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From today, January 24, 2020
- 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.
- Steyer: U.S. reparations for slavery will help 'repair the damage'
- Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police say
- 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
- Thunberg fires back at Mnunchin after college degree jab
- Ghislaine Maxwell: Hackers 'breached' computer belonging to Jeffrey Epstein associate, attorney says
Lawyers for the woman accused of procuring underage girls to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein told a judge that hackers ?breached? her computer after a court failed to redact her email address in filings it released last year.Ghislaine Maxwell?s lawyer Ty Gee said in a December letter to Judge Loretta A Preska that, ?despite the Second Circuit?s best efforts, it made serious mistakes? when redacting thousands of pages of records associated with a defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein?s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.
- Schiff says Trump compromised 2020 election, and removal from office is only solution
- REI?s January Sale Offers 50% off Cold-Weather Outdoor Gear
- 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.
- Are North Korea's Vaunted Submarines Actually Any Good?
- China building 1,000-bed hospital over the weekend to treat coronavirus
The Chinese city of Wuhan is rapidly building a new 1,000-bed hospital to treat victims of a new coronavirus, mobilising machinery to get it ready by early next week, state media said. Most of the cases are in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year. The new hospital is being built around a holiday complex originally intended for local workers, set in gardens by a lake on the outskirts of the city, the official Changjiang Daily reported on Friday.
- Family attorneys say cruise line's story of toddler's death is 'physically impossible'
- Additional U.S. troops have been flown out of Iraq following Iranian missile attack
- 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.
- Wuhan, China, is cut off from the outside world in an unprecedented quarantine after a deadly virus killed 17 and infected 571
- Why this libertarian hopes Bernie Sanders wins
Anything close to my politics and a plausible shot at the American presidency will never coincide in the same person. That is true in this election; it has been true of all elections in my lifetime; and I expect it to be true of all elections in my years to come. As my colleague Damon Linker has explained analyzing data from the 2016 cycle, the libertarian quadrant in American politics is increasingly empty. Authoritarianism is on the rise and there is little in the way of a principled anti-war movement in America. Our presidential options reflect these trends.The effect, for me, is a sort of detachment from electoral spectacle. It isn't that I don't care about the outcome. I do. But there's a reason people bet at the track: It's just different when you have no horse in the race. Whether I'll vote in the general election this year remains to be seen ? usually I'm drawn out by ballot questions or offices like district attorney ? but if I make it to Minnesota's open Democratic primary on Super Tuesday (the GOP primary is functionally canceled), I'll vote for Bernie Sanders.The socialist senator from Vermont, who in CNN's latest poll is the national front-runner, might seem like an odd choice for a libertarian like me. If by some strange arithmetic we averaged out the leading Democrats' campaign platforms, I'd probably land closer to a moderate like my own senator, Amy Klobuchar. Her decision to claim the budget hawk lane of the primary has caught libertarian notice, mine included, though I haven't forgiven her pandering betrayal of our state fair. In The Washington Post's frankly awful candidate match quiz ? which somehow judged it fit to include a question about court-packing while ignoring our half-dozen ongoing wars entirely ? I was paired with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg!After its bizarre selection of topics, the biggest flaw in the Post's quiz was its assignment of equal weight to issues of widely disparate relevance. Restoring felons' voting rights is an important subject, for example, but it is also wholly outside the president's legal purview. (The choice belongs to the states; it would matter much more in a gubernatorial race.) Thus while it's true that centrists like Klobuchar might well fall closer to me on a political map plotted with a comprehensive, leveled tally of our views, I'm not equitably considering all our views when I make this choice.No viable Democratic candidate will share my ideas on economics, health care, education, or abortion. That's a given and, in the primaries, removes these topics from my calculation. The first two also happen to be areas where I'm most pessimistic about my preferences becoming fact. I can't imagine a scenario in which Washington becomes fiscally continent, and I'm fairly sure Medicare-for-all is a fait accompli.Foreign policy is where there's a more meaningful diversity among the candidates as well as a small but real chance for change. That's where Sanders gets me, especially because the president has unilateral power to end our endless wars. (The Constitution limits executive authority to start wars but not to make peace.)To be fair, I've criticized Sanders for being insufficiently anti-war in the past, and I reiterate those objections: If elected, he says he would retain the drone