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Democratic Senator Takes Shot at DeVos: ‘I Think We Should Send Her Back’
Posted 41 minutes ago

Senator Debbie Stabenow attacked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a speech Monday, saying "I think we should send her back."“Too many of our children languish in inadequate, ill-equipped schools. Thank you, Betsy DeVos," Stabenow said during her address to the NAACP convention in Detroit. "I really wish she was not from Michigan. I think we should send her back."Stabenow was referencing the chant of "send her back" that Trump supporters launched into during the president's campaign stop in North Carolina last week, aimed at Democratic representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia.> Sen. Stabenow on Sec. DeVos while discussing Michigan schools at the NAACP convention: “I really wish she was not from Michigan. I think we should send her back." pic.twitter.com/loH0BNdWV7> > -- MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 22, 2019The chant, which Trump later said he was "not happy" with, followed on the heels of Trump's controversial criticism of Omar and three of her fellow congresswomen of color who were born in the U.S., Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The president had suggested that the four freshmen should "go back" to the countries their families immigrated from if they are not happy with America.The House condemned Trump's remarks as racist last week, with four Republicans joining the entire Democratic caucus to vote for a resolution asserting that the president had "legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.""Trump has given permission to people who used to stand in sheets in the middle of night to stand in the light in front of the microphones. This is wrong," Stabenow said Monday.
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Fox News Host Calls for ‘9/11-Style Commission’ to Investigate How AOC Was Elected to Congress
Posted 45 minutes ago

Reacting to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) call for a “9/11-style commission” to be convened to investigate the Trump administration’s child separation policy at the border, Fox News host Pete Hegseth said on Monday that there should instead be an investigation to see how the progressive lawmaker was elected to Congress in the first place.During a town hall in her district on Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez called for a lengthy study into the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, adding that it’s what’s “required in order to reunify as many children with their parents as possible”On Monday’s broadcast of Fox News’ early-afternoon chatfest Outnumbered, the panel discussed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s recent visit to border detention centers, noting Schumer and other Democrats called the conditions at the camps “inhumane.” Fox News host Melissa Francis then contrasted this with President Trump’s weekend tweets about Schumer’s visit in which he said Schumer “must have seen how dangerous & bad” the border crisis is now.“What’s ironic now is both sides are saying the exact same thing which is, it’s a mess of the border,” she added.Hegseth, serving as the female-centric program’s lone male guest host, agreed that the border is a mess and that it’s of Congress’ making before immediately pivoting to AOC. (Fox News has devoted three times more coverage to the freshman congresswoman this year than the other cable news networks.)“We shouldn’t take anything she says seriously,” Hegseth said of Ocasio-Cortez while labeling her the “de facto” speaker of the House.“You talk about what’s happening at the border—she compares it to 9/11,” he continued. “She talks about concentration camps where 6 million Jews were killed. And then when she talks about the Green New Deal, she likens it to the challenges of World War II where 70 to 85 million people were killed.”He then essentially called the Boston University graduate too stupid to be in the House of Representatives.“You know what we need a 9/11-style commission on?” Hegseth asked his colleagues. “How in the heck does someone like her get elected to Congress?! What’s happening in our public schools or other schools? What is she learning that gives her a platform to feel like these comparisons should be taken seriously at all?”Later in the segment, after the other hosts debated whether or not a study into the policy was worth Congress’ time, Hegseth, who serves as an informal adviser to Trump, took a final shot at AOC.“She also doesn’t want a commission, she wants to demagogue,” he exclaimed.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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Mexico, US to launch plan against arms smuggling at border
Posted 46 minutes ago

The Mexican government said Monday it has reached agreement with the United States for a joint operation to combat gun smuggling along the U.S. border after seeing a spike in the number of illegal firearms detected. Seizures of assault rifles in Mexico are up 122% so far this year. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico's military would coordinate with U.S. authorities to launch anti-gun-smuggling operations in five Mexican border cities — Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros.
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Apple just released iOS 12.4 for the iPhone and iPad
Posted 1 hour 41 minutes ago

It might not be quite as exciting as Apple's iOS 13 beta, but the company just pushed out a new software update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices. iOS 12.4 comes about two months after the initial release of iOS 12.3, and it mainly focuses on bug fixes and other refinements. There is one noteworthy new feature though, a new migration tool that transfers data from an old iPhone to a new one wirelessly. Of note, Apple released watchOS 5.3 alongside the new iOS 12.4 update, and it restores the Walkie Talkie feature that Apple disabled recently after a severe vulnerability was discovered. Here are Apple's full release notes from the iOS 12.4 beta, which will also apply to the final public version of iOS 12.4 that was released today:> iOS 12.4 introduces iPhone migration to directly transfer data from an old iPhone to a new iPhone, includes enhancements to Apple News+ and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad. This update: iPhone migration \- Introduces the ability to wirelessly transfer data and migrate directly from an old iPhone to a new iPhone during setup Apple News \- Makes downloaded issues accessible in the My Magazines section, both offline and online \- Adds all publications in Apple News+, including newspapers, to the catalog at the top of the News+ feed \- Adds the ability to clear downloaded magazine issues by selecting History > Clear > Clear All Other improvements and fixes \- Includes a security fix for the Walkie-Talkie app on Apple Watch and re-enables Walkie-Talkie functionality This release also includes support for HomePod in Japan and Taiwan.Where device compatibility is concerned, anything capable of running earlier iOS 12 releases can also run the new iOS 12.4 update. Here's the complete list of compatible devices: * iPhone XS * iPhone XS Max * iPhone XR * iPhone X * iPhone 8 * iPhone 8 Plus (iOS 12.3.2) * iPhone 7 * iPhone 7 Plus * iPhone 6s * iPhone 6s Plus * iPhone 6 * iPhone 6 Plus * iPhone SE * iPhone 5s * 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2nd generation * 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1st generation * 10.5-inch iPad Pro * 9.7-inch iPad Pro * iPad Air 2 * iPad Air * iPad 5th generation * iPad mini 4 * iPad mini 3 * iPad mini 2 * iPod touch 6th generationAs we're sure you know by now, installing iOS 12.4 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch couldn't be easier. Just navigate to Settings > General > Software Update on your device and then tap “Download and Install” at the bottom of that page. If you prefer, you can also install the update through iTunes by connecting your iOS device to a computer. In either case, make sure to back up your device before installing the update.
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Britain plans European-led Gulf force after tanker seizure
Posted 1 hour 46 minutes ago

Britain on Monday said it was planning a European-led protection force for shipping in the Gulf after Iranian authorities seized a British-flagged tanker in a dramatic escalation of tensions in the region. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made the announcement following an emergency ministerial meeting to respond to Friday's incident. "We will seek to establish this mission as quickly as possible," Hunt said, condemning Iran's actions as "state piracy" while at the same time emphasising that Britain did not want confrontation.
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French submarine lost in 1968 found at last in Mediterranean
Posted 1 hour 57 minutes ago

A French submarine that went missing in the western Mediterranean in 1968 has been found, officials said Monday, ending a 51-year wait for families of the crew who continue to seek answers to the naval disaster. The diesel-electric Minerve submarine was lost off France's southern coast with 52 sailors on board on January 27, 1968. "We found the submarine Minerve last night located 45 kilometres (30 miles) south of Toulon, about 20 kilometres further south than where it was searched for in 1968," the French maritime prefect of the Mediterranean, Vice Admiral Charles Henri du Che, told reporters in Toulon.
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Louisiana police officer's Facebook post says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'needs a round,' report says
Posted 2 hours 25 minutes ago

"This vile idiot needs a round," read the officer's post. "And I don't mean the kind she used to serve," he said of the former bartender.
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Turkey seizes $271 mln in counterfeit U.S. currency -newspaper
Posted 2 hours 43 minutes ago

The raid was carried out on Friday in Istanbul's Esenyurt neighbourhood and five people were arrested, it said. Hurriyet said one of those arrested was previously released after being detained for suspected membership in a network that Ankara blames for orchestrating a failed military coup in 2016. Turkish authorities accuse the leader of this network, U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the attempted putsch in July 2016.
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Little Boy Is OK After Fish-Stealing Great White Shark Leaps at Him to Steal Fresh Caught Fish
Posted 2 hours 56 minutes ago

“It had come up and it lunged out of the water"
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Putin gives Russian citizenship to Novatek's finance chief, a U.S. national
Posted 4 hours 4 minutes ago

