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Trump impeachment hearings: 4 takeaways from Day 6 of public testimony

Trump impeachment hearings: 4 takeaways from Day 6 of public testimony The first day of testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee included testimony from legal scholars Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt and Jonathan Turley.

Wanted Indian guru resurfaces to announce new cosmic country

Wanted Indian guru resurfaces to announce new cosmic country An Indian guru facing rape and sexual abuse charges made headlines Wednesday after he emerged from hiding and announced the birth of a new cosmic country with its own cabinet and golden passports. Swami Nithyananda, a controversial self-styled godman with thousands of followers in southern India's Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states, posted a video on his YouTube channel announcing the special project to his followers. 41-year-old Nithyananda announced that his country is called Kailaasa, and is the biggest Hindu nation without boundaries.

Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuses began by 1985, targeted 13-year-old, lawsuit claims

Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuses began by 1985, targeted 13-year-old, lawsuit claims Financier Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of girls and young women began as early as 1985 and targeted victims as young as 13 years old, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by nine accusers against his estate. The accusers, known as Jane Doe I through Jane Doe IX, are among more than 20 women so far to formally seek compensation from Epstein's $577 million estate, after he killed himself on Aug. 10 in a Manhattan jail cell. Epstein's death at age 66 was ruled a suicide, and came five weeks after his arrest on federal charges he trafficked dozens of underage girls from at least 2002 to 2005.

Activists apologize for use of Holocaust victims' remains

Activists apologize for use of Holocaust victims' remains An activist group has apologized to Jewish organizations outraged over their use of purported Holocaust victims' remains in an installation outside Germany's parliament building meant to draw attention to the perils of far-right extremism. The Center for Political Beauty, a Germany-based activist group known for provocative stunts, installed an urn outside the Reichtstag building on Monday, saying it contained victims' remains that it had unearthed from 23 locations near Nazi death and concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Ukraine. Following the uproar from Jewish organizations decrying the stunt as an instrumentalization of the Holocaust and an affront to the dead, the group apologized and by Thursday morning the urn had been wrapped in opaque black plastic so its contents could not be seen.

Conman sets up fake Russia border with Finland to trick migrants

Conman sets up fake Russia border with Finland to trick migrants Border guards in Russia's north west last week arrested a man who had set up a bogus border outpost with Finland and taken thousands of euros from migrants for what they thought was a journey through the woods to the European Union. The man, who was only identified as a citizen of one of the former Soviet Union republics, put up border posts in the forest outside St Petersburg and charged four men from South Asia more than 10,000 euros (£8,400) for his services for smuggling them into neighbouring Finland, Russia's Border Guard Service said on Wednesday. Russia's 1,340-kilometer border with Finland mostly runs across sparsely populated areas in the forest, offering a relatively easy way for migrants to get into the European Union. The Russian Border Guard Service said that the conman took the migrants on a trip out of town and led them to the bogus Russian-Finnish border where he left them. The conman apparently took the trouble to fake the migrant journey so meticulously that he even carried a dingy with him. The Komsomolskya Pravda daily said that the four men were from Sri Lanka and that they were detained when they reached a real Russian border guard outpost. A video released by authorities showed four men with their hands up standing in a dark forest. "The incredible adventures of the foreigners in the stillness of the night ended with a ruling of the Vyborg district court," the Border Guards said in a statement. The men were fined and deported out of Russia. Authorities did not specify their nationalities. The unidentified smuggler now faces charges of fraud. The Russian border with Finland became a popular destination for asylum seekers at the end of the 2015 migrant crisis in Europe. In 2016, Russia and Finland even briefly restricted access at two crossings only to the citizens of Finland, Russia, and Belarus, plus their family members, following a hike in the number of asylum seekers. Russians living in the border areas were at that time offering the migrants help to get to the border crossing with Finland.

Harvard grad student workers go on strike, seeking $25 an hour minimum wage, other demands

Harvard grad student workers go on strike, seeking $25 an hour minimum wage, other demands Harvard graduate student workers went on strike Tuesday, becoming the first Harvard academic employees to launch a work stoppage in decades.

The U.S. Army's Ultimate Weapon Isn't a New Gun or Tank

The U.S. Army's Ultimate Weapon Isn't a New Gun or Tank Nope. Think AI.

The college admissions scandal ringleader tried to recruit 7 Stanford coaches to be part of the scheme but only one took the bait

The college admissions scandal ringleader tried to recruit 7 Stanford coaches to be part of the scheme but only one took the bait Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne published a letter about the school's investigation into the college admissions scandal on Tuesday.

Clinton Donors Charged in Massive Campaign-Finance Scheme

Clinton Donors Charged in Massive Campaign-Finance Scheme Eight people, including major Hillary Clinton donors and a witness in the Mueller investigation, have been charged in a massive campaign-finance scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.The individuals conspired to "make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions" valued around $3.5 million in the 2016 election campaign and beyond, according to the announcement. Although the indictment does not specifically name the recipient of the donations, it is clear that the contributions went to groups allied with Clinton's presidential campaign.One of those charged, George Nader, is a Lebanese American businessman who was a witness in the Mueller report. Nader was also caught in 2018 in possession of child pornography, but received partial immunity in exchange for testimony in the Mueller investigation. He faces between 15 to 40 years in prison if convicted on child-pornography charges.Also indicted on campaign-finance charges was Ahmad "Andy" Khawaja, who hosted a fundraiser for Clinton in Los Angeles in 2016 and who conspired to conceal campaign donations from 2016 to 2018. Khawaja owns an online-payments company used by, among others, debt collectors, offshore gamblers, and pornographers. The company has made numerous campaign donations to both Democrats and Republicans.Nader also gained access to the Trump administration, meeting with the president on several occasions. Nader has experience in international diplomacy, has served as a diplomatic conduit to the Middle East and Russia, and was an informal adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates.

