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Putin signals Russia's return to Africa with summitPresident Vladimir Putin hosts dozens of African leaders next week as Russia seeks to reassert its influence on the continent and beyond. The heads of some 35 African countries are expected for the first Africa-Russia Summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi next Wednesday and Thursday. For Putin, the summit is a chance to revive Soviet-era relationships and build new alliances, bolstering Moscow's global clout in the face of confrontation with the West.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 2:08 am

Perry Says Trump Asked Him to Call Giuliani: Impeachment Update(Bloomberg) -- Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo until resigning the post last week, testified Wednesday before three committees leading the House impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump.Here are the latest developments:Perry Says Trump Asked Him to Contact Giuliani (9:20 p.m.)Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that Trump asked him to contact Rudy Giuliani to discuss corruption in Ukraine, according to a report published Wednesday night.Perry told the Wall Street Journal that he reached out to Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York, to help arrange a meeting with Ukraine’s top energy official. He added that neither the president nor his aides raised the issue of an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter.Giuliani confirmed to the Journal a telephone conversation with Perry that occurred shortly after the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Perry told the Journal that he called Giuliani for a clearer picture of Trump’s concerns on Ukraine.On Tuesday, a senior State Department official told House impeachment investigators that the White House had designated a three-person team -- Perry, then-Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland -- to bypass formal U.S.-Ukraine policy. Sondland is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday.Trial Could End By Holidays, Senator Says (6:01 p.m.)Republican senators discussed the possibility of finishing an impeachment trial before the holidays if the House impeaches Trump before Thanksgiving, GOP Senator Kevin Cramer told reporters Wednesday.Cramer said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefed Republican senators behind closed doors on procedures for a trial, which McConnell told reporters would be held six days a week.McConnell said the trial would begin after noon each day, and senators wouldn’t be allowed to speak during the proceedings. Cramer said the Senate could agree to other rules as they did on a bipartisan basis for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment -- an uncertainty in today’s polarized Senate.Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters McConnell should reach out to Democrats on how to handle a trial.Separately, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham -- who served as a House manager of the Clinton impeachment -- met privately with House Republicans to discuss impeachment history and issues.“The House Republicans have been closed out,” he said to reporters.“I’ve actually been through this process,” Graham said, adding that the House GOP should get a chance to call witnesses and subpoena documents. “And that’s not happening in the House. So, I think that’s a big mistake.”“Stick to your guns and insist on a fair process,” he said was his advice to House Republicans.Ex-Pompeo Aide Says State Didn’t Back Staff (5:26 p.m.)McKinley, a former senior adviser to Pompeo, told House committees he resigned last week in part because of the State Department’s failure “to offer support to foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine,” according to excerpts released by a former colleague familiar with the testimony.The excerpt didn’t say which officials he was referencing. But lawmakers who attended the closed-door meeting said he expressed his full support for former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and thought her removal was unjustified.McKinley said he also quit because of “what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives,” according to the excerpt.“I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,” he said, according to the excerpt. “I could no longer look the other way as colleagues are denied the professional support and respect they deserve from us all.”Ex-Pompeo Aide Backs Ousted Envoy in Inquiry (2:09 p.m.)A former senior adviser to Pompeo told House impeachment investigators he thought the removal of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was unjustified, said Republican and Democratic lawmakers attending the closed-door questioning.Michael McKinley, who resigned last week, expressed his full support for Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled to Washington in May by Trump, the lawmakers said. They wouldn’t immediately say whether he tried to save her job, or whether he said his decision to leave the department was related to that.“But he is another quiet American hero who will be celebrated,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. McKinley testified for about five hours.Yovanovitch’s removal came as Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was pressing Ukrainian officials to investigate corruption allegations against Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Yovanovitch had raised concerns about Giuliani’s activities and became a target of his claims that she was attempting to undermine Trump. She testified privately to the three impeachment committees last Friday.Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, said of McKinley, “Overall his comments are more in support of his fellow colleague, Ambassador Yovanovitch, and that is understandable.”“Beyond that, he has been very complimentary about Secretary Pompeo’s role at the State Department,” said Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee.Meadows wouldn’t say what McKinley was saying about Giuliani. “I would have to talk about specifics to be able to do that,” the lawmaker said.Separately, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, is scheduled to appear before the panels on Oct. 22, according to a person familiar with the matter.Taylor had warned against conditioning U.S. military assistance on an investigation, writing on Sept. 9: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”Defense Department Rebuffs House Subpoena (12:01 p.m.)The Defense Department rebuffed a subpoena from the House committees, saying in a letter Wednesday that it is withholding documents and communications because the impeachment probe hasn’t been properly authorized by a House vote. The agency’s stance echoes the White House position that the impeachment inquiry is invalid.The committees last week subpoenaed recordings, transcripts or notes of Trump’s phone conversations with Ukraine’s president on April 21 and July 25; as well as information on efforts by administration officials and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to ask Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton.The Defense Department said much of the material sought by the committees is covered by executive privilege. The department said it is preserving the records “should there be resolution of this matter.” -- Justin SinkTrump Defends His Personal Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani (11:04 a.m.)Trump on Wednesday defended his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose own legal peril threatens to ensnare the president.Trump told reporters at the White House that “Rudy was a great prosecutor” and the best mayor in the history of New York.Giuliani is being scrutinized by federal investigators for his financial dealings following the indictment of two of his associates for violating campaign finance laws.Giuliani has been privy to the president’s thinking, strategy and behind-the-scenes efforts to push Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. That makes him a key potential witness in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.A Florida businessman has turned himself in to federal authorities after being indicted along with two Giuliani associates and another man on charges of campaign finance violations, the Associated Press said Wednesday. AP said David Correia and the other three defendants are expected to appear in court in Manhattan on Thursday. -- Justin SinkEx-Pompeo Aide McKinley Testifies to Inquiry (9:57 a.m.)McKinley, senior adviser to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo until resigning last week, arrived at the Capitol to testify before three committees leading the impeachment investigation.The veteran diplomat stepped down Friday as Pompeo’s senior adviser, a role he held since May 2018. McKinley is testifying behind closed doors.The House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs committees are scrutinizing Trump’s Ukraine interactions, including any Pompeo and State Department activities related to Rudy Giuliani’s effort to pressure Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Trump politically.Also on Wednesday, Kurt Volker -- Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine until his resignation in late September -- returned to the Capitol after testifying on Oct. 3. He planned to review the transcript of his testimony, according to a committee official familiar with the matter. -- Steven T. DennisGallup Poll Finds 52% Approve Removing Trump (9:10 a.m.)A new Gallup Poll finds a slim majority of Americans approve of the impeachment and removal of Trump, But with support among Republicans still in single digits, it’s unlikely to sway enough GOP senators to take action.The share of Americans favoring Trump’s impeachment and removal has has risen to 52% from 45% in a June poll following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian meddling investigation. Then 53% were opposed.But there’s a silver lining for Trump in the results: Republican views haven’t changed. Just 6% want him removed, down from 7% in June, making it nearly impossible to forecast a successful removal in a GOP Senate. Twenty Senate Republican votes would be needed, and they’d be going against their own party.The impeachment inquiry also corresponds with a surge in approval of Congress among Democrats.The poll, conducted Oct. 1-13, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.Key EventsMike Pence’s lawyer said the vice president’s office isn’t cooperating with a request for documents in the investigation. Pence’s counsel Matthew Morgan repeated claims the White House has already made, including that the investigation isn’t legitimate because there hasn’t been a full House vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry.The White House budget office also said it won’t turn over documents sought by the House committees.Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he’ll defy a subpoena for documents. Giuliani’s own lawyer, Jon Sale, is no longer representing him after sending the letter that said Giuliani “will not participate” in the inquiry. Sale said in an interview that he had planned all along to leave after responding to the subpoena.\--With assistance from Justin Sink and Nick Wadhams.To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 1:38 am

