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Jimmy Lai: Hong Kong media tycoon arrested under security law
Posted 21 minutes ago

The prominent pro-democracy supporter is accused of foreign collusion under controversial new laws.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine entered a pact to buy thousands of COVID-19 antigen tests. After a false positive, he's more skeptical.
Posted 4 hours 3 minutes ago

The Republican governor tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but subsequent tests came back negative.


Georgia school moves online after COVID-19 infections reported
Posted 4 hours 6 minutes ago

A Georgia high school plans to start the week with all classes moving online after nine students and staff tested positive for the coronavirus when the school year opened last week with most students attending classes in-person.


BBC Apologizes For Use of N-Word in July Broadcast
Posted 4 hours 33 minutes ago

BBC director general Tony Hall has issued an apology after the N-word was used in a news report in July, stating that the outlet would be “strengthening” its guidance on the use of offensive language. The report had covered a racist attack on a United Kingdom National Health Service worker in Bristol, England. The BBC had initially defended the use of the word, stating they felt they needed “to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used” in the report. More than 18,600 complained about the use of the word in the reporting. BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ Sideman quit over the incident, stating “the action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face of our community.”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.


Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under China's national security law
Posted 4 hours 49 minutes ago

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation. Mr Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries. The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year. "Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time," Mark Simon, a senior executive at Mr Lai's media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday on Twitter. Police said on Monday they had arrested 7 people on suspicion of breaching the city's new national security law for offences including collusion with foreign powers. They were all local men, aged 39-72, it said, without naming them. Police said the operation was still ongoing and further arrests possible.


Chicago's Montrose Harbor blocked by police, fence after Mayor Lori Lightfoot shuts down large beach party: 'It's being addressed'
Posted 8 hours 14 minutes ago

CHICAGO - For months, memes have appeared to show Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot watching for crowds and threatening to close parts of the city if residents don't abide by orders and closures during the coronavirus pandemic. But on Saturday, Lightfoot herself - not just an edited photo of her, like those used in such memes - apparently had a hand in breaking up a large gathering at Montrose ...


Bolsonaro assails Brazil network blaming him for virus deaths
Posted 8 hours 52 minutes ago

President Jair Bolsonaro lashed out Sunday at the "cowardice" of Brazil's most widely viewed TV network for suggesting he bore heavy blame for the nation's more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths. The far-right president accused TV Globo of treating the death milestone as if it were "a World Cup final," saying on Twitter that it had been both "cowardly and disrespectful of the dead." On Saturday night, shortly after the official announcement that the 100,000-death mark had been passed, TV Globo opened its news report with a long editorial highly critical of Bolsonaro's handling of the health crisis.


Exclusive: Joe Biden and Democrats unveil details of DNC convention including nightly themes, ways to watch
Posted 9 hours 36 minutes ago

'Uniting America' will be the DNC convention's theme. Speakers include former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.


Riot declared as fire burns in Portland police union offices
Posted 11 hours 15 minutes ago

A fire inside a police union building led authorities in Portland, Ore., to declare a riot and turn protesters away from the offices as demonstrations continue in the city after federal agents withdrew more than a week ago.


Navarro Defends Trump, Claims ‘the Lord’ Created Executive Orders
Posted 13 hours 15 minutes ago

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro continued his reputation for saying outrageous things on Sunday, claiming “the Lord” created executive orders to cut through partisanship and calling Donald Trump the “hardest-working president in history” when confronted on Trump’s latest golf weekend.Amid stalled coronavirus relief negotiations between Democrats, Republicans, and the White House, the president issued a series of executive actions and memos from his New Jersey golf club this weekend. The potentially illegal orders Trump signed reduces the unemployment benefit bonus to $400 a week, requires states to fund 25 percent, provinces a payroll tax holiday, and calls for a continued eviction moratorium.Appearing on NBC News’ Meet the Press to defend the president’s orders, Navarro was asked by host Chuck Todd whether he’s confident that the orders will stand up to legal scrutiny since Congress is the branch tasked with budgetary powers.“Well, one of the things I learned here, Chuck, at the White House going through a lot of work on executive orders is what we have the statutory authorities to do, and I’m confident that every single one of those orders which cleared through the office of legal counsel will stand up,” Navarro declared, adding that the orders deliberately included non-decisive language.The Trump aide then shifted course and laid blame for the stalled negotiations at Democrats’ feet, taking personal potshots at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while suggesting Democrats purposely want a coronavirus relief package to fail.“The question the president has is whether the Democrats really are sincere when they come to the table, and I’m not sure,” he huffed. “It doesn’t help when Speaker Pelosi goes out after every day, with her scarves flying and just beats the heck out of us for being cruel people.”Todd, meanwhile, followed up by pressing Navarro on the president’s own role in the failed negotiations.“Where is the president? Why was he at his golf club all weekend?” Todd wondered aloud. “Why isn’t he negotiating? Look, I understand you guys don’t like each other, that Nancy Pelosi and the president — where is he? Why isn’t he involved?”“You have to understand this is the hardest-working president in history,” Navarro shot back. “He works 24/7.”After that bit of obsequiousness, Navarro insisted the real problem is “the swamp” in Washington before heaping praise on executive orders—a tool the president had previously derided when used by his predecessor.“The Lord and the Founding Fathers created executive orders because of partisan bickering and divided government,” Navarro exclaimed. “That’s what we have here, but the president has taken action.”“His constituency is mainstream Republicans and blue-collar Democrats and independents who are sick and tired of the swamp and he reached out and he took action,” he added. “He didn’t have to — he could have just let this keep going, and he did not. He took action, action, action, and action.”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.


