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  • White House: Trump 'strongly condemns' parody video of him shooting critics and media outlets in church

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    The White House on Monday tried to distance itself from a violent parody video that was shown at a pro-Trump conference at the president’s Doral Miami resort over the weekend.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:26:32 -0400
  • Warren, Buttigieg Dismiss O’Rourke’s Call to Strip Churches of Tax-Exempt Status If They Oppose Gay Marriage

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    Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have both distanced themselves from fellow candidate Beto O’Rourke's call to revoke the tax-exempt status afforded to religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage.“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone … that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.” O'Rourke said during CNN’s “Equality in America” town hall last Thursday night. “And so as president, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”Despite widespread bipartisan criticism, O'Rourke reiterated his stance during a Sunday interview, telling NBC News that he would ensure that all institutions that “provide services in the public sphere,” would be forced to comply with certain non-discrimination standards if they wish to continue enjoying tax-exempt status.Asked by the Associated Press whether she agreed with O’Rourke’s assertions, Warren’s campaign replied by email, saying that “Elizabeth will stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community,” but would refuse to eliminate the tax-exempt status of religious organizations as part of an anti-discrimination effort.“Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status,” campaign spokeswoman Saloni Sharma said in an email.Pete Buttigieg has also distanced himself from O’Rourke, saying Sunday that “going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this country” will “deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing.”

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 16:12:53 -0400
  • Executed man's daughter asks court to order DNA testing

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    A woman whose father was executed for murder in Tennessee 13 years ago asked a judge on Monday to order the testing of DNA evidence in the case. The hearing in Memphis focused largely on whether April Alley can legally bring a petition for DNA testing on behalf of her father's estate. Sedley Alley was convicted of the 1985 murder of 19-year-old Marine Lance Cpl.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:52:59 -0400
  • In Jamal Khashoggi's death, Saudi money is talking louder than murder

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    Donald Trump praises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Jared Kushner is among those flocking to the Saudi 'Davos in the Desert': Our view

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 17:35:22 -0400
  • When police misconduct occurs, records often stay secret. One mom's fight to change that.

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    A police officer is accused of playing with her dead son's body after he was shot. An angry California mother wants secret cop records to go public.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:27:02 -0400
  • Climate change researchers recommend banning all frequent flyer reward programs to cut carbon emissions by targeting jet-setters

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    A report commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change says that just 15% of the entire British population take 70% of all flights from the country.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:20:55 -0400
  • Russia denies US news report it bombed 4 Syria hospitals in 12 hours

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    Russia on Monday denied a US newspaper report that its warplanes bombed four hospitals in rebel-held territory in Syria over a period of 12 hours this year. The Russian defence ministry rubbished the claim in a report by The New York Times, saying "the alleged 'evidence' provided by the NYT is not worth even the paper it was printed on". The May strikes -- which the newspaper tied to Moscow through Russian radio recordings, plane spotter logs and accounts by witnesses -- are part of a larger pattern of medical facilities targeted by forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's devastating civil war.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:00:16 -0400
  • Soldier wounded during search for Bowe Bergdahl dies of his injuries

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    A US soldier shot in the head during the 2009 search for army deserter Bowe Bergdahl has died from his injuries. Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, 10 years after being injured in the hunt for his missing comrade. He spent 21 years in the army and national guard, and retired in 2013 on receiving the Purple Heart. He had been unable to walk or speak since a sniper shot him in the head in July 2009 while he was looking for Bergdahl, who had walked off his base in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years.   At Bergdahl's trial, Allen's wife Shannon testified that it would take up to 90 minutes each morning to get her husband out of bed, showered, and dressed. She had to use a pulley system attached to the ceiling to move him. Shannon Allen, who testified during the trial of Bowe Bergdahl Mrs Allen did not learn about the circumstances surrounding her husband’s injuries until 2014, after former president Barack Obama negotiated Bergdahl’s release in a swap for five Taliban members detained at Guantanamo Bay. The Idaho-born soldier, now 33, was sentenced in January 2016 for desertion. During the trial he apologised to those injured. “I would like everyone who searched for me to know it was never my intention for anyone to be hurt, and I never expected that to happen,” he said. He was reduced in rank from sergeant to private, ordered to forfeit $1,000 in pay for 10 months, and given a dishonorable discharge. He did not serve any prison time. Mrs Allen broke the news on Facebook on Sunday. “I’m heartbroken to let you all know that my husband passed away peacefully yesterday morning, with his family by his side,” she said. “Over ten years ago, he sustained a severe head injury while serving in Afghanistan, which caused him lifelong health problems. "These past few months, he has faced some significant illnesses, and his body was finally ready to rest.”

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 18:40:19 -0400
  • Anthony Scaramucci is desperately trying to recruit Mitt Romney for a 2020 run

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    Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is running for president again -- at least in Anthony Scaramucci's dreams.The famously short-lived White House communications director has since turned on the president who appointed him, and has publicly said he's trying to knock President Trump off the 2020 ticket. Now, it seems Scaramucci has decided on his dream candidate, and has launched a website and line of T-shirts to persuade him to run.Scaramucci started making his support for Romney known earlier this month, tweeting a poll that showed the 2012 GOP nominee beating the presumptive 2020 nominee in a hypothetical primary. He then revealed last week he'd launched Mitt2020.org, and on Sunday night, showed off that the site was offering "commit to Mitt" campaign T-shirts. They are being sold at $20.20 each to "test demand," and so far Scaramucci has seen an "overwhelming" response, he told ABC News.> You may be proud of your "Where's Hunter?" T-shirt...but we're really proud of ours...You see, we know where Mitt is...he's listening, he's hearing, he's seeing, he's reading and he's coming.... https://t.co/sCUTWW6IHA committomitt mitt2020 @MittRomney MittRomney pic.twitter.com/gpgTdL33UY> > -- Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) October 12, 2019While Romney hasn't even hinted at granting Scaramucci's wishes, the "Mitt Happens" shirt is sure to be a collector's item in a few years.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:02:37 -0400
  • View Photos of Our Sports Sedan Battle Between the Dodge Charger and Kia Stinger GT

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    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:59:00 -0400
  • Schiff Says Secret Testimony Aimed at Keeping Trump in the Dark

