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Venezuelan soldiers defect as troops fire tear gas at protesters on Colombia borderSoldiers from Venezuela's national guard have deserted their posts ahead of an opposition-led effort to bring aid into the economically-devastated county. Three abandoned their posts on the Simon Bolivar International Bridge to oversee the humanitarian aid delivery, while a fourth did so at the Paula Santander International Bridge in Ureña, in the south west of the country. The soldiers have asked for help from neighbouring Colombia's migration agency, the department said. Vídeo of the moment the fourth member of the Venezuelan national guard - a sergeant - defected this morning. Three defected on the Simon Bolivar bridge; this man was on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge. Listen to the applause... https://t.co/PDSNDyNQbw— Harriet Alexander (@h_alexander) February 23, 2019 Separately, Venezuelan troops have fired tear gas at people attempting to cross into Colombia to work. President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the Venezuelan military to close the border with Colombia to bar humanitarian aid, which is being supported by the opposition, from entering the country. Venezuelan forces on Saturday hurled tear gas and fired rubber to break up a crowd demanding to cross the Urena border bridge to Colombia. Self-declared acting president Juan Guaido has vowed humanitarian aid would enter Venezuela despite a blockade Credit: AFP "We want to work!" people chanted as they faced Venezuelan National Guard riot police blocking the crossing, one of several ordered closed by Mr Maduro late on Friday. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, is attempting to cross into Venezuela from the Colombian border on Saturday with thousands of volunteers carrying emergency supplies. While the need for basic food and medicines is real, the effort is also meant to embarrass military officers who continue to support Mr Maduro's increasingly isolated government. Venezuela | Read more How we got here Mr Guaido, recognised by most Western nations as the country's legitimate head of state, defied court orders not to leave Venezuela by arriving on Friday in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where aid from the US and Colombian governments is stockpiled in warehouses. The opposition leader invoked articles of the constitution in January to assume interim presidency and denounced Mr Maduro as a usurper, arguing his 2018 re-election was illegitimate. President Maduro blames the country's dire situation on US sanctions that have blocked the country from obtaining financing and have hobbled the OPEC nation's oil industry.  Venezuelan demonstrators clash with security forces in Urena, Venezuela Credit: AFP Violence has already flared in some border regions. Two people were killed on Friday night when the Venezuelan army opened fire in an village near the Brazilian border after indigenous leaders attempted to prevent them from advancing, killing a woman and her husband. What happens next? Venezuela's military has served as the traditional arbiter of political disputes in the South American country and in recent weeks top leaders have pledged their unwavering loyalty to Mr Maduro. However, many believe that lower-ranking troops who suffer from the same hardships as many other Venezuelans may be more inclined to now let the aid enter. Otro guardia que se entrega esta vez en el puente de ureña 23FebVenezuelaVenezuelaLibrepic.twitter.com/XTUDJVdYLB— Luis Álvarez (@alvarezluis1999) February 23, 2019 Mr Maduro, who has support from China, Russia and the military high command, accuses the United States of plotting a military intervention. Moscow has blasted Washington for using aid as a "convenient pretext for conducting military action." However, Mr Guaido’s supporters have been buoyed by news of aid convoys getting through in Brazil, and by multiple defections by Mr Maduro’s forces. Blocked by national guard, what was meant to be a peaceful protest in Venezuela is turning increasingly violent. Masked protesters hijacked a government bus and set it a blaze trying to break the soldiers’ barricade. pic.twitter.com/i17ws0QEdD— Andy Rosati (@andrewrosati) February 23, 2019 5:20PM Aid for Venezuela to be passed by human chain from Colombia  A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian assistance for Venezuela will be unloaded at the Simon Bolivar bridge on Colombia's side of the border and the aid will be transported by a human chain across the frontier, Colombia's migration agency said. 5:14PM Venezuelan troops unleash tear gas on protesters Venezuela's National Guard have fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge to Colombia. The opposition is calling on masses of Venezuelans to form a "humanitarian avalanche" to escort trucks carrying the aid across several border bridges. But clashes started at dawn in the Venezuelan border town of Urena, when residents began removing yellow metal barricades and barbed wire blocking the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge. Venezuela's National Guard responded forcefully, firing tear gas and buckshot on the protesters, some of them masked youth throwing rocks, who demanded that the aid pass through. Venezuelans hold a protest in the border city of Urena Credit: AFP Later, the youth commandeered a city bus and set it afire. At least two dozen people were injured in the disturbances, according to local health officials in Urena. "We're tired. There's no work, nothing," Andreina Montanez, 31, said as she sat on a curb crying from the tear gas that was used to disperse the crowd. A single mom, she said she lost her job as a seamstress in December and had to console her 10-year-old daughter's fears that she would be left orphaned when she decided to join Saturday's protest. "I told her I had to go out on the streets because there's no bread," she said. "But still, these soldiers are scary. It's like they're hunting us." Venezuela's opposition lawmaker Jose Manuel Olivares and supporters march toward the Simon Bolivars bridge on the outskirts of Cucuta Credit: Reuters At the Simon Bolivar bridge, a group of aid volunteers in blue vests calmly walked up to a police line and shook officers' hands, appealing for them to join their fight. Four National Guardsmen deserted the force early in the day and took refuge inside Colombia. A video provided by Colombian authorities shows three of the men wading through a crowd with their assault rifles and pistols held above their heads in a sign of surrender. The young soldiers were then ordered to lay face down on the ground as migration officials urged angry onlookers to keep a safe distance. "I've spent days thinking about this," said one of the soldiers. He called on his comrades to join him: "There is a lot of discontent inside the forces, but also lots of fear." God Bless the people of Venezuela!