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From today, January 24, 2020
- At impeachment trial, Democrats address Biden corruption allegations as Graham promises more developments
- Exclusive: The inside story of how the U.S. gave up a chance to kill Soleimani in 2007
In the first years of the occupation, Qassem Soleimani had moved back and forth between Iran and Iraq ?constantly,? but had always taken the precautions to be expected from a seasoned intelligence officer, said John Maguire, a former senior CIA official stationed in Baghdad in the mid-2000s. Soleimani disguised his rank and identity, used only ground transportation and avoided speaking on the phone or the radio, preferring to give orders to proxies and subordinates in Iraq in person.
- Residents left in Wuhan ? which China quarantined to stop the coronavirus ? are desperately stockpiling food and fuel, leaving empty shelves and prices skyrocketing
- Police: Mom accused of killing her 3 kids said she smothered them while singing
- Putin to Meet Jailed Israeli?s Mother Amid Reports of Release
(Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin is to meet in Jerusalem with the mother of an Israeli woman imprisoned in Russia on drug-smuggling charges, the Kremlin said, amid reports Russian authorities are preparing to free her.Putin, who?ll be a guest of honor Thursday at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army?s liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp, spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone last week about 26-year-old Naama Issachar. Netanyahu said after the call that he was optimistic about securing her freedom.Issachar was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in a Russian prison in October for carrying a small amount of hashish on a transit flight via Moscow. Her mother, Yaffa, asked Putin in November to pardon her daughter in a letter handed to him by Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. The plight of the U.S.-born Israeli army veteran, who was detained in April, has become a cause celebre in Israel, where she?s widely regarded as a pawn in a political game.Putin will meet Yaffa Issachar together with Netanyahu and the patriarch, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. While Ushakov wouldn?t confirm that a release is planned, he said the president?s right to pardon a convicted person is ?an important prerogative.?Property DisputeIn another sign of a possible resolution, Ushakov said Russia and Israel are making progress in settling a dispute over the ownership of Russian Orthodox Church property in Jerusalem. Israel?s Haaretz newspaper said resolving the issue could form part of a quid pro quo with Putin for the release of Issachar.Putin will speak at the anniversary ceremony, though there won?t be time for him to meet with other leaders attending the event, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to Ushakov.Issachar?s case for a time became entangled with that of a Russian national, Alexei Burkov, whom Israel extradited to the U.S. in November on charges including hacking and credit card fraud. Russia had offered to swap the two, according to Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician.Putin rebuffed repeated pleas to free her by Netanyahu, who?s fighting to maintain his 13-year-rule as he battles fraud and bribery charges, with new elections due in March.\--With assistance from Gwen Ackerman and Ivan Levingston.To contact the reporters on this story: Andrey Biryukov in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org;Henry Meyer in Moscow at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
- Residents paint a picture of Epstein's life on "Pedophile Island"
- Did asteroid that hit Australia help thaw ancient 'snowball Earth'?
Scientists have identified Earth's oldest-known impact crater, and in doing so may have solved a mystery about how our planet emerged from one of its most dire periods. Researchers have determined that the 45-mile-wide (70-km-wide) Yarrabubba crater in Australia formed when an asteroid struck Earth just over 2.2 billion years ago. "Looking at our planet from space, it would have looked very different," said isotope geology professor Chris Kirkland of Curtin University in Australia, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
- Saudi crown prince's WhatsApp linked to Bezos phone hack
The cellphone of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was hacked in what appeared to be an attempt by Saudi Arabia's crown prince to "influence, if not silence" the newspaper's reporting on the kingdom, two U.N. human rights experts said Wednesday. The U.N. experts called for an ?immediate investigation? by the United States into a report commissioned by Bezos that showed the billionaire technology mogul's phone was likely hacked after he received an MP4 video file sent from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's WhatsApp account after the two men exchanged phone numbers during a dinner in Los Angeles in 2018.
- REI?s January Sale Offers 50% off Cold-Weather Outdoor Gear
- Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows two-thirds of voters want the Senate to call new impeachment witnesses
- The brazen (and careless) Russian assassination team behind the Salisbury poisonings has been spotted in Europe, again
- A University of Minnesota student was arrested in China and sentenced to 6 months in prison for tweeting cartoons making fun of President Xi Jingping
- White Nationalists Arrested ahead of Richmond Rally Planned to Kill Gun-Rights Demonstrators to Spark Civil War
Three alleged members of a white supremacist group were plotting to murder demonstrators at Monday's gun rights rally at the Virginia Capitol before they were arrested by the FBI last week, according to court documents.The men were caught discussing their plans on a hidden camera set up in their Delaware apartment by FBI agents.?We can?t let Virginia go to waste, we just can?t,? said Patrik J. Mathews, one member of the hate group "the Base" that promotes violence against African-Americans and Jews.According to authorities, the 27-year-old former Canadian Armed Forces reservist also discussed creating "instability" in Virginia by killing people, derailing trains, poisoning water, and shutting down highways in order to "kick off the economic collapse" and possibly start a "full blown civil war."Mathews also discussed the possibility of "executing" police officers and stealing their belongings and remarked that, ?We could essentially be like literally hunting people.??Virginia will be our day,? said 33-year-old Brian M. Lemley Jr., adding, ?I need to claim my first victim.??Lemley discussed using a thermal imaging scope affixed to his rifle to conduct ambush attacks,? the court filings read.The two were arrested along with a third man, 19, last Thursday. They are charged with federal firearms violations and ?transporting and harboring an alien,? referring to Mathews, who is a Canadian national. Four more members of The Base have also been arrested and charged in Georgia and Wisconsin.In a search of the apartment, prosecutors said that FBI agents found propaganda fliers for The Base, communications devices, empty rifle cases, "go bags" with "numerous Meals-Ready-to-Eat," knives, and materials for building an assault rifle.Tens of thousands of gun rights advocates rallied in Richmond on Monday to protest the state?s Democratic legislature's gun-control agenda. Critics raised fears beforehand that militant white supremacists could disrupt the rally, but the day ended peacefully with no violence.
