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It Looks Like the Land Rover Discovery SVX Is Dead
Posted 1 hour 19 minutes ago

This looks like another miss from Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.
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Dunkin' Donuts store manager fatally shot by boyfriend in murder-suicide, police say
Posted 1 hour 34 minutes ago

Police say the man went inside the Dunkin' Donuts with a gun and fired several shots, killing his girlfriend before turning gun on himself.
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Five dead as gunman opens fire with 'laser-sighted pistol' at Illinois factory
Posted 2 hours 23 minutes ago

Five people were confirmed dead after a gunman  used a laser-sighted pistol in a shooting at a factory in Illinois Those injured included five police officers who responded to the attack. Donald Trump was being kept informed about the incident, the White House said. The gunman was identified by police as Gary Martin, 45, who worked at the valve factory in the city of Aurora.  Police officers at the scene Credit: Chicago Tribune John Probst, a worker who was in the  in the city of Aurora, said the gunman had arrived for his regular shift, working in assembly, and opened fire several hours later. Mr Probst told local television: "I saw a gunman running down the aisle with a pistol, I recognised him as a co-worker and he was shooting everybody. "As soon as we heard shots, as soon as I saw the green laser thing, we took off out the back door." Mr Probst said the plant was "huge" and the man worked about 80 yards from him. The shooter has been apprehended, police said Credit: Chicago Tribune Before the shooting the gunman walked past him and went upstairs to the office, he said. Aurora, a city of 200,000 people, is 40 miles west of Chicago. In a statement Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said: "The President has been briefed and is monitoring the ongoing situation in Aurora,
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Airlines to begin adding new gender option for 'non-binary' flyers
Posted 3 hours 10 minutes ago

Some U.S. airlines are on track to add a new gender option for “non-binary” passengers amid evolving best-practices suggestions for the industry.
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Amazon invests in electric vehicle startup Rivian
Posted 4 hours 28 minutes ago

Electric vehicle startup Rivian on Friday announced a $700 million investment round led by Amazon, which recently pumped money into a young self-driving car technology firm. Details of Amazon's stake in US-based Rivian were not disclosed, but the company said it will remain independent. The potential Tesla rival late last year unveiled an electric pickup truck and an electric sport utility vehicle at an auto show in Los Angeles.
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During a school lockdown, 7-year-old writes note on her arm in case she dies
Posted 6 hours 2 minutes ago

A second-grader wrote a chilling note to her parents on her arm during school lockdown.
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Modi says Pakistan will pay 'huge price' for Kashmir bombing
Posted 6 hours 23 minutes ago

India's prime minister yesterday accused Pakistan of involvement in the suicide bombing that killed 44 paramilitary police in Kashmir on Thursday, and warned of a dire response. Narendra Modi said the neighbouring country had made a "huge mistake" for which it will pay a "huge price". Speaking after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, Mr Modi declared that India's security forces had been given "full freedom" to respond to the attack. "If our neighbour thinks it can destabilise India, then it is making a big mistake," he said.  Mr Modi was reacting to claims from the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), that it carried out the attack on a paramilitary convoy on the outskirts of Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar. India’s foreign office demanded that Islamabad take "immediate and verifiable action" against the JeM. New Delhi has also withdrawn trade privileges extended to Pakistan under their long-standing Most Favoured Nation (MFN) agreement as part of "diplomatically isolating" Islamabad, said senior federal minister Arun Jaitley. Pakistan, however, has dismissed all Indian charges of any involvement in the bombing, which it said was a "matter of grave concern".  Police detain a demonstrator during a protest against the attack on a bus that killed 44 CRPF personnel in south Kashmir on Thursday Credit: Reuters Over 2,700 Central Reserve Police Force paramilitary personnel were travelling to Srinagar in a 78-vehicle convoy when a 22-year old suicide bomber, identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, rammed his car packed with over 125bs of plastic explosives into one of the stationary busses. Police officials said Dar, a school dropout who had earlier worked in a sawmill near Srinagar, was reported missing since late last year.   The JeM has been active in Kashmir since its founding in 2000 and India holds it responsible for attacking its parliament building in New Delhi in 2001, an assault that brought the nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war. The JeM has been designated a ‘terrorist’ organisation by the UN, UK and the US, and even, under foreign pressure, proscribed in Pakistan since 2002. But its founder, cleric Masood Azhar, freely roams the country, holding public meetings and fund-raising drives. Indian efforts to have Azhar designated an international terrorist have long been been blocked by Pakistan’s close strategic ally China.     India claims Pakistan, which seized a third of Kashmir after independence in 1947 and lays claim to the rest, fuels the disputed province’s 30-year Muslim insurgency for an independent homeland in which over 70,000 people had died. Students hold candles during a vigil for the dead paramilitary police Credit: Reuters Pakistan denies Indian allegations, saying it only provided Kashmiri separatists’ moral and diplomatic support for their cause.  The two neighbours have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir. And in 1999, soon after both became nuclear weapon states, their two armies clashed in Kashmir’s Himalayan Kargil region for 11-weeks resulting in 1,200 soldiers dying on both sides.  Meanwhile, India’s principal Opposition Congress Party, virulently opposed to Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government, has offered its unequivocal support to the administration to deal with the crisis posed by the terror strike. The authorities have also imposed curfew in Kashmir’s winter capital Jammu following violent protests that erupted in the city over the terror attack. Several cars were set alight and the authorities have suspended Internet services in Jammu to prevent rumours  spreading over social media.
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Watch a space harpoon impale a piece of space debris
Posted 7 hours 21 minutes ago