warfare program (though he has since emphasized intent to curtail its use). He voted in favor of 2016 rival Hillary Clinton's pet intervention in Libya, in favor of the interminable war in Afghanistan, and even in favor of multiple funding measures to maintain the war in Iraq ? a repeated "yes" to bankrolling the very conflict he so often boasts of opposing. Moreover, Sanders and I do not come by our opposition to military interventionism the same way ? his is partly informed by sympathies for communist regimes like Cuba's, which I deplore ? and he sees a vindication in coalition-backed wars which I do not.And yet, compared to the other leading Democrats (and certainly compared to President Trump, who has embraced the Mr. Hyde side of his discordant foreign policy instincts and jettisoned the Dr. Jekyll), Sanders stands out. He is miles better on questions of war and diplomacy than former Vice President Joe Biden, who shows every inclination to continue the bipartisan, interventionist status quo of post-9/11 Washington, as do Klobuchar, Bloomberg, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.Sanders also has an edge on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who usually rounds out the top three in national surveys. The divide here is narrower. Both Sanders and Warren, as the Brookings Institute's Thomas Wright chronicles at The Atlantic, want to end U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Both support the Iran deal, question U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and the scope and aims of the war on terror, and want to significantly trim Pentagon spending.But there are differences. In a piece for Foreign Affairs, Warren described diplomacy as an accessory that "amplifie[s]" "strong yet pragmatic security policies." Sanders' essay there speaks of "privilege[ing] diplomacy" and rejecting militarism. Asked in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations about the greatest foreign policy mistake since World War II, Warren spoke vaguely about failing to strengthen working families. Posed the same question, Sanders went straight to the war in Iraq. Maybe most importantly, Warren wants to "preserv[e] the United States' global leadership role" ? too often a gateway phrase to interventionism, however reluctant ? while Sanders is willing for the U.S. to drop its claim to indispensability and the world policing it has entailed.Of course, the last three presidents we elected all campaigned with promises of more restraint in foreign affairs, and look how that turned out. Wright's analysis makes a compelling case that Warren or even Sanders will follow the same path if elected, pursuing foreign policies much less radical than their rhetoric suggests. He may be right, and regardless, Sanders is far from perfect, in my view. But if I do cast a primary vote, he'll be my "from-across-the-horseshoe" choice.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.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 brazen (and careless) Russian assassination team behind the Salisbury poisonings has been spotted in Europe, again
- Man in Mexico Now Ill After Visiting Coronavirus Ground Zero
(Bloomberg) -- A man who fell ill in Mexico on Monday following a December trip to Wuhan, China, is under observation as a potential case of the coronavirus, the respiratory virus that has killed at least 17 people worldwide.The 57-year-old molecular biology professor works for the Instituto Politecnico Nacional university in the city of Reynosa, which borders with the U.S. The man returned to Mexico on Jan. 10 through a Mexico City airport and then flew to the state of Tamaulipas, Mexican authorities said.Tamaulipas State Health Minister Gloria Molina said in a radio interview that the man immediately reported his situation to authorities after feeling sick. He is now in his home under monitoring to prevent any potential spread. His test results are expected on Thursday, Mexico?s chief epidemiologist Jose Luis Alomia said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.Molina said the man also had layovers at the border city of Tijuana when he left and returned to Mexico, according to journalist Joaquin Lopez Doriga?s news site.Link: China Seeks to Contain Virus as Death Toll Jumps to 17Earlier on Wednesday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that a second possible case in Mexico had been ruled out. ?The coronavirus is being looked into. If we have more information we will release it later today,? he said.Mexico plans to inform daily on the latests developments of the virus around the world. A preventive travel recommendation is in place for the country and passengers arriving from international ports will be checked for any symptoms, Alomia said.Separately, Colombian authorities are also evaluating whether a Chinese man with a respiratory illness, who traveled to Colombia from Turkey, has the same virus, according to Blu, a Bogota-based radio station. The country?s health ministry declined to comment.The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he needs to consider all evidence before deciding if the coronavirus that emerged from Wuhan is an international health emergency.(Adds Alomia comments in paragraphs 3 and 6, and WHO comments in last paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Cyntia Barrera Diaz in Mexico City at firstname.lastname@example.org;Lorena Rios in Mexico City at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ney Hayashi at firstname.lastname@example.org, Dale QuinnFor 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.
