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  • Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

    Golocal247.com news

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 16:33:16 -0400
  • Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America

    Golocal247.com news

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:21:00 -0400
  • Texas governor expresses concern about private gun sales

    Golocal247.com news

    Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday raised concern about private firearm sales but didn't commit to crack down on them or act on gun control issues following a meeting on ways to prevent mass shootings such as the El Paso attack that killed 22 people. While lawmakers are feeling pressure to respond quickly to the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart, Abbott signaled that Texas would take a long and careful look at gun laws and other safety measures before its Legislature next meets in 2021. Scrutinizing private guns sales was among a list of ideas Abbott rattled off after emerging from a four-hour, closed-door meeting about the El Paso shooting with lawmakers, police and representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:32:12 -0400
  • L.L. Bean's Huge End-of-Summer Sale Is Taking Up to 70% Off

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 14:17:00 -0400
  • Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:53:09 -0400
  • Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington

    Golocal247.com news

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 01:00:08 -0400
  • Cathay flight attendant says fired over Facebook posts on HK protests

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    A flight attendant on Friday accused Cathay Pacific of summarily firing her over Facebook posts linked to Hong Kong's political crisis, adding to concerns about a China-driven witch-hunt to root out pro-democracy supporters at major firms. The Hong Kong-based airline has been accused of bowing to political and commercial pressure from Beijing by sacking employees in recent weeks for their public support for the massive anti-government movement roiling Hong Kong. Earlier this month, China's aviation authority ordered Cathay Pacific to stop pro-democracy supporters among its 27,000 staff from working on flights to -- or over -- China, after a general strike drew out some of its staff.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 04:35:23 -0400
  • Ontario mother under arrest for death of her 2 daughters, police say

    Golocal247.com news

    Linda Nguyen has been placed under arrest for the deaths of her two daughters, according to the Ontario Police Department.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:47:24 -0400
  • Putin Needs to Bury This Relic of Stalin

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:52:10 -0400
  • U.S. will aggressively enforce sanctions over Iran tanker: State Department official

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:34:39 -0400
  • An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:42:21 -0400
  • Sanders campaign boss concedes he may not win New Hampshire

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 20:44:00 -0400
  • Trump claim doctors treating mass shooting victims 'were coming out of operating rooms' to meet him dismissed by hospitals

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:35:14 -0400
  • China Buys American Soybeans after Vowing to Boycott U.S. Farm Products

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:05:27 -0400
  • Fires in the Amazon could be part of a doomsday scenario that sees the rainforest spewing carbon into the atmosphere and speeding up climate change even more

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    Fears for the Amazon's future have been heightened under Brazil's new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who encourages industry in the region.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 09:04:11 -0400
  • Family of detained UK consulate worker rejects 'made-up' report

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    The family of a staffer at the UK consulate in Hong Kong have rejected a "made-up" report by Chinese state media that he was detained in the mainland for visiting prostitutes. Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting the city of Shenzhen from the semi-autonomous city on August 8, and the Foreign Office in London said both British officials and relatives have been unable to speak to him since. The Global Times, a tabloid state-run newspaper, said he had been detained for "soliciting prostitutes", citing police in Shenzhen, which lies on the China-Hong Kong border.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 05:27:48 -0400
  • 2020 Toyota GR Supra vs. 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: Which Is the Better Driver's Machine?

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • Modi Ally Calls for Boycott of China Companies on Kashmir, Trade

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:00:00 -0400
  • Key hospitals in Indian Kashmir treat more than 150 tear gas, pellet injuries

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    At least 152 people have suffered injuries from tear gas and pellets in disputed Kashmir since Indian security forces this month launched a sweeping crackdown, data from the Himalayan region's two main hospitals shows. Indian authorities have deployed additional paramilitary police, banned public gatherings and cut cellular and internet links to prevent large scale protests after withdrawing the revolt-torn territory's special status on Aug 5. Data obtained by Reuters showed 152 people reported to Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences and Shri Maharaj Hari Singh with injuries from pellet shots and tear gas fire between Aug 5 and Aug 21.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 01:24:43 -0400
  • 3 Russian teen sisters on trial for killing their father, citing years of horrific abuse, put a spotlight on domestic violence in the country

    Golocal247.com news

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 06:38:30 -0400
  • Rep. Steve King wants to make abortion point in 'softer way'

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:31:07 -0400
  • Trump fumes over emissions deal between automakers and California