President Vladimir Putin handed Russian citizenship to gas producer Novatek's veteran finance chief Mark Gyetvay on Monday, a move that could potentially help the U.S. national bypass some sanctions restrictions. U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 ban U.S. nationals and companies from helping organize long-term funding for some major Russian firms, including Novatek. When the U.S. and the EU imposed sanctions on Russia, executives with foreign passports at companies affected including Novatek - the country's largest non-state natural gas producer - and state bank VTB handed over responsibility for organizing new debt or equity issuance to colleagues without EU or U.S. passports.
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British-Iranian woman transferred back to Tehran prison
Posted 4 hours 17 minutes ago

A British-Iranian mother jailed in Tehran since 2016 has been returned to prison after being held in the mental ward of a public hospital for nearly a week, her husband said Monday. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was kept chained and under heavy guard for six days which she says left her "broken", according to her husband Richard Ratcliffe. The 40-year-old detainee, who is serving a five-year term for sedition, was returned to Tehran's notorious Evin prison -- used to hold political prisoners -- on Saturday, he said.
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EU ministers meet in Paris on divisive issue of migrants
Posted 4 hours 51 minutes ago

European ministers met Monday in Paris seeking some unity on how to deal with migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, people who are now being blocked out of ports by Italy and Malta, dragged back unwillingly to lawless Libya or used as pawns in political standoffs across Europe. "We intend to make ourselves respected," Salvini declared in another tweet.
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Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post
Posted 5 hours 45 minutes ago

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], the Chinese company put on a U.S. blacklist because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents. The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported. Sources briefed on the matter confirmed the Commerce Department has been investigating Huawei since 2016 and is reviewing whether the company violated export control rules in relation to sanctions on North Korea.
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Man Who Can't Afford Tropical Vacation Does the Normal Thing By Faking the Best Trip Ever and a Lot of People Can Relate
Posted 6 hours 4 minutes ago

Faced with financial constraints, a man who couldn't afford a trip to Hawaii made a wacky video that is spreading laughter across the internet.
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Trump’s New Asylum Rule Doubles Down on Failure
Posted 6 hours 13 minutes ago

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Another directive on immigration from the Trump administration begets another court challenge. In a sweeping rule change, the administration has declared that, with narrow exceptions, any “alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum.”The new rule has so far triggered two lawsuits arguing that it contravenes the Immigration and Nationality Act and exceeds the Attorney General’s statutory authority. More such challenges will doubtless follow, and judges will render their verdict. But you don’t need a court to see that this is bad policy.True, every aspect of the U.S. asylum system is under great strain. Border facilities built to house single Mexican males are facing a huge influx of Central American families seeking asylum. Court dockets are overflowing, and nearly half of the overall backlog of about 1 million cases involve an asylum claim. This creates incentives for meritless claims, because asylum-seekers who pass their initial screening are released into the U.S. to wait years for a court date. And law enforcement can’t keep up with removing those whose claims have been rejected.It would be one thing if an administration committed to welcoming immigrants and helping genuine refugees was trying to cope by temporarily limiting applications. But this isn’t what’s happening. The president wants to restrict all forms of immigration, and admissions of refugees have fallen by three-quarters on his watch. Policy changes have even made it harder for immigrants serving in the U.S. military to acquire citizenship. Other presidents have seen immigration as an asset and an affirmation of American values; this one sees it as an economic liability and a way to fire up his base.The Trump administration has failed to pursue fixes that would reduce the asylum backlog. The best way to deter meritless claims remains expeditious dismissal under due process. Yet since taking office, the administration has consistently failed to hire as many immigration judges as Congress has authorized; in March, when Trump was complaining about “horrible asylum laws,” the director of the office that oversees the immigration courts actually announced a slowdown in hiring judges and their supporting attorneys. On top of all this, the president has left senior jobs at the Department of Homeland Security — the agency responsible for immigration policy — without properly appointed officials.Trump should be trying to mend the asylum system. His new rule aims instead to blow it up — harming genuine asylum seekers, America’s standing and relations with neighbors, and global understandings on protecting refugees.—Editors: James Gibney, Clive Crook.To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg Opinion’s editorials: David Shipley at [email protected], .Editorials are written by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Millions of Barrels of Iranian Oil Are Piled Up in China’s Ports
Posted 6 hours 15 minutes ago

(Bloomberg) -- Tankers are offloading millions of barrels of Iranian oil into storage tanks at Chinese ports, creating a hoard of crude sitting on the doorstep of the world’s biggest buyer.Two and a half months after the White House banned the purchase of Iran’s oil, the nation’s crude is continuing to be sent to China where it’s being put into what’s known as “bonded storage,” say people familiar with operations at several Chinese ports. This supply doesn’t cross local customs or show up in the nation’s import data, and isn’t necessarily in breach of sanctions. While it remains out of circulation for now, its presence is looming over the market.The store of oil has the potential to push down global prices if Chinese refiners decide to draw on it, even as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies curb production as growth slows in major economies. It also allows Iran to keep pumping and move oil nearer to potential buyers.“Iranian oil shipments have been flowing into Chinese bonded storage for some months now, and continue to do so despite increased scrutiny,” said Rachel Yew, an analyst at industry consultant FGE in Singapore. “We can see why the producer would want to do so, as a build-up of supplies near key buyers is clearly beneficial for a seller, especially if sanctions are eased at some point.”See also: Iranian Oil Tanker Daniel Enters Chinese Port: Ship TrackingThere could be more of the Persian Gulf state’s oil headed for China’s bonded storage tanks, Bloomberg tanker-tracking data show. At least ten very large crude carriers and two smaller vessels owned by the state-run National Iranian Oil Co. and its shipping arm are currently sailing toward the Asian nation or idling off its coast. They have a combined carrying capacity of over 20 million barrels.The bulk of Iranian oil in China’s bonded tanks is still owned by Tehran and therefore not in breach of sanctions, according to the people. The oil hasn’t crossed Chinese customs so it’s theoretically in transit.Some of the crude, though, is owned by Chinese entities that may have received it as part of oil-for-investment schemes. For example, one of the Asian nation’s companies could have helped fund a production project in Iran under an agreement to be repaid in kind. Whether this sort of transaction is in breach of sanctions isn’t clear, and so the firms are keeping it in bonded storage to avoid the official scrutiny it would if it’s registered with customs, according to the people.Nobody replied to a faxed inquiry to China’s General Administration of Customs.Lack of ClarityThe build-up of Iranian oil in Chinese bonded storage has yet to be clearly addressed by Washington. The White House ended waivers allowing some countries to keep importing Iranian oil on May 2.There are currently no exemptions issued to any country for the import of Iranian oil, and any nation seen importing cargoes from the Persian Gulf producer will be in breach of sanctions, according to a senior Trump administration official, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.“The U.S. will now need to define how it quantifies the infringement of sanctions,” said Michal Meidan, director of the China Energy Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. There’s a lack of clarity on whether it would look at “financial transactions or the loading and discharge of cargoes by company or entity,” she said.See also: China Buying Iran LPG Despite Sanctions, Ship-Tracking ShowsChina received about 12 million tons of Iranian crude from January through May, according to ship-tracking data, versus about 10 million that cleared customs over the period. The discrepancy could be due to the flow of oil into bonded storage. China will release June trade data that will include a country-by-country breakdown of oil imports in the coming days.One of the Iranian tankers that appears to have loaded oil after the U.S. waivers ended is VLCC Horse. It discharged at Tianjin in early-July after sailing from the Middle East, where shipping data showed it signaling its destination as Iran’s Kharg Island on May 4.Several other Iran-owned tankers offloaded in China or were heading there, according to ship tracking data. VLCC Stream discharged at Tianjin on June 19, while Amber, Salina and C. Infinity offloaded crude at the ports of Huangdao, Jinzhou and Ningbo. Snow, Sevin and Maria III were last seen sailing in the direction of China.Putting crude into bonded tanks in China also means Iran can avoid having to tie up part of its tanker fleet by storing the oil at sea for months at a time. The Islamic Republic used floating storage in 2012 to 2016 and again in 2018 as buyers shunned its crude due to U.S.-imposed trade restrictions.Should the Iranian crude leave bonded storage and end up in the market, it could pressure oil prices, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. West Texas Intermediate plunged more than 20% from late April to mid-June as the U.S.-China trade war intensified. It’s since recovered some of those losses, partly as a result of the rising tension between Washington and Tehran, and is trading near $57 a barrel.“A further escalation in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could jointly drive global economic growth a lot lower and encourage Iran-China cooperation,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a June note. “If Chinese refiners start to purchase Iran oil in large volumes on a sustained basis as U.S. tariffs rise again, WTI could drop to $40 a barrel.”(Updates with mention of June trade data in 12th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Serene Cheong in Singapore at [email protected];Sarah Chen in Beijing at [email protected];Alfred Cang in Singapore at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Serene Cheong at [email protected], Andrew JanesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Death toll from India, Nepal, Bangladesh floods jumps to over 300
Posted 8 hours 38 minutes ago