A body was recovered from the wreckage of the New Orleans Hard Rock hotel 10 months after it collapsed
Posted 13 hours 50 minutes ago

The hotel collapsed last October. It killed three construction workers, including 36-year-old Quinnyon Wimberly, whose body was recovered on Saturday.


Gunmen kill six French aid workers, their driver and guide in Niger, minister says
Posted 14 hours 15 minutes ago

Gunmen on motorcycles killed six French aid workers, a Nigerien guide and a driver in a wildlife park in Niger on Sunday, officials said. The group was attacked in a giraffe reserve just 65 km (40 miles) from the West African country's capital Niamey, the governor of Tillaberi region, Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, told Reuters. The six worked for an international aid group, Niger's Defence Minister Issoufou Katambé told Reuters.


Coronavirus: New Zealand marks 100 days without community spread
Posted 14 hours 27 minutes ago

The prime minister hails the milestone as "significant", but warns against complacency.


Gov. Mike Huckabee weighs in on religious voters, 2020 election
Posted 14 hours 44 minutes ago

Fox News contributor and former Arkansas Republican Governor Mike Huckabee joins ‘Fox & Friends Weekend.’


'You better watch out if Trump is reelected': Critics warn new executive orders will 'defund' Medicare and social security
Posted 15 hours 1 minute ago

Donald Trump’s new executive orders faced swift backlash from Democrats — and even some Republicans — as lawmakers said the president was attempting to unconstitutionally bypass Congress after coronavirus relief negotiations stalled on Capitol Hill.Critics decried the president latest measures, which he announced on Saturday from his golf club in New Jersey after the US Senate hit an impasse on the negotiations for a new coronavirus relief package.


Man who was given life sentence for $30 marijuana sale to be freed
Posted 15 hours 48 minutes ago

A man in Louisiana serving a life sentence for selling less than a gram of marijuana is due to be released from prison, his lawyer has said.Derek Harris, who is a military veteran, was arrested in 2008 for selling 0.69 grams of marijuana — an amount worth less than $30 (£23) — to an undercover officer who came to his door.


A 17-year-old high school student developed an app that records your interaction with police when you're pulled over and immediately shares it to Instagram and Facebook
Posted 16 hours 41 minutes ago

PulledOver is "like a community where you can share videos — you can see how other people are being treated," its creator told Business Insider.


A woman claiming to be from the 'Freedom To Breathe Agency' filmed telling a grocery employee that she could face legal action for making people wear face masks
Posted 17 hours 29 minutes ago

The mask-less woman gave the employee a piece of paper claiming she could go to prison for up to five years for telling customers to wear a face mask.


Small farmers left behind in Trump administration's COVID-19 relief package
Posted 19 hours 9 minutes ago

The uneven distribution of funds is stark. The top 10 percent got over 60 percent of the pot, while the bottom 10 percent got just 0.26 percent.


U.S. health chief arrives in Taiwan on trip condemned by China
Posted 19 hours 36 minutes ago

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday as the highest-level U.S. official to visit in four decades, a trip condemned by China which claims the island as its own, further irritating Sino-U.S. relations. The Trump administration has made strengthening its support for the democratic island a priority, and boosted arms sales. Beijing, already arguing with Washington over everything from human rights and trade to the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has threatened unspecified countermeasures to Azar's visit.


Ireland has a new coronavirus fear: Americans on vacation
Posted 20 hours 22 minutes ago

With little to no quarantine enforcement on visitors, some Irish business owners say they have had to take matters into their own hands.


Just 30% of Brits say they would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine, with scientists blaming anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories and mistrust in government
Posted 20 hours 24 minutes ago

Scientists warn that the UK government will have to convince people to get a vaccine amid significant levels of skepticism among Brits.


Japan's Abe to avoid visit to war-linked shrine on 75th war anniversary: Jiji
Posted 23 hours 21 minutes ago

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will refrain from visiting the Yasukuni shrine for war dead on the 75th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War Two, Jiji news agency said on Sunday, but will make an offering on the emotive day, as he has done in the past. The shrine, dedicated to Japanese who have died during past wars including World War Two, is seen as a potent symbol of the controversy that persists over the conflict's legacy in East Asia. "He will make a ritual offering to the shrine out of his personal expenses as the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as he has done in previous years," sources close to the matter said, according to the report.


