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Plot Emerged to Fix Venezuela Without Maduro or Guaido(Bloomberg) -- The standoff in Venezuela briefly took a new twist, according to a report from the Spanish newspaper ABC.People close to both President Nicolas Maduro and his rival Juan Guaido plotted to push both men aside and end the nation’s crisis with the rule of a temporary junta, the newspaper reported without citing where it got the information.The article didn’t cite sources by name, nor was it completely clear how deeply embedded the plan was before it was discovered and fell apart. But the story suggests a strong desire within the camps of both men to end the standoff between Maduro and Guaido almost a year old. Guaido, the National Assembly president, has been recognized by more than 50 countries, including the U.S., as Venezuela’s leader.Third WayThe ABC story suggested a third way, which the paper reported was born out of talks between emissaries of high-ranking Venezuelan officials with opposition leaders, in four countries between April and October this year, after huge rallies demanding Maduro’s exit.The key figure appears to be Humberto Calderon Berti, then the designated ambassador to Colombia who Guaido dismissed last month. He was the main Guaido negotiator in the talks with the emissaries for Venezuelan officials who defied Maduro.At some point in the talks, the paper said, Calderon Berti was approached to head a “transitional junta” -- a small group of powerful men who would lead the nation for 18 months. The paper said that an agreement was drafted by August, with the document outlining the political changes to oust Maduro, sideline Guaido and install the junta sent around to the key players.The Venezuelan officials who sent emissaries for the secret talks included president of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello, one of Venezuela’s most powerful men with strong ties to the military, Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.The negotiations were complex, involving the reconciliation of various factions within the army and voiding the May 2018 presidential elections Maduro is widely seen as winning only by fraud.Temporary JuntaThe paper cites discussions in which a Cabello emissary, army captain Carlos Aguilera Borjas, suggests that Calderon Berti head the temporary junta. The paper says that Maduro’s regime discovered the talks, which then came to an end.Calderon Berti told ABC newspaper that he met with Aguilera Borjas and others. But these meetings were part of his diplomatic duties and had nothing to do with a plot to form a junta, Calderon Berti said.Guaido’s representatives declined to comment on the ABC report, while the Maduro government didn’t respond to requests to do so.To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Mexico City at jorozco8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ney Hayashi at ncruz4@bloomberg.net, Ian Fisher, Matthew G. MillerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 12:47 pm

Obergefell: Supreme Court, lawmakers have more to do to prevent anti-LGBTQ discriminationEveryone should be treated with dignity and respect — and that means ensuring no one faces unfair treatment because of their LGBTQ+ identity.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 10:00 am

Body of slain doctor returns home to Japan from AfghanistanThe body of a Japanese doctor killed in a roadside shooting in Afghanistan arrived back home Sunday, with government officials on hand to lead a brief ceremony of mourning at Tokyo's Narita International Airport. Tetsu Nakamura was killed last week, along with five Afghans who had been traveling with him. Keisuke Suzuki, Japan's state minister of foreign affairs, joined other officials in bowing their heads in prayer after laying flowers by the coffin, draped in white, in a solemn ceremony in honor of Nakamura at the airport.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 9:26 am

Thousands march as Hong Kong protests near half-year markHundreds of thousands of demonstrators crammed into Hong Kong's streets on Sunday, their chants echoing off high-rises, in a mass show of support for a protest movement that shows no signs of flagging as it enters a seventh month. Chanting “Fight for freedom” and “Stand with Hong Kong,” a sea of protesters formed a huge human snake winding for blocks on Hong Kong Island, from the Causeway Bay shopping district to the Central business zone, a distance of more than 2 kilometers (1 1/4 miles). Protesters spilled into narrow side streets, crying “Revolution in our times.” Organizers said 800,000 people participated, while police had no immediate estimate.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 4:28 am

Preacher Bonnke, popular across Africa, dies at 79German evangelical preacher Reinhard Bonnke, who claimed to perform miracles on stage and had a huge following in Africa, died on Saturday aged 79, his church said. Bonnke, the founder of the Christ for All Nations church, first visited Africa in the 1960s and preached across the continent for decades, often at open-air events. The obituary on his website claimed Bonnke had drawn 1.6 million people to one gathering in Lagos, Nigeria in 2000, and that he had converted 79 million people during his career.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 4:13 am

Is Donald Trump's bromance with Benjamin Netanyahu over? Bibi not cited in Florida speechDonald Trump's address to an Israeli-American group in Florida could signal changes in U.S.-Israeli policy and his close bond with Benjamin Netanyahu.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 3:17 am