DHAKA/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The death toll from severe flooding in parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh rose to more than 300 on Monday, even as heavy rains are starting to ebb and water levels started to recede in some of the worst-affected areas. Heavy rains and overflowing rivers swamped vast swathes of eastern India more than week ago, and officials on Monday said so far 102 people have died in Bihar state, 35 more than what the state government had estimated on Thursday. Torrential rains in Bangladesh killed more than 47 people in the last two weeks and at least 120 are missing and feared dead following severe floods and landslides in mostly mountainous Nepal, authorities from the two countries said.
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2020 Candidates Delayed Paying Staff to Look Richer on Paper
Posted 9 hours 48 minutes ago

Drew Angerer/GettyFor months, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) presidential campaign made regular payments to its staff and vendors, with varying daily expenditures that never exceeded $335,000. But on April 1, 2019, the campaign’s spending exploded.Whereas Klobuchar’s campaign spent an average of about $55,000 per day through the end of June, according to FEC filings, it dropped a whopping $624,000 on the first day of April, including a $300,000 payment to the campaign’s digital vendor.  That massive uptick in expenses was likely due to the fact that April 1 marked the beginning of the new fundraising quarter. By putting off the payments until then, Klobuchar was able to put the best possible spin on her presidential campaign’s financial position during the previous three months. If those expenses had come a day earlier, Klobuchar’s cash on hand figure would have been roughly $6.35 million. Instead, the campaign was able to claim roughly $7 million in reserves—a sum that placed her among the better-positioned Democrats in the presidential race. A Daily Beast review of campaign finance records indicates that the delayed-expenses strategy has continued through the just completed cycle, and has involved payments to campaign staffers as well.Klobuchar Gets Barr to Defend Trump Over and Over AgainKlobuchar, whose campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment, is one of at least four Democratic presidential candidates who appear to have skipped a staff payday at the end of June, putting off that pay period until the beginning of the following month and hence transferring the expense to the next quarter’s balance sheets.Virtually every campaign engages in forms of accounting gimmicks in order to enhance their financial standings. Veterans of past and current races say that it is common to try and delay spending to future quarters in order to bolster cash reserves that have to reported at filing deadlines. That pressure is particularly acute in elections with crowded fields (such as the 2020 Democratic primary) when reporters, donors, and voters are ever attuned to any signs of momentum or lack thereof.For some campaigns, the ability to put off a payroll payment—whether by design or coincidence—made a substantial difference. That’s most true for the Klobuchar campaign, which reported $186,000 in salary expenditures on its last reported pay day, June 15.Federal Election Commission records indicate that the campaign was otherwise paying staffers on the 15th and last day of each month. But no paychecks went out at the end of June, according to its second quarter financial filing. Klobuchar didn’t simply eliminate those expenses by postponing the last payroll payment of the second quarter. That’s because her campaign appears to have put off its last pay period of the first quarter as well after writing salary checks on February 20, February 28, and March 15, the next payments went out on April 1. But her staff, and accompanying payroll expenses, were larger in June than in March. And at some point, she will either have to make all wage payments or simply not pay her staff. And by kicking the can down the road, she has been able to avoid taking the hit on a campaign finance filing for the time being. Three other campaigns also departed from previous payroll schedules by skipping end-of-month paychecks last month, according to a review of campaign finance records. Rep. John Delaney’s (D-MD) campaign said the change in schedule was simply a product of switching to a new payroll management service that restructured that schedule.Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) both attributed it to the fact that June 30 was a Sunday, so checks went out the following day. But it’s common practice for employers to send out paychecks on the preceding Friday when paydays fall on a weekend. The decision to do so the following Monday served, intentionally or not, to boost apparent cash-on-hand figures at the end of the quarter in a way that shrouded the campaigns’ actual liabilities.There’s nothing improper or problematic with structuring campaign payments in order to present the best possible picture of its financial situation. But an understanding that campaigns do so, and how they do so, can give the public a better grasp of the financial standing of the various political camps vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination.Delayed payroll payments can be relatively small fractions of total cash on hand figures. But campaign staffers are not heavily compensated employees to begin with. And the absence of a regular paycheck—even by just a matter of days—can cause life complications. “I haven’t heard of this practice before but I am not surprised,” said Kim McMurray, an executive council member of the Campaign Workers Guild and a former organizer for 2020 contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “FEC timing deadlines are such an important moment for campaigns to show enthusiasm, support, etc. so campaigns want to show the largest number possible.”“It is very disappointing if this came at the expense of the workers,” McMurray added.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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U.S. Army Invests In Studying ‘Hyperfit’ Women Who Pass Its Hardest Tests
Posted 10 hours 2 minutes ago

The U.S. Army is investing in studying the “hyperfit” women who pass some of the military’s most grueling tests.“This is a unique historical time,” research physiologist Julie Hughes, who is assisting with the study at the base in Natick, Massachusetts, told The Associated Press. “There’s this group of women who made it through the training so we want to get them to at least do these observational investigations to explore what makes them unique.”She and Holly McClung, a nutritional physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, have already begun preparing to run tests, like measuring how much oxygen a person uses while exercising, on volunteers. McClung said she was notified July 12 that the tests were given the green light.The Pentagon lifted all combat job bans for women in December 2015. Since then, roughly 35 women have reached the elite levels of Army Ranger, graduating Marine infantry school or passing the initial assessment phase of Green Beret training, according to the AP.All of the women participating in the study will do so voluntarily, but McClung and Hughes said they already expect plenty of military women to raise their hands, metaphorically speaking. They plan to have groups of two or three women at a time undergo the testing — which includes mental, physical and psychological elements — to discover why they are able to do what so many men and women cannot.
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Kenyan finance minister arrested on graft charges
Posted 10 hours 34 minutes ago

Kenyan Finance Minister Henry Rotich was arrested on Monday on suspicion of financial misconduct related to the construction of two dams, an unprecedented detention of a sitting minister for corruption in a country notorious for graft. Rotich denied any wrongdoing in a large newspaper advertisement in March. Rotich and 27 co-accused face eight charges, ranging from conspiring to defraud and financial misconduct, said Noordin Haji, the director of public prosecutions.
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South Korea detains 6 for illegally entering Japan consulate
Posted 10 hours 43 minutes ago

South Korean police on Monday detained six people for allegedly illegally entering a Japanese diplomatic facility in South Korea and staging an anti-Tokyo demonstration there. The incident came amid growing anti-Japanese sentiments in South Korea as the two countries are locked in trade and political disputes. The six men and women were given temporary passes to enter the Japanese consulate in the southeastern city of Busan earlier Monday after they told staff there they would visit a library inside the building, according to Busan police officers.
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'Let me guess, you want to nuke them all': Trump constantly baiting John Bolton in front of officials, report says
Posted 10 hours 46 minutes ago

Donald Trump likes to goad his national security adviser John Bolton about his lust for military action, according to officials who have spoken out on their relationship.As Iran claims to have captured spies working for the US and accuses Mr Bolton of trying to start “war of the century”, new details have emerged of the president’s fondness for baiting his adviser in the company of top officials – including foreign dignitaries.During a White House Situation Room meeting last year, Mr Trump reportedly said to his hawkish national security chief: “Ok, John, let me guess, you want to nuke them all?”According to the report by the Axios website, Mr Trump turned to Mr Bolton in an Oval Office meeting with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and said: “John, is Ireland one of those countries you want to invade?”Quoting unnamed senior administration officials, the account claimed the president recently joked that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”, repeating sentiments made in public. “If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay?” Mr Trump recently told NBC’s Meet the Press.Yet the president is said to get “quite touchy” if critics of Mr Bolton complain the national security adviser could pull the US into unnecessary conflict against Mr Trump’s will. “He doesn't want anyone to believe he’s anybody’s pawn.”Sources said Mr Trump likes to keep Mr Bolton on his team because his aggressive reputation gives the president the opportunity to play “good cop” to his adviser’s “bad cop” routine.“He thinks that Bolton’s bellicosity and eagerness to kill people is a bargaining chip when he’s sitting down with foreign leaders,” said one official. “Bolton can be the bad cop and Trump can be the good cop. Trump believes this to his core.”On Sunday Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted about the White House hawk as Tehran’s dispute with both the UK and US threatened to escalate over the seizure of a British oil tanker.“Make no mistake. Having failed to lure Donald Trump into a War of the Century, and fearing collapse of his B Team, John Bolton is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire.”> Make no mistake: > > Having failed to lure @realDonaldTrump into War of the Century, and fearing collapse of his B_Team, @AmbJohnBolton is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire. > > Only prudence and foresight can thwart such ploys.> > — Javad Zarif (@JZarif) > > July 21, 2019On Monday Iran announced it had arrested 17 people allegedly recruited by the CIA to spy on the country’s nuclear and military sites.Intelligence chiefs said some of the group have already been sentenced to death following arrests made over the past few months. Iranian media published pictures purportedly showing intelligence “officers” working for the US.“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber areas ... where they collected classified information,” read a ministry of intelligence statement.The US has yet to respond to the claims.
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Israeli Air Force's F-35 Stealth Fighter Went Into Iran's Airspace: Report
Posted 11 hours 11 minutes ago