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    (Bloomberg) -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff defended holding testimony behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry he’s heading up against President Donald Trump, likening this phase of the investigation to a “grand jury.”“We want to make sure that we meet the needs of the investigation and not give the president or his legal minions the opportunity to tailor their testimony and in some cases fabricate testimony to suit their interests,” the California Democrat said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”Schiff said they may call some or all of the witnesses to return to testify in public later, though that might not include the whistle-blower who triggered the impeachment fight in the first place.While Trump and some of his Republican allies have hoped to unmask the official and question him or her, Schiff said his priority now is to protect the whistle-blower and said they don’t need the person’s testimony to find out what happened on the phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.“We’re keeping our focus right now on the president’s coercion of an ally, that is Ukraine, to create these sham investigations into his political opponent,” Schiff said.Biden DirtSchiff said investigators have already seen strong evidence that Trump abused his office by conditioning a meeting Zelenskiy wanted with Trump on Ukraine “digging up dirt on the Bidens.”“That is a terrible abuse of the president’s power,” Schiff said.“Here we have a president of the United States abusing his power to the detriment of our national security and doing so to get yet another foreign country to intervene in our election. It’s hard to imagine more of a corruption of his office than that.”Schiff also said the committee continues to investigate whether the president decided to hold up military aid to Ukraine as leverage, saying there’s already strong indications that is true “and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, ripped the closed sessions. “Democrats know they can’t win on the facts, so they’re having to move it behind closed doors,” he said on Fox News. “I believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant.”McConnell’s MoveVermont Senator Bernie Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that while he expects the Democratic-controlled House will vote to impeach Trump, he’s “nervous” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “will put party in front of country” and not hold a full trial.McConnell has said the Senate will have to take up the impeachment, but it’s not clear how long the proceedings would last.Schiff also tried to clear up his earlier statements that his committee hadn’t heard from the whistle-blower.“I was referring to the fact that when the whistle-blower filed the complaint, we had not heard from the whistle-blower,” Schiff said. “We wanted to bring the whistle-blower in at that time, but I should have been much more clear about that.”Separately, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the president.In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Mnuchin wouldn’t comment on whether Trump’s public request to China to investigate the Bidens earlier this month was serious or not, but said it had not come up in the context of trade talks with Beijing.“And in the Oval Office, when the president was asked about this in front of the vice premier, the president made very clear, they can do what they want,” Mnuchin said. “So, again, people who are trying to imply that the president is asking for things or quid pro quos, I think this is ridiculous.”\--With assistance from Hailey Waller and Jesse Hamilton.To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:51:06 -0400
  • Son of sheriff who called immigrants ‘drunks’ at White House event arrested for public intoxication

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    The son of a Texas sheriff who used a White House press conference to describe immigrant offenders as “drunks” likely to repeatedly break the law has been arrested for public intoxication.Sergei Waybourn, 24, faces a count of indecent exposure as well as public drunkenness just days after his father, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, was criticised for the comments.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:04:35 -0400
  • With Hypersonic Missiles, Israel's F-35s Are Upping The Ante In Syria

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    Iran has taken notice.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 18:20:42 -0400
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faces backlash over haircut

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    This week, the Washington Times published a story saying that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., had spent $80 on a haircut and $180 on color at a Washington, D.C., salon, a choice the newspaper presented as hypocritical, given she “regularly rails against the rich and complains about the cost of living inside the Beltway.”

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:46:35 -0400
  • We found 85,000 cops who’ve been investigated for misconduct. Now you can read their records.

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    USA TODAY is leading a national effort to obtain and publish disciplinary and misconduct records for thousands of police officers.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:25:41 -0400
  • Vaping illness, deaths likely very rare beyond U.S., experts say

    E-cigarette or vaping-linked lung injuries that have killed 29 and sickened more than 1,000 people in the United States are likely to be rare in Britain and other countries where the suspect products are not widely used, specialists said on Monday. Experts in toxicology and addiction said they are sure that the 1,299 confirmed and probable American cases of serious lung injuries linked to vaping are "a U.S.-specific phenomenon," and there is no evidence of a similar pattern of illness in Britain or elsewhere. "What's happening in the U.S. is not happening here (in Britain), nor is it happening in any other countries where vaping is common," said John Britton, a professor and respiratory medicine consultant and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at Nottingham University.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:08:53 -0400
  • Japan storm victims felt worst had passed, then floods came

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    After the worst of Typhoon Hagibis passed over this town north of Tokyo, Kazuo Saito made sure there was no water outside his house and went to bed. The storm, which made landfall in the Tokyo region late Saturday, had dumped record amounts of rain that caused rivers to overflow their banks, some of them damaged. It turned many neighborhoods in Kawagoe into swamps.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 21:06:40 -0400
  • China inflation surges as pork prices soar

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    China's consumer inflation accelerated at its fastest pace in almost six years in September as African swine fever sent pork prices soaring nearly 70 percent, official data showed Tuesday. Authorities have gone as far as tapping the nation's pork reserve to control prices of the staple meat, as the swine fever crisis could become a political and economic liability for the state. The consumer price index (CPI) -- a key gauge of retail inflation -- hit 3.0 percent last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, up from 2.8 percent in August and the highest since since November 2013.

    Tue, 15 Oct 2019 00:48:29 -0400
  • Turkish-backed rebels accused of killing unarmed Kurdish civilians

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    Turkey’s Syrian rebels allies have been accused of killing a prominent female Kurdish politician and at least eight other unarmed civilians as they advance into northeastern Syria, raising fears of further atrocities to come.  Kurdish forces also said 785 family members of Islamic State (Isil) fighters had escaped from a camp amid the chaos and warned the West that resurgent jihadists “will come knocking on your doors” if the Turkish offensive is not stopped.  Kurdish officials said rebel fighters intercepted a car carrying Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish political leader with Future Syria Party, and murdered her along with her driver and an aide.   “She was taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions,” the Syrian Democratic Council said in a statement.  The Syrian rebels, known as the National Army, denied they were responsible for the killing and insisted their forces had not yet reached the area where Ms Khalaf was killed.  The car carrying Ms Khalaf was riddled with bullets But video footage appears to show National Army fighters surrounding her black SUV, which is riddled with bullet holes. The Arabic-speaking fighters step over a male body on the ground but there is no sign of Ms Khalaf in the video.  The footage suggests the fighters attacked the car from the outside, rather than stopping it and dragging out its occupants. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said the rebels had killed at least eight other civilians as they advanced towards the strategic M4 motorway with the support of Turkish airpower.  Another video appears to show several Arabic-speaking fighters shooting an unarmed man on the side of a road. “God is great,” cries one man in the video, before urging a comrade to film him shooting the corpse with a sniper rifle.  The Syrian rebels take arms and directions from Turkey Credit: REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Western-backed Kurdish fighters who led the fight against Isil, have repeatedly warned that Turkey’s rebel allies are “jihadists” whose share the ideology of al-Qaeda-linked groups in northwest Syria.  In social media posts, National Army fighters sometimes use the language of Islamist extremists, referring to themselves as “soldiers of the caliph” and promising to fight “Gods' enemies, atheists, and those filthy Arab infidels beside them”.  The National Army committed a spree of murders and looting when they seized control of the border town of Afrin from Kurdish forces last year, according to human rights groups.   Turkey says the Syrian rebel forces will be at the forefront of its operations against Isil once the campaign the SDF is completed. But in social media videos, the fighters express more appetite for fighting the Kurds and the Assad regime than the jihadists. Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters walk together near the border town of Tel Abyad, Syria Credit: REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi Elizabeth Tsurkov, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said not all the Syrian rebels held extremist ideology and many were motivated by Turkish financial incentives.  “The main ideology they hold is sectarian: they anti-Kurdish and they are Arab chauvinists,” she said.  She added they were unlikely to be effective at combating Isil in northern Syria. “If we look at the way these factions rule northern Aleppo we can see they are an ineffective counter-terrorism force because of their poor discipline and organisation.   “They do what they are told to by Turkey but they do it very poorly.”  The SDF also said 785 people from the families of some Isil fighters had escaped from the Ain Issa camp in northern Syria as it was forced to divert troops to face the Turks.  The SDF said the women and children had managed to get free from the  camp, where thousands of Isil family members are being held, and warned the international community there would be more escapes if the Turkish-offensive was not stopped.  “We call on all of you to shoulder your responsibilities and to intervene quickly to prevent a catastrophe that will not only affect Syria, but will come knocking on your doors when things get out of hand,” Kurdish authorities said in a statement.  The Syrian Observatory said it was “anarchy” inside the camp. There have been uprisings by Isil prisoners and their families at a number of Kurdish facilities in recent days.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 06:20:36 -0400
  • Hunter Biden to step down from board of Chinese company