Singapore Says Fighter Jet Unit on Guam Is Sign of ‘Trajectory’(Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s agreement to establish a fighter jet training detachment on Guam “sets the trajectory” in which the city-state sees itself in partnership with the U.S, its defense chief said.Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed the agreement, which followed the recent renewal of a pact that allows American forces use of Singapore bases, according to a statement on the Singapore Ministry of Defence’s website.Most leaders and people in Asia would say they want America’s presence to be continued, Ng said Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California. “They don’t want to choose between great power rivalry between the U.S. and China, but they also both want to be involved, including other powers.”Ng said U.S. domestic politics, which he described as “not business as usual” and “hard not to notice,” are causing an adjustment in policy, without elaborating.To contact the reporters on this story: Wes Goodman in Singapore at wgoodman@bloomberg.net;Glen Carey in Washington at gcarey8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Keith GosmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Posted: December 8, 2019, 2:32 am

UPDATE 3-Four dead in shooting near Mexico's presidential residenceFour people were killed and two injured in a shooting on Saturday near Mexico's National Palace, the presidential residence in the capital's historic downtown, officials said. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was traveling outside of Mexico City on Saturday. Preliminary reports indicated an armed man entered a building on a small street near the palace looking to relieve himself, Mexico City police said.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 11:19 pm

Top US Marine says young troops should not be blamed for using TikTok, responsibility is with senior leaders"That's not their fault. That's on us," the Marine Corps commandant said of concerns over the app, adding, "I don't blame them for that."


Posted: December 7, 2019, 11:09 pm

Former Rep. Katie Hill says the wave of harassment she faced after alleged revenge porn leak left her contemplating suicideFormer Rep. Katie Hill now says that she has "to keep going forward, and be part of the fight to create the change" to protect young women.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 10:30 pm

AOC calls out Trump after news that Amazon plans to hire 1,500 employees in New York CityFollowing reports that Amazon plans to open a new office in New York City, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the Trump administration "should focus more on cutting public assistance to billionaires instead of poor families."


Posted: December 7, 2019, 10:07 pm

New Jersey journalist re-arrested in Nigeria after brief glimpse of freedomOmoyele Sowore, imprisoned in his home country of Nigeria since August, has been freed from government custody, but still has to stand trial.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 8:13 pm

Could Mexico's Version of the Marine Corps Crush the Cartels?Could this work?


Posted: December 7, 2019, 8:00 pm

House impeachment report looks at abuse, bribery, corruptionPreviewing potential articles of impeachment, the House Democrats on Saturday issued a lengthy report drawing on history and the Founding Fathers to lay out the legal argument over the case against President Donald Trump's actions toward Ukraine. The findings from the House Judiciary Committee do not spell out the formal charges against the president, which are being drafted ahead of votes, possibly as soon as next week. Instead, the report refutes Trump's criticism of the impeachment proceedings, arguing that the Constitution created impeachment as a “safety valve” so Americans would not have to wait for the next election to remove a president.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 7:43 pm

French murder suspect emerges from coma after swallowing poisonThe suspect for the rape and murder of a young woman in northern France almost two decades ago was slowly emerging from a coma while under guard in hospital Saturday after he swallowed pesticide in an apparent suicide bid following his conviction. Willy Bardon, on trial over the murder of Elodie Kulik in 2002 in a case that has attracted strong interest in France for years, ingested the substance at the courthouse in the northern city of Amiens late on Friday. Bardon, 45, is under round-the-clock police surveillance in hospital.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 6:39 pm

'I felt like I was going to die': A harrowing look into CIA torture from the eyes of a detaineeA CIA detainee's drawings detail the brutal reach of torture. They are part of a new Seton Hall report called "How America Tortures."


Posted: December 7, 2019, 6:27 pm

3 Guard members killed in Minnesota Black Hawk crash identifiedKilled were Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A. Rogers Jr., age 28; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord, 30; and Sgt. Kort M. Plantenberg, 28.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 6:09 pm

