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  • Dick Cheney to appear at Trump 2020 fundraiser as Republican establishment bows to president

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    Former vice president Dick Cheney will appear at a fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, according to an invitation for the event, in a sign that the Republican establishment will publicly back his re-election bid.Mr Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 as an outsider and has often clashed with senior figures in the party, such as Mitt Romney and the late John McCain.However, an invitation to a luncheon fundraiser in Jackson, Wyoming, shows Mr Cheney will appear alongside Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to The Washington Post.He will attend the event with his daughter Liz Cheney, who is a Republican congresswoman for Wyoming, for the fundraising group “Trump Victory”.Mr Cheney, who was George W Bush‘s vice president, previously said Mr Trump’s 2015 call for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” went “against everything [America] stands for and believes in”.Earlier this year, Mr Cheney also clashed with Mike Pence, the current vice president, over the administration’s foreign policy, criticising Mr Trump’s hard-line approach towards US allies in Nato.The invitation reportedly does not list the official titles of Mr Mulvaney, Ms Trump or Mr Kushner and insists that “their participation in the event is not a solicitation of funds”.Officials for the Trump campaign confirmed the event but would not say how much tickets would cost.Trump Victory has been known to charge up to six-figure amounts for tickets to its events.“Representative Cheney is honoured to be co-hosting this event and working hard to support President Trump’s re-election,” a spokesperson for Ms Cheney said in a statement. “The president’s policies are benefiting Wyoming and the nation.”The structure of the Trump Victory committee, which raises funds for both the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC), has shown how the president has been accepted into the Republican Party’s mainstream.By merging his re-election campaign with the national party, Mr Trump has become less vulnerable to an Republican opponent challenging him in the 2020 primary.However, linking the RNC to Mr Trump’s divisive presidency may be risky in the long-term for the Republican Party.In recent weeks, billionaire Stephen Ross has faced calls for a boycott of his Equinox luxury fitness company over his plans to hold a fundraiser for Mr Trump in the Hamptons.Additional reporting by agencies

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 13:11:44 -0400
  • Russian nuclear near blast site 'went silent' after missile testing explosion

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    Two Russian radiation monitoring stations went offline last weekend following reports of a nuclear accident in Arkhangelsk region on Russia’s northern frontier, fuelling concerns of a cover-up.  The Russian government has been vague and at times contradictory when addressing the mysterious explosion near a military test range on August 8.  At least five nuclear scientists died, and a brief radiation spike was detected over nearby Severodvinsk. According to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which operates an international network of radiation monitoring stations, two key Russian stations went offline two days after the unexplained explosion and reports of radiation spikes. According to Russian officials, RBC reported, the stations in Dubna and Kirov experienced “network and communications problems” two days after the explosion in Arkhangelsk region. Russia nuclear map The Russian military has denied that any radiation was released by the explosion, and an official statement from Severodvinsk authorities notifying the public of an increase in radiation levels was quietly withdrawn from the city government’s website.  International confirmation of a radiation spike is hard to come by.  CTBTO head Lassina Zerbo wrote on Twitter Sunday that the organisation was addressing with station operators “technical problems experienced at two neighboring stations.” He included a graphic of the organisation's modelling of radioactive particle dispersal over time. The graphic included time stamps indicating where CTBTO models predicted radioactive particles would travel. Antennas of a testing facility for seismic and infrasound technologies of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Credit: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo According to this model, when the two Russian stations stopped reporting, the particles would have been passing directly overhead.  Some have speculated that the blast was caused by a failed test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.  However, evidence suggests that whatever radiation was released by the August 8th explosion was localised and small scale. Experts say a nuclear-powered cruise missile would release far more. “When the US deliberately blew apart a nuclear rocket engine at the Nevada Test side in 1965 to see what would happen, the peak gamma dose rate 25 km downwind was 700 microSieverts per hour - hundreds of times greater than what was observed in Severodvinsk,” Edwin Lyman, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:27:02 -0400
  • John Hickenlooper is out of the 2020 presidential race. That's good news for these 3 Democratic candidates

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    Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's exit from presidential race means other candidates have an opportunity to win over his supporters.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:00:00 -0400
  • Police: Fake cop busted pulling over real detectives on Long Island

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    Nassau County police say Valiery Portlock sounded a horn and flashed emergency lights Friday morning as he an attempt to pull over a van in Hicksville, Long Island.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 00:08:33 -0400
  • Yemen rebel drone attack targets remote Saudi oil field

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    Drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia's sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a "limited fire" in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry. The attack on the Shaybah oil field, which produces some 1 million barrels of crude oil a day near the kingdom's border with the United Arab Emirates, again shows the reach of the Houthis' drone program. Shaybah sits some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory, underscoring the rebels' ability to now strike at both nations, which are mired in Yemen's yearslong war.

    Sat, 17 Aug 2019 13:04:51 -0400
  • 7 shot after random Snapchat invites to ‘instant house party,’ Texas cops say

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    An “instant party” in Texas ended with a car chase and several people shot, police say.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:10:46 -0400
  • All the States of Matter You Didn't Know Existed

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    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:00:00 -0400
  • French hiker missing in Italy nine days found dead

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    The body of a French hiker who disappeared nine days ago south of Naples was found Sunday, local Italian authorities said. "The body of Simon Gautier has been found a short while ago," the authorities in Sapri, near Belvedere di Ciolandre where the 27-year-old hiker was found dead. Gautier called for help on August 9, saying he had fallen down a cliff and broken both legs, but was unable to give his location other than "in the middle of nowhere, on the coast".

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 17:58:51 -0400
  • A man managed to fight off a 'very aggressive' mountain lion with just rocks and a pocket knife

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    Richard Marriott sustained minor injuries. Speaking to Sky-Hi News, Marriott said he wished he'd had his firearm during the encounter.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:59:43 -0400
  • Trump Says U.S. Is Talking With China But Not Ready for a Deal