Australia's Victoria reports deadliest day of COVID-19 pandemic
Posted 1 day 2 hours 10 minutes ago

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, reported its deadliest day of the COVID-19 outbreak on Sunday, with 17 people dying, as police thwarted a planned anti-mask rally in the capital of Melbourne. Victoria, at the centre of a second wave of infections in Australia, reported 394 cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, compared with a daily average of 400-500 over the past week. In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Victoria has imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people's daily movements and ordered large parts of the economy to close.


Eleven killed in Czech apartment block fire including 5 who fell to their deaths
Posted 1 day 2 hours 49 minutes ago

Three children were among 11 people killed in a fire on Saturday at an apartment block in the Czech Republic that police believe was set deliberately. Police said one person was detained in connection with the blaze that saw five people jump to their deaths in the eastern city of Bohumin near the Polish border. Regional police chief Tomas Kuzel told public Czech Television that police suspected arson was the cause and that they had detained one person in the case. "I think we are good when it comes to the culprit," Mr Kuzel said without specifying whether the detained person would be charged with arson. He likened the fire to a case in 2013 when a man caused a gas explosion and fire that killed three children and two other people as well as himself. He reportedly hated his fellow tenants.


Arrest made in shooting that injured an 11-year-old and a woman in Fort Lauderdale, police say
Posted 1 day 4 hours 32 minutes ago

A 60-year-old man with a history of felony convictions has been arrested for his connection to a weekend shooting in Fort Lauderdale that sent an 11-year-old boy and a woman to the hospital, police said.


Failure wasn't an option on coronavirus aid. It was the only option.
Posted 1 day 7 hours 36 minutes ago

Analysis: There was no political incentive — other than public need — for the White House and Congress to reach a deal. So they didn't.


Trump signs executive order on coronavirus relief without $1,200 checks after rambling attack on Democrats
Posted 1 day 8 hours ago

With talks for a new coronavirus stimulus package stalled, President Donald Trump signed a package of coronavirus stimulus measures that he will seek to implement unilaterally by executive action. "This pretty much takes care of the whole situation," Trump said before exiting the contentious event. "We're coming back very strong," he added. "We're doing great with the virus." Trump moved to ...


Eastman Kodak's $765 million U.S. loan agreement on hold after recent allegations
Posted 1 day 8 hours 2 minutes ago

Earlier this week, senior Democratic lawmakers asked federal regulators to investigate securities transactions made by the company and its executives around the time it learned it could receive the government loan. "Recent allegations of wrongdoing raise serious concerns," DFC said late on Friday in a tweet.


New 'threat' against former Saudi spy in Canada: media
Posted 1 day 8 hours 27 minutes ago

A former senior Saudi intelligence official who has accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of trying to have him assassinated in 2018 has been placed under heightened security after a new threat on his life, a Canadian newspaper reported. The Globe and Mail said Canadian security services had been informed of a new attempted attack on Saad Aljabri, who lives at an undisclosed location in the Toronto region. Aljabri served as a counterespionage chief under a rival prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted in 2017 by Prince Mohammed.


She Was Charged With Murder After Her Baby Was Stillborn. Now California’s AG Has Stepped In.
Posted 1 day 9 hours 26 minutes ago