GOP Rep. Doug Collins looked visibly annoyed during Jerrold Nadler's impeachment hearing opening statement

GOP Rep. Doug Collins looked visibly annoyed during Jerrold Nadler's impeachment hearing opening statement The impeachment hearing opening statements from House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and the panel's top-ranking Republican, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), were predictably quite different.In an attempt to highlight the seriousness of the events involving President Trump and Ukraine, Nadler, who is leading the charge for impeachment, invoked America's founding fathers' fears of foreign influence in U.S. elections. The congressman said we "will find ourselves in grave danger" if the president "opens the door" to foreign influence, which is what Trump is accused of doing.> "The patriots who founded our country were not fearful men," Rep. Jerry Nadler says. > > "But as they met to frame our Constitution, those patriots still feared one threat above all: foreign interference in our elections." https://t.co/KuVSM82rSV ImpeachmentHearings pic.twitter.com/kT5UfsMQgl> > -- ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 4, 2019Nadler's words did not, however, inspire Collins, who looked like he was about ready to leave the hearing before it even really got going.> The ranking member does not appear to be enjoying the chairman's opening statement. pic.twitter.com/69tTs9uz9r> > -- Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) December 4, 2019When it was his turn to speak, Collins shocked absolutely no one by referring to the impeachment process as a "sham," and questioned the usefulness of the witnesses. > Doug Collins opening statement was brimming with disdain for the impeachment process and also elite academia. > > "We got law professors here. What a start of a party."> > -- Lauren Gambino (@laurenegambino) December 4, 2019More stories from theweek.com Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes

'In cold blood': Syria Kurds say killed, robbed by Turkey proxies

'In cold blood': Syria Kurds say killed, robbed by Turkey proxies Syrian Kurdish mother Shara Sido says the news came to her via a messaging application. Sitting inside a modest house in the de-facto Syrian Kurdish capital of Qamishli, the displaced 65-year-old scrolls through her phone to find a picture. Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies have overrun a swathe of northern Syria since October, after a deadly military campaign against Kurdish forces that caused tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Israeli same-sex couples find legal loophole for marriage

Israeli same-sex couples find legal loophole for marriage Israel embraces gay tourists - and even hosts a gay Pride - but lags behind when it comes to gay rights

US Rep. Denny Heck of Washington state to retire after term

US Rep. Denny Heck of Washington state to retire after term Heck, 67, now in his fourth term, has been the only representative of Washington's 10th District since it was created in 2012. Heck said he had relished much of the work he did in Congress, including serving on the House Intelligence Committee, trying to protect Puget Sound from pollution and helping a soldier receive a Purple Heart after authorities overlooked his injuries.

Pearl Harbour shooting: two people killed after US sailor attacks base in Hawaii

Pearl Harbour shooting: two people killed after US sailor attacks base in Hawaii Two people have been killed and one injured after a gunman opened fire before taking his own life at Pearl Harbour military base in Hawaii. Military officials confirmed that a US Navy sailor had attacked three Department of Defense employees before committing suicide.  The injured victim, a 36-year-old man, is in a stable condition in hospital while the attacker died from "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound", officials said. A military spokesman said the situation has been "contained". One witness saw the attacker shoot himself at the scene.  The Pearl Harbour Naval Shipyard was locked down on Wednesday afternoon after the shooting which is believed to have started at 2.30pm local time (10.30pm GMT). A PA system at the base urged people to take cover while staff received text messages alerts telling them to stay inside or find a secure location. The base was on lockdown after the attack Credit: CALEB JONES/AP The shooting took place at Dry Dock 2, near the south entrance of a combined US Air Force and Navy base about 8 miles (13 km) from Honolulu. Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, commander of the Navy in Hawaii, said: "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone involved. This is certainly a tragedy for everyone here." He said it was not yet clear whether the gunman, a sailor assigned to the USS Columbia, knew the victims, who were all shipyard employees. While the investigation into this incident continues, my thoughts and aloha are with the victims of the terrible tragedy at JBPHH and with their families. I join all of Hawaii in expressing our gratitude to the first responders who rush toward danger every day to keep us safe- Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) December 5, 2019 One witness, who said he saw the gunman kill himself, told Hawaii News Now that he heard loud pops. "I kind of recognise that as gunshots," he said. "I looked out the window and saw three people on the ground." "I looked out in time to see the shooter - who I assume was a sailor because he was in uniform - shoot himself." Base security forces posted on Twitter that they had closed all access gates to the shipyard while they investigated the incident. David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, said the White House has offered assistance. "I join in solidarity with the people of Hawaii as we express our heartbreak over this tragedy and concern for those affected by the shooting," Mr Ige said. A White House spokesman said: "The president has been briefed on the shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam in Hawaii and continues to monitor the situation." The incident comes three days before the anniversary of the attack on the naval base on December 7, 1941 that led the United States to enter World War Two by declaring war on Japan.

