Friday, August 23, 2019

Trump’s new press secretary was arrested for DUI while working on the 2016 campaign during her rocky rise to the White House

Trump’s new press secretary was arrested for DUI while working on the 2016 campaign during her rocky rise to the White HouseStephanie Grisham has taken an unconventional approach to her White House post, and hasn't held a single on-camera briefing since taking over in July.




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Farmer's threat prompts U.S. Agriculture Department to pull staff from crop tour

Farmer's threat prompts U.S. Agriculture Department to pull staff from crop tourCORALVILLE, Iowa/CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday it had pulled all staff from an annual crop tour after an employee was threatened, and three sources said the threat of violence was made during a phone call from an angry farmer. U.S. farmers have complained this month that a government crop report did not reflect damage from historic flooding this spring. Lance Honig, crops chief at the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, was among the USDA staffers who had to leave the privately-run Pro Farmer tour, three sources with knowledge of the situation said.




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Interpol issues red notice for former Colombian guerrilla leader

Interpol issues red notice for former Colombian guerrilla leaderInterpol on Thursday issued a red notice for a fugitive Colombian lawmaker and former FARC rebel commander who the United States wants extradited for alleged conspiracy to export 10 tonnes of cocaine. Seuxis Paucias Hernandez - known best by his guerrilla nom de guerre Jesus Santrich - was indicted in 2017 by a U.S. grand jury, setting off a legal saga that has seen him twice arrested and released. Hernandez has denied the U.S. allegations.




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Leading House Dem calls out Omar and Tlaib amid Trump attack for furthering anti-Semitism with 'vile' cartoon

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., called out members of both parties on Thursday, claiming they helped further anti-Semitism in the nation's "political dialogue."

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Gingrich, Kwast, Walker and Autry: A $2 billion prize will bring US permanent moon and Mars settlements

This prize approach will galvanize public attention and attract a lot of new energy and resources.

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Pennsylvania woman, 19, wanted in stabbings of 2 sisters; 1 killed

Police are searching for a Philadelphia teen accused of stabbing two sisters, killing one and critically wounding the other.

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Dem Rep. Tom Malinowski: We need illegal immigrants to 'mow our beautiful lawns'

Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., defended the presence of both legal and illegal immigrants on Tuesday, asking his constituents: "Who do you think is mowing our beautiful lawns?"

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Trump speaks out on Sean Spicer joining 'Dancing with the Stars': 'He will do great'

One day after it was revealed that Sean Spicer will be competing on the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars," President Trump spoke out about the casting decision. 

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Janice's Grilled Doughnuts



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Former Texas health care worker gets 2 life sentences for raping 74-year-old patient with dementia: report

A Fort Worth man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for raping a 74-year-old patient – who could not move or speak – at a nursing home last year.

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Judge Jeanine: Media backlash over Sean Spicer on 'Dancing With the Stars' is 'so small'

The media is reacting to former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer joining "Dancing With the Stars" in a way that makes them appear petty, according to Judge Jeanine Pirro.

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Pete's All-American Cheeseburger with Baked Beans and Crispy Fries



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Trump touts quote calling him 'second coming of God' to Jews in Israel

Trump touts quote calling him 'second coming of God' to Jews in IsraelA day after saying American Jews who vote for Democrats show “great disloyalty,” President Trump touted comments from a conservative radio host who said that Jews in Israel "love him" like a king or the Messiah.




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Overstock CEO resigns over relationship with Russian 'spy'

Overstock CEO resigns over relationship with Russian 'spy'The chief executive of the e-commerce firm Overstock.com stepped down Thursday over his relationship with an alleged Russian intelligence operative jailed for meddling in US politics. Patrick Byrne only recently admitted that he had a close relationship with Maria Butina for three years, during the period when she beguiled top Republican and National Rifle Association officials with talk of strengthening Moscow-Washington relations and her flair with guns.




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UPDATE 3-Employee of Britain's Hong Kong mission held in China over prostitution -report

UPDATE 3-Employee of Britain's Hong Kong mission held in China over prostitution -reportAn employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong has been detained in China for involvement in prostitution, the state-backed Global Times newspaper said on Thursday, as Britain said it continued to urgently seek information. China's foreign ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the employee, Simon Cheng, had been detained in the border city of Shenzhen neighbouring Hong Kong. In a report on its English-language website, the paper, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, cited Shenzhen police as saying Cheng had been detained for 15 days for "solicitation of prostitution".




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Catholic Priest Abuse Survivors' Group Says It's 'Cowardly' That Convicted Cardinal Has Not Been Defrocked

Catholic Priest Abuse Survivors' Group Says It's 'Cowardly' That Convicted Cardinal Has Not Been Defrocked'I don't know what other proof any organization needs other than a conviction'




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Trump lashes out after economic gloom deepens, as he jokes about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland

Trump lashes out after economic gloom deepens, as he jokes about trading Puerto Rico for GreenlandDonald Trump had a much quieter day after yesterday's marathon spew. He started the morning off by renewing his criticism of the Federal Reserve, accusing it of “moving like quicksand” compared to Germany’s central bank, despite insisting the US economy is “strong”, refuting analysts' fears a recession is imminent and backing away from tax cuts. After that, he appeared to take the day off from social media, possibly at the hands of concerned aides, or maybe just after tiring himself out.The morning's attack follows the president’s address to the American Veterans 75th National Convention in Kentucky on Wednesday evening, where he joked about awarding himself the Medal of Honor and trailed the idea of dumping thousands of captured Isis fighters on Europe.