Trevor Noah Exposes Eric and Don Jr.’s Hunter Biden Nepotism HypocrisyComedy CentralWith Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings in the news, Trevor Noah turned his attention to the issue of nepotism Wednesday night. “The truth is, your name could be a big reason that you get a leg up in life,” The Daily Show host began. “With that said,” he added, “you can’t deny, it’s not a good look that a Ukrainian company hired Hunter Biden just months after Joe Biden became the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. Because it looks very much like he got this business because of his father’s position.” “And I understand why a lot of people would complain about that,” he continued. “What I don’t understand is why these people are complaining about that.” With that, he cut to a clip of Donald Trump Jr. accusing Hunter Biden of trading on his name and Eric Trump arguing that he and his brother are exempt from criticism because they do not sit on any corporate boards. “First of all, I’m not surprised nobody has put Beavis and Forehead on any corporate boards,” Noah said. “I don’t even think they’re allowed on diving boards.” But more importantly, the host said, “If there was ever an example of people who got opportunities because of their names, it’s these two.” For instance, if Donald Trump Jr. was not Donald Trump’s son, Noah asked why anyone would be paying him $50,000 to make a speech. “To share his expertise on bad beards?”  Jimmy Kimmel Goes Off on Lara Trump: A ‘Heartless Imbecile With Lip Injections’“Also, if Trump’s sons are actually concerned, like truly concerned about children of politicians doing business overseas,” Noah added, “then can someone please explain to me why they have been doing this?” He then allowed various news reports to lay out the details of continued foreign projects currently being carried out by Eric and Don Jr. on behalf of the Trump Organization. “Yeah, that’s right, even with their dad in office, the Trumps are still growing their business in places like India, Philippines, Indonesia, Uruguay,” Noah said. “They’re all over the world. It’s like The Amazing Race with no running and no chins.” But “at least Donald and Eric are one step removed from the Trump presidency,” Noah said before turning his attention to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who have official roles in the White House and yet still have entanglements with businesses that benefit from foreign money. “Now let’s be clear,” Noah concluded. “I’m not defending Hunter Biden. I don’t know him. I don’t know about his business. I’m just saying that the last people who should be talking about the blurred lines of family names and political influence are the people currently running their home office from the White House.” Trevor Noah Roasts Joe Biden Over Bad Debate Answer on Son HunterRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 1:33 am

Why the UAW's Deal With General Motors Is Unlikely to Give Workers What They Really WantThe strike, which started on Sept. 15, is the longest GM work stoppage since the 1970s

Posted: October 17, 2019, 12:24 am

A N.J. school district wants to ban students from attending prom if they have more than $75 in school lunch debtA school district in New Jersey passed a new policy this week that will allow schools to bar students from attending prom if they have a school lunch debt above $75.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 10:47 pm

Scientists discover big storms can create 'stormquakes'The shaking of the sea floor during hurricanes and nor'easters can rumble like a magnitude 3.5 earthquake and can last for days, according to a study in this week's journal Geophysical Research Letters. A stormquake is more an oddity than something that can hurt you, because no one is standing on the sea floor during a hurricane, said Wenyuan Fan, a Florida State University seismologist who was the study's lead author. "This is the last thing you need to worry about," Fan told The Associated Press.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 8:59 pm

Senate Republicans are preparing for a speedy impeachment trialSenate Republicans are preparing for a speedy impeachment trial that concludes before the end of the year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell surmised that the Senate could deal with the trial by Christmas, concluding the impeachment proceedings before the Democratic presidential primaries begin.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 8:50 pm

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders is a huge win for him and a way for her to hit back at the Democratic PartyBernie Sanders gets a political rock star's endorsement. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets to prove her left-wing credibility to the progressive wing.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 8:19 pm

Correction: Bike Ride-Iowa storyIn a story Oct. 15 about the resignations of organizers of a popular Iowa bike ride, The Associated Press reported that Gannett, the Des Moines Register's parent company, didn't immediately respond to inquiries. IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Organizers of the popular summer bike ride across Iowa are cutting ties with its longtime sponsor, the Des Moines Register, amid backlash over the newspaper's handling of a story.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 7:35 pm

U.S. Supreme Court wrestles over 'D.C. Sniper' life sentence appealU.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday questioned whether a lower court sufficiently considered that a man convicted in the deadly 2002 "D.C. Sniper" shooting spree in the Washington area was a minor at the time of the crimes when he was sentenced to life in prison. The nine justices heard arguments in an appeal by the state of Virginia objecting to the lower court's decision ordering that Lee Boyd Malvo's sentence of life in prison without parole be thrown out. The most likely contender based on questions he asked during the argument would be Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 6:45 pm

Five killed in Indian Kashmir as violence spikesTwo non-Kashmiris were shot dead by suspected militants and three alleged rebels were killed by security forces, police said Wednesday, the deadliest day in the Indian-administered Kashmir valley since New Delhi revoked its autonomy. Ahead of the autonomy decision, the head of Kashmir's largest militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, Riyaz Naikoo, had warned that Indians in the territory would become legitimate targets if the valley's status were changed. In a separate shooting earlier Wednesday, suspected militants killed a migrant labourer in the southern Rohmo village of Pulwama district, police said.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 6:18 pm

Noah: Democratic Party is like a club on Tuesday night; anyone can get inA look at the most recent debate in Best of Late Night

Posted: October 16, 2019, 5:40 pm

Three US diplomats held near Russian test site where mystery blast killed five* Russian foreign ministry says trio ‘obviously got lost’ * August explosion caused radiation levels to surgeA Russian navy official works on the Akula nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine at the Severodvinsk site in July. The August explosion there killed at least five people. Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/TassThree American diplomats were briefly detained in Russia near the military test site where a mysterious explosion released radiation in August, several Russia state news agencies have reported.The US embassy has confirmed the incident, the Interfax news service reported, but said the three diplomats had filed the proper paperwork to travel in the area.The Russian foreign ministry said the diplomats had named a different city as their destination and had “obviously got lost”.The report comes just days after the United States said the accident was caused by a nuclear reaction when Russia tried to retrieve a nuclear-powered cruise missile from the Barents Sea.The diplomats were detained on Monday on a train in the city of Severodvinsk, near where Russian authorities said they had been testing a rocket engine with a nuclear component before the accident took place.The diplomats, who have been identified by Interfax as military attaches, were later released, but could face administrative charges for traveling in a restricted military area, agencies reported.In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry confirmed that the diplomats were on an official trip and had informed the Russian defence ministry of their plans.“Only, they said their intention was to visit Arkhangelsk and they ended up en route to Severodvinsk,” the ministry said.“They obviously got lost. We are ready to give the US embassy a map of Russia,” the ministry added.The blast at the military test site in August killed at least five people and caused panic after radiation levels jumped to 16 times their normal levels in nearby Severodvinsk.Russian authorities have given little information about the accident. But a US diplomat this week said that the accident took place when Russia attempted to retrieve a nuclear-powered cruise missile called Burevestnik from the Barents Sea.“The United States has determined that the explosion near Nyonoksa was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile,” Thomas DiNanno, the diplomat, said during a speech at the UN.Russia’s plans for a nuclear-powered cruise missile that could in theory fly indefinitely were first revealed by Vladimir Putin during a speech last year. The missile is still undergoing testing, and some weapons experts doubt if it can ever be made operable.Russia’s military was attempting to retrieve the missile from another failed 2017 test when the accident took place.It was not immediately clear whether the diplomats were traveling to or from Nyonoksa, the village near the military testing site, when they were detained. But train timetables would indicate they were returning from the village when they were arrested close to 6pm in Severodvinsk.Russia has maintained a shroud of secrecy around the incident, closing off waters in the White Sea to foreign ships to prevent them from collecting information about the explosion.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 5:18 pm

