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  • Strikes on Iran-backed militias threaten to destabilize Iraq

    Golocal247.com news

    An Israeli airstrike on an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq, confirmed by U.S. officials, is threatening to destabilize security in the volatile country that has struggled to remain neutral in the conflict between Washington and Tehran. It would be the first known Israeli airstrike in Iraq since 1981, when Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being built by Saddam Hussein, and significantly expands Israel's campaign against Iranian military involvement in the region. The July 19 attack targeted a base belonging to Iranian-backed paramilitary forces in Amirli in the northern Salaheddin province, and killed two Iranians.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:01:02 -0400
  • Pompeo meets Trudeau, says China detention of two Canadians 'wrong'

    Golocal247.com news

    American officials are working to secure the release of two Canadians held by China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday as he sat down with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The two Canadians -- former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor -- were detained in December and accused of espionage. The detention came nine days after Canada had arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 12:08:13 -0400
  • Gary Ray Bowles: Death row serial killer executed by lethal injection despite last-minute plea

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    A serial killer who admitted killing six gay men in just eight-months in the US east coast has been executed.Gary Ray Bowles was given a lethal injection in Florida late Thursday after more than 20 years on death row.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:46:50 -0400
  • L.L. Bean's Huge End-of-Summer Sale Is Taking Up to 70% Off

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 14:17:00 -0400
  • Chaotic scene as DNC votes down climate change debate at San Francisco meeting

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    The move sparked loud and angry backlash from climate change activists who believe the Democratic Party should change the rules to allow for a debate focused solely on climate issues.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:03:43 -0400
  • Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington

    Golocal247.com news

    An ambitious agenda by the March for Our Lives activists may be the first time the majority of Americans get real representationA young girl looks on as she attends a vigil for the victims of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMarch for Our Lives, the national youth gun violence prevention movement founded by survivors of last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, released a sweeping gun reform agenda this week.The agenda calls for significantly raising the standards for gun ownership in America, and reducing by about 100m the total number of guns in circulation.It’s a dramatic, ambitious plan. And it may represent the first time in decades that the majority of Americans will get any real representation in the gun control debate in Washington.March for Our Lives’ young activists endorsed an Australia-style mandatory government buyback and destruction of “assault weapons”. They want to decrease the number of guns in circulation by 30% – which would mean roughly 100m fewer firearms in American hands. They proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting US law much more in line with European countries. And they want to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms.These proposals are substantially more aggressive, and more ambitious, than anything the Democrats in Washington have fought for in years. In fact, for decades, gun control groups and progressive politicians have done a poor job at representing the majority of Americans in Congress when it comes to gun control. A surprising voidDemocrats have fought for minor new restrictions on gun buying – and been defeated by the Republican party’s gun absolutists – but, fundamentally, the Democratic party has remained supportive of gun ownership.Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to “ban assault weapons”, for example, have not meant an actual ban on these guns, but only a ban on future sales, meaning that Americans could keep the millions of military-style rifles they already own. President Obama’s signature gun control legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a compromise bill that would have closed just a few of the gaping loopholes in the nation’s background check system – a measure so weak it’s doubtful whether it would have had any effect on gun violence at all.The country’s largest gun control groups, too, have made great efforts to portray themselves as pro-“gun safety”, not anti-gun. They routinely advertise themselves as supporters of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms. And they have focused on “commonsense reforms”, such as getting what activists see as particularly extreme weapons off the streets, or requiring a criminal background check before every gun sale.This lack of any explicit anti-gun side in the American gun debate is strange.Although many Americans may not realize it, gun owners are a minority in the United States. American civilians overall own an estimated 300m to 400m firearms, more than one gun per person. But this frequently cited statistic obscures how concentrated American gun ownership is.In recent surveys, roughly 70% to 80% of Americans said they do not personally own a gun, and a majority said that nobody in their household owns a gun. Just 3% of American adults own half the country’s guns, according to a definitive 2015 survey. This small group of gun super-owners have an average of 17 guns each.Gun absolutists – the activists who oppose any gun control measures, who want Americans to be able to own any kind of gun, and carry them everywhere – are a minority within that minority. According to the best available estimates, fewer than 10% of American gun owners overall are members of the National Rifle Association.There appear to be at least as many Americans who are vehemently anti-gun as there are NRA members.Recent Gallup polls have found that 28% of American adults say they would support a law banning handgun ownership, except by the police and other “authorized persons”. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 9% of American adults believed that “almost no one” should be legally allowed to own guns – about the same proportion as the number of adults who believed that “almost everyone” should be able to own them.A coalition of 9% of American adults would translate into more than 20 million people. That’s a group four times larger than the NRA, which claims between 5 million and 6 million members.Only a minority of Americans oppose most private gun ownership. But there’s strong majority support for much tougher gun control laws than the ones currently on the books.A 2017 Pew survey found 68% supported banning assault-style weapons. Seventy-one percent supported having a federal database to track all gun sales. A 2018 Gallup survey found 68% of respondents supported raising the legal age to buy certain guns. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 77% of respondents were in favor of requiring people to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.It’s not hard to find Americans who oppose the country’s current gun culture. They show up at gun control rallies, holding signs that say things like “Repeal the Second Amendment”. They live in neighborhoods burdened by decades of daily gun violence. They’ve lost family members or friends to shootings. They keep asking: why can’t we just get rid of the guns?But for years, these Americans’ views have not been well represented by America’s “gun safety” groups, and they have had virtually no representation in Congress.This may finally be starting to change. Moving the gun debateIn 2016, a progressive activist launched Guns Down America, a small organization that advocates not simply for “gun sense laws”, but for “a future with fewer guns”. Following the Parkland shooting, the young March for Our Lives activists have advocated unapologetically for bold reform, though they, like other American gun control activists, say they’re not anti-gun and their proposals for stricter regulation represent the interests of “responsible gun owners”.It’s not yet clear how much the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will move towards embracing these majority opinions on gun control policy. But there’s already been movement towards the actual middle of the debate.In 2016, Obama argued in a CNN Town Hall that “issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it”. This year, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker made gun licensing the center of his 2020 gun control platform.After the mass shooting targeting Latino families in El Paso, the former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said he endorsed not just an assault weapon ban, but a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. On Wednesday, he became the first Democratic 2020 candidate to tweet that he supported March for Our Lives’ new policy agenda.O’Rourke’s campaign did not back away from the most controversial elements of the youth activists’ plan, including their desire to revisit the supreme court’s current interpretation of the second amendment, enshrined in the Heller decision.“While Beto agrees with the court’s holding that the second amendment allows for regulation, he does not agree with the entirety of the Heller decision,” said Aleigha Cavalier, O’Rourke’s national press secretary. “One piece of the Heller case Beto believes should be revisited is the court’s decision to strike down DC’s safe storage requirements.”America’s gun debate may soon actually have two sides.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 01:00:08 -0400
  • Putin Needs to Bury This Relic of Stalin

