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  • In Trump impeachment trial, Nadler presses case by quoting Lindsey Graham — from 1999

    Golocal247.com news

    Rep. Jerry Nadler employed a video clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham during Thursday’s testimony of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to make the case that a president need not have committed a crime in order to be removed from office.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 15:25:53 -0500
  • Ex-Maryland police officer has been charged with raping and attempting to transmit HIV to a woman he pulled over

    Golocal247.com news

    A Maryland Grand Jury has indicted former police officer Martique Vanderpool on charges that he raped and attempted to expose a woman with HIV.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:06:35 -0500
  • A University of Minnesota student was arrested in China and sentenced to 6 months in prison for tweeting cartoons making fun of President Xi Jingping

    Golocal247.com news

    According to Chinese court documents obtained by Axios, 20-year-old Luo Daiqing was arrested after returning to Wuhan for summer break.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 09:18:05 -0500
  • US military investigating after finding Pornhub video of Navy service members shot through peephole

    Golocal247.com news

    The Navy is reportedly investigating videos found on the website Pornhub that they believe show unsuspecting service members through a peephole in a bathroom.The videos were discovered earlier this month by an agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Series, according to a report by NBC News.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 16:34:47 -0500
  • Damaged By Drone Strike: Suleimani's Sainthood Is Now Being Questioned

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran’s brand is thinning among the Shi’a and Suleimani’s departure creates breathing room for the Shi’a in the region.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:52:00 -0500
  • Victims' bodies still at New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel months after collapse

    Golocal247.com news

    * Wind blows tarp off one of two bodies amid ruins * Unstable building to be imploded in MarchThree months after the partial collapse of the Hard Rock hotel construction site on the tip of New Orleans’s historic French Quarter, a macabre reminder of the tragedy that claimed three lives was visible to passersby this week.Among the collapsed building’s twisted remains and rubble, the dangling legs of a wedged corpse were revealed to the public after a tarpaulin sheet covering the body was blown away by wind.The gruesome sight came as city officials are scrambling to dismantle the 18-storey, 350-room hotel, which remains an eyesore and still holds the trapped remains of two workers, Quinnyon Wimberly and José Ponce Arreola.After images of the exposed corpse provoked outrage on social media, city firefighters installed a new tarp on Wednesday afternoon. As of Thursday morning the covering remained intact, as police maintained a heavy presence around the collapsed building.The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, urged members of the public and the media not to photograph or share images of the body.“To be clear: capturing or sharing images of the victims in such a condition is irresponsible, it is indefensible, and it is not who we are as New Orleanians,” a statement from the mayor’s office read. “We urge news outlets, residents, and social media users to have nothing to do with making a tragic situation needlessly worse.”Cantrell has faced significant criticism for her handling of the saga and it remains unclear if the collapse is being criminally investigated. Last week, city officials announced new plans to implode the building by mid-March, after the firm that owns the site – 1031 Canal Street Development – had lobbied for a gradual demolition process that would have extended into next year.The mayor’s office said on Wednesday that “respectful recovery of the remains” is still a “top priority” but that the building’s continued instability had made recovery “extremely difficult and very dangerous”. One of the bodies is trapped over 11 storeys above street level.A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office declined to comment further on Thursday.The city is preparing for the annual Mardi Gras season, which draws about a million tourists to New Orleans in February and brings in about $400m to the local economy.The collapse has also drawn attention to the plight of the city’s undocumented community after one worker, Delmer Joel Ramírez Palma, was deported to Honduras by federal authorities, having been hospitalized due to injuries sustained during the incident.Ramírez Palma had alerted authorities to dangers in the construction process before the collapse and was interviewed by Spanish language TV in the aftermath. He had lived in New Orleans for 18 years.Several lawsuits have been filed against the project’s developers and contracts, citing allegations of negligence. Plaintiffs include both bystanders and workers injured during the collapse.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:19:43 -0500
  • Leading white nationalist accused of threats on message app

    Golocal247.com news

    A leading white nationalist has been indicted and arrested on federal charges that he threatened to rape the wife of a person with whom he was having a dispute. Christopher Cantwell, a New Hampshire resident who rose to prominence in 2017 after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is accused of using the Telegram messaging app to make the threat on June 16, 2019. Cantwell pleaded guilty in 2018 to assault after he was accused of using pepper spray against two counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:38:15 -0500
  • The Attacks on Bernie Are Further Proof That ‘Victim’ Hillary Is Not Good at This

