Thursday, 31 October 2019

NYC Medical Examiner Dismisses Epstein ‘Homicide’ Claim by Dr. Michael Baden

NYC Medical Examiner Dismisses Epstein ‘Homicide’ Claim by Dr. Michael BadenRobyn Beck/ReutersNew York City’s chief medical examiner pushed back hard Wednesday against a celebrity pathologist-for-hire’s conspiracy-stirring claim that Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy was more consistent with homicide than suicide.“The original medical investigation was thorough and complete. There is no reason for a second medical investigation by our office,” said Dr. Barbara Sampson.Sampson determined Epstein died by suicide from hanging in his jail cell in August, while he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.Epstein’s lawyers and family have refused to accept her finding, and the disgraced financier’s brother hired Dr. Michael Baden—erstwhile host of HBO’s Autopsy—to do his own investigation.Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Ruled Suicide by Hanging: New York City Medical ExaminerDuring an appearance Wednesday morning on Fox News, where he is a contributor, Baden said his own review isn’t complete but nonetheless suggested that suicide isn’t the cause of death.He claimed a collection of neck fractures in Epstein’s hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage “are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation.”“I’ve not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case,” Baden said.Although more common in homicidal strangulation cases, some studies have found that hyoid and thyroid fractures are not rare in suicidal hangings.A 2000 study in Australia found fractures in nearly half the 40 suicide cases it examined and said they were even more common in older victims and men; in fact, 15 percent had fractures of both the hyoid and the thyroid. And a 2010 study out of Thailand found such fractures in 25 percent of the confirmed suicides it reviewed.After His Suicide Watch Ended, Jeffrey Epstein Was Left to Look After HimselfBaden, who observed the autopsy performed by Sampson, served briefly as the city’s chief medical examiner before being fired in 1979 by then-Mayor Ed Koch in response to a complaint that he told doctors during a guest-speaking event that Gov. Nelson Rockefeller had died during sexual intercourse.Three years later, he was dismissed as chief deputy medical examiner by Suffolk County, New York, over a magazine article about ways to kill that wouldn’t show up in an autopsy; he protested that he was misquoted.In the '70s, Baden helped Congress investigate the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.—he concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray, respectively, were the killers—but became famous for serving as a private pathologist in high-profile cases like the Aaron Hernandez suicide, the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and the Jayson Williams shooting. He also served as a defense witness in the Phil Spector murder trial, where he reportedly testified that he had no conflict of interest in the case even though his wife was heading Spector’s legal team.Baden isn’t the only one skeptical about the official account of Epstein’s death at the high-security federal lockup in Manhattan, which is currently the subject of a Justice Department probe.Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer representing victims of Epstein, said serious questions remain, including the whereabouts of the guards assigned to monitor him, why the cameras outside his cell apparently didn’t work, and why he was taken off suicide watch.“It all makes no sense. Until they come out with the evidence, I don’t believe anything they’re telling us,” Kuvin said. “Exactly what happened I can’t tell you, but I certainly don’t believe the story they’re trying to feed everyone.”Sigrid McCawley, an attorney at Boies Schiller Flexner, the law firm representing some of Epstein’s victims, said the ongoing Justice Department probe “limits what can and should be said at this time.”“But as the public has come to to understand the horrifying scope and scale of the international sex trafficking system he operated for decades with impunity, what really matters for the brave survivors who are seeking justice is how he lived, not how he died,” she said. “That is how the man should be judged.”Kuvin said his clients are “more interested in seeing co-conspirators prosecuted” than in delving into Epstein autopsy theories.“The justice system failed. They either allowed him to take his own life or someone got in there and killed him,” Kuvin told The Daily Beast. “Either way, it’s a failure of the Justice Department… [which] has failed them repeatedly over the last 13 years. This was just one more time.”If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741Read 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.




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Philadelphia Man Allegedly Confesses to Killing Four Relatives in Shooting at Family Home

Philadelphia Man Allegedly Confesses to Killing Four Relatives in Shooting at Family Home29-year-old Maurice Louis had bought the shotgun used a day beforehand




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Spain's hosting of COP25 climate summit largely a done deal: Government Source

Spain's hosting of COP25 climate summit largely a done deal: Government SourceA formal decision on hosting the summit in Madrid will be taken on Monday in the German city of Bonn, the source said. Chile backed out of hosting the summit, which is aimed at fleshing out details of how to implement the Paris Agreement climate pact, due to a wave of violent protests in the country's capital.




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Despite Common Core and more testing, reading and math scores haven't budged in a decade

Despite Common Core and more testing, reading and math scores haven't budged in a decadeReading scores stagnated. Math scores jumped compared with the early '90s, but haven't gone up in a decade. What's happening to America's students?