Warren Deletes Infamous DNA Test Tweet One Year After RevealSenator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) deleted from her Twitter and YouTube accounts a now-infamous video announcing the results of her DNA test on Wednesday, one year after its initial unveiling was met with heavy bipartisan criticism.A story titled “Happy Anniversary to Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test!” by Jim Treacher, a columnist at PJ Media, revisited the reveal by Warren on Tuesday, a year to the day after the initial video was posted. Treacher then later went to look for the tweet, but found it deleted.“My family (including Fox News-watchers) sat together and talked about what they think of @realDonaldTrump’s attacks on our heritage. And yes, a famous geneticist analyzed my DNA and concluded that it contains Native American ancestry,” the text of the tweet read.The test, which was analyzed by Stanford professor Carlos D. Bustamante, found Warren to be between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American and prompted further criticism from President Trump, who began calling Warren “Pocahontas” during the 2016 campaign.Following Warren’s announcement, Trump mocked the Massachusetts Senator after the Cherokee Nation criticized Warren’s use of the test as "making a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven.”“Now Cherokee Nation denies her, “DNA test is useless.” Even they don’t want her. Phony!” Trump tweeted.Though Warren had initially said in March 2018 that she would not undergo a DNA test, she responded to criticism in the aftermath by saying “I believe one way that we try to rebuild confidence [in government] is through transparency.”In February, Warren apologized to Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, for her public advertising of the test. “The chief and secretary of state appreciate that she has reaffirmed that she is not a Cherokee Nation citizen or a citizen of any tribal nation,” Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard said in the aftermath.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 3:48 pm

Beto O’Rourke Dunks on ‘Disgraced TV Host’ Bill O’ReillyBill O’Reilly, who was ousted by Fox News two-and-a-half years ago following decades of sexual-harassment allegations and payouts to victims, made a desperate bid for relevance this week when he decided to live-tweet the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate. Among O’Reilly’s insights were that he found the “Trump bashing festival” by the candidates “boring,” he wanted Joe Biden to “fight back” harder and that Elizabeth Warren “wants a wealth tax to pay for free stuff, lots of free stuff. Lots.” Later, he added, “The Democrats on the stage hate Turkey. The country, not the meal. They might be right.” Then came former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s answer to a question about Warren’s wealth tax proposal. “I think it's part of the solution,” he said, before going on to accuse Senator Warren of being “more focused on being punitive and pitting some part of the country against the other instead of lifting people up and making sure that this country comes together around those solutions.” “I think of a woman that I met in Las Vegas, Nevada,” O’Rourke continued. “She's working four jobs, raising her child with disabilities, and any American with disabilities knows just how hard it is to make it and get by in this country already.” It was this anecdote that caught O’Reilly’s ear. He wasn’t buying it. “Beto says he met a woman working FOUR jobs,” he tweeted. “And raising a special needs child. I don’t believe him. Sorry.” The response from O’Rourke came with receipts. Along with a photo of the woman and her disabled daughter, he replied, “This is her. Her name is Gina. Her daughter's name is Summer. The problem with our economy is she has to live in her car—while a disgraced TV host like you makes millions.” O’Reilly, who at one point had enough money to shell out at least $32 million in sexual harassment settlements before Fox News finally decided to cut him loose, had nothing to say in response to that.But the tweet did get a response from health care expert and former Obama administration official Andy Slavitt, who tweeted, “I would invite @BillOReilly to get a real understanding of what life is like for many in the disability community or raising a special needs or chronically ill child. But that would be cruel to the people who’d have to meet him.” Stephen Colbert Takes Bill O’Reilly to Task Over His $32 Million Sexual-Harassment SettlementRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 3:11 pm

Dark web child porn bust leads to 338 arrests worldwideLaw enforcement officials said on Wednesday they had arrested hundreds of people worldwide after knocking out a South Korea-based dark web child pornography site that sold gruesome videos for digital cash. Officials from the United States, Britain and South Korea described the network as one of the largest child pornography operations they had encountered to date. Called Welcome To Video, the website relied on the bitcoin cryptocurrency to sell access to 250,000 videos depicting child sexual abuse, authorities said, including footage of extremely young children being raped.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 2:38 pm

New Jersey police are looking for a possible witness to the kidnapping of a 3-year-old girl 30 days agoFive-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez disappeared from Bridgeton City Park in New Jersey on September 16.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 2:35 pm

Trump's businesses reportedly gave different financial figures to lenders and tax authorities as recently as 2017More questions have arisen surrounding President Trump's businesses after ProPublica obtained documents via New York's Freedom of Information Law.The documents show that for two of Trump's New York properties -- 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- different financial figures were reported to lenders and to tax authorities. For example, the Trump Organization told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9 percent leased on Dec. 31, 2012, before vaulting to 95 percent a few years later, which reportedly represented borrower-friendly "leasing momentum." But the company reportedly disclosed that the building was 81 percent rented as of Jan. 5, 2013 to tax officials. Ultimately, the reporting strategy helped Trump reach favorable terms -- he received a 10-year loan with a lower interest than the building previously had and was also able to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan. "There was a story crafted here," said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University.As for Trump Tower, the company reportedly told tax authorities that the building made around $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants in 2017, while reporting to lenders that it took in nearly double that. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the property, the Trump organization generally reported gross income to tax authorities that was around 81 percent of what it reported to the lender.There can be legitimate reasons for such numbers to diverge, real estate experts have noted, but those same experts told ProPublica that some of the gaps in the documents did not appear to have any reasonable justification. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley said the discrepancies amount to some "versions of fraud." Read more at ProPublica.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 1:53 pm

After 30 days, GM-UAW talks suddenly face a deadline. Here's why the clock is tickingGM's executives have until Thursday to draft a provisional plan that UAW leaders will accept and turn into a tentative agreement for its members.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 1:23 pm