For more than nine months, five of them during a global pandemic, a 26-year-old woman named Chelsea Becker has been sitting in Kings County Jail, under a $2 million bail, for giving birth to a stillborn baby.Becker has been there since November, when police arrested her and prosecutors charged her with murder. The District Attorney argued that Becker’s methamphetamine addiction had caused the stillbirth, citing a 50-year-old law that civil rights advocates say was never supposed to apply to pregnant women. It has put Becker at the heart of a national debate over criminalizing fetal death. On Friday, however, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra intervened. In an amicus brief to end the case against Becker, Becerra argued the prosecution’s legal interpretation would lead to “absurd—and constitutionally questionable—results.”“We believe the law was misapplied and misinterpreted,” Becerra said in a statement about the brief. “Our laws in California do not convict women who suffer the loss of their pregnancy, and in our filing today we are making clear that this law has been misused to the detriment of women, children, and families.” An American Surrogate Had His Baby. Then Coronavirus Hit.Back in September, Becker, then 25, was eight and a half months pregnant when she thought her water broke, only to discover it was blood. Becker’s mother called an ambulance to her home in the San Joaquin Valley, according to The Los Angeles Times. Three hours later, Becker gave birth in Adventist Health Hanford hospital to a boy with no pulse, whom she had planned to name Zachariah.Suspicious that the fetus suffered from drug exposure, hospital employees alerted the Kings County Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted an autopsy. The exam found methamphetamine in the fetus’ system, a Times report states, that amounted to more than five times the level thought to be toxic. They ruled the case a homicide. Becker had grown up in Hanford, a working class town in Kings County, that serves as a trading hub in the agrarian San Joaquin Valley. The nearly half Hispanic town recently made headlines when 183 meatpacking workers came down with COVID-19. According to the Census Bureau, 18 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Before the pandemic, county unemployment levels hovered at 7.9 percent—they have since soared to 14.6 percent.Becker told the Times that as a teen, she spent some time living with her father in Minnesota, where she became addicted to methamphetamine. She came home to Hanford at 19, where she had two other children, both of whom were removed from her care. In early November, prosecutors charged Becker with murder, holding the mother on a $5 million bail, later reduced to $2 million. Their case hinged on an amendment, passed in 1970, to the state’s murder statute: Penal Code section 187. Earlier that year, the California Supreme Court had overturned the murder conviction of man who had assaulted his pregnant wife, causing the death of their fetus. The code, the court had concluded, only addressed the killing of “a human being,” making the man ineligible for a murder charge. In response, the legislature amended the statute to include the “unlawful killing” of a “fetus.” That was the language prosecutors seized on to charge Becker with murder.“The conduct of the defendant resulted in the death of a fetus, which is a crime in California,” said District Attorney Keith Fagundes told The Los Angeles Times. He did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Saturday.At her arraignment, Becker pleaded not guilty, and later filed a motion calling the code’s application to a pregnant woman unconstitutional. The amendment had been made to protect victims of domestic violence, Becker’s lawyers argued, not criminalize women who miscarried, had stillbirths, or sought abortions. “Penal Code 187(b)(3) by its own plain terms,” they wrote, “precludes the prosecution of a woman for the consensual acts in which she may engage while pregnant.” Becker’s attorney, Roger Nuttall, and Becerra did not immediately return requests for comment. “Ms. Becker had experienced a stillbirth that the prosecutor claims (without scientific basis) was caused by her methamphetamine use during pregnancy,” the National Advocates for Pregnant Women wrote in a statement on Becker’s case. “Ms. Becker was charged with this crime despite the fact that §187 does not authorize, nor has it ever been interpreted to authorize prosecution of a woman in relation to her own pregnancy or any outcome of a pregnancy.” the decades since 1970, California prosecutors have tried to charge women for stillbirths, but none has secured a conviction until 2018, when another woman was arrested for the same crime in the same town of Hanford.Like Becker, Adora Perez was in her late 20s and addicted to methamphetamine when she gave birth to a stillborn baby at Adventist Health. Also like Becker, hospital employees alerted the Medical Examiner’s Office when the fetus tested positive for the drug, according to reports in The Fresno Bee. Fagundes charged her with murder. Perez, however, took a plea deal. Now 32, she is serving an 11-year sentence in state prison for voluntary manslaughter—the first time in decades that a charge of this kind ended in jail time. The unprecedented charges against Becker and Perez have alarmed pregnancy advocates, medical professionals, drug policy organizations, and civil rights groups across the country. In April, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in support of Becker. The same day, a coalition of 15 organizations, from the Drug Policy Alliance to California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, filed another.“Broadly accepted medical, public health, and scientific evidence supports the Legislature’s drafting of the statute to avoid criminalizing women with respect to their pregnancies,” the coalition wrote. “Pregnancy and use of controlled substances is a medical and public health issue, not an issue that should be subject to state intervention and control.”Attempts to criminalize pregnant women who suffer from addiction have backfired in the past. In 2014, Tennessee passed a wildly controversial bill, attempting to target what they called “fetal assault.” The bill allowed prosecutors to bring charges against women with drug addictions, if their fetuses were born still or disabled. It proved so polarizing that it was given a two-year trial phase and then, in 2016, deemed a failure and discontinued. “As a result of the law,” the National Advocates for Pregnant Women wrote in a statement, “women steered clear of prenatal care and drug treatment and avoided delivering their babies in hospital settings.”Nevertheless in June, the superior court denied Becker’s motion to have the case declared unconstitutional. The next month, she filed a writ of prohibition––a motion to stop the court proceedings––arguing that “a woman cannot be prosecuted for murder as a result of her own omissions or actions that might result in pregnancy loss.” In his amicus brief on her case, Becerra agreed: “The superior court erred in concluding otherwise.” “The Legislature’s purpose in adding the killing of a fetus to Penal Code section 187 was not to punish women who do not—or cannot, because of addiction or resources—follow best practices for prenatal health,” Becerra wrote. “The courts should not assume that the Legislature intended such a sweeping and invasive change to the criminal law affecting women’s lives without clear evidence of that intent. And such evidence is absent here.”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.


Explosives expert: It's only a matter of time before human error leads to another Beirut blast
Posted 1 day 11 hours 23 minutes ago

One of the world’s leading experts on ammonium nitrate told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s only a matter of time before something similar happens again.” Vyto Babrauskas, a fires and explosives forensics expert based in New York, said that there were tens of thousands sites around the world where the chemical was stored unsafely. He carried out an investigation into a disaster seven years ago in West, Texas where 15 died. About 2,750 tonnes ignited to devastate Beirut on Tuesday. In the UK, it is legal to store up to 1,250 tonnes. In the Texas disaster, only 30 tonnes went up.