    Golocal247.com news

    A Hillary Clinton hot take is in the headlines again: According to her, “nobody likes” presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with Clinton, a promotional piece for the upcoming Hulu documentary about her political career, in which the former secretary of state was asked about a statement she’d made during the documentary.The interviewer, Lacey Rose, asked:> In the doc, you’re brutally honest on Sanders: “He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” That assessment still hold?Hillary replied, simply: “Yes, it does.”Next, Rose asked Clinton whether or not she would support Sanders if he were to become the Democratic nominee. Clinton said: “I’m not going to go there yet” — and then proceeded to attack Sanders’s supporters for what she calls their “relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women,” accusing Bernie himself of having “not only permitted” “this culture,” but also seeming “to really be very much supporting it.”Later, continuing the discussion about what Clinton sees as Bernie’s “pattern” of sexism, Clinton offered as evidence the fact that Sanders had told her that she was “unqualified” when they were both running for the Democratic nomination in 2016. (Note: This “unqualified” comment, made during an April 2016 debate, was in response to Clinton questioning Sanders’s own qualifications. It is more than worth noting that, in making this criticism, Sanders stuck to questioning her on her past policy only, pointing out blunders such as her vote in favor of the Iraq War.)So, what came of all of Clinton’s brutal attacks on Sanders? Did his supporters flee? Did people express their deepest sympathies that Clinton had to encounter him?Nope; far from it. In fact, ILikeBernie started trending on Twitter. Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson shared a screenshot showing that he’d just donated to Sanders, telling Clinton: “Every time you trash him, I will give more.” Bernie’s competitors for the nomination, Representative Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire Tom Steyer, weighed in to say that they also “like” him.The backlash was so bad, in fact, that Clinton took to her own Twitter account to backtrack, clarifying that she would, in fact, support whomever became the Democratic nominee.Personally, I am left thinking one thing: Hillary Clinton is not good at this.Despite the fact that Clinton has been in politics for decades, it seems that her political instincts are actually quite terrible. This is not the first time during the primary that Clinton has helped a candidate she’d intended to bring down.In October, Clinton made the absurd, baseless allegation that Tulsi Gabbard was being “groomed” by the Russians. (Note: She offered no proof.) When Gabbard responded harshly — which I can’t say I wouldn’t do if someone were making those accusations about me — a Clinton spokesman went after her for doing so, slamming her for her “[d]ivisive language filled with vitriol.”And what happened then? Well, first, Gabbard got a bump in the polls — a significant enough one, in fact, to earn her a spot at the November Democratic primary debate. This week, it’s also been announced that Gabbard is suing Clinton for defamation over the “Russian asset” remarks.Like I said: Hillary Clinton is not good at this. Now, I can’t help but notice a common theme when it comes to the way Clinton and her team seem to approach the political arena. All too often, they can’t resist the urge to make things about her.To Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is bad because she and her buddies in Congress don’t “like” him. He’s sexist because he told her that she wasn’t “qualified.” After Tulsi Gabbard defended herself against Clinton’s brutal, objectively unfair attacks, Clinton’s spokesperson wasted no time aiming to get sympathy for Clinton over them -- pointing out how Clinton had had to endure Tulsi’s supposed “vitriol.”This is, unfortunately for Clinton, more of the exact same thing that we saw throughout her failed 2016 election campaign. The most obvious example, of course, would be that campaign slogan: “I’m With Her.” Rather than choose something that even so much as hinted to the American people what she would do for them, she chose instead to make the focus on them needing to be there for her. She was calling on voters to be there for her against sexism, there for her against the brutal attacks from that evil orange monster, Donald J. Trump. In fact, many people struggled to find any sort of message in Clinton’s campaign — except, of course, for the fact that Trump is mean to her, and that, in order to be a decent person, you had to help her deal with that by being with her, against Trump.Of course, I’m not saying that women in politics don’t face sexism. They do. In fact, women in anything have to face sexism — and if you don’t believe me, then I’d suggest you try asking one.What’s more, I’m also not denying the fact that Donald Trump has his own brand of self-absorption. He does, and that’s obvious — whether the septuagenarian is calling himself a “young, vibrant man” or talking about his “beautiful head of hair,” it’s really no secret that Donald Trump spends a decent amount of time thinking about how fond he is of, well, Donald Trump.Hillary’s self-obsession, however, is different. Unlike Trump, she is quite clearly particularly obsessed with feeling sorry for herself — and she wants, more than anything, for other people to feel sorry for her, too. She has a pattern of blatantly seeking sympathy even when it’s outright ridiculous for her to do so. Hillary Clinton had the backing of the entire DNC during her 2016 run, and yet, after she lost, all she could do was whine incessantly about how many people had wronged her throughout the process and made it so unfair. You know, like James Comey. Or the media. Or white women. Or Russia. Hell, at one point, she even had the nerve to call herself “a victim of . . . the assumption” that she “was going to win.”In her memoir — which is, in all honesty, nothing more than a glorified pity party on paper -- she whines that “[t]here are times when all I want to do is scream into a pillow.” Elsewhere, she complains about how hard it was for her to write the book (which, by the way, broke sales records and made her millions):“Literally, at times when I was writing it, I had to go lie down,” she said. “I just couldn’t bear to relive it.”Make no mistake: Hillary Clinton’s attempts to seek sympathy in recent years are endless. Worse, this “strategy” also isn’t new: When she was running against President Obama in 2008, her performance in one of the debates was so drenched in her woe-is-me-attitude that Politico published a piece declaring: “Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee didn’t work. Hillary Clinton as the front-runner didn’t work. So how about Hillary Clinton as the victim?”Yes: Hillary Clinton is consumed by feeling sorry for herself. What’s more, she has obviously been operating under the false notion that all she needs to do is get others to share in this obsession, and then that will translate into political support. She must feel this way; there’s no other reason she’d keep doing it.Here, though, is the problem: Expecting support simply because of the ways you say you’ve been wronged is just as bad as expecting support simply because you say you are, shall we say, “a very stable genius.”Actually? In some ways, it’s kind of worse.Now, it’s important to point out that Trump, unlike Clinton, has managed to pause his self-obsession long enough to communicate his vision for the country. Yes, he may change his mind at times — but he’s at least attempted to maintain his focus on what he wants to do for the country. You may disagree with what he says he wants to do (and I, for one, certainly have disagreed at times) but at least Trump talks about his message enough for people to have some understanding of what the hell it is.Even if he hadn’t been able to do this though, I think I’d still find his brand of self-obsession less obnoxious than Clinton’s. Trump may consistently be trying to paint himself as a rich, attractive, unparalleled savior of the world, but Clinton is consistently trying to paint herself as some kind of sick, flea-infested, three-legged street puppy — and, I’ve got to say, I have a pretty hard time feeling sorry for her.When we talk about Hillary Clinton, after all, we are hardly talking about someone who is struggling to make it in the world. We’re not talking about someone on the streets or in a shelter; we’re talking about an Ivy League-educated former secretary of state who is worth tens of millions of dollars. We are talking about someone who earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech. (In other words? For an hour of talking.) Given all that, I have to admit that I do find it kind of hard to spend any time feeling bad for such a rich, influential person -- especially while I’m sitting here in my rental apartment.Now, I certainly wouldn’t say that Trump necessarily handles any attacks “better” than Clinton does. He, after all, has a tendency to lash out and insult people, and he’s said a lot of things in response to criticism with which I’ve definitely had a problem. What’s more, he also certainly does his own fair share of complaining. (Have you ever hear him talk about the media?)The difference, though, is that he seems to aim to do so from a position of toughness. I’ve heard him call many things “unfair,” and yet I’ve never once felt as though he wanted me to feel sorry for him. If Trump loses this election, I don’t doubt that he will take as little responsibility for his own loss as Hillary Clinton did hers, but I also don’t anticipate him expecting an international pity party because of it.Maybe by that time, no matter who wins, Clinton will have finally decided to end her own pity party. I, at least, certainly would hope so. After all (as someone who had to ask a friend what I was looking at in an Instagram photo of the interior of a private jet yesterday), I’ve really have a pretty hard time feeling too bad for either one of them -- and I don’t think I’m alone.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 16:33:23 -0500
  • In southern Poland, archaeologists discover WW2 plane wreck

    Archaeologists have discovered the wreck of a U.S.-made bomber flown by the Soviet Red Army in World War Two, along with the remains of four crewmen killed when it crashed in southern Poland, private broadcaster TVN reported. Marta Wrobel in the town of Bierun during the war and told TVN that the blast from the crash had been powerful enough to blow out windows and doors. The remains of the four Soviet crewmen who perished in the crash will be laid to rest at a nearby Red Army cemetery.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:26:41 -0500
  • Donald Trump is suddenly scared of Mike Bloomberg — as he should be