- See This Nuke? Meet the Most Destructive Nuclear Bomb Ever Made By Man
- 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.
- Chief Justice John Roberts drops 'pettifogging' bomb while reprimanding both sides in impeachment trial
- 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.
- Mother says she sang to her three children as she smothered them
A young mother in Arizona has reportedly told police that she killed her three children before placing them in the living room as if they were sleeping.Other family members were in the home at the time.
- The American Airlines flight attendant union is calling on US airlines to step up precautions for the deadly Wuhan coronavirus
- FISA Court Confirms Two Carter Page Surveillance Applications ?Not Valid?
A FISA Court order declassified Thursday confirmed that the government had found two of the four FISA applications authorized for the FBI to surveil 2016 Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page to be ?not valid,? and will further investigate the validity of the other two.The order revealed that the government found two of the surveillance application renewals to be "not valid" based on ?the material misstatements and omission? used by the FBI, which was found by the Justice Department to have "insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.?Based on the ordering of the applications, it appears the review found the second and third renewal applications used against Page to be invalid, while the original application and the first renewal remain under investigation. The third renewal was personally signed by James Comey, while the fourth was signed by Andrew McCabe.The court also said it was still waiting on the Bureau after it ?agreed ?to sequester all collection the FBI acquired pursuant to the Court?s authorizations?? against Page, but so far has not provided an update.DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz revealed ?at least 17 significant errors or omissions? committed by the FBI in his report on the Bureau?s ?Crossfire Hurricane? investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign, but did not come up with any ?documentary evidence? that the probe was predicated by political bias.Among the more egregious violations detailed in the report was the revelation that a top FBI national security lawyer doctored an email for Page?s fourth application to conceal that Page served as a source for the CIA.In its order, the FISC also outlines five further steps for the government to complete by January 28, 2020, including a review of its ?minimization procedures? with ?a detailed description of the steps taken or to be taken to restrict access to such information in unminimized form.?The FISC slammed the FBI in a rare public statement last month following Horowitz's report.?The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable,? the court wrote.