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2019 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the military would "never have orders to fire on the civilian population" and likened the aid push to a media spectacle. "We can only hope that sanity and good sense prevail in Cucuta, in Colombia, and that it will remain as a big show, a big party, and that they don't try to open the doors to a military intervention," he said at UN headquarters in New York Friday. 4:54PM Venezuelan army major recognises Juan Guaido as leader In another blow for Mr Maduro, a  major in the Venezuelan army, Hugo Enrique Parra Martínez, has publicly recognised Juan Guaidó as Commander-in-Chief of the National Armed Forces, according to reports.  Venezuela: Mayor del Ejército, Hugo Enrique Parra Martínez, reconoce públicamente a Juan Guaidó, cómo Comandante en Jefe de la Fuerza Armada Nacional pic.twitter.com/3SmFBTtORX— Rocío San Miguel (@rociosanmiguel) February 23, 2019 BREAKING: A major from the Venezuelan national guard has just entered the building at Tienditas bridge where Guaido is. He entered Colombia not by one of the bridges, but downing arms and scampering across the river, the Colombian police say. They name him as Major Hugo Parra. pic.twitter.com/WFfj4w4SIE— Harriet Alexander (@h_alexander) February 23, 2019   4:48PM 'Usurper Maduro will be responsible for any violence'​ Ivan Duque, the Colombian president, has called for warned against Venezuelan troops blocking the supplies leaving from his country, saying it would be a breach of human rights laws. En vivo @CNNEE declaración del presidente @IvanDuquepic.twitter.com/hEcOiuVuQI— Mariana Reyes (@Marianitareyes) February 23, 2019 “We demand that it be permitted to pass in a peaceful manner into Venezuelan territory for the benefit of those who need it,” he said in a video posted by a journalist. If the aid is denied entry, he added, “the usurper Nicolas Maduro will be responsible for any act of violence.” 4:26PM How long will Venezuelan troops stay with Maduro? The deployment of aid by the US and the Venezuelan opposition on the border with Colombia is a high stakes game to test the loyalty of Venezuela's armed forces - effectively asking them to chose between alleviating suffering or staying faithful to the regime.  President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the troops to bar the entry of the aid convoys. But the majority of Venezuelan security forces ready to turn on President Maduro, Coddy Weddle reported from Caracas recently. Read the full story here. 4:22PM Protesters plead with soldiers Meanwhile in the Venezuelan capital, protesters are heading to a military airport to beg soldiers to defy President Maduro and allow aid into the economically-stricken country. VENEZUELA In Caracas, while no one is looking, protesters start to take the streets planning to get to La Carlota, a military airport in the capital, to ask soldiers to switch sides and let the humanitarian aid in. The Green Cross is already around the area.— Ana Vanessa Herrero (@AnaVHerrero) February 23, 2019 4:18PM More aid trucks head to Venezuela The Telegraph's  Harriet Alexander is following the progress of aid trucks leaving from Cucuta, Colombia which are attempting to cross into Venezuela. Breaking: Caravan arrives at Simon Bolívar Bridge. National Guard launches tear gas. pic.twitter.com/SUYqQEAv2r— Cody Weddle (@coweddle) February 23, 2019  Juan Guaido, self-declared interim president, appears to be riding the truck to the border. Momento de la entrega de la ayuda humanitaria al presidente @jguaidoVenezuelapic.twitter.com/nS19nWRy7e— Marito Abdo (@MaritoAbdo) February 23, 2019 4:11PM First aid shipment arrives in Venezuela  A truck carrying humanitarian aid crossed into Venezuela from Brazil at midday on Saturday, opposition lawmaker Miguel Pizarro told reporters in Caracas. "This is a great accomplishment, Venezuela!", opposition leader Juan Guaido says in a tweet. ¡Atención Venezuela! Anunciamos oficialmente que YA ENTRÓ el primer cargamento de ayuda humanitaria por nuestra frontera con Brasil. ¡Esto es un gran logro, Venezuela! ¡Seguimos! 23FAvalanchaHumanitaria— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 23, 2019   A Reuters witness said, however, that while the truck was on Venezuelan soil, it had not yet passed through the customs checkpoint.  4:02PM Tensions flare in Urena, Venezuela A bus that was torched during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard burns in Urena, Venezuela Credit: AP Clashes have intensified in Urena, the Venezuelan side of the border with Colombia. Venezuela’s national guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia. Protesters responded by stealing a red city bus and setting it on fire, according to reports on the ground. The bus has now set light to a nearby building. Flames from the bus also caused nearby power lines to spark.  Demonstrators destroying a city bus in Urena Credit: AP   3:31PM Brazil's humanitarian aid has arrived on the border The first truck with humanitarian aid from the Brazilian government has arrived in the city of Pacaraima on the border with Venezuela. The crossing has been closed on orders from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the truck loaded with food and medicine will now wait in Brazilian territory. Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said he expects Mr Maduro's government to allow the aid to pass. "It is very exciting to see people anxious to recover their freedom and have a decent life," Mr Araujo said. 3:06PM Venezuelan opposition leader arrives at the border The Venezuelan opposition leader has arrived at the border with the leaders of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay. Guaido has arrived at Tienditas bridge, accompanied by the presidents of Colombia, Chile & Paraguay, and the Sec Gen of the Organisation of American States. They’re walking up towards the Venezuelan side, to recce the scene before returning to give speeches and begin the delivery— Harriet Alexander (@h_alexander) February 23, 2019 3:03PM Defected soldiers named We now have the names of three of the four national guard members who defected earlier this morning, Harriet Alexander reports from the border. Three drove two tanks across the Simon Bolivar bridge, shunting the barricades out of the way to hand themselves in. The fourth walked across the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, to huge applause. El momento en el que tres miembros de la Guardia Nacional Bolivariana desertan en el Puente Internacional Simón Bolívar y han solicitado ayuda a Migración Colombia. "¡Libertad!", gritan quienes los ven entrar: https://t.co/lURgwLQDEkpic.twitter.com/cyBbQkUtwW— CNN en Español (@CNNEE) February 23, 2019 Two tanks push through the barriers on the Simon Bolivar bridge, making their way to the Colombian side and the three national guard members then defecting https://t.co/E0UrpOMwYY— Harriet Alexander (@h_alexander) February 23, 2019 The three have been named as  Lt Richard Sánchez Zambrano, Sgt Major Edgar Torres Valera and Sgt Major Oscar Suárez Torres. Breaking: Caravan arrives at Simon Bolívar Bridge. National Guard launches tear gas. pic.twitter.com/SUYqQEAv2r— Cody Weddle (@coweddle) February 23, 2019