    Golocal247.com news

    Mike Bloomberg probably isn’t going to win the Democratic nomination for president. But he might beat Donald Trump anyway. The reason? Well, there are a couple billion of them — namely, the $2 billion Bloomberg plans to spend on Democrats' behalf.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 17:30:05 -0500
  • These 9 Dining Chairs Are Sculptural, Surprising, and Downright Sleek

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

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 08:00:00 -0500
  • Dems soften tone after Nadler dust-up

    Golocal247.com news

    The seven House Democrats prosecuting Trump have adopted a more deferential tone.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 13:48:54 -0500
  • Australia's Kangaroo Island is looking for volunteers to feed animals injured in bushfires

    Golocal247.com news

    Nearly half of Kangaroo Island was burned by the bushfires this month alone. The RSPCA has posted an application form.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:10:25 -0500
  • Face masks aren't a very effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus, experts say, despite spiking sales

    Golocal247.com news

    Wearing a face mask won't protect you from the Wuhan coronavirus as much as washing your hands and avoiding contact with anyone who may be infected.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:01:00 -0500
  • Successor to slain Iran general will be murdered if he kills Americans: U.S. envoy

    Golocal247.com news

    The successor to the Iranian commander killed in a U.S. drone strike would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path by killing Americans, the U.S. special representative for Iran said, according to the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 10:48:58 -0500
  • China Praised By Germany For Transparency in Combating Virus

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- China is doing a better job and the world community is more prepared in dealing with the new coronavirus than they were during the 2002 to 2003 SARS episode, Germany’s health minister said in an interview.“There’s a big difference to SARS. We have a much more transparent China,” Jens Spahn told Bloomberg TV on Friday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “The action of China is much more effective in the first days already.”The World Health Organization on Thursday stopped short of calling the new SARS-like virus from central China a global health emergency.Chinese official have imposed travel restrictions on millions of people as Singapore reported a case of the new virus.Read More:WHO Says Coronavirus Remains Local Chinese Emergency for NowSingapore Reports Virus Case as China Limits Some TravelWuhan Virus Lockdown Casts Cloud Over Industry & Tech HubMapping the Outbreak of China’s CoronavirusGlobal health authorities are also better prepared today, said Spahn.“We learned a lot because of SARS. The WTO has reformed, developed permanent institutions of exchange,” the 39-year-old former under-secretary of finance said. “We know what do. That’s an important signal for people back home too.”G20 health ministers have been rehearsing for emergencies since SARS and Ebola, he added.“Our national health systems in Europe and in the U.S., by the way in many western countries -- we are able to deal with this. As soon as somebody is found with this infection, he’ll be put in an isolated station,” said Spahn.The virus is believed to have emerged last month in a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, spreading from infected animals to humans.To contact the reporters on this story: Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.net;Francine Lacqua in Davos, Switzerland at flacqua@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond Colitt, Andrew BlackmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 03:37:09 -0500
  • Want To Start A War With America? Go Try To Sink An Aircraft Carrier

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran and China shouldn't test their luck.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 16:00:00 -0500
  • Belarus' leader blasts Russia for pushing merger of 2 states

    Golocal247.com news

    The president of Belarus on Friday accused Moscow of pressuring his country to merge with Russia and vowed not to let it happen. The statement comes amid stalled talks on further strengthening economic ties between two countries, seen in Belarus as Moscow's plot to swallow its post-Soviet neighbor.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:44:00 -0500
  • Trump's threat to muzzle Bolton could undermine constitution, experts say

    Golocal247.com news

    President’s executive privilege claims mark ‘wholesale attempt to silence key witnesses’, says Obama administration lawyerDonald Trump’s threat to assert executive privilege in his impeachment defense to try to curb testimony by his former national security adviser John Bolton is an attempt to silence a key witness and could undermine constitutional principles, ex-justice department officials and legal scholars warn.Bolton, a controversial figure whom a former colleague has testified had grave doubts about Trump’s pressure tactics to get Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden, has indicated he would testify before the impeachment trial if he were subpoenaed.Trump’s move comes after his absolute immunity claims during the House impeachment inquiry, which helped thwart testimony by other current and former top aides, such as the ex-White House counsel Don McGahn, sparking court challenges and a federal judge’s ruling that “presidents are not kings”.Trump’s hardball legal tactics in the House prompted the second impeachment article of obstruction of Congress. The lead impeachment manager, the congressman Adam Schiff, said last Thursday: “In the history of the republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry,” stressing that nine administration officials had not complied with House subpoenas.The key impeachment article charges Trump with abusing his office to benefit his 2020 campaign by secretly withholding almost $400m in military aid to Ukraine and a Washington DC meeting with its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, unless Kyiv publicly announced an inquiry into the former vice-president Joe Biden, and his son Hunter’s past ties to a Ukrainian energy firm.In their legal rebuttal to the impeachment charges, Trump’s lawyers said he “unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment”.But the prospect of Bolton’s testimony seems to unnerve Trump. In a Fox News interview, Trump said invoking executive privilege if Bolton testified would be “for the sake of future presidents”, a move that could curb, but not block entirely, potentially harmful testimony by Bolton.In Davos on Wednesday, Trump told reporters that Bolton testimony would raise some “national security” problems, noting too that Bolton had departed “probably” not “on the best of terms … You don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”Whether Bolton testifies won’t be clear unless a majority of the Senate votes to allow witnesses, which most of Trump’s Republican allies are expected to oppose. Four GOP members would have to join Democrats for new witnesses to testify.Ex-justice department officials say Trump has escalated his use of dubious legal tactics, including claims of absolute immunity and executive privilege, in impeachment battles.“What Trump is doing is a wholesale attempt to silence key witnesses who might have relevant testimony,” said Joshua Geltzer, who was a senior justice lawyer in the area of national security during the Obama administration and is a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center.Other ex-prosecutors share Geltzer’s concerns about Trump’s executive privilege threats.“The idea that a president would invoke executive privilege to block his own impeachment is pretty close to frivolous,” said Paul Rosenzweig, an ex-prosecutor who was a senior counsel on Ken Starr’s team during the Clinton impeachment. “It shows the extent to which Trump is willing to go to assert executive privilege that hasn’t really existed before.”Rosenzweig, now a senior fellow on national and cybersecurity at the non-partisan R Street Institute, added: “If the Senate lets him get away with it, [that] would be the ultimate example of undermining separation of powers, and a new example of Republican cravenness.”Pressure for more witnesses has been increasing.The House intelligence committee recently released a trove of incriminating documents and text messages from Lev Parnas, an indicted ally of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who worked to dig up dirt on the Bidens and pressure Zelenskiy to investigate their Ukraine roles. Parnas, a Ukrainian American, recently told Rachel Maddow that Trump had been “aware” of everything and “knew exactly what was going on”.But even if Trump asserts executive privilege, that wouldn’t stop Bolton or others from answering certain questions that might hurt Trump, says the ex-federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin.For instance, if Bolton was asked why he said Giuliani was a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up”, as House testimony by a colleague indicated, “assertion of executive privilege should not prevent him from answering”, Zeldin said.A few moderate GOP senators, led by Susan Collins, seem to be moving to support witnesses. Collins said last Thursday that she would “likely” support calling witnesses, and she has reportedly been talking to four like-minded senators, enhancing the chances of some new witness testimony.“The White House would be wasting its time to meet with and lobby those four senators against calling witnesses or issuing subpoenas,” said the veteran Republican operative Charlie Black.The Washington Post reported on Monday that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, had been talking to Trump’s lawyers about a controversial fallback plan, if Bolton testifies: questioning could take place in secret to limit public attention.Such a move in an impeachment trial could backfire legally, said Rosenzweig. “To classify Bolton’s testimony solely to conceal Trump’s violations of law, is itself a violation of law,” he said.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 05:08:33 -0500
  • 'Serious safety risk': Man arrested after pointing laser at planes, temporarily blinding one pilot

