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Judge blocks Trump's favorite construction company from building private border wallA federal judge in McAllen, Texas, has temporarily blocked a plan for a construction firm favored by President Trump to build a privately funded segment of border wall along the banks of the Rio Grande River.


12/6/2019 8:16:46 PM

Indian border officials on lookout for fugitive cosmic guruIndian border officials and embassies have issued an alert for a fugitive guru accused of rape, the government said, days after the holy man announced the creation of his own "cosmic" country. Swami Nithyananda -- one of many self-styled Indian "godmen" with thousands of followers and a chequered past -- is wanted by police for alleged rape, sexual abuse, and abduction of children. Earlier this week, he announced online that he has created his own new country -- reportedly off Ecuador's coast -- complete with cabinet, golden passports, and even a department of homeland security.


12/7/2019 4:17:55 AM

Are U.S. Planes Like the F-35, F-22, or a B-1 Bomber Vulnerable to North Korean Air Defenses?As we enter 2020, it's a question that needs asked.


12/7/2019 8:45:00 AM

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley Says South Carolinians Saw the Confederate Flag as 'Service' Before Dylan Roof 'Hijacked' ItMany argued Haley was not fully acknowledging the flag's Civil War and segregationists origins


12/7/2019 11:13:44 AM

Democrats Must Not Have an All-White Debate—and the White Candidates Should Say SoThe news that Senator Kamala Harris has dropped out of the race highlights the fact that the Democratic field is growing less diverse with each passing month. It's now reached the point where a field that showed such promising diversity at first has been whittled down essentially to four people with first-tier status, and they're all white. There is diversity within than foursome--a gay man, a Jewish man, a woman. But in a party so dependent on voters of color, this is striking--and not in a good way. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Democrats selecting a white presidential candidate to represent the party. But that should be up to the voters, and not the DNC by means of their debate inclusion practices.Those candidates can, however strike a blow for diversity. They should band together and threaten to boycott the December Democratic debate unless the DNC and media partners agree to not exclude candidates who have shown measurable public support before the voting begins. That includes, at the very least, Cory Booker and Julian Castro, and could also include Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, who have managed to make the most recent debate stage despite long odds.Although Harris had qualified for the December debate, her exit could create an unacceptable scenario on December 19 when the candidates gather in Los Angeles. Booker and Castro’s exclusion, coupled with the probable exclusion of other candidates of color including Yang and Gabbard, means the December debate could very well include only six candidates, all of them white. (Booker, Castro, Yang, and Gabbard have all hit the fundraising threshold, but not the polling one.)Kamala Harris Quits 2020 Race: ‘She Didn’t Know What She Was About’Democrats and the DNC should be asking themselves if they really want to eliminate all the candidates of color before the first states even get to vote. And the leading candidates, all of whom are white, should do something about it.There is precedent for the top-tier candidates banding together to protect the integrity of the debate process. Back in January 2016, NBC News, as a DNC debate sponsor, tried to bar former governor Martin O’Malley from its debate, citing his poor polling numbers compared to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While it was apparent that O’Malley’s campaign was going nowhere, it was obvious to any objective observer that eliminating him was a choice for voters in Iowa and the other primary states to make—not NBC News.On January 8, 2016 shortly after noon, Sanders tweeted that O’Malley should be allowed on the next debate stage. Literally one minute later, the Clinton campaign tweeted out similar support for O’Malley’s inclusion. And a few hours later, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted that the DNC was also demanding that NBC News include O’Malley.This joint public pressure ensured O’Malley’s inclusion. It turned out to be his final debate, but it was the voters, and not outside organizations, who chose O’Malley’s fate.Dear Debate Moderators, You Are Working Up Democrats About the Wrong IssueNow, it is the DNC itself that is the culprit of such unfair practices. The party has established criteria for the December debate, which will mean that Booker and Castro could both be possibly excluded from the stage.Booker and Castro have been able to organically secure more than 200,000 unique donors each, and both have shown measurable poll support, especially with African-Americans and Latinos respectively. Excluding these two candidates of color, who represent crucial aspects of the Democratic base, from debates before Iowa could be a mistake with lasting implications for the party and country.I personally like some of these candidates, such as Booker and Castro, while I am not fond of Gabbard. But whether I like them isn’t the point. It is not my place nor anyone else’s place to deny a candidate an equal opportunity to make their case.Maybe there is an argument to be made for a smaller debate stage at some point, but the DNC has set up criteria that allows a billionaire to buy his spot while excluding serious candidates with a following and something to say.And while we’re on the subject of Tom Steyer, he has spent $47 million of his own money in what amounts to a scam. Since he needs donors only to meet the DNC’s bizarre debate criteria, he has essentially purchased his donor base, through tactics such as selling $1 swag with free shipping—usually items worth far more than $1—that has nothing to do with him or his presidential campaign. Why should he be allowed to “sell” a button about climate change or opposing Donald Trump for $1 and use that as some kind of indicia of popular support? He has also blanketed early states with enough TV ads and fancy mail to get his name identification up to the point that just enough people might utter it to a pollster because they recognize it.Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg is eschewing debates thus far, but with his $52 billion in net worth it’s not hard to imagine clever ways for him to meet future DNC debate thresholds.A debate stage that lets a white billionaire like Steyer buy his spot but excludes substantive candidates of color like Booker and Castro is neither democratic nor representative of the Democratic Party.As a person of color, I hope the DNC and the frontrunners are listening. It isn’t the DNC’s place to eliminate viable candidates before voters are allowed a say. I hope Biden, Sanders, Warren, and others will step up to tell the DNC that the Democratic Party is stronger when all viable candidates are allowed to be heard.David de la Fuente is a senior political analyst at Third Way.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