Second evacuation in Texas city hit by explosion, chemical fire

Second evacuation in Texas city hit by explosion, chemical fire Authorities on Thursday lifted a second evacuation in a week for thousands of residents of a Texas city after workers stopped leaks of cancer-causing chemicals at a petrochemical plant hit by explosions. Residents of Port Neches, Texas, a city of about 14,000 people 95 miles (153 km) east of Houston, were told to flee late on Wednesday after air monitors detected elevated levels of butane and butadiene, cancer-causing petrochemicals. Butadiene is the main product of the TPC Group's [TPCL.UL] facility in the city struck by last week's blaze and blast, which injured three workers and prompted a two-day evacuation.

Missile Shield: Romania Now Has America's Aegis Ashore

Missile Shield: Romania Now Has America's Aegis Ashore A powerful system.

Warren Is Drafting U.S. Legislation to Reverse 'Mega Mergers'

Warren Is Drafting U.S. Legislation to Reverse 'Mega Mergers' (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is drafting a bill that would call on regulators to retroactively review about two decades of "mega mergers" and ban such deals going forward.Warren's staff recently circulated a proposal for sweeping anti-monopoly legislation, which would deliver on a presidential campaign promise to check the power of Big Tech and other industries. Although the Trump administration is currently exploring their own antitrust probes, the proposal is likely to face resistance from lawmakers.According to a draft of the bill reviewed by Bloomberg, the proposal would expand antitrust law beyond the so-called consumer welfare standard, an approach that has driven antitrust policy since the 1970s. Under the current framework, the federal government evaluates mergers primarily based on potential harm to consumers through higher prices or decreased quality. The new bill would direct the government to also consider the impact on entrepreneurs, innovation, privacy and workers.Warren's bill, tentatively titled the Anti-Monopoly and Competition Restoration Act, would also ban non-compete and no-poaching agreements for workers and protect the rights of gig economy workers, such as drivers for Uber Technologies Inc., to organize.A draft of Warren's bill was included in an email Monday from Spencer Waller, the director of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Waller urged fellow academics to sign a petition supporting it. He said Warren was working on the bill with Representative David Cicilline, the most prominent voice on antitrust issues in the House. Waller declined to comment on the email.Representatives for Cicilline and Warren declined to comment. The existence of the bill and Warren's support of it were reported earlier this week by the technology publication the Information.In Washington, there is some support across the political spectrum for increased antitrust scrutiny of large technology companies. Warren positioned herself as a leader on the issue this year while campaigning on a plan to break up Big Tech. She has repeatedly called for unwinding Facebook Inc.'s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, along with Google's purchase of YouTube and advertising platform DoubleClick.Read more: Warren Accuses Michael Bloomberg of 'Buying the Election'It's not clear when a bill would be introduced or whether it would move forward in its current form. Cicilline has said he would not introduce antitrust legislation until he concludes an antitrust investigation for the House Judiciary Committee in early 2020.Amy Klobuchar, a Senator from Minnesota who's also vying for the Democratic nomination, has pushed legislation covering similar ground. Klobuchar plans to introduce additional antitrust legislation soon, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn't authorized to discuss the plans and asked not to be identified.Any proposal would face significant hurdles to becoming law, and Warren's version could be particularly problematic because it promotes the idea that antitrust enforcement is equivalent to being against big business, said Barak Orbach, a law professor at the University of Arizona who received a draft of the bill. "The way I read it is that Elizabeth Warren is trying to make a political statement in the course of her campaign," Orbach said. "It's likely to have negative effects on antitrust enforcement, so I just don't see the upside other than for the campaign."The bill proposes a ban on mergers where one company has annual revenue of more $40 billion, or where both companies have sales exceeding $15 billion, except under certain exceptions, such as when a company is in immediate danger of insolvency. That would seemingly put a freeze on many acquisitions for Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Facebook, Microsoft Corp. and dozens of other companies. The bill would also place new limitations on smaller mergers.Chris Sagers, a law professor at Cleveland State University, said the proposal would serve as an effective check on corporate power. "I don't think you'll have new antitrust policy until Congress says the courts have incorrectly interpreted the statutes," he said. "Someone has to do what Elizabeth Warren is doing."(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at enewcomer@bloomberg.net;Joshua Brustein in New York at jbrustein@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Pakistan pulls back on prosecuting Chinese sex traffickers

Pakistan pulls back on prosecuting Chinese sex traffickers Pakistan has declined to pursue a sprawling case against Chinese sex traffickers due to fears it would harm economic ties with Beijing, the AP reported on Wednesday. Pakistan has been seeking closer ties with China for years as Beijing continue to make major investments in the country's infrastructure.

Melania Trump slams impeachment witness: 'you should be ashamed'

Melania Trump slams impeachment witness: 'you should be ashamed' Karlan "should be ashamed of [her] very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it," Trump wrote on Twitter.

North Korea's Kim in new horse ride through winter snows

North Korea's Kim in new horse ride through winter snows North Korean media published fresh pictures Wednesday of leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse on a sacred mountain, imagery that experts say is heavy with symbolism and may indicate a policy announcement. The photos come as nuclear talks with the United States are stalled and with a looming end-of-year deadline set by North Korea for some kind of concession from Washington. Kim -- in a black leather trenchcoat he has worn recently to open a flagship construction project and supervise a weapons test -- was pictured leading a squad of riders in a white forest near Mount Paektu.