Cory Booker wants $90m a year to prevent urban gun violenceNew bill would focus federal dollars on public health approaches to gun violence Senator Cory Booker gives a speech on gun violence at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, known as Mother Emanuel, in Charleston, South Carolina, in August. Photograph: Randall Hill/ReutersFor more than a decade, faith leaders from black and brown communities have come to Congress with the same request: spend more money on local strategies to prevent gun violence.Now, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker is introducing legislation that would devote $90m a year to programs that prevent urban gun violence.Booker’s new grant program would focus federal dollars on helping the cities with the highest gun homicide rates, and it would prioritize funding for strategies that do not contribute to mass incarceration.series boxInstead of simply directing more federal money to local law enforcement, the new legislation would require cities to give at least half of their federal grant dollars to community organizations that provide services to high-risk people, or to a public department “that is not a law enforcement agency”.Booker’s bill does not include any gun control provisions: it’s focused on strategies that prevent shootings by focusing on the people, not the guns.“We’re in a tough political climate,” said Pastor Michael McBride, a California-based activist who has spent the last decade campaigning for more resources for local gun violence prevention. “This approach charts a way forward that does not bog us down in these intense debates over the second amendment or gun control.”Booker’s legislation is designed to fund programs that have shown success in reducing gun violence in cities such as Oakland and Richmond, California; Boston, Massachusetts; and New York City. The legislation would devote $90m a year over 10 years to evidence-based approaches to gun violence reduction.In the past decade, as they have invested public dollars into expanding community-based strategies, Oakland has seen a 44% decrease in its gun homicide rate, and nearby Richmond has seen a 67% decrease in its gun homicide rate.The decreases in Oakland, Richmond, and San Francisco have driven a 30% decrease in the overall gun homicide rate across the greater San Francisco Bay Area, even as the number of people living in poverty in the region has increased, and as property crime has spiked in some areas. The decrease in the area is much larger than in the nation overall.The successful local strategies highlighted in Booker’s legislation include investing in street outreach workers or “violence interrupters”, trusted community members who intervene in local gang conflicts to keep violence from spreading; funding intervention programs in hospitals to help shooting victims change their lives; and supporting “group violence intervention” strategies, such as Boston’s Operation Ceasefire, that bring together law enforcement, community partners, and faith leaders to intervene with the small number of men in each city who are most likely to shoot or be shot.Booker’s Break the Cycle of Violence Act is co-sponsored by the US representative Steven Horsford, a Nevada Democrat whose father was shot to death during a robbery when he was 19.“These deaths are preventable,” Horsford said in a statement.Mass shootings are usually the focus of America’s gun control debate. But the majority of America’s gun homicide victims are killed in smaller daily shootings in neighborhoods that have struggled with gun violence for decades.Black men and boys, who make up just 6% of America’s overall population, represent more than 50% of the country’s gun homicide victims.A 2015 Guardian investigation found that half of the country’s gun homicides were concentrated in just 127 cities and towns. Experts have argued for years that American gun violence is highly concentrated, and that one of the best ways to save lives is to devote more resources into the neighborhoods with the greatest need.Black and brown activists have often felt “invisible” and “erased” from the American gun control debate, McBride said.“Our communities are used as props, but never really given serious consideration on how to scale up strategies that save our lives and heal our communities,” he said.The new legislation focuses resources on the majority of America’s gun violence victims – and it also focuses on solutions that are less politically controversial than gun control laws, McBride said.“We think Republicans, historically, have been huge supporters of these kinds of strategies, because of the role that faith communities and redemption and healing play,” he said.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 11:00 am

Russia Prepares the Way for Bashar al-Assad’s Brutal Endgame in Nothern SyriaGAZIANTEP, Turkey—After eight years of Syrian civil war, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and the displacement of half the Syrian population, U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s decisions have created conditions for Bashar al-Assad’s regime to re-assert control over nearly one-third of the country that had been outside its grip since 2012. Far from reining in U.S. adversaries, Trump’s presidency will likely be remembered as one through which Assad, this century’s greatest mass murderer, managed finally to claw his way back to a position of undisputed authority. Trump Just Enlisted America in a New Axis of EvilThis is the way that’s playing out on the ground in what is, admittedly, still a complicated situation.The news began Tuesday morning with Russian pro-Kremlin journalist Oleg Blokhin streaming a live video from inside the recently abandoned American al-Sa’idi’a base in Syria on the western outskirts of the Manbij countryside. “Good morning to everyone from Manbij,” exclaimed Blokhin. “I’m at the American military base right now, where they were until yesterday morning. Already, we’re here [instead]. We’re going to examine now how they were living here, what they were so busy with, and what’s going on.” A second video would show Blokhin as he mockingly played with a boom barrier at the entrance to the base, appearing to check whether or not it worked. “It’s in good condition,” he assured the cameraman, with a slight grin. Blokhin, who works for the pro-Kremlin ANNA news network, previously covered the activities of Russian private military contractor Wagner as it trained pro-Assad militiamen in January, and later accompanied Russian and pro-Assad forces during the latter’s successful August campaign to take back the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Now, he stood gloating on a former U.S. military base. Other pro-Assad media soon conducted similar tours of other U.S. bases abandoned by American soldiers. Reports throughout the day Tuesday would also claim U.S. troops pulled out of two new additional locations including the eastern town of Tal Baydar and the Kharab Ashak base west of Ain Aissa. Shortly before U.S. troops withdrew, ISIS families still being detained at a nearby prison facility in Ain Aissa reportedly set fires throughout the camp in a renewed attempt to try to escape. In addition to exemplifying the momentous shift underway as Assad’s vital ally Russia finally replaces the United States as the primary party in northern Syria capable of liaising with most all of the parties to the conflict, Blokhin’s livestream carried a special significance for locals in Manbij. Over the past week, including several days after Trump’s shock announcement that U.S. troops would withdraw from Syria, American soldiers at the al-Sa’idi’a base actually continued carrying out near-daily patrols in the western and northern Manbij countryside that helped successfully ward off previous attempts by Syrian regime forces to set up positions in the area. That offered hope to those in Manbij who oppose the regime—that U.S. military institutions might be capable of coercing the Turkish president to adopt a compromise that saw U.S. troops remain in the area until Turkish-backed forces were capable of assuming control. But those hopes along with more than 16 months of U.S.-Turkish diplomacy were dashed Tuesday as the American troops made their final withdrawal from the area, paving the way for Russian and Syrian regime forces to roll in free and unopposed.  Elsewhere, in Ain Aissa and Tal Tamr, towns located along the M4 highway, northern Syria’s main artery and transportation route, Russian and regime forces established permanent checkpoints and bases to ensure control of the strategic route in the face of oncoming Turkish assaults. Those reinforcements appeared to have helped the SDF capture three villages from Turkish-backed forces in the immediate vicinity north of Tal Tamr later that night. While the arrival of regime forces undoubtedly has provided much needed relief for the SDF on several fronts, doing so will come with a cost. As the SDF welcomes more Syrian regime reinforcements into its territory, the group undoubtedly will lose future leverage it would need in order to preserve a role for itself within civil governing institutions throughout northeast Syria. On Monday, the SDF’s largely toothless civil wing, the Syrian Democratic Council, issued a directive to local councils in the area to continue to perform their duties “as previously,” insisting that “nothing has changed” and that the agreement with the regime constituted no more than a temporary military alliance to protect Syria’s borders. However it’s unlikely that the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Council, or other SDF-backed institutions within the group’s self-proclaimed “Autonomous Administration” will be able to preserve any modicum of independence as their reliance on the Assad regime becomes more solidified. And, following the failure of Russian-Turkish negotiations throughout Tuesday to reach a ceasefire between the warring parties, that reliance looks set to intensify. Negotiations between Moscow and Ankara began Tuesday morning following condemnation of Turkey’s campaign by the Kremlin’s special envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev. A high-ranking Free Syrian Army military source in Manbij told The Daily Beast that Turkey gave orders Tuesday morning to its FSA proxies to halt temporarily their assault while both sides attempted to reach a solution. During that time, numerous pro-regime demonstrations were held in Manbij as the Syrian army sent several armored tanks into the city. According to local sources on the ground, some of these demonstrations were led by pro-regime figures that previously had been arrested by the SDF but were recently released following the Russian and Syrian regime entrance to the city. The Russian-Turkish talks come one day after the official Facebook page for the Russian defense ministry’s Hmeimim base issued a stern warning for Turkey and its allies not to “behave recklessly in entering an open war with government troops.” That was issued shortly after the Russians allegedly concluded an agreement with the SDF to allow Russian and regime troops to enter the cities of Kobani and Manbij. Yet despite the repeated warnings and attempts to hold talks, by Tuesday night Turkish-backed forces re-launched their assault. Thousands of civilians fled the border city of Kobani as a result of renewed Turkish assaults on the city in an attempt by the latter to capture the site of a former U.S. base recently abandoned nearby. Shortly after, our military source would claim renewed orders had been given by Ankara to re-launch operations in Manbij by dawn. Speaking to Reuters while returning from the Azerbaijaini capital Baku, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared undeterred by recent U.S. sanctions imposed on Ankara, by the arrival of regime reinforcements into the area, or by international condemnation of his country’s assault. “They say ‘declare a ceasefire.’ We will never declare a ceasefire,” Erdogan said. “They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions.”Shortly after, local media and activists would report a Turkish airstrike on the strategic town of Aun al-Dadat, the site of a former U.S. base in the north Manbij countryside along the al-Sajur River that has since been occupied by SDF and regime units. Nawaf al-Mustafa, an activist living several miles away in Manbij city, said he could hear the explosion from his home. “I heard an explosion and thought it might have been an ISIS suicide attack,” he said. “But it wasn’t, news came in shortly after that Turkish forces instead were bombing Aun al-Dadat.”Look Who’s Back! Trump Handed Terrorists a Free Pass.Ahmed Qalqali, another anti-regime activist, would send out an alert to the families of FSA fighters to several WhatsApp groups used by locals to follow the news. “Any young man in Manbij who has a brother fighting on the front lines with the FSA should avoid sleeping at home tonight,” hinting at the possibility of SDF-regime house raids in response to the attacks. “Try to stay with a friend or someone to whom you’re not blood related.” Despite the Turkish insistence to continue fighting, in reality the tide seems to be turning against Ankara and its proxies. Despite managing to gain control of the strategic border town of Tal Abyad, after nearly one week of fighting Turkish-backed forces have been unable to capture Ras al-Ain, a city of just over 30,000 that has managed to put up stiff resistance and ward off Turkish incursions. Manbij, a city of nearly 100,000, will require much greater strength and political will in order to be captured.Recent U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on key Turkish ministers and cabinet officials will also likely further hamper Ankara’s ability to freely wage war against the SDF, while significantly raising the cost of doing so. Nonetheless, these factors are unlikely to push Erdogan to end the campaign, as domestic pressures to create space to resettle Syrian refugees that have proven a burden to the Turkish economy threaten to destabilize his government. What will likely ensue will be a committed, albeit slow and protracted campaign to achieve Ankara’s goal of carving out a safe zone in Manbij and along the entirety of Turkey’s border with Syria. However, the likely delay in achieving further Turkish gains will also give the Syrian regime a larger window to calmly mobilize and deploy its forces throughout the region while still being able to exploit the threat posed to the SDF by Ankara in order to slowly grab more power in northeastern Syria. Further, the expansion of Syrian regime troops throughout the area doesn’t seem to be a prospect that much bothers the Turkish president, so long as they don’t mix with SDF and other armed Kurdish elements. Also while speaking to reporters in Baku, Erdogan stated, “The regime entering Manbij is not very negative for me. Why? It’s their lands after all,”  he said. “But, what is important to me is that the terrorist organization does not remain there… I told this to Mr. Putin as well. If you are clearing Manbij of terrorist organizations, then go ahead, you or the regime can provide all the logistics. But if you are not going to do this, the people there are telling us to save them.” By “terrorist organizations,” Erdogan means primarily the Kurds who were backed by the United States in the fight against ISIS.Such a statement from a head of state who for eight years has been among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Syrian revolution to topple Assad is indicative of the extent to which international calculus surrounding the Syrian issue has changed. It will likely encourage the Assad regime to consider the possibility of going after and eliminating the SDF itself if doing so may once and for all put an end to the activities of their meddlesome Turkish neighbor. Such a prospect may occur as part of a broader swap or deal whereby Turkey would also agree to withdraw its troops from the broader Idlib region, where Ha’it Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an offshoot of al Qaeda’s former Syrian branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other FSA groups have been engaged in a bloody standoff with the Syrian regime for over a year.Erdogan’s statements make perfectly clear that, following Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops, the cards increasingly lie in the hands of the Assad regime and its Russian ally. 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: October 16, 2019, 9:01 am