British caver 'a hero' and should have won against Elon Musk, friends sayA British caver who last year helped in the rescue of a Thai football team remains “a hero” and should have won his libel case against the “publicity-seeking” Elon Musk, his friends and fellow rescuers have said.  Vernon Unsworth sought £145m in damages from the Tesla founder, arguing in court that his “defamatory” tweet calling him a “pedo guy” after the rescue of the 12 boys and their football coach damaged his reputation. However, a Los Angeles court on Friday unanimously ruled in favour of Mr Musk, worth an estimated £18 billion, as the judge said that the comments did not meet the legal standard for defamation. The pair became embroiled in a row after Mr Unsworth, an experienced cave explorer, branded Mr Musk's offer of a small submarine to help with the rescue effort a “PR stunt”. Mr Musk responded by tweeting to his 22.5 million followers: “sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it” , before deleting it off his account. Tim Acton, part of the British diving supply team who brought oxygen tanks to the football team in June 2018, yesterday  told The Telegraph that Mr Musk's proposal did in fact amount to a “publicity stunt”. “Musk was trying to send a glorified scuba tank that probably would not have been able to go through the ceiling anyway,”   he said.  “The feeling among many of the rescuers and volunteers was that he was getting involved as part of a publicity stunt.” Elon Musk attends the closing arguments of his trial in the defamation case  Credit: Mona Shafer Edwards/Reuters Tim's father, John Acton, from Essex, said that Mr Unsworth will always remain a “hero” because of his vital contribution to the 17-day rescue effort, which relied on his intricate knowledge of the Tham Luang caving system. Mr Unsworth was instrumental in the dangerous final three-day mission, in which retired Thai Navy Seal Sgt. Major Saman Gunan, 38, died as he tried to save the children trapped below ground by rapidly rising floodwaters after football practice. Mr Acton, 72, said: “I think the comments were the wrong thing to say. Unless you have evidence of something like that you should just keep your mouth shut. Vernon knew that cave inside out, and that a submarine would not work with the bends. He was just telling the truth and Musk got the hump and called him names. I thought that Vernon would have won the case because it is an insult. In the UK he probably stood a better chance of winning. I think the comments were damaging to his reputation and he had all the right to sue him. “It was Vernon's knowledge of the cave that meant that the divers were able to rescue the children. Without this, the rescue would not have happened. He is definitely a hero in my eyes, along with the rest of the divers. Elon Musk was only in it for the publicity and the ego.”   Following the verdict, which took under an hour to decide, Mr Musk, 48, told reporters in the hallways of the federal courtroom in California that his “faith in humanity” was “restored”. Alex Spiro, his lawyer, successfully argued that no reasonable person ever believed that his client had actually accused Mr Unsworth, 64, of “a sexual act with a child”, adding that the contentious tweet had been a “jape”. Mr Musk said that in South Africa, where he grew up, “pedo” is commonly used to refer to a “creepy old man”. Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. leaves the US District Court through a back door  Credit: Getty Images North America/Apu Gomes The jury rejected the closing arguments of Mr Unsworth's legal team, who depicted Mr Musk as a “billionaire bully” and serial liar who dropped a “nuclear bomb” on their client by making an unfounded allegation. In emotional testimony this week, he told the court that he felt “humiliated, ashamed, dirtied” by the tweets sent about him. He said he would respect the verdict and will “take it on the chin”. Speaking after the verdict, Mr Unsworth said: “I respect the jury's decision. I would just like to say my legal team have been absolutely awesome. I came here for a verdict, unfortunately it has not gone the way I expected but I respect the jury's decision and thank them for that.”


Posted: December 7, 2019, 4:21 pm

Polyamorous 20-year-old is dating 4 men while pregnant with her first childTory Ojeda is a 20-year-old woman from Jacksonville, Fla., who is in a polyamorous relationship with four men. She is now expecting her first child with one of her partners. Ojeda told Barcroft Media that while the baby is biologically one of her partner's, the five of them plan on raising the child together as a family.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 3:18 pm

Russia's Su-57 Would Be A Game-Changer If It Wasn't So ExpensiveMoscow can't afford it.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 3:00 pm

Official: Base shooter watched shooting videos before attackThe Saudi student who fatally shot three sailors at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday. Officials investigating the deadly attack were working Saturday to determine whether it was motivated by terrorism, while President Donald Trump indicated he would review policies governing foreign military training in the United States. The Navy on Saturday identified the three victims and hailed them as heroes for trying to stop the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 2:56 pm

Are U.S. Planes Like the F-35, F-22, or a B-1 Bomber Vulnerable to North Korean Air Defenses?As we enter 2020, it's a question that needs asked.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 2:45 pm

Belarus crowds rally against closer Russia tiesRoughly 1,000 Belarusians joined an unauthorised demonstration on Saturday against the prospect of a closer union with Russia. Long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko was meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia on Saturday to discuss "key issues in our bilateral relations, including the prospects for deepening integration", according to the Kremlin. Police quickly intervened to oversee the demonstration but made no arrests.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 2:31 pm

The acting Navy secretary promises he'll fix the Ford aircraft carrier because he's tired of it being a 'whipping boy for why the Navy can't do anything right'Explaining that the president is "very concerned" about the Ford, Modly said that he is making fixing this flattop a top priority for the Navy.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 2:30 pm