12/7/2019 4:15:35 AM

New Jersey journalist re-arrested in Nigeria after brief glimpse of freedomOmoyele Sowore, imprisoned in his home country of Nigeria since August, has been freed from government custody, but still has to stand trial.


12/7/2019 2:13:45 PM

Body of slain doctor returns home to Japan from AfghanistanThe body of a Japanese doctor killed in a roadside shooting in Afghanistan arrived back home Sunday, with government officials on hand to lead a brief ceremony of mourning at Tokyo's Narita International Airport. Tetsu Nakamura was killed last week, along with five Afghans who had been traveling with him. Keisuke Suzuki, Japan's state minister of foreign affairs, joined other officials in bowing their heads in prayer after laying flowers by the coffin, draped in white, in a solemn ceremony in honor of Nakamura at the airport.


12/8/2019 3:26:03 AM

Whistleblower goes public after leaked documents reveal China's crackdown on Uighur MuslimsA Uighur woman living in the Netherlands has gone public about helping to leak secret Chinese government documents regarding human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province because of fears for her safety. Asiye Abdulaheb told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that she was involved in last month’s leak of papers to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which highlighted the Chinese government's crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang. The reveal, which followed an earlier document leak to the New York Times, showed how the Chinese government has indoctrinated and punished over a million Muslims, mainly members of the Uighur ethnic minority, in internment camps. Ms Abdulaheb, 46, told the New York Times that she went public to dissuade Chinese authorities from harming her, her ex-husband Jasur Abibula and the former couple’s two children. She said that after tweeting an excerpt from the documents in June she received a message on Facebook saying: “If you don’t stop, you’ll end up cut into pieces in the black trash can in front of your doorway.” Ms Abdulaheb and Mr Abibula are Dutch citizens and have lived in the Netherlands since 2009. Ms Abdulaheb said she had worked in a government office in Xinjiang, and was sent the secret documents electronically by an unnamed source or sources in June. Mr Abibula was convinced by a Xinjiang-based friend to travel to Dubai in September where, according to Ms Abdulaheb, he was met by Chinese security officials. They allegedly questioned him for days and attempted to convince him to help them hack his ex-wife’s computer.  “I thought that this thing has to be made public,” Ms Abdulaheb said. “The Chinese police would definitely find us. The people in Dubai had told my ex-husband, ‘We know about all your matters. We have a lot of people in the Netherlands.’”   Beijing dismissed the documents as “fake news”, claiming that the internment camps were “re-education centres” built to quell terrorism. On 3 December the US House of Representatives passed the Uighur Act of 2019 bill, which could lead to sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the abuses.