Kenya opens Chinese-built railway linking Rift Valley town to NairobiKenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to open a new $1.5 billion Chinese rail line on Wednesday linking the capital Nairobi to the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, despite delays in establishing an industrial park there to drive freight traffic. The development of Kenya's railways has been part of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a multi-billion dollar series of infrastructure projects upgrading land and maritime trade routes between China and Europe, Asia and Africa. Kenya had planned to open an industrial park in Naivasha, offering companies tax breaks for investing in manufacturing, and preferential tariffs for electricity generated in the nearby geothermal fields.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 8:47 am

How Nazi Germany Crushed France During World War II (It Wasn't Luck)Leadership was critical.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 6:00 am

State Department official testifies White House wanted Rick Perry, 'amigos,' to run Ukraine policyA senior State Department official told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that in May, he was directed during a meeting organized by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to "lay low" when it came to Ukraine policy, as it was now being handled by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters.The official, George Kent, is the deputy assistant secretary responsible for Ukraine. Connolly said Kent testified that he was ordered to focus on the other countries in his portfolio because Perry, Sondland, and Volker -- who called themselves the "three amigos" -- were taking over for career diplomats on Ukraine. Kent said the meeting was held on May 23, just a few days after Marie Yovanovitch was removed from her position as ambassador to Ukraine and two months before President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked him to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.Last week, Yovanovitch testified before lawmakers that Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was behind the campaign to get her recalled. Documents the State Department inspector general sent to Congress earlier this month show that Kent first said in March that he believed Yovanovitch was the subject of a "classic disinformation campaign," The Washington Post reports, and he wanted his superiors to stand up for her.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 5:16 am

Iran's So-Called New Fighter Jet Is Most Likely a Scam (Sort Of)Or just another F-5 ripoff?

Posted: October 16, 2019, 4:00 am

Nigeria town celebrates claim as 'twins capital' of worldTo celebrate its self-proclaimed title the town hosts an annual festival, now in its second year, that draws hundreds of sets of twins from around the country. Donning different traditional clothes and costumes, the twins -- male and female, old, young and even newborns -- sang and danced at the latest edition this weekend to the appreciation of an admiring audience.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 3:00 am

Yang and O'Rourke propose decriminalizing opioids, including heroinTwo Democrats suggested making small amounts of heroin legal as a way to combat the drug epidemic.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 2:59 am

Buttigieg, O'Rourke clash over assault-rifle buyback planAt Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate, presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg escalated their disagreement over O’Rourke’s proposal for mandatory buybacks of assault weapons.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 2:57 am

Shooting kills 6 in Puerto Rico, leads to emergency meetingPuerto Rico's governor called an emergency meeting Tuesday after six people were killed in a mass shooting in a San Juan housing project and gunfire left two people dead a day earlier in the island's north. A police statement said the violence left five men and one woman dead. The brazen murders led Gov. Wanda Vázquez to convene a gathering of her security team, led by public security chief Elmer Román and justice secretary Dennise Longo Quiñones.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 12:00 am