    Golocal247.com news

    Two planes were struck by a laser, temporarily blinding one pilot, as they flew into Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Wednesday night.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:46:01 -0500
  • Protest violence won't work, leading Hong Kong activist says

    Golocal247.com news

    Escalating protest violence is not the way to bring about change, Hong Kong democracy activist Jason Ng has said, urging demonstrators to embrace non-violent means in the struggle to throw off a feared tightening of Beijing's control. With the movement in a less frenetic and ferocious stage after seven months of unrest, Ng, who is also a lawyer, said people in Hong Kong were taking time to process what had happened and reflect on the way forward. Speaking to AFP in an interview in Barcelona, Ng said he hoped the protests would return to the non-violent ethos that had characterised the Umbrella Revolution, the mass pro-democracy demonstrations of 2014.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 21:34:00 -0500
  • Mother says she sang to her three children as she smothered them

    Golocal247.com news

    A young mother in Arizona has reportedly told police that she killed her three children before placing them in the living room as if they were sleeping.Other family members were in the home at the time.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 10:06:40 -0500
  • Bernie Sanders is embracing an endorsement from Joe Rogan, who's getting blasted for his past sexist and racist comments

    Golocal247.com news

    Some Sanders supporters praised the candidate for reaching across the aisle, while others scorned him for accepting Rogan's support.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 16:05:00 -0500
  • Virologist who helped identify SARS on coronavirus outbreak: 'This time I'm scared'

    Golocal247.com news

    Experts are seeing shocking similarities between the coronavirus that has now spread beyond China and the SARS outbreak of 2003.Like the infectious pneumonia that has killed at least 17 people, SARS was caused by a coronavirus that originated in China. But when one of the virologists who helped identify the SARS virus visited Wuhan, where this virus originated, he didn't see nearly enough being done to fight it. People were out at markets without masks, "preparing to ring in the New Year in peace and had no sense about the epidemic," Guan Yi of the University of Hong Kong's State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases told Caixin. Airports were hardly being disinfected, Guan continued, saying the local government hasn't "even been handing out quarantine guides to people who were leaving the city."The city did disinfect the market where the virus has been traced to, but Guan criticized Wuhan for that, saying it hurts researchers' abilities to track down the virus's source. "I've never felt scared," Guan told Caixin. "This time I'm scared."A case involving the coronavirus was identified in Washington state on Wednesday, and cases have also been identified in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. A total of 639 cases were confirmed in China.More stories from theweek.com Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek 14 dead, hundreds injured after 6.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey Donald Trump and the moral decline of the pro-life movement

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 17:58:00 -0500
  • Photos from the Lunar New Year show how coronavirus turned China's biggest party into a washout

    Golocal247.com news

    Here are photos comparing last year's celebration — complete with Chinese lions, historical dances, and family time — to this year.

    Sat, 25 Jan 2020 00:55:13 -0500
  • Italy's Crazy World War II Strategy of "Human Torpedoes"

    Golocal247.com news

    Was it successful?

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 22:00:00 -0500
  • Angela Merkel Says Fight Against Climate Change ‘Matter of Survival’

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she’s worried about the growing conflict between young campaigners for a cleaner planet and those who reject global warming.Their stances have become “irreconcilable” and led to a gap in dialog just when nations need collective actionon climate change, Merkel said Thursday in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.“The question of achieving the Paris Agreement goals could be a matter of survival for the whole continent and that is why there is pressure to act,” said Merkel. Scientific evidence is clear and emotions should not be confused with facts, she said.Merkel’s comments follow remarks By Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist behind an international wave of student climate strikes. She told leaders that the rate of global warming should make them start to panic. President Donald Trump blasted the “prophets of doom” on the same day in the Swiss resort village in a speech which focused squarely on the U.S. economy.In an oblique reference to young environment activists, Merkel said those who are campaigning for a more trenchant policy to counteract global warming deserve a hearing. The “impatience of young people” must be addressed, she said.Europe and beyond faces a “decade of action,” said Merkel, citing words said previously by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations.Merkel is making climate policy a focus of her last full year as chancellor of Europe’s biggest economy. In the wake of mass protests, her administration sought to kick start a stalled climate agenda with a series of measures to help get Germany achieve steep cuts in carbon emissions.Germany, which is also Europe’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has lagged meeting its climate targets. It aims to cut emissions 40% by this year compared with 1990 levels, yet needs to close a big gap to get there.The moves include placing levies on transportation, investing heavily in railways and applying a timetable for power companies to exit coal. Yet critics say the measures are too little and too late, and that tax payers ought not to be paying billion-dollar compensations to utilities.(Updates and rewrites from first paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Raymond Colitt in Berlin at rcolitt@bloomberg.net;Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.net;Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Jonathan TironeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 11:11:50 -0500
  • House is given tape of Trump calling for ambassador's ouster

    Golocal247.com news

    An associate of Rudy Giuliani has provided congressional investigators with a recording of President Donald Trump saying he wanted to get rid of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, whose ouster emerged as an issue in the president’s impeachment, his attorney told The Associated Press on Friday. The Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, attended a small dinner with Trump at his Washington hotel in April 2018. Joseph Bondy, Parnas’ lawyer, said he turned over to the House Intelligence Committee a recording from the dinner in which Trump demands the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 17:36:37 -0500
  • Two pedestrians killed by snowplow in Kansas

    Golocal247.com news

    The two victims were struck by a snowplow north of the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, authorities said.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 18:39:20 -0500
  • 'End of the world': Wuhan a ghost town under quarantine

    Golocal247.com news

    Wuhan residents called for help and shared worries of food shortages Thursday, with streets in the virus-hit central Chinese city left deserted after it was put on lockdown. After he bought some, the person behind him in the queue bought the remaining stock in the shop.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 10:48:23 -0500
  • 'The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions': did Arkansas kill an innocent man?