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump said the U.S. is “doing very well with China, and talking!” but suggested he wasn’t ready to sign a trade deal, hours after his top economic adviser laid out a potential timeline for the resumption of substantive discussions with Beijing.Trump vowed that the U.S. was “poised for big growth” after various trade deals are reached. But speaking to reporters as he departed New Jersey for Washington on Sunday, Trump said China needs a trade agreement more than the U.S. given the relatively weak condition of the Asian nation’s economy.Trump made about 40 minutes of wide-ranging remarks after more than a week spent at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.The president tied trade negotiations with the ongoing situation in Hong Kong on-camera for the first time, saying that a deal between the U.S. and China would be harder if there’s a violent conclusion to protests there because of concerns raised by U.S. lawmakers. He tweeted last week that “of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”Trump also pushed back on media reports this weekend that the Commerce Department is poised, as soon as Monday, to renew Huawei Technologies Co.’s temporary general license to buy supplies for the U.S. “Huawei is a company that we may not do business with at all,” Trump said, calling the Chinese company a “national security threat.”“We’ll see what happens. I’m making a decision tomorrow,” Trump said.FedEx Corp. is in more trouble in China, after Fujian province started an investigation into a package containing a gun that the company delivered to a firm in China. FedEx was already under investigation after Huawei said it misdirected some packages, and China has been preparing to add the U.S. company to a blacklist of so-called unreliable entities, people familiar with the matter have said.White House economic director Larry Kudlow said earlier Sunday that recent phone calls between U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators had been “positive,” potentially opening the door to further progress toward a deal.More teleconference meetings with Chinese negotiators are planned over the next week to 10 days, the White House National Economic Council director said on “Fox News Sunday.”“If those deputies meetings pan out, as we hope they will, and we can have a substantive renewal of negotiations, then we are planning to have China come to the USA and meet with our principals to continue the negotiations and the talks,” Kudlow added.Kudlow and Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, made multiple appearances on Sunday talk shows to discuss the economy and China trade prospects after a tumultuous week in financial markets that included an 800-point dip in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday, its worst rout of the year.Economy Is KeyThe state of the economy is key to Trump’s re-election prospects in 2020; a downturn would dim the outlook for a president whose approval ratings have stayed stubbornly low. Major U.S. equity indexes, often referenced by Trump as a litmus test of his success, are essentially flat over the past 12 months.“There’s no recession on the horizon,” Kudlow said on Fox. He added that there were no plans for additional fresh measures to boost the economy, and that the Trump administration would stay the course on its current agenda.“Consumers are working, at higher wages,” Kudlow said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They are spending at a rapid pace. They’re actually saving also while they’re spending -- that’s an ideal situation.”Navarro, on ABC’s “This Week,” predicted “a strong economy through 2020 and beyond.”On CNN, Navarro disputed that the U.S. had seen an inverted yield curve, often a forerunner of recession because it signals market expectations for weaker growth ahead.“Technically we didn’t have a yield curve inversion,” he said on “State of the Union.” “All we’ve had is a flat yield curve.” And that, said Navarro, was “the result of a very strong Trump economy.”As the stock market was tumbling on Wednesday, Trump lashed out at Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Twitter, specifically citing the “CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE.”Navarro once again criticized Powell and the Fed on Sunday. “The Federal Reserve chairman should look in the mirror and say ‘I raised rates too fast,’” he said on CNN.Additional Fed rate cuts beyond the quarter-point move in July will be a good thing, Navarro said, and a potential easing by the European Central Bank in September will help Europe’s struggling economy.U.S.-China trade tension boiled over this month after a brief detente. The U.S. declared it would expand tariffs on Chinese goods from September 1 and China responded with a boycott of American farm products and allowed its currency to weaken, signaling that this can help cushion the tariff blow. The U.S. then officially declared China a currency manipulator.Navarro said the U.S. still has “significant structural issues” with China. Kudlow, while laying out a potential timetable for new meetings, provided no specifics on the as-yet unrevealed “positive news” out of recent discussions.“President Trump has said, he’s willing to negotiate. He’s willing to make a deal. It’s got to be the right deal to protect American interests,” Kudlow said.Free TradeAt a time Trump is pursuing trade disputes with China, Europe and others, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed support for free trade among Americans is on the rise.Almost two-thirds -- 64% -- see free trade as good for the U.S., an all-time high for the survey series and up 7 percentage points from the last time it was asked, in 2017. Only 27% believe it’s bad, citing damage to key U.S. industries.Kudlow, on Fox, discussed Trump’s decision last week to delay some planned 10% tariffs on Chinese imports to December from September. The administration is giving companies time so they won’t “jack up prices,” he said.Trump and his top aides have said repeatedly that Beijing, not U.S. companies or consumers, are bearing the brunt of the tariffs imposed on imports from China. Trump tweeted on Sunday that China is “eating” the tariffs.Navarro rejected a study by researchers at the University of Chicago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and elsewhere that found U.S. importers are shouldering the vast majority of price changes from the tariffs, versus China’s 5%.“That dog won’t hunt,” Navarro said. Tariffs “aren’t hurting anyone in the United States.”One key measure of U.S. inflation increased in July, driven by costs of shelter, apparel and used cars, and gained the most in a decade in the past two months, the Labor Department reported this month. Economists say the boost in inflation shows the tariffs are gradually filtering through.The tariff war has increased prices for goods, and U.S. companies are paying the higher levies, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The U.S. government collected $57 billion in customs duties in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, according to the Treasury Department.At a rally in New Hampshire on Thursday Trump pushed the economic rationale behind his run for another term, saying even Americans who hate him “have no choice” but to vote for him or face a stock market collapse.“You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes,” Trump told the crowd in Manchester. “Whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me.”The U.S. jobless rate has fallen under Trump, continuing its post-recession trend, and wages have started to tick higher. A breakdown of income numbers suggests wealthier Americans, who own stocks and have earnings from dividends, continue to benefit the most.(Updates with new FedEx investigation in seventh paragraph. The timeline of events leading up to the U.S. declaring China a currency manipulator was corrected in a previous version of this story.)\--With assistance from Katia Dmitrieva.To contact the reporters on this story: Hailey Waller in New York at hwaller@bloomberg.net;Jordan Yadoo in Washington at jyadoo@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at slanman@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Kevin MillerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 01:16:06 -0400
  • TV presenter punched live on air during protest

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    A journalist was knocked unconscious live on air after being punched in the face while covering a feminist protest.Video footage published by TV network ADM 40 shows reporter Juan Manuel Jimenez speaking to the camera as women yell at him during a march in Mexico City.Mr Jimenez can be seen standing in the middle of the crowd as women throw glitter at him and a woman holding a young girl’s hand shouts into the reporter’s microphone.As the reporter continues speaking to the camera, a man dressed in a white T-shirt and blue baseball cap walks up to him and punches him in the face before calmly walking away.Mr Jimenez can be seen lying on the ground seemingly unconscious as protesters chase after his attacker.At the beginning of the clip, shaky footage also shows another protester with their face covered who appears to grab the journalist and hit him in a separate incident.In other footage shared on social media, news presenter Melissa del Pozo de Milenio of the Milenio Televisión network also appears to be attacked by protesters.The journalist can be seen struggling with a woman dressed in black who has her face covered.The camera then focuses on two women who appear to be stabbing a sign.Demonstrators painted the word “rapists” on the wall of a nearby police station and phrases such as “they don’t take care of us” and “rape state” on Mexico City’s Angel of Independence monument. The feminist protests were triggered by allegations that two teenage girls were raped by a group of policemen.The demonstrations have become known as the “glitter protests” after marchers doused the city’s police chief in pink glitter.Violence against women is a serious problem in Mexico. Human Rights Watch says Mexican laws “do not adequately protect women and girls against domestic and sexual violence”.A 2019 report said provisions in Mexican law, including those that make the severity of punishments for sexual offenses contingent upon the supposed chastity of the victim, “contradict international standards”.Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, the first woman elected to head the city’s government, tweeted that the attorney general’s office of the metropolis will investigate and bring charges against those who attacked journalists.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 10:09:37 -0400
  • Tourists who stole sand from beach in Sardinia could face up to six years in prison