Hillary Clinton says NYT writer had 'too much pot brownie' after forgetting her 2016 White House run
Posted 1 day 12 hours 25 minutes ago

Hillary Clinton roasted The New York Times and their columnist Maureen Dowd - for apparently forgetting that she ran on a mixed-gender presidential ticket in 2016.She joined a chorus of Twitter mockery after the paper’s Opinion Twitter account posted a now-deleted message promoting Ms Dowd’s latest column, which looked back at the Walter Mondale–Geraldine Ferraro ticket of 1984.


The former Dallas police officer who killed Botham Jean in his own apartment is appealing her murder conviction
Posted 1 day 12 hours 53 minutes ago

Lawyers for Amber Guyger, who is serving 10 years for Jean's murder, argue in the appeal she had the "right to act in deadly force in self-defense."


Thousands of bikers heading to South Dakota rally to be blocked at tribal land checkpoints
Posted 1 day 13 hours 7 minutes ago

Clampdown comes as fears mount that mask-free bikers headed to large gathering could spread coronavirus to tribal groupsThousands of bikers heading to South Dakota’s 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will not be allowed through Cheyenne River Sioux checkpoints, a spokesman for the Native American group said on Saturday.The decision to prevent access across tribal lands to the annual rally, which could attract as many as 250,000 bikers amid fears it could lead to a massive, regional coronavirus outbreak, comes as part of larger Covid-19 prevention policy. The policy has pitted seven tribes that make up the Great Sioux Nation against federal and state authorities, which both claim the checkpoints are illegal.A duty officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux told the Guardian on Saturday that only commercial and emergency vehicles will be let through the checkpoints onto reservation land.A number of bikers had tried to enter but had been turned back, they said. Other reservations in the region, including the Oglala Sioux, were also turning away bikers that had attempted routes to Sturgis that pass through sovereign land.Under Cheyenne River tribal guidelines non-residents driving non-commercial out-of-state vehicles are never allowed through the reservation. During the rally, non-commercial vehicles with South Dakota plates are also not allowed through.The clampdown comes as fears mount that mask-free bikers visiting Sturgis for the largest gathering of people since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic could spread the virus to tribal groups that are already experiencing a rise in cases.Oglala Sioux recorded 163 cases last week, while the Cheyenne River Sioux has seen cases rise to 79, according to the tribe’s website.The restrictions come as local law enforcement reported a convergence of bikers from all directions. According to reports, many bikers heading for Sturgis expressed defiance at rules and restrictions that have marked life during the coronavirus pandemic.While South Dakota has fared better than most states – it ranks 38th in Covid deaths per capita, according to a Reuters tally – cases have risen in recent weeks as hotspots move into the midwest.During the rally, people are expected to cram bars and pack concerts with at least 34 acts playing. “Screw COVID,” read the design on one T-shirt on sale. “I went to Sturgis.”> I trusted my people, they trusted me, and South Dakota is in a good spot in our fight against COVID-19. > > The Sturgis motorcycle rally starts this weekend, and we're excited for visitors to see what our great state has to offer!> > — Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) August 6, 2020Stephen Sample, who rode his Harley-Davidson from Arizona, told the Associated Press that the event was a break from the routine of the last several months.“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either,” Sample, 66, said, adding that he had weighed the risks of navigating the crowds, but the same thrill-seeking that attracted him to riding motorcycles seemed to win out.“I think we’re all willing to take a chance,” he said, but acknowledged the trip “could be a major mistake.”South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, has supported holding the Sturgis rally, pointing out that no virus outbreak was documented from the several thousand people who turned out to see Donald Trump at Mount Rushmore last month.The rally is marking its 80th anniversary and typically injects $800m into South Dakota’s economy. Meade county sheriff, Rob Merwin, said: “It’s going to be a lot of people and a lot of motorcycles all over the place. People are tired of being penned up by this pandemic.”On Friday, a worker at the event told the Guardian crowds seemed larger than in previous years and warned that Sturgis attendees were paying little heed to medical advice.“I’ve not seen one single person wearing a mask,” said bartender Jessica Christian, 29. “It’s just pretty much the mentality that, ‘If I get it, I get it.’”“In downtown Sturgis it’s just madness,” Christian added. “People not socially distancing, everybody touching each other. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out.”Over 60% of Sturgis 6,900 residents who responded to a city council survey in May said they wanted the rally canceled.A month later, the council voted to move ahead, although it canceled all city-sponsored events associated with the rally and included measures such as hand-sanitizing stations. Sturgis mayor Mark Carstensen said throughout the pandemic, “the state of South Dakota has been the freedom state and the city of Sturgis has stayed true to that”.