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    Revealed: two years after Ledell Lee was executed, damning evidence emerges that experts say could prove his innocenceThe day before Ledell Lee was executed on 20 April 2017, he talked to the BBC from death row. He said that while he could not prevent the state of Arkansas from killing him, he had a message for his executioners: “My dying words will always be, as it has been: ‘I am an innocent man’.”Almost two years after Lee was strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs, it looks increasingly likely he was telling the truth: he went to his death an innocent man. New evidence has emerged that suggests Lee was not guilty of the brutal murder of a woman in 1993 for which his life was taken.The deceased inmate’s sister Patricia Young lodged a lawsuit on Thursday with the circuit court of Pulaski county, Arkansas, petitioning city authorities and the local police department in Jacksonville to release crime scene materials to her family.The ACLU and the Innocence Project, who are investigating the case on the family’s behalf, believe state-of-the-art forensic examination of the materials, including DNA testing and fingerprint analysis, could definitively prove Arkansas did indeed execute an innocent man.An 81-page filing in the lawsuit provides damning new evidence that key aspects of the prosecution case against Lee were deeply flawed. The complaint includes expert opinion from a number of world-leading specialists who find glaring errors in the way forensic science and other evidence was interpreted.The lawsuit also includes a bombshell affidavit from Lee’s post-conviction attorney who admits to having struggled with substance abuse and addiction throughout the years in which he represented him.Lawyers who prepared the filing, led by Cassandra Stubbs of the ACLU and the Innocence Project’s Nina Morrison, conclude: “It is now clear that the state’s forensic experts from trial misinterpreted the evidence in plain sight, and their flawed opinions were further distorted by the state in its zeal to convict [Lee] of the crime. The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions about the shaky evidentiary pillars on which the state executed Ledell Lee.”Innocence has always been the achilles heel of America’s death penalty: how to justify judicially killing prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted. The question is far from academic: since 1973 no fewer than 167 death row inmates have been exonerated.The most harrowing question is whether innocent prisoners have been executed before the flawed nature of their convictions emerged. In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest that innocent men have been put to death.They include Cameron Todd Willingham executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly having caused a fire that killed his three young daughters. After the execution, further evidence emerged that conclusively showed that he could not have set the fire.The Columbia Human Rights Law Review carried out a groundbreaking investigation in which it concluded Carlos DeLuna was innocent when he was executed – also by Texas – in 1989. The six-year study discovered that the convicted prisoner had almost certainly been confused with another man, a violent criminal who shared the name Carlos.Now Ledell Lee looks as though he may be added to the grim rollcall of the wrongly executed. He relentlessly insisted he was not guilty from the moment he was arrested less than two hours after the brutally beaten body of Debra Reese was discovered in her home in Jacksonville on 9 February 1993.The difficulties with the case against Lee began almost immediately. He was picked up nowhere near the crime scene and was not in possession of any possessions that could be linked to the break-in at Reese’s home.The only evidence against him was inconclusive at best. There were two eyewitnesses, but they gave conflicting reports of the suspect’s identification.> In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest innocent men have been put to deathThe crime scene was shocking, with blood splattered over the walls and floor. Yet when Lee was arrested on the same day detectives could find no blood on his clothes or body including under his fingernails and nothing was found in a forensic search of his house.Given the paucity of evidence, it is not surprising that it took two trials to find Lee guilty and sentence him to death. The first trial collapsed after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.The ACLU and Innocence Project took up Lee’s case very late in the day having been asked to get involved shortly before his scheduled execution date. What they discovered when they opened the case records astounded even these experienced death penalty lawyers.Very quickly they established there were major problems with the prosecution case against Lee. One area that especially concerned them was the inadequacy of Lee’s legal representation, both during the second trial in which defense attorneys inexplicably failed to call alibi witnesses that could have placed Lee elsewhere at the time of the murder, and in terms of the help he received at the appeal stage of his case.At one post-conviction hearing, a lawyer working for the state of Arkansas approached the judge and raised concerns about Lee’s attorney, Craig Lambert. “Your honor, I don’t do this lightly, but I’m going to ask that the court require him to submit to a drug test,” the counsel said. “He’s just not with us … His speech is slurred.”In an affidavit obtained since Lee’s execution, signed by Lambert in October, the lawyer admits: “I was struggling with substance abuse and addiction in those years. I attended inpatient rehab. Ledell’s case was massive and I wasn’t in the best place personally to do what was necessary.”Partly as a result of poor legal representation, terrible errors were made in Lee’s defense – both at trial and for years afterwards during the appeals process. The complaint goes into detail about these “deeply troubling” shortcomings.One of the key examples relates to the marks found on the victim’s cheek. The state’s experts mistakenly interpreted the marks as having come from a pattern on a rug in Reese’s bedroom where she had been beaten to death with a wooden tire club.In fact, the filing says, the pattern on the body’s cheek did not match that on the rug. Instead it was consistent with the murderer stomping on Reese’s face directly with his shoe.That is critically significant because the shoes that Lee was wearing that day, which the state used during the trial as evidence against him, were incompatible in the composition of their soles with the injury pattern on Reese’s face.To establish this point, an affidavit is provided by Michael Baden, former chief pathologist for New York who is recognized internationally as a leading forensic pathologist. He concludes: “The soles of Mr Lee’s sneakers have a much more closely spaced pattern than was transferred in the cheek imprint.”That inconsistency is just one of many that were uncovered when Baden and four other specialists were invited to review the case.Lee was executed in a flurry. When the state of Arkansas realized its supply of one of its three lethal drugs, the sedative midazolam, was about to expire at the end of 2017 with no hope of replacing it due to a global ban on medicines being sent to the US for use in executions, it went into overdrive.It announced plans to kill eight prisoners in 11 days.The declaration prompted revulsion from around the US and the world and accusations that the state was engaging in conveyor-belt executions. It was in that climate that attempts by the ACLU and the Innocence Project to have materials gathered at the crime scene of Reese’s murder released for DNA testing fell on deaf ears.Though the lawyers presented a strong argument that DNA testing could be crucial in casting doubt on Lee’s conviction and pointing towards the real killer, a federal district court denied the request on grounds that Lee had “simply delayed too long” in asking for the materials.It is too late now for Lee. But his lawyers hope that it is not too late to get to the bottom of the case posthumously.The city of Jacksonville is in possession of a rich array of crime scene materials including “Negroid” hairs collected from Reese’s bedroom and fingernail scrapings likely to contain DNA from the actual killer – Lee or otherwise.“This evidence can now be tested with state-of-the-art methods unavailable at trial, and compared to Mr Lee’s unique DNA profile,” the filing says.After a welter of legal challenges, Arkansas succeeded in killing four prisoners in one week, including the first double execution held in the US in a single day since 2001. The first of the four to die was Ledell Lee.Should Arkansas now agree belatedly to hand over the crime scene materials for testing, he may yet be proven to have been, just as he always said he was, an innocent man.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 10:00:00 -0500
  • New Moon Photos! Get Your New Moon Photos Here!