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Tucker Carlson and Guest Blame Diversity and ‘Woke’ Culture for California Fires

Tucker Carlson and Guest Blame Diversity and ‘Woke’ Culture for California FiresFox NewsFox News host Tucker Carlson and his guest, conservative YouTube personality Dave Rubin, both insisted Tuesday night that the wildfires burning across California are due largely to progressive ideology, “woke” culture, and diversity in hiring.During Tuesday’s broadcast of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson welcomed on Rubin, a political commentator and podcaster, to discuss the issues surrounding the large fires engulfing the state, including those related to the electrical grid and firefighting methods.“PG&E; strikes me as almost a metaphor for the destruction of the state,” Carlson said about the state’s power company. “Here’s the utility which doesn’t really know anything about its own infrastructure but knows everything about the race of its employees. How did we get there?”After noting that he lives near one of the fires in the Los Angeles area, Rubin immediately took aim at liberal politics as the main reason the wildfires have grown so large and dangerous.“The problem right now is that everything, EVERYTHING, from academia to public utilities to politics, everything that goes woke, that buys into this ridiculous progressive ideology that cares about what contractors are LGBT or how many black firemen we have or white this or Asian that, everything that goes that road eventually breaks down,” he declared.As Carlson nodded and said “that’s true,” Rubin continued, complaining that this isn’t how “freedom is supposed to operate.”“What is supposed to happen—imagine if your house was on fire,” he added. “Would you care what the public utility or what the fire company, what contractor they brought in, what gender or sexuality or any of those things he or she was? It’s just absolutely ridiculous.”The Fox News host continued to agree with Rubin, who went on to tie PG&E;’s preemptive blackouts to a lack of “libertarian or conservative-minded people in California to fight what the progressives are doing to the state.”“If you can’t keep the lights on and you can’t keep the place from burning down, you’ve reached the point where there is no kind of lying about it anymore,” Carlson concluded. “It’s falling apart. It’s a disaster. It’s not civilized anymore.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.




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Troops, armored vehicles enter Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS

Troops, armored vehicles enter Syria to protect oil fields from ISISThe Pentagon moved troops and armored vehicles into Syria Thursday to protect oil fields from exploitation by ISIS.




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Fire sweeps Pakistani train, killing 73, after cooking fire

Fire sweeps Pakistani train, killing 73, after cooking fireA fire swept through a Pakistani train on Thursday, killing 73 people and injuring nearly 40 after a gas canister that passengers were using to cook breakfast exploded, the minister of railways said. The fire destroyed three of the train's carriages near the town of Rahim Yar Khan in the south of Punjab province. It was the worst disaster on Pakistan's accident-plagued railway system in nearly 15 years.




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Anthony Scaramucci and Steve Bullock trade jabs over prank endorsement

Anthony Scaramucci and Steve Bullock trade jabs over prank endorsementAnthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump’s former, short-lived White House communications director-turned-detractor, saw his fame exploited Thursday in a campaign stunt by a Democratic presidential candidate. The stunt unfolded on Twitter when Steve Bullock — Montana’s governor and a long-shot candidate who’s failed to qualify for all but one Democratic primary debate this year — posted a video recorded by “The Mooch” for the celebrity-shout-out site Cameo in which he appears to endorse Bullock’s campaign. “We support you, Steve B. I know you got a tough race ahead of you, but you’ve done this before,” Scaramucci says in the 19-second clip filmed from inside a moving car.




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The Latest: Man accused of arson in California wildfire

The Latest: Man accused of arson in California wildfireAuthorities say a man was arrested and accused of arson after a crew responded to a report of a wildfire in Northern California. A CalFire statement said engine crews were able to quickly contain the small fire in the Sonoma County community of Geyserville and identified a potential suspect. Authorities reported progress Wednesday in battling the Kincade fire in Sonoma County that started last week outside of Geyserville and forced the evacuation of the entire community, home to about 900 people.




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UPDATE 2-American Airlines flight attendants stand up to Boeing CEO on 737 MAX

UPDATE 2-American Airlines flight attendants stand up to Boeing CEO on 737 MAXAmerican Airlines' flight attendants union still has safety concerns about the Boeing 737 MAX and is demanding an active role in the relaunch of the grounded aircraft, its president told Boeing Co's chief executive in a letter seen by Reuters. "The 28,000 flight attendants working for American Airlines refuse to walk onto a plane that may not be safe and are calling for the highest possible safety standards to avoid another tragedy," Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Lori Bassani said in the letter.




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Police say body of British tourist missing in Cambodia found

Police say body of British tourist missing in Cambodia foundThe body of a British backpacker missing for more than a week in Cambodia was found at sea Thursday about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the island where she disappeared, officials said. The police chief for Preah Sihanouk province, Maj. Gen. Chuon Narin, said the body of 21-year-old Amelia Bambridge was discovered in the Gulf of Thailand northwest of Koh Rong, where she disappeared after attending a beach party on the night of Oct. 23. It was found near another island, Koh Chhlam, close to Cambodia's maritime border with Thailand.




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'Very sloppy': Rudy Giuliani, Trump's cybersecurity adviser, went to an Apple store to get his iPhone unlocked

'Very sloppy': Rudy Giuliani, Trump's cybersecurity adviser, went to an Apple store to get his iPhone unlockedCybersecurity experts told NBC that Giuliani going to a third-party location for technical help violated basic security protocols.




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Israel rearrests Palestinian MP, daughter says

Israel rearrests Palestinian MP, daughter saysIsraeli forces on Thursday rearrested a Palestinian lawmaker who was freed in February after being held without trial for 20 months over links to an outlawed leftist group, her daughter said. "My mother Khalida Jarrar was arrested from our house in Ramallah" at about 3:00 am (0100 GMT), Jarrar's daughter Yafa posted on Facebook. Spokespeople for Israel's Shin Bet security service, which generally directs such arrests, could not immediately be reached for comment.