Posted: February 23, 2019, 6:31 pm

Fiery Skirmishes Erupt as Guaido Tries to Bring Venezuela AidNational Guard soldiers fired volleys of tear gas and plastic pellets at supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who were trying to persuade them to defect and permit tons of food and medicine into the country. Masked paramilitary gangs supporting the autocrat Maduro tore through the area there on motorcycles, firing guns in the air. Trucks of supplies rolled slowly through Cucuta, Colombia, toward the Tienditas Bridge with throngs of opposition supporters riding on top and cheering.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 6:09 pm

India detains Kashmir separatists, issues new warning to PakistanIndian authorities arrested dozens of Muslim leaders in raids across Kashmir and sent thousands of reinforcements to the troubled territory on Saturday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up warnings to Pakistan over a suicide bomb attack. As international concern grows over India-Pakistan sabre-rattling, residents of Kashmir, at the centre of a decades-old struggle between the nuclear-armed neighbours, reported heightened military activity. India has accused Pakistan of supporting the attack -- a claim rejected by the Islamabad government -- and there have been widespread calls for nationalist leader Modi to order a reprisal strike.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 4:44 pm

More than 100 separatists detained in Kashmir in pre-election crackdownOn Saturday there were increasing signs that the military clampdown in Indian-controlled Kashmir and the government’s threats against Pakistan were prompting panic buying of fuel, medicines and food. Mohammad Amin Rather, owner of A-Z grocery Store in the Rajagh area of Srinagar, said: "People are buying rice, edible oil, pulses, eggs and other essentials in bulk. "People in the valley, especially the cities and towns, are taking everything said or done as a sign that some big trouble is just around the corner," said Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 3:50 pm

North Korea's Kim begins long train trip to Vietnam for summit with Trump: reportThe reports of Kim's departure from North Korea came after Vietnam announced that Kim would make an official visit in "coming days", as the Southeast Asian country prepares to host the summit with Trump on Wednesday and Thursday. Trump and Kim will meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, eight months after their historic summit in Singapore in June - the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader - at which they pledged to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The Trump administration has pressed North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, which threatens the United States, before it can expect any concessions.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 2:16 pm

Venezuela troops fire teargas on Colombia border protestersVenezuelan forces on Saturday hurled tear gas and fired rubber to break up a crowd demanding to cross the Urena border bridge to Colombia. "We want to work!" people chanted as they faced Venezuelan National Guard riot police blocking the crossing, one of several ordered closed by President Nicolas Maduro late Friday. Supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido in Colombia are planning to cross the border carrying emergency supplies into Venezuela. While the need for basic food and medicines is real, the effort is also meant to embarrass military officers who continue to support Maduro's increasingly isolated government. Juan Guaido, recognized by most Western nations as the country's legitimate head of state, defied court orders not to leave Venezuela by arriving on Friday in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where aid from the U.S. and Colombian governments is stockpiled in warehouses. Self-declared acting president Juan Guaido has vowed humanitarian aid would enter Venezuela despite a blockade Credit: AFP Guaido, 35, head of the opposition-run Congress, has provided few details on the transport plan. Trucks are expected to be driven by Venezuelan volunteers and some opposition figures have suggested forming human chains. "Today the obstacles that the dictatorship created will tomorrow be rivers of unity, of peace," Guaido said in a news conference on Friday in Cucuta, where he was received by Colombian President Ivan Duque. Venezuelan soldiers may bar the way. Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said in a tweet late on Friday that Venezuela's government shut the Tachira border that connects it with Cucuta temporarily "due to a series of illegal threats" by Colombia. Venezuelan demonstrators clash with security forces in Urena, Venezuela, Credit: Reuters A group of frustrated Venezuelans who were seeking to cross into Colombia on Saturday to work morning threw rocks and bottles at National Guard troops, who responded with tear gas. "We were all going to work, we want to work, the people attempted to force through," said Viviana Meza, 29, who works in a Cucuta restaurant. At least four National Guard officers on Saturday at the border disavowed Maduro's government and requested assistance from the Colombian government, Colombia's migration agency said on Saturday. Videos on social media showed crowds first jeering and then cheering the men as they were escorted away by Colombian police. Venezuelans clash with national guards in the border town of Urena after Maduro´s government ordered to temporary close down the border with Colombia Credit: AFP Maduro blames the country's dire situation on U.S. sanctions that have blocked the country from obtaining financing and have hobbled the OPEC nation's oil industry. Rodriguez says the aid is poisoned. Concerns about the potential for violence flared on Friday when the Venezuelan army opened fire in an village near the Brazilian border after indigenous leaders attempted to prevent them from advancing, killing a woman and her husband. "I don't plan to leave my house over the weekend, especially after what happened near Brazil," said Paulina Sanchez, a 68-year-old grandmother who lives just 300 meters (yards) from the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, one of the crossings through which aid may pass. "This could turn into a powder keg." Nearly 200,000 people attended a benefit concert in Cucuta on Friday featuring Latin pop stars, including Luis Fonsi of "Despacito" fame, many of whom called on Maduro to step down. A rival concert held by the ruling Socialist Party on the Venezuelan side was sparsely attended. Guaido in January invoked articles of the constitution to assume interim presidency and denounced Maduro as a usurper, arguing his 2018 re-election was illegitimate.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 1:25 pm