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Denmark reacts with shock and anger as 'disrespectful' Trump cancels trip over Greenland sale row

Denmark reacts with shock and anger as 'disrespectful' Trump cancels trip over Greenland sale rowDenmark’s political leaders and royal family have expressed shock after Donald Trump cancelled a state visit to the country over their refusal to consider selling Greenland. Mette Frederikse, the Danish prime minister, said she was “disappointed” by the decision while a spokesman for the Danish royal palace admitted it had been taken by “surprise”. Less diplomatic responses came from former politicians and opposition figures who said the US president's behaviour was “grotesque”, “smug” and “disrespectful”. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former Danish prime minister, tweeted: “Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.” The outpouring of frustration came after Mr Trump made clear that his interest in buying Greenland, an autonomous country which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, was not a joke.  On Monday, Mr Trump appeared to play up the comic aspect of his considerations, tweeting a picture of a vast gold Trump hotel, writing: “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019 But on Tuesday night he announced that due to the flat-out rejection by Denmark he would be cancelling a trip on September 2 and 3, which was planned after an invitation by the Danish royal family. “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” he wrote.  “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!” The remarks clearly indicated that the refusal to consider selling Greenland, a country with a population of 56,000 people which is mainly covered by an ice sheet, was to blame for the cancellation.  Mr Trump had said over the weekend that Greenland’s strategic benefits – there is renewed geopolitical interest in the Arctic as its ice caps melt – and natural resources made it an alluring proposition.  He has also referenced former US president Harry Truman’s attempts to buy the island for $100 million after the Second World War, a move taken in part because of military benefits that would have followed. So the POTUS has cancelled his visit to Denmark because there was no interest in discussing selling Greenland @BBCRadio4 Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.— Helle Thorning S (@HelleThorning_S) August 21, 2019 However, defending the cancellation, Mr Trump indicated that it was actually the way in which the Danish prime minister had rejected the proposal that was really to blame.  “I thought that the prime minister’s statement that is was an ‘absurd’ idea was nasty,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.  “I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say ‘no, we wouldn’t be interested’.”  The two-day trip had been designed as a way to celebrate Denmark’s recent past in standing with America, not least in military campaigns in the Middle East.  More than 40 Danish soldiers have been killed in US-led missions in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan – a stark number given the country's population of around 5.8 million.  Danish press said the row marked a major deterioration in the country's ties to America, with one newspaper headline calling relations ”ice cold” and another saying they had reached “freezing point”.  Ms Frederikse, the Danish prime minister, over the weekend had brushed off Mr Trump’s Greenland interest, saying: “Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over.” But she gave a more sober statement on Wednesday, telling the cameras: “It is with regret and surprise that I received the news that President Trump has cancelled his state visit.”  Ms Frederikse said that preparations for the trip had been “well under way”, but added: ”This does not change the character of our good relations.”  She was not the only one caught out. Carla Sands, the US ambassador to Denmark, had tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “Denmark is ready” for Mr Trump, adding the words “partner, ally, friend!”  Within hours the trip had been cancelled.




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Mexico struggles: whether to talk to vigilantes or jail them

Mexico struggles: whether to talk to vigilantes or jail themMexico's government appears to be split about whether it should talk to armed vigilante groups, or treat them as criminals. President Andres Manuel López Obrador said Thursday he disagreed with his assistant interior secretary's decision to attend a ceremony with vigilantes, who often call themselves "self-defense" groups. The debate came to a head Wednesday when Ricardo Peralta, an assistant secretary of the interior, attended the groundbreaking of an agricultural processing plant in the vigilante-dominated community of La Huacana in the western state of Michoacan.




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This Crock-Pot Spaghetti Is the Fuss-Free Pasta You Need Tonight

This Crock-Pot Spaghetti Is the Fuss-Free Pasta You Need Tonight




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A woman never returned to work after her lunch break. Police say a coworker killed her

A woman never returned to work after her lunch break. Police say a coworker killed herKenneth C. Saal, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Carolyn Byington, who never returned to work from a lunch break.




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Iran displays domestically built mobile missile defense system

Iran displays domestically built mobile missile defense systemIran displayed what it described as a domestically built long-range, surface-to-air missile air defense system on Thursday, at a time of rising tension with the United States. Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. It says the drone was over its territory, but the United States says it was in international airspace.




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Critics of Missouri abortion law sue over referendum failure

Critics of Missouri abortion law sue over referendum failureAbortion-rights advocates on Thursday sued Missouri's top election official, alleging his actions and state laws denied them the right to put one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws to a public vote. No Bans on Choice Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union sought to put the law on the 2020 ballot in hopes that voters would overturn it. Attorneys for those who sued put the blame on Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.




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Thursday, August 22, 2019

'Storm Area 51' event pushes rural Nevada county to declare emergency

'Storm Area 51' event pushes rural Nevada county to declare emergencyLincoln County commissioner pre-signed an emergency declaration ahead of the "Storm Area 51" raid event that's drawn more than 2 million RSVPs.




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2020 Democratic hopeful agrees with Harry Reid on warning for candidates running on progressive platforms

Congressman and 2020 hopeful Tim Ryan, D-Oh., said he agreed with former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who warned Democratic nominees running on "Medicare-for-all" platforms that the strategy would be a flub in the general election. 