- Family attorneys say cruise line's story of toddler's death is 'physically impossible'
- Thunberg fires back at Mnunchin after college degree jab
- Presidential candidate Tom Steyer: ?I?m for reparations?
On Yahoo News? ?Hot Mic with Brittany Shepherd,? Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer spoke about race and reparations, saying that if he were elected to office, ?I would start a commission on race on day one.?
- WHO says not declaring virus a global emergency but taking it seriously
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday that the new coronavirus that has emerged in China and spread to several other countries does not yet constitute an international emergency but it was tracking its evolution "every minute". WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement after its Emergency Committee of 16 independent experts reviewed the latest evidence and made its recommendations, which he accepted. "Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China," Tedros told a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
- Firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing 3 Americans
Three American firefighting airplane crew members were killed Thursday when the C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker they were in crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia, officials said. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the deaths in the state's Snowy Monaro region, which came as Australia grapples with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction. Canada-based Coulson Aviation said in a statement that one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission.
- Chief Justice Roberts admonishes impeachment managers and Trump team, reminds them to 'remember where they are'
Things got testy in the Senate chamber early Wednesday morning, with Chief Justice John Roberts admonishing both the impeachment managers and President Trump's legal team for their sharp words.It started when Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) argued in support of an amendment seeking to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton. During the House impeachment investigation, Bolton said he would fight a subpoena, but then changed his tune, saying he would testify in the Senate trial if ordered to do so. Nadler said Trump and his allies "are afraid to hear" from Bolton "because they know he knows too much," and "only guilty people try to hide the evidence."Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow loudly responded, banging the podium and accusing Nadler of attempting to "shred the Constitution on the floor of the Senate." White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told Nadler he owed Trump, his family, the Senate, and every American "an apology." When it was once again his turn to speak, Nadler scoffed at the Trump team saying he wasn't being truthful. "President's counsel has no standing to talk about lying," he said.After they were finished, Roberts said he felt it was "appropriate for me to admonish both the house managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body. One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse." He then brought up a 1905 impeachment trial of a judge, where a manager objected to the term "pettifogging." Roberts said while he doesn't "think we need to aspire to that high a standard ... I think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are." The amendment to subpoena Bolton, like all others before it, was voted down along party lines, 53-47. Pettifogging, by the way, means "placing undue emphasis on petty details."More stories from theweek.com With her proud students watching, Florida teacher becomes a U.S. citizen Several senators left the chamber in the middle of Adam Schiff's impeachment remarks Watch highlights from Day 2 of Trump's impeachment trial, in which Democrats begin their prosecution
- See This Nuke? Meet the Most Destructive Nuclear Bomb Ever Made By Man
- The American Airlines flight attendant union is calling on US airlines to step up precautions for the deadly Wuhan coronavirus
- 'The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions': did Arkansas kill an innocent man?
Revealed: two years after Ledell Lee was executed, damning evidence emerges that experts say could prove his innocenceThe day before Ledell Lee was executed on 20 April 2017, he talked to the BBC from death row. He said that while he could not prevent the state of Arkansas from killing him, he had a message for his executioners: ?My dying words will always be, as it has been: ?I am an innocent man?.?Almost two years after Lee was strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs, it looks increasingly likely he was telling the truth: he went to his death an innocent man. New evidence has emerged that suggests Lee was not guilty of the brutal murder of a woman in 1993 for which his life was taken.The deceased inmate?s sister Patricia Young lodged a lawsuit on Thursday with the circuit court of Pulaski county, Arkansas, petitioning city authorities and the local police department in Jacksonville to release crime scene materials to her family.The ACLU and the Innocence Project, who are investigating the case on the family?s behalf, believe state-of-the-art forensic examination of the materials, including DNA testing and fingerprint analysis, could definitively prove Arkansas did indeed execute an innocent man.An 81-page filing in the lawsuit provides damning new evidence that key aspects of the prosecution case against Lee were deeply flawed. The complaint includes expert opinion from a number of world-leading specialists who find glaring errors in the way forensic science and other evidence was interpreted.The lawsuit also includes a bombshell affidavit from Lee?s post-conviction attorney who admits to having struggled with substance abuse and addiction throughout the years in which he represented him.Lawyers who prepared the filing, led by Cassandra Stubbs of the ACLU and the Innocence Project?s Nina Morrison, conclude: ?It is now clear that the state?s forensic experts from trial misinterpreted the evidence in plain sight, and their flawed opinions were further distorted by the state in its zeal to convict [Lee] of the crime. The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions about the shaky evidentiary pillars on which the state executed Ledell Lee.?Innocence has always been the achilles heel of America?s death penalty: how to justify judicially killing prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted. The question is far from academic: since 1973 no fewer than 167 death row