Palestinians bury teen killed by Israeli gunfire during border protestsGaza health officials say the 15-year-old boy was shot by Israeli troops during a protest attended by thousands on the Gaza Strip border. Rough cut (no reporter narration)


Posted: February 23, 2019, 1:11 pm

Girl banned from wearing MAGA hat claims school is violating her First Amendment rightsA California high school student who was banned from wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat on campus is challenging her school district for impinging on her First Amendment rights. Maddie Mueller, who attends Clovis North High School in Fresno, is a member of Valley Patriots. The conservative activist group asked its affiliates to wear the well-known hat bearing Donald Trump's campaign motto on Wednesday.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 12:31 pm

Gov. Newsom orders new DNA tests for inmate Kevin Cooper in 35-year-old Chino Hills murder caseGov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing new DNA tests for an inmate on death row who has been in prison for nearly 40 years.


Posted: February 23, 2019, 4:42 am

Sen. Warren: US needs to address 'ugly history of racism'MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said earlier this week that she supports reparations for black Americans who have been affected by slavery, told reporters Friday that the nation needs to confront its "ugly history of racism" and "talk about the right way to address it and make change."


Posted: February 23, 2019, 4:30 am

CORRECTED: Microsoft workers demand it drop $480 million U.S. Army contractThe organising effort, described to Reuters by three Microsoft workers, offers the latest example in the last year of tech employees protesting cooperation with governments on emerging technologies. Microsoft won a contract in November to supply the Army with at least 2,500 prototypes of augmented reality headsets, which digitally displays contextual information in front of a user's eyes. In a petition to Microsoft executives, posted on Twitter, workers said they "did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used." They called on the company to develop "a public-facing acceptable use policy" for its technology and an external review board to publicly enforce it.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 11:30 pm

Robert Kraft prostitution scandal exposes depth of modern slavery, sex trafficking industrySex trafficking won't stop until the costs are high enough to make rich, powerful men feel that buying Chinese girls from a local spa isn't worth it.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 11:15 pm

Disabled greeter meets with Walmart about job; no resolutionA beloved, longtime Walmart greeter with cerebral palsy met with store management in Pennsylvania on Friday in a bid to keep his job but came away with no guarantees, and his family is girding for a fight.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 10:44 pm

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she could have been a teacher if it wasn't for TrumpAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she could have been a high school teacher if she didn't run for Congress because of Trump's presidency.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 10:17 pm

Trump calls India-Pakistan standoff 'very dangerous'US President Donald Trump voiced alarm Friday at the "very dangerous situation" between India and Pakistan, warning that New Delhi was considering "very strong" action after an attack in Kashmir. "Right now there is a lot of problems between India and Pakistan because of what happened," he told reporters as he met a senior Chinese official in the Oval Office. Tensions have soared between the nuclear-armed rivals since a suicide attack last week killed 41 soldiers on the Indian side of divided Kashmir, the deadliest attack in years.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 9:30 pm

Planned Parenthood Cut Off From Federal Funding Under Trump RuleUnder a regulation issued on Friday, no health-care provider that offers abortion services will be eligible for the federal Title X program, which last year offered $286.5 million in grants that funded family-planning services. The rule “prohibits the use of Title X funds to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning,” according to a fact sheet published by the Department of Health and Human Services. Planned Parenthood has long been a target for anti-abortion lawmakers and politicians.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 8:11 pm