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Europe marks 80 years of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which carved up eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Russia is trying to defend the agreement again. There is no political benefit to doing this. President Vladimir Putin needs to abandon his Stalinist inheritance of a foreign policy based solely on national interest.If Moscow needed any reminder that many in eastern Europe still hold the treaty against it and still consider it a threat, plenty came on the anniversary. The governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania – the countries directly affected by the pact’s secret protocol – issued a joint statement saying the document “sparked World War II and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery.”More than a million people gathered to celebrate the Baltic Chain, the 419-mile (675 kilometer) long line of people who protested Soviet rule on Aug. 23, 1989. The demonstrators didn’t pick that day at random – they, too, were making the point that the subjugation of their countries by the Soviet Union began with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.Russia is fighting back. In Moscow, the original of the treaty is now exhibited alongside documents relating to both the 1938 Munich Agreement, where British and French leaders sanctioned the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and Poland’s subsequent invasion of part of Czechoslovakia.At the opening of the exhibition earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of Britain and France’s treachery: By cosying up to Hitler, they forced the Soviet Union to sign a deal with the Nazis to ensure its own security, he said. Had the Western Europeans listened to the Soviets and set up a collective security system, the bloodshed of World War II could have been averted. Lavrov was making a clear analogy with Russia’s efforts to build an alternative security architecture in today’s Europe – an idea the Kremlin hasn’t abandoned despite the rest of Europe’s lack of interest.For its part, the Russian mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group the Kremlin sees as the foundation for its alternative security architecture, tweeted on Aug. 20 that lots of other countries had signed pacts with the Nazis before the Soviet Union did.Kremlin officials can say all this until they go hoarse, but that can’t erase the undeniable fact that the Soviet Union’s security didn’t require it to grab the Baltics and parts of Poland and Romania. Poland, which tried to benefit from the Nazis’ aggression, has admitted it was in the wrong when it invaded part of Czechoslovakia. President Lech Kaczynski apologized for it in 2009.In 1989, the Soviet Union, too, officially condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – but subsequent Russian communications about it, including an entire article signed by Putin himself in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, have come with the caveat that lots of others were at it, too.These excuses are a major reason other European countries don’t trust Russia: To them, Putin and his subordinates are saying that Moscow would do something like this all over again if its interests dictated it, small countries be damned.Concern this might happen was what drove eastern Europeans into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The reality of the annexation of Crimea – another opportunistic move dictated ostensibly by Russian security considerations – is pushing Ukraine in the same direction.If Putin’s goal was to inspire trust and start a meaningful conversation about collective European security in an age of increasing global competition, an unconditionally apologetic stance would work much better. Refraining from invading neighboring countries would be an even more meaningful step.I suspect, however, that Putin doesn’t really believe in such goals, because, like Stalin, he thinks a deal with the devil, based on common interest rather than trust, is the best.My epiphany about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact came when I read the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi ideologue and Hitler’s one-time minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Rosenberg was skeptical about the deal and recoiled in horror when fellow Nazi Richard Darre told him of Joachim von Ribbentrop’s comment that he had “felt as though among old party comrades” when meeting the Soviet leadership.Incredulously, Rosenberg recounted that during Ribbentrop’s visit, Stalin raised his glass not just to Hitler but also to Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi security chief, calling him “the guarantor of order in Germany.”“Himmler has eradicated communism, i.e. those who believed in Stalin, and this one – without any need for it – raises a toast to the exterminator of his faithful,” Rosenberg noted.For Stalin, any kind of ideology took a back seat to expediency. He was a man of interests, not values. In that sense, Putin, an avowed anti-communist who has condemned Stalin on many occasions, is following the dictator’s realpolitik. His adherence to his current Orthodox Christian brand of social conservatism is as flimsy as Stalin’s link to leftist idealism was. If Putin can do a deal that will promote what he sees as Russia’s interests, he will do it with anyone. He will wear any hat required of him while doing so, and raise any toast. He is oblivious to Molotov-Ribbentrop’s biggest lesson of all: That such agreements don’t hold.That’s why eastern Europeans, and especially Ukrainians, are so worried about the possibility of a grand bargain between Putin and a U.S. president, most recently Donald Trump. The consequences for them could be comparable to those of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.What’s needed from Russia isn’t an apology for carving up Europe with Hitler, but a different foreign policy is – one in which principles trump interests. Only such a change can bring closer the idealistic vision of a Europe that stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok, a goal to which both Russian and European leaders still like to refer. And that shift shouldn’t come at a moment of weakness, as it did in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Restoring trust should be a conscious process. It will take some time.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:52:10 -0400
  • 2020 Vision: Democratic field continues to shrink as Inslee and Moulton drop out

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    The presidential primary field further winnowed this week, with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton announcing their withdrawals.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:27:20 -0400
  • Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'

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    "There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves," Gingrich argued.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:53:09 -0400
  • Iranian oil tanker pursued by US says it is going to Turkey

    Golocal247.com news

    An Iranian-flagged oil tanker pursued by the U.S. amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington changed its listed destination to a port in Turkey early Saturday after Greece said it wouldn't risk its relations with America by aiding it. The crew of the Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as the Grace 1, updated its listed destination in its Automatic Identification System to Mersin, Turkey, a port city in the country's south and home to an oil terminal.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 03:33:40 -0400
  • Overstock.com CEO Resigns after Disclosing Relationship with Russian Agent Maria Butina

    Golocal247.com news

    Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne stepped down Thursday amid the backlash to his disclosure of a romantic relationship with Russian agent Maria Butina.Byrne caused Overstock's shares to plummet last week after he admitted to carrying on a romantic relationship with Butina from 2015 to 2016. The fallout from his disclosure complicated “all manner of business relationships,” he said in a statement announcing his resignation.“Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm,” he wrote, “I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as C.E.O. and board member.”Byrne issued a statement on August 12th confirming a series of articles by Fox News contributor Sara Carter that exposed his relationship with Butina, a Russian national who pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the U.S. earlier this year.Carter's work detailed how Byrne became involved in the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election due to his relationship with Butina. Byrne said he felt compelled to go public with his role in the investigation after becoming concerned about the way in which the Department of Justice was handling the investigation into Butina's conduct.The Overstock executive met Butina at a libertarian conference in 2015 and subsequently contacted the FBI when she began to express interest in meeting with individuals associated with the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns.In his statement, Byrne said that his interactions with the FBI were “less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”Butina is serving an 18-month prison sentence for attempting to infiltrate conservative political organizations at the direction of Alexander Torshin, the former deputy governor of Russia's central bank. Torshin and Butina founded a gun-rights group in Russia and presented themselves as allies to conservative American groups such as the NRA.Butina is set to be released in October. Overstock's shares were up more than 10 percent on Thursday after Byrne's announcement.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 16:53:35 -0400
  • An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth

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    Leon Haughton told The Washington Post he was jailed for 82 days after customs officials in Baltimore alleged that the three jars of honey were meth.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:42:21 -0400
  • Amazon fires: Bolsonaro actively trying to devastate rainforest, leaked documents show

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    Jair Bolsonaro hopes to sabotage conservation efforts in the Amazon, leaked documents show.A series of powerpoint slides reveal that Brazilian government officials intend to build a bridge, motorway and hydroelectric plant through the rainforest.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:26:45 -0400
  • U.S. Justice Ginsburg treated for pancreatic cancer

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    Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has completed a three-week course of radiation therapy to treat a cancerous tumor on her pancreas, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. The 86-year old justice, who has had previous cancer scares, tolerated the therapy well and no further treatment is required, spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement. An abnormality was first detected in July, and the tumor was identified following a biopsy performed on July 31 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:43:15 -0400
  • Beto O’Rourke: As president, I’d institute a mandatory buyback of assault weapons

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    Only America has more guns than people. Follow the lead of moms demanding action and students marching for their lives, writes candidate Beto O’Rourke

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:17:44 -0400
  • Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

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    Russia will launch the world's first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region. Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia. Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:01:09 -0400
  • Governor criticized for 'disgusting' anti-immigrant email sent day before El Paso attack

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    Letter from Greg Abbott warns over ‘illegal immigrants’ and says ‘we’ll need to take matters into our own hands’The letter from Greg Abbott echoed Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. Photograph: Eric Gay/APThe day before a gunman in El Paso carried out the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern US history, the Texas governor sent out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter calling on Republicans to “DEFEND TEXAS NOW” and “take matters into our own hands”, according to news reports.The 2 August letter from the governor, Greg Abbott, lamented that in “just three weeks in June, 45,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the Mexican border into Texas!” It continued: “That amounts to the entire population of Galveston – every three weeks. In just six months, we’d add the population of Arlington!”“If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” Abbott wrote in the mailer, which was reported by the Texas Signal website. The Guardian has seen a redacted copy but not the original document.The fundraising appeal echoed the xenophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump, who has spoken of an “invasion” of migrants into the US. It also echoed the language in the racist “manifesto” allegedly written by the 21-year-old suspect before he killed 22 people at a Walmart near the US-Mexico border. The suspect, who traveled from a Dallas suburb 600 miles away, said the mass shooting was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” in his hate-filled document.In the weeks since the massacre, law enforcement officials across the country say they have thwarted similar white supremacist attacks and mass shootings from potential gunmen who espoused far-right and racist viewpoints. In El Paso, which is 80% Latino, residents have said that Trump’s escalating attacks on immigrants and racist campaign speeches have created a climate that encourages this kind of violence.Abbott and other GOP leaders in Texas have also faced increasing scrutiny over their anti-immigrant language in the wake of the 3 August attack.“Doing nothing will only lead to disaster for Texas,” the governor’s fundraiser letter said, adding of immigrants at the border: “How many are we NOT catching because of Washington DC’s inaction – and members of BOTH parties’ refusal to work with President Trump to secure our border?”“It’s disgusting,” Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic party, said in an interview on Thursday. “They know exactly what they are doing when they are using this kind of language and using this racist rhetoric to energize their base. It’s really disturbing. It’s alarmist, it’s threatening, it’s hostile.”David Stout, an El Paso county commissioner who represents the district where the tragedy occurred, said it was impossible to ignore the connection between the language of the governor and the suspect in the shooting, which is being investigated as domestic terrorism: “If the leader of the government in Texas is utilizing these types of words, and talking about defending our country and having to take matters into their own hands, that sounds to me like a call to folks to do exactly that.“This is what this guy who came to El Paso from Dallas was trying to do. He was trying to defend what he thought he needed to defend, and to take things into his own hands,” Stout continued. “It’s really, really upsetting.”In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Abbott and other state leaders focused on mental health and other factors, downplaying concerns about access to guns and xenophobic hate speech. Abbott has previously tweeted that Texans should “pick up the pace” in buying guns and was supportive of the widely criticized effort by the Trump administration to deploy the national guard to the border last year.Abbott’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday.When Abbott was asked about the president’s rhetoric at a recent town hall, he responded by repeating a Trump talking point about low unemployment rates among black and Hispanic workers, according to the Texas Tribune. The governor also created a taskforce to study extremism and domestic terrorist threats in the wake of the shooting.Studies have repeatedly disproven key anti-immigrant claims by Trump, Abbott and others. Research has shown that immigrants do not take away jobs from US-born people, and El Paso has long been considered one of America’s safest cities. More than 23,000 people cross the border from its Mexican twin city, Ciudad Juárez, for work each day.“Mexico is a part of the fabric of Texas. We should be proud of that,” said Garcia. “We’re a state of immigrants.”

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:45:50 -0400
  • More than 6,100 flights delayed across the US over thunderstorms in the Northeast

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    The Northeast is being hit with heavy rain, causing a flurry of flight delays and cancellations

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:24:25 -0400
  • Hong Kong protesters form human chains to call for democracy

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    Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement lined the streets and part of the city's harbor front Friday, inspired by a human chain in a historic Baltic states protest against Soviet control 30 years ago. It was the latest protest in a nearly 11-week-old movement that began with calls to scrap a now-suspended extradition bill and has widened to include demands for full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality at protests. In a protest dubbed "The Baltic Way," nearly 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians formed a human chain more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) long on Aug. 23, 1989.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:34:39 -0400
  • Brexit Held at the Border