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Sanders Hits Back after Co-Sponsor Harris Criticizes Medicare for All

Sanders Hits Back after Co-Sponsor Harris Criticizes Medicare for AllSenator Bernie Sanders hit back at Senator Kamala Harris Monday evening after Harris said at a fundraiser in the Hamptons that she has "not been comfortable" with the Medicare for All plan she cosponsored with Sanders.> I don't go to the Hamptons to raise money from billionaires. If I ever visited there, I would tell them the same thing I have said for the last 30 years: We must pass a Medicare for All system to guarantee affordable health care for all, not just for those who can afford it.> > -- Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 19, 2019Harris courted wealthy donors in the Hamptons and at Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend, assuring them that, “I believe in capitalism, but capitalism is not working for most people.”"I think almost every member of the United States Senate who's running for president, and many others, have signed on to a variety of plans in the Senate. And I have done the same," the California Democrat said. "I support Medicare for All. But as you may have noticed, over the course of the many months, I've not been comfortable with Bernie's plan, the Medicare-for-All plan."Harris floundered slightly earlier in her campaign on the question of whether private insurance plans would still be available under her health-care proposal. She originally said private health insurance would be eliminated but has since backtracked, saying that while she is “committed to reining in the private insurance companies,” phasing out private insurance “has to happen over a period of time.”Sanders is currently polling ahead of Harris but behind the front-runner, former vice president Joe Biden, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is in second place.




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Hong Kong police in standoff with protesters after sit-in

Hong Kong police in standoff with protesters after sit-inNear the end of the event, the police began what they called a "dispersal operation, using minimum force" after some protesters blocked roads and flashed laser pointers at officers. Police with riot shields faced off at the station entrance against a group of remaining protesters, who sprayed a firehose and spread soap on the floor to slow a police approach, while piling up trash bins, a wheelchair and umbrellas in a makeshift blockade. The station's entrance shutters were lowered, barricading the protesters inside.




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U.S. removed almost 2.7 million barrels daily of Iranian oil from market: Pompeo

U.S. removed almost 2.7 million barrels daily of Iranian oil from market: PompeoWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has removed nearly 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oil from global markets daily as a result of Washington's decision to reimpose sanctions on all purchases of Iran's crude, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.




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Parkland students unveil gun violence prevention plan: 'Policymakers have failed, so survivors are stepping up'

Parkland students unveil gun violence prevention plan: 'Policymakers have failed, so survivors are stepping up'March For Our Lives, the group formed by the Parkland students in the wake of the mass shooting at their school in February 2018, has unveiled a new plan for gun control.The Peace Plan is a six-step proposal focused on changing gun laws in America to prevent mass shootings, which continue to ravage the country. The students call their steps C.H.A.N.G.E., with each letter spelling out a goal.




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Russia and China blast US missile test

Russia and China blast US missile testRussia and China warned Tuesday that a new US missile test had heightened military tensions and risked sparking an arms race, weeks after Washington ripped up a Cold War-era weapons pact with Moscow. The US and Russia ditched the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty this month after accusing each other of violating the accord. Washington said the agreement also tied its hands in dealing with other powers such as China.




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The Latest: Albania rescues 36 Afghans in Aegean

The Latest: Albania rescues 36 Afghans in AegeanAlbania's Defense Ministry says its ship in the Aegean Sea has rescued 36 Afghans trying to cross into Greece. Defense Minister Olta Xhacka tweeted Wednesday that 19 Afghan children, eight women and nine men were rescued by the ship Oriku in cooperation with Frontex, the European Union's border control force. Xhacka did not say exactly where the migrants were found.




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Salvadoran woman acquitted in abortion case calls for reform

Salvadoran woman acquitted in abortion case calls for reformEvelyn Hernandez has a message for El Salvador's president: End the criminalization of abortion in the conservative Central American country. Hernandez, 21, was exonerated earlier this week in a closely watched retrial after an earlier judgment found her guilty of killing her stillborn son and sentenced her to 30 years in prison.




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Climate change will cripple economies regardless of countries' wealth- report

Climate change will cripple economies regardless of countries' wealth- reportClimate change will damage the economies of countries whether they are rich or poor, hot or cold by the year 2100, economists said in a new report, dispelling the notion that impoverished, warm countries will suffer the most on a warming planet. Researchers who examined data from 174 countries over 50 years found that persistent temperature changes above or below a country's historical norm adversely affected economic growth, regardless of how warm a country is. The United States could see a 10% loss in gross domestic product (GDP) without significant policy change.




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Greece says it won't assist Iranian tanker sought by US

Greece says it won't assist Iranian tanker sought by USGreece said on Wednesday it won't endanger its relations with the United States by aiding an Iranian supertanker sought by the U.S. but released by Gibraltar that's currently in the Mediterranean Sea, believed heading for a Greek port. Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said Athens is under pressure from U.S. authorities, which claim the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1 is tied to a sanctioned organization. The vessel can still enter Greek waters or anchor offshore, in which case Athens will "see" what it will do, Varvitsiotis added.




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How China Is Trying to Quell Hong Kong’s Protests Without Troops