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    A pair of tourists face up to six years in prison after allegedly stealing a large quantity of sand from the pristine beaches of Sardinia. The French couple were found to have nearly 40kg (90lb) of fine white sand in the boot of their car. The vehicle was stopped during a routine check by border police as the tourists were preparing to board a ferry in Porto Torres, on the north coast of the island, bound for Toulon in France. The sand was found in 14 large plastic bottles and had been taken from a beach near Chia in southern Sardinia. The couple told police that they had no idea they were breaking the law, but they now face between one and six years in jail. The island has battled for years to stop tourists from pinching its sand, shells and pebbles, which are prized as souvenirs or in some cases, for indoor aquariums. WWF has run a campaign against 'beach thieves', reminding tourists that taking sand from Sardinia's shoreline is a crime To try to stop the pillaging, some locals have taken on the role of self-appointed guardians of the beaches. If they see tourists taking sand or shells, they ask them to return the material. If that does not work, they call the police or national park rangers. One of them, Pina Careddu, told an Italian newspaper on Monday that visitors sometimes become rude and aggressive when challenged. “A family of Germans were filling up some bottles with sand. I recorded them on my phone so they couldn’t deny it. The father came towards me in a threatening manner. But in the end he tipped the sand back onto the beach,” Mrs Careddu, 58, told Corriere della Sera. Dubbed “the granny sheriff” of the Sinis peninsula, on the west coast of the island, she is strict even with her grandchildren. “They say, ‘Nana, can’t we take some pebbles home to play with?’ And I say no, if everyone did that, soon there would be no beach left.”

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 11:04:40 -0400
  • Iran says U.S. move on north Syria safe zone is "provocative"

    A U.S. agreement to set up a safe zone in northern Syria, a close ally of Iran, is "provocative and worrisome", the Iranian foreign ministry was reported to have said by the semi-official Fars news agency. The United States and Turkey last week agreed to set up a joint operations center for a proposed zone along Syria’s northeast border.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 10:20:03 -0400
  • Iranian tanker sought by US heading toward Greece

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    An Iranian supertanker with $130 million worth of light crude oil that the U.S. suspects is tied to a sanctioned organization left Gibraltar and was heading east into the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, with its next destination reported to be Greece. The Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, set course for Kalamata, Greece, with an estimated arrival on Aug. 25, according to ship tracking service MarineTraffic. The vessel left Gibraltar late Sunday after having been detained for a month in the British overseas territory for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:58:00 -0400
  • Ohio Police Arrest White Supremacist Who Allegedly Threatened to Attack Jewish Community Center

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    An Ohio man was arrested on Saturday for allegedly threatening to attack a local Jewish community center.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 12:20:38 -0400
  • A Neutron Star Might Have Just Collided with a Black Hole

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    Scientists are comparing the historic explosion to "the night before Christmas."

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:00:00 -0400
  • Jordan summons Israel envoy over Jerusalem 'violations'

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    Jordan summoned Israel's ambassador on Sunday in protest over "violations" at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the foreign ministry said. It summoned envoy Amir Weissbrod to voice its "condemnation and rejection of Israeli violations" at the highly sensitive site, where Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian worshippers last week. Jordan, the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace agreement with the Jewish state, supervises Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 11:00:43 -0400
  • Buttigieg: opposition to gay marriage will 'wash away' among black Americans

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    Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful says change will occur when voters see his policies will work in their interests2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, South Bend, Indiana Mayor, Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign event at the Smokey Row coffee shop in Oskaloosa, Iowa on 15 August. Photograph: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty ImagesOpposition to gay marriage among African Americans will “start to wash away”, Pete Buttigieg said on Sunday, when such voters “struggling to get on to right side of history” see he will work in their interests.The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, spoke to CNN’s State of the Union from Georgetown, South Carolina, a crucial early voting state which this weekend played host to a number of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.Buttigieg, 37, is in the top five in most polls but has not built on an initial surge. A national Fox News poll released this week gave Joe Biden, the former vice-president, a familiar healthy lead among African American Democratic primary voters, over three senators: Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts.Polling also shows that less than half black Protestant Christians, a key voting bloc, support same-sex marriage. Buttigieg has also faced controversy arising from an officer-involved shooting of an African American man in South Bend in June but on CNN the candidate, who is married, was asked if being gay was part of what was holding him back with at least some black voters.“I think most black voters like most voters in general want to know what the candidates are actually going to do to improve their lives,” he said. “And when I talk to black voters in particular there’s a sense of having been taken for granted in politics in the sense that candidates haven’t always been speaking to them in terms of gaining their trust.”Mentioning policy proposals, Buttigieg cited his Douglass plan, named for the great 19th-century anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass, that attempts to tackle “institutional racism that works on health”.He continued: “I think that a lot of these other factors start to wash away once voters understand what it’s going to mean for them that you versus the others are running for office. But we’ve got six months to make sure we get that message out … and that’s how I plan to earn support among black voters whether it’s here or across the country.”Buttigieg has been fiercely critical of Mike Pence. Like him, the vice-president is from Indiana, but an evangelical Christian and social conservative with an anti-LGBTQ record in office. On CNN, the mayor was asked if such criticism could also apply to African American primary voters who oppose gay marriage.“Well,” he said, “I think back to my experience in Indiana when I was running for re-election after I came out in a community that’s generally Democratic but also quite socially conservative. And I just laid out the case on the kind of job that I was doing.“And what I found was that a lot of people were able to move past old prejudices and move into the future. This is not an easy conversation for a lot of people who have frankly been brung up in a certain way and are struggling to get on to the right side of history.“But I also believe that this conversation is picking up speed, that it’s a healthy conversation and that where it leads is an understanding that all marginalized people need to stand together at a time when so many Americans in so many different ways, especially under this presidency, are coming under attack.”Buttigieg was also asked if he thought a vote for Donald Trump, who he has said is a white nationalist, would be a racist act.“At best it means looking the other way,” he said.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 10:52:23 -0400
  • ‘Sincere greetings from Russian Far East’: Cold War message in a bottle washes up in Alaska