Pastor at Pro-Trump conference: 'We've come to declare war'If the video depicting a fake President Trump massacring members of the media -- which was condemned by the White House -- wasn't too much to handle already, ProPublica and WNYC released more disturbing audio from the conference where the footage was originally shown.While speaking at the pro-Trump conference in Miami, Florida, at the Trump National Doral Miami, Mark Burns, a pastor, told the crowd multiple times that "we've come to declare war." As he continued, he reportedly asked if anybody was "read to go to war for Donald J. Trump, this nation?" as the audience reportedly cheered him on.Additionally, radio host Wayne Allyn Root reportedly boasted about a time in his childhood when, as one of the few white students at a predominantly black high school, he knocked one classmate unconscious and shattered another kid's teeth. "My buddies and I were high-fiving and laughing," Root reportedly said during his speech. "Man, it was funny."Root reportedly went on to say that "you've got to be a natural-born killer" to win in politics. Listen to the audio clips at ProPublica.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 10:53 pm

Rudy Giuliani Gives Congress the Legalese Version of a Middle FingerAn official said Giuliani’s failure to comply will be used as evidence of obstruction

Posted: October 15, 2019, 10:50 pm

'They were sent to the slaughter': Mexico mourns 13 police killed in cartel ambushAmbush the latest in string of brazen attacks by Mexico’s drug cartels, as President Amlo defends strategy to halt the violenceFamily members and fellow officers mourn pay tribute to the officers killed in an ambush on Monday. At least 30 gunmen opened fire on the convoy of state police officers. Photograph: Enrique Castro/AFP via Getty ImagesWith an AR-15 assault rifle in his hand and six spare magazines across his chest, the burly policemen looked nothing if not intimidating as he prepared to attend a memorial service for 13 fellow officers who were killed in an ambush in western Mexico on Monday.Inside, he didn’t feel so tough.“We feel impotent, we feel alone,” the officer said, asking for his name not be used for fear of reprisals from his superiors. “We don’t have any support.”At least 30 gunmen opened fire on the convoy of state police officers as they drove along a rural road in the municipality of Aguililla in the state of Michoacán early on Monday morning.The ambush was the latest in a string of brazen attacks by the Jalisco New Generation cartel (known by its Spanish initials CJNG), and represents a direct challenge to Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s promise to end Mexico’s security crisis while avoiding direct conflict with organized crime groups.President López Obrador, widely known as Amlo, insists the military-led offensives against the cartels pursued by his two predecessors have only made things worse, and has instead focused on crime prevention. Meanwhile, a 70,000-strong militarized police force called the National Guard has drawn criticism for being used heavily to keep migrants from reaching the US border.Asked about the ambush on Tuesday, Amlo said the government would continue with its strategy. “This is a violent area, and we are going to continue attending to the causes of this kind of social decomposition,” he said.According to Falko Ernst, Mexico analyst of the Crisis Group, the problem is that this focus on the long term is allowing entrenched conflicts, like the one in Michoacán, to spin out of control.“There is no short-term strategy,” he said. “At the very least, these groups are getting the message that the leash is loose – and it makes sense for them to test how far they can go.”Monday’s ambush was claimed by the CJNG, which is currently fighting to seize the region known as Tierra Caliente – the Hot Land – from a litany of other armed groups.These include the remnants of older cartels partially dismantled by government offensives of the past (such as the once-dominant Knights Templar), former armed vigilante groups and the different police forces – all of which are deeply corroded by links to organized crime.The memorial service in Morelia. Photograph: Enrique Castro/AFP via Getty ImagesTwo active officers and one former officer at Tuesday’s memorial services, speaking on condition of anonymity, accepted that the state police force is riddled with corruption.They blamed the commanders who they said gave their subordinates no choice but to follow orders – even if these were orders meant acting in ways that favoured the interests of criminal groups.They also said that they suspected senior commanders knew of an impending attack when they sent the officers to Aguililla to serve a a warrant related to a dispute in a family court.One officer said it was almost unheard of for police to go into that area without an army escort because it is known to be so dangerous.“They were sent to the slaughter,” she said. “There is a lot of anger.”While the police officers at the memorial service held in the state capital Morelia remained stony-faced, several grieving relatives were not so restrained.A speech by Governor Silvando Aureoles – who called for all Mexico to stand together to against criminals “who are on the lowest rung of the human ladder” –was greeted with tepid applause.But as he left a smattering of female voices screamed out “¡Asesino!” and a small group began a chant of “Justicia.” Though their voices faded, their sentiment prompted mumblings of agreement throughout the crowd.“This ceremony is a mockery – a chance for the bosses to pretend that they care,” said the brother of one officer, whose death leaves his five-months pregnant wife and one-year-old child without support. “We are only here so that he is not forgotten.”

Posted: October 15, 2019, 10:20 pm

Meet USS Barb: The Navy's Special World War II Submarine That Terrified JapanIt sank the most Japanese vessels by tonnage.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 10:00 pm

Judge says he miscalculated award by $107M in opioid caseAn Oklahoma judge on Tuesday acknowledged making a nearly $107 million miscalculation in determining how much drug maker Johnson & Johnson must pay the state to help address the state's opioid crisis. Following a hearing in Cleveland County, District Judge Thad Balkman acknowledged making the error in his August judgment in which he ordered the consumer products giant to pay the state $572 million to address the opioid crisis. Balkman said the actual amount he should have included in his judgment was $107,000 to help the state develop a program for treating babies born addicted to opioids.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 9:43 pm

School suspends girls, says rape-awareness note was bullyingA 15-year-old girl was suspended for bullying after trying to draw attention to what she believed was an unaddressed problem of sexual assaults involving students at her high school. Aela Mansmann, a 15-year-old sophomore at Cape Elizabeth High School outside Portland, has been at odds with Cape Elizabeth Schools for a month after posting a note in a bathroom that said: "There's a rapist in our school and you know who it is." She and two other students who left similar notes were ordered suspended. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is taking on Mansmann's case and calling on federal court to stop her suspension.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 9:38 pm

Atheists, Secular Groups Up in Arms Over State Department Boosting Pompeo’s ‘Christian Leader’ SpeechJoe Raedle/GettyThe U.S. Constitution protects the separation of church and state—but evidently not church and State Department, which came under fire for promoting a “Being a Christian Leader” speech Monday on its website.The speech, delivered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of American Association of Christian Counselors on Friday, saw Pompeo discuss the influence of his faith on his work as a U.S. official. On Monday, the State Department shared the speech at the top of its website, ahead of more pressing department issues, like U.S. involvement in Turkey’s invasion of Syria. The speech and the State Department’s promotion of the video breached the divide between church and state, leaders from secular and atheist communities say.“Secretary Pompeo’s speech was pure proselytization,” Sarah Levin, director of governmental affairs at the Secular Coalition for America told The Daily Beast. During the speech, which he gave in his capacity as Secretary of State, Pompeo stated that “I know some people in the media will break out the pitchforks when they hear that I ask God for direction in my work.”His personal faith isn’t the problem, Levin said. It’s when it dictates his actions as Secretary of State, or when those beliefs top the State Department website.“To be clear, we don’t judge Secretary Pompeo for being a Christian or for connecting what he’s achieved to his faith, but it’s unacceptable and a violation of separation of church and state for him to take those beliefs and apply them to policy that affects the American public,” Levin said, “and it’s just as wrong from him to elevation Christianity above other faiths as it is to elevate Christianity above non-faiths.”Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, echoed Levin. “It’s perfectly fine for Secretary Pompeo to be a leader who is Christian,” Laser said in a statement. “But he cannot use his government position to impose his faith on the rest of us—that is a fundamental violation of the separation of religion and government. Secretary Pompeo’s speech on how being a Christian leader informs his decision-making and the posting of the speech on the State Department website send the clear message that U.S. public policy will be guided by his personal religious beliefs.”Pompeo has previously indicated that his religious beliefs factored into his policy decisions as a government official. In a March interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, Pompeo was asked whether President Donald Trump had been raised by God “to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace.”“As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible,” Pompeo answered.The secular website Patheos has tracked Pompeo’s comments for years, including a 2015 speech in which he opposed same-sex marriage and stated that “we will continue to fight these battles, it is a never ending struggle… until the rapture.”In a 2014 speech at a Kansas church, Pompeo cast Islam as the greatest “threat to America” and urged that “we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”Nick Fish, president of American Atheists said Pomeo’s Friday speech wasn’t surprising, given his record.“As disappointing as it is to see the State Department parroting Christian nationalist talking points, it isn't a surprise. But this goes above and beyond the obvious problem of Secretary Pompeo promoting one religious worldview on taxpayers' dime,” Fish told The Daily Beast. “The bigger issue is that the State Department is being led by a man who genuinely believes that politics is ‘a never-ending struggle... until the rapture.’”Levin said the Trump administration has consistently pushed at the boundary between church and state. “This administration has pursued an agenda of Christian nationalism,” she said. She pointed to two other questionable incidents this weekend. On Friday, Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech blaming “the growing ascendancy of secularism” for depression, mental illness, violence, and the opioid epidemic. On Saturday, Trump gave a speech to religious leaders proclaiming that “forever and always, Americans will believe in the cause of freedom, the power of prayer, and the eternal glory of God.”Levin called the trio of speeches a “triple threat.”“This is not unusual rhetoric we’ve seen from officials,” she said, “but it is unusual to see Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, clear-cut abuse, these officials violating the separation of church and state.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 7:46 pm

