. She claimed the loss of her British citizenship had left her trapped in “wretched and squalid conditions” at the camp, contrary to her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights However, the Home Office rejected these claims in written submissions presented to the court and suggested Ms Begum’s current plight was her own fault.  The argument, prepared by Jonathan Glasson QC, said: “It is relevant that the appellant is in Syria because of her own actions; and is detained in a camp run by the (Syrian Democratic Forces) as a direct consequence of her own actions; the Secretary of State has no role in the running of that camp; and no role in the decision of the SDF to detain the appellant there. “If her appeal succeeds on this preliminary issue, she will still be in precisely the same situation.” The Government claimed Ms Begum had “not presented any evidence” to show she was at risk of being deported to either Bangladesh or Iraq. A similar argument was deployed to counter the suggestion she had been denied a route of appeal, as she was said to have travelled to Syria “against Foreign Office advice, aligned with Isil and remained there in those circumstances for the next four years”. “Any difficulties she faces there - including difficulties leaving the camp or appealing against the deprivation decision from outside the UK - are not the result of any actions of the Secretary of State,” the written submissions continued.  Ms Begum’s lawyer, Tom Hickman QC, said in his own submissions that the Isil bride was not a Bangladeshi citizen as she was born in the UK and had never travelled to the country, meaning she would have to apply for dual citizenship through the Bangladeshi citizenship of her parents. The Bangladeshi government released a statement in February saying it was “deeply concerned” that Ms Begum had been “erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship”. These claims were also dismissed by the Home Office, which argued Ms Begum held dual citizenship through her parents because her father never became a naturalised British citizen and therefore she was not required to reapply for Bangladeshi citizenship as she was under 21.  It also suggested in a letter to her lawyers on October 18 that the chaos which has engulfed northern Syria since Turkey launched an offensive meant Ms Begum was “free to leave” as her camp was “likely to be unguarded”. But Mr Hickman told the court on Tuesday: “As far as we are aware nothing material has changed at al-Roj, albeit that the environment there is incredibly fragile and dangerous." Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing is expected to reserve her judgment at the end of the four-day preliminary hearing in London.  It is not expected to examine the “national security” allegations against Ms Begum this week, which may include claims, first reported by The Telegraph, that she was an enforcer in Isil’s morality police.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 11:38:41 -0400
  • Russia’s Troll Farm Is Kind of Sh*tting the Bed on Facebook

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    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyFacebook on Monday removed nearly 200 newly discovered fake accounts linked separately to Iran and to Russia’s Internet Research Agency. The takedowns demonstrate that foreign influence operations are already targeting the 2020 election, but provide evidence that Russia’s notorious troll farm is struggling to regain anything close to the influence in held in 2016.The new wave of takedowns targeted separate networks of deceptive accounts created by Iran and Russia, including dozens of fake Facebook organization pages. In a press call, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the takedowns show the company has come far since getting caught flat-footed in 2016. “The fact that we’ve identified them proactively should provide some confidence that our systems here are working,” Zuckerberg said.The Russian accounts were far more focused on U.S. domestic issues, but in terms of sheer numbers and longevity, the Iranian effort outstripped Russia. The Iranian accounts included 21 Instagram accounts and 135 fake Facebook accounts propping up 26 phony organization pages and four Facebook groups. More than 90 of the accounts were primarily focused on U.S. readers, with the others mostly targeting Latin America. The accounts largely pushed links to Iranian propaganda on state-run news outlets, according to Facebook.As with past takedowns, the company’s announcement only identified a handful of the Iranian personas. Of those, though, one stands out as eerily reminiscent of Russia’s 2016 efforts—a Facebook page called “BLMnews” that purported to be a news site covering the Black Lives Matters movement. The page had a meager 45 followers, and, according to Facebook, was devoted to driving traffic to an associated website that’s been operating since August 2016, according to Internet registration records.Russia’s Internet Research Agency ran similar sites and Facebook pages during and after the 2016 election season, some with sizable followings. But so far the Saint Petersburg troll farm appears to have a long way to go. Of the 50 accounts banned by Facebook on Monday, all but one were on Instagram alone, with no Facebook presence at all. The Russian operation appears to be in the early stages, Facebook said. “They're still trying to build their audience, and they put significant operation security into concealing who they were,” said company cybersecurity chief Nathaniel Gleicher in Monday’s press call.One sign of that improved op-sec is the dearth of text on the troll’s posts—perhaps a sign that Russia is seeking to avoid the linguistic giveaways that marred some of its 2016 content. According to social network analysis tool Graphika, which had inside access to Facebook’s data, the accounts generally pushed screenshots of other people’s tweets and memes with no commentary. “Some posts gained hundreds of likes but typically obtained orders of magnitude fewer than the American personalities they copied,” reads Graphika’s report on the Russian accounts. “The ‘conservative’ accounts in the set had a particular fondness for the conservative partisan group Turning Point USA, often sharing its memes and comments.”That may be a factor in the relatively limited reach of Russia’s identified personas. The 50 accounts together had a total of 246,000 followers, according to Facebook’s figures. “It seems they are getting stuck at the mimicry phase of infiltration,” said Clint Watts, a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.As tallied by Graphika, the personas are the usual Russian mix of accounts pretending to be arch-conservatives in the heartland, and a roughly equal number pretending to be African American activists. A smattering of accounts were focused on more specific issues, like gun rights on the right or LGBTQ rights on the left.The accounts were largely devoted to sowing division, but when they directly addressed the 2020 election, they followed the IRA’s 2016 playbook to the letter. The “conservative” accounts attacked liberals and heaped praise on Donald Trump, while “liberal” accounts derided the president while vocally supporting Bernie Sanders over Democratic frontrunners. Joe Biden is singled out for criticism in much the same way as Clinton in 2016.Notably, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, a favorite of Russia’s state-owned media, isn’t featured at all in the posts shared by Graphika and Facebook, despite recently being labeled a “Russian asset” by Hillary Clinton.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.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:04:54 -0400
  • The FBI says at least 3 American tourists died of natural causes in the Dominican Republic, not tainted alcohol