- 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'
- Regime Critic Says Saudis Tried to Kidnap Him on U.S. Soil
A suspected agent of the Saudi government attempted to kidnap a regime critic on American soil, according to the critic and multiple U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the episode. The young Saudi man says the FBI saved him from becoming the next Jamal Khashoggi.Abdulrahman Almutairi is a 27-year-old comedian and former student at the University of San Diego with a big social-media presence. After Almutairi used social media to criticize the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, an unidentified Saudi man accompanied Almutairi?s father on a flight to collect Almutairi against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, according to The Daily Beast?s sources. ?The Saudi government realized I was a threat,? Almutairi told The Daily Beast, revealing for the first time an ordeal that might have culminated in a whole new crisis: the kidnapping and rendition of a Saudi dissenter on American soil. Only timely intervention from the FBI broke up the plot, two sources say. ?If I go back to Saudi Arabia,? Almutairi said, ?I?ll be killed in the airport.? Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has investigated the Khashoggi killing. She drew attention this week by calling for an inquiry into allegations that MBS hacked Jeff Bezos? phone. Callamard is familiar with Almutairi?s story, although they haven?t spoken, and considers it credible. She told The Daily Beast that it?s part of an ominous trend, particularly now that MBS has skated for Khashoggi?s murder. ?There is a pattern of the Saudi authorities, particularly over the last two years, targeting individuals?high profile people with a big Saudi audience,? Callamard said, ?either because they?re critical of MBS or the government or not just for what they say but what they don?t say, if they?re insufficiently supportive.?Almutairi has previously spoken about the harassment he received as a critic of the Saudi government, most prominently to PBS? Nick Shifrin, including a mysterious phone call from a Saudi trying to get Almutairi to come home for a ?family reunion.? But he has not, until now, revealed the attempted capture. ?I couldn?t afford to speak out earlier, my situation was so intense, and all I wanted was to get out of it,? he explained. But over a year later, Almutairi doesn?t speak with his family, lives for protracted stretches out of his car, and generally fears for his life. On his YouTube channels, which have 200,000 subscribers between them, and his Instagram, where he has 208,000 followers, he?s posting through it. About the only positive thing Almutieri sees emerging from the ordeal was his social-media rebirth as a comedian, something he started as a response to the horrorshow in his mentions. But the harassment may have worked. In the new year, Almutairi told The Daily Beast, he?s going to stop speaking out against the Saudi government. ?My criticism against the government won?t do anything. It?ll just turn more people against me,? Almutairi said. ?I?m trying not to use the term ?political dissident.? I want to influence my country for the better.?That desire prompted Almutairi to cheer when MBS took power. As he saw it, the sclerotic, wealth-soaked royal court finally had a dynamic, young reformer on the rise. MBS was out to fix what was wrong with the country: women forbidden to drive, an economy driven entirely by oil extraction. While Almutairi studied finance and marketing at the University of San Diego, he posted videos on his Snapchat and Twitter accounts boosting MBS to his growing legion of followers.With his expenses paid by the Saudis? stipend for subjects? education abroad, Almutairi?s life online was about promoting reform within his home country, the sort of liberalization MBS touted. A frequent topic was the rigidity of the Saudi religious establishment, whose dark portrayal of America didn?t match the place he saw up close. But his growing audience?one of his recent Arabic-language videos has 842,000 views?became a problem for Riyadh. The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ?Dead or Alive?On Oct. 2, 2018, agents of Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul, a crime the CIA assessed MBS ordered. The brazenness and brutality of the Khashoggi slaying made it one of the biggest stories in the world. Yet for all the damage it momentarily did to the reputation of a prince who melted the heart of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, MBS quickly saw to it that the crime had no lasting impact. The Trump administration, with which he had cultivated close ties, quickly spared him from consequences. On Oct. 11, 2018, barely a week after Khashoggi?s murder, Trump said that sanctioning Saudi weapons purchases from the U.S. would be a self-inflicted economic wound. MBS denied involvement?and still does. And at first Almutairi believed him. ?I was in denial,? Almutairi remembered. ?MBS would never do an atrocity like that.? But the accruing reports tying the murder closer and closer to MBS prompted him first to break with his political hero, then to post about his disillusionment?and soon after to denounce MBS online. Death threats quickly piled into his mentions and onto his messaging