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    A Cold War sailor’s 50-year-old message in a bottle has finally been read after washing ashore in Alaska.Tyler Ivanoff discovered the handwritten Russian letter while collecting firewood near Shishmaref, about 600 miles northwest of Anchorage, television station KTUU reported.Mr Ivanoff said the green glass bottle still smelled of old alcohol when he opened it, and that he had to use a screwdriver to prise the letter out.He later shared his discovery on Facebook, where Russian speakers revealed it was from a Cold War Russian sailor dated 20 June, 1969.According to The Nome Nugget newspaper, it read: “Sincere greetings! From the Russian Far East Fleet mother ship VRXF Sulak. “I greet you who finds the bottle and request that you respond to the address Vladivostok -43 BRXF Sulak to the whole crew. “We wish you good health and long years of life and happy sailing.”The message included an address and a request for a response from the person who finds it.Reporters from state-owned Russian media network Russia-1 tracked down the original writer, Captain Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko, KTUU reported. He was sceptical about whether he wrote the note until he saw his signature at the bottom. “There – exactly!” he said.The message was sent while the then 36-year-old was aboard the Sulak, Mr Botsanenko said.The former sailor shed tears when he was told the Sulak was sold for scrap in the 1990s. Mr Botsanenko also showed Russia-1 some souvenirs from his time on the ship, including the autograph of the wife of a famous Russian spy and Japanese liquor bottles.AP contributed to this report

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 05:26:40 -0400
  • The Must-See, Drop-Dead-Gorgeous Cars from the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

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    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 21:14:00 -0400
  • Jihadi Jack: The OCD teenager who took a football to bed with him who grew up to be a terrorist

    Golocal247.com news

    By all accounts Jack Letts was a popular kid growing up. A class-clown who gained friends by cracking jokes and making them laugh. But as a teenager, he developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and began struggling to find his place in the world. "He had a phase being obsessed with football and would sleep next to his football,” his father, John, an organic farmer from Oxford, said. “The same thing happened with religion.” It was at the age of 15 that Jack, who was raised in a secular household in Oxford, begun studying the Koran and made the decision to convert to Islam. He started attending a local mosque and became preoccupied by the Arab Spring, in particular the Syrian civil war. He watched President Bashar al-Assad bombing his own people and wanted to help “take him down”. A picture of John Letts and his son Jack is shown on a protester's placard outside the Old Bailey, London, on the first day of John and Sally Letts' trial  Credit: SWNS He decided to drop out of his A-Level studies and left for Kuwait in 2014 aged 18, telling his parents he wanted to learn Arabic and “be of some help.” But from there he travelled to northern Iraq, where Isil had just taken over huge swathes of territory. His parents first refused to accept that he had joined the Islamic State, saying he was a pacifist who was there for humanitarian and religious purposes. But Jack had come to be an angry young man. According to evidence heard  in June in court, where his parents were on trial for funding terrorism after trying to send him money, Jack commented on a Facebook photo posted by a former friend who had joined the army. “I would love to perform a martyrdom operation on this scene,” he wrote beneath a picture of the friend graduating from his Commando Artillery Course, implying he would like to kill them in a suicide attack. John Letts and wife Sally arrive at court  Credit: SWNS A few months later he shared a photograph of himself at Tabqa Dam in Syria, which was under the control of Isil at the time it was taken in 2015, performing a one-finger salute that has been appropriated by the jihadists. Little is known about his time living in Isil’s caliphate. What is known is that Letts married the daughter of a high-ranking sheikh from the Iraqi city of Fallujah shortly after arriving in Iraq. From there the young couple moved to the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of Isil’s “caliphate”. They had a child soon after. In an interview with The Independent in early 2016 conducted on the encrypted Telegram app, Jack, who had adopted the name Ibrahim, said he wanted kuffars, or non-believers, in Britain to convert to Islam. He blamed his home country for the bombing of “innocent Muslims” in Syria. Jack Letts pictured during his teenage years Credit: Central News "Despite the media frenzy surrounding them, I’ve never seen Isis kill Muslim kids. I have, however, seen the coalition do so," he said in messages sent to the paper. At some point he became disenchanted by Isil’s ruthless and brutal rule, and claimed to have been imprisoned three times for trying to escape. He was captured some months later by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces during the battle for Raqqa. In a recent interview with ITV News from an SDF-run prison he appeared reflective, though not entirely remorseful. He was asked his opinion about terror attacks in Europe committed while he was in Syria. “To be honest, at the time I thought it was a good thing,” Jack said of the Paris, Brussels and Manchester attacks. “This is what war does to you. You have this idea of ‘why shouldn’t it happen to them?’” Letts converted to Islam and went by the name Ibrahim He said he missed his mother, with whom he has had no direct contact in several years. It emerged in court that his parents blamed themselves for how Jack’s life turned out. "I was a terrible parent that gave you too much power as a child,” Mrs Letts told her son, in a message that was read out to the jury. “I should have made you adapt to the world, instead of adapting myself to your world. I have done you no favours by doing this." She said he showed signs of "mental illness", adding: "I have to bear some responsibility for that as your mother." Canadian-born Mr Letts said he should not have exposed his son to his “armchair revolutionary sh**e”. Men suspected of being Isil fighters wait to be searched by members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after leaving the group's last holdout of Baghouz Credit: AFP Jack’s future is uncertain. The SDF has said it will not hold its foreign prisoners indefinitely without trial and want an international tribunal to be set up to hear their cases. The UK is refusing to extradite Jack, who also holds Canadian nationality, and have left the matter with Ottawa. "If the UK accepted me then I’d go back to the UK, it’s my home,” he told ITV. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen." He was right.  The Home Office has now stripped Letts of British citizenship, meaning he is the responsibility of the Canadian government, The Mail on Sunday said. It was reportedly one of the last actions of Theresa May’s administration.

    Sat, 17 Aug 2019 19:47:50 -0400
  • Protesters burn parliament building in Indonesia's Papua

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    Thousands of people in Indonesia's West Papua province set fire to a local parliament building on Monday in a protest sparked by accusations that security forces had arrested and insulted students from neighboring Papua province, officials said. The angry mob torched the building and set fire to cars and tires on several blocked roads leading to a seaport, shopping centers and offices in Manokwari, the capital of West Papua province, Vice Gov. Mohammad Lakotani said. Television footage showed orange flames and gray smoke billowing from the burning parliament building.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 08:14:21 -0400
  • More than 40 charged in federal court from Mississippi ICE raid, but no company officials

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    So far, more than 40 arrest warrants have been filed in federal court resulting from the Aug. 7 immigration raid.