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    Hunter Biden is stepping down from the board of a company in China, his lawyer said Sunday. Attorney George Mesires made the announcement in a statement that described Biden’s dealings with Burisma, a business in Ukraine, and BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Co., a business in China. “Hunter intends to resign from the BHR board of directors on or by October 31, 2019,” Mesires said.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:17:37 -0400
  • Kamala Harris’s Offices Fought Payments to Wrongly Convicted

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    (Bloomberg) -- Jose Diaz was exonerated after serving almost nine years in a California prison for two sexual assaults he didn’t commit. But the office of then-Attorney General Kamala Harris wasn’t ready to let him off the hook.Diaz was convicted in 1984 of rape and attempted rape. He was paroled in 1993, became a registered sex offender, and began the work of proving his innocence. It took 19 years for his conviction to be reversed -- and two more years for the State of California to grant him compensation for the time he was wrongfully imprisoned.Diaz’s battle with Harris’ office began in 2012 when a judge reversed his conviction. As state attorney general, her staff vigorously resisted his claim for compensation and tried to make him re-register as a sex offender, despite a formal ruling in April 2013 that he was innocent.The Diaz case is one of a series of battles Harris’ prosecutors waged -- in both the offices of San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general -- to resist innocence claims, often using technical timeliness or jurisdictional arguments, lawyers and innocence advocates say.Bending Toward Justice“The goal is justice,” said Gerald Schwartzbach, Diaz’s lawyer. “The goal isn’t just rules, regulations and procedures. They penalized an innocent man with technical arguments. To me that’s fundamentally contradictory to the whole purpose of the criminal justice system.”Harris is now a U.S. senator running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on the notion that she is a “progressive prosecutor,” threading the needle between law-and-order toughness and a protective instinct for those who need it. Harris told ABC News recently that she became a prosecutor “because I just have a very strong and natural desire to want to protect people, and in particular our most vulnerable.”A Harris campaign aide said she was unaware of the Diaz case while it was being litigated by her office, and that it’s rare for an attorney general to be made aware of cases before the state compensation board.Multiple documents in the case appear on Harris’ letterhead and were signed by staff members with the notation under their names, “For Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General.”Distrust LingersWhatever her involvement in the Diaz case and other innocence claims, actions by Harris’ offices -- carried out in her name, by people working on her behalf -- have left some voters and advocates distrustful. Criminal justice advocates are critical of her handling of wrongful conviction cases, in particular, saying her offices resisted at least five such claims despite compelling evidence of innocence.“Kamala Harris should have known” about the Diaz case, said Lara Bazelon, an innocence advocate and law professor at the University of San Francisco. “If she truly was not aware that these specious and risible arguments were being made in her name, that is a failure of management.”It wasn’t just Diaz.Harris’ district attorney’s office repeatedly delayed responding to the innocence claims of Maurice Caldwell by filing for extensions as Harris ran for attorney general in 2010, keeping Caldwell in prison for more than a year despite evidence that someone else had committed the murder for which he was convicted, according to court records. A judge admonished Harris’ office for the delays and said they might warrant sanctions.A state appeals court judge criticized Harris’ office for falsely claiming that the only eyewitness against Jamal Trulove in his murder case feared for her life, making Trulove seem more sinister than he was. The judge said the story was “a yarn” and “made out of whole cloth.” Trulove was convicted, but later exonerated after six years in prison.The California attorney general’s office under Harris resisted the innocence claim of Daniel Larsen by arguing that he hadn’t filed his petition for release in a timely fashion, and also contested his request for compensation after he was exonerated. Larsen had been sentenced to 27-years-to-life for possession of a knife under California’s “three-strikes” law.Harris’ presidential campaign spokesman, Ian Sams, responded to questions about those cases by pointing to reforms Harris enacted.“Kamala has fought to give ex-offenders a second chance ever since she created one of the nation’s first major re-entry programs, ‘Back on Track,’ in San Francisco, which helped put people in jobs not jails,” Sams said in a written response.“Of course, she wishes she could’ve gotten more done,” Sams added, “but she fought to clear the state rape-kit backlog in her first year to ensure evidence is available in cases and, in the Senate, she’s introduced a bill to increase pay for public defenders to improve the quality of defense counsel for individuals in their cases.”Sams didn’t respond to an email asking whether she was aware of or personally involved in the Caldwell, Trulove or Larsen cases.Criminal-justice reform advocates praise some aspects of Harris’ record. As San Francisco district attorney, for instance, she resisted calls to seek the death penalty for a man who killed a police officer. As attorney general, she required agents to wear body cameras and created implicit-bias training for law enforcement officers.Fighting CompensationAfter Diaz’s conviction was vacated in September 2012, Harris’ office sent him a letter telling him that he no longer had to register as a sex offender, as he’d been doing since his parole in 1993. “The DOJ has updated its records and a notification concerning this termination action has been sent to the law enforcement agency that last registered you,” said the document on Harris’ letterhead.Diaz then filed for compensation, a standard practice in states to pay wrongfully imprisoned people, for some of the earnings they missed.Both the state compensation board and attorneys working for Harris vigorously challenged Diaz’s right to any money, arguing that he hadn’t obtained a formal judgment of acquittal -- and that the court that reversed his conviction lacked proper jurisdiction.Offender RegistryThe following April, Diaz says, Harris’ office told him that, in fact, he must continue to register as a sexual offender -- although by that time he had obtained a formal judgment of innocence -- because he’d been released on parole before he filed the petition to vacate his conviction.Filled with legal citations and precedents, the letter concludes: “Therefore, you are required to continue to register as a sex offender in California.” The letter is signed by a staff member in the sex offender tracking program “For Kamala D. Harris.”That barred Diaz from coaching his children’s sports teams, he said in an interview, and was a problem when he was looking for work. It also meant that he would continue to be subject to unannounced police visits to his home, as had been happening for 19 years, he added.Diaz said he believes Harris’ office was trying to intimidate him out of seeking compensation.“There’s no question in my mind,” Diaz said. “When I received that letter, I was so upset.”Jurisdiction QuestionedThroughout much of 2012, David Angel, a Santa Clara County assistant district attorney who supervises his office’s conviction integrity unit, investigated Diaz’s persistent claims that he didn’t commit the two sexual offenses for which he’d been convicted. After multiple interviews, including consultations with the victims, Angel concurred.Angel said he was surprised when Harris’ office fought a judge’s ruling vacating Diaz’s conviction by arguing that Diaz’s defense lawyer hadn’t filed the petition for release in a timely fashion and that the court lacked proper jurisdiction.“That’s when I called the AG’s office,” Angel said, declining to say who he spoke to. “I told them, ‘I find it hard to believe that you are trying to block what the elected DA of Santa Clara County has called an exoneration.’” Her office withdrew its opposition, he said.Morally Wrong?But Harris’ office continued to fight Diaz’s right to compensation for almost a year. Documents filed by Schwartzbach detail filings and arguments both the compensation board and the attorney general’s office used to try to block the claim.In October 2014, more than two years after his conviction was vacated, Diaz was awarded $305,300 for his almost nine years in prison. The requirement to register as a sex offender was also eventually dropped.Two experts on prosecutorial ethics were critical of the methods used by prosecutors working for Harris in innocence cases, saying some of the tactics were morally wrong and risked compromising justice.“The knee-jerk reaction is ‘Oh no, we can’t let someone out on a habeas petition or give them compensation for their time in prison.’ They don’t like to lose, and they see a concession as losing,” Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who’s now chair of ethical advocacy at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said of Harris’ office and the Diaz case.Culture Clash“The sex-offender registration thing is really indefensible,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law School in New York and a former federal prosecutor who was chairman of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice standards committee.“The idea that some innocent person should have to labor under the branding of a sex offender for the rest of their lives because they didn’t meet the technical requirements, that’s just wrong,” Green said.Newly-elected attorneys general, Green said, often find a certain culture and set of practices in place in the offices when they take charge. “If you start to overturn convictions others obtained, it doesn’t make you popular with your staff,” he said. “Prosecutors’ offices have an important duty to exonerate wrongly convicted people, just as they do to do justice for those who are guilty. But historically, that wasn’t viewed as part of the job.”Some other wrongful conviction cases handled by Harris’ offices were also focused on technicalities and timeliness, but sometimes the lack of timeliness was on the prosecutors’ side.Lost TimeIn the Maurice Caldwell case, Harris’ DA’s office filed for multiple extensions rather than responding to his innocence petition, causing Caldwell to spend an extra year in prison before he was exonerated, said Linda Starr, co-founder of the Northern California Innocence Project at the Santa Clara University Law School.Caldwell had been convicted of murder in 1991 in the fatal shooting of a woman during a botched drug deal. After doubt was cast on the lone eyewitness whose testimony led to his conviction, the innocence project and a private investigator located Marritte Funches, a man already serving a life sentence in Nevada for another murder, and he confessed.Harris was running for California attorney general when Caldwell filed his petition for release, and by the time San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charles Haines reversed his conviction, she’d been elected. The district attorney’s office’s slow response earned a written admonishment in the judge’s order.Flawed Case“The court finds the delay in filing the return to be egregious, and possibly deserving of sanctions,” Haines said.“If Kamala would have stopped this in 2009 or 2010, I wouldn’t have been in for the extra years,” Caldwell said in an interview. “I would have been able to come home and bury my mother.”A judge declared in 2014 that false statements made by a prosecutor working for Harris about the fears of the only eyewitness against Jamal Trulove had likely prejudiced the jury. For that and other reasons, including questions about the competence of Trulove’s original lawyer, the judge overturned Trulove’s conviction, remanding the case for a new trial. Trulove was acquitted in a second trial after his lawyers introduced ballistics and other evidence that cast doubt on the witness’ story.Concealed KnifeHarris’ attorney general’s office tried to keep Larsen in prison under California’s three-strikes law for possession of a concealed knife found during a fight outside a suburban Los Angeles bar. Claims had emerged that someone else had been carrying the weapon and there were concerns that Larsen’s trial lawyer was incompetent.Harris’ office also contended that Larsen’s arguments were too late. “A federal habeas petition filed even one day late is untimely and must be dismissed,” the office said. After Larsen was released, Harris’ office successfully campaigned against compensation for the more than 13 years he was imprisoned.Jose Diaz, meanwhile, says he still struggles with the trauma of having been wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and forced to register as a sexual offender for months after his exoneration.“What her office did was wrong, and the buck stops with her,” Diaz said.To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Taylor in San Francisco at jtaylor48@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 04:00:00 -0400
  • 7 Indigenous Pioneers You Need to Know