apps. One picture sent to him contained a beheaded body. Another showed a flayed, severed head. ?You will eat a bullet,? he said someone texted him, seemingly a reference to MBS? nickname, the Father of Bullets. ?They say I?m supported by the Muslim Brotherhood?I?m openly agnostic!? Almutairi said. More disturbing to him was a different kind of text, one that he still receives. ?I get ?come home? messages daily,? Almutairi said. Whether the Saudi government is behind them, he can?t know, but his suspicion lingers. Then someone he describes only as a source in Saudi Arabia told him that his life was in danger?and that living in California did not mean he was safe. It prompted Almutairi to call the police during the week of Oct. 25, 2018. What happened next he would only learn from an FBI official he said he spoke with: Without Almutairi?s knowledge, his father flew to Los Angeles, and he wasn?t alone. Accompanying his father was someone Almutairi does not know.But they never arrived in San Diego. The FBI was waiting for them at LAX. According to two additional sources familiar with the incident, the FBI intercepted both the senior Almutairi and the unidentified Saudi man and sent them back on a subsequent flight. The FBI declined to comment for this story. Almutairi said that the FBI debriefed him after the airport interception. ?I was shown a picture of someone who came with my dad, who I didn?t recognize,? he said. Almutairi has no way of verifying it, but he believes the man worked for the Saudi royal court. In July, Middle East Eye?s Dania Akkad first reported that in November 2018, a timeline consistent with Almutairi?s story, the FBI met with at least four Saudi dissidents in the U.S. to warn them of threats to their lives emanating from the kingdom. The dissidents were not named, but one of them, Akkad reported, ?runs a popular YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government.?The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to The Daily Beast?s requests for comment by press time.The near-miss was not the end of the harassment. Almutairi deleted his Twitter because of the non-stop threats. As he previously told PBS, he was forced to drop out of school shortly before he was to graduate after the Saudis cut off his scholarship, his $1,800 monthly allowance, and his health insurance. He was without a way to afford his rent, his bills, and his medications. Almutairi took restaurant work, but the low pay required him to visit food pantries. For three weeks he was homeless. ?I remember Thanksgiving 2018,? he recalls. ?I was homeless, sleeping at the beach. I saw everyone with their families and stuff and it almost killed me, psychologically,? he said. ?It?s really hard to process, suffering for what I had said. I wish Saudis would live like Americans. We deserve a better life.? These days, Almutairi doesn?t speak to most of his family, out of fear that he?ll put them in danger. They received messages saying, ?you have to get him to stop? making his MBS-critical videos. He is sure that his father was coerced into boarding the plane to Los Angeles. Saudi Crown Prince Appeared to Taunt Jeff Bezos Over Secret Affair Before Enquirer Exposé?Abduction is part and parcel of the way the Saudi government has operated for many years,? said Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur. But until MBS became crown prince two years ago, ?most victims were part of the royal family. It appears now that their kidnapping attempts are expanding.? Being a Saudi dissident living in America is no protection, she warned: ?Absolutely, they will keep trying to lure people in the United States. The only reason why they haven?t succeeded is because the U.S. intelligence agencies are doing their job.?The impunity with which MBS acts also follows a long pattern. As defense minister, he launched a devastating war in neighboring Yemen?with the active cooperation of the Obama administration?that has decimated the country. He seized power in the kingdom in a move applauded by Friedman and other prominent commentators. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that before the Khashoggi murder, MBS sent Jeff Bezos a malware-tainted video file over WhatsApp to extract potential blackmail material from the richest man in the world?who happens to own the newspaper that Khashoggi worked for and which has crusaded for accountability on the execution. After the murder, and the Post?s aggressive reporting, MBS messaged Bezos ?private and confidential information about Mr. Bezos' personal life that was not available from public sources,? according to U.N. officials. The MBS message came months before the National Enquirer?whose publisher once issued an MBS-boosting magazine?reported that Bezos was having an affair. All that corroborated a March 2019 op-ed published in The Daily Beast from Bezos security aide Gavin de Becker alleging that ?the Saudis had access to Bezos? phone, and gained private information.? ?At a time when Saudi Arabia was supposedly investigating the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and prosecuting those it deemed responsible, it was clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post,? Callamard and her U.N. colleague David Kaye said in a Wednesday statement. Saudi Arabia?s U.S. embassy called allegations that the kingdom was behind the hack ?absurd.?These days, Almutairi focuses on his two YouTube channels and his Instagram account. ?I use comedy to convey positive thoughts and empower young Saudis,? he said. ?I think I?m a living example: I was once homeless, now I?m not, and I?m starting two companies in California. My story, especially to people who saw it happening on social media, can be inspiring to a lot of Saudis.? But his vlogs are pivoting away from Saudi Arabian politics in the new year. Without school, Almutairi is focusing on his comedy. In March, he plans on launching a YouTube show called ?America on Wheels,? which he envisions as a conversational comedy filmed in his car that introduces a Saudi audience to young Americans and their issues. It sounds like if ?Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? operated as a tacit rebuke to the Saudi religious establishment. He?s also applying to film school at USC.?My message to the American people,? he said over text, ?please don?t brush the Saudi people with the same brush you use with MBS. We have no choice but to nod our heads and agree, he is a dictator.? But even his comedy contains limits set by his ordeal. He recently passed on an offer to tell jokes in Saudi-allied Dubai. ?The UAE? Nah, bro,? he said. And while Almutairi may have given up commenting on MBS on social media, that has not left him feeling any safer. Even in sunny California, he constantly wonders what might be coming for him around the next corner, since the threats keep popping up on his phone. Some say things like ?we?ll pay someone to kill you. It?ll look like an accident in LA,? Almutairi said. Nonchalantly, he added, ?I expect that to happen at any moment.? Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. 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- Yes, South Korea's Army Is Better Than North Korea's (But There's a Problem)
- U.S. Secretary of State cautions nations against taking 'easy money' from China
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Jamaica on Wednesday, cautioned nations against taking "easy money" from China, warning it could be counterproductive, in a second attack in as many days against China's economic role in the region. On Tuesday, he drew the ire of Chinese officials when he said "flashy" Chinese economic promises often produces debt dependency and erode the sovereignty of borrower nations.
- Smugglers tried to bring 3,700 invasive crabs through the Port of Cincinnati
- 4 killed in plane crash at Southern California airfield
Four people were killed Wednesday in the crash of a small airplane at a Southern California airfield, authorities said. The plane went down at Corona Municipal Airport, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, police said. Four fatalities were confirmed, the Corona Fire Department said on Twitter.
- These 9 Dining Chairs Are Sculptural, Surprising, and Downright Sleek
- Residents left in Wuhan ? which China quarantined to stop the coronavirus ? are desperately stockpiling food and fuel, leaving empty shelves and prices skyrocketing
- Boy accused in fatal family shooting to be charged as adult
- Schiff thanks senators at the start of impeachment argument after Nadler accused Republicans of 'voting for a cover up'
Democrats officially kicked off their opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Trump Wednesday with a bit of a shift in tone after one particularly contentious late-night exchange.Near the end of an impeachment trial session beginning Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor accused Republican senators of "voting for a cover up" as he argued in favor of an amendment to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton, per The Wall Street Journal. Nadler also suggested Republicans were engaging in "treacherous" behavior, The Washington Post reports. Republicans throughout the day on Wednesday slammed Nadler for his statement; Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told CNN it was "insulting and outrageous," while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the comment "offended her" and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a press conference, "To my Democratic colleagues, you can say what you want about me but I am covering up nothing."Following this criticism, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) began Democrats' opening arguments Wednesday with a less combative tone, thanking senators for having "paid attention to every word and argument you heard from both sides" the day before."I want to begin today by thanking you for the conduct of the proceedings yesterday and for inviting your patience as you go forward," Schiff added. "We have some very long days yet to come."CNN's Kaitlan Collins noted Schiff appeared to be addressing Republican criticism with his opening comments, although Republicans weren't the only ones not thrilled with the tone of Tuesday night's debate. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), for instance, conceded to The Washington Post that Nadler "could have chose better words."More stories from theweek.com Democrats walked right into Mitch McConnell's trap 5 brutally funny cartoons about Mitch McConnell's impeachment rules The Oprah's Book Club controversy, explained
- 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.