    Sat, 17 Aug 2019 17:04:58 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-EU says ready for no-deal Brexit, "British would be the biggest losers"

    The European Commission said on Monday that the EU was ready for a no-deal Brexit and that Britain would suffer most under such a scenario. Speaking at a regular daily briefing, Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said a no-deal UK exit would never be the EU's preferred scenario, adding that the Brussels-based executive saw no need for additional contingency preparations at this stage.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 06:42:56 -0400
  • Kuwait says emir recovered from 'setback'

    Golocal247.com news

    Kuwaiti state media on Sunday reported Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah had "recovered", shortly after Iran's foreign minister indicated that the 90-year-old was unwell. The emir "has recovered from a setback and is in good health now", Kuwait's official news agency KUNA said, citing a palace statement, without specifying the nature of the "setback". Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier on Sunday wished Sheikh Sabah a "speedy recovery" after talking with the Gulf state's officials.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 14:06:13 -0400
  • Kamala Harris at church: ‘This is where we go when the times test our faith’

    Golocal247.com news

    In an era in which religion and politics have frequently been used to create division and dissention, the pastor of a historic church is instead trying to utilize them for higher purposes.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 09:02:04 -0400
  • Serial killer who murdered SC teen featured on new season of Netflix’s ‘Mindhunter’

    Golocal247.com news

    He has a long rap sheet of crimes throughout the South, and a controversial connection to a South Carolina murder.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 11:09:52 -0400
  • Far-right groups celebrate as Trump attacks anti-fascists after Portland rally

    Golocal247.com news

    The organisers of a far right rally in Portland have declared it a success after Donald Trump attacked anti-fascist activists who turned out to oppose them.The US president repeatedly took aim at left-wing counter-protesters who faced off against right-wing extremists in the Oregon city on Saturday. “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR’,” he claimed on Twitter, while remaining silent on the neo-nazi groups the activists took to the street to confront.Mr Trump later shared a tweet depicting anti-fascist activists as violent thugs “looking to hurt and injure anyone in their way”.“Everywhere the group ANTIFA (Anti-First Amendment) goes, violence and chaos follows,” wrote Fox News commentator Dan Bongino in the post retweeted by the president.[[gallery-0]] Joe Biggs, one of the organisers of the right-wing rally, celebrated Mr Trump’s renewed animosity towards the anti-fascist movement.He told The Oregonian: “Go look at President Trump’s Twitter. He talked about Portland, said he’s watching antifa. That’s all we wanted.”Hundreds of anti-fascist activists took to Portland’s streets to confront far-right groups, including members of the Proud Boys, which calls itself a “western chauvinist” fraternity, "patriot" militia the Three Percenters, and the white supremacist American Guard.Police made 13 arrests and seized metal poles, bear spray and other weapons, although authorities managed to largely avoid clashes between the rival groups.Mr Trump, who infamously blamed "both sides" after an anti-fascist demonstrator was murdered by a neo-nazi in Charlottesville two years ago, had fuelled tensions in Portland by comparing anti-fascists to terrorists and warning he was watching the city "very closely”.His intervention was described by Portland’s mayor as “frankly, not helpful”. Ted Wheeler told CNN: “This is a potentially dangerous and volatile situation, and adding to that noise doesn’t do anything to support or help the efforts that are going on here in Portland.”Leaders of the right-wing groups have vowed to keep returning to Portland, seen as one of America’s most liberal, as long as anti-fascists remain active."The path forward for Mayor Wheeler is simple, free your city from the grip of Antifa, take direct and meaningful action," said Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio in a statement.Mr Wheeler said the right-wing groups were not welcome in the city and warned the raly was the sign of "a rising white nationalist movement"."Portland being a very progressive community is always going to be at or near ground zero of this battle," he added.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 08:34:51 -0400
  • California business forced to close over the state's drug and homeless crisis

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    One California business owner takes to twitter to call out Gov. Gavin Newsom's liberal policies, radio talk show host Mike Slater weighs in.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 08:59:29 -0400
  • Found: Placer County Sheriff’s Office locates missing Granite Bay boy in nearby car

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    The Sunday evening search for an 8-year-old boy who went missing for several hours ended when authorities located him inside a vehicle a block away from his Granite Bay home, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 22:09:20 -0400
  • Sacramento files lawsuit to ban 7 men from business district

    The city of Sacramento has filed an unusual lawsuit to ban seven men considered to be a "public nuisance" from a popular business corridor. The lawsuit alleges the men are "drug users, trespassers, thieves ... and violent criminals" who have illegal weapons and ammunition and have forced police to dedicate an "excessive amount" of resources to the Broadway corridor. City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood filed the suit Aug. 9 in Sacramento Superior Court, according to a copy posted online by The Sacramento Bee .

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 13:40:37 -0400
  • Man tells cops he may be hit-and-run driver in fatal crash. He thought he hit a deer

    Golocal247.com news

    A Palmetto man has come forward to tell authorities he may have been the one involved in the fatal hit-and-run that killed a 13-year-old boy and a 47-year-old man walking along U.S. 19 early Sunday.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:37:56 -0400
  • Fugitive lived in isolated bunker for 3 years to evade arrest in Wisconsin

    Golocal247.com news

    Jeremiah Button was sleeping in a homemade bunker in the woods on the morning of Aug. 9 when his three-year run from the law came to an end.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 14:29:45 -0400
  • Man charged after New York scare over rice cookers

    Golocal247.com news

    A young homeless man has been charged with placing false bombs, police said Saturday, after three empty rice cookers caused major commuter disruption in New York. Larry K. Griffin II, 26, was arrested by the New York Police Department and charged with three counts of placing a false bomb, according to a statement released Saturday. Parts of the city were alerted for two hours Friday morning as three suspicious objects were found: two near the World Trade Centre in the Fulton Street subway station, and one in the Chelsea district further north.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 01:03:43 -0400
  • Girl, 16, missing from Northwest Indiana; family believes may be with stalker

    Golocal247.com news

    A 16-year-old girl is missing from Northwest Indiana and her family believes she may be with a man they have a protective order against for stalking, police say.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 06:37:34 -0400
  • Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Permit Employment Discrimination Against Transgender Workers

    Golocal247.com news

    DOJ argued that Title VII does not protect transgender people

    Sat, 17 Aug 2019 17:12:00 -0400
  • Turkey Fires Kurdish Mayors Ahead of Military Push Into Syria

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Turkey fired the elected mayors of three major Kurdish-dominated cities in the country’s southeast and detained more than 400 people in a crackdown as it prepares to push a Syrian Kurdish militia away from its border.The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van were removed Monday for their alleged ties to the PKK, an autonomy-seeking Kurdish group classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. Police used water cannons to disperse hundreds of Kurdish protesters outside the mayor’s office in Diyarbakir, according to footage by Arti TV.While Turkish authorities have in the past evicted Kurdish officials at times of heightened political tension at home, this time the moves were seen as linked to a long-promised military operation in northern Syria.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to carve out a frontier buffer zone that will be off-limits to the Syrian YPG militia, which authorities say has links to the PKK. The seizure of three Turkish municipalities with a population of about 3.7 million people where the PKK traditionally enjoys strong backing aims to prevent any support for the militants.But it also renewed accusations that Erdogan and his nationalist allies are damaging Turkey’s democracy by attacking the pro-Kurdish HDP after it swept back to office in ballots in the southeast and helped Turkey’s main opposition party to win mayoral races in the capital and the nation’s commercial hub.“All political parties and society should react to this coup against the will of the people,” Garo Paylan, an HDP lawmaker, said on Twitter. “If you remain silent, then the next in line could be Ankara and Istanbul.”Erdogan warned before local elections in March that his government would not hesitate to replace HDP mayors if they are deemed to be linked to Kurdish militants. The HDP has faced a broad clampdown since it won enough votes to enter parliament in 2015. Since then, the government has jailed hundreds of Kurdish politicians and seized about 100 municipalities in the southeast.The HDP denies it’s influenced by the PKK and blames the group’s armed rebellion on a history of repressive policies toward Kurds.All three mayors were elected with a majority of votes on March 31. Diyarbakir Mayor Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli got 63% of the provincial vote, while Mardin Mayor Ahmet Turk had 56% and Van Mayor Bedia Ozgokce Ertan received 54% support.Officials have said they expect a headquarters for the expected joint operation by Turkey and the U.S., which supported the Syrian YPG in the fight against Islamic State, to be up and running this week.(Updates with context in third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net;Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at tbilgic2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Alaa ShahineFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 07:57:28 -0400
  • John Delaney draws 11 people to 2020 event – does he truly think he can win?