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    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:19:00 -0400
  • Jake Tapper Exposes Pompeo, Graham and Giuliani’s ‘Stunning’ Hypocrisy

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    It’s easy to forget just how different some of President Trump’s most loyal servants felt about oversight and impeachment when there were Democrats in the White House. On Sunday morning, CNN anchor Jake Tapper made sure his viewers remembered. In the final moments of his State of the Union broadcast this week, Tapper said that the White House’s outright refusal to “participate” in the House impeachment inquiry means that the president is “seemingly thumbing his nose at the very notion that the U.S. government was designed with three co-equal branches, specifically to offer checks and balances on each other.” “When President Obama was in the White House, the Republican-led House of Representatives conducted lots of oversight,” Tapper continued, “on the Fast and Furious scandal, on the Benghazi tragedy and more.” He said that anyone who covered or followed the Benghazi saga “may find it stunning to see Republican members of Congress trash-talking whistleblowers and inspectors general and trash-talking the oversight responsibilities of the House.” “After all, during the Obama years, in the trenches, pushing to conduct oversight were many of these same House Republicans,” Tapper said, “such as then Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas.” After playing a clip of Pompeo extolling the constitutional necessity of oversight, Tapper added, “Yes it is!” In response to him saying it was “unacceptable” for the Obama administration to ignore subpoenas, Tapper said, “It is unacceptable!”“One has to wonder what that congressman would make of the secretary of state, who has the same name, whose department is ordering State Department officials to ignore congressional subpoenas,” Tapper said, before moving onto Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also reportedly urged Donald Trump Jr. to do the same.That is a “far cry,” Tapper said, from what Graham had to say when he was tasked with prosecuting the impeachment case against Bill Clinton. “The day that Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment,” Graham said at the time. “Similarly, during the Clinton impeachment, Rudy Giuliani made it very clear where he stood on the matter of avoiding subpoenas,” Tapper said, revealing another clip from 1998 of Trump’s personal lawyer telling Charlie Rose that “the president is not above the law, is not able to avoid subpoenas.” “Now that Giuliani is enmeshed in the Ukraine scandal, however, Giuliani hasn’t even made it clear whether he is going to honor the congressional subpoena aimed at him,” Tapper added. “The arguments that Democratic presidents needed to comply with congressional oversight were correct. That’s how the system was set up.” Tapper concluded, “If you only apply constitutional standards to the other political party and not to your own, then those aren’t principles, they’re tactics.” Rachel Maddow Predicts Senate GOP May Just Find Its ‘Conscience’ and Impeach TrumpRead 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.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:34:51 -0400
  • Dropping Bombs: These Are the Best Bombers To Ever Fly

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    What do you think? What does history tells us?

