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  • Trump defense on Russian bounty story falls flat, even with Republicans

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    White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has defended the president over reports that Russia offered Taliban fighters a bounty on U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 19:42:05 -0400
  • Italian police seize record amount of amphetamines shipped from Syria

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    Italian police said on Wednesday they had seized about 14 tonnes of amphetamine pills worth around 1 billion euros ($1 billion) arriving from Syria, in what they described as the world's single largest operation of its kind. The shipment was hidden among counterfeit clothing items.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 06:32:44 -0400
  • Simon Cheng: UK asylum for ex-consulate worker 'tortured in China'

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    Simon Cheng is granted asylum in the UK almost a year after he was detained by Chinese authorities.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 11:09:29 -0400
  • ‘Beat it, little f***er.’ Officers laugh after shooting rubber bullets at protesters.

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    Warning: This article contains profane language.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 18:20:53 -0400
  • The Air Force's Masterplan to Make the F-15 Fighter Even More Deadly

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    Here are the upgrades the Pentagon wants.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 15:10:00 -0400
  • Gun Sales Spike, FBI Background Checks Set New Record

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    Background checks for gun sales spiked again in June, setting a new record for the highest number of checks in one month as nationwide protests, riots and the coronavirus pandemic continued to increase safety concerns for many.The National Instant Criminal Background Check System conducted 3.9 million checks in June, an increase of 70 percent over June 2019. Last month’s numbers broke the previous record of 2.7 million checks set in March.Already this year, the FBI has recorded 19 million background checks in the system, more than were recorded during first 14 years of the system, which has been operating since 1998. Only six months into 2020, the surge in checks is already nearing last year’s record of 28 million background checks.The number is not a representation of gun sales, but is used to estimate the number of weapons that trade hands. Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, a consulting firm that tracks the gun market, estimates that 2.3 million firearms were sold in June, a year-over-year increase of 145.3% from June 2019.Protests, riots and looting have raged across the country in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. Footage surfaced online of armed business owners and civilians in multiple cities protecting businesses from rioters and looters. Other sources of concern for gun buyers may include gun control advocate Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy, as well as concern that other states might follow Virginia’s suit in setting new gun limits. The Washington Examiner reported a backlog on weapons, ammunitions and parts.The marketing director for one of the biggest sellers in the nation, Hyatt Guns of Charlotte, North Carolina, told The Washington Examiner, “I’ve been in this business going on 14 years, and I have never seen this much demand. There are shortages of nearly every single defensive firearm currently manufactured.”

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 12:25:00 -0400
  • Ilhan Omar, Joaquin Castro demand removal of USAID religious freedom adviser for social media posts

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    "Mark Kevin Lloyd, who has a long history of promoting hateful, Islamophobic rhetoric has no business promoting religious freedom abroad," said Omar.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 12:31:47 -0400
  • Indian groom's wedding, funeral leave over 100 infected with coronavirus

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    More than 100 people have tested positive for coronavirus in India after attending the wedding -- and then funeral -- of the groom, who reportedly tied the knot while ill with the disease. Officials in Bihar state said Wednesday the 26-year-old groom had symptoms of the deadly virus when he got married on June 15. "So far 111 people who either attended the wedding or the funeral have tested positive," said Raj Kishor Chaudhary, chief medical officer in Patna, the state capital.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 09:11:24 -0400
  • Florida governor "not going back" on reopening as COVID cases surge

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    "We're not going back, closing things," Florida Governor Ron DeDSantis said as the state racks up thousands of new cases every day.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 13:42:23 -0400
  • Amid surge in coronavirus cases and mounting criticism, GOP leaders do about-face on masks

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    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage large swaths of the U.S., leading Republicans and even some right-wing TV personalities have come out in favor of wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 15:14:57 -0400
  • Russian Bounties for Killing Americans Go Back Five Years, Ex-Taliban Claims