The U.S. government tracks 500,000 chunks and bits of space junk as they hurtle around Earth. Some 20,000 of these objects are larger than a softball.To clean up the growing mess, scientists at the University of Surrey have previously tested a net to catch chunks of debris. Now, they've successfully tested out a harpoon.The video below, released Friday by the university's space center, shows a test of the experimental RemoveDEBRIS satellite as it unleashes a harpoon at a piece of solar panel, held out on a 1.5-meter boom.The harpoon clearly impales its target. "This is RemoveDEBRIS' most demanding experiment and the fact that it was a success is testament to all involved," Guglielmo Aglietti, director of the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, said in a statement. Next, the RemoveDEBRIS team -- made up of a group of international collaborators -- is planning its final experiment: responsibly destroying the satellite.In March, the RemoveDEBRIS satellite will "inflate a sail that will drag the satellite into Earth's atmosphere where it will be destroyed," the university said a statement. This is how the group intends to vaporize the future dangerous debris it catches. SEE ALSO: Trump fails to block NASA's carbon sleuth from going to spaceHuman space debris hurtles around Earth faster than a speeding bullet, with debris often traveling at 17,500 mph, or faster. The threat of collisions is always present, though in some orbits the odds of an impact are significantly lower than others. The International Space Station, for instance, is in a relatively debris-free orbit, but even here there is the threat of "natural debris" -- micrometeors -- pummeling the space station.Other orbits have considerably more debris spinning around Earth. In 2009, a derelict Russian satellite slammed into a functional Iridium telecommunication satellite at 26,000 mph, resulting in an estimated 200,000 bits of debris. In 2007, the Chinese launched a missile at an old weather satellite, spraying shrapnel into Earth's orbit.This risk amplifies as more satellites are rocketed into space. SpaceX now has government-approved plans to launch thousands of its Starlink satellites into orbit -- perhaps by the mid-2020's, should they amass money for the pricey program. This would double or triple the number of satellites in orbit."It is unprecedented," said Kessler, NASA's former senior scientist for orbital debris research told Mashable. "The sheer number, that's the problem."Kessler has long warned about the potential of catastrophic chain reactions in Earth's orbit, wherein one collision creates enough weaponized debris to create a cycle of destruction. Designs to harpoon dangerous chunks of debris are just being tested in space today, but the technology could prove critical as Earth's orbit grows increasingly trafficked with large, metallic satellites.   WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?
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United Airlines: Three new routes for fast-growing Denver hub
Posted 8 hours 56 minutes ago

United Airlines will add three new domestic routes at its Denver hub, all of which will go head-to-head against budget rival Frontier Airlines.
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Isil bride Shamima Begum has a legal right to return to the UK, head of MI6 says
Posted 9 hours 28 minutes ago