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:00:00 -0400
  • Rep. Gaetz booted from impeachment inquiry hearing, blasts Schiff's 'kangaroo court'

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    House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Matt Gaetz attempted to attend the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser to President Trump.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:35:42 -0400
  • Putin aide: Turkish operation 'not exactly' compatible with Syria's territorial integrity

    Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said on Monday that Turkey's military incursion into northern Syria was "not exactly" compatible with Syria's territorial integrity. Ushakov, speaking in Riyadh during an official visit to Saudi Arabia by President Vladimir Putin, was commenting on Turkey's military operation which it launched last week.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:00:00 -0400
  • 'It's got to stop': Superintendent condemns teacher's racist rant in school parking lot

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    A teacher at Drexel Hill Middle School in Pennsylvania has been placed on administrative leave after she used racial slurs in a viral Facebook video.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:19:40 -0400
  • The Latest: Fire department: LA blaze began under power line

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    Fire officials say a destructive fire that broke out on the edge of Los Angeles began beneath a high-voltage transmission tower. Capt. Erik Scott told The Associated Press on Monday that Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators have only determined the origin of the fire, not its cause. The location was at the base of power lines owned by Southern California Edison.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 19:44:19 -0400
  • FBI officials were 'rattled' and 'blindsided' by Trump's call for Ukraine to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden

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    Officials were stunned not just by the nature of Trump's actions but also by his brazenness, which came months after the FBI closed the Russia probe.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:37:50 -0400
  • Man Convicted in Murder of Law Professor Locked in Family Feud

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    MIAMI -- The killing shook Florida's capital and stunned the international legal community: A prominent law professor locked in a rancorous battle with his ex-wife and in-laws was gunned down in his garage, in what prosecutors depicted as a murder-for-hire plot.State prosecutors charged three people with the murder of the professor, Dan Markel, hoping to pressure them into revealing whoever may have financed the murder.Two of the accused, Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua, maintained their innocence and went to trial late last month, five years after the professor's death. Over 11 days, the case played out inside a courtroom in Tallahassee, the state capital, revealing a web of tumultuous relationships around Markel's murder.On Friday, a jury found Garcia, 37, guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and not guilty of solicitation of murder. He faces the death penalty, and sentencing will begin Monday.After more than 11 hours of deliberation, jurors told Judge James C. Hankinson that they were unable to reach a verdict on the same charges against Magbanua, 35. Hankinson declared a mistrial.The other man charged with the murder, Luis Rivera, a close friend of Garcia and a former leader of the North Miami Latin Kings gang, cooperated with law enforcement. In exchange for testifying against Garcia and Magbanua, Rivera, 36, was allowed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and avoid the death penalty. He received a 19-year sentence instead, and is concurrently serving a 12-year sentence in an unrelated federal racketeering case.After a contentious divorce in 2013, Markel, 41, a professor at the Florida State University College of Law who had helped build a network of online legal scholarship, and his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, were given joint custody of their two young sons.Prosecutors argued that Markel was murdered because a court order prevented Adelson from relocating to South Florida with the children. They said her brother and mother then got involved, and arranged for Magbanua, Garcia and Rivera to carry out the murder for $100,000."What enemy or enemies had Mr. Markel made that set into motion such a brutal act?" Georgia Cappleman, the lead prosecutor in the case, asked during closing arguments Thursday. "The answer: his own family."Markel was shot twice in the head on the morning of July 18, 2014, shortly after he pulled his car into the garage -- his keys were still in the ignition. A neighbor thought he heard a gunshot and saw a light-colored Toyota Prius drive away.From cellphone records and surveillance footage, investigators determined that a light green Prius had followed Markel the morning he was killed. They found that Rivera had rented the Prius in Miami. On the rental contract, Rivera listed cellphone numbers for himself and Garcia, his best friend since childhood.Toll transponder data showed the Prius making the 450-mile-plus trip from Miami to Tallahassee and returning after the murder. That night, the men stopped at a drive-through ATM in South Florida, where they were photographed with Rivera behind the wheel and Garcia in the passenger seat.Finding Rivera and then Garcia led investigators to Magbanua, with whom Garcia has two children and an on-again-off-again relationship. At the time of the murder, the couple was broken up, and Magbanua was dating Charles Adelson, Adelson's brother and Markel's former brother-in-law.Magbanua did part-time clerical work at a Miami Beach dental office where she met Adelson, 42, a periodontist.Her finances improved considerably after Markel's murder. Bank records showed she began receiving regular checks from a different dental practice, owned by Adelson's parents in Broward County. The checks were handwritten and signed by Adelson's mother, Donna Adelson.Two assistants who worked at the practice testified that they did not know Magbanua to be an employee. A few months after the murder, Magbanua paid a plastic surgeon $4,000 in cash for breast implant surgery.In April 2016, police tapped the cellphones of Garcia, Magbanua, Charles Adelson and Donna Adelson. To get them to talk to one another, an undercover FBI agent posed as a member of the Latin Kings gang and asked Donna Adelson for more compensation for the family of Rivera, who was in prison. Garcia was arrested the following month, and Magbanua some months later.None of the Adelsons have been charged. For years, as Markel's sensational murder has been dissected in news articles, blog posts, a popular true-crime podcast and episodes of "Dateline" and "20/20," lawyers for the Adelsons have maintained their innocence.Donna Adelson, 69, had figured prominently in her daughter's divorce. About a year before the murder, she suggested that her daughter pretend the couple's sons had converted to Catholicism -- Markel was an observant Jew -- to pressure Markel to agree to the children's relocation. Donna Adelson also floated offering Markel $1 million to allow the move.The day of the shooting, the police brought in Wendi Adelson, 40, a former clinical law professor at Florida State, to tell her what had happened to her ex-husband. She cried and buried her face in her hands, according to police video of the interview. She also mentioned that her brother, after buying her a television as a divorce present, had joked, "I looked into a hiring a hit man and it was cheaper to get you this TV.""But he would never," Adelson added. "It's such a horrible thing to say."Wendi Adelson testified at the trial that she had no knowledge of the murder. She moved her sons to South Florida a few days after Markel was killed.Magbanua took the rare step of testifying in her own defense. She said she began receiving the checks from the Adelsons after she asked Charles Adelson to hire her as his assistant -- a favor so she could qualify for state health insurance for her children. The money for her surgery, she added, had been saved up from cash tips she made working in nightclubs.Magbanua denied any part in the murder but said she believed that Charles Adelson was involved. Her defense lawyers suggested that Garcia, the father of her children, agreed to kill Markel in exchange for Adelson to stop dating her. Garcia briefly confronted Adelson 17 days before the murder."The only thing she's guilty of is terrible taste in men," Tara Kawass, one of Magbanua's lawyers, said during opening arguments.Rivera testified that Magbanua had served as the conduit for the murder plot, and that Garcia had pulled the trigger.Garcia's defense posited a different theory: that Rivera must have been the shooter because Garcia disliked Adelson too much to kill someone for him. Saam Zangeneh, Garcia's lawyer, argued that Adelson had bought drugs from Rivera and hired him directly to commit the murder."I don't think that you can believe anything that he says out of his mouth," Zangeneh told jurors of Rivera. "Do you think he would have gotten the deal that he got if he admitted to being the shooter?"Investigators found no direct link between Adelson and either Rivera or Garcia. David Oscar Markus, a lawyer for Charles Adelson, said the mistrial against Magbanua showed why prosecutors have never charged the Adelson family."The case simply isn't there," Markus said in a statement. "Professional prosecutors rightfully understood that they couldn't prove a case against Charlie before this trial. After the hung jury, their prospects have gone down, not up."Lawyers for Markel's parents said they expect a new trial against Magbanua."After waiting five long years, we are relieved that at least one of the people responsible for Danny's murder was convicted today," their statement said. "Yet justice was only partially served."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:02:51 -0400
  • States are cutting university budgets. Taxpayers aren't interested in funding campus kooks