- Tennessee governor announces plans for strictest anti-abortion laws in US
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has announced his intention to enact some of the strictest abortion laws in the US.Sweeping new legislation will include banning women from undergoing an abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
- Trump will have hard time blocking potential Bolton trial testimony
President Donald Trump would have a tough time blocking John Bolton's testimony in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial by invoking the legal doctrine called executive privilege if his former national security adviser is subpoenaed as a witness, according to legal experts. The Republican-controlled Senate has not yet decided whether to allow any witnesses or new evidence in the trial that will determine whether the Republican president is removed from office after being impeached on Dec. 18 by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on two charges. Bolton refused to cooperate with the House inquiry but made a surprise announcement on Jan. 6 that he would be willing to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed to do so.
- New Moon Photos! Get Your New Moon Photos Here!
- Family of Kristin Smart, who went missing in 1996, now says there's no news coming soon
- 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.?
- A spill at a California vineyard has sent 97,000 gallons of wine flowing into sewers and a local river
- '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.
- China virus toll jumps to 25 dead with 830 confirmed cases: govt
The death toll in China's viral outbreak has risen to 25, with the number of confirmed cases also leaping to 830, the government said on Friday. The National Health Commission said authorities were also examining 1,072 suspected cases of the virus that first emerged in central city of Wuhan. The markedly higher numbers were released just hours after the World Health Organization stopped short of declaring the situation to be a global health emergency.
- Why France's Nuclear Weapons Still Matter
- 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.?
- Battling billionaires: Trump and candidate Bloomberg swap insults and attacks
U.S. President Donald Trump fired off a new round of Twitter insults aimed at political rival Michael Bloomberg on Thursday, shortly after the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign debuted a new television ad attacking the Republican seeking re-election. Trump mocked Bloomberg's height, called the entirety of the Democratic field of candidates "clowns" and dismissed the idea that the former New York City mayor would help the ultimate Democratic nominee in the general election. Bloomberg might be getting under Trump's skin with attack ads, part of a campaign focused on the president with an estimated cost so far above $200 million.
- Utah bans LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors
- Deadly funnel-web spiders descend on battered Australian cities; experts warn of bite
- Nigeria Surprised by News of Possible U.S. Travel Restrictions
(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria?s government was surprised by the news that the U.S. is considering travel restrictions on its citizens and the ban would mean officials will have to find new ways to meet with investors, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said.Nigeria is one of seven countries, more than half of which are in Africa, included in a list that may be affected if the Homeland Security Department?s recommendation to expand restrictions is approved, according to a person familiar with the matter. President Donald Trump is reviewing it. The other African states targeted because of security concerns are Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania.?It will mean restrictions in being able to meet with investors in the U.S. and to be able to meet with Bretton Woods institutions that are in the U.S.,? Ahmed said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the World Economic Forum in Davos. ?It means we will have to make meeting arrangements alternative to the U.S. because there are options that are open to us,? such as the U.K., she said.Nigeria, which vies with South Africa to be the continent?s biggest economy, is struggling to boost economic growth after a 2016 contraction. The International Monetary Fund projects gross domestic product will expand 2.5% this year. The possible travel restrictions won?t hurt growth, Ahmed said.?We have some very active investors in the Nigerian bond market that are in the U.S. and also some that have taken up our Eurobonds,? Ahmed said. ?We connect with them directly and through our advisers such as Standard Chartered and Citibank, who have offices in the U.S.?While Nigeria is Africa?s largest oil producer, it imports fuel and relies on foreign investment inflows to help prop up the naira.Zainab said she?s met with investors in London to discuss the possibility of issuing naira-denominated bonds on the London Stock Exchange.?We are very positive that we will be able to refinance our debt obligations as well as acquire new financing to fund our major infrastructure projects,? she said.Tanzania?s government hasn?t received confirmation that the country is being considered for a travel ban.?We are also reading these reports from the media,? Emmanuel Buhohela, director of communications at the foreign-affairs ministry, said by phone. ?So for now we are still waiting for official communication before we can react.?\--With assistance from Ken Karuri.To contact the reporters on this story: Haslinda Amin in Singapore at email@example.com;Ruth Olurounbi in Abuja at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Osae-Brown at email@example.com, Rene Vollgraaff, Gordon BellFor 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.