How China Is Trying to Quell Hong Kong’s Protests Without Troops(Bloomberg) -- China has lots of weapons to deploy to bring Hong Kong’s protesters under control before it needs to send in the troops.From barring dissident flight attendants to encouraging “patriotic” citizens to confront protesters on the streets, China has unloaded a wide range of firepower against the city’s fractious opposition in recent weeks. That’s to say nothing of the considerable sway Beijing holds over local politics, with its own loyalist bloc in the elected legislature and veto power over all top appointments.Here’s a look at some of the tools in China’s arsenal:1\. Political InfluenceWhile Chinese officials continue to reaffirm their commitment to Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy,” they’ve begun to pull the levers of power more directly since some radical protesters attacked the central government’s local headquarters and other symbols of Beijing’s authority. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office -- China’s top agency overseeing the city -- has held an unprecedented three briefings on the protests and summoned local representatives to a closed-door meeting in Shenzhen, where attendees say officials batted away appeals for compromise.The moves demonstrate the Communist Party’s ability to reach deep into the city’s politics without resorting to military force, even if they reinforce arguments that local control is being eroded. China has also lodged formal diplomatic complaints with countries that have supported the protests, accusing the U.S. and the U.K. of meddling. On Tuesday, it was revealed that a U.K. consular worker from Hong Kong had been detained while returning from a trip to the mainland earlier this month.2\. Mainland-Dependent BusinessesChina has repeatedly shown its willingness to use its leverage as the world’s largest trading nation to express political displeasure, as South Korea, Canada, Norway and others can attest. Hong Kong, which conducts more than 40% of its trade via the mainland, is particularly vulnerable. Last week, Rupert Hogg resigned as Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.’s chief executive officer after China’s regulators banned all crew who participated in “illegal demonstrations” from mainland flights.Meanwhile, local tycoons including Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, came off the sidelines to publish statements and purchase advertisements urging an end to violent protests. At the same time, queries on Chinese e-commerce portals such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao returned unsuccessful results for people seeking to ship umbrellas, masks and helmets to Hong Kong, where they’ve become common tools of protesters.3\. State Propaganda MachineEven if Beijing has no intention of deploying troops, it can unleash a vast state-run media apparatus to raise fears that it might. Chinese media have circulated photos and news reports of Chinese troops and paramilitary riot-control forces training in scenarios resembling Hong Kong’s protests. The government’s claims that the protests are the product of foreign “black hands” such as the U.S. and the U.K. are widely circulated, helping lay the ground for any more direct intervention.Moreover, the uglier parts of the protests, such as petrol bombs thrown at police stations or the defacement of national emblems, are amplified for most of the mainland’s 1.4 billion citizens. Reports frequently compared the protests to “terrorists” and “rioters” -- a label used to justify the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Beijing’s nationwide censorship system known as the Great Firewall helps ensure that developments that might generate sympathy for the movement, including outbreaks of beatings by triad-linked mobs, go largely unmentioned.4\. United FrontLong before regaining control over Hong Kong in 1997, the Communist Party had built a deep support network that it can call for support in times of trouble, including business groups, labor unions, neighborhood associations and several pro-establishment political parties. This “United Front” plays a key role in organizing counterprotests to support the police and the government, events that receive favorable play in the city’s numerous Beijing-aligned commercial media outlets.The growing global reach of such groups -- ostensibly aimed at overseas Chinese -- has drawn accusations of political meddling in places such as Canada and Australia, where they’ve turned out to oppose causes disputed by Beijing. But they’ve helped China counter rallies organized around the globe to support Hong Kong’s protests, seen by clashes in Sydney and Melbourne on Friday. Canadian police escorted worshipers out of a Vancouver church on Sunday, after Beijing supporters surrounded a prayer meeting for Hong Kong.5\. Triad SupportWhile the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office has urged an end to all violence in the protests, the agency has also urged Hong Kong residents to “stand firm and guard our beautiful homeland” and warned demonstrators that “those who play with fire will perish by it.”Such comments have fueled concern that Beijing is at least tolerant of other, more aggressive moves against protesters. In recent weeks, groups of stick-wielding men, often dressed in matching white shirts, have turned out on the streets to assault protesters, occasionally striking passersby in the process. People have shot fireworks at rallies from passing cars. On Tuesday, a man was arrested while attempting to enter the mainland in connection with a knife attack on three people near a protest message wall.The protesters and opposition lawmakers have blamed the attacks on notorious Chinese organized crime gangs known as triads, and police said that several people with links to the groups were among those arrested after one particular shocking attack last month. They’ve accused the police of colluding with the gangs, something the local government has denied.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.




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Immigration lawyers: We saw what's happening at the US-Mexico border. It's a tragic farce.

Immigration lawyers: We saw what's happening at the US-Mexico border. It's a tragic farce.There is no due process in Mexico for asylum seekers, just endless obstacles to staying alive, finding an attorney and communicating with authorities.




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Newark man faces child sex charges; mummified remains found

Newark man faces child sex charges; mummified remains foundPolice responding to a call about child sexual abuse said they found mummified remains and an altar to an unknown deity in the home of a man who is now facing multiple charges. Robert Williams is scheduled for an initial court appearance Friday. According to the Essex County prosecutor's office, Newark police investigated after receiving reports that the 53-year-old Williams had been abusing a 13-year-old child for several months.




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Mexican judge allows recreational cocaine use … for 2 users, reports say

In a ruling hailed as a “historic step” for ending the country’s “war on drugs,” a Mexican judge granted two plaintiffs permission to possess, transport and use cocaine recreationally, according to reports Wednesday. 

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Environmental groups sue Trump administration for weakening Endangered Species Act

More than half a dozen environmental groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its purported attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

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MIT staffer, visiting scholar quit over Jeffrey Epstein's $200G donation to school media lab

Two researchers are cutting ties with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab in the wake of revelations that the prestigious technology research hub accepted at least $200,000 from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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Mexican judge allows recreational cocaine use … for 2 users, reports say

In a ruling hailed as a “historic step” for ending the country’s “war on drugs,” a Mexican judge granted two plaintiffs permission to possess, transport and use cocaine recreationally, according to reports Wednesday. 

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Texas executes man in 1998 slaying of college student

Texas executes man in 1998 slaying of college studentA Texas death row inmate who argued that his conviction was based on junk science was executed Wednesday for the abduction, rape and killing of a suburban Houston community college student more than 20 years ago. Larry Swearingen, 48, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the December 1998 killing of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter. Swearingen, who had always maintained his innocence in Trotter's death, was the 12th inmate put to death this year in the U.S. and the fourth in Texas, the nation's busiest capital punishment state.