12/8/2019 7:53:34 AM

Plot Emerged to Fix Venezuela Without Maduro or Guaido(Bloomberg) -- The standoff in Venezuela briefly took a new twist, according to a report from the Spanish newspaper ABC.People close to both President Nicolas Maduro and his rival Juan Guaido plotted to push both men aside and end the nation’s crisis with the rule of a temporary junta, the newspaper reported without citing where it got the information.The article didn’t cite sources by name, nor was it completely clear how deeply embedded the plan was before it was discovered and fell apart. But the story suggests a strong desire within the camps of both men to end the standoff between Maduro and Guaido almost a year old. Guaido, the National Assembly president, has been recognized by more than 50 countries, including the U.S., as Venezuela’s leader.Third WayThe ABC story suggested a third way, which the paper reported was born out of talks between emissaries of high-ranking Venezuelan officials with opposition leaders, in four countries between April and October this year, after huge rallies demanding Maduro’s exit.The key figure appears to be Humberto Calderon Berti, then the designated ambassador to Colombia who Guaido dismissed last month. He was the main Guaido negotiator in the talks with the emissaries for Venezuelan officials who defied Maduro.At some point in the talks, the paper said, Calderon Berti was approached to head a “transitional junta” -- a small group of powerful men who would lead the nation for 18 months. The paper said that an agreement was drafted by August, with the document outlining the political changes to oust Maduro, sideline Guaido and install the junta sent around to the key players.The Venezuelan officials who sent emissaries for the secret talks included president of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello, one of Venezuela’s most powerful men with strong ties to the military, Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.The negotiations were complex, involving the reconciliation of various factions within the army and voiding the May 2018 presidential elections Maduro is widely seen as winning only by fraud.Temporary JuntaThe paper cites discussions in which a Cabello emissary, army captain Carlos Aguilera Borjas, suggests that Calderon Berti head the temporary junta. The paper says that Maduro’s regime discovered the talks, which then came to an end.Calderon Berti told ABC newspaper that he met with Aguilera Borjas and others. But these meetings were part of his diplomatic duties and had nothing to do with a plot to form a junta, Calderon Berti said.Guaido’s representatives declined to comment on the ABC report, while the Maduro government didn’t respond to requests to do so.To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Mexico City at jorozco8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ney Hayashi at ncruz4@bloomberg.net, Ian Fisher, Matthew G. MillerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


12/8/2019 6:47:13 AM

Flu season arrives early, driven by an unexpected virusThe winter flu season is off to its earliest start in more than 15 years. An early wave of illness in the South has begun to spread more broadly, and there’s a chance flu season could peak much earlier than normal, health officials say.