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    Taliban veterans like to laugh about the first time, according to their lore, that the Russians dumped a lot of American dollars on them. During the Taliban campaign to take over all of Afghanistan in 1995, they actually had a few fighter planes, and they used one to force a Russian cargo plane—a huge Ilyushin Il-76TD flying for a company called Airstan—to land in Kandahar. The Taliban held the Russian crew members prisoner for a year until, one day, they supposedly “escaped” and managed to take the plane with them. How many millions of dollars that took to arrange, the Taliban have never said, but after the long, bloody decade of the 1980s throwing off Soviet occupation, squeezing the Russians for money like that remains a source of amusement. Mullah Manan Niazi, who was the spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Omar in those days, brought up the incident when The Daily Beast asked him about reports that the Russians have offered—and perhaps paid—bounties to Taliban who kill American soldiers.“The Russians paying U.S. dollars—it’s not odd for the Taliban,” he said, his voice fraught with irony over the encrypted phone call as he recalled the Airstan incident. As for the current situation, “The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.”In the world of intelligence gathering, such a statement from such a figure would be worth noting, and just the kind of thing that could lead to what the Trump White House has called “inconclusive” reporting the Russian offer of bounties to kill Americans. Mullah Manan Niazi was a very senior figure in the Taliban when they were in power, and also when they were driven into exile and underground after 2001. But since the death of Mullah Omar was made public in 2015, he has been a dissident and liable to be killed by the current Taliban leadership if it catches up with him. They have accused him of collaborating with the CIA and the Afghan government’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), which he denies.So, Niazi speaks as someone who knows the organization and its top people very well, but who also has an agenda very different from theirs, with his own reasons for confirming the bounty story, and he does not offer further specifics on that. But he does offer details about what he says are the longstanding ties between the Taliban and the Russians as well as the Iranians, and U.S. officials have been tracking those developments.A U.S. intelligence report about Russian assistance to the Taliban has circulated on Capitol Hill and throughout the national security apparatus over the last several days. According to three individuals who have read or who are familiar with the report, the assessment is long and covers the span of several years, focusing generally on how Russia provides support, including financial assistance, to the Taliban. The report also touches on the Russian bounties first reported by The New York Times, though those who read the report say that data point is circumstantial and that the investigation is ongoing. Two individuals who spoke to The Daily Beast, though, said it is clear from the report that there’s an increased risk for U.S. troops in Afghanistan because of Russia’s behavior.In important ways, this classified report mirrors an unclassified document produced last month by the Congressional Research Service which offered a crisp summation: “In the past two years, multiple U.S. commanders have warned of increased levels of assistance, and perhaps even material support for the Taliban from Russia and Iran, both of which cite IS [Islamic State, ISIS] presence in Afghanistan to justify their activities. Both nations were opposed to the Taliban government of the late 1990s, but reportedly see the Taliban as a useful point of leverage vis-a-vis the United States.”“We introduced two Taliban to the Russians under cover as businessmen,” said Niazai looking back on operations when he was still part of the Taliban insurgent leadership. “They went to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. With Russian-supplied funds, we purchased oil, wheat and flour and imported it to Afghanistan and  then sold it there. That’s how we converted Russians funds to cash in Afghanistan.”Both men, contacted by The Daily Beast, vehemently denied such activity. “I don’t want to comment—I don’t even want to talk about Niazi,” said one of them who, as a matter of fact, pays frequent visits to Moscow. “Niazi is our enemy and playing into the hands of the NDS.”Other monies come through the hawala system, which originated in India and is used throughout South Asia and, now, in many other parts of the world. The U.S. treasury notes hawala is distinguished by “trust and the extensive use of connections such as family relationships or regional affiliations. Unlike traditional banking ... hawala makes minimal (often no) use of any sort of negotiable instrument. Transfers of money take place based on communications between members of a network of hawaladars, or hawala dealers.”A senior Afghan security officer told The Daily Beast that he is “not aware of any Russians smuggling money,” but noted that the international Financial Action Task Force combating support for terrorism recently put pressure on the Afghan government to take “practical” action against suspect hawala dealers, “so the Afghan security forces raided some of the money changers.”Many sources, including Mullah Manan Niazi, note the Russian and Iranian role supporting the Taliban in the fight against the so-called Islamic State in Khorasan (a.k.a.  ISIS-K or ISIL-K). Early on in the Trump administration, Gen. John Nicholson—then the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan—warned Congress that Russia “has become more assertive over the past year” in Afghanistan and was “overtly lending legitimacy to the Taliban to undermine NATO efforts and bolster belligerents using the false narrative that only the Taliban are fighting ISIL-K.”Russia reportedly complemented its public rhetorical support for the Taliban with a covert supply program. The Washington Post reported that year that U.S. intelligence believed Russia had sent machine guns to the Taliban. An anonymous military source told the Post that the U.S. had found Russian-provided weapons areas where the group was waging war on coalition forces and ISIS’s Afghan affiliate had little presence. “We've had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders [who] said, ‘this was given by the Russians to the Taliban,’” Nicholson said in a 2018 BBC interview. “We know that the Russians are involved.”Indeed. Various Taliban have told The Daily Beast they were quite proud of the guns they were given as gifts or rewards—whether for specific acts or simply to cement relationships—is unclear. In 2018, Russia denied reports that it sent any arms but Russian special envoy Zamir Kabulov admitted that Moscow had established contacts with the Taliban because it was “seriously worried about possible terror threats for the Russian mission and Russian citizens in Afghanistan." But in September 2019, Russia elevated its talks with the insurgents to a formal visit by a Taliban delegation in September.According to a well-placed Taliban source, after some of the group’s representatives made a trip to Moscow they were given 30 state-of-the-art guns, apparently large caliber sniper rifles powerful enough to shoot through walls. “I personally saw three of them in Helmand,” said the source. “They were still full of grease,” which is to say brand new out of the box.As military scholar David Kilcullen points out in his recent book The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West, the U.S. obsession with its “global war on terror” after 9/11 created an opportunity for Russia and other hostile powers. They were “exploiting our exclusive focus on terrorism, seeking to fill the geopolitical, economic, and security vacuum we had left as we became bogged down in the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.”In the present day, it serves Russia’s interests to keep the United States bogged down there, despite official Russian statements to the contrary. Trump Officials Didn’t Want to Tell Him About the ‘Russian Bounties’GOP Deny, Downplay Questions About Russian Bounty Scandal What others call “hybrid warfare” Kilcullen defines somewhat differently as exploitation of situations in flux, which certainly is the case in Afghanistan with a U.S. president determined to declare he’s made a complete exit, even though there are only 8,600 U.S. troops left on the ground at the moment.“Things that are in limbo, transitioning, or on the periphery, that have ambiguous political, legal, and psychological status—or whose very existence is debated—are liminal,” write Kilcullen. “Liminal warfare exploits this character of ambiguity, operating in the blur, or as some Western military organizations put it, the ‘gray zone.’”That, precisely, is where the Russians have learned to thrive.—with additional reporting by Sam BrodeyRead 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.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 15:04:40 -0400
  • Hong Kong: First arrests under 'anti-protest' law as handover marked