Conspiracy-mongering Republican seeking John Lewis seat gets social media boost from Trump
Posted 1 day 13 hours 34 minutes ago

Besides parroting many of President Trump’s talking points, Angela Stanton-King, a Republican congressional candidate, has frequently repeated ideas related to the conspiracy theory QAnon.


80 million masks, 8,800 ventilators: How New York is spending $5B to fight COVID-19
Posted 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes ago

New York spent $278 million on 8,800 ventilators during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — and the state never ran out, despite early fears.


A stranded tanker carrying 4,000 tons of fuel has breached and is leaking oil into the pristine, azure waters of the Indian Ocean
Posted 1 day 14 hours 58 minutes ago

The MV Wakashio ran aground off Mauritius on July 25. Cracks emerged in the hull on Friday after the ship was battered by strong winds.


97,000 kids test positive for COVID-19 in two weeks, report says
Posted 1 day 15 hours 6 minutes ago

Experts hope increased testing of children will help determine what role they play in transmission, as school districts around the country return to some form of school.


Sales of pricey New York City apartments plunge as the suburbs become cool again
Posted 1 day 17 hours 26 minutes ago

Homes in Connecticut and Westchester's suburbs are flying off the market as wealthy New Yorkers flee to greener pastures.


Should Judge Sullivan Be Disqualified from Flynn Case? An Appeals Court Is Asking
Posted 1 day 18 hours 50 minutes ago