As we have already explained, in May 2018 the IAF revealed that it has used its stealth fighters in combat operations, making Israel the first country in the world to carry out an “operational attack” using the F-35.Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) commander Brigadier General Farzad Ismaili, who had been in office since 2010, has been fired by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after he kept secret that Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35 stealth fighters had violated Iran’s airspace, the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida reported on Saturday.(This first appeared several weeks ago.)The newspaper emphasized that it was the original media source that exposed the Israeli raids, which had taken place in March 2018. Al Jarida cited senior Iranian military who said that only following its March report did the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence ministry begin to investigate the case, under Khamenei’s direct orders.According to the newspaper’s investigation, “the IAF F-35 “Adir” planes penetrated Iran’s airspace, circled high above Tehran, Karajrak, Isfahan, Shiraz and Bandar Abbas – and photographed Iran’s air defense system.”
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Video Shows Iranian Commandos Rappelling onto British Tanker in Strait of Hormuz
Posted 17 hours 43 minutes ago

Video footage aired on Iranian state television on Saturday shows masked commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.In the footage, Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps troops can be seen preparing to board the Stena Impero from inside the helicopter. Other footage shows the perspective from Iranian boats that surrounded the vessel. Iran's seizure of the ship came in response to the July 4 capture of an Iranian oil tanker by Royal Marines.Britain said Iran's seizure of the ship was a "hostile act." Iran has claimed that all 23 crew members are "safe and in good health."Before the ship was boarded, an English-speaking Iranian officer called to the tanker over the radio and said, "If you obey, you will be safe. Alter your course to 360 degrees immediately, over."A nearby British warship advised the tanker to maintain its course, though the Royal Navy vessel was not close enough to offer protection.Above the vessel, the video shows Iranian troops looking down on the ship and pointing out where to board, before dropping a rope that a half-dozen commandos slide down onto the ship.You can watch the footage below, via The Sun:This first appeared in Task and Purpose here.
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'Outrageous': Convicted criminals serve as Alaskan police amid public safety crisis, investigation finds
Posted 19 hours 33 minutes ago

Dozens of police officers with criminal records have worked in Alaska, despite state law that should have disqualified them, an investigation finds.
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5 shot dead, 6 wounded in Acapulco bar near beach
Posted 20 hours 31 minutes ago

Gunmen killed five men and wounded six other people at a popular bar in Acapulco on Sunday, the latest in a string of violent incidents for the once-glamorous Pacific Coast resort city that has fallen on hard times. The Guerrero state prosecutor's office said the shootings took place in the morning at a watering hole called Mr. Bar, which is on the city's broad coastal avenue across the street from high-rise beachside hotels. Acapulco is full of summer vacationers, and days earlier authorities launched a security operation for the tourist season.
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Murders in Mexico surge to record in first half of 2019
Posted 20 hours 32 minutes ago

Murders in Mexico jumped in the first half of the year to the highest on record, according to official data, underscoring the vast challenges President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faces in reducing violence in the cartel-ravaged country. There were 14,603 murders from January to June, versus the 13,985 homicides registered in the first six months of 2018, according to data posted over the weekend on the website of Mexico's national public security office. Mexico is on course to surpass the 29,111 murders of last year, an all-time high.
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Biden Leads in CBS Democratic Poll but Faces Enthusiasm Gap
Posted 21 hours 35 minutes ago

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden remains the top choice among Democratic voters in states that will hold early presidential primary and caucus contests in 2020, as four main contenders emerged as the top tier of the large field, a new CBS News poll showed on Sunday.Biden had 25% support as voters’ first choice for the Democratic nominee, with Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 20% and Kamala Harris of California at 16% gaining ground on the former vice president. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was fourth in the survey with 15% support. No other candidate reached double-digit support in the poll.Biden continued to benefit from his perceived electability against President Donald Trump in the general election, with 75% of likely voters considering voting for him because they think he could beat Trump. Meanwhile, 85% of those considering Biden cited his time as former President Barack Obama’s vice president as a reason for choosing him.Still, there’s an enthusiasm gap for Biden among some primary voters, the poll found. A majority of those surveyed, 56%, said Warren would fight “a great deal” for people like them, and 54% said the same of Sanders. Only 38% described Biden that way.When asked who has been the most “passionate” so far, Warren and Sanders each had 28%, while Biden had just 14%. Warren, who has touted her policy proposals, was seen as the most specific candidate, with 42%, while Harris was seen as the strongest with 32%.Despite recent criticism of Biden by other candidates, 68% of respondents in the poll said they considered his record on race relations good or excellent, with 76% of black voters rating his career positively in that regard. Biden and Harris clashed in the first presidential debates over the former Delaware senator’s opposition to busing in the 1970s.Debate BoostThat debate appeared to have boosted Harris, with 63% of those considering her in the poll saying her performance was a reason they were taking a look at her, while 49% said the same for Warren. Harris and Biden will next face off with eight other candidates on the second night of the presidential primary debates in Detroit on July 31, while Sanders and Warren will be among those appearing on the first night July 30.Harris and Biden are also neck-and-neck in the former’s home state of California, which will award a hefty delegate total. Biden is the first choice of 24% in the most-populous state, with 23% favoring Harris. Biden had a much more comfortable lead in South Carolina, where he has courted the state’s heavily black Democratic voters and focused on his relationship to Obama, the first black president. Biden is the first choice of 39% of respondents in South Carolina, followed by Sanders at 17% and Harris at 12%, the poll showed.Biden also led Sanders as voters’ first choice in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two voting states, according to the CBS poll.The survey also showed ideological splits within the party, even as 61% of respondents described themselves as somewhat or very liberal. Warren is winning among liberal voters, taking 26%, while Biden is carrying moderates and conservatives, according to the poll.According to the survey, 59% would prefer someone who agrees with them on policy, even if that person must forgo civility. Biden does best with those who prefer civility, CBS said.The CBS poll was conducted July 9-18 by YouGov. A sample of 18,550 registered voters were polled in 18 states that will hold Democratic primaries or caucuses before and on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. The sample included 8,760 self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and the margin of error was about plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.(Adds additional details from third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Ros Krasny in Washington at [email protected];Ben Brody in Washington at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Gordon at [email protected], Mark Niquette, Kevin MillerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Thousands without power after explosion, fire at Madison Gas and Electric
Posted 23 hours 44 minutes ago

Two fires are burning at downtown Madison properties of the Madison Gas and Electric company.
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Horse kicks man in groin at popular Maryland beach
Posted 1 day 40 minutes ago

A tourist was kicked in the crotch by a wild horse on the beach of Assateague Island, located off the coast of Maryland, after the man attempted to pet the animal.
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Fox News host presses WH adviser Stephen Miller on 'Send her back!' chant at Trump rally
Posted 1 day 1 hour 45 minutes ago

White House adviser Stephen Miller in an interview Sunday defended President Trump’s attacks against four Democratic lawmakers of color that were condemned as racist by Democrats and civil rights groups.
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538's Nate Silver on early 2020 polls versus fundraising: Which matter more?
Posted 1 day 1 hour 51 minutes ago

Nate Silver analyzes the significance of fundraising in the Democratic primary.
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White man denies saying 'Go back where you came from'
Posted 1 day 2 hours 32 minutes ago

Eric Sparkes showed up during a WSB-TV interview with Rep. Erica Thomas of Austell on Saturday, outside the Atlanta-area Publix store where the incident occurred , the station reported . Thomas confronted Sparkes in front of reporters and said he had "degraded and berated" her. In a tearful Facebook video posted Friday, Thomas said she was in the express line because she is nine months pregnant and cannot stand for long.
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Four Inmates Faked a Fight to Escape Florida Juvenile Detention Center
Posted 1 day 3 hours 11 minutes ago