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    A man with a pro-independence flag is among those held on the first day of the new law, police say.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 16:48:54 -0400
  • Feud ends in gunfire as pastor kills two in front of his daughter, Las Vegas cops say

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    The man, a pastor at a Las Vegas church, killed his 71-year-old neighbor and her friend with a shotgun, police say.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 17:04:31 -0400
  • Russian envoy says North Korea anger over leaflets was for depiction of Kim’s wife

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    A series of condemnations over leaflets distributed in North Korea were driven by fury over “dirty, insulting” depictions of leader Kim Jong Un’s spouse, Russia’s top envoy in the reclusive country has said.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 06:38:46 -0400
  • The 10 Best Dino-Killing, Ice Spewing, Earth-Destroying Asteroids

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    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:20:00 -0400
  • Ex-Atlanta policeman charged in Brooks' death freed from jail, official says

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    The former Atlanta police officer charged in last month's death of Rayshard Brooks, which touched off days of anti-racism protests, has been released from jail on bail, an official said on Wednesday. A Georgia County judge on Tuesday set bond for Garrett Rolfe, 27, at $500,000, and added numerous conditions, including that he wears an ankle monitor and obeys a curfew. Rolfe left Gwinnett County Jail at 12:27 a.m. EDT (0337 GMT) on Wednesday, according to county Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Shannon Volkodav.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 07:04:49 -0400
  • Martin Gugino, the Buffalo protester pushed to the ground and injured by police, released after nearly a month in hospital

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    The 75-year-old man who fell to the ground after being pushed by Buffalo police officers in a viral video was released from the hospital Tuesday.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 20:38:23 -0400
  • Ex-Canada PM Mulroney calls for revised relations with China

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    Canada must have an "urgent rethink" of its relationship with China, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said Wednesday as tensions build over the possible extradition to the United States of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Conservative Mulroney backed his Liberal successor Justin Trudeau's rejection of any exchange of Meng, who was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018, for two Canadians who were detained in China in apparent retaliation. Mulroney said Canada's hope that China would emerge as a constructive partner in international relations had been proven wrong, referring in particular to Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 11:43:29 -0400
  • McConnell splits with Trump on defence bill veto and bases named for Confederate generals

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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has split with Donald Trump over the president's threat to veto the annual defence spending bill if it includes a provision to rename military bases named for Confederate figureheads.“Well, I would hope the president really wouldn't veto the bill over this issue. ... I hope the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defence bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names,” Mr McConnell said in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 15:55:00 -0400
  • More than 400 US Army paratroopers flew almost 5,000 miles to practice a long-range Pacific island invasion