Donald Trump: Russian Asset?‘I  think it’s possible” that President Donald Trump is a Russian asset, disgraced former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. McCabe also said to The Atlantic that FBI brass felt “concern about the president and whether or not he posed a national-security threat that we should be investigating.”On Wednesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly in Moscow. “Let me be loud and clear,” he told lawmakers near the Kremlin. “If the U.S. really is going to deploy missiles on the European continent, it will exacerbate the international situation and create a genuine danger for Russia, as there will be missiles with a 10–12-minute flight time to Moscow.” Putin lamented America’s February 1 withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty and added: “We are ready for disarmament talks, but we are no longer going to knock on a closed door.”McCabe’s bizarre comments perfectly echo the Trump-hating Left’s exhausted yet unsinkable theory that the president of the United States secretly works for Russia, Russia, Russia, and that he and Putin somehow swiped the White House from Hillary Clinton, who had waited her turn patiently to become America’s commander-in-chief.But only a thoroughly rotten Russian asset would create genuine danger for the Kremlin and close doors to Moscow. Indeed, President Trump routinely gives Putin ulcers.A Russian asset worth his borscht would work quietly to erode America’s military. Instead, Pentagon spending has soared from Obama’s final $521 billion allocation to Trump’s $634 billion in outlays for 2017 (up 21.7 percent) and another $716 billion last August (up 12.9 percent).Not satisfied simply to bolster the U.S. armed forces, Trump has pressured America’s NATO allies to do the same. Some criticize Trump for supposedly abusing our European partners. Actually, he has lavished them with tough love.“By the end of next year, NATO allies will add $100 billion extra toward defense,” NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said January 27 on Fox News Sunday. “So we see some real money and some real results. And we see that the clear message from President Donald Trump is having an impact.” Stoltenberg added: “NATO is united because we are able to adapt to deliver. North America and Europe are doing more together now than before.”None of this makes Vladimir Putin smile.Putin must have groaned last October when President Trump persuaded German chancellor Angela Merkel to spend $576 million on a terminal to receive U.S. liquefied natural gas. The Wall Street Journal called this “a key concession to President Trump as he tries to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s largest energy market.” This promises less revenue and leverage for Moscow and more profits and employment for American gas exporters.Adjacent to Russia, Trump restored Poland’s purchase of U.S. Patriot air-defense missiles  (which Obama canceled to appease Moscow). Trump also shipped Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.Last June, and in January 2017, Trump imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian companies and oligarchs. This was payback for Moscow’s invasions of Ukraine and Crimea and its interference in U.S. political campaigns. As Trump said: “We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”If anyone behaved like a Russian asset, it was Obama. Trump’s predecessor launched the soft-on-Moscow “Russian Reset.” He was caught on a hot mic in March 2012 whispering to Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev: “This is my last election,” Obama said at a conference in Seoul. “After my election I have more flexibility,” especially on matters like anti-ballistic missiles in Europe, on which Russia frowned. “I understand,” Medvedev replied. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”As The Weekly Standard recalled, “the Obama administration removed a group of missile launchers from near the Russian border with Poland after Moscow objected to their placement.” Obama refused to arm Ukraine’s anti-Putin fighters. Obama’s first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said in March 2010: “Our goal is to help strengthen Russia.” This apparently included encouraging Cisco Systems, Google, and Intel to open shop at Skolkovo, a sort of Russian Silicon Valley. The Pentagon and FBI eventually learned that the entire project was a giant technology-theft scam.Strengthening Russia also involved greenlighting Moscow’s purchase of Uranium One Inc. and its 20 percent share of U.S. uranium reserves. This company’s top investors donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. What a coincidence.Alas, fact-o-phobic Trump haters like Andrew McCabe consider him a pro-Moscow mole even as they wink at Obama’s and Hillary’s Russophilia.Michael Malarkey furnished research for this opinion piece.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 7:45 pm

Wild weather weekend: Blizzard, tornadoes, floods, ferocious winds all expectedThe final weekend of February will deliver a wild potpourri of weather as winter and spring do battle across the United States.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 6:13 pm

Jussie Smollett suspended from ‘Empire’ after prosecutors said he faked attack to boost salaryJussie Smollett has been accused of paying two men to attack him in what police say was a ploy to raise his profile and "Empire" salary.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 5:31 pm

Check Out Every Photo of the 2020 Volvo XC90 R-Design


Posted: February 22, 2019, 5:17 pm

Ford launches probe into actual emissions of its vehiclesFord has launched an investigation into the actual emissions of its vehicles after employees reported errors in data given to authorities, the automaker said. "In September, a handful of employees raised a concern... regarding the analytical modeling that is part of our US fuel economy and emissions compliance process," Kim Pittel, an executive responsible for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, said in a statement released late Thursday. "We have hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation" into specifications used in testing and "applications to certify emissions and fuel economy," Pittel said.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 4:15 pm

Why North Carolina's Election Fraud Hurts American DemocracyThe North Carolina State Board of Elections ordered a new election in the state's Ninth Congressional District.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 4:04 pm

Get the Insignia 8-Quart Multi-Function Pressure Cooker for less than $40 at Best BuyWhen you get home from a long day, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour bent over a hot stove making dinner. Yeah you can pop something in a slow cooker before you leave for your day, but that takes advanced planning and sometimes you just don't have the time or energy for that. With a pressure cooker, you can just toss ingredients in like a slow cooker, but the food cooks in a fraction of the time. You've probably heard the craze about Instant Pots, but those can run a bit pricey. The Insignia 8-Quart Multi-Function Pressure Cooker does virtually the same thing as an Instant Pot at a lower price point. Right now you can snag the Insignia pressure cooker for $39.99 at Best Buy, a savings of $80.The multi-function cooker has 12 one-touch preset programs for easy operation. Some of these options include keep warm, slow cook, steak/meat, rice/risotto, cake, and more. You can cook almost anything in a multi-function cooker. If you're skeptical about jumping full throttle into the multi-cooker world, the Insignia is a good starter option because it has the same sort of functionality as the name-brand pricier models. You'll get similar features as the Instant Pot DUO Plus which will cost you $139.95 at Amazon. That's $100 more than you'll drop on the Insignia. Best Buy reviewer Websaver writes:Get the Insignia 8-Quart Multi-Function Pressure Cooker for $39.99 at Best Buy. Image: insignia Save $80 on the Insignia 8-Quart Multi-Function Pressure Cooker at Best Buy See Details