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    This year saw a spate of tourist deaths that sparked fears over tainted alcohol or other mysterious conditions before the investigation was launched.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:18:07 -0400
  • For War with Russia or China, World War II-Style Convoys Are Back in Style

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    A convoy of five American cargo ships made a simulated run through hostile waters in September 2019 during a sprawling, short-notice test of the U.S. fleet’s ability to ship people and cargo during a major war. The simulated, World War II-style convoy underscored the importance of sealift to U.S. war plans, as well as the shortage of naval escorts that has incited a minor panic among military planners.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 04:00:00 -0400
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    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:32:00 -0400
  • Pelosi releases 'fact sheet' revealing how Trump ‘betrayed oath of office’

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    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disseminated a “fact sheet” on Monday outlining how President Trump, in her words, “betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain” in his dealings with the Ukrainian government. 

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 10:21:09 -0400
  • The Latest: Trump congratulates Japanese Emperor Naruhito

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    President Donald Trump has congratulated Japanese Emperor Naruhito on his enthronement. The White House said in a statement that the president and first lady Melania Trump offer their "warmest congratulations" to the people of Japan on the occasion. Naruhito on Tuesday proclaimed his enthronement in an ancient palace ritual before 2,000 guests from around the world.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 11:16:50 -0400
  • WikiLeaks founder Assange appears confused at extradition hearing

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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared confused at a London court hearing on Monday, struggling to recall his name and age in his first public appearance in months as he sought to fight extradition to the United States. Assange, 48, who spent seven years holed up in Ecuador's embassy before he was dragged out in April, faces 18 counts in the United States including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 05:48:25 -0400
  • Croatia Gets Green Light to Join EU’s Visa-Free Schengen Zone

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    (Bloomberg) -- Six years after Croatia joined the European Union, the Balkan nation is getting a green light from the European Commission to join the bloc’s passport-free Schengen area.Croatia has continued to fulfill all of Schengen criteria, the Commission said in a statement in Brussels on Tuesday. The European Council would still need to sign off on Croatia’s accession. It’s the latest country to join the EU.“I commend Croatia for its efforts and perseverance to meet all the necessary conditions to join Schengen,” President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement. “This is why I trust the member states will take the right steps for Croatia to become a full Schengen member soon.”Fellow EU nations Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the bloc in 2007, are still waiting to join the world’s largest multinational free-travel zone.(Updates with comments from Juncker from third paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, ;Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, ;Nikos Chrysoloras at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.net, Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 09:40:01 -0400
  • US awarded ownership of seized North Korean vessel

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    A New York court has formally handed the US ownership of a North Korean cargo ship seized for violating international sanctions, the Justice Department said. The 17,061 ton bulk carrier Wise Honest -- the first North Korean vessel seized by Washington for sanctions violations -- was caught carrying a $3 million shipment of coal in Indonesian waters last year and later handed over to US authorities. The court in the Southern District of New York ordered the vessel to be forfeited to Washington and for the Treasury Department to "dispose of" it, an order released by the Justice Department showed.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 04:04:23 -0400
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