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    The drill "demonstrated that we are capable of deploying anywhere in the US Indo-Pacific Command area at a moment's notice," a commander said.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 17:23:23 -0400
  • Hickenlooper Overcomes Ethics Scandal to Win Colorado Senate Primary

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    Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper won the Democratic primary for the state's upcoming Senate election, overcoming an ethics probe and resurfaced video of racially insensitive comments.Hickenlooper will face off against incumbent Republican Cory Gardner in a highly contested race. Gardner is one of the only Republicans defending a seat in a state lost by President Trump in 2016."Let me be clear: change is coming, and you and I are going to bring it together,” Hickenlooper said in a video message to supporters of primary challenger Andrew Romanoff. "I’ve never lost an election in this state, and I don’t intend to lose this one."Romanoff, the Colorado State House speaker, thanked his supporters and called on them to back Hickenlooper."I just called John Hickenlooper to congratulate him — and to pledge my full support in his race against Cory Gardner. Please join me in doing the same," Romanoff wrote on Twitter.Hickenlooper was fined $3,000 in early June following an investigation by an independent ethics commission. The commission found that Hickenlooper violated state law on politicians accepting gifts in 2018, when he was given a ride in a Maserati limousine as well as on a private plane.The former governor also drew criticism after video surfaced of remarks he made in 2014 comparing elected officials to slaves on a slave ship, with their schedulers as masters."If I was to describe a scheduler, a political scheduler, imagine an ancient slave ship," Hickenlooper tells an audience at an event. The scheduler is "the guy with the whip, and you’re rowing — we elected officials are the ones that are rowing, and they have nothing but hard, often thankless things to do."Hickenlooper apologized after the remarks were discovered by Tay Anderson, head of the Denver school board and the youngest African American elected to office in Colorado history.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 09:03:11 -0400
  • Military Mystery: What Happened to Russia's New T-14 Tank in Syria?

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    Last month multiple media reports suggested that the Russian military's new T-14 Armata tank had been "battle-tested" in Syria.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 22:00:00 -0400
  • Australia seeks long-range missiles in Indo-Pacific defence shift

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    The country is to significantly lift military spending amid rising US-China instability, its PM says.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 02:59:21 -0400
  • Stonewall Jackson removed from Richmond's Monument Avenue

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    Work crews wielding a giant crane, harnesses and power tools wrested an imposing statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson from its concrete pedestal along Richmond, Virginia's famed Monument Avenue on Wednesday, just hours after the mayor ordered the removal of all Confederate statues from city land. Mayor Levar Stoney's decree came weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the most prominent and imposing statue along the avenue: that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which sits on state land.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 14:45:52 -0400
  • Homeowner shoots woman trying to steal his Nazi flag, Oklahoma cops say

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    Authorities said the victim is expected to recover.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 18:56:59 -0400
  • Pakistani PM says 'no doubt' that India was behind stock exchange attack

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    Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament on Tuesday he had no doubt that India was behind an attack on the stock exchange building in the southern city of Karachi. Four gunmen armed with grenades attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday, killing two guards and a policeman before security forces killed the attackers. "There is no doubt that India is behind the attack," Khan said in his address to parliament - a charge that India had denied a day earlier.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 07:37:48 -0400
  • Seeing China face-to-face

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    Shorthand turns people into monoliths – until we step closer, into their homes and lives and hearts.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 06:00:04 -0400
  • The 20 Best Deals from REI’s Fourth of July Sale

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    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:09:00 -0400
  • Trump calls the Black Lives Matter mural to be painted outside Trump Tower a 'symbol of hate'

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    The president also slammed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to reallocate $1 billion of the police department's annual operating budget.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 11:48:11 -0400
  • Judge Blocks Trump Admin. Rule on Third-Country Asylum Seekers

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    A federal judge has overturned a Trump administration policy mandating that asylum seekers first apply for asylum in countries they pass through on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.The policy was aimed at deterring illegal immigration from Central American countries including Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington, D.C., a Trump appointee, said that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act when adopting the policy. The APA requires that the federal government allow time for Americans to weigh in on certain proposed federal policy changes."There are many circumstances in which courts appropriately defer to the national security judgments of the Executive," Kelly wrote in his opinion. "But determining the scope of an APA exception is not one of them."Among the plaintiffs were advocacy groups for migrants as well as individual petitioners, who argued that the Trump administration policy violated the Immigration and Nationality Act. Kelly wrote that the law generally allows asylum seekers to petition no matter what country they passed through.The Trump administration will likely appeal the ruling. However, it is unclear if the ruling will have any immediate effect because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on illegal immigration.U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement has since mid-March returned almost all migrants caught crossing the border back to Mexico, fearing possible outbreaks of coronavirus in holding facilities. As a result, the pace of illegal immigration has drastically slowed during the pandemic. ICE has also refrained from arresting migrants who do not pose a public danger, and has not attempted arrests at health care facilities to allow migrants to receive medical care.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 08:03:56 -0400
  • Memphis police clear downtown plaza, detain protesters who camped out for two weeks