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    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 17:38:00 -0500
  • White House breaks silence on Jeff Bezos phone-hacking scandal, calls Saudi Arabia an 'important ally'

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    The White House weighed in on reports that Saudi Arabia hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone, saying it takes the situation seriously.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 13:10:59 -0500
  • Philippine President Duterte threatens to end military deal with U.S.

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    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the United States on Thursday he would repeal an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises if Washington did not reinstate the visa of a political ally.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:51:50 -0500
  • 2 elephants escaped a circus in Russia and rolled around in the snow before being recaptured

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    Two elephants escaped a circus in Yekaterinburg, Russia. One of them rolled around in the snow. It took a dozen people to wrangle them.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:20:42 -0500
  • UK to use high tariff threat to raise pressure in trade negotiations: The Times

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    Johnson and his cabinet ministers discussed using tariffs as "leverage" in an effort to accelerate trade talks at a meeting this week which could result in taxes of 30% on some types of French cheese and 10% on German cars, the newspaper reported. The UK will largely replicate the EU tariff schedule which will be published and lodged at the World Trade Organisation, according to the newspaper.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:46:52 -0500
  • Trump reverses stance on Medicare, Social Security cuts, and Dems pounce

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    While much of the nation was focused on President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, he gave an interview in Davos, Switzerland, that undercut one of his key pledges from the 2016 campaign, declaring his intention to “take a look” at cutting benefits to entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:10:35 -0500
  • Senators reportedly laugh as Democrats play clip of former Trump official calling out Rudy Giuliani

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    Democrats are continuing to make their impeachment argument by citing President Trump's allies and officials, this time getting in a dig at Rudy Giuliani in the process. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), one of the impeachment managers who spoke Thursday in Democrats' second day of opening arguments in the Senate's trial, took apart the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election by hacking the Democratic National Committee.To make her point that this theory has no basis in reality, Garcia referred to the words of Trump's former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert, who told ABC News last year this "conspiracy theory" has been "completely debunked." Bossert in the clip played in the Senate went on to voice frustrations with Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, for pushing this conspiracy theory, quoting a former senator's magazine article as saying that one of the "ways to impeach oneself" is "hiring Rudy Giuliani."Previously, Garcia played a clip of FBI Director Christopher Wray stating in an interview, "We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election." This was another example during Democrats' impeachment arguments of using clips from Trump allies and officials to make their argument after House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) made strategic use of 1990s-era quotes from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump's impeachment defense team, to argue abuse of power is impeachable. HuffPost's Ryan Reilly reports that when Bossert in the clip quipped that hiring Giuliani is a way to self-impeach, there were "a lot of laughs on both sides of the Senate chamber." > A portion of ex-Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert's interview with @GStephanopoulos last summer on the debunked theory of 2016 election meddling was played by House impeachment managers during the Senate trial.> > Watch his exchange on @ThisWeekABC. https://t.co/jfWy6wWWqf pic.twitter.com/ze8hQfg2is> > -- This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 23, 2020More stories from theweek.com Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek 14 dead, hundreds injured after 6.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey Donald Trump and the moral decline of the pro-life movement

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 16:01:52 -0500
  • No qualms for India's hangman before first job of executing rapists

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    Pawan Kumar feels zero sympathy for the four men he is due to hang next month for a 2012 gang rape and murder that appalled India. The group set to meet their demise before dawn on February 1 -- although it may be delayed -- were convicted for a brutal crime against Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old student. Angry demonstrations by tens of thousands of people broke out across the vast South Asian nation, sparking soul-searching about the plight of Indian women and leading to heavier sentences for sex crimes.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 03:53:29 -0500
  • Mexico sees rise in gangs, vigilantes recruiting children

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    One day after a vigilante group revealed that it was using children as young as 8 as “recruits” for armed defense patrols, Mexico's president said Thursday that drug cartels too are recruiting ever-younger kids. The whole issue has sparked a debate in Mexico over the use of children in armed confrontations, with rights groups saying the practice threatens not only kids' safety, but their mental health. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that because social programs are giving more youths opportunities to study or work, drug cartels are having trouble finding gunmen, leading them to recruit children.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 22:49:44 -0500
  • America's B-25G Bomber Was The Air Force's Very Own Flying Tank

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    And it shot like one too.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500
  • Wax On, Wane Off: A Guide to All the Lunar Phases

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    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:14:00 -0500
  • These gun enthusiasts at the Virginia rally carried more firepower than many US troops

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    "This sends a strong visual message," a man holding a .50 caliber rifle said. Attendees also came with an armored vehicle and a grenade launcher.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:32:11 -0500
  • Family of Kristin Smart, who went missing in 1996, now says there's no news coming soon

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    Kristin Smart's mother said she was contacted by a former FBI agent, but there is no timeline for an announcement in her case, the family later said.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 08:15:40 -0500
  • Bodies of U.S. firefighters retrieved from Australian air crash site

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    The bodies of three U.S. firefighters who died in a plane crash earlier this week in Australia's remote bushland while battling a fierce wildfire have been recovered, the police said on Saturday as investigators started probe into the accident. A spokeswoman for Australia's New South Wales state police confirmed the recovery to Reuters in an e-mail. "They have been taken for a post mortem examination to confirm ID," the spokeswoman said.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:43:18 -0500
  • Chinese University of Minnesota Student Jailed for Anti-Xi Tweets Has Been Released to Wuhan