Rep. Duncan Hunter Shows no Signs of Resigning Despite Pleading Guilty to Campaign Finance Charges

Rep. Duncan Hunter Shows no Signs of Resigning Despite Pleading Guilty to Campaign Finance Charges Representative Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) has not indicated that he will leave his seat in the House after he pleaded guilty on Wednesday to campaign finance violations.Hunter had long criticized the investigation against him as a "witch hunt," but announced on Sunday that he would change his stance and plead guilty. Hunter and his wife, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in June, were accused of using $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations to Hawaii, plane tickets for their pet rabbit, and other personal expenses. Both face a possible sentence of eight to fourteen months in jail."I failed to monitor and account for my campaign spending. I made mistakes, and that's what today was all about," Duncan told reporters on Tuesday after his guilty plea. He said he wanted to avoid a trial "for my kids. I think it would be really tough for them."However, the congressman has not yet discussed resigning from the House with minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). Hunter refused to answer Politico on Wednesday when they asked whether he planned to resign.Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17. One Republican lawmaker said party leadership would give him time to "get his affairs in order," but that time would be limited. Republicans had to force Hunter to give up positions on various House committees after his guilty plea.Former Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.) resigned on September 30, one day before he pleaded guilty to charges of insider trading.

'Disturbing' photo leads to suspensions in WV agency

'Disturbing' photo leads to suspensions in WV agency A photo of West Virginia corrections trainees was so disturbing that some employees have been suspended and the governor has ordered some to be fired - but what the image shows remains a mystery. The letter, sent by West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Jeff Sandy to the agency's Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday, doesn't make clear what the image shows or how many employees have been suspended. Republican Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement Thursday condemning the photo and ordered the firing of those involved.

Hermit crabs dying after mistaking plastic for shells, study finds

Hermit crabs dying after mistaking plastic for shells, study finds Hermit crabs are mistaking plastic for shells and the problem has killed more than half a million of the crustaceans, a new study by the Natural History Museum has found. The creatures do not make their own shells but instead move from discarded shell to discarded shell as they grow. They are not used to plastic in their environment so do not know to avoid it. Once they crawl into a piece of plastic debris, the crabs frequently get stuck and starve to death. Researchers said that if even just one crab mistakes some plastic debris for a shell, this can cause a "gruesome chain reaction", as when one dies it emits a signal alerting others there is a new shell. This causes scores of crabs to come scurrying across the island and fall into the plastic trap. The team carried out several surveys across a range of sites to ascertain of how many containers there were, including how many were open, how many were in a position likely to trap crabs, and how many contained trapped crabs. The results recorded 61,000 crabs trapped in debris on Henderson Island and 508,000 on the Cocos (Keeling) islands. This equated to 1-2 crabs per m2 of beach falling foul of debris, a significant percentage of the population. Around 570,000 hermit crabs become entrapped in debris on two tropical islands - the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean and Henderson Island in the Pacific.  Dr Alex Bond, Senior Curator in Charge, Birds, The Natural History Museum, said, "The problem is quite insidious really, because it only takes one crab. "Hermit crabs do not have a shell of their own, which means that when one of their compatriots die, they emit a chemical signal that basically says 'there's a shell available' attracting more crabs who fall into the containers and die, who then send out more signals that say there are more shells available. "Essentially it is this gruesome chain reaction."  The results come from a first of its kind study led by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania and including researchers from London's Natural History Museum as well as the Two Hands Project community science organization. IMAS researcher Dr Jennifer Lavers, who led the study said, "These results are shocking but perhaps not surprising, because beaches and the vegetation that fringes them are frequented by a wide range of wildlife. "It is inevitable that these creatures will interact with and be affected by plastic pollution, although ours is one of the first studies to provide quantitative data on such impacts." The study is published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Judge dismisses lawsuit in 1930s gangster John Dillinger case

Judge dismisses lawsuit in 1930s gangster John Dillinger case A judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday by a nephew of 1930s gangster John Dillinger who wants to exhume the notorious criminal's Indianapolis gravesite to prove whether he's actually buried there, ruling that he must get the cemetery's permission.

Why Iran's 'Stealth' Qaher 313 Is Nothing to Fear

Why Iran's 'Stealth' Qaher 313 Is Nothing to Fear A sad excuse for a plane.

William Barr Is Making It Harder to Protect the 2020 Election

William Barr Is Making It Harder to Protect the 2020 Election (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The attorney general of the United States is commonly described as the nation's "chief law enforcement officer." Yet the current attorney general, William Barr, seems to have a pronounced aversion to enforcing certain laws.Since February, when he became attorney general for the second time in his long career, Barr's most notable priority has been undermining his own department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now news reports suggest that Barr contests the conclusion of a report by the Justice Department inspector general that the investigation was justified.In some ways Barr's campaign is unsurprising. In 2017, he stated that a bogus controversy involving Hillary Clinton and a Canadian mining company called Uranium One was more worthy of investigation than the staggering array of contacts between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, and the equally staggering number of lies told to explain away those contacts.Barr's notion that an investigation of the Trump campaign was inappropriate is astonishing. Consider:On the Russian side, there were multiple cyber hacks of Trump's Democratic opponents and the subsequent public dissemination of the results of those hacks, which were timed to provide maximum advantage to Trump. Some of Russia's malicious social media campaigns were intended to suppress the votes of Democratic constituencies. During this treachery, Russians met with Trump family members, top Trump campaign staff and various Trump advisers - more than 100 contacts overall.Then there is the Trump side of things. Start with a candidate who publicly solicited Russian cybercrime to aid his campaign while he was also currying favor with Moscow for a real estate deal and claiming, falsely, that he had no business dealings in Russia. Add to the record that, according to his eldest son, his business depended on Russian investment. Trump's subsequent conduct, including his behavior last year in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, hardly eased concerns about his links to Russia.   Barr's attack on the Russia investigation does not alter the facts on record. What it does do, however, is send a powerful message to the investigators and prosecutors of the Justice Department.That message is clear: If you pursue more crimes involving Trump, you will be hung out to dry. Think of Sally Yates, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr - all department employees who have been savaged by Trump and Republican allies for doing their jobs protecting the U.S. from foreign sabotage.In Senate testimony in May, Barr sent a loud signal about his reluctance to enforce the law against foreign interference in U.S. elections. Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware asked Barr whether the FBI should be alerted in the event North Korean agents - North Korea! - offered to help a U.S. campaign.Though the law against foreign interference is unambiguous, and North Korea is a heinous police state, Barr hesitated. When he finally answered, he qualified his response, allowing that if the contact were made by "a foreign intelligence service, yes." Everyone else, apparently, is free to proceed."There could not be a more destructive attorney general than if Vladimir Putin had appointed Barr himself," said former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi this week. As Russia's election interference campaign ramps up for 2020, Putin may find he has an easier time of it than expected: Barr has essentially issued instructions to leave the door unlocked, and a light on.To contact the author of this story: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