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:22:13 -0400
  • Gary Ray Bowles: Death row serial killer executed by lethal injection despite last-minute plea

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:46:50 -0400
  • Hotline for detained migrants featured on Orange is the New Black shut down

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:10:37 -0400
  • Beijing hits back after Trudeau vows to stand up to China

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 05:38:34 -0400
  • Man Throws Brick at Woman's Head in One of Several Random NYC Attacks

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:38:39 -0400
  • After Beating and Hernia, American Prisoner Paul Whelan Refused Hospitalization by FSB Doctors

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    KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEVMOSCOW–Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen held in Russia on suspicion of spying, looked pale and sick when his prison guards brought him to Lefortovo court on Friday. He said he had been beaten and is suffering from a hernia, but his condition is hardly a surprise after eight months in Moscow’s Lefortovo, a prison run but the Russian Federal Security Service, FSB, and it looks like Whelan has learned only too well how incarceration there operates.Whelan is facing 20 years in Russian prison for spying, after accepting a flashcard that allegedly contains some sensitive information. His family is far away, he does not speak the Russian language, and on top of everything the 49-year-old security manager for a Michigan-based auto parts company is suffering from a painful inguinal hernia, with part of his intestine having ruptured the abdominal wall.Paul Whelan, Accused U.S. Spy Held in Moscow, Says a Russian Investigator Threatened His LifeWhen the judge suggested calling an ambulance in the middle of the hearing on Friday morning, Whelan rejected the idea, as a useless waste of time: “The nurses won’t take me to a hospital, they will only check my blood pressure, temperature, and say, ‘You are fine,’” he told the court.By now Whelan must have learned the rules and brutal methods in Russian prisons. “No ordinary ambulance can take a prisoner who is under FSB investigation to the hospital,” Alexander Cherkasov, chair of the Memorial Human Rights Center told The Daily Beast. “There is a specialized hospital 20 where they normally take sick prisoners, after a certain bureaucratic procedure.”Also, no Russian nurse working for an ambulance carries strong painkillers. (Russian doctors are not allowed to prescribe strong drugs even for people dying in agonizing pain, so Russians suffer from pain all over the country, many committing suicide.)Whelan looked and sounded doomed. He said that his health condition worsened after his prison guard beat him. The incident happened earlier this month, when Whelan was being moved from one cell to another. Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told The Daily Beast, “I have checked: prison guards did not know that my client had a hernia, they made him carry all his stuff himself to a different cell. The treatment in Lefortovo is inhuman.”  On Friday, Whelan told the judge, “If you call for a doctor who would hospitalize me, I don’t mind calling for the ambulance.” But just as he predicted, the nurses on call checked him right at Lefortovo Court and decided against his hospitalization.Whelan, who holds U.S., Canadian, British, and Irish passports, was arrested on December 28 in his hotel room a few steps away from the Kremlin. His lawyer Zherebenkov predicted early on the way the case was likely to develop: “They will pickle Paul for a year or more, as he is clearly just a pawn; and then they will swap him for some important Russian kept in American prison,” the lawyer told The Daily Beast in January.Almost eight months later Zherebenkov still has not seen any solid evidence establishing his client’s guilt. “The FSB  investigation has not presented us with a single solid piece of material, so our truth in this case is even stronger than half a year ago–that’s why FSB want more time,” the lawyer said.Meet Putin’s American Prisoner, Paul WhelanAccording to Media Zona, a group of journalists reporting on news about Russian prisons and court cases, at least 99 detainees died in detention centers and prisons used by investigators in 2016. Many more died in prison camps. “It is hard for us to find out what causes the deaths of prisoners—when prison guards crack somebody’s head open, they say that the detainee fell down and died in an accident,” Dmitry Shvets, a Media Zona reporter told The Daily Beast. But the problem is not just physical violence. “Lefortovo prison is famous for psychological torture by isolation. The inmates cannot communicate with each other, no prisoner has a chance to use a phone.”Whelan’s family was aware that the FSB wanted to extend the time for investigation for two more months. ”This morning's hearing was more theatrical than his previous hearings—ejecting the media, calling an ambulance—but we were not surprised by the result,” Whelan’s twin brother, David, told The Daily Beast.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.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:42:12 -0400
  • Smoke forces Hawaii Airlines Airbus to make emergency landing