inmates have been exonerated.The most harrowing question is whether innocent prisoners have been executed before the flawed nature of their convictions emerged. In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest that innocent men have been put to death.They include Cameron Todd Willingham executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly having caused a fire that killed his three young daughters. After the execution, further evidence emerged that conclusively showed that he could not have set the fire.The Columbia Human Rights Law Review carried out a groundbreaking investigation in which it concluded Carlos DeLuna was innocent when he was executed ? also by Texas ? in 1989. The six-year study discovered that the convicted prisoner had almost certainly been confused with another man, a violent criminal who shared the name Carlos.Now Ledell Lee looks as though he may be added to the grim rollcall of the wrongly executed. He relentlessly insisted he was not guilty from the moment he was arrested less than two hours after the brutally beaten body of Debra Reese was discovered in her home in Jacksonville on 9 February 1993.The difficulties with the case against Lee began almost immediately. He was picked up nowhere near the crime scene and was not in possession of any possessions that could be linked to the break-in at Reese?s home.The only evidence against him was inconclusive at best. There were two eyewitnesses, but they gave conflicting reports of the suspect?s identification.> In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest innocent men have been put to deathThe crime scene was shocking, with blood splattered over the walls and floor. Yet when Lee was arrested on the same day detectives could find no blood on his clothes or body including under his fingernails and nothing was found in a forensic search of his house.Given the paucity of evidence, it is not surprising that it took two trials to find Lee guilty and sentence him to death. The first trial collapsed after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.The ACLU and Innocence Project took up Lee?s case very late in the day having been asked to get involved shortly before his scheduled execution date. What they discovered when they opened the case records astounded even these experienced death penalty lawyers.Very quickly they established there were major problems with the prosecution case against Lee. One area that especially concerned them was the inadequacy of Lee?s legal representation, both during the second trial in which defense attorneys inexplicably failed to call alibi witnesses that could have placed Lee elsewhere at the time of the murder, and in terms of the help he received at the appeal stage of his case.At one post-conviction hearing, a lawyer working for the state of Arkansas approached the judge and raised concerns about Lee?s attorney, Craig Lambert. ?Your honor, I don?t do this lightly, but I?m going to ask that the court require him to submit to a drug test,? the counsel said. ?He?s just not with us ? His speech is slurred.?In an affidavit obtained since Lee?s execution, signed by Lambert in October, the lawyer admits: ?I was struggling with substance abuse and addiction in those years. I attended inpatient rehab. Ledell?s case was massive and I wasn?t in the best place personally to do what was necessary.?Partly as a result of poor legal representation, terrible errors were made in Lee?s defense ? both at trial and for years afterwards during the appeals process. The complaint goes into detail about these ?deeply troubling? shortcomings.One of the key examples relates to the marks found on the victim?s cheek. The state?s experts mistakenly interpreted the marks as having come from a pattern on a rug in Reese?s bedroom where she had been beaten to death with a wooden tire club.In fact, the filing says, the pattern on the body?s cheek did not match that on the rug. Instead it was consistent with the murderer stomping on Reese?s face directly with his shoe.That is critically significant because the shoes that Lee was wearing that day, which the state used during the trial as evidence against him, were incompatible in the composition of their soles with the injury pattern on Reese?s face.To establish this point, an affidavit is provided by Michael Baden, former chief pathologist for New York who is recognized internationally as a leading forensic pathologist. He concludes: ?The soles of Mr Lee?s sneakers have a much more closely spaced pattern than was transferred in the cheek imprint.?That inconsistency is just one of many that were uncovered when Baden and four other specialists were invited to review the case.Lee was executed in a flurry. When the state of Arkansas realized its supply of one of its three lethal drugs, the sedative midazolam, was about to expire at the end of 2017 with no hope of replacing it due to a global ban on medicines being sent to the US for use in executions, it went into overdrive.It announced plans to kill eight prisoners in 11 days.The declaration prompted revulsion from around the US and the world and accusations that the state was engaging in conveyor-belt executions. It was in that climate that attempts by the ACLU and the Innocence Project to have materials gathered at the crime scene of Reese?s murder released for DNA testing fell on deaf ears.Though the lawyers presented a strong argument that DNA testing could be crucial in casting doubt on Lee?s conviction and pointing towards the real killer, a federal district court denied the request on grounds that Lee had ?simply delayed too long? in asking for the materials.It is too late now for Lee. But his lawyers hope that it is not too late to get to the bottom of the case posthumously.The city of Jacksonville is in possession of a rich array of crime scene materials including ?Negroid? hairs collected from Reese?s bedroom and fingernail scrapings likely to contain DNA from the actual killer ? Lee or otherwise.?This evidence can now be tested with state-of-the-art methods unavailable at trial, and compared to Mr Lee?s unique DNA profile,? the filing says.After a welter of legal challenges, Arkansas succeeded in killing four prisoners in one week, including the first double execution held in the US in a single day since 2001. The first of the four to die was Ledell Lee.Should Arkansas now agree belatedly to hand over the crime scene materials for testing, he may yet be proven to have been, just as he always said he was, an innocent man.
- Smugglers tried to bring 3,700 invasive crabs through the Port of Cincinnati
- Why Pay Off Your Student Loans if the Government Will Do It for You?