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office HandoutFour teenage inmates staged a fight inside their dorm-style cell late Saturday night at a Florida juvenile detention center as a ruse to escape, overpowering staff and stealing a staff member’s car and a cell phone as they fled.Two of teens who escaped from the Florida Department of Juvenile justice facility in Jacksonville, remained at large Sunday and a manhunt was underway to apprehend them.According to a tweet from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the four inmates faked a brawl in their room and then attacked the staff who responded to the scuffle. The boys were then able to overpower staff in the center’s control room and pushed several buttons until one released the jail’s main door. The boys then stole car keys from the handbag of one of the staff members and made off in the dark of the night with the a four-door Infiniti Q50 with Florida license plate LANE19.The foursome also took the staff member’s county-issued cellphone and wallet with an unknown amount of cash. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office named the escapees still at large as Tajah Bing, 16, Davione Baldwin, 17. Tyjuan Monroe, 16, and Marcus Ledbetter, 17, were captured early Sunday morning. The inmates were serving jail time for offenses ranging from grand theft auto to robbery with a firearm and are considered dangerous, though are not known to be armed. One was serving time for “lewd and lascivious” behavior with a child under the age of 12-years-old. The Jacksonville sheriff’s office has offered an award up to $3,000 for information that leads to the capture of the escaped individuals noting that the boys “could be anywhere.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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Democratic delegation makes trip to the southern border
Posted 1 day 3 hours 54 minutes ago

Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin says Democrats are disappointed by what they saw at the border detention facility.
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Rep. Cummings: 'No doubt' about President Trump being racist
Posted 1 day 3 hours 57 minutes ago

Rep. Elijah Cummings said on Sunday there is “no doubt about it” that President Trump is racist.
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Your portfolio is probably heavy on index funds. Now may be the time to make changes
Posted 1 day 4 hours 58 minutes ago

Index funds have become hugely popular, and they account for a large following in 401(k)-style retirement plans. They're also reliant on tech stocks.
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Trump demands congresswomen he subjected to racist tweets apologise to US and Israel
Posted 1 day 6 hours 26 minutes ago

Donald Trump has once again attacked the four Democratic congresswomen he launched racist tweets at last week, demanding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley apologise “for the horrible (hateful) things they have said.”“I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country,” the president wrote in a Sunday morning tweet. “They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said.”He added, “They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!”The latest tweets arrived after an extraordinary rebuke of the president’s racist attacks against the four congresswomen of colour — colloquially known as “the squad” — last week, in which the US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning Mr Trump’s “racist comments.”Mr Trump tweeted that the four Democratic freshmen should “go back” to their countries, despite the fact the congresswomen are all US citizens and all but one were born in the US (Ms Omar emigrated to the US from Somalia as a refugee twenty-three years ago).The resolution passed by a 240-187 vote, marking an embarrassing moment for Mr Trump despite carrying no legal repercussions. The Democrats were joined by Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick, Fred Upton, Will Hurd and Susan Brooks. Justin Amash, who left the Republican party months after becoming the its sole member of Congress to back an impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump, also backed the measure. Democrats saved one of the day’s most passionate moments until near the end. “I know racism when I see it,” said John Lewis of Georgia, whose skull was fractured at the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. > I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country. They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!> > — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) > > July 21, 2019“At the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” he added.Before the showdown roll call, Mr Trump characteristically plunged forward with time-tested insults. He accused his four outspoken critics of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician” and added, “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave !” — echoing taunts long unleashed against political dissidents rather than opposing parties’ lawmakers.The president was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other top Republicans in trying to redirect the focus from Trump’s original tweets, which for three days have consumed Washington and drawn widespread condemnation. Instead, they tried playing offense by accusing the four congresswomen — among the Democrats’ most left-leaning members and ardent Trump critics — of socialism, an accusation that’s already a central theme of the GOP’s 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.Underscoring the stakes, Republicans formally objected after Nancy Pelosi said during a floor speech that Mr Trump’s tweets were “racist.” Led by Doug Collins, Republicans moved to have her words stricken from the record, a rare procedural rebuke.After a delay exceeding 90 minutes, Steny Hoyer said Ms Pelosi had indeed violated a House rule against characterising an action as racist. Mr Hoyer was presiding after Emanuel Cleaver stormed away from the presiding officer’s chair, lamenting, “We want to just fight,” apparently aimed at Republicans. Even so, Democrats flexed their muscle and the House voted afterward by party line to leave Ms Pelosi’s words intact in the record.Mr Trump took a positive view of the vote on Twitter, saying it was “so great” that only four Republicans had crossed party lines and noting the procedural rebuke of Ms Pelosi. “Quite a day!” he wrote.Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have agreed that Mr Trump’s words were racist, but on Tuesday party leaders insisted they were not and accused Democrats of using the resulting tumult to score political points. Among the few voices of restraint, Mitch McConnell said Mr Trump wasn’t racist, but he also called on leaders “from the president to the speaker to the freshman members of the House” to attack ideas, not the people who espouse them.“There’s been a consensus that political rhetoric has gotten way, way heated across the political spectrum,” said the Republican leader from Kentucky, breaking his own two days of silence on Mr Trump’s attacks.Hours earlier, Mr Trump tweeted, “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” He wrote that House Republicans should “not show ‘weakness’” by agreeing to a resolution he labelled “a Democrat con game.”Additional reporting by AP
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Meet the woman who ties Jeffrey Epstein to Trump and the Clintons
Posted 1 day 7 hours 42 minutes ago

Heiress Ghislaine Maxwell paved the way to presidents.
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Vigilante Armies Are Fighting Mexican Drug Cartels, but Whose Side Are They Really on?
Posted 1 day 9 hours 15 minutes ago