Posted: February 22, 2019, 3:39 pm

2019 10Best Cars


Posted: February 22, 2019, 2:52 pm

Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren reportedly say they support reparations for black Americans affected by slaverySenators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren reportedly say they support reparations for black Americans affected by slavery.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 2:47 pm

Milan fashion week: catwalk beauty looks from day twoDay two of Milan Fashion Week was all about classic red lipstick and glossy hair. At Fendi, the models had the front sections of their hair gelled into a wet-look texture and combed forward to curl off to one side of the forehead, forming a modern twist on the '50s quiff. The lipstick took on a fiery, orange-red hue at Emporio Armani, where it was teamed with feathery, uneven bangs and dramatic blusher for a raffish result.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 2:40 pm

A 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback Is the Latest to Be Immortalized in LegosThe Lego Creator Ford Mustang kit includes 1471 pieces.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 2:00 pm

Google improving Maps and Search to fight the opioid crisisOn Thursday Google announced that it is making it easier to locate drug disposal locations year-round with enhanced opioid-related query results. Since 2017, the opioid crisis has been officially a public health emergency with Google queries for "medication disposal near me" reaching an all-time high on the platform just last month. In response, the company has improved Maps and Search results of queries like "drug drop off near me" or "medication disposal near me" to display permanent disposal locations, typically pharmacies (like Walgreens or CVS Health), hospitals, or government buildings, where you can discard unused and unneeded medications.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 12:09 pm

Pakistan reimposes ban on Islamist charities linked to militant leaderPakistan has re-instated a ban on two charities linked to the founder of an Islamist militant group that has carried out attacks in India, the interior ministry said on Friday. The ban comes as Pakistan faces international pressure to act against militant groups, amid escalating tension with its nuclear-armed neighbor, India, following a suicide bomb attack on Indian police in the disputed region of Kashmir. The attack, in which 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed, was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 9:54 am

China against forcefully sending aid to VenezuelaChina said Friday it was against forcefully sending "so-called humanitarian assistance" to Venezuela, warning it could spark conflict in the crisis-torn country. China has loaned billions to Venezuela and has remained committed to President Nicolas Maduro even as the country has fallen deeper into economic crisis. Foreign aid mostly from the US has piled up on Venezuela's borders as the Maduro government refuses to let it into the country.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 9:52 am

Tesla rolls out Model 3 in China ahead of schedule in sales pushBEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Tesla Inc has started delivering Model 3 cars in China slightly ahead of schedule, as it looks to revive its sales that have been hit hard by Sino-U.S. trade tensions. The California-based firm has already adjusted prices and added a cheaper Model 3 variant to its line-up to make its U.S.-made cars more affordable in China amid high import tariffs. It had initially projected a March start for Model 3 deliveries in China - the world's biggest auto market where overall car sales contracted in 2018 for the first time in more than two decades.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 7:28 am

Was that ballot fraud in North Carolina US House race?RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The country's last vacant congressional seat will stay that way for months after North Carolina's election board, hearing evidence of ballot fraud and testimony that the Republican ignored warning signs, ordered a new election.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 5:21 am

Case against Jussie Smollett resembles detailed movie scriptCHICAGO (AP) — As authorities laid out their case against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, the narrative that emerged Thursday sounded like that of a filmmaker who wrote, cast, directed and starred in a short movie.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 2:31 am

Southwest Airlines cancels nearly 400 flights as maintenance woes, winter storms lingerThe airline continues to have a higher-than-usual number of aircraft out of service due to maintenance and is dealing with snow in Las Vegas.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 2:07 am

Syria force hit by IS attack as tries to free last civiliansA deadly car bombing claimed by the Islamic State group hit US-backed forces in eastern Syria on Thursday as they tried to negotiate the release of civilians trapped in the jihadists' last sliver of territory. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are working towards evacuating civilians remaining in the holdout, so they can finish off the dying IS "caliphate" either through an assault or a surrender deal. The jihadists overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, but several offensives have retaken all but half a square kilometre (a fifth of a square mile) of their territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 1:49 am