    A Hawaiian Airlines jetliner made an emergency landing in Honolulu on Thursday after smoke filled the cabin and cargo hold, and seven people were taken to hospital, officials said. Hawaiian Airlines Flight 47, an Airbus A321neo flying from Oakland, California, was about 20 minutes away from its scheduled noon landing in Honolulu when an emergency was declared, officials said. There was no official explanation of the cause of the incident but Hawaii News Now, citing an airline spokesman, said online that a seal on the left engine failed and leaked oil onto hot engine parts.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 05:43:09 -0400
  • 20 of the Craziest Pickup Trucks Ever

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    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:55:00 -0400
  • Special prosecutor named to look into Jussie Smollett case

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    A judge appointed a special prosecutor Friday to look into why the Chicago state's attorney's office abruptly dropped the case against Jussie Smollett, leaving open the possibility that the former "Empire" actor could yet face charges in what police say was a phony attack on himself that he staged to get attention. Smollett, who is black and gay, maintains that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in January. Webb, who was appointed by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin during a Friday hearing, told reporters afterward that he would move the investigation along as quickly as possible.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:57:00 -0400
  • Joe Walsh and the other Republicans who may challenge Trump in the 2020 primaries

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    Recently, as many as four Republicans have toyed with the idea of running against Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020. Trump already has one official primary challenger in Bill Weld, the former GOP governor of Massachusetts.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:24:53 -0400
  • Brexit Held at the Border

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

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:22:09 -0400
  • Fast-moving wildfire erupts in California, forcing thousands to evacuate

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:23:16 -0400
  • Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:01:09 -0400
  • 'This is unprecedented': Iceland prime minister will not meet Mike Pence during his visit

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    The prime minister of Iceland will not have time to meet vice president Mike Pence during his upcoming visit to the Nordic nation, but she insists it is not a snub for America’s second in command.Katrin Jakobsdottir announced she will opt to keep “prior commitments” instead of meeting with Mr Pence when he visits in early September, and will instead attend a trade union conference in Sweden.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 08:49:00 -0400
  • CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-China strikes back at U.S. with new tariffs on $75 bln in goods

    China said on Friday it will impose retaliatory tariffs against about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, putting as much as an extra 10% on top of existing rates in the dispute between the world's top two economies. The latest salvo from China comes after the United States unveiled tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, including consumer electronics, scheduled to go into effect in two stages on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15. China will impose additional tariffs of 5% or 10% on a total of 5,078 products originating from the United States including agricultural products such as soybeans, crude oil and small aircraft.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:56:25 -0400
  • Le Brexit breakthrough? Europe says "Nein", "non", "no"

    LONDON/PARIS/BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - After sterling soared and some British newspapers roared at a supposed Brexit victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Europe's power brokers had a more sobering message: the basic divorce deal is not changing. Enter PM Johnson, an avowed Brexiteer whose bet is that the threat of a disorderly 'no-deal' exit will convince German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that the EU must grant him the divorce deal he wants.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:28:31 -0400
  • Chaotic scene as DNC votes down climate change debate at San Francisco meeting

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    The move sparked loud and angry backlash from climate change activists who believe the Democratic Party should change the rules to allow for a debate focused solely on climate issues.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:03:43 -0400
  • Every Angle of the 2020 BMW 745e xDrive Plug-In Hybrid

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    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 12:59:00 -0400
  • The Latest: Jury sends judge note about self-defense law

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    The jury sent a confusing note to the judge in the manslaughter trial of a white Florida man charged with fatally shooting an unarmed black man after being shoved during a parking lot altercation. Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone asked the six-member panel trying Michael Drejka for the July 2018 shooting of Markeis McGlockton what they meant when they sent a note to him late Friday that restated portions of Florida's self-defense law. Bulone reread them the lengthy statute, which generally says Drejka could shoot McGlockton if a reasonable person under the same circumstances would believe he is in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 22:13:53 -0400
  • A Federal Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom

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    Earlier today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutional order, limited the reach of expansive nondiscrimination laws, and protected a Christian couple from having to choose between their business and their conscience.The facts of the case are simple. The plaintiffs, Carl and Angel Larsen, are videographers who create “commercials, short films, and live-event productions.” While they work with anyone of any race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion, they will not produce videos that advance viewpoints that violate their Christian beliefs. That includes videos that “contradict biblical truth; promote sexual immorality; support the destruction of unborn children; promote racism or racial division; incite violence; degrade women; or promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.”The Larsens hoped to begin producing wedding videos, but Minnesota interpreted its human-rights act to require them to “produce both opposite-sex- and same-sex-wedding videos, or none at all.” Minnesota would also require them to produce videos that depicted “same- and opposite-sex weddings in an equally ‘positive’ light.” This raised the possibility that a gay couple who didn’t like the subjective quality of a video the Larsens produced for them could seek state sanctions based on alleged sexual-orientation discrimination.With the assistance of my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens filed suit, claiming that Minnesota’s rule would compel them to speak in support of messages they oppose. The trial court ruled in favor of the state, and the Larsens appealed.One of the key constitutional questions of our time is whether the First Amendment will retain its supremacy and potency even as nondiscrimination rules and regulations expand in scope and reach. In this case, the Eight Circuit answered answered with an emphatic “Yes,” and it did so through a majority opinion that provided a clear roadmap for future courts and future controversies.Judge David Stras’s majority opinion begins with a simple, obvious, but crucial conclusion. The Larsens’s wedding videos are a “form of speech that is entitled to First Amendment protection.” Though they don’t make feature films, their wedding videos would still clearly communicate a message in the same way that films do. As the court explained, their wedding videos would be designed to tell “healthy stories of sacrificial love and commitment between a man and a woman” and celebrate the “divinely ordained” marriage covenant.Moreover, the fact that the Larsens were producing videos for profit did not diminish their constitutional protection. Documentaries make money. Feature films make money. Are they not clearly protected speech? To put it plainly, Minnesota was attempting to engage in one of the most intrusive state actions on the First Amendment. It was attempting to compel the Larsens to deliver a message they opposed.Yet that finding did not end the inquiry. State agencies have long argued that the governmental interests supporting public-accommodation laws and other nondiscrimination statutes are so compelling that they can and should override the speech protections of the First Amendment. In constitutional legalese, they claim that nondiscrimination laws are so vital they should be able to survive “strict scrutiny.”If the court did find that nondiscrimination laws can even compel speech, it would invert the constitutional order. It would relegate the First Amendment to second-class status — less potent than a mere state regulation. Indeed, this is the argument that much of the legal Left has been making for years. They view First Amendment–based arguments against public-accommodation laws or other nondiscrimination statutes as a form of special pleading by religious Americans, a request to be exempt from the fair and just rules that govern the rest of us.But this is exactly backwards. The First Amendment is part of our nation’s governing document, and it recognizes the unalienable rights possessed by all Americans — not just people of faith.  State and local regulators are engaged in special pleading. They’re seeking carve-outs from the supreme law of the land.Judge Stras understands this reality quite clearly. “Even antidiscrimination laws, as critically important as they are,” he writes “must yield to the Constitution. And as compelling as the interest in preventing discriminatory conduct may be, speech is treated differently under the First Amendment.”Yes. Exactly. He continues:> Regulating speech because it is discriminatory or offensive is not a compelling state interest, however hurtful the speech may be. It is a “bedrock principle . . . that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”There are those who will claim that this decision will clear the way for wholesale discrimination in the name of “free speech.” It will do no such thing. Instead it will protect a small minority of creative professionals who do not discriminate against any member of any protected class from being conscripted into saying things they do not believe.We can expect that Minnesota will appeal to the Supreme Court, and if the Court accepts review it will be difficult to see SCOTUS reversing the court of appeals. The case that wedding videos represent protected speech is very strong, and once it’s deemed to be protected speech, the Court would have to contradict key prior precedents to overcome the Larsons' rights of conscience and compel their speech as a condition of doing business.One should always be cautious when projecting case outcomes, but the Eighth Circuit has laid the judicial foundation for a ruling that should, ultimately, reaffirm the primacy of the Constitution in American law.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:32:29 -0400
  • Chinese buyers pull back from U.S. housing market, hurting home sales

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:13:52 -0400
  • Family of Palestinian boy wounded in head wants answers from Israel

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    The nine-year-old Palestinian boy lies in a hospital bed without speaking, his wounded head wrapped in bandages, and his father says he wants answers from Israel over how it happened. What is this young child's guilt?" Yassir Shtewi told AFP at the Israeli hospital where his son Abdelrahman is being treated. It has been more than a month since the family and Palestinian officials say the boy was shot in the head by Israeli forces during clashes in his home village of Kufr Qaddum in the northern West Bank.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 22:46:40 -0400
  • Trump tells Republicans he may begin cutting social security and Medicare if he wins in 2020