The British Islamic State (Isil) bride Shamima Begum has a legal right to return to the UK the Head of MI6 has said. The Director General of MI6 has said that British citizens have a right to return home from Syria, even though they may still present a threat to national security. Alex Younger, the head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service - better known as MI6 - said he was "very concerned" about returning British nationals that had fought for or supported the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Speaking ahead of the Munich Security Conference which started on Friday, Mr Younger said: "All experience tells us that once someone's put themselves in that sort of position they are likely to have acquired both the skills and connections that make them potentially very dangerous. "Anyone who has put themselves in this situation can expect to be questioned and investigated and potentially prosecuted if they return to our jurisdiction." When asked about the case of Ms Begum, the heavily pregnant 19-year-old Londoner who travelled to Syria four years ago to become an Isil bride and who now wants to return to the UK to have her baby, Mr Younger said: "British nationals have a right to come to the UK." Kadiza Sultana, left, Shamima Begum, center, and Amira Abase going through security at Gatwick airport Credit: Metropolitan Police Britain’s intelligence chief cautioned about showing triumphalism at the demise of Isil, saying such an approach led to hubris. "The military defeat of the caliphate does not represent the end of the terrorist threat that we face," he said. "You can’t use military force to kill and idea." Mr Younger warned that Isil was already in the process of trying to grow elsewhere around the world, even as its fighters are defeated in Syria, and that the threat from al-Qaeda had not been completely extinguished. He said: "Daesh [Isil] is a resilient organisation and it is reorganising, returning to its natural state as an asymmetric transnational terrorist organisation. We see it morphing, spreading out. "Al-Qaeda...has undergone a certain resurgence as a result of the degradation of Daesh and it is a force that should also be taken seriously. It is definitely not done out, and is something we should remain focused on." Mr Younger was keen to stress the "strength and unconditional nature of the UK security offer" and said Brexit would not harm enduring partnerships. "Britain’s commitment to the security of the European continent is unconditional," he said. "Our aim is to strengthen our security partnerships in Europe, alongside our other intelligence partnerships across the globe, because that is the inescapable logic of a world of increasingly international hybrid threats." The ability to "operationalise" partnerships with other intelligence organisations was critical in preserving our way of life, he said, and was used to great effect after the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury last year. Referring to the intelligence sharing relationships with France and Germany he said: "There are people alive in our three countries today because of terrorist attack plans that we have successfully disrupted, showing the value and importance of cooperation to all sides. This is not a one-way street." "Even in the past year...people’s lives have been saved in all of our countries as a result of this cooperation. The counter terrorist machine is working as it should. Bombs haven’t gone off as a result of our capacity to exchange data with each other. "Brexit doesn’t fundamentally alter those relationships."
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Bentley Bentayga Speed: an SUV as luxurious as it is powerful
Posted 9 hours 32 minutes ago

On Thursday Bentley unveiled the Bentayga Speed, an SUV with a top speed of 190 mph and 0- 62mph acceleration time of 3.9 seconds. Bentley celebrated its Valentine's Day by announcing what it calls the "world's fastest, most luxurious SUV:" the Bentayga Speed.
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Papa John's serves up college tuition benefit to employees of pizza chain
Posted 10 hours 16 minutes ago

Troubled pizza chain Papa John's will pay college tuition for its employees and assistance for franchisees.
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U.K. Spy Warns Against Triumphalism Over Islamic State Collapse
Posted 11 hours 13 minutes ago

“We are not triumphant because I think from triumphant you get to hubris,” MI6 Chief Alex Younger told reporters in Munich on Friday. Younger said Islamic States’s so-called caliphate was now in its “end game,” with the extremist militants clinging to the last square mile of land they hold in the village of Baghuz in eastern Syria. Meanwhile the U.K. is debating the case of Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old from east London who wants to come home despite expressing no regrets over becoming a so-called jihadi bride with Islamic State in Syria at the age of 15.
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U.S. Weighs New PDVSA Sanctions as Next Step Against Maduro
Posted 19 hours 11 minutes ago

The U.S. is also bracing for a possible bankruptcy filing by Citgo Petroleum Corp., an American refiner controlled by PDVSA, according to Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a person who was briefed by the Trump administration. Citgo has already hired a law firm to help it weigh its strategic options, including potential bankruptcy, Bloomberg News reported last month, though an American official told reporters on Jan. 31 that Citgo was one of Venezuela’s most important assets and the administration seeks to keep it viable.
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The U.S. Navy Just Bought Four Giant, Robot Submarines from Boeing
Posted 20 hours 13 minutes ago

Orca could help to fill a yawning gap in the American submarine fleet. In December 2016, the U.S. Navy announced it needed 66 nuclear-powered attack subs, or SSNs, to meet regional commanders' needs.
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In America, high-speed train travel is off track
Posted 20 hours 37 minutes ago

California's suspension this week of a high-speed rail project underscores the up-hill battle the modern mode of transport faces in the United States -- including myriad cultural, political and economic obstacles. Long gone are the days of the 19th century gold rush, when Americans raced to build transcontinental rail links and conquer the nation's vast expanse. "We have a Congress polluted by special interest money ... that has been working for years to stop/prevent any rail investment," said Andy Kunz, head of the US High Speed Rail Association, pointing to the oil, aviation and auto industries in particular.
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Explainer: Trump risks legal fight with emergency threat on wall
Posted 21 hours 15 minutes ago