Iran and US complete prisoner swapAn Iranian held in the US and an American held in Iran have been freed, the two sides said on Saturday, in an apparent prisoner swap at a time of heightened tensions. Tehran announced the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani from the United States shortly before Washington declared American researcher Xiyue Wang was returning home. "Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. "Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government," which has looked after US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic ties, Mr Zarif added. n this Wednesday, May 9, 2018 file photo, Hua Qu, the wife of detained Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, poses for a photograph with a portrait of her family in Princeton, N.J Credit: AP State news agency IRNA said Mr Soleimani had been "freed moments ago after one year of illegal detention and was handed over to Iranian officials in Switzerland". In a statement issued in Washington, US President Donald Trump said that "after more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States". Mr Wang, a Chinese-born American, was serving 10 years on espionage charges in Iran. A doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University, he had been researching Iran's Qajar dynasty when he was imprisoned in August 2016. Rising tensions between UK, US and Iran Mr Soleimani is a professor and senior stem cell researcher at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University who left for the United States on October 22, 2018, according to IRNA. The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since 1980. Relations between the two foes worsened in May 2018 when Trump withdrew the US from an international accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 1:40 pm

Indian police investigated over killings of rape suspectsA top Indian rights group on Saturday launched an investigation into the police shooting of four rape-murder suspects after accusations they were gunned down in cold blood to assuage public anger. The launch of the investigation by the National Human Rights Commission comes as India also reeled from the death of another woman on Friday, set on fire on her way to a sexual assault court hearing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 1:25 pm

Mike Bloomberg apologizes for calling Cory Booker "well spoken""I probably shouldn't have used the word, but I could just tell you he is a friend of mine," Bloomberg said.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 12:23 pm

13 Mythical Creatures, Ranked


Posted: December 7, 2019, 12:01 pm

World's oceans are losing oxygen at a dangerous rate, study saysScientists warn that ocean deoxygenation will have widespread global effects on marine ecosystems and the people that rely on them.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 11:29 am

Saudi gunman called US 'nation of evil' before Florida shooting, monitoring group saysA Saudi trainee military pilot reportedly condemned the United States as a "nation of evil" before carrying out a mass shooting at a top US Navy base in Florida. Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani killed three people and injured eight before being shot dead himself by police at the Naval Air Station Pensacola. The Saudi Air Force officer, who was on a US-sponsored training programme, reportedly posted a manifesto on Twitter in which he wrote: "I'm against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil." It went on: "I'm not against you for just being American, I don't hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity." According to the the SITE intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity, the messages were posted hours before the shooting, and quoted Osama bin Laden. The FBI was investigating whether the postings were made by Alshamrani, and whether he was part of a wider group. Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella briefs members of the media following a shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. The US Navy is confirming that a shooter is dead and several injured after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Credit: Pensacola News Journal Agents detained six other Saudis for questioning, three of whom reportedly started filing after the attack. It was not clear whether they had any connection to the gunman or were just at the scene. The sprawling Naval Air Station Pensacola is the site of the US National Naval Aviation Museum, and the base of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. It is referred to as the home of US naval aviation and hundreds of pilots from allied nations pass through for training at any one time. Military personnel are not allowed to carry weapons on the base but Alshamrani was able to take a Glock handgun, purchased locally, into a classroom building where trainee pilots were studying. His training at the base began in August 2017 and was due to finish in August 2020. He was also armed with up to six extended magazines, meaning he could have caused far greater carnage had he not been shot by sheriff's deputies who rushed to the scene. Gun murders per 100,000 residents Saudi Arabia sought to distance itself from the incident as it seeks to repair its image of being an exporter of Islamic extremism. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks were Saudis, including some who gained civilian flight training in the US. Last year, the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. King Salman telephoned Donald Trump to denounce the Florida shooting as "heinous" and to pledge cooperation over investigating it. Prince Khalid bin Salman, the king's younger son and deputy defence minister, said: "Like many other Saudi military personnel, I was trained in a US military base, and we used that valuable training to fight side by side with our American allies against terrorism and other threats." The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy arrives for exercises at Naval Air Station Pensacola Credit: US NAVY via Reuters However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Riyadh should offer compensation to the victims, saying they "owe a debt". US officials said Saudi Air Force officers undergoing military training in the US were intensely vetted, "hand-picked," and often came from elite families. But Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, said vetting procedures would be reviewed. He said: "Are we screening persons coming to make sure they have their life in order, their mental health is adequate?" There are currently 5,000 foreign aviation students from 153 countries in the US, including hundreds of Saudis. Captain Timothy Kinsella, the Pensacola base commander, said: "The cross-training with allies is something that we have done for a long time. In World War II, we had Royal Air Force folks training here." Alshamrani reportedly held a dinner party in the days before the shooting, at which he and three others watched videos of mass shootings. One of the three men who attended the dinner party then filmed outside the building while the Pensacola shooting was taking place, according to a US official. One victim was named as Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the US Naval Academy. His brother Adam Watson said that, despite being shot several times, he made it outside and alerted the response team to where the gunman was. Mr Watson said: “He saved countless lives today with his own. He died a hero.”