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    Republicans on Capitol Hill say Donald Trump may be willing to cut Social Security and Medicare if he wins in 2020, reportedly describing the potential move as a “second-term project”.Several senators told the New York Times in a report published this week they spoke to the president about reducing the costs of the federal health care and retirement programmes — a move that would likely stir controversy in a presidential election season.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:35:18 -0400
  • Russia rocket accident likely had two explosions, Norway monitor says

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    An explosion that killed five Russian scientists during a rocket engine test this month was followed by a second blast two hours later, the likely source of a spike in radiation, Norway's nuclear test-ban monitor said on Friday. The second explosion was likely from an airborne rocket powered by radioactive fuel, the Norsar agency said - though the governor of Russia's Arkhangelsk region, where the blast took place, dismissed reports of another blast. "The aftermath of the incident does not carry any threat," the governor, Igor Orlov, told the Interfax news agency.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:51:46 -0400
  • The Senate Will Be Fine Without the Filibuster

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Democrats are talking seriously about ending the legislative filibuster once and for all, effectively changing the number of Senate votes required to pass a bill from 60 to 51. The result would be a transformation in the way the U.S. Senate has operated for well over a century and a half.This may seem like a terrible idea, robbing the Senate of its traditional role as a moderating influence on legislative enthusiasms. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think so, writing Thursday in the New York Times that Democrats would “regret it a lot sooner than they think.”But consider that it might be a good idea to make the Senate reflect the will of the public more than it has traditionally done. Entrenching minority veto power can certainly have moderating effects. It also blocks one of the most basic principles of democracy: the idea of majority rule.Recall that the Senate is designed to thwart majoritarian democracy. Going into the Constitutional Convention in the late spring of 1787, James Madison fully expected that both the House and the Senate would choose their members on a proportional basis. That made sense to a Virginian like Madison, given that Virginia was the most populous state. But to Madison’s surprise and chagrin, the small states balked, demanding that they retain equal representation in the Senate, as was passed in Congress under the Articles of Confederation.Madison and other delegates from large states repeatedly told the small states that their demands violated the most basic rule of fair representation. But the small states engineered a walkout, refusing to adopt any constitution unless they got what they wanted. The result was a compromise in which citizens of small states received grossly disproportionate representation and power in the Senate — which they retain to this day.The legislative filibuster makes the already undemocratic structure of the Senate even more undemocratic. When a filibuster system is operating, 41 senators can block legislation. They can be from states of any size, of course. That means that representatives of only a very small percentage of the population can potentially block national legislation.In recent years, by using the so-called nuclear option, both parties took part in a process that ended the filibuster for judicial appointments, including appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. This troubles many liberals in that it enabled President Donald Trump to appoint extremely conservative judges and justices. Nevertheless, it also means that a Democratic Congress and presidency could appoint liberal judges and justices, if Democrats held a Senate majority. The result may be greater polarization on the Supreme Court over time. But that result would reflect the polarized preferences of actual voters.When it comes to legislation, the traditional justification for the filibuster has been that a minority veto encourages centrism. Yet the reality for a long time was otherwise. The legislative filibuster was the tool favored by Southern segregationist Democrats to block national civil-rights legislation. This should remind us that the filibuster will protect any organized minority — including a minority of obstructionists or racists.Sure, without a filibuster, Democrats won’t be able to block future Republican legislation if the Democrats should lose control of the House. Yet if the Democrats were to gain control of both Congress and the presidency, the filibuster would also block their progressive legislation. The practical question for Democrats therefore is whether the dangers of future conservative legislation outweigh the benefits of potential progressive laws as the Democrats might be able to pass without Republicans blocking them.In determining the answer, consider that when a slim majority of both houses of Congress passes controversial legislation, it sometimes gets rolled back or reversed regardless of a filibuster. That is what essentially happened to the Affordable Care Act, which managed to pass during Democratic control of Congress in President Barack Obama’s administration but was repealed in part by a Republican Congress in the early part of the Trump administration.The lesson of this reversal is that the filibuster actually matters less than the inherent difficulty of sustaining controversial progressive legislation when conservatives take over. Presumably, the same lesson would apply in the opposite political direction as well.No doubt, if the legislative filibuster finally disappears there will be a time when Democrats regret it and mourn its passing. But minority veto power doesn’t need to be enshrined by Senate custom any more than it is already in the Senate’s own structure. All constitutional democracies need to protect minority rights. But they don’t need to enshrine a minority legislative veto in order to work efficiently and fairly.To contact the author of this story: Noah Feldman at nfeldman7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stacey Shick at sshick@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Feldman is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Harvard University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. His books include “The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President.” For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:30:05 -0400
  • The Hyde Amendment Denies Women Health Care. Yes, Abortion Is Health Care

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

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:26:57 -0400
  • We should welcome deep digs into 1619. Slavery and white supremacy shaped today's America.