America's mountain of student-loan debt keeps growing ever higher. But the factors driving the increase have changed, as detailed in a fascinating new report from Moody's.It used to be that we could blame colleges for failing to control their costs. But for the past decade or so, college costs have actually grown in line with the median household income, and the ?origination? of new student loans has slowed down a little. The reason we haven't seen a similar slowdown in overall student debt is that borrowers are making less progress on their loans. And a lot of the time they're doing it on purpose ? because they participate in programs that were dramatically expanded during the Obama years, and that forgive debt entirely so long as the borrower first makes small payments for a set period of time.Among students who graduated between 2006 and 2008, 60 percent made at least some progress on reducing their loan balances during their first five years post-graduation, despite the recession precipitated by the 2008 financial crisis. Students who left school between 2010 and 2012 faced a better job market as the economy slowly began to recover, but only 51 percent of them reduced their balances. In the aggregate, borrowers today are repaying only 3 percent of their loans each year, despite the ?baseline? student loan being one that is paid back in ten years.When someone doesn't manage to reduce his loan balance, there can be several reasons. One is that he?s not earning enough money to make significant payments. This is especially likely when a student either failed to graduate or attended a program that doesn't lead to real job opportunities ? both of which are especially likely at for-profit and two-year schools, enrollment in which was high in the aftermath of the recession. (It has fallen off since). Some borrowers also opt for longer repayment terms, meaning they pay off their loans more slowly than they otherwise would.But the report also points to another factor that would seem to have a lot of explanatory power, especially when it comes to those with the highest debts: the still-growing popularity of ?income-based repayment? (IBR) and similar programs, which were overhauled and dramatically expanded during the Obama years. Under these programs, students can make small payments for a decade or two, often not even covering the interest on their loans, and have the entire debt forgiven at the end.This is not necessarily a bad idea in principle, but ? as Jason Delisle has noted previously in this space ? the programs were structured in a way that encouraged their abuse by people with incredibly high debt levels, especially from graduate studies rather than two- or four-year degrees. As Delisle wrote,> Under current law, anyone who takes out a federal student loan today can enroll in IBR and have his payments fixed at 10 percent of his income, less an exemption of $18,700 (which increases with household size). . . . Then, after 20 years of payments (or only ten years for those working in any government or non-profit job), all of the remaining balance is forgiven, no matter how high it is.He further points out, that, using the Department of Education's own debt calculator, someone with $80,000 in debt and an income of $60,000 could receive $62,000 in debt forgiveness if he works for the government. Someone with $150,000 in debt and a $75,000 salary could pay for 20 years and still receive $82,000, more than half the initial balance. Meanwhile, as noted in the Moody's report, the median amount borrowed is just about $17?18,000.Income-based repayment is a giveaway to people who choose to spend abnormally large sums on higher education, often earning graduate degrees, but go on to make unremarkable middle-to-upper-middle-class salaries. It's far less generous to someone with a modest debt, even if that person also earns a modest income. It's simply not possible to wring $62,000 or $82,000 in debt forgiveness out of the system if you're a normal borrower and didn't take out anywhere near that much in loans to begin with.The Moody's report further demonstrates that income-based programs are, indeed, highly attractive to people with big debts: ?Only 5% of the total balances of borrowers who owe less than $5,000 are covered by [income-driven repayment programs]. Meanwhile, 53% of the balances of borrowers who owe more than $200,000 are in IDR programs.? And unsurprisingly, heavy borrowers have a disproportionate impact on student loans in general: Folks who borrow $20,000 or less represent 55 percent of borrowers but only 14 percent of the overall debt.All of this needs to be kept in mind as we ponder proposals to shovel even more money at people who carry student debt. College really does cost too much, but the costs seem to have finally stabilized. And those with incredibly high debt already have options for getting rid of it ? overly generous options that many of them are enthusiastically taking advantage of, at taxpayer expense.The concept of income-based repayment is not a bad one. Indeed, I think it would be an enormous improvement for more colleges to base the amounts they get repaid on the amounts students earn after graduating. But there's no justification for structuring such a program as a transfer of wealth from taxpayers to people with graduate degrees.
- Graph shows how fast the coronavirus is spreading
- Iran Says Drone Used in Soleimani Strike Came From Kuwait
(Bloomberg) -- Iran?s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the U.S. drone used to kill a top Iranian general in Baghdad took off from a military base in Kuwait, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guards? aerospace force.The Guards had detected activity from the drone and fighter jets near Baghdad airport but didn?t know they were planning to target Qassem Soleimani, according to Hajizadeh. At least four military bases in the Persian Gulf were involved in the Jan. 3 operation, he said, according to the report late Wednesday.To contact the reporters on this story: Farah Elbahrawy in Dubai at email@example.com;Golnar Motevalli in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at email@example.com, Amy TeibelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
- Fifth condemned Tennessee inmate opts for the electric chair
A Tennessee inmate has chosen the electric chair for his scheduled execution next month, opting like four other inmates in little more than a year for electrocution over the state's preferred execution method of lethal injection. Nicholas Sutton, 58, is scheduled to be put to death Feb. 20 for the stabbing death of a fellow inmate decades ago while serving a life sentence for his grandmother's slaying. An affidavit signed on Tuesday said he waives the right to be executed by lethal injection and chooses electrocution.