Jorge Lopez/ReutersFILO DE CABALLOS, Mexico—The assault force rolls through this small mountain town not long after dark. Traveling in a fleet of pick-ups with about 15 men in each truck, they are dressed in pixelated camouflage uniforms and ballistic vests and at first glance they look like official army units, but their weapons give them away. Many of these commandos carry AK-47 model assault rifles, which aren’t used by the Mexican armed forces.The logo stamped on the doors of the trucks shows a figure from the Mexican Revolution wearing a sombrero and brandishing a rifle astride a charging horse. Below that are the words Policia Comunitaria, or community police, and a phrase which, roughly translated from Spanish, reads: “Death before surrender or humiliation.”The men in the trucks are members of the United Front of Community Police of Guerrero State, better known by its Spanish acronym of FUPCEG. Tonight FUPCEG’s shock troops are on their way to assault the nearby town of El Naranjo, which is currently held by the forces of an organized crime group called the Cartel del Sur.“We fight to free communities that have been isolated by the criminals,” says a squad leader who asks to be identified only as “El Burro” in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Everyone has a right to security. And to economic freedom. Campesinos [small farmers] and their children shouldn’t suffer under the rule of bandits,” Burro says. “The people of this town have asked us for help, and so that’s what we’re going to do.”El Burro says he got his nickname, which means “the donkey,”  because he can bear heavy loads a great distance despite his slight stature. In his backpack he carries several cans of tuna and crackers and canteens of water. His battle harness holds some 300 rounds of ammunition for his AK-47. Later tonight he’ll lead his squad on foot through the dense pine forests that surround El Naranjo, until they reach the pre-assigned rendezvous point. From there the coordinated strike force will crawl on their bellies until they’re in sight of the cartel stronghold, then wait for dawn to attack.Burro is a veteran of a dozen such engagements with the comunitarios and says he’s personally registered 20 confirmed kills of sicarios, the cartels’ contract killers. A former farmer, he joined the movement “because I was tired of hearing the people’s cries for help go unanswered.”The Cartel del Sur is known for its brutal tactics, including torturing prisoners, and for that reason Burro says he prefers death on the battlefield to being captured by los contras,  as he calls members of the Cartel del Sur.“Will I come back from where I go tonight?” he asks rhetorically. “And if I don’t,” he says, “will my family understand what I died for?”  * * *‘We Have To Protect Ourselves’* * *FUPCEG is an alliance of civilian autodefensas, or self-defense groups, that boasts about 11,700 fighters across 39 municipalities in Guerrero, meaning they’re now present in about half the state. Similar communitario movements have sprung up across Mexico over the last decade, but FUPCEG is by far the largest of its kind.The spike in vigilante militias has polarized public opinion. Some observers see them as noble freedom fighters who succeed where traditional law enforcement has failed. Critics claim the autodefensas and comunitarios (the words are often used interchangeably in Mexico) are at best undisciplined mobs and at worst cartel patsies who do the criminals’ grunt work for them. Either way, their power is growing. A new study by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission suggests vigilante activity is up by more than 300 percent since the start of 2018, and blames the increase on “insecurity, violence, and impunity.”Mexico’s Game of BonesIn fact, violence in Mexico has reached historic levels this year, with the country averaging an all-time high of 94 killings a day through the first half of 2019. Both 2017 and 2018 also broke previous murder records. As one autodefensa fighter put it, repeating what has become a kind of mantra, "If the government can't protect us, then we have no choice left but to protect ourselves."FUPCEG’s founder and leader is 40-year-old Salvador Alanis. A Guerrero native, Alanis is something of a polymath. An economist by training, he’s also worked as an electrical engineer in North Carolina, and at one time owned several successful fruit and cattle ranches in his home state. Those ranches are gone now. Some were sold off to help fund Alanis’s crime-fighting endeavors, while others have been seized by the mafia groups he opposes.“I spent 12 years working in the U.S.,” Alanis says during an interview in the FUPCEG base in the strategically vital town of Filo de Caballos, high in the sierra of central Guerrero. “In the States I came to know a better life, a better world. I came to take safety for granted,” he says, “but there’s no security like that in Mexico.”The lack of security is even more pronounced in Guerrero, which is Mexico’s leading exporter of opium and heroin, and perennially listed as one of the country’s most dangerous and politically corrupt regions. It doesn’t help that government law enforcement here is undermanned.“We have an insufficient number of police officers to go around,” says Roberto Álvarez Heredia, the state’s security spokesperson. “We need about three times as many cops and public prosecutors as we have,” he says, “and the ones we do have need better salaries.”Recently elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, has touted his newly created Guardia Nacional as a solution to peacekeeping efforts in places like Guerrero, but Alanis remains unimpressed:“So they just sent 3,500 Guardias to Guerrero,” he says, when asked about the new policing initiative. “The last president sent 5,000 soldiers and they couldn’t do anything against the cartels, because the criminals just paid them off. Everyone has a price,” he adds.Still, Alanis is willing to give the Guardia a chance.“We’re going to let them in [to our territory] and see if they behave themselves. See if they’re corrupt, or if they abuse their power. In the past the soldiers used to enter and search any house they pleased, and that’s why we had to run them out. We’re glad to be friends [with the Guardia], but we won’t be their slaves.”* * *A Question of War* * *As protection against a cartel counter thrust, FUPCEG troops man fortified checkpoints at regular intervals all along State Road 196. Here in Filo, Alanis and his command crew are headquartered in what used to be the largest hotel in town. The long, two-story building was abandoned when FUPCEG occupied Filo after a prolonged firefight back in November of 2018. Pocked by bullet holes inside and out, the building no longer has running water, and electricity is intermittent, but the community kitchen in the lobby is always full of gossip and the smell of spicy cooking. During this interview, Alanis sits in what was once the hotel’s main office. He’s stockily built, dressed in a sky-blue Oxford shirt left open at the throat and wearing square-rimmed photochromic glasses. Clear mountain sunshine drifts in through the shot-up windows. In one corner of the room stands a derelict arcade game titled, coincidentally enough, Streetfighter II.When he came back in 2010, Alanis says he found his home town of Ocotito overrun by organized crime.“Murder, kidnapping, extortion, theft. The cartels ruled the state and they’d packed the government and police forces with corrupt officials, so there was no one to challenge them,” he says. After surviving two kidnapping attempts, Alanis decided to take matters into his own hands to “restore justice” to Guerrero.At first it was just himself and a handful of other ranchers, but slowly the movement gathered support. By 2015 their forces numbered several hundred comunitarios operating out of a string of liberated communities around the state capital of Chilpancingo. But he’d made a number of powerful enemies in the process, including capos from the Rojos, Tequileros, and Guerreros Unidos cartels. When those crime groups launched a series of counter-attacks aimed at taking back the newly freed townships, Alanis’ civilian militias were quickly overwhelmed. “We had an army of shop owners and farm workers,” he says in the office of the ramshackle hotel. He unholsters a chrome-plated 10 mm pistol to make himself more comfortable and sets it on the desk before him. “Many of our men didn’t really know how to use their weapons. Meanwhile, we were facing off against experienced and well-armed sicarios, and we couldn’t beat them in battle. It was a question of war, and we weren’t up to the task. We were weak and lacking strategy.”Those factors—along with the defection of some of his most trusted officers, one of whom ran off with his wife—combined to spell defeat for Alanis. His forces scattered and, still hunted by the cartels, he fled to the mountains and went into hiding.“They took everything from him,” says Jackie Pérez, an independent journalist based in Chilpancingo, and an expert on the state’s autodefensa groups. “Salvador lost his livestock, his farmland, even his wife,” she says. “But he’s very intelligent and very patient. He was able to persevere, and come back stronger than ever.”Pérez goes on to compare Alanis to Mexican freedom fighters of the past like Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, at least in terms of tactics. “He doesn’t want to overthrow the government,” she says. “But he is willing to go outside the system to fight for the people’s right to freedom from certain forms of oppression.”In order to continue that fight after being drubbed by the contras, Alanis knew he’d have to change his game plan.“We’d been outnumbered and defeated,” he says. “Now it was time to change strategies.” Part of that strategic shift involved developing a broad network of spies and informants, many of them women, to keep him informed of his enemies’ movements and activities.“Know your enemy as you know yourself,” he quotes Sun Tzu from memory, “and in a hundred battles you will never be defeated.”* * *Controlling The Sierra* * *Alanis isn’t the first comunitario leader forced to revamp his approach after an initial setback. Many other grassroots vigilante groups have cropped up in Mexico to oppose organized crime, only to find they lack the manpower and budget to keep up the fight over time. Unfortunately, that often leads to alliances with well-heeled drug lords, who then use the militias as proxy groups to wage war on their rivals.Guerrero expert Chris Kyle, a professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says that pattern has been in play for years.“Since 2013 there’s been an explosion of community policing groups in Guerrero,” says Kyle in a phone interview with The Daily Beast. While villages with native indigenous populations that pre-date the Spanish conquest are legally allowed to form such units under Mexico’s constitution, the proliferation of non-indigenous figures “claiming to be community police has baffled authorities.”The swift spread of the comunitarios is related directly to a lack of effective security measures, according to Kyle.“If the state would provide security, many of these groups would likely stand down,” he says. In the absence of state power, however, and due to a lack of sufficient resources to operate long-term on their own, many vigilante squads become co-opted.“The drug trafficking organizations take advantage of them,” Kyle says, because the community police provide the cartels with “a semi-legitimate wing that extends their reach.”Alanis’s FUPCEG umbrella group includes both indigenous and mestizo, or mixed race, cells from all over the state, including the Regional Coordinator for Community Authorities  (CRAC), the oldest and most respected such organization in Mexico. Even so, Alanis admits that part of his revised strategy involved aligning with certain deep-pocketed backers. He claims that instead of working on behalf of a crime syndicate, he’s merely defending free enterprise.This may strike drug enforcement authorities in the United States as a distinction without a difference, but here in Guerrero such distinctions matter.Alanis says that in fact he is not opposed to campesinos growing poppies, since that's the only crop that pays enough to support many families in the sierra. What he's opposed to, as he puts it, is how the Cartel del Sur seeks to drive out competitors, keep prices low, and control poppy farmers through violence and intimidation."The people should be able to grow [poppies] if they want to. Or not, as they see fit. That's up to them. But nobody should be forced to sell [opium gum] at an unfair price to a single buyer. Nobody should be threatened or forced to worry about their family’s safety. All we want is for the people to live in peace,” he says, back in his bullet-riddled HQ.“The Cartel del Sur wants to control the whole sierra,” he adds. “They want to own a monopoly on poppy gum and heroin production, and also extort from shop owners, taxi drivers, you name it. Other businessmen I know want an open market for poppies up here, and they understand that requires healthy local economies. So that’s why they help us fight the contras.”To launch a full-scale assault like the one that liberated Filo would be impossible without outside financial support, according to Alanis. The Filo battle involved some 3,000 comunitarios and hundreds of trucks to ferry them, he explains. When the cost of ammunition, gas, and fighters’ salaries are factored in, a single campaign can cost about 300,000 pesos [about $15,700] per hour. And the Filo firefight alone last for more than seven hours.“We need their help,” he says, referring to those independent opium gum buyers who help fund FUPCEG’s efforts, “but they need us too. If part of the money to liberate the people must come from opium, I’m willing to accept that equation,” the economist by training says.* * *Terrorizing The Resistance* * *During a series of independent interviews conducted in Filo de Caballos and surrounding communities it becomes clear that, prior to liberation by Alanis and his cohorts, local citizens had suffered greatly under rule by the Cartel del Sur.Run by Isaac Navarette Celis, one of Mexico’s most wanted men, the Cartel del Sur specializes in the production and northbound transport of China White, a particularly potent  form of heroin. Navarette is a relative newcomer to Guerrero’s populous criminal underworld, first announcing his arrival back in 2016. Younger drug lords like Navarette often are especially bloodthirsty as they attempt to carve out a competitive niche against established rivals. Residents in the swath of towns and villages formerly under Navarette’s control describe a reign of terror that included kidnappings for ransom, forcing young people to work as sicarios under threat of death, mass killings, crippling extortion rates, and random violence that caused schools, clinics, and small businesses to be shuttered indefinitely.“We denounced the criminals to the police many times but they never did anything to help us,” says Reina Maldonado, 53. Maldonado was married to the comisario, or sheriff, of a village called Corralitos. Last June several sicarios from the Cartel del Sur kidnapped Reina’s husband from their home and brought him to a local safehouse. “He wouldn’t back down from them. He defied their orders and bribes, so they took him,” she said. When Maldonado’s husband’s body was found, she explains, he showed signs of having been tortured and had been shot multiple times.“They killed him to terrorize the village against resistance,” the sheriff's widow says, “but that didn’t work.” Hours after the comisario was reported missing, Alanis arrived with hundreds of comandos to battle it out with those responsible for his murder. Four cartel members were killed in the ensuing firefight, and the rest fled in armored vehicles. According to Maldonado, they haven’t been back to Corralitos since.“Life here is much better now,” she says, as she walks around the ruins of the house where her husband’s body was found. Many of the families that had fled Corralitos under cartel rule have since returned, and the shops and fruit stands that line the small main street are again open for business.“We’re still poor,” Maldonado says, “but at least now we’re safe.”* * *Government Silence* * *Ruperto Pacheco Vega, 44, the mayor of Filo de Caballo, agrees with Maldonado’s assessment:“Many businesses were completely shut down under [Navarette’s] cartel,” he says. “There was no commerce, nobody could move. The store owners couldn’t make a profit due to extortion, and many people were out of work.”Even worse, Vega says, was the cartel’s habit of impressing young men into its service. “They wanted our boys to join them, put on their colors, and fight against Salvador and the comunitarios.” To decline the cartel’s “invitation,” he says, was punishable by death. In contrast, the mayor explains that Alanis has helped local communities diversify their economies. The financial backbone of the region has long been poppy cultivation to produce opium gum to sell to the cartels to make heroin. But a recent drop in the price of heroin (apparently due to U.S. users preferring synthetic opioids like Fentanyl) has caused a backlash among growers. According to Vega, Alanis has been instrumental in helping the farmers develop detailed crop substitution plans in order to replace illicit poppy plots with legal alternatives like avocado, peaches, pears, and lemons.“The government says we mustn’t grow poppies, and that’s fine with us. So we sent them precise and detailed petitions asking for basic subsidies until the [fruit] trees reach maturity,” says Vega, riffing through signed and stamped copies of the official documents addressed to various politicians in Mexico City, including President López Obrador. As with local authorities who ignore cartel malfeasance, it seems the bid for federal assistance to produce legal crops has also fallen on deaf ears.“Their offices acknowledged receipt of our requests,” Vega says, “but we never heard anything back from them.”* * *A Question Of Ethics* * *For all the careful planning put into it, El Burro’s assault on the cartel-held town of El Naranjo didn’t go as expected.“Somebody must’ve talked because they were waiting for us,” says El Burro, in the aftermath of the failed offensive. “They had a damned mortar and belt-fed machine guns. We killed a few of them but we then we had to pull back.”Now rumors are swirling around town that Navarette’s men are planning a counter-attack to retake Filo. Comunitarios run in and out of the lobby of the bombed-out hotel, fetching weapons and ammunition from stockpiles in the armory. Meanwhile Alanis sits surrounded by cell phones and a half-dozen radios, diligently coordinating with units in the field and his mysterious financial backers.In answer to a question about the ethics of his current line of work, Alanis waxes philosophical.“I used to have a different idea about ethics,” he says, putting down his phone. “I never accepted any drug money back when I first began to oppose [the cartels].” But, he adds, that’s also why he lost the first time around. “You see suffering like this,” and he waves his hand as if to take in the whole sierra: “You see people without work. People without health care. Children starving. Kids with no future. And you ask me about ethics?”In Alanis’s estimation, “Our worst enemy is the state, due to their alliance with organized crime. There is no democracy in Guerrero” because the cartels “rig elections” and “control the politicians,” he says.“We came up with a plan to eliminate 65 percent of the poppy plants in our territories and replace them with legal orchards, but the politicians never even answered our letters.” Alanis picks up his phone again. “Why don’t you ask them about ethics?” he says.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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2020 Democrats Are Starting to Turn Obama’s Legacy Against Biden
Posted 1 day 9 hours 34 minutes ago