    You don't have to be black to see the importance of slavery to the American story. It has fundamentally shaped who we are. Erasing that erases history.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 15:12:13 -0400
  • Serial killer pleads guilty in 4 slayings

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    A man who claims he has killed more than 90 women across the country pleaded guilty Friday to murdering four women in Ohio. Samuel Little appeared via Skype from the California state prison where he's serving multiple life sentences. Little is possibly the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, surpassing others such as John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:12:17 -0400
  • Google the latest company to face worker revolt over immigration policy

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    Employees urged the tech giant not to work with US agencies involved with the separation and detention of immigrantsHundreds of Google employees on 14 August called on the firm to avoid working for US immigration officials until they stop ‘engaging in human rights abuses’. Photograph: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty ImagesLast week, Google became the latest company to be publicly lobbied by its own employees specifically because of US immigration policy.More than 1,300 Google workers have signed a petition demanding the company publicly commit to not support government agencies involved with the separation and detention of immigrants until those agencies “stop engaging in human rights abuses”.Google employees timed the petition to coincide with US Customs and Border Protection’s bidding period for a cloud computing contract, which Google could provide. The petition was also signed by 79 people outside the company, including several former Google employees and current Amazon employees.While these efforts – taking place at tech giants as well as furniture retailers – have yet to make a significant change, analysts expect employees will continue to speak out at companies that help prop up the US immigration system.“The workplace is radically changing,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at public relations firm Weber Shandwick, which found that four in 10 employees said they had spoken up to support or criticize their employers’ actions over controversial issues.The Google petition comes after a summer in which the US government was found by its own auditors to have kept child migrants in egregious conditions; a senior immigration official blamed a father for drowning with his daughter; and the Trump administration introduced a rule that medical bodies warned jeopardizes the health and safety of legal migrants.The tech industry, from CEOs to staffers, have led a new wave of workplace activism in areas beyond immigration, but employees in more traditional industries are also starting to speak up. Walk outsIn June, employees at online furnishing retailer Wayfair walked out of its Boston headquarters in protest against the sale of furniture to migrant child detention facilities at the southern border. The company donated $100,000 to the Red Cross after the backlash, though protesters argued it should have been donated to a group providing care to migrants at the border.There is no indication, however, that Wayfair has declined orders from US immigration agencies.Whether or not employee activism moves companies to shift their business practices, it shows no signs of slowing down.Millennials are most likely to raise concerns about their employers, with 82% of them saying they have a right to speak out against their employer, according to the May study by Weber Shandwick. In the survey, 76% of Gen X workers and 65% of Boomers said they felt they had that right.“Society is so polarized that I think it has heightened many employees’ attitudes towards what’s going on and made them question what is right and wrong – and how far they are willing to go in terms of what they are willing to say,” said Gaines-Ross.This increase is led by the tech industry, but Gaines-Ross said the Wayfair protest in July showed employee activism is moving into mainstream industries. “It’s definitely on the move and heading towards other sectors,” she said.As employee activism moves to other industries, it is also revealing how the US detention system – which detains more migrants than any other country – is entrenched with US businesses.After Donald Trump took the unusual step in July of announcing planned immigration raids which would use hotels to house people arrested in the round-up, major hotel chains released statements saying they didn’t want to detain migrants, according to the AP.Hotels faced pressure from the main hotel workers union, Unite Here, as well as customers.Major banks have said they would no longer lend money to private companies which run immigrant detention centers and American Airlines and United Airlines said last year that they didn’t want to fly children separated from their parents.The global public relations firm, Ogilvy, said it would continue to work with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after facing criticism from employees over a multi-million dollar contract with the agency.“Some of you feel strongly that we should stop working for CBP,” Ogilvy chief executive John Seifert said to employees in a July memo, obtained by the Wall Street Journal. “While I do understand and appreciate this point of view, I have concluded that our work for CBP is genuinely intended to improve the quality of this government agency’s public services.”Pressure from workers on political issues comes as the bosses of major US companies have signaled a shift in their guiding principles.Earlier this month, the bosses of 181 US companies changed the definition of the purpose of a corporation to “improving our society” instead of making the most money possible.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 02:30:03 -0400
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