- Justice Department says it should not have continued spying on former Trump adviser
The U.S. Justice Department has told a court it did not have enough evidence to justify continued surveillance of one of President Donald Trump's former campaign advisers in 2017, in a sign it believes the FBI on occasion went too far when it investigated Russian influence in the 2016 election. The department's assessment, made public on Thursday, came after an in-depth review by the Justice Department's internal watchdog found the FBI manipulated evidence and otherwise overstepped its bounds as it explored possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow in 2016. The watchdog's review, made public in December, found that FBI agents acted legally when they asked in 2016 for court approval to begin surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
- Virologist who helped identify SARS on coronavirus outbreak: 'This time I'm scared'
Experts are seeing shocking similarities between the coronavirus that has now spread beyond China and the SARS outbreak of 2003.Like the infectious pneumonia that has killed at least 17 people, SARS was caused by a coronavirus that originated in China. But when one of the virologists who helped identify the SARS virus visited Wuhan, where this virus originated, he didn't see nearly enough being done to fight it. People were out at markets without masks, "preparing to ring in the New Year in peace and had no sense about the epidemic," Guan Yi of the University of Hong Kong's State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases told Caixin. Airports were hardly being disinfected, Guan continued, saying the local government hasn't "even been handing out quarantine guides to people who were leaving the city."The city did disinfect the market where the virus has been traced to, but Guan criticized Wuhan for that, saying it hurts researchers' abilities to track down the virus's source. "I've never felt scared," Guan told Caixin. "This time I'm scared."A case involving the coronavirus was identified in Washington state on Wednesday, and cases have also been identified in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. A total of 639 cases were confirmed in China.More stories from theweek.com Democrats walked right into Mitch McConnell's trap GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn questions patriotism of Purple Heart recipient Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman Adam Schiff delivers message to senators: 'If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost'
- The outbreaks of both the Wuhan coronavirus and SARS started in Chinese wet markets. Photos show what the markets look like.
- One killed, several injured in Seattle mass shooting
At least one person was killed and seven others, including a child, were wounded on Wednesday after a dispute among a group of people escalated into a shootout near a tourist area in downtown Seattle, authorities said. Carmen Best, chief of police in the northwestern US city, told reporters that multiple suspects were being sought in connection with the mass shooting that took place near a McDonald's fast food restaurant, just blocks away from the popular Pike Place Market. Best said witnesses and video footage indicated that the incident unfolded after several people standing in front of the McDonald's got into a dispute and began shooting at each other, hitting bystanders.
- Family of Kristin Smart, who went missing in 1996, now says there's no news coming soon
- NYT Ed Board Member Wrote Out ?Full Draft? of Biden Endorsement, but Scrapped It over His ?Normal? Message and Lack of ?Urgency?
Kathleen Kingsbury, a deputy editorial page editor and member of The New York Times?s editorial board, revealed Thursday that she wrote a full 2,000-word endorsement of Joe Biden, only for the board to reject it because ?it didn?t match the moment.?The Times broke new ground this cycle by conducting on-the-record interviews with nine of the top candidates and airing the interviews, which have historically been off-the-record, on their documentary show The Weekly on FX.Kingsbury explained to Times columnists on the The Argument podcast how the Times editorial board arrived at its first-ever dual endorsement of Senators Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), saying that ?policy prescriptions? and the ?messages? drove much of the thought-process. She also dismissed concerns about electability, calling the effort to predict which candidate would be most successful in the general election a ?fool?s errand.??What we realized is that the party needs to have that conversation amongst itself. It?s really not the role of the editorial board to determine the future of the Democratic Party,? Kingsbury said.But she revealed that, following heightened tensions with Iran after President Trump?s decision to kill Qasem Soleimani, she went ahead and drafted an endorsement of Biden, citing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan.?Right after we had the outbreak of conflict with Iran, I sat down and I wrote an entire endorsement of Joe Biden,? Klingsbury said. ?I think that came from a desire on my part for the comfort of having someone who during his interviews, spoke so fluently about foreign policy, who?s been in the room in some of those more difficult decision-making [moments].?In August, Biden fabricated an Afghanistan-war story about how he resisted safety concerns to travel to ?godforsaken country? and honor a war hero.?We can lose a vice president,? he recounted at a campaign event. ?We can?t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.?Klingsbury then explained why the Times ultimately did not pursue Biden?s endorsement, implying that Biden?s campaign hasn't meaningfully grappled with the conditions that gave rise to Trump's election.?Joe Biden?s message simply is ?let?s go back to normal, whatever normal is, right?? For a lot of Americans, ?normal? wasn?t working and I think that there needs to be some recognition that at least for some portion of the American public, the government and the economic systems were failing them,? she said.In an emailed statement to National Review, Kingsbury said she did not ?have much to say beyond what I said on The Argument.? She declined to comment on whether the board wrote any other endorsement drafts, or when it decided to scrap Biden?s.?Once I had a draft in hand, I realized I should return to the wisdom of my board,? she explained ". . . [Biden?s] message and his proposed plans don?t feel like they match the urgency of the moment.?