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Judge tells jail to improve conditions for Epstein cellmate

Judge tells jail to improve conditions for Epstein cellmateA judge ordered a federal jail on Wednesday to improve housing conditions for one of Jeffrey Epstein's former cellmates, who wanted to be moved out of the lockup because he feared retaliation by guards. Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer awaiting trial in a quadruple murder case, was sharing a cell with Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in July when the financier was placed on a suicide watch after being discovered with bruises on his neck. Several weeks later, Epstein hanged himself in his cell.




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Mitch McConnell slams China over Hong Kong, threatens a global confrontation that could tank the finance hub

Mitch McConnell slams China over Hong Kong, threatens a global confrontation that could tank the finance hub"Sooner or later, the rest of the world will have to do what the protesters are doing—confront Beijing," McConnell wrote in the Wall Street Journal.




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Tens of thousands flee Russian-led onslaught on opposition enclave

Tens of thousands flee Russian-led onslaught on opposition enclaveTen of thousands of people have fled to the Turkish border in the last few days as the Syrian army pushed a major advance further into the opposition's last major stronghold, residents, rights groups and opposition sources said on Wednesday. "The flow of cars and vehicles leaving is not stopping," said Abdullah Younis from the city. Rebels concede most of their fighters have fled Khan Sheikhoun but are providing fierce resistance to the Syrian army, which has secured a foothold in the town.




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Denmark reacts with shock and anger as 'disrespectful' Trump cancels trip over Greenland sale row

Denmark reacts with shock and anger as 'disrespectful' Trump cancels trip over Greenland sale rowDenmark’s political leaders and royal family have expressed shock after Donald Trump cancelled a state visit to the country over their refusal to consider selling Greenland. Mette Frederikse, the Danish prime minister, said she was “disappointed” by the decision while a spokesman for the Danish royal palace admitted it had been taken by “surprise”. Less diplomatic responses came from former politicians and opposition figures who said the US president's behaviour was “grotesque”, “smug” and “disrespectful”. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former Danish prime minister, tweeted: “Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.” The outpouring of frustration came after Mr Trump made clear that his interest in buying Greenland, an autonomous country which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, was not a joke.  On Monday, Mr Trump appeared to play up the comic aspect of his considerations, tweeting a picture of a vast gold Trump hotel, writing: “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019 But on Tuesday night he announced that due to the flat-out rejection by Denmark he would be cancelling a trip on September 2 and 3, which was planned after an invitation by the Danish royal family. “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” he wrote.  “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!” The remarks clearly indicated that the refusal to consider selling Greenland, a country with a population of 56,000 people which is mainly covered by an ice sheet, was to blame for the cancellation.  Mr Trump had said over the weekend that Greenland’s strategic benefits – there is renewed geopolitical interest in the Arctic as its ice caps melt – and natural resources made it an alluring proposition.  He has also referenced former US president Harry Truman’s attempts to buy the island for $100 million after the Second World War, a move taken in part because of military benefits that would have followed. So the POTUS has cancelled his visit to Denmark because there was no interest in discussing selling Greenland @BBCRadio4 Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.— Helle Thorning S (@HelleThorning_S) August 21, 2019 However, defending the cancellation, Mr Trump indicated that it was actually the way in which the Danish prime minister had rejected the proposal that was really to blame.  “I thought that the prime minister’s statement that is was an ‘absurd’ idea was nasty,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.  “I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say ‘no, we wouldn’t be interested’.”  The two-day trip had been designed as a way to celebrate Denmark’s recent past in standing with America, not least in military campaigns in the Middle East.  More than 40 Danish soldiers have been killed in US-led missions in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan – a stark number given the country's population of around 5.8 million.  Danish press said the row marked a major deterioration in the country's ties to America, with one newspaper headline calling relations ”ice cold” and another saying they had reached “freezing point”.  Ms Frederikse, the Danish prime minister, over the weekend had brushed off Mr Trump’s Greenland interest, saying: “Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over.” But she gave a more sober statement on Wednesday, telling the cameras: “It is with regret and surprise that I received the news that President Trump has cancelled his state visit.”  Ms Frederikse said that preparations for the trip had been “well under way”, but added: ”This does not change the character of our good relations.”  She was not the only one caught out. Carla Sands, the US ambassador to Denmark, had tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “Denmark is ready” for Mr Trump, adding the words “partner, ally, friend!”  Within hours the trip had been cancelled.




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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Biden gets testy when Fox News reporter disputes claim he draws biggest crowds in Iowa

Fox News reporter Peter Doocy issued a live fact check to former Vice President Joe Biden when the 2020 frontrunner claimed to reporters that he drew larger crowds than other Democratic candidates.

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Guy Benson: Dr. Biden's electability argument for Joe makes sense, but falls apart if he loses lead

Dr. Jill Biden made a decent case for her husband's candidacy when she said polls show "he can win" — but her argument falls apart if he drops to second place, according to Guy Benson.