Posted: December 7, 2019, 10:53 am

Innovators have come up with a way to clear forests without setting firesAt the Trinchera Blanca Ranch in Colorado, a massive tree-eating machine called the feller buncher is used to thin out trees


Posted: December 7, 2019, 10:47 am

Indian border officials on lookout for fugitive cosmic guruIndian border officials and embassies have issued an alert for a fugitive guru accused of rape, the government said, days after the holy man announced the creation of his own "cosmic" country. Swami Nithyananda -- one of many self-styled Indian "godmen" with thousands of followers and a chequered past -- is wanted by police for alleged rape, sexual abuse, and abduction of children. Earlier this week, he announced online that he has created his own new country -- reportedly off Ecuador's coast -- complete with cabinet, golden passports, and even a department of homeland security.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 10:17 am

Democrats Must Not Have an All-White Debate—and the White Candidates Should Say SoThe news that Senator Kamala Harris has dropped out of the race highlights the fact that the Democratic field is growing less diverse with each passing month. It's now reached the point where a field that showed such promising diversity at first has been whittled down essentially to four people with first-tier status, and they're all white. There is diversity within than foursome--a gay man, a Jewish man, a woman. But in a party so dependent on voters of color, this is striking--and not in a good way. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Democrats selecting a white presidential candidate to represent the party. But that should be up to the voters, and not the DNC by means of their debate inclusion practices.Those candidates can, however strike a blow for diversity. They should band together and threaten to boycott the December Democratic debate unless the DNC and media partners agree to not exclude candidates who have shown measurable public support before the voting begins. That includes, at the very least, Cory Booker and Julian Castro, and could also include Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, who have managed to make the most recent debate stage despite long odds.Although Harris had qualified for the December debate, her exit could create an unacceptable scenario on December 19 when the candidates gather in Los Angeles. Booker and Castro’s exclusion, coupled with the probable exclusion of other candidates of color including Yang and Gabbard, means the December debate could very well include only six candidates, all of them white. (Booker, Castro, Yang, and Gabbard have all hit the fundraising threshold, but not the polling one.)Kamala Harris Quits 2020 Race: ‘She Didn’t Know What She Was About’Democrats and the DNC should be asking themselves if they really want to eliminate all the candidates of color before the first states even get to vote. And the leading candidates, all of whom are white, should do something about it.There is precedent for the top-tier candidates banding together to protect the integrity of the debate process. Back in January 2016, NBC News, as a DNC debate sponsor, tried to bar former governor Martin O’Malley from its debate, citing his poor polling numbers compared to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While it was apparent that O’Malley’s campaign was going nowhere, it was obvious to any objective observer that eliminating him was a choice for voters in Iowa and the other primary states to make—not NBC News.On January 8, 2016 shortly after noon, Sanders tweeted that O’Malley should be allowed on the next debate stage. Literally one minute later, the Clinton campaign tweeted out similar support for O’Malley’s inclusion. And a few hours later, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted that the DNC was also demanding that NBC News include O’Malley.This joint public pressure ensured O’Malley’s inclusion. It turned out to be his final debate, but it was the voters, and not outside organizations, who chose O’Malley’s fate.Dear Debate Moderators, You Are Working Up Democrats About the Wrong IssueNow, it is the DNC itself that is the culprit of such unfair practices. The party has established criteria for the December debate, which will mean that Booker and Castro could both be possibly excluded from the stage.Booker and Castro have been able to organically secure more than 200,000 unique donors each, and both have shown measurable poll support, especially with African-Americans and Latinos respectively. Excluding these two candidates of color, who represent crucial aspects of the Democratic base, from debates before Iowa could be a mistake with lasting implications for the party and country.I personally like some of these candidates, such as Booker and Castro, while I am not fond of Gabbard. But whether I like them isn’t the point. It is not my place nor anyone else’s place to deny a candidate an equal opportunity to make their case.Maybe there is an argument to be made for a smaller debate stage at some point, but the DNC has set up criteria that allows a billionaire to buy his spot while excluding serious candidates with a following and something to say.And while we’re on the subject of Tom Steyer, he has spent $47 million of his own money in what amounts to a scam. Since he needs donors only to meet the DNC’s bizarre debate criteria, he has essentially purchased his donor base, through tactics such as selling $1 swag with free shipping—usually items worth far more than $1—that has nothing to do with him or his presidential campaign. Why should he be allowed to “sell” a button about climate change or opposing Donald Trump for $1 and use that as some kind of indicia of popular support? He has also blanketed early states with enough TV ads and fancy mail to get his name identification up to the point that just enough people might utter it to a pollster because they recognize it.Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg is eschewing debates thus far, but with his $52 billion in net worth it’s not hard to imagine clever ways for him to meet future DNC debate thresholds.A debate stage that lets a white billionaire like Steyer buy his spot but excludes substantive candidates of color like Booker and Castro is neither democratic nor representative of the Democratic Party.As a person of color, I hope the DNC and the frontrunners are listening. It isn’t the DNC’s place to eliminate viable candidates before voters are allowed a say. I hope Biden, Sanders, Warren, and others will step up to tell the DNC that the Democratic Party is stronger when all viable candidates are allowed to be heard.David de la Fuente is a senior political analyst at Third Way.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.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 10:15 am