    Golocal247.com news

    The former congressman has put $24m of his own cash into an increasingly quixotic presidential run – and he’s ploughing on despite a near total lack of supportJohn Delaney speaks at the Wing Ding fundraiser in Clear Lake, Iowa. What Delaney lacks in support, he makes up for in optimism. Photograph: Brian Cahn/Zuma/Rex/ShutterstockJohn Delaney has poured a staggering $24m of his own money into running for president. He has been campaigning for the White House for more than two years, and in that time has held more than 200 events in Iowa.On one recent Thursday morning, these efforts translated into a grand total of 11 people coming out to see Delaney, at a campaign event in the small town of Algona, in the north of the state.The former Maryland congressman, former businessman and formerly much wealthier candidate is one of a slew of long-shot candidates for the Democratic nomination. In a crowded, historically diverse field, Delaney is part of a group of white, middle-aged men who are forging ahead with their increasingly quixotic presidential campaigns in spite of a collective lack of support.Delaney strode into Miller’s Sports Bar & Grill, one of a chain of bars across Iowa, just after 10am. One of his team had taped a couple of Delaney 2020 campaign posters to a wall in the back of the bar, and a sign-up list was on a table. The crowd, all silver haired apart from a thirtysomething man who walked in late, were sitting patiently at four different tables.Clad in the off-duty politician’s uniform of open-necked shirt, blue jeans and casual brown shoes, Delaney got to work, vigorously shaking 11 hands. One member of the crowd was immediately impressed with the 56-year-old.“You actually look even better than you do on TV,” one woman said.“I think I’m just going to stay around here,” Delaney quipped.If Delaney was disappointed with the turnout, he didn’t show it. Besides, in a way, the 11-person crowd was a positive. The night before, on Delaney’s Facebook page, just two people had said they would attend, and one of those was his campaign director.Delaney, who served in Congress for six years before resigning to run for president, was joking when he said he might just stay around Iowa. But in fact, it would be hard for him to spend more time here. The 58-year-old has made 34 separate visits to the state in two years. This trip was the first of three in August. And the actual vote in Iowa – the state’s caucuses – is still six months away.It’s a grueling schedule. On Thursday alone, Delaney was scheduled to hold five different events in the space of nine and a half hours.With the pleasantries over at Miller’s Delaney dived into his pitch. The two most important questions in 2020, he said, are: “Who can beat Trump?” and: “Who is the best leader for this country at this moment in time?”Delaney gestures at the end of his speech during a visit to the Iowa state fair in Des Moines earlier this month. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP“I believe I’m the right answer to those two questions,” he concluded.Delaney’s problem is that very few people agree. Despite a marathon campaign – he declared his candidacy in July 2017, 18 months before any other major contenders – and a big pot of cash, he is barely registering – even in Iowa. Delaney is currently polling at 1% in the state – in ninth place. Nationally, Delaney has just 0.3% of the vote.But Delaney, an electrician’s son turned millionaire, isn’t about to let a near total lack of support stop him.“I don’t want to be the president just to be the president,” Delaney said at his second event of the day. “I want to be the president to do the job.”Later, Delaney was speaking to a crowd of 15 people, at the Rustic Brew in Hampton, an hour and a half drive east of Algona. He had been allocated an area in the back, in a room with a painting of a reindeer on one wall. Delaney had almost immediately been interrupted by a man wearing a Vietnam cap.The man complained about veterans’ hospitals. Delaney, hoping to appease him, said he would allow veterans to visit a wider range of hospitals for their care. The man in the cap said that was exactly the plan he was opposed to. Delaney said he would talk to him about it later, then carried on with his speech. The man in the cap slumped in his chair, mumbling something to himself.The main part of Delaney’s pitch is that he can beat Donald Trump and actually pass legislation, whereas, in his view, people such as the leftwing senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are making “impossible promises”. After Delaney criticized the more ambitious proposals of his rivals during the recent televised Democratic debates, Warren chopped him down, telling the audience: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”Far from being cowed by that, Delaney told the Guardian that if he could change one thing about his campaign, he actually would have plugged his centrist credentials earlier.“The kind of sharp contrasts I’m making now, I would have made them earlier,” Delaney said.But what Delaney lacks in support, he makes up for in optimism. He brushed off concerns that he won’t make the next Democratic debates – the bar for entry is far higher for the next round, in mid-September – by insisting he could make the one after that, because he expects other candidates to drop out.As Delaney closed out at the Rustic Brew, his campaign manager abruptly announced that the rest of the day’s events were cancelled. He had only completed two out of five. The campaign manager put it down to a schedule conflict. John Delaney at the Iowa state fair in Des Moines, on 9 August. Photograph: Eric Thayer/ReutersThe Guardian chased Delaney down in Des Moines the next day, where he was appearing at the Iowa state fair. Delaney spent some time prodding pork chops on a grill – a classic state fair photo opportunity – before speaking for about 15 minutes to a crowd, again pitching his centrist vision. He drew a decent number of people, but his crowd was dwarfed by those who came out for speeches by Warren, Sanders and Biden.Delaney is probably right when he says other people will soon quit the race. The California congressman Eric Swalwell ended his campaign in July, citing a lack of money and a lack of support. Colorado ex-governor John Hickenlooper dropped out last week. Delaney doesn’t have to make that choice yet. He has loaned his campaign $24m, but according to Forbes, he is worth $200m, so he has plenty of cash left to splurge.But there will surely come a point where he has to make a decision. Given Delaney is polling within the margin of error of zero, that point might come soon.Or perhaps Delaney, ever the optimist, could bide his time. If Trump wins in 2020, then there’s always 2024. If Delaney doesn’t bankrupt himself first, maybe he could be a contender.At the very least, he will know his way around Iowa.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 02:00:38 -0400
  • Rubio on climate change: 'We should choose adaptive solutions'