A 75-year-old cruise ship passenger jumped overboard a Carnival-owned ship between Portugal and Spain (CCL)A Costa Cruises representative said the woman "voluntarily" jumped from the balcony in her cabin on the Costa Pacifica ship.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 6:14 pm

Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey only after advisers explained to him the obvious consequences of letting it invade Syria, report saysPresident Donald Trump has defended pulling back US forces in Syria, but he was warned Monday that the decision could yet cause further catastrophe.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 5:15 pm

Buttigieg Claims Warren and Sanders’s Medicare for All Is ‘Infringing on Freedom’ in New AdDemocratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg released a campaign ad Monday evening taking aim at Medicare for All, the public health insurance proposal favored by several rival 2020 candidates, and proposing his alternative, "Medicare for All Who Want It."The South Bend, Ind., mayor's minute-long video, titled "Makes More Sense," features several political reporters and analysts praising his plan and juxtaposing it with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All, which would require that roughly 160 million Americans' surrender their private insurance.“Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren believe that we have to force ourselves into Medicare for All, where private insurance is abolished, there are 160 million Americans to get their insurance from their employer,” CNN analyst Joe Lockhart says in a clip included in the ad.Buttigieg is “trying to focus on choice not infringing on people’s freedom to make that decision voluntarily,” NBC reporter Josh Lederman says in another segment."Medicare for All Who Want It is different than Medicare for All because this gives Americans a choice," Buttigieg said in an additional video that was released concurrent with the ad and explains his proposal. "If you prefer a public plan like Medicare, like I think most Americans will, you can choose it. But if you prefer to keep your private insurance, you can."Medicare for All Who Want It will be a "public insurance alternative for everyone, no matter their income" with the goal of making health care "far more affordable," according to the explanatory video.Buttigieg also vowed to release a "policy series" over the next several months to diagnose problems in the country's health care system, which is "too expensive, too complicated, and too frustrating.""I trust Americans to make our own decisions regarding the type of health care that makes the most sense for each of us and our families," the mayor said.Buttigieg's ad comes hours before he is set to face off against Warren, Sanders, and other fellow contenders for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination during Tuesday night's debate in Ohio hosted by CNN and the New York Times.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 4:39 pm

View 2021 Genesis GV70 Spy Photos

Posted: October 15, 2019, 4:28 pm

Angela Merkel Intervenes to Allow Huawei Access to German NetworksGermany will allow Huawei access to its 5G networks despite a U.S. pressure campaign, spearheaded by FCC chairman Ajit Pai, to block the Chinese tech giant from interacting with allies' data networks.“Essentially our approach is as follows: We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference Monday, as Germany’s Federal Network Agency plans to release an in-depth “security catalogue” on compliance criteria for 5G networks in the coming days. The announcement confirmed a report by German business newspaper Handelsblatt, which stated that a review of the current draft of security requirements permits Huawei to provide 5G services in Germany.Handelsblatt also reports that the decision to include Huawei came from the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, due to fears that exclusion would damage the country's relationship with China.Merkel’s office, in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, also removed a clause from a 5G government policy paper that suggested only “trusted suppliers” should be given access to the network.The decision comes after heavy pressure from the U.S. to urge international allies to resist partnerships with Huawei over fears of espionage, fraud, and intellectual property theft. In January, the Justice Department indicted the Chinese firm after allegations of theft and conspiracy.“The criminal activity in this indictment goes back ten years and goes all the way to the top of the company,” said former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker at a press conference announcing the charges.In May, President Trump blacklisted Huawei from doing business with American firms.Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and other U.S. allies have already moved to block Huawei from accessing their networks, while the U.K. has had a political debate over the inclusion of the company in the wake of the rollout of 5G technology.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 4:22 pm

Everything Google Revealed at Its NYC Pixel Event

Posted: October 15, 2019, 3:44 pm

EU, U.K. Negotiators Said to Be Closing in on Draft Brexit Deal(Bloomberg) -- U.K. and European Union negotiators in Brussels are closing in on a draft Brexit deal with optimism there will be a breakthrough before the end of the day Tuesday, two EU officials said.Any draft legal text will hinge on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes he has the support of the U.K. Parliament, with the backing of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party crucial. Officials cautioned talks haven’t finished yet and there’s work still to do.The pound surged after Bloomberg’s initial reports, climbing as much as 1.5% to $1.28, the highest level in nearly five months.While there’s some finalizing to do, there are clear indications that negotiators will present a legal text on Wednesday morning for EU governments to scrutinize, an official said. That would only be possible if there’s a green light from Johnson, a separate official said.Negotiators have approached -- and even managed to strike -- a Brexit deal before, only to see it shot down by the British government or the House of Commons, and EU negotiators are aware of Johnson’s need to get the DUP on board. This could complicate clinching a deal by Tuesday’s midnight deadline and shift focus to a summit of EU leaders that starts in Brussels on Thursday.Saturday VoteIf a deal is reached, Johnson would be able to put it to the U.K. Parliament on Saturday and avoid being forced to seek another delay beyond Oct. 31. But he lacks a majority in Westminster and any concessions could prompt the DUP, which props up his administration, to try and thwart the agreement.The U.K’s proposals are shrouded in secrecy but the focus is on Northern Ireland’s relationship to the EU’s customs union and the degree to which checks can be eliminated on goods crossing the Irish border, a scene of violence for decades until the late 1990s.Two EU officials suggested that the U.K. had accepted that customs checks would have to take place on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- in other words between two parts of the U.K. -- rather than between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That customs border in the Irish Sea is something the DUP has previously said it won’t support.(Updates with Parliament details starting in the sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net;Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard Bravo, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 3:26 pm

Booze run from behind bars: Inmates escape from Texas federal prison, return with whiskeyThe men left the prison grounds and cut through a neighboring ranch before getting caught by authorities.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 3:11 pm