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    Protesters have camped outside the Memphis City Hall since June 16. The city said the move was necessary to allow for construction.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 13:10:59 -0400
  • Meet the Douglas B-66 Destroyer: A Tactical Light Bomber and Recon Aircraft

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    How well did it perform?

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0400
  • Pentagon says there's no corroborating evidence to support New York Times report on Russian bounties

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    Reaction from former intelligence officer Don Bramer, founder and chairman of the Bramer Group.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 06:17:38 -0400
  • Turkey: Up to 60 migrants feared dead in lake after sinking

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    Up to 60 migrants may have been trapped in a boat that sank in an eastern lake last week, Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday. Turkey launched a search-and-rescue mission involving helicopters and boats after the boat carrying migrants across Lake Van was reported missing on June 27. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Van to oversee the rescue operation, told reporters Wednesday that authorities estimated the boat was carrying between 55 and 60 migrants when it went down in stormy weather.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 03:21:36 -0400
  • North Korean defectors arrivals in South plummets amid virus lockdowns

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    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 02:43:15 -0400
  • Saudi triples VAT in unpopular virus-led austerity push

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    Saudis braced Wednesday for a tripling in value added tax, another unpopular austerity measure after the twin shocks of coronavirus and an oil price slump triggered the kingdom's worst economic decline in decades. Retailers in the country reported a sharp uptick in sales this week of everything from gold and electronics to cars and building materials, as shoppers sought to stock up before VAT is raised to 15 percent. The hike could stir public resentment as it weighs on household incomes, pushing up inflation and depressing consumer spending as the kingdom emerges from a three-month coronavirus lockdown.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 23:42:48 -0400
  • Arizona lockdown: State shuts down again for 30 days amid spike in coronavirus cases

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    Arizona governor Doug Ducey announced that the state has closed bars, gyms and movie theatres for 30 days, amid a rise in coronavirus cases.The state has also shut down water parks that reopened in May, and Mr Ducey has imposed a limit of 50 people at gatherings both indoors and outdoors.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 10:01:43 -0400
  • McConnell warns Democrats about changing Senate rules to kill the filibuster

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    The Senate GOP leader spoke as some experts believe there's a fair chance his party could lose control of the chamber in November.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 17:36:00 -0400
  • Trump Officials Didn’t Want to Tell Him About the ‘Russian Bounties’