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Iran Warns U.S. Against Seizing Oil Tanker Headed to Greece

Iran Warns U.S. Against Seizing Oil Tanker Headed to Greece(Bloomberg) -- Iran warned the U.S. against apprehending a supertanker carrying the Middle East country’s oil and said it couldn’t be clear on the ship’s ultimate destination, leaving the fate of the vessel uncertain as it sailed into the Mediterranean Sea from Gibraltar, where it had been detained.The tanker, formerly called the Grace 1 and re-named the Adrian Darya 1, was signaling Kalamata, Greece -- at least for now -- with an arrival date of Aug. 26, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg at 5:25 p.m. London time. It had previously been showing an arrival date of Aug. 25.The vessel left Gibraltar Sunday night after being detained there since early July, when British forces seized it on suspicion of carrying oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions. The U.S., which has sanctions against Iran, is seeking to prevent anyone from doing business with the ship.Iranian Crude Tanker Leaves Gibraltar Waters: What Happens Next?U.S. sanctions mean Iran cannot be “very transparent” about the destination of the tanker, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at a press conference in Helsinki. He said the U.S. is trying to “bully others from purchasing our oil” and that he hopes the release of the vessel will de-escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf.A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.The incident is one of several in recent months that have strained relations between Iran and the West, following the U.S. reinstatement of sanctions on the Islamic Republic last year. Iran has maintained that the ship’s original detention on July 4 was unlawful. The Persian Gulf state continues to hold a U.K.-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero. Aggression in the region has threatened shipping in recent months in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most critical waterway for oil supplies.“The U.S. surely can’t seize the Iranian tanker and, if it does, it would pose a threat to international maritime security,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said. Iran warned the U.S. via “diplomatic channels,” including Switzerland, against interfering with the tanker, in international waters, Mousavi said at a news conference in Tehran. Swiss diplomats serve as interlocutors between the U.S. and Iran.Destination UnclearIt’s not known where the Iranian vessel is ultimately headed. Greek authorities haven’t received formal notification that the vessel intends to head to a port in the country, according to a spokesman for Greece’s coast guard. Kalamata’s port usually serves pleasure craft like sailboats and cruise ships, data compiled by Bloomberg show.The waters off Kalamata could be a possible location for ship-to-ship cargo transfers, according to two vessel brokers without specific information about the tanker’s plans. A ship’s destination is entered manually into its Automatic Identification System and is picked up by vessel-tracking. The destinations can be altered multiple times on the same journey.Gibraltar rejected an attempt by the U.S. to block the Iranian supertanker, saying that EU regulations don’t allow it to seek a court order to detain the vessel.U.S. ComplaintA complaint unsealed in Washington stated that “Oil Tanker ‘Grace 1,’ all petroleum aboard it and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture,” according to a Justice Department statement. The statement alleges a “scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments” of oil from Iran to Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions, money laundering and terrorism statutes.Gibraltar last week released the vessel, after the government said Iran had provided assurances that the ship would not sail to a destination sanctioned by the EU. In response, the U.S. said it was gravely disappointed with Britain, and it warned that ports, banks and anyone else who does business with the vessel or its crew might be subject to sanctions, according to two administration officials.(Updates vessel’s estimated arrival date in second paragraph, request for comment in fifth. An earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling for a port official in Kalamata, Greece.)\--With assistance from Serene Cheong, Anthony DiPaola, Alex Longley, Julian Lee, Paul Tugwell, Kati Pohjanpalo and Nick Wadhams.To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Wingfield in London at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net;Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.net;Verity Ratcliffe in Dubai at vratcliffe1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net, Brian Wingfield, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.




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School workers who used Sharpie to color in black teen’s hair in Texas face lawsuit

School workers who used Sharpie to color in black teen’s hair in Texas face lawsuitA federal civil rights lawsuit was filed on Sunday against a Texas school district and three officials after they took disciplinary action for a student’s haircut.




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Fox News Guest: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Have ‘Grotesque Holocaust Envy’

Fox News Guest: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Have ‘Grotesque Holocaust Envy’Fox NewsReacting to the controversy surrounding Israel’s decision to deny entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Fox News guest said on Monday night that the two Muslim congresswomen have “Holocaust envy” because they’re “Islamists.”Appearing on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Qanta Ahmed—who has written for The Daily Beast in the past—blasted the two progressive lawmakers over their Monday press conference in which they denounced the travel restrictions and claimed Israel was suppressing voices of dissent.“What you are seeing is a full-blown Islamist propaganda,” Ahmed said. “These are professional victim-mongering women who unfortunately have been elected to Congress but are using every tool in the playbook of the Muslim Brotherhood of Islamists.”Host Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, said it was easy for her to be “upset and angry about their political Islamist approach to these issues” because she just wants to “defend Israel.” She went on to ask Ahmed if the congresswomen could be “change agents for good.”“They could be—they could be,” she replied. “If they were pluralist Muslims, if they knew what was in the Quran, where we recognize Jews, where we recognize the sanctity of Moses, the holiness of the Torah. But they’re not.”“They are using Islamist tactics to invert reality,” Ahmed continued. “What they are seeking—they have a grotesque Holocaust envy.”She went on to claim that Islamists “envy what they see as the special mark upon the Jewish people that is the membership of genocide” because they want to make it appears as if they’re the “most persecuted” while they “deny the Holocaust.”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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Guns are a huge part of American society; taking them away won't help: Today's talker

Guns are a huge part of American society; taking them away won't help: Today's talkerGuns are vital for protection in America. The acts of the few shouldn't affect citizens' rights to guns, which is protected by the Second Amendment.