Why Texas’s fossil fuel support will ‘spell disaster’ for climate crisisThe state – which leads the way as US output of oil and gas is forecast to rise 25% in the next decade – is intensifying its production pipeline by pipelineIn the same month that Greta Thunberg addressed a UN summit and millions of people took part in a global climate strike, lawmakers in America’s leading oil- and gas-producing state of Texas made a statement of their own.Texas’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Act went into effect on 1 September, stiffening civil and criminal penalties specifically for protesters who interrupt operations or damage oil and gas pipelines and other energy facilities.Within a couple of weeks, two dozen Greenpeace activists who dangled off a bridge over the Houston ship channel became the first people charged under the new law, which allows for prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of up to $500,000 for protest groups.The new Texas law is emblematic of the unyielding loyalty of conservative lawmakers to the fossil fuel industry in a state stacked with influential climate science deniers or sceptics such as the US senator and former Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz and which named a pipeline tycoon to its parks and wildlife conservation commission.With kindred spirits in the Trump White House, Texas is now intensifying its support of the fossil fuel industry and, pipeline by pipeline, literally laying the groundwork for production to ramp up even more in the next decade.The scale of new production is “staggering”, according to an analysis by Global Witness, a campaign group, with Texas leading the way as US output of oil and gas is forecast to rise by 25% over the next decade. This makes it a “looming carbon timebomb”, the group believes, in a period when global oil and gas production needs to drop by 40% to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis.“The sheer scale of this new production dwarfs that of every other country in the world and would spell disaster for the world’s ambitions to curb climate change,” the report states.The US is already the planet’s leading producer of oil and gas and central to its rise is the Permian Basin, a shale region of about 75,000 sq miles extending from west Texas into New Mexico.Despite the oil price crash of 2014, the Permian’s oil production has soared from about a million barrels a day in 2011 to about 4.5m this autumn, while natural gas production has trebled since 2013, according to US government figures.In March, the Permian overtook Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar to become the world’s most productive oilfield. While Saudi Arabia’s overall production remains far higher, predictions that the Permian’s output will continue to grow at a similar rate – doubling by 2023 as pipeline capacity expands and major oil companies increase their presence – are alarming environmentalists.> Having some kind of wild west boom going on in Texas ... that’s just the precise opposite to what should be going on> > Lorne Stockman“Having some kind of wild west boom going on in Texas where it’s every man for himself drilling as quickly as possible and trying to pull the stuff out of the ground in a kind of frenzy, that’s just the precise opposite to what should be going on,” said Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, a clean energy advocacy group.While there are some indicators of a slowdown in the growth rate, Chevron’s president of North American exploration and production, Steve Green, told an industry event in October that the oil major sees a “boom boom boom kind of economy” with a “long, healthy pace of activity in the Permian and Texas for decades to come”, Bloomberg reported.The Permian’s fortunes are not dependent on the whims of one or two dominant companies – there are hundreds of operators, from tiny independents to huge multinationals such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips, many of the corporations which, as the Guardian has reported, are behind a large proportion of the planet’s carbon emissions and are poised to flood markets with an additional 7m barrels per day over the next decade.Gene Collins has witnessed firsthand the flipside of the Permian’s economic boom. The 68-year-old, who runs an insurance agency and is on the board of a local economic development corporation, was born and raised in Odessa, a city which, with neighbouring Midland, is at the heart of the Permian. Heavy trucks are damaging road surfaces, traffic accidents have increased and housing rates have soared, he claimed.“It has not been a gradual growth. It’s been the type of growth that puts such a strain on the community that we’re unable to keep up with what we need to handle the crowds, the influx. Our housing shortage is really epidemic. It puts a burden on our school districts. We need teachers but we can’t bring teachers in because we have no place for them to stay,” Collins said.A report last May by the Environmental Integrity Project, a not-for-profit group, cited a lack of air quality monitoring in west Texas, with only one station to track sulphur dioxide levels, and limited regulatory oversight which relies on companies to self-report unauthorised emissions.The pace of drilling, low prices and lack of capacity have led to the Permian’s frackers producing more natural gas than the infrastructure system can handle, prompting them to vent gas or deliberately burn it off in an environmentally harmful process known as flaring.“We probably have some of the worst air that we’ve ever had out here in west Texas” Collins said. “Every night we flare out here, let off natural gas, a lot of it really fugitive emissions because we don’t have the regulators out here.” A spokeswoman for the Texas Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, did not respond to a request for comment on how the industry plans to improve air quality in the Permian. Its president, Todd Staples, has said that its members “are accomplishing emissions progress through voluntary programmes, innovations and efficiencies”.New pipelines should help relieve the bottlenecks, such as the Gulf Coast Express, a 448-mile pipeline which went online in September to take natural gas from west Texas towards the state’s portion of the Gulf coast. But these too come at an environmental cost.> We’re facing a massive wave of fossil fuel facilities that we’ve never seen before> > Rebekah HinojosaIn the Rio Grande valley, at the border with Mexico, activists are battling to stop the construction of three planned liquefied natural gas processing and export facilities at the port of Brownsville.“We’re facing a massive wave of fossil fuel facilities that we’ve never seen before,” said Rebekah Hinojosa, a local organiser with the Sierra Club, a national environmental group. “The lifeblood of those communities is nature, ecotourism, shrimping, fishing, dolphin watch tours. Having a massive fossil fuel industry is not compatible.”Though Texas is also the national leader in wind power capacity, the fracking investment locks the state into a fossil fuel future and enables the US to export cheap gas to other countries, perpetuating worldwide demand.Democrats in Texas are pinning their hopes on long-term demographic shifts that point to the state becoming a political battleground within the next decade, potentially paving the way for more climate-conscious policies such as restrictions on fossil fuel production, tougher regulatory regimes and promotion of renewables.“Will Texas have a political shift that might empower Democrats at some stage who might be more willing to think about restraining the growth of the oil sector, if not reversing it?” said Joshua Busby, an associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and senior research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security. Busby believes natural disasters might accelerate change by altering the economic equation. The Gulf coast’s vulnerability to storms potentially made more severe by global heating – such as Harvey, which flooded much of the Houston area in 2017 - could damage ports, refineries and petrochemical plants, erode financial markets’ enthusiasm for fossil fuel investments, hurt companies’ bottom lines and push climate concerns higher up the priority list for voters in traditionally conservative suburban and rural areas.Collins doubts that a radical transformation is imminent. “We have climate change deniers running the government. So there’s really no benefit to them [in restricting drilling] if they think that the energy that is produced outweighs the risk,” he said.The new measure punishing protesters, he said, underlines the political priorities in Texas: “For them to pass a law like that gives you an indication of what they think about the oil industry versus the rights and the health of human beings.”