WHO decries "collective failure" as measles kills 140,000

WHO decries Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. In figures described by its director general as "an outrage", the WHO said most of last year's measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated. "The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world's most vulnerable children," said the WHO's director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

Impeachment hearing joke draws angry response from Melania Trump - and lays bare America's divide

Impeachment hearing joke draws angry response from Melania Trump - and lays bare America's divide Pamela Karlan's reference to Trump's son Barron offered Republicans a chance to claim righteous outrageFinally, a smoking pun. A simple play on words told us everything about the impeachment inquiry, the current mindset in Congress and the state of the nation.The witness Pamela Karlan cracked a joke that delighted liberals and infuriated conservatives. Or rather, it delighted conservatives because it gave them a talking point to whip up outrage.The afternoon session of the House judiciary committee hearing on the constitutional framework for impeachment had just begun when the Democratic congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee posed the question: "What comparisons can we make between kings that the framers were afraid of and the president's conduct today?"Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor, replied: "Kings could do no wrong because the king's word was law. Contrary to what President Trump has said, article two [of the constitution] does not give him the power to do anything he wants."I will give you one example that shows the difference between him and a king, which is: the constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. While the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron."Jackson Lee smiled and there was laughter in the big and ornate committee room, where two carved eagles look down under the words "E pluribus unum" (out of many, one) and a dozen uniformed Capitol police lent an air of a courtroom drama. Karlan's point echoed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's recent opinion, cited at Wednesday's hearing, that "the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings".But could we forgive the pun? Not when the president's son, tall but only 13 years of age, was involved. Republicans's well-oiled fury machine clicked straight into gear. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, tweeted: "Classless move by a Democratic 'witness'. Prof Karlan uses a teenage boy who has nothing to do with this joke of a hearing (and deserves privacy) as a punchline."The Trump 2020 election campaign demanded Karlan personally apologise to the president and first lady. Back in the room, the Trump loyalist Matt Gaetz expressed righteous indignation. "When you invoke the president's son's name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument," he told Karlan. Like Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik in the intelligence committee hearings, Gaetz would have known that clip has plenty of potential for replays on Fox News and rightwing social media, bashing the left as vengeful and in the throes of "Trump derangement syndrome".As the clock ticked past half-five, the hearing learned, with an audible gasp, that Melania Trump herself had weighed in, tweeting: "A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it."Karlan apologised. "It was wrong of me to do that," she told the hearing. "I regret having said that."The division over this pun - a laugh line to some, evidence of liberal sneering to others - cut to the chase of yet another hopelessly polarised hearing. Facts mattered less than being on the winning team. It made one wonder whether Americans don't even laugh at the same jokes any more.Three of the witnesses, including Karlan, had been called by Democrats to testify that the evidence gathered regarding Trump's dealings with Ukraine meets the historical definition of impeachment. The other witness had been called by Republicans. Few Democratic or Republican politicians put a question to a witness from the other side.Democrats got plenty of ammunition. Representative Steve Cohen laid out an ABC - Abuse of power, Betrayal of the national interest and Corruption of elections - and asked if Trump had achieved the trifecta. "Yes," replied all three Democratic witnesses. Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor, said: "I just want to stress that if what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable."But their opponents worked tirelessly to argue that their witnesses were partisan ivory tower-dwellers and therefore ignorable in this "sham" and "farce". The Republican witness was Jonathan Turley, who was somewhat measured, opining that Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president "was anything but perfect". But the George Washington University law professor said: "One can oppose President Trump's policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects dangerous."There were also some structural problems for Democrats in the all-important court of public opinion. At hearings like Wednesday's, they have to take turns with Republicans, which creates an impression of equivalence: first let's put the case for the world being round, now let's hear the case that it's flat.So before some empty seats in the press and public galleries, members continued to talk past each other. For those still watching at home, the alternatives were sleep or, after the TV newsman Howard Beale in the film Network, to cry out: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!"Turley had an answer for that too. "I get it. You're mad," he said. "The president's mad. My Republican friends are mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad. And Luna's a goldendoodle, and they don't get mad. So we're all mad."