Legal scholars say it is unclear how such a step would play out, but they agree a court test would likely focus on whether an emergency actually exists on the southern border and on the limits of presidential power over taxpayer funds. Trump is unhappy with a bipartisan border security bill that is going through Congress to avert another government shutdown, because it contains only a fraction of the funds he demanded for his promised border wall. The White House said Trump would sign the bill but declare a national emergency to try to obtain funds for the wall.
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PR push for white officer accused of killing armed black man
Posted 1 day 14 minutes ago

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The attorney for a white police officer charged with fatally shooting an armed black man in Tennessee is calling for legal discovery documents to be sealed from members of the public.
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Best Presidents Day TV Deals
Posted 1 day 1 hour 26 minutes ago

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission—100% of the fees w...
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37 killed in Indian Kashmir attack
Posted 1 day 2 hours 2 minutes ago

At least 37 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed on Thursday in Indian-administered Kashmir in one the deadliest attacks on government forces there, police said. The suicide bombing outside Srinagar claimed by an Islamist group is likely to ratchet up tensions between nuclear-armed arch rivals India and Pakistan, with New Delhi long accusing Islamabad of supporting militants. "The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain," Indian Prime Minister Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, calling the attack "despicable".
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Alaska Airlines is selling BOGO flights for one day only
Posted 1 day 2 hours 45 minutes ago

On February 14 only, the airline is rolling out a ‘Fly One, Get One’ promotionbetween select destinations around the country
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William Barr: Senate confirms Trump pick as new attorney general
Posted 1 day 3 hours 37 minutes ago

Three months following the ousting of Jeff Sessions, the Senate voted to confirm William Barr for his second stint as attorney general. The Senate confirmation on Thursday will grant Mr Barr, a hardline Republican, the power to supervise the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia and its interference with the 2016 presidential election. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 54-45 in favour of President Donald Trump’s nominee for the post.
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Ocasio-Cortez takes a victory lap after Amazon scraps plans to build in New York
Posted 1 day 4 hours 1 minute ago

The Democratic phenom scores a victory over the "richest man in the world."
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FBI releases 16 drawings prolific serial killer Samuel Little made of his victims
Posted 1 day 5 hours 6 minutes ago

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released more than a dozen drawingsmade by a prolific serial killer in hopes the public may be able to identifysome of his victims
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UK PM May to continue seeking changes to Brexit deal: spokesman
Posted 1 day 5 hours 37 minutes ago

British Prime Minister Theresa May will continue to seek changes to her Brexit deal, a spokesman for her office said, after she suffered a symbolic defeat in parliament on her strategy. "The government will continue to pursue this with the EU to ensure we leave on time on 29th March," the spokesman said. The spokesman said May believed her Conservative lawmakers still wanted her to renegotiate the deal, but had voted against her on Thursday because they were concerned about the prospect of taking a 'no deal' off the table at this stage.
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Ilhan Omar Clashed With Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams Over Washington's Role in Latin America. Here's the History Behind Her Claims
Posted 1 day 5 hours 39 minutes ago

The Iran-Contra Affair and the El Mozote massacre were among the darkest chapters of U.S. intervention in the region
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This Year’s Flu Shot Was Far More Effective Than Last Year's. Here’s Why
Posted 1 day 6 hours 13 minutes ago

The CDC just released its latest numbers
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Parkland shooting: How the NRA is more vulnerable than ever after a year of protests and a wave election
Posted 1 day 6 hours 17 minutes ago

One year after gunfire began in the freshman building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the movement those bullets sparked has swept through the US and opened a new chapter on guns in America. Guns have come to dominate political debate this past year in way unseen previously in the US, with massive protests from March for Our Lives attracting headlines and major news coverage — and virtually all Democrat presidential candidates supporting stricter gun control. Meanwhile, dozens of states have moved to pass new gun control laws in an historic effort, as communities across America continue to be scarred by gun violence.
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Ahead of EU polls, Facebook voids accounts targeting Moldovan election
Posted 1 day 6 hours 48 minutes ago

Employees of the Moldovan government were linked to some of the activity, the California-based social media company said. Facebook said it dismantled scores of pages and accounts designed to look like independent opinion pages and to impersonate a local fact-checking organization ahead of Moldova's elections later this month. "So they created this feedback loop," Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, told reporters in Brussels.
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The Latest: German minister says Airbus must find jobs
Posted 1 day 6 hours 50 minutes ago

TOULOUSE, France (AP) — The Latest on Airbus' announcement that it will stop making the superjumbo A380 (all times local):
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The Latest: Putin: Syria must take over lands US leaves
Posted 1 day 7 hours 15 minutes ago

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments related to Syria (all times local):
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Venezuela opens investigation into opposition-appointed PDVSA directors: prosecutor
Posted 1 day 7 hours 29 minutes ago