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    A Chinese student of the University of Minnesota sentenced to six months in prison for posting tweets critical of president Xi Jinping has been released to his hometown of Wuhan, which is coincidentally under quarantine due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported on Friday.The Tribune received a message from student Luo Daiqing's university email address saying he had been released.University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker told the paper that while Luo had attended for the 2018-2019 academic year, the student was not currently enrolled at the University. Ricker said that while the University had learned of Luo's arrest from a Wednesday report on Axios, the administration would not take immediate public action regarding the situation."I am honestly not sure what a public university can do regarding another country’s legal system," Ricker said. The University of Minnesota's campuses host around 3,100 students from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned China's arrest of the student, including Senators Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), along with Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) in whose district Luo was studying."This is what ruthless totalitarianism looks like," Omar said in a statement. "Luo Daiqing made these posts while he was in the U.S. — attending college in my district. Here in the United States, we believe in free speech.""The Chinese Communist Party ought to release Luo Daiqing immediately, and the University of Minnesota ought to give him a full-ride scholarship,” Sasse said in his statement. “Don’t forget that the Chinese Communist Party has banned Twitter, so the only people who even saw these tweets were the goons charged with monitoring Chinese citizens while they’re enjoying freedom here in the United States. This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 12:35:04 -0500
  • Lt. Col. Vindman's attorney calls GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn's attack a 'testament to cowardice'

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    Don't call into question the patriotism of a Purple Heart recipient and expect to walk away unscathed.On Thursday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted several inflammatory things about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the director of European Affairs for the White House National Security Council. Vindman was on President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and while testifying before House impeachment investigators, Vindman said he was troubled by Trump's request that Ukraine open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, and knew he had to inform superiors.During the afternoon's impeachment proceedings, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called Vindman an "American patriot," which led to Blackburn tweeting, "How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America's greatest enemy?"Vindman's lawyer David Pressman reacted swiftly, saying in a statement, "This difficult moment in our country calls for seriousness and seriousness of purpose. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has sacrificed enormously for our country. He believes in our country. And he believes in our country's great institutions, including the United States Senate." Vindman served in the Iraq War, and received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in an IED attack."That a member of the Senate — at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility — would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is testament to cowardice," Pressman continued. "While Sen. Blackburn fires off defamatory tweets, Lt. Col. Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country dutifully and with honor."More stories from theweek.com Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek 14 dead, hundreds injured after 6.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey Donald Trump and the moral decline of the pro-life movement

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 00:21:00 -0500
  • Saudis Tried to Kidnap Me on U.S. Soil, Regime Critic Says