    Golocal247.com news

    In the last two days Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed that Ireland temporarily leave the European Union to align with the economic rules of a post-Brexit U.K. German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested, somewhat flippantly, that the U.K. could figure out a special trading arrangement for itself and Ireland in the next 30 days. And French president Emmanuel Macron has said that there’s still room for negotiation between the U.K. and the EU, but he’s willing to be “the hard boy.” Maybe Macron is taking the EU marriage metaphor a little too personally . . .What on earth is going on?It’s been three years since a majority of the U.K.’s electorate voted to leave the European Union. And so far, all that Brexit has generated is a great deal of nearly incomprehensibly vocabulary. First we got Theresa May’s red lines, her attempt to define how it was exactly that Brexit means Brexit, and what the future relationship, if any, the United Kingdom would have with the EU. These red lines, an end to freedom of movement from EU member states into the U.K., and an exit from the EU’s customs union ruled out the Norway option but not Canada Plus Plus. Or Canada Plus Plus Plus. Yes, I’m serious.According to the withdrawal agreement negotiated between Theresa May and the rest of the EU, that future relationship has to be figured out in the transition period. That’s a two-year window after the U.K. leaves the EU in which it would continue to follow EU rules until they came to a trade agreement. That is, unless there is a no-deal Brexit and the U.K. simply exits the European Union on October 31 and conducts business with the world based on World Trade Organization rules. Got it? Well, sort of.The focus is now on the Irish-border backstop. Basically, the backstop is a promise that there will be no hard border — a customs border across the island of Ireland, between the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland. Irish public officials have argued (with the support of the EU) that a frictionless border is necessary for economic and political reasons. The frictionless border is understood there as part of the the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. So too the “all-island economy” that it creates. The backstop is a promise by the U.K. to keep Northern Ireland following a number of regulations and customs rules that match it to the Republic of Ireland.This promise became the focus of Tory and Brexiteer anger at Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. First, because it created what seemed like a negotiating trap for the U.K. during the transition period. Having already agreed to keep Northern Ireland (and the rest of the U.K. with it) aligned with the EU’s rules as part of a backstop, the EU would have less incentive to come to another, different trade relationship to supersede that agreement. The price to be paid for testing and pushing the EU might carve up the United Kingdom itself. If Great Britain diverged from the EU at the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland would be partially politically detached from the Union, and perhaps its citizens would have to go through customs to travel within their own country, from Belfast to Birmingham.Recently Johnson has begun calling the backstop “undemocratic” and hinting that it violates the Good Friday Agreement. He has a point. The backstop would keep Northern Ireland subject to EU rules and regs in which they have no say. It would deprive Northern Ireland’s elected ministers to Parliament of any voice on matters that would be routine for MPs in any other constituent nation of the United Kingdom. That seems quite a lot like a partial form of Irish unification. But the Good Friday Agreement ensures that Irish unity can be achieved only by a majority vote for it in the six counties and another one in the Republic of Ireland.Proponents of the backstop hold that this measure would merely be the decision of a sovereign Parliament over a part of its territory. It is an agreement between Parliament and the EU and doesn’t legally touch Ireland. That’s true. But, the reality is that it would create checks between constituent parts of the U.K. that normally exist between two different countries. It does so in order to prevent those checks on the island of Ireland. And it does so to meet the expectations of the Irish government based in Dublin. To whom would Northern Irish people turn when trade policy affects them? Nobody they directly elect would have a constitutional say.Effectively these economic rules would be imposed on Northern Ireland as if it were a kind of EU colony, and done in the interests of the Republic of Ireland. This may satisfy the historical imagination of Irish nationalists. (Believe me, there is a delicious irony to be savored here.) But it is hard to argue that such a result is consonant with the Good Friday Agreement. Or a wise way to endear Northern Irish unionists to the Irish government.All of this confusion is the result of a kind of gamesmanship. The EU and U.K. each want to use the Irish border as a reason to crack the other’s negotiating position. The EU would like to see the U.K. bounced into a permanent customs union in which it has no say, effectively maintaining the economic size and power of the EU while reducing the political influence of Eurosceptical Britannia. On the other side, the U.K. would like to see the Irish-border issue work in the opposite way, forcing the EU to strike an especially good and liberal trade deal with the U.K. that comes with fewer strings attached than those on Norway or other states that have non-standard arrangements.The lesson is rather obvious. You cannot predetermine what kind of infrastructure will be at a border and what laws will be enforced at it, in the absence of a durable agreement on trade in goods and materials. The EU and the U.K. have been trying to resolve questions in the wrong order. Both have done so out of a reasonable fear of loss.But the hour is late, and the real work must be done.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:22:09 -0400
  • 2020 Toyota GR Supra vs. 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: Which Is the Better Driver's Machine?

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    Vastly different yet similarly capable, one of these rear-drive sports coupes begs to be driven harder than the other.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • Man Throws Brick at Woman's Head in One of Several Random NYC Attacks

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    A man has attacked at least four people in random Manhattan attacks this August, police said.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:38:39 -0400
  • Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq. A series of blasts in the past few weeks have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Israel's regional foe Iran. The groups blamed the United States and Israel for the blasts on Wednesday.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 16:33:16 -0400
  • Released from death row, then returned — forced to prove race discrimination a second time

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    Cases before N.C. Supreme Court show link between slavery, Jim Crow and modern death penalty is as connected as 'ropes of the lynch-man's noose'

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:01:55 -0400
  • Modi Ally Calls for Boycott of China Companies on Kashmir, Trade

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Indians should stop buying from Chinese companies and the government should reconsider trade concessions to its biggest neighbor after China allied with Pakistan on Kashmir, according to an economic policy group linked with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.Companies like technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. should be barred from accessing the Indian market in the future and Chinese companies should be banned from state tenders, Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, affiliated to the ruling party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said in an interview Thursday.“Not just in Kashmir, we believe that Chinese companies are a security threat to India especially in telecom,” Mahajan said by phone. “Not just in consumer goods, they’re a threat in telecom because their companies have massive support from the state, are allowed to vastly underbid Indian companies and win tenders for critical infrastructure.”The group met Indian telecom companies on Aug. 17 to discuss strategies to be used to curb Chinese industry. The organization had also written a letter to Prime Narendra Modi seeking action against China, Mahajan said. Calls made to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking comment went unanswered.This isn’t the first time that the Swadesh Jagran Manch has called for a ban on Chinese goods and companies. The group, along with the Confederation of All India Traders had called for a similar ban in March this year after China blocked the blacklisting of Pakistan-based Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, at the U.N. Security Council.A ban called by both organizations during the festival of Diwali in 2016 wasn’t successful, although traders anticipated the sale of Chinese products would fall by 30%, the Press Trust of India reported. India has a trade deficit of over $53 billion with China.To contact the reporter on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Abhay SinghFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:00:00 -0400
  • Trump struggles to pronounce various words during rambling speech to veterans

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    Donald Trump struggled to pronounce a series of words in front of military veterans during a rambling speech that ranged from attacks on media outlets he disagrees with to threats to release Isis militants into EuropeWednesday’s official event in Louisville, Kentucky, nominally used to announce a cancellation of student debt owed by permanently disabled US veterans, at times resembled a Trump campaign rally, and saw the president repeatedly stumble over lines read out from a teleprompter.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 10:53:26 -0400
  • Dog owner charged with second-degree murder in Detroit 9-year-old's mauling death

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    Pierre Cleveland, 33, of Detroit will face charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having a dangerous animal causing death

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:42:45 -0400
  • Rep. Steve King wants to make abortion point in 'softer way'

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    Backed by supporters at a news conference in Des Moines, the Iowa Republican affirmed his belief that abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. King faced criticism for his comment Aug. 14 that questioned whether there would be "any population of the world left" if not for births due to rape or incest. The remarks were condemned by numerous groups and individuals, including Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to oust King, Democratic presidential candidates as well as the Iowa Republican Party and Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:31:07 -0400
  • China Buys American Soybeans after Vowing to Boycott U.S. Farm Products