Hiker Digs Up 1,000-Year-Old Iron WeaponClimate change melted away the ancient arrowhead.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 2:49 pm

Woman will spend 60 years in prison for first-degree murder of boyfriendA woman who poured gasoline on the couch where her sleeping boyfriend lay and then shut the door after seeing him jump up and yell "hot, hot" will spend 60 years in prison for first-degree murder.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 1:46 pm

The Amelia Earhart Mystery Stays Down in the DeepFor two weeks in August, a multimillion-dollar search from air, land and sea sought to solve the 80-year mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance.Robert Ballard, the ocean explorer famous for locating the wreck of the Titanic, led a team that discovered two hats in the depths. It found debris from an old shipwreck. It even spotted a soda can. What it did not find was a single piece of the Lockheed Electra airplane flown in 1937 by Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, which vanished during their doomed voyage around the world.Ballard and his crew don't consider it a failure. For one thing, he says, they know where the plane isn't. And in the process, they may have dispensed with one clue that has driven years of speculation, while a team of collaborating archaeologists potentially turned up more hints at the aviator's fate."This plane exists," Ballard said. "It's not the Loch Ness monster, and it's going to be found."Ballard had avoided the Earhart mystery for decades, dismissing the search area as too large, until he was presented with a clue he found irresistible. Kurt Campbell, then a senior official in President Barack Obama's State Department, shared with him what is known as the Bevington image -- a photo taken by a British officer in 1940 at what is now known as Nikumaroro, an atoll in the Phoenix Islands in the Republic of Kiribati. American intelligence analysts had enhanced the image at Campbell's request and concluded a blurry object in it was consistent with landing gear from Earhart's plane.Motivated by this clue, and by 30 years of research on Nikumaroro by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, Ballard and his crew set a course for the island in August. They were joined by archaeologists from the National Geographic Society, which sponsored and documented the journey for "Expedition Amelia," which will air on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday.Ballard and Allison Fundis, the Nautilus' chief operating officer, coordinated an elaborate plan of attack. First, they sent the ship five times around the island to map it with multibeam sonar and deployed a floating autonomous surface vehicle to map shallower areas off the island's shore. They also used four aerial drones for additional inspections of the surrounding reef.Nikumaroro and its reef are just the tip of a 16,000-foot underwater mountain, a series of 13 sheer escarpments that drop off onto ramps, eventually fanning out at the base for 6 nautical miles.If Earhart crashed there, they believe, rising tides would have dragged her plane over the reef and down the escarpments. Fragments should have collected on the ramps, especially heavier components like the engine and the radio.In deeper water the team deployed the Hercules and the Argus, remotely operated vehicles equipped with spotlights and high-definition cameras. These robots descended 650 feet around the entire island and found nothing.At that point, the crew focused on the northwest corner of the island near the S.S. Norwich City, a British freighter that ran aground on the island in 1929, eight years before Earhart's disappearance. That is the area where the Bevington photo was taken.While they searched there, crew members found so many beach rocks consistent in size and shape with the supposed landing gear in the Bevington image that it became a joke on the ship."Oh look," Ballard would chuckle, "another landing gear rock."Fundis said, "We felt like if her plane was there, we would have found it pretty early in the expedition." But she said they kept up their morale because Ballard reminded them that it took four missions to find the Titanic and that one of those expeditions missed the ship by just under 500 feet.The crew mapped the mountain's underwater drainage patterns and searched the gullies that might have carried plane fragments down slope, to a depth of 8,500 feet. Crew members even searched roughly 4 nautical miles out to sea in case the plane lifted off the reef intact and glided underwater as it sank.Each time a new search tactic yielded nothing, Ballard said, he felt he was adding "nail after nail after nail" to the coffin of the Nikumaroro hypothesis.Still, Ballard and Fundis confess that other clues pointing to Nikumaroro have left them with lingering curiosity about whether Earhart crashed there. For instance, Panamerican Airway radio direction finders on Wake Island; Midway Atoll; and Honolulu, Hawaii; each picked up distress signals from Earhart and took bearings, which triangulated in the cluster of islands that includes Nikumaroro.For years, many Earhart historians have been skeptical of the Nikumaroro theory. And Ballard, Fundis and their team's return to the island will now depend on whether the archaeologists from the National Geographic Society came up with evidence that Earhart's body was there.Fredrik Hiebert, the society's archaeologist in residence, has some leads. His team awaits DNA analysis on soil samples taken at a bivouac shelter found on the island.The camp, known as the Seven Site for its shape, was first noticed by a British officer in 1940. Thirteen bones were gathered then and sent to a colonial doctor in Fiji, who determined they belonged to a European man. The bones were subsequently lost.Decades later, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, tracked down the doctor's analysis. Richard Jantz, director emeritus of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, determined that the bones most likely belonged to a woman and that Earhart's build was "more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99% of individuals in a large reference sample."Since the 1980s, Tighar has conducted 12 expeditions to Nikumaroro in an effort to find more skeletal remains. It turned up other items from a castaway's existence at the camp but never any bones or DNA.Hiebert's team is hoping to use new techniques to identify evidence of mitochondrial DNA with similarities to Earhart's living relatives in the 22 soil samples they collected.Before the expedition, Hiebert and Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist, visited the National Museum in Tarawa, Kiribati's capital. On an unmarked shelf, Kimmerle spotted remnants of a female skull. The team now awaits DNA analysis of the specimen.In 2021, the Nautilus will be in the South Pacific fulfilling a contract to map underwater U.S. territories. That will bring the ship to the area around Howland Island, Earhart's intended destination for refueling before her plane disappeared. Ballard and Fundis plan to make time to explore the alternate theory favored by some skeptics of the Nikumaroro hypothesis: that Earhart crashed at sea closer to Howland.Fundis considers Earhart a role model, which gives her the "fuel to keep going," she said.And Ballard explained his own motivation to continue the search."In many ways, I'm doing this for my mother," he said, describing her as a "brilliant woman" who grew up in Kansas, like Earhart, but dropped out of college to raise three children and care for her sister.His mother, Hariett Ballard, admired Earhart and hoped she might pave the way for her children, or perhaps grandchildren, to pursue adventurous careers. Robert Ballard's daughter, Emily Ballard, was among the crew of the Nautilus, hunting for Earhart's plane."I'm not giving up," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

Posted: October 15, 2019, 12:22 pm

Sears and Kmart closing more stores in late 2019 and early 2020. Is your location closing?More than 100 Kmart and Sears stores will close by the end of 2019 and more closures are expected to continue into early 2020.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 6:04 am

Fort Worth officer who shot woman inside her home charged with murderA Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who shot and killed a woman inside her home early Saturday was charged with murder on Monday, shortly after he resigned from the force.The former officer, Aaron Dean, is being held at the Tarrant County Correction Center, Fort Worth Police Sgt. Chris Daniels said. The woman, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she was shot. A neighbor had noticed Jefferson's front door was slightly open and called the police department's non-emergency line, asking them to do a wellness check. Body-camera footage released by the police department shows an officer shining a flashlight into the house, then yelling, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before firing one shot.The white officer shooting a black woman inside her home caused immediate outrage in Fort Worth, and Daniels had a message for all concerned. "To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for us all," he said. Jefferson's older sister, Ashley Carr, said Atatiana was "simply going on along with her life, living a law-abiding citizen's peaceful life, and she was killed by a reckless act of a Fort Worth police officer. There is simply no justification for his actions."

Posted: October 15, 2019, 5:35 am