Posted: December 7, 2019, 7:30 am

Official documents shed light on Tokyo's role in 'comfort women': KyodoThe Imperial Japanese Army asked the government to provide one "comfort woman" for every 70 soldiers, Japan's Kyodo news agency said, citing wartime government documents it had reviewed, shedding a fresh light on Tokyo's involvement in the practice. "Comfort women" is a euphemism for the girls and women - many of them Korean - forced into prostitution at Japanese military brothels. The issue has plagued Japan's ties with South Korea for decades.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 5:38 am

Samoa says almost 90% of people vaccinated against measles after deadly outbreakSamoa said on Saturday nearly 90% of eligible people had been vaccinated against measles as it lifted a two-day curfew imposed amid an outbreak that has killed 65 in recent weeks. There were, however, 103 new cases of measles reported since Friday, Samoa's Health Ministry said it a statement. The measles virus has infected almost 4,500 people in the South Pacific nation of just 200,000 since late October.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 3:12 am

Judge blocks Trump's favorite construction company from building private border wallA federal judge in McAllen, Texas, has temporarily blocked a plan for a construction firm favored by President Trump to build a privately funded segment of border wall along the banks of the Rio Grande River.


Posted: December 7, 2019, 2:16 am

Should America Fear the Chinese H-20 Stealth Bomber?Or is it even real?