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House Democrats are just trying to invalidate the 2016 election of President Donald Trump

House Democrats are just trying to invalidate the 2016 election of President Donald TrumpSpeaker Nancy Pelosi is subverting rule of law, write former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.




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Putin faces Syria money crunch after U.S. keeps control of oil fields

Putin faces Syria money crunch after U.S. keeps control of oil fieldsRussian President Vladimir Putin is facing an unwelcome new financial challenge in Syria after the U.S. pullback enabled his ally Bashar Assad to reclaim the biggest chunk of territory in the country still outside his control.




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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the revenge porn campaign targeting Rep. Katie Hill is a 'major crime' that wouldn't happen to a male member of Congress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the revenge porn campaign targeting Rep. Katie Hill is a 'major crime' that wouldn't happen to a male member of CongressRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the publication of nude photos of Rep. Katie Hill, who announced her resignation from Congress this week.




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Full coverage: House passes impeachment resolution

Full coverage: House passes impeachment resolutionThe House on Thursday voted to pass a historic resolution establishing formal procedures for the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The 232-196 vote fell almost exclusively along party lines, with two moderate Democrats voting no.




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UPDATE 4-Islamic State vows revenge against U.S. for Baghdadi killing

UPDATE 4-Islamic State vows revenge against U.S. for Baghdadi killingIslamic State confirmed on Thursday that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a weekend raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria, and vowed revenge against the United States. The Iraqi rose from obscurity to lead the ultra-hardline group and declare himself "caliph" of all Muslims, holding sway over huge areas of Iraq and Syria from 2014-2017 before Islsmic State's control disintegrated under U.S.-led attacks. The group confirmed his death in an audio tape posted online and said a successor, identified as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, had been appointed.




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2 women have been criminally charged over their partners' suicides. Why do men escape the same blame?

2 women have been criminally charged over their partners' suicides. Why do men escape the same blame?Experts told Insider they could not recall a similar instance of a man being charged with manslaughter in connection with his partner's suicide.




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California Governor Accepted Donations from Utility Company He Now Excoriates for ‘Greed’

California Governor Accepted Donations from Utility Company He Now Excoriates for ‘Greed’California governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, has accepted large donations from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., a utility company he now excoriates for "greed" and "mismanagement."PG&E has faced widespread criticism for implementing blackouts for millions of customers to avoid sparking wildfires in the midst of California's dry and windy fall weather."I have a message for PG&E," Newsom wrote on Twitter on Friday. "Your years and years of greed. Years and years of mismanagement. Years and years of putting shareholders over people. Are OVER."Newsom and allies accepted $208,400 from the utility during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, according to local affiliate ABC10. Of that total, $150,000 went to a political spending group called “Citizens Supporting Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018,” while the rest went to directly to Newsom's campaign.PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January 2019. Faulty PG&E electricity equipment has been blamed for sparking several wildfires in the past decade.California has consistently shut down proposals to clear dead trees from forests and to trim trees near power lines state wide, creating conditions for a rash of wildfire outbreaks in recent years.The Kincaid Fire currently burning in Sonoma County in the northern part of the state has forced the evacuation of roughly 200,000 people. The fire is twice the size of the city of San Fransisco.Newsom declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to the Kincaid Fire and several other wildfires throughout the state. He again threatened PG&E in a statement on the situation."There is a plan to get out of this. This is not the new normal,” Newsom said on Sunday at an evacuation center in northern California. “This is not a 10-year process to deal with this. That will not be the case… [PG&E] will be held to account to do something radically different




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Graphic: Examining the weapons and tactics used by police and protesters in Hong Kong

Graphic: Examining the weapons and tactics used by police and protesters in Hong KongAs the showdown between police and protesters in Hong Kong has intensified, officers have used increasing force, deploying an arsenal of crowd-control weapons, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sponge grenades and bean bag rounds. Protesters have also stepped up their actions, hurling petrol bombs, vandalizing mainland Chinese banks and businesses believed to be pro-Beijing, throwing bricks at police stations and battling officers in the streets, sometimes with metal bars. Reuters scrutinized hundreds of images of the protests, as well as dozens of police reports and video footage, and combined this research with reporting on the ground to document the weapons used by the police and protesters, and how the violence has increased from day to day.




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How The B-1 Lancer Went From A Nuclear Bomber To an ISIS Killer

How The B-1 Lancer Went From A Nuclear Bomber To an ISIS KillerPriorities and capabilities change with time.




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Convicted rapist mistakenly released from Georgia prison captured in Kentucky

Convicted rapist mistakenly released from Georgia prison captured in KentuckyTony Maycon Munoz-Mendez was serving a life sentence in Georgia when he was released "in error." Authorities captured him in Kentucky Wednesday.




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Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Biden Denied Communion at South Carolina Church Owing to Stance on Abortion

Biden Denied Communion at South Carolina Church Owing to Stance on AbortionFormer vice president Joe Biden was denied communion by a Catholic priest in South Carolina on Sunday because of his public stance on abortion.Father Robert E. Morey confirmed to the Florence Morning News via email on Monday that he had refused the sacrament to Biden.“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Father Morey, pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, said. “Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”Biden, who is Catholic, would not confirm whether he had attended Mass at St. Anthony’s. The campaign told the Florence Morning News that “if he did attend, he did so in a private capacity.”Biden has said in the past that he is “personally opposed” to abortion, but publicly advocates for its protection, including the establishing of a federal law to preserve the right to abortion even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.Biden flipped multiple times on the campaign trail earlier this year over support for the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding of abortion under Medicaid except in rare circumstances.“I’ve been working through the finer details of my health care plan like others in this race, and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said during a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta in June. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”Denial of communion to politicians who publicly support abortion has long been a hot-button topic. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in 2004 that “such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles.” Morey’s email said that the matter of pro-choice Catholic politicians is a difficult situation, but his responsibility remains to minister to souls.“I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers,” Morey’s statement concludes.