- These 9 Dining Chairs Are Sculptural, Surprising, and Downright Sleek
- U.S., China Must Adjust for Stable World, Singapore Leader Says
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Both the U.S. and China must make adjustments if they are going to reach a lasting phase-two trade deal that benefits the rest of the world, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg?s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait, Lee said ?both sides have to make quite basic adjustments.? The U.S., he said, must decide whether to create rules that allow ?the best man? to win or only let America come out on top.?America First means you do the best for the United States,? Lee said in Davos, Switzerland, while attending the World Economic Forum. ?So do you do the best by prospering in the world and there are other countries who are doing well, or do your best by being a big country in a troubled world? And I?m not sure that the second is a very good answer.?The U.S.-China War Over Trade and Tariffs, Explained: QuickTakeChina, on the other hand, must decide whether they are going to be ?constructive players? in world affairs and accept that ?rules which were acceptable to other countries when they were smaller and less dominant now have to be revised and renegotiated,? Lee said.?It?s not so easy for them to concede and voluntarily step back from what they feel they can hold on to for a while longer,? he said. But if they make that adjustment, ?there?s some possibility of working out a modus vivendi which will be stable and constructive for the world,? he said.Huawei ConcernsSingapore, a city-state heavily dependent on trade, had been one of the most outspoken countries in Asia calling for the U.S. and China to reach a trade deal. Lee has warned that Southeast Asian nations might one day be forced to choose if the world economy gets pulled apart into different blocs.The Trump administration has sought to convince countries around the world to avoid using equipment from Huawei Technologies Co., China?s biggest tech firm, for 5G networks, arguing it poses a national security threat. Singapore?s government so far has left the decision up to its telecommunications operators.How Huawei Landed at the Center of Global Tech Tussle: QuickTakeLee reiterated that Singapore hasn?t ?banned Huawei? but will evaluate it based on operational requirements. Any system will have weaknesses, he said, and governments must try to keep them secure.?We have to make our own assessments, and the assessments have to be based on facts and risks,? Lee said. ?And having made those assessments, well we may come to a conclusion which is different from what the Americans have come to, but it doesn?t mean that we?re not concerned about similar issues.?Lee added that differences of opinion on Huawei don?t necessarily signal a loss of U.S. influence. ?If you ask us on security cooperations, certainly we are closer to the U.S. than to China,? Lee said. ?But in terms of our trade, the Chinese are our biggest trading partner. In terms of our overall relationship, we have deep relationships with both.?March SummitPresident Donald Trump last November invited countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, to a special summit in the U.S. after he skipped the bloc?s meeting in Bangkok. At the time, most leaders in the region snubbed the group?s meeting with Trump?s representative, National Security Adviser Robert O?Brien.Lee said he would join other Asean leaders for a meeting with Trump in Las Vegas on March 14.?I?m sure we?ll be discussing areas where we can cooperate and do more together,? Lee said. ?I hope that Mr. Trump, amidst his many domestic preoccupations, will send a message that Asia is important to him and Southeast Asia has its part in the Americanscheme of things.?China has recently stepped up efforts to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea, prompting fellow claimants like Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia to resist those advances in the energy-rich waters. The Asean bloc has been negotiating a legally binding code of conduct in the waters for more than two decades, and aim to complete it in the next few years.?It?s not an easy thing to do,? Lee said of the code of conduct. ?We?re working at it and we?ve made some progress in the negotiating process, but I think it?s better to be talking and working toward this rather than abandoning this and actually coming to blows on the ground.?\--With assistance from Joyce Koh, Faris Mokhtar, Michelle Jamrisko and Ruth Pollard.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org, Nasreen SeriaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
- Canada's TSB says Iran has invited it to examine black boxes
Canada's Transportation Safety Board said Thursday it has been invited by Iran to participate in the download and analysis of the flight recorders from the downing of a Ukraine International Airlines jet ?whenever and wherever? that takes place. Iran has acknowledged that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at the jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people on board. Fifty-seven Canadians died and 138 of the passengers were headed to Canada.
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- Australia mourns U.S. firefighters as probe into plane crash begins
MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Firefighters in Australia held a minute's silence on Friday for three U.S. colleagues killed in a plane crash as investigators scoured the accident site in remote bushland. Flags on official buildings in New South Wales (NSW) state, where the C-130 Hercules crashed while on a mission to dump retardant on a huge wildfire, were flown at half-mast as a mark of respect. "We will forever be indebted to the enormous contribution and indeed the ultimate sacrifice that's been paid as a result of these extraordinary individuals doing a remarkable job," NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said at a farewell near Sydney airport for 32 U.S. firefighters who were returning home after weeks on duty on Australia.
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- Grassley Expands Probe into DoD Contracts Awarded to Stefan Halper over Spying Concerns
Senator Chuck Grassley announced an expanded probe Wednesday into the Department of Defense?s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) and its awarding of defense contracts to Stefan Halper, in order to see whether ONA illicitly authorized funds for the former professor to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign.Halper, an FBI source who met with and recorded Trump associates Carter Page, Sam Clovis, and George Papadopoulos, according to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz?s December report, has been awarded more than $1 million in contracts by ONA since 2012.Grassley points to several contracts awarded to Halper in a letter to James Baker, the director of ONA, as examples ?that clearly indicate weak or non-existent internal controls.?Evaluators raised ?several weaknesses,? including a lack of substance, in a 2012 contract proposal by Halper that were ultimately ignored. For a 2015 proposal, Halper listed a Russian intelligence official as an adviser, who was then cited by Christopher Steele as source for his now-infamous dossier.Halper?s last contract, awarded in September 2016, mentions ?unknown third parties? paying for Halper?s trip to Japan to interview ?former high-level U.S. and foreign government officials,? but Grassley points out that the IG later found none of Halper?s 348 footnotes in the subsequent study cited any interviews.Halper also contacted Papadopoulos in September 2016 and offered $3,000 for him to write a policy paper on the natural-gas market in the Mediterranean.?Given Professor Halper?s intelligence connections and government funding, it is reasonable to ask whether he used any taxpayer money in his attempt to recruit Trump campaign officials as sources,? Grassley hypothesizes.The Iowa Senator concludes his letter by asking for a list of every contract ONA has issued over the last five years to review the consistency of its decision-making.?The fact that taxpayer money was used to support these projects calls into question ONA?s ability to be a proper steward of the people?s money and whether ONA has acted consistent with its mission and purpose,? Grassley writes.