Japanese probe touches down on asteroid in hunt for clues about origin of lifeA Japanese probe sent to examine an asteroid 170 million miles from the Earth for clues about the origin of life and the solar system landed successfully on Friday. Data from the probe, Hayabusa2, showed changes in speed and direction, indicating it had touched down on the asteroid and was blasting back to its orbiting position, according to officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). A live webcast of the control room showed dozens of JAXA staff members nervously monitoring data ahead of the touchdown before exploding into applause after receiving a signal from the probe that it had landed. "We confirmed the touchdown," JAXA spokeswoman Chisato Ikuta told AFP. Ms Ikuta said the control centre had "received data that shows that the probe is working normally and is healthy." Scientists were continuing to gather and analyse data from the probe, she said. The probe was due to fire a bullet at the Ryugu asteroid, to stir up surface matter, which the probe will then collect for analysis back on Earth.  This computer graphic image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the Japanese unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 approaching on the asteroid Ryugu Credit: AP The asteroid, named after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 3,000 feet in diameter. It is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born. Hayabusa2 will eventually fire an "impactor" to blast out material from underneath Ryugu’s surface, allowing the collection of "fresh" materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation. Scientists hope those samples may provide answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth. After the landing, the probe was to return to its orbit above Ryugu, with further touchdowns planned for later in the year. Communication with Hayabusa2 is cut off at times because its antennas are not always pointed towards Earth and it could take several more days to confirm the bullet was actually fired to allow the collection of samples. This image taken at an altitude of about 64 metres by Hayabusa2 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the surface of asteroid Ryugu Credit: AP The mission has not been completely plain sailing and the probe’s landing was originally scheduled for last year. But it was pushed back after surveys found the asteroid’s surface was more rugged than initially thought, forcing JAXA to take more time to find a suitable landing site. The Hayabusa2 mission, with a price tag of around 30 billion yen (£208 million), was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to Earth with its samples in 2020. Photos of Ryugu – which means "Dragon Palace" in Japanese and refers to a castle at the bottom of the ocean in an ancient Japanese tale – show an asteroid shaped a bit like a spinning top with a rough surface. Staff of the Hayabusa2 Project watch monitors for a safety check at the control room of the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo Credit: AP Hayabusa2 observes the surface of the asteroid with its camera and sensing equipment but has also dispatched two tiny MINERVA-II rover robots as well as the French-German robot MASCOT to help surface observation. Scientists are already receiving data from these probes deployed on the surface of the asteroid. The 22-pound observation robot MASCOT is loaded with sensors, and can take images at multiple wavelengths, investigate minerals with a microscope, gauge surface temperatures and measure magnetic fields. At about the size of a large fridge, Hayabusa2 is equipped with solar panels and is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa – Japanese for falcon. That probe returned from a smaller, potato-shaped, asteroid in 2010 with dust samples despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year Odyssey and was hailed as a scientific triumph. Sign up for your essential, twice-daily briefing from The Telegraph with our free Front Page newsletter.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 1:30 am

A look at why brothers in alleged hoax appear off the hookCHICAGO (AP) — Two brothers who played central roles in what Chicago police say was a staged racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett are, compared to the "Empire" actor, so far walking away legally unscathed.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 12:54 am

Trump ally Stone gets gag order after 'crosshairs' postWASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge issued a broad gag order forbidding Roger Stone to discuss his criminal case with anyone and gave him a stinging reprimand Thursday over the longtime Trump confidant's posting of a photo of the judge with what appeared to be crosshairs of a gun.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 12:35 am

Saudi crown prince meets Chinese president, bags oil dealSaudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met China's President Xi Jinping on Friday and bagged a $10-billion oil deal, pressing on with his diplomatic charm offensive in Asia following a global outcry over the Khashoggi killing. Mohammed arrived in Beijing on Thursday following visits to Pakistan and India, showing the world that his country still has allies after the grisly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate. "China is a good friend and partner to Saudi Arabia," Xi told Mohammed in a meeting in the Great Hall of the People.


Posted: February 22, 2019, 12:30 am

Trump's climate expert is wrong: The world's plants don't need more CO2Plants on Earth have flourished for hundreds of millions of years, yet President Donald Trump's pick to lead his new climate team insists that they need more carbon dioxide to thrive.Princeton physicist and carbon dioxide-advocate William Happer has been selected to head the brand new Presidential Committee on Climate Security, reports The Washington Post. The atomic scientist -- who achieved recognition for his work on atomic collisions and telescope optics, not climate science -- maintains that the planet's atmosphere needs significantly more CO2, the potent greenhouse gas that U.S. government scientists -- and a bevy of independent scientists -- have repeatedly underscored is stoking accelerating climate change.Because plants use carbon dioxide to live, Happer has said "more CO2 is actually a benefit to the Earth," asserted that Earth is experiencing a "CO2 famine," and concluded that "If plants could vote, they would vote for coal."Earth and plant scientists, however, find Happer's insistence that the plant kingdom would benefit from increased carbon dioxide wrong-headed and lacking evidence, at best. For reference, Earth's CO2 concentrations have skyrocketed in the last century, and are now at their highest levels in at least 800,000 years -- though other measurements show CO2 levels are higher than they've been in 15 million years. "The idea that increased CO2 is universally beneficial [to plants] is very misguided," Jill Anderson, an evolutionary ecologist specializing in plant populations at the University of Georgia, said in an interview. > Animation showing the evolution of global mean temperature vs. carbon dioxide concentration since 1850, now updated to include 2018. > > Though 2018 is a bit cooler than recent years, it still is one of the warmest years ever and lies close to the trend line of GlobalWarming. pic.twitter.com/eK7zvUqWyT> > -- Robert Rohde (@RARohde) February 10, 2019"It's a silly argument," added Britton Stephens, a senior scientist in the Earth Observing Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in an interview. Both independent academic institutions and government agencies around disparate parts of the globe have concluded more carbon dioxide will "bring many negative impacts" to plant environments, Stephens emphasized. "If someone is going to claim it's good, it's incumbent upon them to show evidence."Reached by email, Happer said he would like to chat about the benefits of carbon dioxide in the future, but such requests must now be sent through (and vetted) by the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC responded by saying that "At the moment, a discussion on this topic is not possible."If someone, like Happer, were to ignore uncomfortable realities like drought-ravaged crops, some of the deadliest wildfires on record, and the evaporating Colorado River, they could argue that some plants -- but not all plants -- could see growth benefits from amassing carbon dioxide concentrations.  SEE ALSO: The Green New Deal: Historians weigh in on the immense scale required to pull it off"If we were to hold other environmental factors completely constant, some plants would do well, some plants would do worse, and some would outcompete other plants," said Anderson. But this is a reality that doesn't exist. "We know that CO2 isn't increasing in isolation," said Anderson. Eighteen of the last 19 years have been the warmest on record. Both wild plants and crops are experiencing increased flooding, heat waves, and pestilence."CO2 does "fertilize" plants and by itself causes plants to grow faster, but unchecked CO2 release into the atmosphere will lead to reduced yields and the consequences could be catastrophic," Thomas Sharkey, a plant biochemist at Michigan State University, said over email. > Baseball spring training starts this week. > > Predicting today whether CO2 in 2100 will be ~1000 ppm, or only half that, is like guessing who will play in the World Series in October. > > Nonetheless, the consequences of our CO2 emissions over the next few decades are profound. pic.twitter.com/pUf5VVlBAk> > -- Kris Karnauskas (@OceansClimateCU) February 19, 2019Sharkey noted that pollen production -- which is necessary for making seeds -- is sensitive to even small increases in the average temperature.  "The negatives far outweigh the positives," added Stephens. As might be evident to anyone alive on the planet, plants flourish today and have flourished for hundreds of millions of years, so Happer's suggestion that the planet's vegetation is in need of more carbon dioxide is bizarre. "Obviously plants were doing just fine historically," said Anderson. "There's no indication plants are increasing their performance and doing better now than historically."A NASA graph showing skyrocketing CO2 levels.Image: nasaA recent NASA study found that Earth's overall greening over the last two decades -- which is to say the increase in area covered by green leaves -- is largely due to major tree planting programs and agricultural expansion in China and India. And some new regions of the planet are greening as the planet warms, like vast swaths of the northern tundra. But globally, the jury's still out on whether increased carbon dioxide is having a measurable influence on plant growth. "This is not a huge signal that everyone can see," said Stephens. There are extremely conspicuous climate signals, however, that everyone can see. One of the most widely-predicted consequences of a warming climate, stoked by historically-high carbon dioxide emissions, is increased fire weather. The California town of Paradise fell victim to profoundly dried-out vegetation and hot temperatures this past November. The forests had been turned to tinder, waiting to burn.Is more CO2 really good for plants?"Tell that to the trees in Paradise, California," said Stephens.  WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?