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's chief state prosecutor said on Thursday an investigation had been opened into directors of state-run oil firm PDVSA, and its U.S. refiner Citgo, that the opposition-controlled congress appointed on Wednesday. Prosecutor Tarek Saab, in comments broadcast on state television, announced "the opening of an investigation against people designated illegally as directors of PDVSA and Citgo." Saab also said they would investigate foreign ambassadors named by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who on Jan 23 invoked constitutional provisions to assume an interim presidency. ...
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Putin, Erdogan Spar Over Syria Militants Amid Split on Safe Zone
Posted 1 day 7 hours 31 minutes ago

While Putin urged Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a summit on Thursday to work out ways to “completely destroy the terrorist hotbed” in the Idlib region, a joint statement after the talks referred only to the need for “concrete steps” to restore a September truce shattered by the Islamist takeover last month. Erdogan said he’d “relayed our expectations” to Putin and Rouhani for Syrian government forces to “abide by the cease-fire” agreed in September, and for Russia and Iran to support Turkey’s demand for a buffer zone inside northern Syria to counter U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in the region.
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Why This 'Atmospheric River' Could Cause Mudslides and 'Roofalanches' in California
Posted 1 day 8 hours ago

Californians are experiencing some unusually nasty winter weather this week as an "atmospheric river" passes through most of the state, bringing howling winds and heavy rain.The storm arrived on Tuesday night (Feb. 12) in Northern California and continued into Wednesday (Feb. 13), leading the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue warnings of flash flooding, mudslides and high winds in the region. It is forecast to bring "excessive rainfall" to Southern California on Thursday (Feb. 14), according to the NWS.[Weirdo Weather: 7 Rare Weather Events]Atmospheric rivers are huge "rivers in the sky" that cause moisture from the tropics to flow north, from California to Canada. These huge weather systems can carry many times the freshwater that flows through the mighty Mississippi River, local news outlet KQED reported."They're the biggest freshwater rivers on Earth," F. Martin Ralph, the director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes in La Jolla, California, told KQED.These atmospheric rivers of condensed water vapor can easily be 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) long and 300 miles (482 km) wide, Ralph said. When an atmospheric river brings moisture from Hawaii to the Western U.S. -- as is the case with the current storm -- it's known as the Pineapple Express.Atmospheric rivers can bring much-needed rain -- or wreak havoc by dumping heavy rain or snow when they make landfall, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). California has recently experienced storms, meaning the current downpour is falling on waterlogged soil. Summer wildfires also scorched the earth in several areas of California, and burn scars can be more prone to flash flooding and debris as well, according to the NWS.On Wednesday morning, 24-hour rainfall totals were as high as 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in some parts of the Northern Bay Area, with San Francisco receiving about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of rain, according to the NWS. Residents along the Bay Area coast and hills may face high winds from 25 to 35 mph (40 to 56 km/h) with gusts up to 60 mph (97 km/h), according to the NWS. Social media was abuzz with reports of downed trees and flash flooding. In the Sierras, the NWS warned that the atmospheric river could cause "roofalanches," or the sudden release of snow from already snow-packed roofs, which can pose a serious hazard.Earlier this month, Ralph and his colleagues developed a new scale to describe the strength of atmospheric rivers. The scale, which was described in the February issue of the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, ranks these weather events using categories "1 to 5," with Category 1 indicating a "weak" storm and Category 5 indicating an "exceptional" one. The ranking is based on the amount of water vapor the storm carries, and how long it dumps moisture on a given area, according to a statement. The scale also indicates the extent to which the storm is likely to be beneficial -- by bringing much-needed rain to replenish reservoirs after a drought, for example -- or hazardous, leading to flooding and mudslides. The current storm is a "Category 3," according to local news outlet CBS San Francisco.Tia Ghose contributed reporting. * 9 Tips for Exercising in Winter Weather * Fishy Rain to Fire Whirlwinds: The World's Weirdest Weather * 10 Surprising Ways Weather Has Changed HistoryOriginally published on Live Science.
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Elliott Abrams bristles at Rep. Ilhan Omar's 'attack' for his Iran-Contra role
Posted 1 day 8 hours 11 minutes ago

Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty in 1991 to withholding information from Congress, was appointed as U.S. envoy to Venezuela on Friday.
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Report: President Trump Installs $50,000 Golf Simulator in the White House
Posted 1 day 8 hours 12 minutes ago

President Trump has installed a room-sized golfing simulator inside his personal quarters at the White House
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UK's Prince Harry visits marines in the Arctic on Valentine's Day
Posted 1 day 10 hours 2 minutes ago