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    University campuses have abandoned their central mission in their pursuit of utopia. The American public has had enough.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:22:08 -0400
  • John Bolton warned White House lawyers about 'hand grenade' Giuliani and Mulvaney, aide reportedly testified

    Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was so alarmed by a White House-linked effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats, he told aide Fiona Hill to alert the National Security Council's chief lawyer, Hill told House impeachment investigators in her 10-hour deposition on Monday, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal report. Specifically, Bolton told Hill, the top NSC staffer on Russia and Eurasian affairs, to notify White House lawyers that Rudy Giuliani, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland were running a rogue operation, the Times reports."I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up," Bolton reportedly told Hill to relate to the lawyers, after a heated July 10 meeting with Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a key player in the Ukraine pressure campaign, and Ukrainian officals. Before that meeting, Hill reportedly testified, Bolton told her that "Giuliani's a hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up." Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, is now under federal criminal investigation for his work in Ukraine, the Journal reported Monday. Sondland is scheduled to be deposed on Thursday.House investigators are now trying to decide whether to question Bolton, The Washington Post reports.Hill also testified that he had strongly opposed Giuliani's successful push to have Trump remove America's ambassador to Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch, who had a reputation for fighting corruption in Ukraine. "I don't know Fiona and can't figure out what she is talking about," Giuliani told the Post on Monday night, adding that he believes she was out of the loop when it came to Ukraine, at least compared with Sondland. "She just didn't know," Giuliani said, reiterating his assertion that he was working on orders from the State Department. Peter WeberUpdate, 12:47 a.m.: This article has been updated based on a clarification by the Times:> On the "drug deal" quote: 1 person in the room during Hill's testimony initially said Bolton mentioned Rudy, but 2 others now say Hill said he actually cited Sondland: "I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland & Mulvaney are cooking up"@peterbakernythttps://t.co/Usfejnhcoj> > -- Nicholas Fandos (@npfandos) October 15, 2019

    Tue, 15 Oct 2019 00:05:00 -0400
  • Meet the Massive Ordnance Penetrator: The Air Force's Newest Bunker Buster Bomb

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    Huge and very powerful.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:00:00 -0400
  • Poland’s Nationalists Underwhelmed by Historic Election Win

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    (Bloomberg) -- For a party that just achieved their country’s best showing in a parliamentary election since the fall of communism, Poland’s ruling nationalists are unusually glum.After an exit poll announced the historic win late on Sunday, Law & Justice Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski sulked in front of party faithful at a standing-room only gathering in central Warsaw.“We must work harder” and “reach out with the truth to all social groups” because some voters were “were talked into rubbish” narratives, he said. “We attained a lot, but we deserve more.”Instead of touting the success on Monday, senior ruling party officials all but disappeared from television screens, as if they’d suffered a setback in their plan to cement their makeover of Poland into a country ruled by religious and nativist values.Analysts tried to make sense of it: Is Kaczynski suggesting his government must quickly “re-Polonize” a still largely independent and partly foreign-owned media? Is the party’s projected majority in parliament somehow lacking?“Kaczynski really counted on a bigger majority, which would allow him to override presidential vetos,” said Olgierd Annusewicz, a political scientist at Warsaw University. The result makes next year’s presidential ballot more important, as a defeat there could throw a spanner in plans to complete the revolution, he said.No K.O.One obvious disappointment for Law & Justice was the Senate: it clinched just 49 of the 100 seats. But losing its majority there will only slow -- not stop -- legislation, as lower house can override amendments. And with more than 99% of the vote counted, the nationalists won 43.8%, giving them a single-party majority.A knockout victory at the ballot box would have boosted sentiment that four years of work transforming Poland into a rogue from one of the European Union’s most reliable partners, would soon be irreversible. It would have also bolstered Law & Justice’s arguments that voters don’t agree with the bloc’s criticism over democratic standards.Instead, broadsheet Rzeczpospolita called it “A victory on points,” while daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna led with: “Direction: No Change.”Not exactly the revolution Kaczynski had in mind.To contact the reporters on this story: Wojciech Moskwa in Warsaw at wmoskwa@bloomberg.net;Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw at mstrzelecki1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, ;Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:25:21 -0400
  • Malaysia to study impact of India's planned trade action

    Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his government will monitor the trade situation with India, which is reported to be considering trade curbs on the Southeast Asian nation over his criticism of actions in Kashmir, news wire Bernama reported. Government and industry sources told Reuters last week that New Delhi is looking for ways to limit palm oil imports and other goods from Malaysia, in retaliation for Mahathir's speech at the United Nations in September when he said India had "invaded and occupied" Jammu and Kashmir. Malaysia had said it did not receive "anything official" from India.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:13:14 -0400
  • Booker Scolds Buttigieg for Referring to Gun ‘Buybacks’ as ‘Confiscation’: ‘Doing the NRA’s Work for Them’

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    Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) admonished fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Monday for referring to a mandatory gun buyback proposal as "confiscation" on the grounds that doing so propagates a right-wing talking point."Calling buyback programs 'confiscation' is doing the NRA's work for them," wrote Booker on Twitter, "and they don't need our help."Buttigieg insisted on referring to buybacks as "confiscation" in an interview on the Snapchat show Good Luck America. Previously, the South Bend, Indiana Mayor shied away from such comparisons."As a policy, it’s had mixed results," said Buttigieg during an October 2 interview. "It’s a healthy debate to have, but we’ve got to do something now.”O'Rourke subsequently condemned Buttigieg's comments, saying Buttigieg was "afraid of doing the right thing" by supporting mandatory buybacks."[O'Rourke] needs to pick a fight in order to stay relevant," Buttigieg commented on Good Luck America.O'Rourke has previously pushed the issue of mandatory gun buybacks and outright confiscation, declaring at the third Democratic primary debate in September that he supports taking away certain semi-automatic rifles from their legal owners.“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore,” O'Rourke said at the time.Buttigieg is currently polling at five percent while O'Rourke stands at just 1.8 percent. The former Texas congressman has struggled to gain more than two percent of the vote, but has captured attention for radical policy proposals on gun rights and issues of church and state.During a CNN Townhall on October 11, O'Rourke called for institutions that don't support same sex marriage, such as churches, religious schools and charities, to be stripped of their tax-exempt status.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:05:06 -0400
  • Pope's bodyguard resigns over new financial leaks scandal

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    The Vatican's latest scandal claimed its first victim Monday as Pope Francis' chief bodyguard resigned over the leak of a Vatican police flyer identifying five employees who were suspended as part of a financial investigation. The Vatican said its police chief, Domenico Giani, bore no responsibility for the leaked flyer but resigned to avoid disrupting the investigation and "out of love for the church and faithfulness" to the pope. Giani, a 20-year veteran of the Vatican's security services, has stood by Francis' side and jogged alongside his popemobile during hundreds of public appearances and foreign trips.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 17:43:04 -0400
  • US condemns executions by Turkish-allied Syria groups

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    The United States said Monday it was appalled and seeking more information after accounts that pro-Turkish fighters in Syria have summarily executed civilians including a female Kurdish politician. The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces said that at least nine civilians were "executed" as part of Turkey's invasion that it launched Wednesday against the former US allies. Among them was 35-year-old Hevrin Khalaf, the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party, who according to the forces was taken out of her car and killed by Turkish-allied Syrian forces.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 16:05:46 -0400
  • Hundreds of police officers have been labeled liars. Some still help send people to prison.