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Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key town

Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key townBashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture all of Syria as his forces made significant battlefield gains and drove rebel fighters out of a strategic town he once attacked with chemical weapons. Syrian regime troops pushed rebel forces from Khan Sheikhoun, a town where Assad’s jets once dropped chemical weapons and killed nearly 100 people, prompting Donald Trump to launch retaliatory airstrikes in 2017.  The town has been under rebel control since 2014 and its fall marks a victory for Assad as his troops attempt to conquer Idlib, the last opposition-held province in the northwest of Syria.     Rebel forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, said they were retreating to an area south of the town but would continue fighting against the regime’s advancing troops. Regime troops advanced into the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun but had yet to fully occupy it. Speaking at a meeting with MPs from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, Assad hailed his forces’ progress. “The victories that were achieved prove the determination of the people and the army to defeat terrorists until the liberation of the last inch of Syrian territory,” he said.   He also accused Turkey and Western states of supporting jihadist groups in Syria. Tensions between Turkey and the Syrian regime have been rising sharply as Assad’s forces drive into Idlib, where the Turkish military has 12 military outposts. Regime jets bombed near a Turkish military convoy on Monday, killing three civilians, according to Turkey’s defence ministry. After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition  Credit: AFP The fall of Khan Sheikhoun means that one of the Turkish military outposts is now effectively surrounded by regime forces. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that his country would not withdraw from the outpost at Morek and warned the Syrian regime not to interfere with it.  “We don’t have an intention such as moving this elsewhere,” Mr Cavusoglu said. “We will do whatever is necessary for the security of our own soldiers and observation posts.” Turkey says it established the outposts to counter jihadist groups and help enforce a ceasefire it brokered alongside Russia. The Syrian regime says the outposts are a violation of Syrian sovereignty but has so far refrained from directly attacking them.  However, as the regime advances further into Idlib the chances of a direct confrontation with Turkish forces seem to be rising.  Assad’s forces launched their offensive against Idlib in April but made relatively little progress until the last few weeks, when they have advanced rapidly with the support of withering airstrikes by Russian warplanes.   Around 500 civilians have been killed since the offensive began, including more than 100 children, according to aid groups. A young girl named Jana was killed by Russian bombing on Tuesday, opposition activists said.   The fighting has displaced over 500,000 people in southern Idlib and the northern of the neighbouring province of Hama. Khain Sheikhoun was seen as important symbol of opposition to Assad by rebel supporters “One of the revolution’s castles is occupied by its destroyers,” said one Syrian man in Idlib.  Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said the Islamic State (Isil) remains a threat in Syria and Iraq but has lost much of its ability to carry out centrally-planned attacks on the West.  "There are places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago," Mr Pompeo told CBS. "But the caliphate is gone in their capacity to conduct external attacks, it's been made much more difficult," he said. The jihadist group was driven from its last territorial stronghold this year but continues to mount insurgency attacks in both Iraq and Syria.




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Gina Lopez, foe of Philippine mining industry, dies at 65

Gina Lopez, foe of Philippine mining industry, dies at 65Former Philippine environment minister Gina Lopez, who led a high-profile fight against the nation's powerful mining industry, died Monday aged 65, her family's media company announced. Lopez rose to international prominence in 2016 by ordering many Philippines mines shuttered on environmental grounds, and also issued a ban on open-pit mining. The Philippines, which is one of the world's top nickel ore producers, has long faced accusations of looking the other way while major firms flout regulations.




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2 days before he died, Jeffrey Epstein signed a new will putting his $577 million in assets in a trust — $18 million more than he told the court he was worth

2 days before he died, Jeffrey Epstein signed a new will putting his $577 million in assets in a trust — $18 million more than he told the court he was worthLawyers for Epstein's accusers say they will still take action against his estate even though no beneficiaries were listed on his will.




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How China Is Trying to Quell Hong Kong’s Protests Without Troops

How China Is Trying to Quell Hong Kong’s Protests Without Troops(Bloomberg) -- China has lots of weapons to deploy to bring Hong Kong’s protesters under control before it needs to send in the troops.From barring dissident flight attendants to encouraging “patriotic” citizens to confront protesters on the streets, China has unloaded a wide range of firepower against the city’s fractious opposition in recent weeks. That’s to say nothing of the considerable sway Beijing holds over local politics, with its own loyalist bloc in the elected legislature and veto power over all top appointments.Here’s a look at some of the tools in China’s arsenal:1\. Political InfluenceWhile Chinese officials continue to reaffirm their commitment to Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy,” they’ve begun to pull the levers of power more directly since some radical protesters attacked the central government’s local headquarters and other symbols of Beijing’s authority. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office -- China’s top agency overseeing the city -- has held an unprecedented three briefings on the protests and summoned local representatives to a closed-door meeting in Shenzhen, where attendees say officials batted away appeals for compromise.The moves demonstrate the Communist Party’s ability to reach deep into the city’s politics without resorting to military force, even if they reinforce arguments that local control is being eroded. China has also lodged formal diplomatic complaints with countries that have supported the protests, accusing the U.S. and the U.K. of meddling. On Tuesday, it was revealed that a U.K. consular worker from Hong Kong had been detained while returning from a trip to the mainland earlier this month.2\. Mainland-Dependent BusinessesChina has repeatedly shown its willingness to use its leverage as the world’s largest trading nation to express political displeasure, as South Korea, Canada, Norway and others can attest. Hong Kong, which conducts more than 40% of its trade via the mainland, is particularly vulnerable. Last week, Rupert Hogg resigned as Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.’s chief executive officer after China’s regulators banned all crew who participated in “illegal demonstrations” from mainland flights.Meanwhile, local tycoons including Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, came off the sidelines to publish statements and purchase advertisements urging an end to violent protests. At the same time, queries on Chinese e-commerce portals such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao returned unsuccessful results for people seeking to ship umbrellas, masks and helmets to Hong Kong, where they’ve become common tools of protesters.3\. State Propaganda MachineEven if Beijing has no intention of deploying troops, it can unleash a vast state-run media apparatus to raise fears that it might. Chinese media have circulated photos and news reports of Chinese troops and paramilitary riot-control forces training in scenarios resembling Hong Kong’s protests. The government’s claims that the protests are the product of foreign “black hands” such as the U.S. and the U.K. are widely circulated, helping lay the ground for any more direct intervention.Moreover, the uglier parts of the protests, such as petrol bombs thrown at police stations or the defacement of national emblems, are amplified for most of the mainland’s 1.4 billion citizens. Reports frequently compared the protests to “terrorists” and “rioters” -- a label used to justify the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Beijing’s nationwide censorship system known as the Great Firewall helps ensure that developments that might generate sympathy for the movement, including outbreaks of beatings by triad-linked mobs, go largely unmentioned.4\. United FrontLong before regaining control over Hong Kong in 1997, the Communist Party had built a deep support network that it can call for support in times of trouble, including business groups, labor unions, neighborhood associations and several pro-establishment political parties. This “United Front” plays a key role in organizing counterprotests to support the police and the government, events that receive favorable play in the city’s numerous Beijing-aligned commercial media outlets.The growing global reach of such groups -- ostensibly aimed at overseas Chinese -- has drawn accusations of political meddling in places such as Canada and Australia, where they’ve turned out to oppose causes disputed by Beijing. But they’ve helped China counter rallies organized around the globe to support Hong Kong’s protests, seen by clashes in Sydney and Melbourne on Friday. Canadian police escorted worshipers out of a Vancouver church on Sunday, after Beijing supporters surrounded a prayer meeting for Hong Kong.5\. Triad SupportWhile the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office has urged an end to all violence in the protests, the agency has also urged Hong Kong residents to “stand firm and guard our beautiful homeland” and warned demonstrators that “those who play with fire will perish by it.”Such comments have fueled concern that Beijing is at least tolerant of other, more aggressive moves against protesters. In recent weeks, groups of stick-wielding men, often dressed in matching white shirts, have turned out on the streets to assault protesters, occasionally striking passersby in the process. People have shot fireworks at rallies from passing cars. On Tuesday, a man was arrested while attempting to enter the mainland in connection with a knife attack on three people near a protest message wall.The protesters and opposition lawmakers have blamed the attacks on notorious Chinese organized crime gangs known as triads, and police said that several people with links to the groups were among those arrested after one particular shocking attack last month. They’ve accused the police of colluding with the gangs, something the local government has denied.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.