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    China purchased a comparatively small amount of U.S. soybeans several days ago after promising to boycott U.S. farm products amid deteriorating trade negotiations with the Trump administration.Beijing reached agreements last week to buy 9,589 metric tons of American soybeans for the current marketing year and 66,000 metric tons for the following year, which starts September 1, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Thursday.An August 5 statement from China's Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies would boycott American farm products in response to the Trump administration's heavy tariffs on Chinese products. In May, the White House upped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, claiming Beijing had reneged on the previously agreed terms of a trade deal. The U.S. also currently has a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese high-tech products.In response, China has slapped 25 percent tariffs on tens of billions in U.S. goods, including cars, planes, propane, soybeans, beef, and whiskey. The duties caused a steep drop in American farm exports, and the Trump administration has since compensated farmers up to $28 billions for their losses.Despite apparently breaking its boycott, China, which is the world's largest soybean importer, is still not purchasing anywhere near as many American soybeans as it has in the past. Last year, American sales of soybeans to China dropped 74 percent as Beijing gave its business to South America.President Trump has long complained about China's trade practices, accusing the country of contributing heavily to the U.S. trade deficit as well as stealing intellectual property from American companies.“Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!” the president wrote in a tweet around the time of China's retaliatory tariffs.The administration had said it planned to impose tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese goods by September 1, but later said it would delay imposing them until December."Despite the U.S. decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese goods . . . if the United States rides roughshod over China’s opposition and imposes any new tariffs, China will be forced to adopt retaliatory actions," Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:05:27 -0400
  • Hotline for detained migrants featured on Orange is the New Black shut down

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    Hotline shut down by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement connected detained migrants to an advocacy groupFounded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the Netflix production and was named in the show. Photograph: Handout/Getty ImagesUS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has shut down a national hotline that connected detained migrants to an advocacy group, a month after the hotline was featured in a storyline in the hit TV series Orange is the New Black.Founded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants in the world’s largest immigration detention system with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the award-winning Netflix production and was named in the show.Freedom for Immigrants runs and supports visitation programs in detention centers. It sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ice, alleging the government agency was retaliating and violating its right to exercise free speech after its profile grew.“Ice is attempting to silence its critics and block people in immigration detention from connecting with communities on the outside,” said Christina Fialho, the group’s co-executive director. “It’s disappointing, but not unexpected, that Trump’s Ice would engage in such cruel and undemocratic behavior.”Shawn Neudauer, an Ice spokesman, said all Ice facilities provide detainees with reasonable access to phones and that detainees are allowed to make free calls to an Ice-approved list of free legal service providers.“Pro bono organizations found to be violating [Ice] rules may be removed from the platform,” Neudauer said. “However, removal from this platform in no way limits the ability of an Ice detainee to phone such an organization directly should the detainee wish to do so.”The Ice phone system is operated by Talton Communications, which is mandated to provide free extensions to groups such as the UN refugee agency, consulates and Freedom for Immigrants.Freedom for Immigrants had three pro-bono extensions operating in detention centers when Donald Trump took office. Ice shut down two of the extensions before the final one was closed on 7 August.Fialho said the cease-and-desist letter was the first step in potential litigation, though the group was hoping to avoid court.“We very much hope we can resolve this amicably, but our team is also ready to enforce our rights under the constitution,” she said.Before Ice shut down the hotline it closed more than a dozen of Freedom for Immigrants detention center visitation programs. They were ultimately reinstated.The final season of Orange is the New Black focuses on the immigration detention system, which is run by Ice, and highlights how difficult it is for people in prison to contact family or friends because of the high cost of making phone calls in detention.In one scene, Gloria (Selenis Leyva) tells Maritza (Diane Guerrero) about the hotline and warns: “You gotta be careful, though. Apparently as soon as Big Brother figures out you’re using the hotline, they shut it down.”Fialho said the hotline was important for helping migrants connect with the outside world.“We would get calls from people who hadn’t been able to communicate with family members to tell them they’ve been taken by Ice, that they are in this particular immigration detention facility,” she said.While the extension number was supposed to be written on a sheet available to migrants in every detention center, Fialho said Ice had never made it easily available and people learned about the hotline through word of mouth instead.Now that the extension is gone, detained migrants can still use the Freedom for Immigrants hotline, but the group will have to shoulder the cost. The extension was also supposed to be unmonitored. Ice can listen in on a normal call.Orange is the New Black actors including Guerrero, Emily Tarver and Laura Gómez signed a letter to Ice demanding the hotline be restored.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:10:37 -0400
  • Cathay Pacific cabin crew union leader fired as Hong Kongers warn of spread of 'white terror'