Posted: December 7, 2019, 1:00 am

Evidence tampering alleged in police chief firing caseA female Chicago police officer who was reportedly seen on video drinking with and kissing the now-fired police superintendent the night he was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV has been accused of tampering with a cellphone investigators wanted to examine, a police department spokesman said Friday. Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said officials noticed that the phone was damaged when the woman left then-Superintendent Eddie Johnson's security detail to join the evidence and recovered property unit, three days after the incident. According to the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the allegations about the phone, a sergeant in the unit that the officer was joining noticed that the SIM card was missing and filed a formal complaint against the officer.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 10:40 pm

California congressman Duncan Hunter announces resignation after corruption pleaHunter's announcement that he would step down came days after the leading California lawmaker, a former U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, entered his guilty plea in federal court in San Diego. "Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress," Hunter, 42, said in a written statement released by his communications director.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 10:39 pm

Trump says the EPA is looking 'very strongly' at 'sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms' because people are flushing their toilets 10 to 15 timesThe New York Times reported in December 2017 that Trump "has an odd affinity for showing off bathrooms, including one he renovated near the Oval Office."


Posted: December 6, 2019, 9:59 pm

Carjackers’ Plan Foiled Because They Can't Drive StickIn case you needed another reason to buy a car with a manual transmission.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 9:30 pm

Nikki Haley claims Dylann Roof 'hijacked' the 'heritage' of the Confederate flag in church massacreNikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that white supremacist Dylann Roof “hijacked” the Confederate flag by carrying out a mass killing of African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 8:32 pm

Pearl Harbor Counterfactual: What If Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Had Been in Charge on December 7?Would World War II have taken a different course had Admiral Chester W. Nimitz been in charge at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese hammer blow fell? Almost assuredly. History may have followed a more positive trajectory had U.S. forces on Oahu been prepared for an aerial assault. Or it may have turned out worse—perhaps far, far worse.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 8:20 pm

Judge Allows Criminal Trial to Proceed against Pro-Life InvestigatorsA San Francisco judge ruled Friday that the criminal trial may move forward against the pro-life investigators who went undercover to record abortion industry executives talking about procuring fetal body parts.Judge Christopher Hite deemed the evidence sufficient to send to trial the case against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress, who are charged with nine felony counts, one count of conspiracy and eight counts of illegal taping. Six additional counts were dropped.Daleiden, 30, and Merritt, 64, several years ago surreptitiously recorded executives from Planned Parenthood and other organizations haggling about compensation for the procurement of fetal parts for researchers who request them.The Thomas More Society, representing the two pro-life investigators, announced the decision on Friday in a tweet.> BREAKING NEWS: 6 counts in David Daleiden's criminal case have been thrown out of court and 9 remain. Judge Hite deems the evidence enough to go to trial on 9 counts. More to follow!> > -- Thomas More Society (@ThomasMoreSoc) December 6, 2019Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action, called the charges against the investigators "unfounded and outrageous" in a statement on Friday's decision, saying they "have nothing to do with violating privacy or video recording laws but everything to do with protecting the powerful and wealthy abortion industry.""The same year David and Sandra published their recordings of Planned Parenthood employees haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts, videos taken by undercover animal rights activists were praised and led to investigations of abuse in the poultry industry," Rose said.Last month, the jury in the separate civil case against Daleiden and Merritt handed Planned Parenthood a win under federal racketeering statutes, awarding the abortion giant over $2.2 million.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 7:47 pm

If Bernie Sanders is stuck in D.C. for an impeachment trial, AOC could campaign for himA prolonged impeachment trial in the Senate would sideline as many as five Democratic presidential hopefuls in the run-up to the first votes in the 2020 race. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez could play a key role for the Vermont senator.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 7:31 pm

50 Great Gadget and Gear Gifts for the Holidays


Posted: December 6, 2019, 6:29 pm

This 33-year-old economist hasn't just helped shape one of Elizabeth Warren's and Bernie Sanders' boldest policies — he's been changing how you think about wealth, whether you know it or notAlongside his UC Berkeley colleague Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman has helped lead a resistance to the 2017 Republican tax cuts to fight inequality.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 5:27 pm

Tesla changed the release dates for the most and least expensive versions of the Cybertruck by a yearTesla said the three-motor Cybertruck would enter production in late 2021, while production for the single-motor Cybertruck would begin in late 2022.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 4:09 pm

AOC blasts Trump policy, says her family used food stampsFreshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., slammed the Trump administration on Thursday over new changes to the food stamps program that will cause nearly 700,000 people to lose access to benefits.


Posted: December 6, 2019, 3:23 pm