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Trump impeachment: Official says she was repeatedly urged to oust Ukraine ambassador by Republican lobbyist

Trump impeachment: Official says she was repeatedly urged to oust Ukraine ambassador by Republican lobbyistA US government official has reportedly told politicians leading the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump that she was urged by a Republican-linked lobbyist to remove the US ambassador to Ukraine from her post, as the president's allies launched a smear campaign against her.Catherine Croft, a Ukraine expert who worked at the US State Department, said she was repeatedly contacted by lobbyist Robert Livingston about ousting Marie Yovanovitch, according to prepared remarks obtained by NPR.




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$16.8M in campaign funds have gone to Trump businesses, records reveal

$16.8M in campaign funds have gone to Trump businesses, records revealNot only have the U.S. and foreign governments spent money at properties owned by Donald Trump, but the president’s own political campaign and affiliated political committees have also spent about $16.8 million at his businesses since he launched his 2016 bid for the presidency, according to an analysis of federal election spending records.




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Trump Administration Challenges California Sanctuary Law in Supreme Court

Trump Administration Challenges California Sanctuary Law in Supreme CourtThe Trump administration has petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down California's "sanctuary law," which hinders cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.The administration is challenging several provisions in the California Values Act, or S.B. 54. The law prohibits officials from sharing information with ICE about a suspect's release from custody, eliminating any opportunity for ICE agents to take illegal immigrants into custody before they are released from local jails. It also prohibits local law-enforcement officers from sharing physical descriptions of suspects with immigration authorities."The practical consequences of California’s obstruction are not theoretical; as a result of SB 54, criminal aliens have evaded the detention and removal that Congress prescribed, and have instead returned to the civilian population, where they are disproportionately likely to commit additional crimes," the Trump administration argued in its petition, which was filed Monday.While the provisions of S.B. 54 do not technically apply to suspects with a violent criminal history, since the law effectively prevents local law enforcement from cooperating with ICE, immigration officials must stake out jails and police stations to await the release of non-citizen suspects from custody, and only then make arrests.Last week at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ICE official Timothy Robbins claimed that the Los Angeles police department was releasing as many as 100 illegal immigrants per day from custody."Cooperation between ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies is critical to the agency’s efforts to identify and arrest removable aliens, and to protect the nation’s security,” Robbins said at the time. “Unfortunately, we are seeing more jurisdictions that refuse to work with our officers, or directly impede our public safety efforts."




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Former national security adviser John Bolton scheduled to testify in impeachment inquiry

Former national security adviser John Bolton scheduled to testify in impeachment inquirySome lawmakers have indicated they would be open to subpoenaing John Bolton to compel his testimony if he does not show up on Nov. 7.




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White House blocked effort to condemn Russia for seizing Ukraine ships, Congress told

White House blocked effort to condemn Russia for seizing Ukraine ships, Congress toldState department aide makes revelation in testimony, while Russia envoy nominee John Sullivan grilled at confirmation hearingDonald Trump with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka in June this year. Trump voiced concern over the 2018 capture but did not blame Moscow. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/TassThe White House blocked the US state department from issuing a statement condemning Russia for seizing Ukrainian military vessels, according to a state department official, in the latest example of the strain the Trump administration is under in pursuing conflicting policies towards the two countries.The revelation on Wednesday came from Christopher Anderson, who was a senior aide to the special envoy on Ukraine, Kurt Volker, in November 2018, when Russia fired on and captured three Ukrainian vessels in the Sea of Azov off the Crimean peninsula.“While my colleagues at the state department quickly prepared a statement condemning Russia for its escalation, senior officials in the White House blocked it from being issued,” Anderson said in his prepared remarks to congressional committees holding impeachment hearings. “Ambassador Volker drafted a tweet condemning Russia’s actions, which I posted to his account.”In the face of silence from the White House, the then US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, condemned Russian behaviour, after which the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, followed suit. Trump voiced concern but did not blame Moscow.The 24 Ukrainian sailors detained in the operation were returned last month as part of a prisoner exchange.Anderson, and his successor in the Ukraine job, Catherine Croft, both testified to House committees on Wednesday about the role played by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in foiling state department efforts to bolster the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in the face of Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine.In his testimony, Anderson quoted the former national security adviser, John Bolton, as saying: “Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement.” On Wednesday, the House committees asked Bolton to testify on 7 November, but it is unclear whether he will attend.Bolton’s former deputy, Charles Kupperman, is currently seeking a court ruling on whether to comply with his congressional subpoena in the face of a White House order not to testify.At the other side of Congress, the nominee to become ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, faced pointed questions on Wednesday at confirmation hearings in the Senate about Giuliani and the split US policy towards Russia and Ukraine.Sullivan, currently the deputy secretary of state, said he was aware of Giuliani’s role in a campaign against the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Asked if he knew Trump’s lawyer was “seeking to smear” Yovanovitch, he replied: “I believe he was, yes.”Sullivan confirmed he had been shown a dossier of material attacking Yovanovitch, saying it had provided by the White House to the state department legal adviser, but he was not aware it had been put together by Giuliani. He said the dossier “didn’t provide to me a basis for taking action against our ambassador”.He said that Pompeo gave Sullivan no explanation for the decision to recall Yovanovitch before the end of her posting, other than she had “lost the confidence of the president”.“As I understand, [Trump] may decide that he doesn’t like my testimony today and he doesn’t want me to go to Russia. The president can decide when he loses confidence in his ambassador – then that person is not going to continue as ambassador,” Sullivan said.Sullivan sought to avoid taking a position on the testimony by several former and current state department officials that the president, through Giuliani, had made a White House meeting and US military aid dependent on the Ukrainian government investigating Trump’s political rivals.“Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent – I don’t think that would be in accord with our values,” Sullivan said. But he would not confirm that was what the president had done.Democratic senators signaled that they were prepared to support Sullivan’s nomination as an experienced and respected diplomat, acknowledging the difficult position he was in. But they expressed concern he had not done more to find out what Trump and Giuliani were trying to achieve in Ukraine.The ranking Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Menendez, told Sullivan he had been playing the role of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”“You’re going to go to Russia, and you’re going to be saying one set of things based upon your testimony here,” Menendez said. “And we have the president who, in his public statements, is totally aligned differently than what you’re going to be saying.”“Do you understand the incredibly difficult job that you’re going to have as a result of that?” Menendez asked Sullivan.“I would say, senator, you’ve cited the president’s statements. I’d cite the president’s actions,” the nominee replied, listing sanctions the administration had imposed on Russia.