Britain's Prince Harry flew up to the Arctic on Valentine's Day to meet the Royal Marines and learn about special freezing-weather helicopter commando exercises. Harry, who is Captain General of the Royal Marines, visited northern Norway where he reviewed the Commando Helicopter Force which operates in temperatures as low as minus 30 Celsius. "This is the first time His Royal Highness has visited Joint Helicopter Command since becoming Captain General and it is great that he is doing the visit while we’re in Norway," said Warrant Officer 1st Class Adrian Shepherd, who has served with force for 27 years.
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Senator Bob Menendez reportedly threatens to call police on Daily Caller reporter Henry Rodgers about the Green New Deal
Posted 1 day 10 hours 57 minutes ago

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reportedly threatens to call police on Daily Caller reporter Henry Rodgers who asked the Senator about the Green New Deal.
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Woe to the 2020 Democrat Who Isn’t Dogmatic Enough
Posted 1 day 11 hours 13 minutes ago

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey was for a long time an advocate of school choice as a means of liberating kids from failing schools, especially when he was mayor of Newark. It may not be enough that Booker voted against her confirmation when President Donald Trump nominated her. Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas has also gotten criticized for crossing the partisan aisle.
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Gay couples in Japan join together on Valentine's Day to sue government over same-sex marriage ban
Posted 1 day 12 hours 13 minutes ago

Thirteen gay couples filed Japan's first lawsuit challenging the country's rejection of same-sex marriage on Valentine's Day, arguing the denial violates their constitutional right to equality. Six couples holding banners saying "Marriage For All Japan" walked into Tokyo District Court to file their cases against the government, with similar cases filed by three couples in Osaka, one couple in Nagoya and three couples in Sapporo. Plaintiff Kenji Aiba, standing next to his partner Ken Kozumi, told reporters he would "fight this war together with sexual minorities all around Japan." Mr Aiba and Mr Kozumi have held onto a marriage certificate they signed at their wedding party in 2013, anticipating Japan would emulate other advanced nations and legalise same-sex unions. That day has yet to come, and legally they are just friends even though they've lived as a married couple for more than five years. So they decided to act rather than waiting. "Right now we are both in good health and able to work, but what if either of us has an accident or becomes ill? We are not allowed to be each other's guarantors for medical treatment, or to be each other's heir," Mr Kozumi, a 45-year-old office worker, said in a recent interview with his partner Mr Aiba, 40. "Progress in Japan has been too slow." Politician Mizuho Fukushima has spoken out in favour of gay rights in Japan Credit: AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi Ten Japanese municipalities have enacted "partnership" ordinances for same-sex couples to make it easier for them to rent apartments together, among other things, but they are not legally binding. Japanese laws are currently interpreted as allowing marriage only between a man and a woman. In a society where pressure for conformity is strong, many gay people hide their sexuality, fearing prejudice at home, school or work. The obstacles are even higher for transgender people in the highly gender-specific society. The Supreme Court last month upheld a law that effectively requires transgender people to be sterilized before they can have their gender changed on official documents. The LGBT equal rights movement has lagged behind in Japan because people who are silently not conforming to conventional notions of sexuality have been so marginalized that the issue hasn't been considered a human rights problem, experts say. "Many people don't even think of a possibility that their neighbors, colleagues or classmates may be sexual minorities," said Mizuho Fukushima, a lawyer-turned-politician and an expert on gender and human rights issues. "And the pressure to follow a conservative family model, in which heterosexual couples are supposed to marry and have children, is still strong." Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ultra-conservative supporters have campaigned to restore a paternalistic society based on heterosexual marriages. The government has restarted moral education class at schools to teach children family values and good deeds. "Whether to allow same-sex marriage is an issue that affects the foundation of how families should be in Japan, which requires an extremely careful examination," Mr Abe said in a statement last year.
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Post-box love for lonely Britons on Valentine's Day
Posted 1 day 12 hours 14 minutes ago

Big-hearted Britons have penned thousands of uplifting messages to be delivered to single seniors on Valentine's Day in a project aimed at alleviating loneliness. The letters and cards were written in recent weeks and left in ten models of old-fashioned red post-boxes set up in locations across London and several other cities. Red Letter Days, a gift experience company which came up with the idea, will dispatch the messages to needy elderly recipients in selected care homes during Thursday.
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There’s Not Much Performance in Denver Schools’ ‘Pay for Performance’ System
Posted 1 day 12 hours 43 minutes ago