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    Across the USA, prosecutors aren't tracking officer misconduct, skirting Supreme Court "Brady" rules and sometimes leading to wrongful convictions.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:20:15 -0400
  • California becomes first state in nation to mandate later start times at most public schools

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    California became the first state in the nation to mandate later start times at most public schools.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 05:51:22 -0400
  • Russia's submarines are getting harder to find, and the Navy is sending more people to keep an eye on them

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    Russian naval activity around Europe is a growing concern, and the US Navy is reactivating command units to help manage its own forces in the region.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:51:23 -0400
  • In 1986, a Russian Submarine with 27 Nuclear Missiles Sank (And Exploded)

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    "Seawater combined with missile fuel to produce heat and toxic gases. Despite a crewman venting the tube, an explosion erupted in the silo, ejecting the missile and its warheads into the sea."

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:00:00 -0400
  • China Built a Flying Saucer

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    The UFO is still on the ground—for now.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:55:00 -0400
  • Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters plead for U.S. help

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    Tens of thousands of mostly young pro-democracy activists rallied in Hong Kong on Monday in the first legal protest since the introduction of colonial-era emergency laws and pleaded for help from the United States. A small bomb exploded and a policeman was stabbed on Sunday night, the latest violence in four months of unrest in which police have responded to petrol bombs and rocks with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and sometimes live rounds.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:04:15 -0400
  • Canadian Snowbird plane crashes during Atlanta air show

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    The remaining festivities associated with the annual air show were cancelled following the crash

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:54:44 -0400
  • South Korean pop star Sulli found dead at her home

    Golocal247.com news

    South Korean pop star and actress Sulli was found dead at her home south of Seoul on Monday, police said. The 25-year-old was found after her manager went to her home in Seongnam because she didn't answer phone calls for hours, said Kim Seong-tae, an official from the Seongnam Sujeong Police Department. "The investigation is ongoing and we won't make presumptions about the cause of death," said Kim, adding that security camera footage at Sulli's home showed no signs of an intrusion.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:34:00 -0400
  • Abandoned by U.S. in Syria, Kurds Find New Ally in U.S. Foe

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    DOHUK, Iraq -- Kurdish forces long allied with the United States in Syria announced a new deal Sunday with the government in Damascus, a sworn enemy of Washington that is backed by Russia, as Turkish troops moved deeper into their territory and President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of the U.S. military from northern Syria.The sudden shift marked a major turning point in Syria's long war.For five years, U.S. policy relied on collaborating with the Kurdish-led forces both to fight the Islamic State group and to limit the influence of Iran and Russia, which support the Syrian government, with a goal of maintaining some leverage over any future settlement of the conflict.On Sunday, after Trump abruptly abandoned that approach, U.S. leverage appeared all but gone. That threatened to give President Bashar Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers a free hand. It also jeopardized hard-won gains against Islamic State -- and potentially opened the door for its return.The Kurds' deal with Damascus paved the way for government forces to return to the country's northeast for the first time in years to try to repel a Turkish invasion launched after the Trump administration pulled U.S. troops out of the way. The pullout has already unleashed chaos and bloodletting.The announcement of the deal Sunday evening capped a day of whipsaw developments marked by rapid advances by Turkish-backed forces and the escape of hundreds of women and children linked to Islamic State from a detention camp. As U.S. troops were redeployed, two U.S. officials said the United States had failed to transfer five dozen "high value" Islamic State detainees out of the country.Turkish-backed forces advanced so quickly that they seized a key road, complicating the U.S. withdrawal, officials said.The invasion ordered by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which came after a green light from Trump, is aimed at uprooting the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that has been a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State group. Turkey sees the group as a security threat because of its links to a Kurdish separatist movement it has battled for decades.The Turkish incursion has killed scores of people, and left Kurdish fighters accusing the United States of betrayal for leaving them at the Turks' mercy. That is what led them to strike the deal with Damascus, which said Sunday that its forces were heading north to take control of two towns and to fight the "Turkish aggression."Turkey's invasion upended a fragile peace in northeastern Syria and risks enabling a resurgence of Islamic State, which no longer controls territory in Syria but still has sleeper cells and supporters.Since the Turkish incursion began Wednesday, ISIS has claimed responsibility for at least two attacks in Syria: one car bomb in the northern city of Qamishli and another on an international military base outside Hasaka, a regional capital farther to the south.Trump has said repeatedly that the United States has taken the worst ISIS detainees out of Syria to ensure they would not escape. But in fact the U.S. military took custody of only two British detainees -- half of a cell dubbed the Beatles that tortured and killed Western hostages -- U.S. officials said.As the Turkish incursion progresses and Kurdish casualties mount, the members of the Syrian Democratic Forces have grown increasingly angry at the United States. Some have cast Trump's move as a betrayal.The Kurds refused, the U.S. officials said, to let the American military take any more detainees from their ad hoc detention sites for captive Islamic State fighters, which range from former schoolhouses to a former Syrian government prison. Together, these facilities hold about 11,000 men, about 9,000 of them Syrians or Iraqis. About 2,000 come from 50 other nations whose governments have refused to repatriate them.The fighting has raised concerns that jihadis detained in the battle to defeat ISIS could escape, facilitating the reconstitution of the Islamic State. Five captives escaped during a Turkish bombardment on a Kurdish-run prison in Qamishli on Friday, Kurdish officials said.The Kurdish authorities also operate camps for families displaced by the conflict that hold tens of thousands of people, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters.After a Turkish airstrike, female detainees connected to the Islamic State rioted in a camp in Ain Issa, lighting their tents on fire and tearing down fences, according to a camp administrator, Jalal al-Iyaf.In the mayhem, more than 500 of them escaped, al-Iyaf said.Most of the camp's other 13,000 residents are Syrian, but there are also refugees from Iraq who sought safety in Syria because of violence at home. By nightfall, some of those people had left the unguarded camp, too, fearing that it was no longer safe, al-Iyaf said."Everyone thought that the camp was internationally protected, but in the end there was nothing," al-Iyaf said. "It was not protected at all."Determining the exact state of play on the ground proved difficult Sunday, as the advances by Turkish-backed Arab fighters scattered Kurdish officials who had previously been able to provide information.The likelihood of an ISIS resurgence remains hard to gauge, since the Syrian Kurdish leadership may have exaggerated some incidents to catch the West's attention.The camp escape came hours before the U.S. military said it would relocate its remaining troops in northern Syria to other areas of the country in the coming weeks.Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" that the United States found itself "likely caught between two opposing advancing armies" in northern Syria. Syrian government troops were expected to enter the city of Kobani overnight.The Kurdish-led militia said the Syrian government had a "duty to protect the country's borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty" and would deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border.Previously, Trump administration officials argued that keeping Assad's forces out of the territory was key to stemming Iranian and Russian influence and keeping pressure on Assad.Trump says his decision to pull U.S. troops out of the way of the Turkish advance was part of his effort to extricate the United States from "endless wars" in the Middle East and elsewhere."The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years," Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.Trump also tried to assuage his critics, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who broke with him over the Syria decision and is promising bipartisan legislation to slap economic sanctions on Turkey."Dealing with @LindseyGrahamSC and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey," Trump wrote. "Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought."But his decision has had devastating consequences for Syria's Kurds.They lost thousands of fighters in battles against Islamic State and sought to establish a form of autonomous rule in the lands captured from the jihadis. Now that project has collapsed, and it remains unclear what rights they will retain, if any, should they fall back under Assad's government.On Sunday, Turkish troops and their Arab proxies made major progress on the ground, seizing the strategic border town of Tel Abyad and prompting celebrations across the border in Turkey.In Akcakale, a Turkish border town, residents raced around in cars, flying Turkish flags and honking their horns. Exiled Syrians, many of them from Tel Abyad, climbed onto rooftops to watch the end of the battle as gunfire sounded.Three wounded Syrian Arab fighters were recuperating in a private apartment near the border in Akcakale after returning from the front line, where they had been shot in an ambush by Kurdish troops.The men were from an area controlled by Kurdish forces who they said had prevented them from returning home."We will not stop," said Abu Qasr al-Sharqiya, 34, who was shot three times in the leg. "We need our houses back, our children's homes."On Sunday afternoon, Erdogan announced that his forces controlled nearly 70 square miles of territory in northern Syria.They have also taken control of an important highway connecting the two flanks of Kurdish-held territory, the Turkish defense ministry said. This allows Turkish troops and their proxies to block supply lines between Kurdish forces -- and cut an exit route to Iraq.It also makes it harder for U.S. troops to leave Syria by road.Since the Syrian civil war began eight years ago, northern Syria has changed hands several times as rebels, Islamists, extremists and Kurdish factions have vied with the government for control.After joining U.S. troops to drive out the Islamic State group, the Kurdish-led militia emerged as the dominant force across the area, taking control of former ISIS territory and guarding former ISIS fighters on behalf of the United States and other international allies.With Turkey making increasing noise in recent months about forcing the Kurdish militia away from its border, the U.S. military made contingency plans to get about five dozen of the highest-priority detainees out of Syria.The planning began last December, when Trump first announced that he would withdraw troops from the country before his administration slowed down that plan, one official said.U.S. Special Operations forces moved first to get the two British detainees, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, on Oct. 9, in part because there was a clear plan for them already in place: The Justice Department wants to bring them to Virginia for prosecution. They are now being held in Iraq.But as the military then sought to take custody of additional detainees, the Kurds balked, the two U.S. officials said. The Kurds' animosity might harden now that they have aligned themselves with Assad, a U.S. foe.That, combined with the Pentagon's withdrawal of U.S. forces, makes it even less likely the United States will be able to take any more detainees out.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:34:08 -0400
  • When Cops Create Their Own Risk, Innocent People Die for Their Mistakes