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    Cathay Pacific fired a cabin crew union leader on Friday, the latest casualty in a fast-spreading “white terror” as mass protests in Hong Kong continue into their third month.  Rebecca Sy, head of the Cathay Dragon flight attendant’s association, said she lost her job of 17 years, without explanation,  after managers saw and confirmed her Facebook account,  which included messages in favour of the protests. “All the employees are being frightened, not just cabin crews, but even the management,” Ms Sy told reporters. “My colleagues are all terrified because of its white terror.” “White terror” is a term used to describe a slew of events that create a climate of fear particularly as companies and employees worry of serious repercussions for voicing their views. Her departure follows a surprise resignation last week by CEO Rupert Hogg, reported first by Chinese state media, underlining the political nature of the decision. Cathay has borne the brunt of Beijing’s anger as authorities look to punish companies with any link to the Hong Kong protests - a direct challenge to the power of the Communist Party. Rebecca Sy was dismissed from her position as flight attendant for Cathay Pacific's subsidiary Cathay Dragon Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images In the crackdown, companies and employees could face serious repercussions for voicing their views. Hong Kong subway operator MTR has also come under fire for arranging additional trains to allow protesters to travel home, accused of “colluding with rioters” in Chinese state media.  Beijing authorities have long put the squeeze on companies over political issues by encouraging its 1.4 billion citizens to snub various brands or by throwing up a number of regulatory roadblocks – a move that can have devastating consequences for even the biggest firms. Simon Cheng, 28, a British consular official in Hong Kong and permanent resident of the city has been detained for two weeks in mainland China for allegedly visiting prostitutes.  Under Chinese law, Mr Cheng should have been released today after a 15-day administrative period but at time of publication he was still in detention. Hong Kong police said on Friday that they did not know Mr Cheng's whereabouts.  Protests in Hong Kong first kicked off over an extradition proposal that would have exposed people to China’s murky legal and judicial system, where authorities have also in the past detained foreigners to express political displeasure. Two Canadians - Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur - were detained in China last year during Beijing’s diplomatic dispute with Ottawa over its arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. It is widely viewed that both men - who are still being held and have been charged with spying – are being used as political pawns. Hong Kong protests | Read more A number of multinationals operating in Hong Kong have sought to stress their political neutrality to avoid their businesses being targeted and to protect staff from arbitrary detention.  Earlier this week, the world’s “big four” accounting firms came under attack after an anonymous group claiming to be made up of their employees took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to express support for protests in Hong Kong and condemn the firms for remaining silent on the issue. Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers all sought to distance themselves from the advertisement, saying it didn’t represent the companies’ views. But Chinese state media had already seized on the situation, calling for the firms to identify and sack the employees behind the ad. FinnAir has also issued a warning to staff to remember to “keep work and politics separate,” reported the South China Morning Post, over concerns that any link to the protests might lead to a customer backlash or flight cancellations in China, its second-largest market for long-haul travel.   “China is obviously putting pressure on companies to ensure that they all hold the same political views,” said Keenan Chuk, 30, a finance manager who attended a lunchtime rally or accountants in Hong Kong’s central business district Friday.  “I am concerned that I will be fired,” he said, adding that “we still have to fight for our rights.” Even universities have warned students against discussing politics and participating in rallies.  “In a modern society, education should be free from politics so as to alleviate the escalation of anxiety and avoid the divisive society caused by chaos,” according to a statement from the City University of Hong Kong issued earlier this month. A woman said she experienced at a police station during her detention in Hong Kong Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter Some banks are also now taking precautionary measures, purchasing full page ads in newspapers to affirm their support for the government. Edwin, 26, an accountant who declined to give his last name, said senior partners in his firm had invited junior employees to lunch that day in an attempt to dissuade people from attending Friday’s protest.  But he participated in the demonstration anyway, turning up again in the evening to join a human chain meant to evoke the Baltic Way, when two million lined up across three countries to protest Soviet rule in 1989.  “In the industry, we switch firms quite often,” he shrugged. Hong Kong police came under renewed pressure on Friday when officers were accused of conducting an unnecessary strip search on a female protester. The alleged victim appeared at a press conference dressed in all black with a black face mask, cap and sunglasses. Facing the cameras in front of a "MeToo" sign, she claimed she was arrested weeks ago at a protest against the now-abandoned extradition bill and was admitted to hospital for injuries she suffered that night. By her account, one officer patted her thighs with a pen, instructing her to open her legs wider after ordering her to take off all her clothes in a police cell. The police said their body search procedures had not changed during the recent outbreak of citywide protests.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:36:29 -0400
  • 20 of the Craziest Pickup Trucks Ever

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:55:00 -0400
  • Russia's Chechnya inaugurates what it says is Europe's largest mosque

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    Authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya on Friday inaugurated what they said was the largest mosque in Europe in a pomp-filled ceremony attended by local and foreign officials. Named after the Prophet Mohammed, the marble-decorated mosque has capacity for more than 30,000 people and has been described by the Chechen authorities as the "largest and most beautiful" mosque in Europe. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the mosque -- located in Shali, a town of 54,000 just outside the regional capital Grozny -- was "unique in its design, and majestic in its size and beauty".

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:33:45 -0400
  • FROM VICTIM TO PERPETRATOR: An overwhelming number of sex traffickers are men, but women often play a significant role in exploiting victims

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    Because many suspected female offenders in sex-trafficking operations are also former victims, prosecution can be difficult.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:55:50 -0400
  • Trump fumes over emissions deal between automakers and California

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    The president decried a deal between the most populous U.S. state and four major automakers.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:22:13 -0400
  • Syria regime forces surround Turkish army post: monitor

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    Syrian government forces surrounded a Turkish observation post in the northwest Friday after overrunning nearby areas, a war monitor said, while Ankara vowed not to withdraw from its position. "Regime forces have surrounded the Turkish observation post in Morek after capturing other towns and villages in this pocket," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian regime has upped the stakes with Ankara in its months-long Russian-backed offensive against the jihadist-ruled Idlib region, which borders Turkey.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:57:10 -0400
  • Inslee: 'We elevated the climate change crisis'

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    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race, but he says he’s proud of elevating the climate crisis topic (Aug. 22)

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:55:58 -0400
  • Chinese embassy says the US is trying to suppress Huawei

    An embassy statement to The Associated Press said the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities is "of course different" from China's detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. "The Meng Wanzhou incident is not just a judicial case, but the U.S. using state power to work with its certain ally to suppress a private high-tech Chinese enterprise on unwarranted charges.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:48:15 -0400
  • Fires in the Amazon could be part of a doomsday scenario that sees the rainforest spewing carbon into the atmosphere and speeding up climate change even more

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    Fears for the Amazon's future have been heightened under Brazil's new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who encourages industry in the region.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 09:04:11 -0400
  • A Federal Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom

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    Earlier today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutional order, limited the reach of expansive nondiscrimination laws, and protected a Christian couple from having to choose between their business and their conscience.The facts of the case are simple. The plaintiffs, Carl and Angel Larsen, are videographers who create “commercials, short films, and live-event productions.” While they work with anyone of any race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion, they will not produce videos that advance viewpoints that violate their Christian beliefs. That includes videos that “contradict biblical truth; promote sexual immorality; support the destruction of unborn children; promote racism or racial division; incite violence; degrade women; or promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.”The Larsens hoped to begin producing wedding videos, but Minnesota interpreted its human-rights act to require them to “produce both opposite-sex- and same-sex-wedding videos, or none at all.” Minnesota would also require them to produce videos that depicted “same- and opposite-sex weddings in an equally ‘positive’ light.” This raised the possibility that a gay couple who didn’t like the subjective quality of a video the Larsens produced for them could seek state sanctions based on alleged sexual-orientation discrimination.With the assistance of my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens filed suit, claiming that Minnesota’s rule would compel them to speak in support of messages they oppose. The trial court ruled in favor of the state, and the Larsens appealed.One of the key constitutional questions of our time is whether the First Amendment will retain its supremacy and potency even as nondiscrimination rules and regulations expand in scope and reach. In this case, the Eight Circuit answered answered with an emphatic “Yes,” and it did so through a majority opinion that provided a clear roadmap for future courts and future controversies.Judge David Stras’s majority opinion begins with a simple, obvious, but crucial conclusion. The Larsens’s wedding videos are a “form of speech that is entitled to First Amendment protection.” Though they don’t make feature films, their wedding videos would still clearly communicate a message in the same way that films do. As the court explained, their wedding videos would be designed to tell “healthy stories of sacrificial love and commitment between a man and a woman” and celebrate the “divinely ordained” marriage covenant.Moreover, the fact that the Larsens were producing videos for profit did not diminish their constitutional protection. Documentaries make money. Feature films make money. Are they not clearly protected speech? To put it plainly, Minnesota was attempting to engage in one of the most intrusive state actions on the First Amendment. It was attempting to compel the Larsens to deliver a message they opposed.Yet that finding did not end the inquiry. State agencies have long argued that the governmental interests supporting public-accommodation laws and other nondiscrimination statutes are so compelling that they can and should override the speech protections of the First Amendment. In constitutional legalese, they claim that nondiscrimination laws are so vital they should be able to survive “strict scrutiny.”If the court did find that nondiscrimination laws can even compel speech, it would invert the constitutional order. It would relegate the First Amendment to second-class status — less potent than a mere state regulation. Indeed, this is the argument that much of the legal Left has been making for years. They view First Amendment–based arguments against public-accommodation laws or other nondiscrimination statutes as a form of special pleading by religious Americans, a request to be exempt from the fair and just rules that govern the rest of us.But this is exactly backwards. The First Amendment is part of our nation’s governing document, and it recognizes the unalienable rights possessed by all Americans — not just people of faith.  State and local regulators are engaged in special pleading. They’re seeking carve-outs from the supreme law of the land.Judge Stras understands this reality quite clearly. “Even antidiscrimination laws, as critically important as they are,” he writes “must yield to the Constitution. And as compelling as the interest in preventing discriminatory conduct may be, speech is treated differently under the First Amendment.”Yes. Exactly. He continues:> Regulating speech because it is discriminatory or offensive is not a compelling state interest, however hurtful the speech may be. It is a “bedrock principle . . . that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”There are those who will claim that this decision will clear the way for wholesale discrimination in the name of “free speech.” It will do no such thing. Instead it will protect a small minority of creative professionals who do not discriminate against any member of any protected class from being conscripted into saying things they do not believe.We can expect that Minnesota will appeal to the Supreme Court, and if the Court accepts review it will be difficult to see SCOTUS reversing the court of appeals. The case that wedding videos represent protected speech is very strong, and once it’s deemed to be protected speech, the Court would have to contradict key prior precedents to overcome the Larsons' rights of conscience and compel their speech as a condition of doing business.One should always be cautious when projecting case outcomes, but the Eighth Circuit has laid the judicial foundation for a ruling that should, ultimately, reaffirm the primacy of the Constitution in American law.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:32:29 -0400
  • Half of Venezuela's Oil Rigs May Disappear If U.S. Waivers Lapse