On Monday, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) went on strike, the latest in a series of teacher strikes that have erupted across the country over the past year. While Denver teachers have voiced concerns about class sizes, support staff, and starting salaries, the consensus is that the issue at the heart of the strike is teacher frustration with Denver’s once-celebrated ProComp pay system, which was jointly developed by the DCTA and Denver Public Schools in 2005.Back then, ProComp was heralded as a pioneering step forward on pay-for-performance/merit pay, and that framing  has colored coverage of the strike. Even before the strike started, education outlet Chalkbeat ran an explainer headlined, “How a once-promising merit pay system led Denver teachers to the brink of a strike.” This week, the Washington Post reported “Denver teachers strike in bid to dismantle pay-for-performance system.” The New York Times account was headlined, “Denver Teachers’ Strike Puts Performance-Based Pay to the Test.”The only problem? This narrative is bunk. For all the talk about “merit” and “performance,” ProComp is almost wholly devoid of any links between pay and teacher performance.As Denver Public Schools’ compensation chart illustrates, ProComp allows teachers to earn an annual $3,851 pay bump for obtaining an advanced degree or license; a $2,738 boost for working in a “hard to staff” field or a “hard to serve” school; $1,540 for working in a “ProComp Title I” school, which is different than a “hard to serve” school; $855 for completing the requisite “professional development units”; and between $800 and $5,000 for filling designated leadership roles. There is also a yearly bonus for teachers based on students’ state-wide-exam results.None of these bonuses, save perhaps for the last one, are performance-based. The only other component of ProComp resembling anything even remotely close to a performance-based incentive for individual teachers is the $855 they can receive for a satisfactory evaluation on a paper-driven performance rubric — and that figure falls by half for longtime educators. (Just how modest is such a sum in context? Average teacher pay in Denver before incentives is about $51,000, and the district has already offered teachers a 10 percent raise.)A couple points here merit note. First, contra the coverage of the strike, the Denver pay system which has sparked so much backlash is not actually rewarding performance. Rather, ProComp is mostly designed to reward the usual credentialism and to steer teachers to work in certain schools or fields. That’s all fine, and some of it makes good sense, but it’s a misnomer to characterize it as constituting a “pay-for-performance” scheme.Second, to the extent that ProComp seeks to reward performance in any fashion, it has opted for school-wide bonuses to schools that make large gains on math and reading scores (what the district euphemistically terms “top performing-high growth” schools). Reading and math scores matter, a lot. But education reform’s fascination with paying for test points is troubling on several counts. It is bizarrely detached from the instruction that most teachers (including those who teach science, foreign languages, music, or history) are asked to focus on and has encouraged corner-cutting and outright cheating. It also has parents concerned about narrow curricula and soulless instruction, and teachers feeling like insurance salesmen.Performance pay is always tricky, but a raft of for-profit and non-profit organizers have muddled through in pretty sensible ways — tapping human judgment, seeking to assess the full contribution that an employee makes, and relying more upon promotions and raises than one-time bonuses.Denver’s situation is so noteworthy because Denver is no laggard. Indeed, for many years, it has been celebrated as a “model” district by reformers. So it’s disheartening how little progress the city has actually made. Reformers wound up being so focused on finding ways to pay teachers to switch schools or raise test scores that they missed what might have been a larger opportunity to reshape the teaching profession by reimagining how teachers’ job descriptions, pay structures, and responsibilities could work. Indeed, given the limited dollar amounts involved (a 1–2 percent bonus if a teacher aces his personal evaluation), it’s hard to imagine why anyone ever expected ProComp to be a game-changer.As teacher strikes continue apace and efforts to improve schooling move on from the enthusiasm of the Bush and Obama years, there may emerge new opportunities to rethink teacher pay. If they do, reformers should seize them by focusing more intently on how well teachers do their jobs, and less on where they work or how many boxes they check.Frederick M. Hess is the director of education-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Brendan Bell is the education-program manager at AEI.
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10 Things to Know for Today
Posted 1 day 13 hours 43 minutes ago

Congress is set to resolve its clattering brawl with President Donald Trump in uncommonly bipartisan fashion as lawmakers prepare to pass a border security compromise. European plane manufacturer Airbus says it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers.
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British schoolgirl Shamima Begum who joined Isil found in Syria and 'wants to come home'
Posted 1 day 15 hours 55 minutes ago