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The Democrats' impeachment process has a credibility problem

The Democrats' impeachment process has a credibility problemHas the House impeachment inquiry hit a brick wall on credibility? Or have House Democrats decided to call Republicans' bluff?After weeks of refusing to hold a full floor vote to formally launch an impeachment inquiry, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) abruptly changed position this week. A Thursday vote will set out more clear parameters for the ongoing investigation without explicitly declaring an impeachment inquiry, but it's far from clear whether this changes anything appreciably -- or if there's anything to change with the current focus on Ukraine policy as the predicate for impeachment.The bill that emerged Tuesday afternoon appears to directly address some of the key criticisms of House Republicans, who grew so frustrated with the closed hearings that they staged an intervention of sorts last week, breaching the Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in which the depositions were being taken under the control of House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff. That set off worries among Democrats that further such demonstrations could obstruct and drag out the impeachment process into next year and into the election cycle, something Pelosi would like to avoid.Democrats' claims that the demonstrations were a GOP stunt had some basis in fact. Some of the Republicans who participated actually did have access to the hearings as members of three committees participating in the testimony. Contrary to some claims made at the time, Republican committee members had the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses during the deposition and were very engaged in that process.Still, other Republican complaints had started to take their toll. Republicans wanted Democrats to hold a full House vote to openly authorize an impeachment inquiry, rather than use committees to conduct an ad hoc investigation while House Democratic leadership publicly acknowledged that impeachment was the goal. They also wanted open hearings with the witnesses being subpoenaed, which Democrats refused to grant in order to keep witnesses from knowing preceding testimony. Democrats pointed out that the House rules allowed for closed-session depositions and compared them to secret grand-jury proceedings, but Republicans countered that grand juries don't leak characterizations of the testimony at pressers, as Schiff and other Democrats had been doing all along.That has made the proceedings seem as though they're being conducted by a kangaroo court, which has allowed Trump to argue that the process is corrupt. The only way to gain traction for this process is to give it more credibility -- and to call the bluff of Republicans and Trump. Thus, Pelosi introduced a bill that will allow Republicans to call their own witnesses and to access all deposition materials, under the same rules used in the Bill Clinton impeachment process in 1998. The bill also establishes a mechanism for the full release of testimony, which Republicans have repeatedly demanded.This presents an immediate tactical risk for the White House. One of Pelosi's motives is to parry Trump's refusal to cooperate based on a lack of formal approval by the full House. A federal court ruled against Trump last week, but Trump can tie that question up for months on appeals, time that Pelosi perceives she does not have. A full House vote approving these rules not only means that Republicans no longer have due-process complaints (at least going forward), it signals to courts that the full House has indeed given tacit approval for an impeachment inquiry in providing a relatively fair structure for it.However, Pelosi is more worried about a different court: the court of public opinion. That perception that the impeachment process is unfair has hampered Democrats' ability to generate the kind of public support they need to take this to a full vote on impeachment without risking the gains Pelosi made in the 2018 midterms. National polling showing support for impeachment gaining momentum overall, but the response from the American public looks quite different on a state-by-state basis. A poll by The New York Times and Siena College last week showed that voters in six critical swing states with the closest margins in 2016 generally oppose impeachment, 43/53. Those numbers would suggest that continuing on this impeachment process might produce a Pyrrhic victory for Democrats in 2020, one that could produce a historic win for an already-impeached president for the first time ever.To fix that problem, and to force the Senate to take this more seriously, Pelosi has to revamp the process to provide at least the appearance of fairness. However, it's not likely to matter in the end. Impeachment is only the first step in the removal process, and in this case it's likely to be the last step Democrats can successfully take.The Republicans control the Senate, but their majority matters less than the fact that Democrats don't have a supermajority. If Democrats had uncovered a truly serious crime in this probe, that would likely convince at least 20 Senate Republicans to make Mike Pence president. The core problem is that Ukraine-Gate doesn't appear to involve an explicit statutory crime at all, but instead an alleged abuse of authority to gain political advantage over former Vice President Joe Biden. The House can decide what constitutes an impeachable offense, but the Senate decides whether it's even worthy of a full trial, let alone a removal.An impeachment without a removal will, in the end, look a lot like a political campaign no matter how much Pelosi improves the process. Voters will ask themselves why Democrats spent all year obsessed with impeachment under varying rationalizations and then chose the one issue on which they could almost guarantee no success in removal. Pelosi may win a tactical victory with this upcoming vote, but it's not going to solve the big strategic issue awaiting Democrats at the end of this process.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.