12/8/2019 11:20:14 AM

13 Mythical Creatures, Ranked


12/7/2019 6:01:00 AM

With Impeachment Unfolding Amid a Booming Economy, What Will Voters Prioritize?WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump was greeted Friday morning with news of a blockbuster jobs report, showing that employers added 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, its lowest level since 1969.The country's economic condition, which has historically aligned with a president's reelection chances, should be helping Trump sail into a second term. But what should be a top indicator of Trump's performance as president came a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the House to begin drafting articles of impeachment against him.It didn't take long for Trump to tie the two together. "Without the horror show that is the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, the Stock Markets and Economy would be even better, if that is possible," he wrote on Twitter. "And the Border would be closed to the evil of Drugs, Gangs and all other problems! 2020."Such is the Trump presidency: A leader who is presiding over a record-long economic expansion that has proved more durable than anyone predicted while defending his fitness to hold office.With 11 months to go before the 2020 election, a polarized electorate is dividing itself by which storyline it views as more pertinent -- the president's potential abuse of power or the comfort of a steady paycheck credited to his leadership.The Trump campaign is betting that Trump's rote denials of pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate his political foes will eventually sway enough voters to put the entire impeachment issue to the side."Trump having a perfectly acceptable phone call with the president of Ukraine doesn't affect anybody's daily life," said Brad Parscale, the president's campaign manager. "A good job with a bigger paycheck does."But Trump's presidency is also testing conventional wisdom that a good economy is all voters need to keep the status quo rather than seek out change."Were it not for the other factors of the Trump presidency, it should be by far the most popular presidency in history, based on the economics," said Tony Fratto, founder of Hamilton Place Strategies, a public affairs firm, and a former spokesman for the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush.Instead of enjoying anything close to overwhelming popularity because of the economy, Trump's national approval rating has remained low, dropping about 2 percentage points to 41% since the Ukraine story broke. One problem with Trump's campaign message is that the economic expansion started before the president assumed office, causing many voters to take it for granted."At this point, voters may think this is just the normal economy," Fratto said. "That gives them the luxury to focus on other things, like the behavior of the president."Another factor is also at play: While Trump routinely talks up the economy, he is far more passionate when lashing out at Democrats over the impeachment inquiry, or simply riffing about the news of the day, than when discussing the stock market and unemployment rate. His off-the-cuff comments often overshadow his dutiful recitations of gains.At the White House on Friday, Trump noted in a monotone voice that the unemployment rate was "at the lowest rate, as I told you, in many years and in many ways I think we probably very soon say historically."He only seemed to come alive when discussing rolling back energy standards on light bulbs. "The new bulb is many times more expensive, and I hate to say it, it doesn't make you look as good. Of course, because being a vain person that's very important to me," he said, noting that it "gives you an orange look."Trump's penchant for steering the conversation away from the economy is frustrating for many Republicans and business leaders, given America is powering through a record 11-year expansion. Employers have hired 2.2 million people over the past 12 months, a surprisingly robust performance at a time when unemployment is at its lowest in half a century.Those gains have often come despite Trump's policies, not because of them. And it remains an open question how long the pace of growth can continue.The president's globe-spanning trade war has put businesses on edge and slowed their investment. Manufacturing has dipped into outright contraction as weak global growth and geopolitical tensions weigh on exports.Trump's economic advisers have been keenly aware of the need to keep the economy humming as the president heads into a reelection year. "America is working, and not only is America working, America is getting paid after taxes," Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser, said Friday. "I don't see any end to it right now. What I see is more strength."Administration officials have been exploring ways to ensure the expansion continues, including tax cuts aimed directly at the middle class. The White House has not indicated which income brackets would see a lower rate, but Trump is expected to back a plan that would make permanent the individual tax cuts included in the tax package he signed in 2017. Those cuts are now slated to expire in 2025.Trump has dangled the additional tax cuts as a reason voters should back him and Republican House candidates, warning that the economy -- and retirement accounts -- will tank if Democrats win the White House."If any of these people that I've been watching on this stage got elected, your 401(k)s would be down the tubes," Trump said in October. "You'd destroy the country."At rallies and speeches, he has told supporters, "you have no choice but to vote for me," citing dire economic consequences of electing any of the Democratic candidates, whom he has tried to broadly portray as a band of extreme socialists.So far, the economy is complying with Trump's reelection message.Average hourly earnings increased 3.1% in the year through November, a moderate but sustainable pace. Bigger paychecks have given consumers more cash to spend on everything from restaurant meals to holiday shopping, helping to power the economy.Such a strong economic track record should help insulate Trump from attacks by Democrats claiming that they can do a better job managing the economy. So far, his rivals have floated plans that they say would spread wealth more equitably by raising taxes on corporations and the rich to finance universal health care and free college tuition.But Democrats have found a ripe opening in impeachment to hone their attacks on Trump."The Constitution makes clear no one is above the law," Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a recent interview with MSNBC. "I hope we hold him accountable."Even without the impeachment drama, it's not clear that the economy will continue complying with Trump's campaign messaging.Trump said this week that trade talks with China may last past the 2020 election, rattling stock markets around the world. Additional tariffs on Chinese goods are slated to take hold Dec. 15, and it is unclear whether they will be delayed. Global growth remains fragile, and while many economists expect it to accelerate in 2020, that forecast could be upended by an escalation in the trade war."We're really in terra incognita here, I think, in terms of what's possible next year, just given all of the geopolitical factors at play," said Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at Evercore ISI.Trump has jawboned the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates more aggressively, blaming the central bank for not doing enough to propel the economy. The Fed cut rates three times in 2019 as it tried to insulate the economy against trade tensions and slowing global growth, but it is unlikely that it will cut borrowing costs again without good reason.For now, Trump is hoping his economic message wins out over impeachment, an issue campaign advisers predicted would be firmly in the rearview mirror by November."Stock Markets Up Record Numbers," Trump tweeted Friday, adding: "It's the economy, stupid."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


12/7/2019 9:05:15 AM

5-Year-Old Carried a Toddler Through Minus 31-Degree Weather After Left Alone in Alaska HomeThe children, who were dressed just in socks and light clothing, both received cold-related injuries


12/8/2019 1:08:01 PM

Day 5 of public transport chaos as French strike bitesFrench commuters and tourists braced for a fifth day of public transport chaos Monday as the government prepared to respond to widespread anger over pension reform that has sparked open-ended walkouts. President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and senior cabinet ministers met late Sunday to discuss the contentious reform, which the country's powerful labour unions claim will force many to work longer for a smaller retirement payout. As both the government and unions vowed to stand firm, businesses started counting the costs of the strike which began last Thursday when some 800,000 people took to the streets across France in a mass rejection of plans to introduce a single, points-based pension scheme, unifying 42 existing plans.


12/8/2019 7:32:21 PM