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- School headmaster charged in fatal gold robbery in Thailand
An elementary school headmaster said Thursday he planned a gold shop robbery in Thailand due to personal and financial problems and apologized to the families of the three people who were killed. A 2-year-old boy was among the victims of the shooting earlier this month that caused public outrage and increased pressure for a swift arrest. Police arrested Prasitthichai Khaokaew, 38, early Wednesday and said he confessed to his crimes during interrogation.
- Rudy Giuliani Sidekick Lev Parnas Traces Part of Money Trail to Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- From fine whiskey to European flights to cigar bars, the tab for the Ukraine mission was starting to add up.Even one of President Donald Trump?s wealthiest contributors sounded peeved. ?Just becoming expensive flying u guys everywhere LEV,? wrote Harry Sargeant III, a Florida energy tycoon, in a pointed text to Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani?s advance man on the Ukraine operation.A trove of documents recently released by Parnas, including that text from April, provides some new details about the money web that helped support Giuliani?s work in Ukraine as President Trump?s personal lawyer.The group?s apparent wish list included discrediting a Trump rival, tying Ukraine to 2016 election meddling and pushing for the ouster of a U.S. ambassador -- the propriety of which is now at the heart of impeachment proceedings in Washington.Money flowed to Giuliani and his cohorts from home loans, friends, relative strangers and wealthy businessmen, some with interests in the gas and energy sector. It even came from a lawyer for an embattled Ukrainian energy tycoon fighting extradition to the U.S. on a conspiracy charge.Giuliani was working for the president without pay, and under financial strain from his public divorce proceeding. While most pro bono clients cover their lawyers? out-of-pocket expenses, the famously tight-fisted Trump doesn?t appear to have been shelling out for the travel racked up by Giuliani, Parnas and his Florida business partner, Igor Fruman.The travel arrangements could brush up against campaign finance laws. While Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman can volunteer as much of their time as they want for a campaign, any subsidy for such work by third parties would generally need to be reported as a contribution, and money from foreign individuals would be illegal. Trump kicked off his re-election campaign last June at a rally in Florida.Chris Kise, a lawyer for Sargeant, characterized the money shelled out for flights as loans to a colorful and funny acquaintance who claimed to be broke. ?Mr. Sargeant was not part of any plan to remove the U.S. ambassador and has no business interests in Ukraine,? Kise said.Giuliani didn?t respond to a request for comment, nor did attorneys for Parnas and Fruman.Ukraine Mission CostThe Ukraine mission looks to have run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel and hotel costs, including private jets and the Ritz-Carlton in Vienna, where a night costs upwards of 380 euros ($420). Another glimpse comes from New York prosecutors. Parnas spent more than $70,000 on private jet travel in September alone, according to a filing last month seeking to revoke his bail.Over the course of eight months last year, Parnas jetted to Kyiv on multiple occasions and made trips to Warsaw, Vienna, Madrid, Paris and Israel, according to his messages, many of them touching on his Ukraine work. Giuliani and Fruman accompanied him frequently.Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman also accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses. Sargeant picked up the tab on at least a handful of trips by Parnas and Fruman, according to people familiar with the situation. Parnas ran up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to a private jet broker close to Sargeant, who covered the cost so his friend wasn?t stiffed, according to a person familiar with the situation and text messages to Parnas.Sargeant and Giuliani have known each other for years. Since 2018, Sargeant and Parnas regularly crossed paths. The three took in a Dallas Cowboys game and shuttled between New York, Washington and Florida together. Sargeant, a shipping magnate, controls potentially lucrative oil concessions in Venezuela that are currently hamstrung by U.S. sanctions. When the men?s travel coincided, Parnas and Fruman sometimes flew on Sargeant?s own plane, but that was to fill empty seats at no additional cost, according to someone familiar with the matter.Sargeant?s lawyer said he ?never chartered or paid for any private aircraft for Lev (or Igor Fruman, or Giuliani) in or to Europe.?Trump?s CircleParnas began working his way into Trump?s orbit with campaign donations in 2016, but it was two years later when he and Fruman upped the ante by giving $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump political action committee. That vaulted them into Trump?s inner circle, including dinner with Donald Trump Jr.The big donation prompted prosecutors in New York to charge Parnas and Fruman with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and with filing false records to disguise the source of their contributions. The two have pleaded not guilty.The men reported to the Federal Election Commission that the money came from their company, but prosecutors say it came from a private loan. Fruman borrowed $3 million against a Miami condo in a private mortgage just two days before he made the $325,000 contribution. The lenders were a retired American couple who immigrated from the Soviet Union decades ago and their son-in-law, according to real estate records filed in Florida.The couple, Gregory and Lilian Abrovsky, also bought a condo in the same Miami building. They have a son who is an executive at a Russian internet company, but he was unaware of the transaction, according to a spokesman for the family.The loan, extended to a Fruman company called Seafront LLC for one year at 9%, was arranged by a mortgage broker