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    The Trump administration has for years gathered intelligence about foreign powers, including Russia and Iran, that use financial means to support and encourage armed militants in Afghanistan, according to six current and former U.S. intelligence and national security officials. And, those officials said, the president has been briefed about those wide-ranging efforts.The Taliban Peace Deal Might Have Been Had Many Years and Thousands of Lives AgoOne current senior national-security official and two other former officials familiar with intelligence gathering in Afghanistan said the Trump administration has closely tracked ways in which Iran uses cash to support militants in the Haqqani Network who have killed U.S. soldiers.But when intelligence emerged earlier this year that Russia had concocted a specific plan to pay bounties to mercenaries to kill American soldiers, intelligence and national-security leaders did not brief the president in person. A person with knowledge of the situation says that although they are aware that the intelligence has circulated in the White House and within Trump’s own national-security apparatus, they were unaware of any direct, face-to-face briefing that the president had received.The subject of what the president knew when—or if he knew anything at all—about the Russian bounties has become a major issue in Washington. “We need to understand why the president wasn’t briefed, who knew about it and when, and what our response to Russia will be if these reports turn out credible,” Republican Rep. Bob Wittman on the House Armed Services Committee said in a statement. “If this intelligence is determined to be true, this is another in a long list of escalations of aggression from Russia.”Multiple and sometimes contradictory reports have appeared about the extent and timing of information available to the president. On Monday night, the Associated Press wrote that senior White House officials knew about “classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans” in “early 2019,” a year earlier than previously reported. How detailed and specific that intelligence may have been remains unclear.According to the AP, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton has “told colleagues” that he briefed President Donald Trump personally about the bounty issue in March 2019. But Bolton, who is now promoting a book after extended silence about his time in the White House, “did not respond” to the AP’s queries about the supposed briefing, and the third-person account remains unconfirmed. CNN reported Monday evening that information about the Russian bounty offers was contained in at least one edition of the President’s Daily Brief. According to The New York Times, the written briefing was delivered in February, and the information about the Russian bounties circulated widely in the intelligence community in May. The AP report says the intelligence first made its way into one PDB, as these documents are called, more than a year ago.The AP noted that when Bolton appeared Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press he suggested Trump claims ignorance to justify inaction. “He can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it,” Bolton said. But the problem is not just a matter of dissembling; according to several sources, it’s a matter of Trump not wanting to know about intelligence outside his comfort zone, and the reluctance of officials to push information on him they know he will resist, especially if their conclusions are less than clear-cut. Those may go into a PDB, but not get mentioned in a face-to-face briefing.Intelligence coming out of Afghanistan, with its many contending factions and shifting alliances, can be especially problematic. The Daily Beast reported in 2015 that the Taliban were developing their ties to Russia, ostensibly to fight the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terror group. Over the last five years, according to Afghan sources, that cooperation has extended to include Russian-Taliban cooperation with Iran, with its well-known record of paying bounties for attacks. But the situation has grown even more complicated of late amid allegations by the Taliban that ISIS recruits may have worked with former senior Afghan government intelligence officers to plot the assassination of Trump’s peace negotiator, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. They are said to believe Khalilzad is selling out to the Taliban.The person cited above with knowledge of the intelligence circulating at the White House about the Russian offer of bounties to kill Americans told The Daily Beast they did not dispute accounts suggesting the information had appeared in at least one PDB. But the source noted that the chances that Trump would have read that himself are “basically zero.” A former Trump administration official with knowledge about the president’s intelligence briefings said the assessment about the Russian bounties should have been brought to the president directly. But that does not mean that happened.Within the intelligence and national-security community, some officials raised questions about the methods used to craft the assessment and whether the information had been corroborated through other sources. Others believed the intelligence reveals a significant change in Russia’s behavior in Afghanistan—and poses immediate risks to U.S. troops on the ground, according to two individuals read in on the conversations surrounding the intelligence assessment.The reluctance to brief President Trump face-to-face followed an old and familiar pattern, officials say. Although intelligence officials regularly brief presidents about sensitive matters they are not always 100 percent confident about, top officials in that space and in the national-security community have chosen several times to avoid briefing President Trump, two current and two former senior officials involved in the briefing process told The Daily Beast. “If there was evidence… even if thinly sourced, there’s an option to bring it to the president’s attention but let him know it is thinly sourced,” one former senior intelligence official said. “If it’s less important information, then the intelligence community usually wants to have more confidence. But the intelligence community always makes their confidence level clear.”Officials said there’s trepidation about briefing the president about Russia, in particular, given his past sensitivity to the subject, and that there’s concern he may post on social media about the intelligence.“Trump has little patience for intelligence briefings, especially when the news isn’t good for him. These briefings happen irregularly, and are often free-for-alls,” one former official said. “He also shows little respect for classified information and might tweet about it—which would counter efforts to handle the issue out of the public eye.”According to a source with direct knowledge, shortly after Trump was made aware of the New York Times story this weekend, he had two immediate reactions behind closed doors: He reflexively questioned the veracity of the reported intel simply because it was printed in the Times, which he frequently denounces as an adversary. And the prospect of more Americans dying as a result of these bounties once again caused him to emphasize his desire—and explicit campaign goal—to pull U.S. military personnel out of the country between now and November.“Why are we still there?” Trump privately vented this weekend as he reacted to the Times reporting, according to this source.It’s unclear how far the president will go in the remaining months of his first term to actually draw down the already reduced number of troops in Afghanistan, given the wild way his impulses and orders in foreign conflicts have oscillated between ramped-up violence and calls for ending this costly Forever War.“If President Trump wants to win, he’s going to have to excite his base,” said a source close to the White House who has advised the administration on foreign policy matters. “One way to do that is to actually start bringing troops home from Afghanistan and begin fulfilling his promises to end these awful endless wars. I know this is something he wants to do before Election Day, even if to just run on it.”This individual added that, “The polling on this is overwhelming—it’s consistently 70-30 in favor of getting out, and cuts across party lines. But the core MAGA base in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania would be particularly excited by this.”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.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 04:42:03 -0400
  • The 1898 Wilmington Massacre Is an Essential Lesson in How State Violence Has Targeted Black Americans