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California Governor Accepted Donations from Utility Company He Now Excoriates for ‘Greed’

California Governor Accepted Donations from Utility Company He Now Excoriates for ‘Greed’California governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, has accepted large donations from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., a utility company he now excoriates for "greed" and "mismanagement."PG&E has faced widespread criticism for implementing blackouts for millions of customers to avoid sparking wildfires in the midst of California's dry and windy fall weather."I have a message for PG&E," Newsom wrote on Twitter on Friday. "Your years and years of greed. Years and years of mismanagement. Years and years of putting shareholders over people. Are OVER."Newsom and allies accepted $208,400 from the utility during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, according to local affiliate ABC10. Of that total, $150,000 went to a political spending group called “Citizens Supporting Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018,” while the rest went to directly to Newsom's campaign.PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January 2019. Faulty PG&E electricity equipment has been blamed for sparking several wildfires in the past decade.California has consistently shut down proposals to clear dead trees from forests and to trim trees near power lines state wide, creating conditions for a rash of wildfire outbreaks in recent years.The Kincaid Fire currently burning in Sonoma County in the northern part of the state has forced the evacuation of roughly 200,000 people. The fire is twice the size of the city of San Fransisco.Newsom declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to the Kincaid Fire and several other wildfires throughout the state. He again threatened PG&E in a statement on the situation."There is a plan to get out of this. This is not the new normal,” Newsom said on Sunday at an evacuation center in northern California. “This is not a 10-year process to deal with this. That will not be the case… [PG&E] will be held to account to do something radically different




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Prosecutors accuse ex-Trump adviser Flynn of trying to walk-back guilty plea

Prosecutors accuse ex-Trump adviser Flynn of trying to walk-back guilty pleaU.S. prosecutors on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn of making "an extraordinary reversal" to try to undo his sworn admission that he lied to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators about his contacts with Russia. Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan for the opportunity to oppose a bid filed by Flynn's lawyers last week to have the case dismissed - even though Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 - because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The retired Army lieutenant general and former Trump campaign adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his 2016 conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then-Russian ambassador to the United States.




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Here's How America Will Stop Iran from Invading Saudi Arabia

Here's How America Will Stop Iran from Invading Saudi ArabiaThe master plan.




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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren got behind the Facebook employees slamming Mark Zuckerberg for allowing lies in political ads

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren got behind the Facebook employees slamming Mark Zuckerberg for allowing lies in political adsThe two Democratic politicians tweeted their support for the Facebook workers who oppose the company's stance on lies in political ads.




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Activist Thunberg declines climate prize, urges more action

Activist Thunberg declines climate prize, urges more actionTwo fellow climate activists spoke on Thunberg's behalf at an award ceremony Tuesday in Stockholm for the regional inter-parliamentary Nordic Council's prizes, reading a statement thanking the group for the honor. Thunberg, 16, is currently in California.




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China pushes higher 'moral quality' for its citizens

China pushes higher 'moral quality' for its citizensFrom budgeting for rural weddings to dressing appropriately and avoiding online porn, China's Communist Party has issued new guidelines to improve the "moral quality" of its citizens. Officials have released several sets of guidelines this week alongside a secretive conclave of high-ranking officials in Beijing which discusses the country's future direction. Public institutions like libraries and youth centres must carry out "targeted moral education" to improve people's ideological awareness and moral standards, according to the rules.




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Tucker Carlson and Guest Blame Diversity and ‘Woke’ Culture for California Fires

Tucker Carlson and Guest Blame Diversity and ‘Woke’ Culture for California FiresFox NewsFox News host Tucker Carlson and his guest, conservative YouTube personality Dave Rubin, both insisted Tuesday night that the wildfires burning across California are due largely to progressive ideology, “woke” culture, and diversity in hiring.During Tuesday’s broadcast of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson welcomed on Rubin, a political commentator and podcaster, to discuss the issues surrounding the large fires engulfing the state, including those related to the electrical grid and firefighting methods.“PG&E; strikes me as almost a metaphor for the destruction of the state,” Carlson said about the state’s power company. “Here’s the utility which doesn’t really know anything about its own infrastructure but knows everything about the race of its employees. How did we get there?”After noting that he lives near one of the fires in the Los Angeles area, Rubin immediately took aim at liberal politics as the main reason the wildfires have grown so large and dangerous.“The problem right now is that everything, EVERYTHING, from academia to public utilities to politics, everything that goes woke, that buys into this ridiculous progressive ideology that cares about what contractors are LGBT or how many black firemen we have or white this or Asian that, everything that goes that road eventually breaks down,” he declared.As Carlson nodded and said “that’s true,” Rubin continued, complaining that this isn’t how “freedom is supposed to operate.”“What is supposed to happen—imagine if your house was on fire,” he added. “Would you care what the public utility or what the fire company, what contractor they brought in, what gender or sexuality or any of those things he or she was? It’s just absolutely ridiculous.”The Fox News host continued to agree with Rubin, who went on to tie PG&E;’s preemptive blackouts to a lack of “libertarian or conservative-minded people in California to fight what the progressives are doing to the state.”“If you can’t keep the lights on and you can’t keep the place from burning down, you’ve reached the point where there is no kind of lying about it anymore,” Carlson concluded. “It’s falling apart. It’s a disaster. It’s not civilized anymore.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.