Maybe Judge Luttig was right all along.I had the misgivings you’d expect back in late May, when I disagreed with J. Michael Luttig, the stellar scholar and former federal appeals court judge, regarding how the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals should handle the Flynn case.At the time, that court’s three-judge panel had not yet heard oral argument on Michael Flynn’s mandamus petition — i.e., Flynn’s request that the panel find that federal district judge Emmet Sullivan was acting lawlessly. Sullivan had not only failed to grant the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the criminal case against Flynn; he had appointed a former federal judge (the overtly anti-Trump John Gleeson) to posit the argument abandoned by DOJ — to wit, that Flynn should proceed to sentencing because he had pled guilty to a false-statements charge, waiving his right to contest the case any further in exchange for the government’s agreement not to file any other charges. Basically, Flynn was asking the appellate court to order Judge Sullivan to dismiss the case.In a Washington Post op-ed, Luttig contended that “there are ample grounds in the actions the district court has already taken for the appeals court to order that the government’s motion to dismiss be heard by a different judge, and it should so order.”It is interesting to revisit this assessment in light of an order issued by the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday. The Circuit directed that the participants in the dispute over Judge Sullivan’s actions, including Judge Sullivan himself, must address the question of whether Sullivan should either recuse himself or be disqualified by the Circuit. Arguments in the case will be heard this coming Tuesday, August 11, in a rare en banc review by the full Circuit (i.e., all active judges who have not taken senior status, minus one who has recused himself, so it will be a ten-judge panel).Let’s back up for a moment.Back in May, I disagreed with Luttig because I thought the more important issue was prejudice to Flynn, not the harm Sullivan’s apparent bias was causing to the court’s integrity. At the time, the D.C. Circuit had given Sullivan ten days to respond to Flynn’s mandamus petition. I argued that, rather than reassigning the case to another judge, the Circuit should give Sullivan a chance to explain himself. If he was unable to do that to the Circuit’s satisfaction, I posited that the Circuit should then order him to dismiss the case.After Luttig and I, among other commentators, weighed in on what the appellate court should do, a three-judge panel heard argument. The panel granted Flynn’s mandamus petition and ordered Sullivan to dismiss the case. The 2–1 majority reasoned that, with possible exceptions that do not apply in Flynn’s case, the Justice Department’s discretion to end a prosecution is unreviewable. A dissenting opinion countered that mandamus, which is an extraordinary remedy disfavored by courts absent truly egregious judicial lawlessness, was premature — i.e., that Sullivan should be permitted to conduct a hearing and, if he decided not to grant dismissal, Flynn could then appeal. That would be the normal route to appellate review in a criminal case.After the panel ruled for Flynn, Judge Sullivan asked the Circuit to rehear the case en banc. Sullivan’s petition was remarkable because he is not a party in the case. The only parties in a criminal prosecution are the government and the accused. The judge is the arbiter, not a litigant. The court is not supposed to have a stake in the outcome. It is unseemly for a judge to act as if he has become invested in the outcome of a case the way a party is. It strongly suggests a loss of judicial perspective.Nevertheless, the D.C. Circuit granted Judge Sullivan’s petition. It vacated the panel’s ruling and agreed to full-court review.At first blush, this seemed like doom for Flynn. After all, the full court skews heavily Democratic: seven of the ten judges who will hear the case were appointed by Democratic presidents. There are only four Republican appointees, and as noted above, one (appointed by President Trump) has recused himself. In modern times, there are enough blatantly politicized judicial decisions that people can be forgiven for assuming that partisanship always trumps law. Indeed, in the three-judge panel decision, the two majority judges who ruled in Flynn’s favor were Republican appointees, while the dissenter was a Democratic appointee.Nevertheless, the mandamus litigation in Flynn’s case is not a brute political matter. Anyone who listened to the oral argument could tell how reluctant the judges seemed about issuing a mandamus writ against Judge Sullivan, even if they were convinced that he was wrong on the law. Furthermore, the main Circuit precedent, United States v. Fokker Services B.V. (2016), which clearly indicates that the Justice Department’s dismissal motion should be granted, was written by Chief Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan. He is often touted as a potential Supreme Court nominee in a future Democratic administration. For him, then, the case is a Catch-22: Walking away from his own reasoning in Fokker would be a bad look, while ruling in Flynn’s favor would be very unpopular among Democrats. In addition, we should note that any of the Circuit’s judges could have asked for en banc review by the full court. None did. The case is being heard because Sullivan himself pressed the issue.The complications presented by the mandamus dispute were evident in the Circuit’s initial order scheduling the rehearing en banc, which added an intriguing directive: “The parties should be prepared to address whether there are ‘no other adequate means to attain the relief’ desired” (quoting from the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Cheney v. U.S. District Court). I interpret this somewhat cryptic assertion to indicate that, while the Circuit judges have agreed to reconsider the panel’s ruling because courts are generally hostile to mandamus, that hardly means the judges approve of the circus that Sullivan has made of the Flynn proceedings.The judges seemed to be signaling that they know the case should be dismissed, but they’d prefer not to slam a longtime district judge if there is some way to avoid doing so. Perhaps they could deny the writ, but couch the denial in a way that reminded Judge Sullivan that a court must neither take over the prosecutor’s role nor probe the executive’s decision-making in a matter that the Constitution commits to executive discretion.That is what makes Wednesday’s subsequent order regarding the en banc proceeding so interesting. The Circuit instructs counsel for Flynn, the Justice Department, and Judge Sullivan to consider the effect of Congress’s disqualification statute (Section 455 of Title 28, U.S. Code). Specifically, the participants in the mandamus dispute are told to address the law’s mandate that a judge be disqualified “in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” particularly if the judge “is a party to the proceeding.”Manifestly, at least some of the Circuit’s judges (I’d wager most of them) are disturbed by the degree to which Judge Sullivan has exhibited bias and become invested in Flynn’s case. This is exactly the problem on which Judge Luttig focused back in May.It could thus turn out that Luttig presciently homed in on the dispositive issue. I believe, though, that it’s more a matter of new developments breaking, perhaps inevitably, in favor of disqualification. At the time Luttig wrote his op-ed, I still think it would have been premature for an appeals court to jump in and disqualify Judge Sullivan. The parties were not pushing for Sullivan to be removed, just that he be directed to grant the dismissal motion. And even in making his disqualification argument, Luttig conveyed some hesitation. He said the Circuit panel should grant the mandamus but in a more limited way than Flynn was suggesting: Have Judge Sullivan pick a different adviser (someone other than the explicitly biased Gleeson), then promptly rule on the motion to dismiss, explaining his reasoning in full so the appellate court could review it.That is not consistent with Luttig’s other suggestion of having the case reassigned to another judge. But it was right: As things stood back in May, Sullivan should have been given an opportunity to do the right thing. Most of us were hoping he’d correct himself, rather than need to be corrected by a higher court.Plus, let’s put personalities aside, as well as the understandable distaste judges have for mandamus (which essentially asks them to dress down a colleague). A federal appeals court also has very practical reasons for discouraging mandamus. The regular appellate process calls for a criminal case to be appealed only at the end of the lower court proceeding. At that point, the trial or plea is over, sentence has been imposed, the judgment has been entered, and the appeals court can deal with all the claims of error at once, with finality. Courts do not want to encourage litigants to start viewing mandamus as a way to appeal to the higher court in the middle of the lower court proceedings, any time a party claims a judge has made an error. Chaos would reign and cases would never end.That said, things have significantly changed in the nearly three months since we analysts first opined on the mandamus dispute.For one thing, Judge Sullivan retained his own counsel to argue the case on his behalf before the panel, as if he were a party. Then, when the panel’s decision did not go the way he wanted it to go, he took the highly unusual step of seeking en banc review. As the Justice Department pointed out, Sullivan did not have standing to seek reconsideration; he is not a party and did not comply with the rules government officials are supposed to follow before seeking a rehearing.More to the point, by seeking full-court reconsideration of the mandamus matter when both the Justice Department and Flynn are seeking dismissal of the case, Sullivan is both causing prejudice to the defendant and stoking suspicion about the executive branch’s motives. How, then, could Sullivan continue to be considered a fair and impartial judge, fit to rule on the Justice Department’s dismissal motion?That question may signal something about the wisdom of the D.C. Circuit judges that I previously failed to appreciate. The Justice Department’s contention that Sullivan lacks standing seemed compelling to me. I was surprised when the Circuit appeared to ignore it in granting Sullivan’s request for full-court review; I thought they’d deny it and let the panel’s ruling stand. But is it possible that the Circuit saw this as a graceful off-ramp? When none of the Circuit’s judges asked for full-court reconsideration, that signaled to Sullivan that if he wanted it, he would have to ask for it himself. The Circuit judges probably calculated that if the irascible Sullivan made a formal application for rehearing en banc, it would be manifest that he had transformed himself into a party in the Flynn case. Then the Circuit could use the disqualification rule to nudge him aside for the sake of maintaining the judiciary’s reputation for objectivity. That would avoid all the downsides of issuing a mandamus writ while gently reminding lower court judges that they are supposed to remain umpires in these contests, not become one of the players.To sum up, whatever one may have thought about the gravity of Sullivan’s irregular behavior back in May, he has now clearly crossed the Rubicon. It is incumbent on him to recuse himself. If he can’t bring himself to do that — a failure that would further demonstrate a lack of judicial detachment — the D.C. Circuit should disqualify him. Either way, the case should be reassigned to a new judge, who should promptly grant the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss.I’ll conclude with a verity that seems sadly lost on Judge Sullivan: Granting the Justice Department’s dismissal motion would not be a judicial endorsement of the motion, much less a court ruling that Flynn is not guilty. Judge Sullivan is absolutely entitled to believe the Justice Department is wrong to dismiss the case, and that Flynn is as guilty as the day is long. What a judge is not entitled to do, however, is substitute his view for the prosecutor’s on the question of whether a prosecution should continue. In our system, separation of powers principles make that the Justice Department’s call.