    Golocal247.com news

    Many proposed 'fixes' for climate change have been unrealistic and dangerous. Climate change is a real problem. Real problems deserve real solutions.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 06:00:31 -0400
  • Islamic State claims bombing at Kabul wedding that killed 63

    Golocal247.com news

    The suicide bomber stood in the middle of the dancing, clapping crowd as hundreds of Afghan children and adults celebrated a wedding in a joyous release from Kabul's strain of war. Then, in a flash, he detonated his explosives-filled vest, killing dozens — and Afghanistan grieved again. The local Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in the capital this year, with 63 killed and 182 wounded, while outraged Afghans questioned just how safe they will be under an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end America's longest war.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 08:54:18 -0400
  • At least 19 dead after fuel truck crash in western Uganda-police

    Golocal247.com news

    At least 19 people were killed when a fuel truck exploded after losing control and ramming into three cars in western Uganda on Sunday, police said in a statement. Nine more people injured in the accident later died from their wounds, police spokesman Fred Enanga told Reuters on Monday morning. At least 85 people died in neighboring Tanzania on Aug. 10 after a fuel tanker exploded in the town of Morogoro, as flames ripped through a crowd that had gathered to siphon petrol from it.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 00:55:17 -0400
  • Infant in soiled diaper found covered in ants on filthy van floor, Kentucky cops say

    Golocal247.com news

    A mother and grandmother have been arrested after police encountered a disturbing scene during a traffic stop in Kentucky.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 11:17:32 -0400
  • Albino teen found dismembered in Burundi: association

    Golocal247.com news

    A 15-year-old albino boy has been found dismembered in Burundi a week after going missing, the first such killing in the country in three years, a local albino group said Sunday. Albinos, who have white skin and yellow hair as a result of a genetic disorder that causes the absence of pigmentation, are killed regularly in some African countries for their body parts, which are used in witchcraft rituals. The teenager was found dead late Saturday in the northwest of the country along the Rusizi river separating Burundi from the DR Congo, not far from his home village.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 08:43:49 -0400
  • Tons of pot found in truck full of jalapeno peppers in California, Border Patrol says

    Golocal247.com news

    A U.S. Customs and Border Protection dog picked up on something strange Thursday night in a tractor-trailer shipment of jalapeno peppers at a San Diego crossing, the agency says in a release.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 16:03:44 -0400
  • How the Government Creates Wealth Inequality

    Golocal247.com news

    There are economic storm clouds on the horizon, but for now wages are rising, jobs are plentiful, and poverty is falling. Democrats running for president need an economic line of attack, so the solution has been to focus on wealth inequality. Senator Bernie Sanders claims that there has been a “massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one percent.” Senator Elizabeth Warren lambastes America’s “extreme concentration of wealth.” Even the establishment Joe Biden laments, “This wealth gap that exists in the United States of America is so profound now.”Wealth inequality has risen in recent years, but by far less than the Democrats and many media articles imply. The scarier claims about inequality usually stem from the flawed data created by French economist Thomas Piketty and his colleagues. More careful studies by other economists and the Federal Reserve Board reveal surprisingly modest changes in wealth inequality given the huge revolutions in globalization and technology that have occurred.Are increases in wealth inequality the awful thing that Democrats claim? It depends on what causes them. Much of the recent modest rise in wealth inequality stems from innovations in our economy that are pulling everyone up. Brian Acton and Jan Koum, for example, built huge multibillion dollar fortunes by creating WhatsApp, which provides free phone service for 1.5 billion users globally.Acton and Koum’s success may have increased the wealth owned by the top 1 percent, but their product has created massive consumer value as well. Most of the wealthiest Americans are entrepreneurs who have fueled economic growth, which is clear in examining the Forbes 400 list. Wealth created this way is not the zero-sum struggle that Democrats imagine it is.That is the good news. The bad news is that the government itself generates wealth inequality in at least two ways that make us worse off. First, governments give subsidies, regulatory preferences, and other crony-capitalist benefits to wealthy insiders. In the recent Fat Leonard scandal, for example, Leonard Francis gained hundreds of millions of dollars of government contracts by cozying up to Navy officers and providing them with gifts, prostitutes, and other favors to get them to do his bidding.The other way that the government fuels wealth inequality is a deeper scandal. The expansion of social programs over the decades has undermined incentives for lower- and middle-income families to save while reducing their ability to save because of higher taxes. Government programs have displaced or “crowded out” wealth-building by all American families but the richest.Politicians complain loudly about wealth inequality, but their own policies are generating it. This issue receives too little policy attention, but it is profoundly important and reveals the hypocrisy of the political left.Many Americans have saved little for retirement because Social Security discourages them doing so, as does the heavy 12.4 percent wage tax that funds the program. Economist Martin Feldstein found that every dollar increase in Social Security benefits reduces private savings by about 50 cents.Social Security accounts for a larger share of retirement income for the non-rich than for the rich, so this crowd-out effect increases wealth inequality. In a simulation model, Jagadeesh Gokhale and Laurence Kotlikoff estimated that Social Security raises the share of overall wealth held by the top 1 percent of wealth holders by about 80 percent. This occurs because the program leaves the non-rich with “proportionately less to save, less reason to save, and a larger share of their old-age resources in a nonbequeathable form.”A study by Baris Kaymak and Markus Poschke built a model of the U.S. economy to estimate the causes of rising wealth inequality. They found that most of the rise in the top 1 percent share of wealth in recent decades was caused by technological changes and wage dispersion, but the expansion of Social Security and Medicare caused about one-quarter of the increase. They concluded that the “redistributive nature of transfer payments was instrumental in curbing wealth accumulation for income groups outside the top 10% and, consequently, amplified wealth concentration in the U.S.”More government benefits result in less private wealth, especially for the non-rich. It is not just Social Security and Medicare that displaces private saving, but also unemployment insurance, welfare, and other social spending. Some social programs have “asset tests” that deliberately discourage saving.Total federal and state social spending as a share of gross domestic product soared from 6.8 percent in 1970 to 14.3 percent in 2018. That increase in handouts occurred over the same period that wealth inequality appears to have increased. Generations of Americans have grown up assuming that the government will take care of them when they are sick, unemployed, and retired, so they put too little money aside for future expenses.Cross-country studies support these conclusions. A 2015 study by Pirmin Fessler and Martin Schurz examined European data and found that “inequality of wealth is higher in countries with a relatively more developed welfare state . . . given an increase of welfare state expenditure, wealth inequality measured by standard relative inequality measures, such as the Gini coefficient, will increase.”A study by Credit Suisse found: “Strong social security programs — good public pensions, free higher education or generous student loans, unemployment and health insurance — can greatly reduce the need for personal financial assets. . . . This is one explanation for the high level of wealth inequality we identify in Denmark, Norway and Sweden: the top groups continue to accumulate for business and investment purposes, while the middle and lower classes have a less pressing need for personal saving.”That is why it is absurd for politicians such as Sanders and Warren to decry wealth inequality and then turn around and demand European-style expansions in our social programs. The bigger our welfare state, the more wealth inequality we will have.The solution is to transition to savings-based social programs. Numerous countries have Social Security systems based on private savings accounts. Chile has unemployment-insurance savings accounts. Martin Feldstein proposed a savings-based approach to Medicare. The assets in such savings accounts would be inheritable, unlike the benefits from current U.S. social programs.Sanders and Warren are right to criticize crony capitalism as a cause of wealth inequality. But their big government approaches to social policy would have the opposite effect on wealth inequality than what they may believe.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 06:30:20 -0400
  • Gibraltar rejects US pressure; lets Iranian oil tanker set sail

    Golocal247.com news

    Gibraltar rejected a U.S. request to continue holding an Iranian supertanker detained on suspicion of attempting to breach global sanctions on Syria.