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Man loses foot, another seriously injured in shark attack while snorkeling in Australia

Man loses foot, another seriously injured in shark attack while snorkeling in AustraliaThe shark attack occurred in Hook Passage in the Whitsunday Islands off Australia's Queensland coast, rescuers say.




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Exclusive: How Lebanon's Hariri defied Hezbollah

Exclusive: How Lebanon's Hariri defied HezbollahAfter hitting a dead end in efforts to defuse the crisis sweeping Lebanon, Saad al-Hariri informed a top Hezbollah official on Monday he had no choice but to quit as prime minister in defiance of the powerful Shi'ite group. The decision by the Sunni leader shocked Hussein al-Khalil, political advisor to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who advised him against giving in to protesters who wanted to see his coalition government toppled. The meeting described to Reuters by four senior sources from outside Hariri's Future Party captures a critical moment in the crisis that has swept Lebanon for the last two weeks as Hariri yielded to the massive street protests against the ruling elite.




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A California couple who was forced to evacuate their home and winery share what it's really like to endure the wildfires engulfing the state

A California couple who was forced to evacuate their home and winery share what it's really like to endure the wildfires engulfing the stateCalifornia's Sonoma wine country dealt with destructive wildfires in 2017. Here's how one winery is dealing with 2019's Kincade Fire.




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Ilhan Omar refuses to back vote recognising Armenian genocide

Ilhan Omar refuses to back vote recognising Armenian genocideIlhan Omar declined to vote in favour of a resolution recognising the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as a genocide, saying any "true acknowledgement" of such crimes must include other historical "mass slaughters".The Minnesota Democrat was one of just three House members to vote “present” on the resolution that passed in an overwhelming 405-11 vote.




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Michelle Obama: White Americans 'still running' from black neighbors

Michelle Obama: White Americans 'still running' from black neighborsMichelle Obama said that white Americans are “still running” from their nonwhite fellow citizens during a summit in which she detailed how her own experience of white flight unfolded during her upbringing on Chicago’s South Side.




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What Baghdadi’s Death Means for al Qaeda—and Why It Matters