A British schoolgirl who fled to Syria to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has said she does not regret it, but wants to return to the UK to give birth. Shamima Begum, 19, vanished from her home in Bethnal Green in London four years ago, along with two other teenage girls, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase. A girl who identified herself as Shamima Begum, was found in a refugee camp in Syria as the Isil caliphate collapsed, the Times reported. In an interview with the newspaper she described how she had been living in the caliphate and had married an Isil fighter from the Netherlands called Yago Riedijk. She was heavily pregnant and due to give birth any day. Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase, and Shamima Begum  Credit: PA The girl is living in the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria along with 39,000 other refugees. She described having seen a severed head in a bin during her time with Isil, and escaping bombs dropping, the Times reported. The teenager also said she had already given birth to two children, both of whom died in infancy. She told the Times: "I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago. And I don’t regret coming here." She added: "I am scared this baby is going to get sick in this camp, that's why I want to get back to Britain, because I know my baby will be looked after." The three girls had joined another London teenager, Sharmeena Begum, in Syria. All were married off to jihadists.  Shamima Begum said at least one of her friends, Kadiza Sultana, had been killed when a bomb hit a house in Raqqa. Renu, eldest sister of Shamima Begum, 15, holds her sister's photo while being interviewed by the media at New Scotland Yard, central London Credit: PA The other two girls reportedly stayed on to fight in Baghuz in eastern Syria, along with a few hundred Isil fighters, as the caliphate came to an end. Shamima Begum and her husband fled instead, and the husband surrendered to Kurdish forces. The girl told the Times she had spoken to her mother in the UK and asked for her support when she goes home. She had also read what had been written about her online by people back in the UK. "The caliphate is over," she told the Times. "There was so much oppression and corruption that I don’t think they deserved victory. I know what everyone at home thinks of me. But I just want to come home to have my child. All I want to do is come home to Britain." British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport, en route to Syria in 2015 Credit: AFP The Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases, although anyone who returns to the UK after travelling to IS territory faces criminal investigation and stricter laws are now in place. Security Minister Ben Wallace said: "The UK advises against all travel to Syria and parts of Iraq. Anyone who does travel to these areas, for whatever reason, is putting themselves in considerable danger. "Everyone who returns from taking part in the conflict in Syria or Iraq must expect to be investigated by the police to determine if they have committed criminal offences, and to ensure that they do not pose a threat to our national security. "There are a range of terrorism offences where individuals can be convicted for crimes committed overseas and we can also use Temporary Exclusion Orders to control an individuals' return to the UK." A displaced Syrian woman and a child walk toward tents at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp of al-Hol in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria Credit: AFP Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer who was instructed by the Bethnal Green girls' families after they ran away, said he was "glad (Ms Begum) is alive and safe". He told the Press Association the authorities should be reminded of former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe's position at the time of their disappearance. "The position of the Metropolitan Police was that they should be treated as victims, so long as they hadn't committed any further offences while they are out there," he said. Mr Akunjee said he had spoken to the girls' families, who had "expressed the position that they want time and space to process what's happened". The Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are expected to announce the territorial defeat of Isil in the coming days. Around 2,000 US special forces are expected to be brought home by April. Giving evidence to MPs in the wake of the British schoolgirls's disappearance, in 2015, senior police officers said they would not be treated as criminals if they returned home. They said there was a "difference between the person running around with a Kalishnikov" and three schoolgirls who had been duped into travelling to Syria. The girls funded their travel to Syria by stealing jewellery from relatives, paying more than £1,000 in cash to a local travel agent for their flights to Turkey. Donald Trump has said Isil is "defeated"and that an announcement is imminent on "100 percent of the caliphate" having been retaken. The war to push Isil out of its so-called caliphate had lasted more than four-and-a-half years. The area once covered part of Syria and Iraq that was around the size of Britain. Pentagon officials have warned that Isil remains an "active insurgent group in both Iraq and Syria". Sign up for your essential, twice-daily briefing from The Telegraph with our free Front Page newsletter.
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Catholic dioceses in New Jersey release names of accused priests
Posted 1 day 20 hours 59 minutes ago

The disclosure was the result of an internal investigation of archdiocese records and all of the priests and deacons listed have previously been reported to law enforcement and none remain in the ministry, Newark Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Tobin said in a statement. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal formed a task force in September to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy in his state, along with any efforts to cover up such abuse. "I am pleased to see that our task force’s grand jury investigation has prompted the dioceses to finally take some measures to hold predator priests accountable," Grewal said in a statement on Wednesday.
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Club: Mardi Gras tradition is not the same as blackface
Posted 1 day 22 hours 9 minutes ago

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans' widely recognized Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club says its tradition of using black makeup for its Mardi Gras float riders is not the same as "blackface," a controversy that has embroiled officials nationwide.
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Public school strikes revive clash with Teach for America
Posted 1 day 23 hours 56 minutes ago

Young teachers are caught up in a possible strike in Oakland, California, that's giving new life to the long-simmering tension between traditional public schools and the education reform program Teach for America.
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