    Sun, 18 Aug 2019 19:09:27 -0400
  • Cathay Remains Under Scrutiny as CEO Takes Fall for Protests

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. is counting on the resignation of its British chief executive officer, Rupert Hogg, to move beyond the tumult that saw its employees’ participation in the Hong Kong protests draw the ire of Beijing. But will it be enough?Incoming CEO Augustus Tang has the delicate task of continuing to placate China, an increasingly important market for the 72-year-old airline, while also minimizing the fallout from staff, customers and investors as the unrest in its home base continues to seethe.Whether Tang -- a long-time lieutenant with Cathay’s biggest investor, Swire Group -- succeeds or falters, Cathay’s story is having repercussions beyond the carrier itself. It’s become a cautionary tale of modern-day China, with the country increasingly willing to call out companies that want access to its lucrative consumer market, but don’t toe the party line.“This is the most appalling kowtow to Peking,” David Webb, a Hong Kong activist investor, wrote on his blog just hours after Chinese state broadcaster, CCTV, broke the news of Hogg’s departure on Friday. “Every substantial employer in Hong Kong, in both the public and private sectors, has employees who have participated in marches that have frequently gone beyond their approved spatial or time limits. Should all the CEOs resign?”Too LittleAfter China’s aviation watchdog slapped a string of demands on Cathay Aug. 9, the company appeared to swing into action, with Swire chairman, Merlin Swire, flying into Beijing to meet with the authority three days later. But even with Hogg taking the fall, it’s unclear whether China, which along with Hong Kong accounts for about half of Cathay’s revenue, will be satisfied.The Global Times, a newspaper published by China’s Communist Party, said Hogg’s departure may not be enough to atone for Cathay’s “lukewarm attitude” to dealing with its “radical” employees. Pilots and flight attendants from the airline took part in strikes and demonstrations related to the protest, which has morphed from opposing an extradition bill into a mass repudiation of China’s hold over the territory it took back in 1997.“Cathay Pacific’s latest gesture was viewed by many as too little to restore its scarred reputation and the loss of customers,” the Global Times said after Hogg’s departure. Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo resigned alongside the CEO.Cathay shares rose 0.9% to close at HK$10.70 in Hong Kong. The stock has fallen about 4% this year, compared with a 1.7% rise in the Hang Seng Index.First StepZhao Dongchen, an analyst at state-run Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. who fueled Cathay’s plunge last week to a 10-year low by blasting its “poor” handling of the crisis, applauded the top-level changes given the company was “severely lacking in crisis management competency.”But he also offered some caveats.“I am not sure that replacing two top personnel will be enough to meaningfully enhance Cathay’s management,” Zhao said in an email responding to questions from Bloomberg. “More likely, this marks a first step.”Zhao also criticized Cathay for what he described as a “hasty” decision to fire two pilots in connection with the protests, saying the move raised questions about procedural justice.Meanwhile, Cathay’s flight attendants’ union lamented the departure of Hogg and Loo.Their workplace “is now and shall continue to be greatly influenced by many unforeseeable elements,” according to a Facebook post on Sunday. Members are being asked not to discuss political topics while flying and be careful on social media and outside of work hours discussing issues which could “cause significant effect on everyone of us now.”Sets PrecedentThe Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC, barred staff who took part in or supported Hong Kong’s protests from flying to the mainland and demanded Cathay provide a plan for improving flight safety and security. On Thursday, it said Cathay had complied with its demands.“This will pacify CAAC for now, but it may not be the end,” said Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultant Endau Analytics. “Once you cave in, it sets a precedence. It could embolden CAAC to seek harsher measures.”Cathay’s entanglement with the anti-Beijing protests stood out because of its stature and connection to Hong Kong, but it wasn’t alone.Within days of Cathay being castigated by CAAC and boycotted by state-backed firms, luxury brands Versace, Coach, and Givenchy were forced to apologize for selling T-shirts that implied Hong Kong wasn’t part of China. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC was accused on Chinese social media -- where nationalistic posters are increasingly pushing the country’s causes -- of not condemning the demonstrations enough after a company-linked online post appeared to support the protests. The firm said it was a fraud.Cathay suspended ticket sales from counters at the Hong Kong airport due to tightened security measures from the airport authority, the airline said on Monday.Symbolic TargetIn a message to employees obtained by Bloomberg, Hogg said a change in leadership was required so that Cathay could move forward. “There is no doubts that our reputation and brand are under immense pressure and this pressure has been building for some weeks -- particularly in the all-important market of mainland China,” he wrote.For many, Cathay is an emblem of the years Hong Kong was governed by Britain, making it a target loaded with symbolism. The airline is almost half-owned by the two-century-old conglomerate headed by the U.K.’s Swire family, but now counts state-run Air China Ltd. as its second-largest shareholder.Joshua Wong, the student activist who shot to fame during Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protests five years ago, tweeted that Hogg’s resignation showed how China was tightening its grip over the city and its people.Pilots QuietMost of Cathay’s 32,800 workers are based in Hong Kong and its hub is the airport that had become a key site for the protesters. Last week’s airport shutdown as demonstrators occupied key buildings added to Cathay’s woes, with hundreds of flights scuppered.While the flight attendants’ union acknowledged Cathay’s need to comply with CAAC’s demands so they can keep flying there, other workers’ groups, including the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association have so far kept quiet.The company’s actions -- which included voicing its support for Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, and the police, which have clashed violently with protesters -- risk triggering a backlash from staff and its home market, but that may pale in comparison to the alternative of prolonging Beijing’s anger.“The message China wanted to send was that they have the power and the will to do what they want to do,” said Endau’s Yusof. “Cathay is caught between a devil and the deep blue sea -- it’s the beginning of the end.”“Like many others in Hong Kong, the future of the airline is in China,” he said.(Updates share price in eighth paragraph, adds Cathay not telling tickets at Hong Kong airport in 19th paragraph.)To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at kpark3@bloomberg.net;Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at yyu263@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net, Emma O'BrienFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 04:56:30 -0400
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