What Baghdadi’s Death Means for al Qaeda—and Why It MattersSITE Intelligence GroupWith ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed one day and the group’s official spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir the next, there’s a giant hole in the pseudo-Caliphate structure of the so-called Islamic State. The group must now, by its strict religious tenets, find a new (supposed) descendant of the Prophet Muhammed to fill the role of Caliph. But the deaths of those two are equally consequential for al-Qaeda, the bitter rival of ISIS for leadership of global jihad. Al-Qaeda has spent the last six years branding the Caliphate as illegitimate, too extreme, and ultimately harmful. When ISIS declared the establishment of its so-called Caliphate spanning territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, al-Qaeda and its affiliates unanimously rejected it. To this day, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s speeches rarely come without some critique of the “epidemic” put forth by ISIS.Trump Officials Had No Clue Where He Got ‘Whimpering’ Detail in His Baghdadi Raid AccountOddly, Baghdadi was killed in Idlib, a haven of al-Qaeda-linked fighters and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a Syrian Islamist faction led by Abu Muhammad al-Julani, a former al-Qaeda comrade who had become one of Baghdadi's most bitter foes. There has been some speculation Baghdadi was not just hiding out but trying to recruit from the ranks of his enemies.Neither al-Qaeda Central nor its affiliates have commented on Baghdadi’s death as yet, but within hours after the news broke, al-Qaeda ideologues and supporters already were celebrating the event and discussing what it will mean for the future of jihad. In chat groups online, al-Qaeda supporters voiced resentment after years of bitter strife with the group, and the scale of these responses illustrates just how much of a big deal and opportunity they see with Baghdadi’s death.“Based on his orders, thousands of the mujahideen were killed,” one post read.“How thrilled were they every time leaders from al-Qaeda were martyred?” read another.Some wished Baghdadi the ultimate condemnation:  “May Allah send him to Hell.”Messages by others, however, particularly al-Qaeda-linked ideologues, balanced expressions of justice for the jihadi movement with restraint, making sure not to celebrate excessively the result of an operation by the United States.The tactful enthusiasm is calculated. Many ISIS fighters, much of its military infrastructure, many media officials, and supporters were pulled from al-Qaeda. Now, with ISIS’ “Caliph” dead and that Caliphate itself destroyed, al-Qaeda has been given its biggest opportunity yet to bring many of them back under its tent. SITE Intelligence GroupPerhaps the most profound instance of this outreach was a lengthy essay by “Adel Amin,” the pen name of a prominent ideologue linked to the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement, al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and most powerful affiliate. The message, disseminated widely across al-Qaeda-supporting channels and chat groups (many of which are also frequented by pro-ISIS users), demanded that ISIS supporters “return to the road of righteousness” after the Islamic State, in all of its excessive aggression and delusions of destiny, has proven itself a failure. Amin wrote:The situation here is not one in which to gloat. It is a situation for reminding and calling on those who remained in the ranks of al-Baghdadi, to reconsider… Indeed, we witnessed its back being broken, its leaders getting killed, and its banner falling, and we hope that we can witness whoever remains from its soldiers returning to righteousness.Statements by other ideologues and supporters voiced the same points. A statement by Sirajuddin Zurayqat, a former religious official in the now-defunct al-Qaeda-linked Brigades of Abdullah Azzam in Lebanon, urged: “Now [Baghdadi] is dead and there is not one from the Ummah grieving over him or giving condolences... Therefore, those who were deceived by him should reconsider before it is too late!”These messages echo the same calls heard from Zawahiri and al-Qaeda affiliates over the years calling on ISIS fighters to “repent” and leave the group. Yet despite these new circumstances, ISIS supporters will not easily be moved. Since the summer of 2016, the group’s followers have seen the loss of the major cities Mosul in Iraq and Raqqah in Syria as well as the death of revered ISIS figures like Omar Shishani, Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani, and others. With the latest setbacks to its leadership, ISIS-linked accounts online already have poured out calls to stay steadfast and have even used Baghdadi’s death as a rallying point to carry out new attacks. Reinforcing this undeterred support is an ISIS military and media machine that has shown no sign of stopping in the last two days. While ISIS has not yet officially acknowledged the death of Baghdadi, it has continued reporting on day-to-day military activity across Iraq, Syria, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.ISIS' Yemen Province - AQAP Prisoners as Featured in the video “He Who Starts is More Unjust”SITE Intelligence GroupFurthermore, while al-Qaeda affiliates like the Shabaab serve as powerful representatives of the organization, al-Qaeda Central is weaker than it has ever been. These days, al-Qaeda Central’s role is largely symbolic, limited to leadership messages and other content while steering the big-picture ethos of the organization. Its attempts to bolster its image, already heavily weighed down by a less-than-charismatic leader in Zawahiri, were upended upon the death of Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama, whom al-Qaeda likely was grooming for an eventual leadership position. These variables considered, al-Qaeda may not be the appealing alternative for jihadists that its supporters want it to seem. So, while some fighters might very well join the ranks of al-Qaeda affiliates in their region, we shouldn't expect to see any drastic migration from ISIS’ ranks into its rival’s.Despite any notions of good-riddance that al-Qaeda and its supporters attach to Baghdadi’s death, and for whatever number of defectors it may win over as a result of Baghdadi’s demise, ISIS is not going anywhere. The barriers between these terrorist organizations have only hardened over the years, fueling deadly clashes and jihadi PR wars. Baghdadi was not the sole barrier keeping ISIS members from joining al-Qaeda, and his death is unlikely to diminish existing disputes.How U.S. Commandos IDed a ‘Mutilated’ Baghdadi So QuicklyRead 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.




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The Latest: Islamic State leader buried at sea, US says

The Latest: Islamic State leader buried at sea, US saysThe head of United States Central Command says Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was buried at sea after a weekend raid on his compound. Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters Wednesday that al-Baghdadi died after he exploded a suicide vest just before U.S. troops were going to capture him. McKenzie says two children were killed in the explosion set off by the Islamic State leader.




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Disaster for Trump? What If the Philippines Became Russia's Ally?

Disaster for Trump? What If the Philippines Became Russia's Ally?How could that happen?




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Biden's communion denial highlights faith-politics conflict

Biden's communion denial highlights faith-politics conflictA Roman Catholic priest's denial of communion to Joe Biden in South Carolina on Sunday illustrates the fine line presidential candidates must walk as they talk about their faiths: balancing religious values with a campaign that asks them to choose a side in polarizing moral debates. The awkward moment for Biden came during a weekend campaign swing through South Carolina, a pivotal firewall in his hopes to claim the Democratic presidential nomination. The former vice president on Sunday visited St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, a midsize city in the state's largely rural northeast.




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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Daylight saving time is ending this weekend. These states want to make DST permanent

Daylight saving time is ending this weekend. These states want to make DST permanentAdjust your clocks back one hour Nov. 3 at 2 a.m. — lest you wake up an hour early to everything in the days ahead. But some states might change that.




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President Trump prepares for unwelcome trip to Chicago

President Trump prepares for unwelcome trip to ChicagoPresident Trump's visit to Chicago is stirring up a tempest even before he arrives in the city that he's repeatedly derided as the poster child of urban violence and dysfunctional Democratic politics.




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Trump shows off 'wonderful' dog used in al-Baghdadi raid

Trump shows off 'wonderful' dog used in al-Baghdadi raidThe president declassified a picture of the Belgian Malinois that helped the U.S. military track down the ISIS leader.




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Convicted rapist freed from life sentence by mistake

Convicted rapist freed from life sentence by mistakeA convicted rapist serving a life sentence was released from prison in error.US marshals are on the trail of Tony Maycon Munoz-Mendez, who was wrongly let out of Rogers state prison in Reidsville, Georgia, on 25 October.




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