Tesla refused to help the police with an investigation into stolen copper wire after Elon Musk learned about the incident because the company was scared of bad press

Tesla refused to help the police with an investigation into stolen copper wire after Elon Musk learned about the incident because the company was scared of bad press Tesla declined to assist authorities on other occasions amid reports of "rampant crime" in 2018, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Typhoon Kammuri death toll hits 13 in Philippines

Typhoon Kammuri death toll hits 13 in Philippines The number of people killed by Typhoon Kammuri's pounding of the Philippines this week has hit 13, officials said Thursday, as authorities confirmed reports of storm-related deaths. Kammuri's fierce winds toppled trees and flattened flimsy homes across a swathe of the nation's north on Tuesday, and forced a rare 12-hour shutdown of Manila's international airport. Authorities said on Wednesday one person had drowned while three died after being hit by trees and flying objects.

Police: Slain Missouri woman was worried about her pregnancy

Police: Slain Missouri woman was worried about her pregnancy The warrants, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, outline the reasons detectives gave for searching the home of Jennifer and Beau Rothwell near the suburb of Creve Coeur. The couple's cellphones, email accounts, Facebook accounts and Beau Rothwell's SUV were also searched. Beau Rothwell, 28, is jailed without bond on charges of second-degree murder and evidence tampering in his wife's death.

Millions of children exposed as flu spreads following vaccine delays

Millions of children exposed as flu spreads following vaccine delays Millions of children are at risk of flu amid a drop in uptake of vaccinations, after deliveries were delayed, officials have warned.  New figures show the number of people hospitalised because of flu has tripled in a fortnight, with the virus spreading before many of the most vulnerable have been protected.  Last night health officials urged parents to come forward and ensure children receive vaccinations. They are particularly alarmed by low uptake among toddlers, dubbed "super-spreaders" because they tend to pass on the virus to high numbers of people, including elderly grandparents.  Officials also warned that winter vomiting bug is on the rise, with twice as many hospital beds closed as this time last year.  Hospitals in England have been forced to close more than 1,100 hospital beds over the last week due to norovirus. The new flu figures show uptake of the nasal vaccine among two-year-olds is just 25.5 per cent, compared with 34.9 per cent this time last  year. And just 24.4 per cent of three-year-olds have received the vaccine, compared with 35.7 per cent at this time in last year's season. The latest weekly data from Public Health England show the hospitalisation rate from flu is now at "moderate intensity" - 4.3 admissions per 100,000 people, up from 1.4 admissions per 100,000 two weeks before.  Manufacturers have been beset by delays delivering the vaccine, as a result of problems testing it.    Health advice | What should I do if I feel the flu coming on? As a result, schools were last month told to cancel vaccinations, with GPs urged to prioritise toddlers and the sickest children.  Health officials said the dealys were now resolved, and urged parents to take any unvaccinated toddlers to their doctor.  Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Head of Flu, Public Health England said: "Flu season has now started and so it's really important that people get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to ensure they are protected against this potentially very serious illness. The initial evidence suggests the vaccine is a good match for the main strain of flu that is circulating. "Vaccination uptake in toddlers is lower than we would hope for at this point in the year due to previous delays in delivery of the vaccine, which are now resolved. If you have children aged two to three go to your GP to get them vaccinated now."

Climate models have been right all along, study finds

Climate models have been right all along, study finds Even the rather primitive climate computer models of the 1970s, 80s and 90s were impressively accurate, lending extra credibility to the much more advanced climate models of today, study finds

China Built The DF-26 Missile To Take Down America's Prized Aircraft Carriers

China Built The DF-26 Missile To Take Down America's Prized Aircraft Carriers Don't underestimate these missiles.

Joe Biden said 'of course' he would consider Kamala Harris as his Vice President pick

Joe Biden said 'of course' he would consider Kamala Harris as his Vice President pick Harris, once seen as a front-runner for the White House, left the race Tuesday, stating the shortfall of "financial resources" needed to continue.

UPDATE 1-Russia suspends revamp work at Iran's Fordow nuclear plant

UPDATE 1-Russia suspends revamp work at Iran's Fordow nuclear plant Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has suspended work on revamping a factory at Iran's Fordow nuclear complex due to an issue with uranium compatibility, Rosatom's nuclear fuel cycle unit TVEL said on Thursday. "Uranium enrichment and the production of stable isotopes cannot be carried out in the same room," TVEL said in a statement, adding that it was "technologically impossible" to implement the project at this time. In November, the United States said it would cease waiving punitive sanctions related to the Fordow plant from Dec. 15 - a move Russia condemned - after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment at the underground site in contravention of a nuclear deal it signed with world powers in 2015.

Pentagon Denies U.S. is Considering Deploying Thousands of Additional Troops to Middle East

Pentagon Denies U.S. is Considering Deploying Thousands of Additional Troops to Middle East The Pentagon denied a report from the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that the U.S. is considering a buildup of military forces in the Middle East, including dozens of ships and up to 14,000 additional soldiers.The possible deployment of military forces could be intended to counter threats from Iran throughout the region. U.S. officials are reportedly concerned that an Iranian attack on U.S. forces as they currently stand would leave America with few options to respond. Sending additional forces may give the U.S. more leeway in choosing an appropriate response to Iranian aggression.Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah flatly denied the Journal's report on the number of troops the U.S. was considering for deployment."This reporting by the @WSJ is wrong.The U.S. is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East," Farah wrote on Twitter.In September, Iran launched a sophisticated attack combining drones and cruise missiles on Saudi Arabian oil-processing infrastructure, briefly halting the flow of five percent of the world's oil supply. The Iranian government is currently under intense domestic pressure after protests over fuel prices rocked the country. Regime security forces have reportedly killed hundreds of demonstrators while the government imposed a country-wide internet blackout.President Trump is weighing a buildup of U.S. forces even as the country prepares for an election year. Trump has repeatedly promised to end American involvement in "endless wars" and touted the withdrawal of troops from northern Syria in October as a fulfillment of his pledge, despite severe Republican criticism of the decision.