India landslide: Dozens feared dead after flooding in Kerala
Posted 1 day 22 hours 3 minutes ago

Up to 20 houses are buried under debris in the state of Kerala, with rescue efforts under way.


A father, a sister, a son: Beirut blast takes a heavy toll
Posted 1 day 22 hours 17 minutes ago

A close twin sister, now separated forever. Tuesday's enormous explosion that killed scores of people, injured thousands and caused widespread destruction across Lebanon's capital touched off widespread mourning for the victims.


Rescuers shaken by 'blood and death' of India jet disaster
Posted 1 day 22 hours 27 minutes ago

Indian authorities had practised for years for a jet overshooting the "table-top" runway at Kozhikode airport, but local resident Fazal Puthiyakath was not prepared for the "blood and death" of the real thing. The 32-year-old businessman and his neighbours were first on the scene after an Air India Express plane crashed over the runway down a 10-metre (35-foot) bank and broke in two during a fierce storm late Friday, killing 18 people and injuring more than 120. Kozhikode airport in southern India's Kerala state is considered a potential hazard because it has a "table-top" runway with a steep bank at either end.


Hong Kong: US imposes sanctions on chief executive Carrie Lam
Posted 1 day 22 hours 37 minutes ago

The sanctions on Carrie Lam and others are for "undermining" the Chinese territory's autonomy.


Survivors of deadly India crash say plane swayed violently
Posted 1 day 23 hours 8 minutes ago

The plane swayed violently as it approached a hilltop runway soaked by monsoon rain, and moments later the special return flight for Indians stranded abroad by the pandemic skidded off, nosedived and cracked in two, leaving 18 dead and more than 120 injured. Among the injured on Friday night, at least 15 were in critical condition, said Abdul Karim, a senior police officer in southern Kerala state. The dead included both pilots of the Air India Express flight, the airline said in a statement, adding that the four cabin crew were safe.


Former US soldiers sentenced to 20 years for bungled Venezuelan coup plot
Posted 1 day 23 hours 45 minutes ago

A Venezuelan court sentenced two former US special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed beach attack aimed at overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro, prosecutors announced late on Friday. Former Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry admitted to taking part in the May 4 operation orchestrated by a third ex-US soldier who remains in the United States, Venezuelan's chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab announced on Twitter. "THEY ADMITTED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACTS," Saab wrote, adding that the case will continue for dozens of other defendants. He did not offer details. "Operation Gideon" was launched from makeshift training camps in neighbouring Colombia and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while a total of 66 were jailed. Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who operated a private, Florida-based security firm called Silvercorp USA, claimed responsibility for the failed attack. Venezuelan prosecutors announced that Denman and Berry, both decorated former US service members, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism.


Remains recovered after California Marine tank sinks
Posted 2 days 8 minutes ago

Authorities on Friday recovered the bodies of nine people killed when a Marine landing craft sank in hundreds of feet of water off the Southern California coast, authorities said. The amphibious vehicle sank in 385 feet (117 meters) of water as it headed back to a Navy ship after completing routine training, the military said. The craft sank less than a mile from San Clemente Island off the coast of San Diego.

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