who says his lenders and borrowers often don?t meet each other.?In the spring of 2018, we made a secured interest-bearing loan,? said the son-in-law, Daniel Chernin. ?We never met with or spoke with the borrowers.? The loan was repaid in full in August 2019.Parnas?s family got its own personal loan last year. The lawyer representing Dmitry Firtash, the gas tycoon fighting U.S. extradition from Vienna, says he extended $1 million to buy a Boca Raton, Florida, property. In addition, Parnas received $200,000 from a law firm representing Firtash, according to U.S. prosecutors.The man at the center of the mission had his own money woes. Giuliani?s income had plunged as he left a law firm job that paid him as much as $6 million a year, took the president as his primary client and headed for divorce court. He picked up cash along the way to replenish his finances.A Long Island businessman paid $500,000 to Giuliani as part of his investment into Fraud Guarantee, a company co-founded by Parnas. Marc Mukasey, a former legal partner of Giuliani, loaned his friend $100,000 last year when divorce proceedings tied up his bank accounts. One America News Network paid about $100,000 for travel and other costs for a three-part television report that Giuliani worked on in Ukraine, Charles Herring, the network?s president, told Bloomberg in an interview last month. The documentary series was intended to further Trump?s cause against Democratic political rival Joe Biden.Top-Shelf StyleWherever they went, Giuliani and his team kept a top-shelf lifestyle. That would be consistent with the spending habits chronicled in Giuliani?s divorce. His monthly expenses were about $230,000, according to his ex-wife?s lawyer.Big bills at cigar bars surfaced. Other luxuries were enticements for the Ukraine crew. Giuliani became godfather to Parnas?s son, and Parnas at one point described receiving a loan of about $100,000 for his son?s bris without saying who extended it, according to a person familiar with the matter.Parnas sent photos of bottles to Yuriy Lutsenko, then Ukraine?s prosecutor general, while in Kyiv last June. ?Igor wants to know which one?s best,? Parnas texted in Russian.?Hibiki,? Lutsenko responded, citing a Japanese whiskey that can easily run hundreds of dollars a bottle. ?Really great. In the top three worldwide.??Come join us,? Parnas urged the prosecutor.Later that summer -- after the July phone call when Trump pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a Biden-linked investigation -- Giuliani flew to Madrid. He was there for a client who had nothing to do with the Ukraine matter, according to his lawyer, Robert Costello. While in Spain, Giuliani also met Zelenskiy?s top adviser.For that trip, Parnas smoothed the way. ?I also arranged VIP service at Madrid,? he wrote to Giuliani ahead of time. ?When you arrive in Madrid their (sic) will be someone waiting for you with a sign that says ?NUBA? at the door of the plane. They will take you through costumes (sic).?Last April, Parnas showed some sensitivity to Sargeant?s complaint and suggested that he would be reimbursed.?We are paying you back for this we are never expecting you to pay for it my brother that?s why we wanted to do the loan so we don?t have to bother you,? he texted at one point.By August, Sargeant was pestering Parnas to repay him as well as a jet charter company operated by a family friend. Despite repeated requests, Parnas never did, according to Sargeant?s lawyer.Potential JobOne source of potential revenue for Giuliani failed to materialize. He pursued contracts last spring for what appeared to be work for Ukraine?s Prosecutor General and Justice Ministry, according to the Parnas messages. Bloomberg previously reported that Giuliani talked about representing Ukraine to help recover billions in looted assets.According to the Parnas texts, Giuliani was seeking retainers, and pro-Trump lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova were working with him to finalize them. Giuliani was negotiating with Lutsenko in February 2019, at the same time they were discussing a possible Ukrainian investigation of Biden and his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian company.Giuliani never signed a retainer contract and there?s no indication he was paid. The legal duo of Toensing and diGenova went on to represent Firtash, for which they billed $1 million and for whom Parnas provided translation services.Ultimately, Ukraine did open an investigation, though not into Biden. Authorities are now examining something else mentioned in the text trove, the possibility of improper surveillance of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was abruptly recalled to Washington last spring.To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Farrell in New York at email@example.com;Stephanie Baker in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ben Bartenstein in New York at email@example.com;David Kocieniewski in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Winnie O'Kelley at email@example.com, Jeffrey D GrocottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
- Iran calls on Saudi Arabia to work together to resolve issues: IRNA
Iran said on Wednesday that Tehran and its regional rival Saudi Arabia should work together to overcome problems, the state news agency IRNA quoted Iranian president's chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi as saying. "The relations between Iran and its neighbor Saudi Arabia should not become like the relationship between Tehran and the United States ... Tehran and Riyadh should work together to resolve their problems," Vaezi said.
- 'Haters gonna hate & deniers will deny': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defends Greta Thunberg after Steven Mnuchin dissed the activist
- Tennessee inmate chooses the electric chair for his scheduled execution
A Tennessee inmate has chosen the electric chair for his scheduled execution next month, opting like four other inmates in little more than a year for electrocution over the state's preferred execution method of lethal injection.
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