Posted: February 22, 2019, 12:26 am

20 Affordable Indoor Planters We Love


Posted: February 21, 2019, 10:03 pm

Israel set to join elite lunar club with first mission to moonHebrew for the biblical phrase "in the beginning" - was due for liftoff at 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) atop a Falcon 9 rocket launched by California-based entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX company. If all goes according to plan, Beresheet, about the size of a dishwasher, will arrive on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of space. Once launched, the spacecraft will enter a gradually widening Earth orbit that will eventually bring the probe within the moon's gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 9:58 pm

The Latest: Cardinal condemns how church handles sex abuseVATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the Vatican's conference on dealing with sex abuse by priests (all times local):


Posted: February 21, 2019, 9:10 pm

Johnson & Johnson stock price falls after federal subpoena on alleged asbestos in baby powderThe Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigate the alleged asbestos contamination of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 9:08 pm

Warren Backs Government Reparations for African AmericansSenator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) on Thursday followed fellow Democratic presidential contender Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) in calling for the government to pay reparations to African Americans to atone for slavery and subsequent discrimination.Warren's campaign told the New York Times that she does support some form of government reparations for the descendants of slaves, but did not specify what policy she we would pursue if elected in 2020.Warren's support for reparations came after Harris came out in support of the idea during a radio interview last week.“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,” she said. “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.”Since angering much of the progressive-activist community last year by publicizing the results of her DNA test to substantiate her claim of Native American ancestry, Warren has prioritized racial equity in laying out her 2020 presidential platform. She has called for a special home-buying-assistance program that would help alleviate the effects of racial red-lining, a phenomenon in which African Americans are prevented from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. She has also presented a universal-child-care proposal that would create a network of government-backed child-care centers available to families making under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.Other prominent Democratic presidential contenders, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have not yet come out in support of reparations. Senator Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) dismissed the idea of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves as impractical during his 2016 presidential run but has not weighed in on the issue since.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 8:49 pm

Google moves to fix YouTube glitch exploited for child pornGoogle-owned YouTube said Thursday it was taking action to close a loophole that enabled users to share comments and links on child pornography over the video-sharing service. The response came after a YouTube creator this week revealed what he called a "wormhole" that allowed comments and connections on child porn alongside innocuous videos. "Any content -- including comments -- that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube," a spokesman said in an email to AFP.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 8:22 pm

Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere may soar to levels not seen in 56 million yearsEmissions of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming – could soar to levels not seen in 56 million years, scientists warned.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 8:17 pm

The Latest: GOP candidate says new election should be calledRALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a hearing outlining a ballot fraud investigation in an undeclared North Carolina congressional race for which a winner hasn't been finalized (all times local):


Posted: February 21, 2019, 8:03 pm

These are the 10 best cars, SUVs and pickups of 2019, according to Consumer ReportsConsumer Reports reveals its Top 10 picks for the best vehicles of 2019. It's an influential annual list that serves as a guide for many car shoppers.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 7:45 pm

A global look at the Catholic Church's sex abuse problemVATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis' high-stakes sex abuse prevention summit is meant to call attention to the crisis as a global problem that requires a global response.


Posted: February 21, 2019, 7:35 pm