    Golocal247.com news

    The video is puzzling and shocking. After receiving a call to a non-emergency number requesting that police check on a neighbor’s house that had its doors open and its lights on, police approach silently. They look into an open door and into a brightly lit room, but they don’t say anything. They then creep around the house, moving from light to dark. They use a flashlight. They keep moving around the edges of the house.Suddenly, in a mere moment, one of them spots movement in a window. The officer yells for the shadowy figure to put up her hands and then immediately fires a shot. Atatiana Jefferson was dead. She was 28 years old. According to her family’s lawyer, she was playing video games with her young nephew when they heard “rustling” outside and “saw flashlights.” There was a gun in the house, but there’s no indication (yet) that she was holding it in her hand.But what if she was? Does a homeowner not have a right to investigate someone lurking on her property? Can she not arm herself at 2:30 a.m. when she hears a strange sound in the darkness?I’ve been looking closely at the police-shooting issue for many years, and I’m noticing a trend in many of the worst and most controversial shootings. The police make mistakes that heighten their own sense of danger, and then they “resolve” their own error by opening fire.The examples are easy to find. The worst and most recent is that of Dallas officer Amber Guyger, who made the dreadful mistake of entering the wrong house and then immediately dealt with the perceived “threat” by shooting the innocent man inside.But Guyger is hardly the only offender. Who can forget the terrible shooting of Philando Castile, gunned down as he tried to comply with conflicting commands from an obviously panicked officer — the officer told Castile to hand over his license and proof of insurance, but also to not reach for his gun. He shot Castile to death even as Castile was calmly telling him that he wasn’t reaching for his gun.Then there’s the extraordinarily gut-wrenching video of a cop killing Daniel Shaver as he sobbed and begged for his life. The officer’s instructions were utterly incomprehensible. He told Shaver to not put his hands down for any reason. He also told him to crawl down the hall..No one should forget Andrew Scott. Police seeking a suspect showed up at the wrong house (without a warrant), did not turn on their lights, did not identify themselves as police, and pounded violently on the door late at night. When Scott answered his own door with a firearm in his hand, he was instantly shot dead.It wasn’t until the tragic death of Willie McCoy that the trend truly became obvious. McCoy was sleeping in his car, blocking a drive-through window, with a gun in his lap. When he began to move, cops clustered around his car started screaming at him so loudly that the transcript of the video has to explain that the shouts weren’t gunshots. Then, within three seconds, the officers riddled him with bullets. They startled him awake, and then killed him.In response, I wrote this:> When we evaluate police shootings, we wrongly tend to limit our analysis to the very instant of the shooting itself. The question of a cop’s reasonable fear at that instant is allowed to trump all other concerns, and becomes the deciding factor at trial. I would argue, however, that officers act unreasonably when they don’t give a citizen a reasonable chance to live — and giving a citizen a reasonable chance to live involves properly handling the situation so no weapon need be fired.Would Atatiana Jefferson still be alive if the cops had parked in front of her house and clearly identified themselves by shouting into the open door? Would they still be alive had they not lurked around a person’s home without permission -- exactly like a person who was trespassing, perhaps with malign intent?There is absolutely no question that police have a difficult job. There is no question that even routine encounters and wellness checks can — on rare occasions — escalate to deadly violence. But there is also no question that time and again police have enhanced the risk to the public through their own mistakes. Poor tactics can yield terrible results, and police should not be able to use the “split-second decision” defense when they created the crisis.There is no greater violation of liberty than the loss of your own life in your own home at the hands of misguided, panicky, or poorly trained agents of the state. Absent compelling evidence not yet revealed to the public, it appears that the man who killed Atatiana Jefferson committed a criminal act. He deserves to face criminal justice.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 16:21:55 -0400
  • Confessions of a cannabis farmer: The Vietnamese getting Brits high

    Golocal247.com news

    Holed up alone in a suburban British house thousands of miles from home, cannabis farmer Cuong Nguyen spent months carefully nurturing his plants, one of thousands of Vietnamese migrants working in the UK's multi-billion dollar weed industry. "All I ever wanted was to make money... whether it was legal or illegal," Cuong, who is now back in Vietnam, tells AFP. It was criminal career steered by the Vietnamese gangsters behind the UK's huge marijuana trade -- which researchers value at around 2.6 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) a year.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 23:42:33 -0400
  • Newly discovered comet is confirmed as an interstellar visitor – with a surprisingly familiar look

    The comet is only the second interstellar comet ever detected in our solar system and the first that looks like a traditional comet.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 15:39:43 -0400
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