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    A coup by white supremacists in 1898 is a vital and sadly enduring lesson in how the state has long used violence against Black Americans.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 12:30:16 -0400
  • Vice President Mike Pence discloses donors who helped pay nearly $500K in legal bills from Mueller investigation

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    Vice President Mike Pence received nearly $500,000 from a dozen contributors to help him pay his legal bills from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 15:16:39 -0400
  • How America Bombed Nazi Germany Back into the Stone Age (And Won World War II)

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    By the time the invasion of France began, American bomber losses had dropped to negligible proportions, and the Luftwaffe had been virtually driven from the skies over its own homeland.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 19:00:00 -0400
  • See How One Modern Family Restored Its Ancestral Family Estate in England

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

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:23:31 -0400
  • Beijing asks some U.S. media to submit information about their China operations

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    China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the Chinese government has asked some U.S. media outlets present in the country to submit information about their China operations. Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian named the Associated Press, National Public Radio, CBS and United Press International news agency as companies asked to submit the requested information in writing within seven days. The AP has requested more information about the Chinese government's requirements and "will review them carefully," a spokeswoman for the outlet said.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 03:32:11 -0400
  • Venezuela sanctions set off fight for 'plundered' oil cargo

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    For two months, the Malta-flagged oil tanker Alkimos has been quietly floating off the Gulf Coast of Texas, undisturbed by the high-stakes legal fight playing out in a federal courtroom as a result of American sanctions on Venezuela. The commercial dispute, which hasn’t been previously reported, has all the drama of a pirate movie: a precious cargo, clandestine sea maneuvers and accusations of a high seas heist. It pits Evangelos Marinakis, one of Greece’s most powerful businessmen and owner of its most successful soccer club, Olympiakos, against a fellow shipping magnate from Venezuela, Wilmer Ruperti, who has a long history of helping the country’s socialist leaders.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 08:09:25 -0400
  • Fire kills 1, ruins 40 homes in Calif. desert town

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    A brush fire killed one person and destroyed about 40 homes in a remote desert town near the shrinking Salton Sea, California's largest lake, authorities said Monday. (June 30)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 01:13:31 -0400
  • Kentucky election: Democrats flip state Senate seat held by Republicans for 25 years

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    Democrats have flipped a state Senate seat previously held by Republicans for the last 25 years.Dr Karen Berg won the special election for Kentucky‘s 26th Senate District after Republican Senator Ernie Harris announced he was retiring following 25 years in office. She beat Republican candidate Bill Ferko by 14 points.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 12:05:30 -0400
  • TikTokers are attempting to shut down Trump's online merch store, but their tactic may not work

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    In a meme, TikTok users are encouraging others to engage in a practice known as "Denial of Inventory," hoping to take down Trump's online stores.

    Wed, 01 Jul 2020 21:42:28 -0400
  • What everyone should know about Reconstruction 150 years after the 15th Amendment's ratification