Trump taps consultant who urged food ban on homeless to lead council

Trump taps consultant who urged food ban on homeless to lead council The administration last month pushed out an Obama appointee.

Israel and Czech Republic sign $125 mn missile defence deal

Israel and Czech Republic sign $125 mn missile defence deal Israel's defence ministry signed a deal with its Czech counterpart on Thursday to sell it radar systems used in the Jewish state's Iron Dome missile defence system. The radars will be integrated into the Czech air defence system which will use Prague's own rocket launchers, a ministry spokesperson said. Czech defence minister Lubomir Metnar said the acquisition was one of the country's "key modernisation projects" for its armed forces.

Suspect in kidnap-slaying won't seek bond in separate case

Suspect in kidnap-slaying won't seek bond in separate case A man held in the abduction and slaying of an Alabama college student isn't fighting for bond in a separate kidnapping case, his attorney said Thursday. News outlets reported that Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, appeared in Montgomery County court on kidnapping, attempted murder and robbery charges linked to an incident in February. Defense attorney Preston Presley did not oppose a judge's decision to revoke his bond.

Investigators probing role weather may have played in deadly South Dakota plane crash

Investigators probing role weather may have played in deadly South Dakota plane crash An NTSB investigator examines the wreckage of a Pilatus PC-12 airplane near Chamberlain Municipal Airport in South Dakota. The aircraft crashed on Saturday, November 30, 2019, moments after taking off amid heavy snowfall. The crash killed nine of the 12 people on board. (NTSB) The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new information Tuesday about the plane crash in Chamberlain, South Dakota, that killed nine people and injured three others within a mile of takeoff. A review of the available information about the fatal crash, which occurred Saturday within a mile of takeoff, indicates weather was a significant, if not major, factor, experts say.Chamberlain, and much of South Dakota, was under a winter storm warning and experiencing near-blizzard conditions around the time of the crash on Saturday.The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 arrived in Chamberlain Friday at about 9:30 a.m. CST, according to the NTSB report. The airplane remained parked on the airport ramp until the accident a day later, the report noted."They landed on Friday ahead of the storm, and it looks like they just left the plane parked on the runway," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist David Samuhel, who reviewed the NTSB statement. "There was probably 8 or 9 inches of snow, so the plane probably had a whole lot of snow and ice on it." The NTSB is still investigating the crash, and it's not clear if the snow and ice were cleared from the aircraft before takeoff. Samuhel said, "If they didn't get the snow and ice off the wings, that would be a huge problem." A photo of a Pilatus PC-12 in flight. (Pilatus Aircraft Ltd) An aviation expert AccuWeather spoke with also said there was likely frost or ice below the layer of snow and added that it's "doubtful the facilities exist for that sort of deicing at this small airport."Ice and snow needs to be properly removed from a plane for the flight to be legal, and if that doesn't happen, the consequences can be dire. "You're looking at [an] increase in drag of 40 percent and decrease of lift of 30 percent if you don't deice properly."Also, the NTSB reported the weather observation station at the Chamberlain airport recorded winds of 7 mph, with half-mile visibility and moderate snow and icing. AccuWeather's Samuhel believes the winds were likely much stronger."I question the wind reading at Chamberlain airport," he said. "Pierre is about 65 miles to the northwest of Chamberlain, but the conditions probably weren't much different and winds in Pierre were gusting to 40 mph and even higher some parts of the day."They were leaving Saturday and the storm was starting to wrap up, but they were still in a bad part of it where the wind was really kicking up and they were probably getting blowing snow, too," Samuhel said.According to Travis Garza, president of wellness company Kyani, the company's two founders, Jim Hansen and Kirk Hansen, were among the crash victims. The other seven passengers who died were their relatives.There were 393 U.S. civil aviation deaths in 2018, an increase from 347 in 2017, according to the NTSB. Most aviation deaths in 2018 took place during general aviation operations - all civilian flying except scheduled passenger airline service - when 381 were killed, compared to 331 in 2017.

Majority of climate simulation models have accurately predicted global heating since 1970s, study finds