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    (Bloomberg) -- A looming U.S. sanctions deadline is threatening to clobber Venezuela’s dwindling oil-rig fleet and hamper energy production in the nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.Almost half the rigs operating in Venezuela will shut down by Oct. 25 if the Trump administration doesn’t extend a 90-day waiver from its sanctions, according to data compiled from consultancy Caracas Capital Markets. That could further cripple the OPEC member’s production because the structures are needed to drill new wells crucial for even maintaining output, which is already near the lowest level since the 1940s.A shutdown in the rigs will also put pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which counts oil revenues as its main lifeline. The U.S. is betting on increased economic pressure to oust the regime and bring fresh elections to the crisis-torn nation, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Latin America’s biggest crude exporter until recent years.Venezuela had 23 oil rigs drilling in July, down from 49 just two years ago, data compiled by Baker Hughes show. Ten of those are exposed to U.S. sanctions, according to calculations by Caracas Capital Markets. The Treasury Department extended waivers in July for service providers to continue for three more months, less than the six months the companies had sought.Most other government agencies involved in the deliberations opposed any extension, a senior administration official said last month, adding that another reprieve will be harder to come by.“Almost half the rigs are being run by the Yanks, and if the window shuts down on this in two months, then that’s really going to hurt Venezuela unless the Russians and the Chinese come in,” said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets.Output RiskA U.S. Treasury official said the department doesn’t generally comment on possible sanctions actions.More than 200,000 barrels a day of output at four projects Chevron Corp. is keeping afloat could shut if the waivers aren’t renewed. That would be debilitating to Maduro because the U.S. company, as a minority partner, only gets about 40,000 barrels a day of that production.The departure of the American oil service providers would hurt other projects in the Orinoco region, where operators need to constantly drill wells just to keep output from declining. The U.S.-based companies are also involved in state-controlled Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s joint ventures in other regions such as Lake Maracaibo.Limiting ExposureHalliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd. and Weatherford International Ltd. have reduced staff and are limiting their exposure to the risk of non-payment in the country, according to people familiar with the situation. The three companies have written down a total of at least $1.4 billion since 2018 in charges related to operations in Venezuela, according to financial filings. Baker Hughes had also scaled back before additional sanctions were announced earlier this year, the people said.Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford, PDVSA and Venezuela’s oil ministry all declined to comment.Halliburton has adjusted its Venezuela operations to customer activity, and continues operating all of its product service lines at its operational bases, including in the Orinoco Belt, it said in an emailed response to questions. It works directly with several of PDVSA’s joint ventures, and timely payments from customers are in accordance with U.S. regulations, it said.Hamilton, Bermuda-based Nabors Industries Ltd. has three drilling rigs in Venezuela that can operate for a client until the sanctions expire in October, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Petrello said in a July 30 conference call, without naming the client.The sanctions carry geopolitical risks for the U.S. If Maduro manages to hang on, American companies would lose a foothold in Venezuela, giving Russian competitors such as Rosneft Oil Co. a chance to fill the void. Chinese companies could also benefit. Even if the waivers get extended, the uncertainty hinders any long-term planning or investments in the nation by the exposed companies.Rosneft’s press office didn’t respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment on operations in Venezuela.\--With assistance from David Wethe, Debjit Chakraborty and Dina Khrennikova.To contact the reporters on this story: Peter Millard in Rio de Janeiro at pmillard1@bloomberg.net;Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at fzerpa@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, Pratish Narayanan, Joe RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:00:01 -0400
  • Chinese ship inches closer to Vietnam coastline amid South China Sea tensions

    A Chinese survey vessel on Saturday extended its activities to an area closer to Vietnam's coastline, ship tracking data showed, after the United States and Australia expressed concern about China's actions in the disputed waterways. The Haiyang Dizhi 8 vessel first entered Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) early last month where it began a weeks-long seismic survey, triggering a tense standoff between military and coastguard vessels from Vietnam and China. The Chinese vessel continued to survey Vietnam's EEZ on Saturday under escort from at least four ships and was around 102 kilometres (63 miles) southeast of Vietnam's Phu Quy island and 185 kilometres (115 miles) from the beaches of the southern city of Phan Thiet, according to data from Marine Traffic, a website that tracks vessel movements.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 01:35:00 -0400
  • A youth sports organization is raffling off a semi-automatic weapon to help its cheerleading and football teams

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    As a result of the controversy, the president of the organization said he is considering doing away with the rifle raffle for future fundraisers.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:56:00 -0400
  • China is feeling the pain of U.S. tariffs. Now it's time for negotiators to secure a deal.