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The Best Fall Soup Recipes, From Chicken Noodle to Broccoli Cheddar

The Best Fall Soup Recipes, From Chicken Noodle to Broccoli Cheddar




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AOC calls the Electoral College a 'scam,' says it has a 'racial injustice breakdown'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took aim at the Electoral College on Monday, calling it a "scam" and suggesting it disenfranchises people of color. 

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Airstrikes target Turkish convoy in Syria, raising tensions

Airstrikes target Turkish convoy in Syria, raising tensionsAirstrikes targeted a Turkish army convoy inside a rebel-held part of northwestern Syria on Monday, killing three civilians and wounding 12 others, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. Syria said the Turkish convoy was carrying ammunition to rebels who have lost ground this month amid a government offensive to retake their last stronghold in the country. The incident ratcheted up tensions in the region, currently ground zero in the long-running Syrian civil war that has put Turkish, Russian, U.S. and Iranian interests at stake.




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Homeless crisis spiraling out of control in West Coast cities

Homeless crisis spiraling out of control in West Coast citiesFormer California Rep. Darrell Issa breaks down the problematic policies fueling the homeless crisis on the West Coast.




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SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Gender pronouns part of LGBT fight

SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Gender pronouns part of LGBT fight




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China plans to make Shenzhen a 'better place' than Hong Kong

China plans to make Shenzhen a 'better place' than Hong KongChina's government has unveiled plans to boost the mainland city of Shenzhen and make it into what state media called a "better place" than neighbouring Hong Kong, following another huge pro-democracy rally in the semi-autonomous financial hub. Weeks of rallies, demonstrations, and occupations have plunged Hong Kong into crisis -- which Beijing is now framing as an opportunity for Shenzhen's development. On Monday, state-run media outlined a set of guidelines released by the central Chinese government that aims to turn Shenzhen into a pilot area of "socialism with Chinese characteristics".




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U.S. Democrat Warren wants to repeal 1994 crime bill, end cash bail

U.S. Democrat Warren wants to repeal 1994 crime bill, end cash bailU.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday proposed sweeping changes to federal and state criminal justice systems, including ending cash bail requirements and doing away with a crime bill that rival Joe Biden helped make law. "It's not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail, while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus. Warren's popularity has risen in public opinion polls measuring the crowded Democratic field, but she has not gained much traction among black voters, a key voting demographic in the party's nominating contests.




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Neo-Nazi arrested over threat to exterminate Hispanics said 'I thank God every day Trump is president'

Neo-Nazi arrested over threat to exterminate Hispanics said 'I thank God every day Trump is president'A man arrested by the FBI on suspicion of threatening to kill Hispanic people in Miami allegedly wrote that he thanked God every day that Donald Trump was president.Eric Lin, 35, made a series of threats against the Hispanic community in the Miami area before being arrested in Seattle.




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It looks like the Russians are trying to hide the truth about that nuclear accident in Nyonoksa

It looks like the Russians are trying to hide the truth about that nuclear accident in NyonoksaEvidence is mounting that Russia may be covering up a tragic nuclear accident after a mysterious blast killed seven at a military-weapons testing site.




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India's Moon probe enters lunar orbit

India's Moon probe enters lunar orbitIndia's Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft entered lunar orbit on Tuesday, executing one of the trickiest manoeuvres on its historic mission to the Moon. After four weeks in space, the craft completed its Lunar Orbit Insertion as planned, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement. India is seeking to become just the fourth nation after Russia, the United States and China to land a spacecraft on the Moon.




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