Majority of climate simulation models have accurately predicted global heating since 1970s, study finds Climate models have accurately predicted global heating for the past 50 years, a study by climate scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA has found.  The study found that computer models dating back to 1970, which were used to simulate what heat-trapping gases will do to global temperatures, were reliable in forecasting the physical response of the climate system to continued increases in the greenhouse effect.  Zeke Hausfather, lead author of the study which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters Wednesday, considered 17 models used between 1970 and 2007 and found that the majority of them predicted results that were "indistinguishable from what actually occurred."  Recent climate model projections have found that even if countries follow through with current and anticipated climate policies, the world is still on track to reach about 3C above pre-industrial figures by 2100, a situation the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned against.  Dr Hausfather decided to evaluate the models' accuracy after years of  hearing critics voice scepticism about them. "Climate models are a really important way for us to understand how the climate could change in the  future, and now that we have taken a detailed look at how well past climate  models have held up in terms of their projections, we are far more  confident that our current generation of models are getting it right," he said.  Carbon Dioxide levels in the last 20yrs Ten of the 17 the models the team examined came close to the temperatures that actually occurred, Dr Hausfather said. However the input scenarios in nearly half of those examined was significantly different from the real-life greenhouse gas emissions that occurred.  But scientists actually got the physics right in the majority of the models, Dr Hausfather added.  Creating models to forecast changes in the climate is so difficult because it relies on two main assumption of what will happen in the future - one is the physics of the atmosphere and how it reacts to heat-trapping gases, the other is the amount of greenhouse gases emitted.  "We did not focus on how well their crystal ball predicted future emissions of greenhouse gases, because that is a question for economists and energy modelers, not climate scientists," Dr Hausfather said. "It is impossible to  know exactly what human emissions will be in the future. Physics we can  understand, it is a deterministic system; future emissions depend on human systems, which are not necessarily deterministic."  Blocks of ice drift on the water off the coast of a glacier in Antarctica Credit: Mathilde Bellenger /AFP So Dr Hausfather and his colleagues, including NASA climate scientist Gavin  Schmidt, also looked at how well the models did on just the pure science, taking out the emissions factor. On that count, 14 of the 17 computer models accurately predicted the future.  The scientists also gave each computer simulation a "skill score" that  essentially gave a percentage grade to each one. The average grade was a 69  per cent.  University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles, who was not part of the study, said climate change "deniers do a lot of weird things to misrepresent models. None of those analyses have been valid and they should  be ignored. We should no longer be debating the basic science of climate  change."

North Korea's Underground Air Bases Would Be Key In a War Against America

North Korea's Underground Air Bases Would Be Key In a War Against America Keep it secret, keep it safe.

Soldier stationed in Afghanistan raises thousands to bring home his buddy, Sully the cat

Soldier stationed in Afghanistan raises thousands to bring home his buddy, Sully the cat Funding is a challenge for this Afghanistan animal rescue. To get a cat to the U.S., it generally costs $3,000 or more and for a dog, up to $5,000.

Ukraine threatens to wall off part of Donbass region if no agreement with Russia

Ukraine threatens to wall off part of Donbass region if no agreement with Russia A top Ukrainian presidential aide on Thursday said Ukraine would wall off the rest of the country from occupied territories if Russia failed to agree to a ceasefire and prisoner swap at a summit in Paris next week. If Russia doesn't want to agree to a deal "in this case we will be building a wall and life will go on," Andriy Yermak said at a forum in London. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany will meet on Monday for the first time in more than three years to try to end a conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed forces and Ukrainian troops that has killed more than 13,000 people.

FBI Failed to Inform FISA Court that Steele Dossier was Unreliable: Report

FBI Failed to Inform FISA Court that Steele Dossier was Unreliable: Report The Justice Department's inspector general has concluded that the FBI omitted crucial details in its requests for warrants to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page, saying the agency neglected to mention that some of the information the warrant applications were based on was shaky.Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's yet unpublished draft report found that the FBI did not inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the controversial Steele dossier, cited in applications to spy on Page, was unreliable, according to the Washington Post.The dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who was investigating Donald Trump for an opposition research firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The dossier purported to show connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.The FBI found Steele's information about a Russian government connection to be dubious but declined to mention as much in the later applications to the FISA court for warrants to surveil Page.Horowitz also found that an FBI lawyer doctored an email used in the warrant application, a potential crime prosecutors are now investigating.However, the inspector general did not say the FISA court should have declined to grant the warrants and nevertheless concluded that political bias did not compromise the FBI's handling of the Russia investigation.Attorney General William Barr has reportedly said privately that he disagrees with the inspector general that FBI had enough information in July, 2016 to justify opening an investigation into members of the Trump campaign."I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It's a big deal," Barr said in April. "Frankly, to the extent that there were any issues at the FBI, I do not view it as a problem that's endemic to the FBI. I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there in the upper echelon."

Iran is doubling down on the missile strategy that took out 5% of the world's oil supply

Iran is doubling down on the missile strategy that took out 5% of the world's oil supply "The Iranians learned that they have a longer leash for conducting operations against the Saudis and UAE than they realized," a NATO source said.

Huawei cancels new phone launch in Taiwan after China row

Huawei cancels new phone launch in Taiwan after China row Tech giant Huawei has cancelled the launch of a flagship phone and watch in Taiwan after Taipei imposed a temporary ban on some of its products for listing the island as part of China. On its official Taiwan Facebook page Wednesday Chinese company Huawei said the launch of its Mate 30 Pro smartphone and its GT 2 digital watch had been cancelled due to "supply issues" without elaborating further. The cancellations came after Taiwan last month suspended sales of three Huawei models that listed the self-ruled, democratic island as "Taiwan, China" for timezones and contacts.

Employee shot at a Virginia post office

Employee shot at a Virginia post office Authorities say a postal worker has been shot at a northern Virginia post office by an agent for the Postal Service's Inspector General's office. News outlets report that it happened Wednesday morning at the parking lot of the Lovettsville post office in Loudoun County.

3 charged over Australia's largest crystal meth seizure

3 charged over Australia's largest crystal meth seizure Two customs agents and an information technology worker appeared in a court on Thursday charged with drug offenses over Australia's largest seizure of methamphetamine, which had been smuggled to Melbourne from Bangkok in stereo speakers. Police estimate the 1.6 metric tons (1.7 U.S. tons) of the drug also known as ice and crystal meth had a street value of AU$1.197 billion ($818 million). The 37 kilograms (82 pounds) of heroin also seized was the largest haul of that drug in Australia since 2017, police said.

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