    Golocal247.com news

    China's economy is weaker than it has been in a long time, leaving U.S. negotiators with incredible leverage. Now's the time for them to use it.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:31:00 -0400
  • Fox News is a dangerous state propaganda outlet. Sarah Sanders' job confirms that

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    What hope is there for the truth when the press and the state are one and the same?‘Fox has realized that Trump is lucrative, and Trump has realized that Fox will say anything he wants them to say.’ Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty ImagesThe only surprising thing about Sarah Sanders joining FOX News was that it took this long. The former Trump press secretary is a perfect fit for the network, a faithful and shameless propagandist for the right. It would have been shocking if she’d ended up anywhere other than “Trump’s personal YouTube channel.” It is, however, perhaps the most explicit confirmation we have that FOX now functions as the kind of “state television” apparatus that Americans think is is peculiar to countries like Russia and Iran.No network interested in airing journalism or reliable commentary would ever go near Sarah Huckabee Sanders. As White House press secretary, she became infamous for the brazenness of her duplicity. Press secretaries are meant to be spin artists, and a good portion of the job consists of finding ways to excuse or downplay presidential misconduct, but Sanders took things to a new level. For example, here she is claiming Trump would never incite or condone violence:“I certainly don’t think that the president, at any point, has done anything but condemn violence against journalists or anyone else… In fact, every single time something like this happens, the president is typically one of the first people to condemn the violence, and the media is the first people to blame the president.”And here is Trump himself, inciting and condoning violence against protesters:“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell ... I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”That comment reflected Trump’s attitude to protests generally, saying “we need a little more” of the audience “hit[ting] back” against dissenters. As for attacks on journalists specifically, when soon-to-be-elected Montana congressman Greg Gianforte attacked a Guardian reporter, throwing him to the ground and punching him, Trump’s response was: “Any guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!” (Gianforte was convicted of assault.) Perhaps worst of all, Trump told police that they should stop being “too nice” with arrested suspects, and should perhaps stop protecting suspects’ heads from hitting the doorframe as they were being loaded into the back of police cars.It’s difficult to find a way to twist “I’m serious, I want you to hit people” into “condemning violence” but Sanders didn’t even bother to try to spin the existing facts. She was utterly and completely unprincipled. And the violence comment is just one among many. According to the Mueller report, Sanders even acknowledged to investigators that she had fed the press a claim that was “not founded on anything,” when she said the administration had “heard from countless members of the FBI” who had lost faith in James Comey. Sanders even smeared the many women who have accused Trump of sexual assault as being liars themselves.Actually, the press were almost lucky when they got lies out of Sanders, because most of the time they got nothing at all. Sanders barely did her job. Daily press briefings “all but vanished” during her tenure and she didn’t respond to media inquiries. This might have been for the best—the daily press briefings serve the government more than they serve the cause of truth and transparency, by giving an opportunity for state official to massage facts to fit their narrative. The almost refreshing aspect of the Trump presidency is the frankness of its dishonesty. Other presidents pretended to care about the truth, but didn’t. The Trump administration doesn’t pretend.Thus Sanders and FOX are a match made in heaven (or perhaps somewhere else). FOX has become as much of a state propaganda outlet as RT is for Russia or PressTV is for Iran. There is a revolving door between the White House and the network: Hope Hicks went from the administration to the network, Bill Shine from the network to the White House. Sean Hannity, who speaks regularly with the president, initially vowed to simply “cover” him as a member of the press but then began actively campaigning for Trump. Jane Mayer’s exhaustive reporting in the New Yorker has showed that FOX and the White House have a symbiotic relationship, both collaborating to push a far right agenda. FOX has realized that Trump is lucrative, and Trump has realized that FOX will say anything he wants them to say.The hiring of Sarah Sanders is just confirmation of what was already plain. But it shows just how insidious the FOX operation is: we are essentially living in a country where the president has a TV network, and can manipulate public perception at will. That makes it all the more critical for us to build independent media outlets that can serve as an effective counterweight. We are struggling against the combined forces of the state and the most popular cable news channel. What hope is there for the truth when the press and the state are one and the same? * Nathan Robinson is the editor of Current Affairs and a Guardian US columnist

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 03:00:35 -0400
  • Man arrested for holding woman as sex slave and keeping her eight-month-old baby captive

    Golocal247.com news

    A North Carolina man has been arrested after holding a woman and her 8-month-old baby captive for over a month, authorities said.The Pender County Sheriff’s department said in a press release they received an emergency call on 9 August from a woman who said she was being held against her will at a home in Willard, North Carolina.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 16:37:10 -0400
  • Russian doctor has trace of radiation after explosion

    Golocal247.com news

    More than 100 Russian medical workers who helped treat victims of a recent mysterious explosion at a military testing range have undergone checks and one man has been found with a trace of radiation, officials said Friday. It was followed by a brief rise in radiation levels in nearby Severodvinsk, but the authorities insisted it didn't pose any danger. The Arkhangelsk regional administration said Friday that 110 medical workers have undergone checks that one man was found with a low amount of radioactive cesium-137 in his muscle tissue.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:12:24 -0400
  • Ex-US marine says injured by Russian prison guards

    Golocal247.com news

    A former US marine who was arrested in Moscow on espionage charges said Friday he had been injured by guards in the prison where he is being held awaiting trial. "I was injured in the prison... the prison doesn't want to tell you," Paul Whelan told journalists from a cage in a Moscow court, which was to decide on whether to extend his provisional detention. Whelan arrived in the court handcuffed and escorted by two security guards wearing black masks and plain clothes.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:11:38 -0400
  • Sanders Releases ‘Green New Deal’ He Says Will Create 20 Million Jobs

    Golocal247.com news

    Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Thursday released his massive climate change plan, a more detailed version of the Green New Deal, which he said will address the "global emergency" of climate change and create 20 million news jobs."The scientific community is telling us in no uncertain terms that we have less than 11 years left to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy," the Vermont senator wrote. "The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately.""When we are in the White House, we will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a 10-year mobilization to avert climate catastrophe," Sanders said.The $16.3 trillion program will create 20 million “good paying, union jobs” in a number of fields, including steel and auto manufacturing, construction, renewable power plants, sustainable agriculture, engineering, and public land preservation, the Sanders campaign promised.The decade-long project aims for a total transition to renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and complete decarbonization in the U.S. by 2050.The project would invest $16.3 trillion public investment towards efforts to combat climate change, a plan meant to mirror “the mobilization of resources made during the New Deal and WWII.” Sanders' plan would also $200 billion towards the international Green Climate Fund. Sanders would also invest $40 billion in a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund, which would help "under-resourced groups," communities of color, Native Americans, those with disabilities, children and the elderly to "recover from and prepare for" the effects of climate change.Sanders also promises to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2017, and declare climate change a national emergency.The two-time presidential candidate, currently polling behind frontrunner Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren, earlier this year signed onto a version of the sweeping Green New Deal, introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 08:25:22 -0400
  • Every Angle of the 2020 BMW 745e xDrive Plug-In Hybrid

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    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 12:59:00 -0400
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