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    I’ll never forget a student’s response when I asked during a middle school social studies class what they knew about black history: “Martin Luther King freed the slaves.”Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, more than six decades after the time of enslavement. To me, this comment underscored how closely Americans associate black history with slavery.While shocked, I knew this mistaken belief reflected the lack of time, depth and breadth schools devote to black history. Most students get limited information and context about what African Americans have experienced since our ancestors arrived here four centuries ago. Without independent study, most adults aren’t up to speed either.For instance, what do you know about Reconstruction?I’m excited about new resources for teaching children, and everyone else, more about the history of slavery through The New York Times’ “1619 Project.” But based on my experience teaching social studies and my current work preparing social studies educators, I also consider understanding what happened during the Reconstruction essential for exploring black power, resilience and excellence. During that complex period after the Civil War, African Americans gained political power yet faced the backlash of white supremacy and racial violence. I share the concerns many writers, historians and other scholars are raising about the shortcomings of what schoolchildren traditionally learn about Reconstruction in school. Here are some suggestions for educators and others interested in learning more about that time period. Reconstruction amendmentsAs most students do learn, the U.S. gained three constitutional amendments that extended civil and political rights to newly freed African Americans following the Civil War.The 13th, ratified in 1865, banned slavery and involuntary servitude except for the punishment of a crime.The 14th, ratified three years later, granted citizenship and equal protection under the law to all people born in the United States, as well as naturalized citizens – including all previously enslaved individuals.Then, the 15th Amendment asserted that neither the federal government nor state governments could deny voting rights to any male citizen.The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment on Feb. 3, 1870. The anniversary is a good opportunity to learn about how the amendment was supposed to guarantee that the right to vote could not be denied based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” African American politiciansWhat few history and social studies classes explore is how these changes to the Constitution made it possible for African American men to use their newfound political power to gain representation.Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American senator, represented Mississippi in 1870 after the state’s Senate elected him. He was among the 16 black men from seven southern states who served in Congress during Reconstruction.Revels and his colleagues were only part of the story. All told, about 2,000 African Americans held public office at some level of government during Reconstruction.White supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan also formed following the Civil War. These terrorist groups engaged in violence and other racist tactics to intimidate African Americans, people of color, black voters and legislators. They thus made the accomplishments of African American politicians even more impressive as they served as public officials under the constant threat of racial violence. Black activist womenAfrican American women technically gained the right to vote in 1920, when the 19th Amendment passed. However, their constitutional right was limited in many states due to discriminatory laws. Many black women were activists and women’s suffrage movement leaders. Through public speaking, prolific writing and developing organizations dedicated to racial and and gender equality, they fought for equal rights and dignity for all.Among the black women who were activists during Reconstruction were the five Rollins sisters of South Carolina, who fought for female voting rights; Maria Stewart, an outspoken abolitionist before the Civil War and suffragist once it ended; and Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first black woman in North America to edit and publish a newspaper, one of the first black female lawyers in the country and an advocate for granting women the right to vote.Other women of color who played key roles in the suffrage movement included Ida B. Wells, the journalist and civil rights advocate who raised awareness of lynching, and Mary Church Terrell, founder of the National Association of Colored Women. Higher educationBefore the Civil War, many states made teaching enslaved individuals to read a crime. Education quickly became a top priority for black Americans once slavery ended. While northern, largely white philanthropists and missionary groups and the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, did help create new educational opportunities, the African American public schools established after the Civil War ended were largely built and staffed by the black community.Many new institutions of higher education, now called Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs, began to operate during Reconstruction.These schools trained black people to become teachers and ministers, doctors and nurses. They also prepared African Americans for careers in industrial and agricultural fields.Public and private HBCUs founded during Reconstruction and still operating today include Howard University in Washington, D.C., Hampton University in Virginia, Alabama State University, Morehouse College in Georgia and Morgan State University in Maryland. These colleges and universities train a disproportionate share of black doctors and other professionals even today. Historical experiencesStorytelling, multimedia experiences and trips to historic sites and creative museums help get people of any age interested in learning about history. Depending on where you live, you may want to embark on a family outing or school field trip.The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has a new permanent exhibit on the Civil War and Reconstruction.The National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in Washington, D.C. in 2017, contains artifacts from the Reconstruction era. It’s also making the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau, including the names of formerly enslaved individuals following the Civil War, available online.Another option is the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park in Beaufort County, South Carolina. I also recommend watching the PBS documentaries about Reconstruction by the scholar and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. and reading the young adult book Gates co-authored with children’s nonfiction writer Tonya Bolden about the era. Gates has also compiled a Reconstruction reading list for adults.In addition, the organization Teaching for Change curates a booklist on Reconstruction for middle and high school students. And the Zinn Education Project Teach Reconstruction Campaign offers a variety of resources including readings, primary sources and even lesson plans. An incomplete transitionAs the renowned black scholar W.E.B. DuBois observed, racist laws and violent tactics in many states actively limited black freedom. “The slave went free; stood for a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery,” he explained.This was by no means voluntary. Intimidated and threatened by black enfranchisement and excellence in the era of Reconstruction, white supremacists attempted to enforce subordination through violence, such as lynching; and in systemic ways through Jim Crow laws. African Americans continued to assert their civil and constitutional rights as activists, politicians, business owners, teachers and farmers in the midst of white supremacist backlash. With the latest voter suppression efforts restricting access to the ballot box for voters of color and the resurgence of racist violence and vitriol today, DuBois’ words sound eerily familiar. At the same time it’s reassuring to recall how quickly formerly enslaved African Americans made their way to schoolhouses and public offices. [ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Exploiting black labor after the abolition of slavery * Donald Trump is taking a page from Reconstruction-era white supremacists * 3 things schools should teach about America’s history of white supremacyTiffany Mitchell Patterson is a board member of Teaching for Change.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 16:06:30 -0400
  • Prosecutor launches investigation after white couple seen pointing guns at St. Louis protesters

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    The Circuit Attorney for St. Louis said Monday that her office is investigating a confrontation between protesters and an armed couple.

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 21:29:41 -0400
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