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyFormer Vice President Joe Biden has used Barack Obama’s beloved status among Democratic voters to insulate him from criticism from the massive field of candidates jockeying to be the next president. But in recent weeks, the Democratic frontrunner has had that legacy used against him, with his competitors pointing the to shortcomings of the last Democratic administration as evidence that Biden’s not up to the task of leading the next one. “Barack Obama, personally, is incredibly popular among Democratic primary voters,” Karthik Ganapathy, a progressive consultant now running his own firm, told The Daily Beast. “And also at the same time, there’s a growing recognition that income and wealth inequality got worse under his eight years, the climate crisis got worse during his eight years, deportations went up during his time in office, and so on.”Can the Obama Coalition Outlast Obama?The idea that the Obama legacy would be anything other than a massive positive for Biden as he navigates the 2020 Democratic party has been treated as indisputable within Democratic circles. And for good reason. A CNN poll taken in early 2018 found that he had a 97 percent favorable rating among Democrats. For a while, fellow Democrats running for the White House seemed content to simply avoid challenging the former VP as he repeatedly referenced his time in the Obama administration when touting his work on health care and beating back attacks over his record on race relations. But that hesitancy has softened in recent weeks. On issues stemming from immigration to health care and foreign policy, the 2020 candidates have been increasingly critical in their public assessments of the Obama administration. And they’ve used opportunities from the debate stage to candidate forums to try and turn Biden’s ties to the former president from an overwhelming asset into something more complicated.Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign has used Obama’s own words to challenge Biden’s notion that Obamacare simply needs to be built upon. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) challenged Biden over the Obama administration's deportation policies. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) backed off support for the Obama administration’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal as originally written. And Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA) has attacked Biden for a naivete about dealing with Republicans—in what has been interpreted as an implicit rebuke of Obama’s own failure to fully grasp GOP recalcitrance. The subtle targeting of Biden has come as Democratic activists and progressives have continued to grapple with the Obama legacy as well. In particular, the Trump administration's family separation policy and inhumane conditions in detention facilities has sparked a broader conversation among Democratic voters about whether the Obama administration’s own deportation policies laid the groundwork for the current controversies. Biden to Get Rematch With Harris in Detroit Democratic DebateAt least two times in the last month, protesters have faced down Biden to demand an apology for the three million deportations that occurred during the Obama administration. Activists with Movimiento Cosecha, an immigrants rights organization, held a protest at Biden’s Philadelphia campaign headquarters over a week ago and subsequently confronted him at a New Hampshire campaign stop. Through their “Dignity 2020” plan, they called on Biden and his other competitors in the field to pledge to end detention and deportation, immediately legalize the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and reunite families separated during the current and past administration. “We wanted the general public to understand that just defeating Trump in 2020 is only part of the solution,” Carlos Rojas Rodriguez, an organizer with the group, told The Daily Beast. “And there’s a lot of people that think that if Trump was no longer in the White House that the immigration crisis would go away and that’s just not true.” Rodriguez, who is now a citizen but lived undocumented for 10 years, said they’re closely tracking how other candidates have been responding to questions about Obama’s immigration record and are tentatively planning to have a presence in Detroit leading up to the next Democratic presidential debate. Already, they’ve seen some candidates take a harder look at the legacy. During the first Democratic debate in Miami in late June, Sen. Harris made a point of voicing dissent with President Obama’s use of the Secure Communities program, which allowed for local authorities to share fingerprints of those in jail with federal authorities. Obama ended the practice in 2014 but Trump restored it in 2017. “On this issue, I disagreed with my president, because the policy was to allow deportation of people who by ICE's own definition were non-criminals,” Harris said, though the degree to which she did is somewhat questionable. More recently, Julián Castro who served as the secretary of housing and urban development under Obama, said that he believed the administration had been too harsh when it came to immigration, a shift from prior stances. “I have learned the lessons of the past. It seems like Vice President Biden hasn’t,” he was quoted as saying at the League of United Latin American Citizens convention last week. Warren, Biden Campaigns Appear to Find Loophole Around Paid InternshipsBut the criticism has extended beyond the issue of immigration. In the first debate, Booker said that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a landmark foreign policy achievement in Obama’s second term, could have been better. Many, including Biden, have also introduced sweeping climate change plans with hallmarks of the Green New Deal and taken a No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, which activists have seen as a necessary corrective to the Obama administration’s lack of action on the drastic threat of climate change. “We would love to see candidates pressure Biden on that legacy, specifically looking at the increase in oil and gas drilling on public lands, in the U.S. in general,” Garrett Blad, a spokesperson for the climate action group Sunrise Movement, said, noting that a climate-only debate could foster these kinds of discussions. “And question him on those things. We’re glad to see that Biden has taken the No Fossil Fuel money pledge and has done what Obama didn’t do in denying that influence of the oil and gas executives and lobbyists on his campaign.” And this past week, as Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have offered differing plans for the nation’s health-care system, the latter has pointed to Obama’s own language about Medicare for All being a “good new idea” and hit the former vice president for being too timid in his desire to build off of Obamacare. Biden's campaign declined to respond on the record. But some Obama veterans have not been surprised that the legacy they build is now being more directly challenged. But while they encouraged candidates to have a conversation about improving on the Obama administration, they also cautioned that it needed to be done carefully. “It’s imperative for all candidates to offer an agenda that builds on what Barack Obama accomplished and there is room for good faith criticism of the things we didn't do or could have done better,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to the president said. “However, Obama has a 96-percent approval rating among Democrats so a strategy to beat Biden by going after the Obama legacy seems unlikely to succeed.”But the demands of the moment, from inequality to mounting student loan debt and a global climate crisis, have led a majority of the field to aim even higher than the lofty ambitions of Obama’s first presidential campaign.“If in 2008, we needed change, in 2020 we need results,” Rebecca Katz, a longtime progressive Democratic consultant, said. “That’s the difference.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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Good News for Trump and GOP: RNC Stomped DNC In June Fundraising
Posted 1 day 10 hours 4 minutes ago