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    A suspected agent of the Saudi government attempted to kidnap a regime critic on American soil, according to the critic and multiple U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the episode. The young Saudi man says the FBI saved him from becoming the next Jamal Khashoggi.Abdulrahman Almutairi is a 27-year-old comedian and former student at the University of San Diego with a big social-media presence. After Almutairi used social media to criticize the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, an unidentified Saudi man accompanied Almutairi’s father on a flight to collect Almutairi against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, according to The Daily Beast’s sources.  “The Saudi government realized I was a threat,” Almutairi told The Daily Beast, revealing for the first time an ordeal that might have culminated in a whole new crisis: the kidnapping and rendition of a Saudi dissenter on American soil. Only timely intervention from the FBI broke up the plot, two sources say. “If I go back to Saudi Arabia,” Almutairi said, “I’ll be killed in the airport.” Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has investigated the Khashoggi killing. She drew attention this week by calling for an inquiry into allegations that MBS hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone. Callamard is familiar with Almutairi’s story, although they haven’t spoken, and considers it credible. She told The Daily Beast that it’s part of an ominous trend, particularly now that MBS has skated for Khashoggi’s murder. “There is a pattern of the Saudi authorities, particularly over the last two years, targeting individuals—high-profile people with a big Saudi audience,” Callamard said, “either because they’re critical of MBS or the government or not just for what they say but what they don’t say, if they’re insufficiently supportive.”Almutairi has previously spoken about the harassment he received as a critic of the Saudi government, most prominently to PBS’ Nick Shifrin, including a mysterious phone call from a Saudi trying to get Almutairi to come home for a “family reunion.” But he has not, until now, revealed the attempted capture. “I couldn’t afford to speak out earlier, my situation was so intense, and all I wanted was to get out of it,” he explained. But over a year later, Almutairi doesn’t speak with his family, lives for protracted stretches out of his car, and generally fears for his life. On his YouTube channels, which have 200,000 subscribers between them, and his Instagram, where he has 208,000 followers, he’s posting through it. About the only positive thing Almutairi sees emerging from the ordeal was his social-media rebirth as a comedian, something he started as a response to the horror show in his mentions. But the harassment may have worked. In the new year, Almutairi told The Daily Beast, he’s going to stop speaking out against the Saudi government. “My criticism against the government won’t do anything. It’ll just turn more people against me,” Almutairi said. “I’m trying not to use the term ‘political dissident.’ I want to influence my country for the better.”That desire prompted Almutairi to cheer when MBS took power. As he saw it, the sclerotic, wealth-soaked royal court finally had a dynamic, young reformer on the rise. MBS was out to fix what was wrong with the country: women forbidden to drive, an economy driven entirely by oil extraction. While Almutairi studied finance and marketing at the University of San Diego, he posted videos on his Snapchat and Twitter accounts boosting MBS to his growing legion of followers.With his expenses paid by the Saudis’ stipend for subjects’ education abroad, Almutairi’s life online was about promoting reform within his home country, the sort of liberalization MBS touted. A frequent topic was the rigidity of the Saudi religious establishment, whose dark portrayal of America didn’t match the place he saw up close. But his growing audience—one of his recent Arabic-language videos has 842,000 views—became a problem for Riyadh. The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’On Oct. 2, 2018, agents of Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul, a crime the CIA assessed MBS ordered. The brazenness and brutality of the Khashoggi slaying made it one of the biggest stories in the world. Yet for all the damage it momentarily did to the reputation of a prince who melted the heart of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, MBS quickly saw to it that the crime had no lasting impact. The Trump administration, with which he had cultivated close ties, quickly spared him from consequences. On Oct. 11, 2018, barely a week after Khashoggi’s murder, Trump said that sanctioning Saudi weapons purchases from the U.S. would be a self-inflicted economic wound. MBS denied involvement—and still does. And at first Almutairi believed him. “I was in denial,” Almutairi remembered. “MBS would never do an atrocity like that.” But the accruing reports tying the murder closer and closer to MBS prompted him first to break with his political hero, then to post about his disillusionment—and soon after to denounce MBS online. Death threats quickly piled into his mentions and onto his messaging apps. One picture sent to him contained a beheaded body. Another showed a flayed, severed head. “You will eat a bullet,” he said someone texted him, seemingly a reference to MBS’ nickname, the Father of Bullets. “They say I’m supported by the Muslim Brotherhood—I’m openly agnostic!” Almutairi said. More disturbing to him was a different kind of text, one that he still receives. “I get ‘come home’ messages daily,” Almutairi said. Whether the Saudi government is behind them, he can’t know, but his suspicion lingers. Then someone he describes only as a source in Saudi Arabia told him that his life was in danger—and that living in California did not mean he was safe. It prompted Almutairi to call the police during the week of Oct. 25, 2018.  What happened next he would only learn from an FBI official he said he spoke with: Without Almutairi’s knowledge, his father flew to Los Angeles, and he wasn’t alone. Accompanying his father was someone Almutairi does not know.But they never arrived in San Diego. The FBI was waiting for them at LAX. According to two additional sources familiar with the incident, the FBI intercepted both the senior Almutairi and the unidentified Saudi man and sent them back on a subsequent flight. The FBI declined to comment for this story. Almutairi said the FBI debriefed him after the airport interception. “I was shown a picture of someone who came with my dad, who I didn’t recognize,” he said. Almutairi has no way of verifying it, but he believes the man worked for the Saudi royal court. In July, Middle East Eye’s Dania Akkad first reported that in November 2018, a timeline consistent with Almutairi’s story, the FBI met with at least four Saudi dissidents in the U.S. to warn them of threats to their lives emanating from the kingdom. The dissidents were not named, but one of them, Akkad reported, “runs a popular YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government.”The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment by press time.The near-miss was not the end of the harassment. Almutairi deleted his Twitter because of the non-stop threats. As he previously told PBS, he was forced to drop out of school shortly before he was to graduate after the Saudis cut off his scholarship, his $1,800 monthly allowance, and his health insurance. He was without a way to afford his rent, his bills, and his medications. Almutairi took restaurant work, but the low pay required him to visit food pantries. For three weeks he was homeless. “I remember Thanksgiving 2018,” he recalls. “I was homeless, sleeping at the beach. I saw everyone with their families and stuff and it almost killed me, psychologically,” he said. “It’s really hard to process, suffering for what I had said. I wish Saudis would live like Americans. We deserve a better life.” These days, Almutairi doesn’t speak to most of his family, out of fear that he’ll put them in danger. They received messages saying “you have to get him to stop” making his MBS-critical videos. He is sure that his father was coerced into boarding the plane to Los Angeles. Saudi Crown Prince Appeared to Taunt Jeff Bezos Over Secret Affair Before Enquirer Exposé“Abduction is part and parcel of the way the Saudi government has operated for many years,” said Callamard, the UN special rapporteur. But until MBS became crown prince two years ago, “most victims were part of the royal family. It appears now that their kidnapping attempts are expanding.” Being a Saudi dissident living in America is no protection, she warned: “Absolutely, they will keep trying to lure people in the United States. The only reason why they haven’t succeeded is because the U.S. intelligence agencies are doing their job.”The impunity with which MBS acts also follows a long pattern. As defense minister, he launched a devastating war in neighboring Yemen—with the active cooperation of the Obama administration—that has decimated the country. He seized power in the kingdom in a move applauded by Friedman and other prominent commentators. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that before the Khashoggi murder, MBS sent Jeff Bezos a malware-tainted video file over WhatsApp to extract potential blackmail material from the richest man in the world—who happens to own the newspaper that Khashoggi worked for and which has crusaded for accountability on the execution. After the murder, and the Post’s aggressive reporting, MBS messaged Bezos “private and confidential information about Mr. Bezos’ personal life that was not available from public sources,” according to UN officials. The MBS message came months before the National Enquirer—whose publisher once issued an MBS-boosting magazine—reported that Bezos was having an affair. All that corroborated a March 2019 op-ed published in The Daily Beast from Bezos security aide Gavin de Becker alleging that “the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information.” “At a time when Saudi Arabia was supposedly investigating the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and prosecuting those it deemed responsible, it was clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post,” Callamard and her UN colleague David Kaye said in a Wednesday statement. Saudi Arabia’s U.S. embassy called allegations that the kingdom was behind the hack “absurd.”These days, Almutairi focuses on his two YouTube channels and his Instagram account. “I use comedy to convey positive thoughts and empower young Saudis,” he said. “I think I’m a living example: I was once homeless, now I’m not, and I’m starting two companies in California. My story, especially to people who saw it happening on social media, can be inspiring to a lot of Saudis.” But his vlogs are pivoting away from Saudi politics in the new year. Without school, Almutairi is focusing on his comedy. In March, he plans on launching a YouTube show called “America on Wheels,” which he envisions as a conversational comedy filmed in his car that introduces a Saudi audience to young Americans and their issues. It sounds like if Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee operated as a tacit rebuke to the Saudi religious establishment. He’s also applying to film school at USC.“My message to the American people,” he said over text, “please don’t brush the Saudi people with the same brush you use with MBS. We have no choice but to nod our heads and agree, he is a dictator.” But even his comedy contains limits set by his ordeal. He recently passed on an offer to tell jokes in Saudi-allied Dubai. “The UAE? Nah, bro,” he said. And while Almutairi may have given up commenting on MBS on social media, that has not left him feeling any safer. Even in sunny California, he constantly wonders what might be coming for him around the next corner, since the threats keep popping up on his phone. Some say things like “we’ll pay someone to kill you. It’ll look like an accident in L.A.,” Almutairi said. Nonchalantly, he added, “I expect that to happen at any moment.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Thu, 23 Jan 2020 19:59:12 -0500
  • Social worker charged with coercing client into prostitution

    A former child services caseworker has been charged with human trafficking, accused of recruiting a mother who was her client into prostitution in exchange for a favorable custody recommendation, authorities said. Candace Talley, 27, of Winslow, New Jersey, was working for the Division of Children and Youth Services in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, when she coerced the mother, whose children were in foster care and whose case Talley was managing, into working as a prostitute, the Delaware County District Attorney's office announced Thursday. Talley drove the woman to and from jobs and took more than 25% of the money that was made, authorities said.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 12:20:38 -0500
  • This Simulation Proves How Deadly a Real War With North Korea Would Be

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    A terrible idea.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 04:50:00 -0500
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