The Democratic National Committee raised $8.5 million in June and has $9.3 million in the bank, according to campaign finance records released late Friday.Both figures are far behind what the Republican National Committee said it has raised. The GOP said it raised $20.8 million in June, and has $43.5 million cash on hand, Fox News reported Wednesday. Republicans also said the party has no debt, while the DNC has $5.7 million in debt, according to FEC records. (RELATED: Bad News For DNC: The Democrats’ And GOP’s Money, By The Numbers)June doesn’t appear to be an anomaly. Republicans say they’ve raked in $51 million in the past three months. The RNC has been posting record fundraising numbers so far in 2019. In February, the party raised $14.6 million, a record high for that month in a non-election year.The RNC, which has yet to file its official campaign finance documents, shared its strong showing in an email blast Saturday.
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'Canary in the coal mine': Singapore woes ring trade alarm bells
Posted 1 day 15 hours 52 minutes ago

A plunge in exports and the worst growth rates for a decade have fuelled concerns about the outlook for Singapore's economy, with analysts saying the figures offer a warning that Asia is heading for a slowdown as China-US tensions bite. While it may be one of the smallest countries in the world, the export hub is highly sensitive to external shocks and has long been viewed as a barometer of the global demand for goods and services. The affluent city-state is highly dependent on trade and has traditionally been one of the first places in Asia to be hit during global downturns -- with ripples typically spreading out across the region.
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Hong Kong police seize explosives as rival camps rally
Posted 1 day 18 hours 6 minutes ago

Police in Hong Kong discovered a stash of a powerful homemade explosive as the semi-autonomous Chinese city readied for another major pro-democracy protest on Sunday following a pro-Beijing rally that attracted thousands. Materials voicing opposition to an extradition bill that has sparked more than a month of demonstrations in Hong Kong were found at the site, local media said, but a police spokesman said no concrete link has been established and that the investigation is continuing. In a rally that aimed to counter the pro-democracy movement, thousands of people filled a park in central Hong Kong on Saturday to support the police, who have been accused of using rough tactics on protesters.
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Road-tripping couple 'just enjoying life to the full' found dead on the side of the road
Posted 1 day 18 hours 19 minutes ago

Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, and Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, were on a road trip in Canada when police believe they were murdered.
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'World in my window': Apollo went to Moon so we could see Earth
Posted 1 day 18 hours 32 minutes ago

On their journey to the Moon, the Apollo 11 crew had to rotate their spaceship continuously so that one side didn't "barbecue" in the Sun while the other froze -- meaning they couldn't see their destination until they were almost upon it. "When we rolled out and looked at (the Moon), oh, it was an awesome sphere," the 88-year-old told an audience at the George Washington University Thursday night, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing on July 20.
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Crew capsule designed to take US astronauts back to moon completed
Posted 1 day 20 hours 14 minutes ago

A space capsule designed to carry US astronauts back to the moon in five years’ time is ready, vice-president Mike Pence has revealed on the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 landing.NASA’s new Artemis lunar operation is aimed at returning humans to Earth's satellite, following in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 – but this time to set up camp, rather than just pay a flying visit.The new mission, scheduled for 2024, is itself designed as a springboard for a subsequent crewed spaceship to be sent to Mars for the first time.NASA said in a statement that Artemis 1 would launch its Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket around the moon in an initial test phase, after which a crew containing at least one female astronaut would touch down on the surface to establish a lunar base.“Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight,” Vice-President Pence told the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, standing alongside Mr Pence with Aldrin and Armstrong’s son Rick, said: “Similar to the 1960s, we too have an opportunity to take a giant leap forward for all of humanity.“NASA is calling this the Artemis program in honour of Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, the goddess of the moon. And we are well on our way to getting this done.”A module manufactured by Airbus in Bremen, Germany, that will power Orion during the mission, is in the process of being attached ready for a September flight to test its spaceworthiness.Mr Pence announced in March that NASA should return astronauts to the moon by 2024, halving the agency’s previous deadline to get there by 2028, and requested an extra $1.6bn funding from Congress.However, President Donald Trump on Friday indicated he was not interested in a mission going back to the moon.Mr Trump instead repeated his interest in a NASA mission that would take astronauts directly to Mars, a vastly more challenging and costly endeavour.“To get to Mars, you have to land on the moon, they say. Any way of going directly without landing on the moon? Is that a possibility?” the president asked Mr Bridenstine during an event in the Oval Office.Mr Bridenstine responded: ”Well, we need to use the moon as a proving ground, because when we go to Mars, we’re going to have to be there for a long period of time, so we need to learn how to live and work on another world.”The Artemis program’s objective is to conduct a series of manned and unmanned missions to the moon, using its surface as a proving ground for technologies that could lay the groundwork for the longer and more complex missions to Mars as soon as 2033, Mr Bridenstine has said.Agencies contributed to this report
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After international outrage, veteran to keep home that was auctioned over $236 tax bill
Posted 1 day 22 hours 29 minutes ago

Disabled veteran Jim Boerner, whose Mesa mobile home was seized and sold at auction, will get to stay under new deal.
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Secrets: Everything You Wanted to Know About Israel's Nuclear Weapons
Posted 1 day 23 hours 43 minutes ago

The Iranian nuclear nonproliferation agreement has been the top foreign policy issue throughout Washington for the past two months.  Approving or disapproving the deal was the first order of business for the U.S. Congress until the very last day of congressional action under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (September 17).  Hours of debate have been conducted on the floors of the House and Senate, both chambers have held roll call votes, and Senate Democrats bonded together to filibuster a motion of disapproval — a resolution that would have prevented President Obama from providing the Iranians sanctions relief.The Obama administration’s main selling point for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is based on the theory that forcing Tehran to downgrade its nuclear program will make the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East — the world’s most frenetic and violent region even without nuclear weapons— far less urgent.  Yet we should remember that there is in fact a state in the region that already possesses nuclear weapons. That state happens to be Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East: Israel.(This first appeared in September 2015.)There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Israel’s nuclear arsenal. That is partly due to the Israeli security establishment’s unwritten rule of never speaking about the country’s nuclear weapons program in public in order to preserve the principle of deterrence.  But there are indeed some basic elements of Israel’s nuclear program that are acknowledged by defense analysts in the United States and around the world.1.    The Number is in Doubt:
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