China has spent billions of dollars to project soft power in Asia but it has struggled to win the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in parts of the region, a study said Tuesday. President Xi Jinping doubled China's foreign affairs budget in six years from 30 billion to 60 billion yuan ($8.5 billion) to bolster its global diplomacy, according to the AidData research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. "Public diplomacy is a critical ingredient in Beijing's toolkit to neutralise potential threats, overcome internal disadvantages, and outmanoeuvre regional competitors," said the report, carried out with the Asia Society Policy Institute and the China Power Project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Chile's air force lost radio contact with a transport plane carrying 38 people on a flight Monday evening to the country's base in Antarctica, and authorities indicated several hours later that they were not optimistic about the aircraft's fate. The personnel were to check on a floating fuel supply line and other equipment at the Chilean base. President Sebastián Piñera said via Twitter that he was with his defense and interior ministers at the air force headquarters monitoring developments.
(Bloomberg) - Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates asked a judge to spare him from prison, put him on probation and order him to do community service for his crimes of conspiracy and lying to federal investigators.In a court filing Monday, Gates said he has accepted responsibility “in every way possible.” He’s scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington on Dec. 17.Gates was a critical witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. He was the star prosecution witness in the trial of his former boss Paul Manafort, who was convicted of bank and tax fraud in August.Gates was Manafort’s right-hand man in his political consulting firm and worked with him for a decade, lobbying on behalf of Ukraine before joining him on Trump’s presidential campaign. Gates remained on the Trump campaign after Manafort resigned in August 2016.He also testified in the trials of one-time White House counsel to Barack Obama, Gregory Craig, and Republican operative Roger Stone.Gates said his “cooperation likely represents the most extensive undertaking by any cooperating defendant in the work of the OSC or any matters arising out of, or related, to the activity of that office.”Additional and specific details of Gates’s cooperation are under seal, according to the filing.Nine letters of support from family and friends, urging Berman to show leniency, were included with the filing. Many described him as a religious man, committed to his family. One letter was filed under seal.Gates also asked that the judge doesn’t impose a fine.“Mr. Gates has remained unemployed since his indictment, and in lieu of any income with which to support his family and maintain their home, he has had to deplete savings and investment accounts, including college savings plans for his children,” according to the filing.The case is U.S. v. Richard W. Gates III, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).(Updates with letters of support)To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Los Angeles at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Joe Schneider, Peter BlumbergFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Hong Kong police said they defused two large homemade bombs packed with nails and designed “to kill and to maim people" in the latest reported seizure of weaponry during six months of anti-government protests that have shaken the city.
Harvard biologist George Church already had to apologize for palling around with Jeffrey Epstein even after the financier pleaded to guilty to preying on minors a decade ago. Now he’s raising eyebrows again—with plans for a genetics-based dating app.In an interview with 60 Minutes, Church said his technology would pair people based on the propensity of their genes, when combined in children, to eliminate hereditary diseases. “That sounds like eugenics,” Fordham adjunct ethics professor and science journalist Elizabeth Yuko, who studies bioethics, told The Daily Beast on Monday. (The tech and science news site Gizmodo called Church’s idea “an app only a eugenicist could love.”)Yuko compared the app, as described, to the Nazi goal of cultivating a master race: “I thought we realized after World War II that we weren’t going to be doing that,” she said.Church was part of the coterie of scientists with whom Epstein ingratiated himself via large donations, and Epstein helped bankroll his lab from 2005 to 2007. Church has admitted he repeatedly met and spoke with Epstein for years after the 2008 plea deal that landed him on the sex-offender registry.Epstein had a twisted take on genetics, hosting scientific conferences at which he expressed his desire to propagate his own genome by impregnating up to 20 women at a time at his New Mexico ranch, like cattle stock. In the 60 Minutes interview, Church called his ties to Epstein “unfortunate” and added: “You don't always know your donors as well as you would like.”He Took Money From Jeffrey Epstein. Now These Tech Stars Are Defending Him.But much of the segment was devoted to Church’s genetic-engineering work at Harvard Medical School, including the app that would theoretically screen out potential mates with the “wrong” DNA.“You wouldn’t find out who you’re not compatible with. You’ll just find out who you are compatible with,” Church said.“You’re suggesting that if everyone has their genome sequenced and the correct matches are made, that all of these diseases could be eliminated?” 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley asked.“Right. It’s 7,000 diseases. It’s about 5% of the population. It’s about a trillion dollars a year, worldwide,” Church said. The geneticist didn’t drop the app’s name (“Punnett Square,” anyone?) or how far along it is in development. He also didn’t respond to a request for comment.In the interview, Church acknowledged the drawbacks of genetic sorting. He suffers from dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and narcolepsy—disorders that might render him an incompatible match to many.“If somebody had sequenced your genome some years ago, you might not have made the grade in some way,” Pelley said.“I mean, that’s true,” Church replied. “I would hope that society sees the benefit of diversity, not just ancestral diversity, but in our abilities. There’s no perfect person.”Famed MIT Computer Scientist Who Defended Epstein ResignsYuko said the selection criteria would be a sticking point for Church’s app idea. “It’s not clear what conditions or diseases will be screened for. Who makes that list? What’s undesirable?” she said. “That’s classifying people into acceptable humans and others.”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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Georgian man murdered in Berlin in August was himself a killer who took part in bloody acts on Russian soil and that Moscow's requests for his extradition had not been heeded.
A Baltimore County cop has been charged with sexually assaulting at least three women, including one he allegedly tricked into going to his house after claiming he was ordering her a car to her friend’s home, court documents state. Baltimore County Police Officer Michael Westerman, 25, was charged Sunday with two counts of second-degree rape and three counts of second-degree assault. He is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center after he was denied bail on Monday.According to charging documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Westerman is accused of sexually assaulted three women using a series of predatory tactics to isolate them. One woman said she was scared to report the alleged serial rapist because he was a police officer. Dallas Police Up Charges Against White Bartender Who Brutally Beat Black Woman“The allegations made in this case are reprehensible and are not representative of the values and ethics of the Baltimore County Police Department," Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a Sunday statement, adding Westerman “has been suspended without pay.”Authorities said an investigation into Westerman, who joined the force in 2013, began on Oct. 16 after the special victims unit received “information concerning the allegations.” One 22-year-old woman, according to the charging documents, said she met Westerman on Oct. 4, 2017, outside a bar called White Marsh, according to the charging documents.The woman, who was not identified, said she left the bar to pass out in her car after Westerman bought shots for a crowd. She told police that she planned to stay in her car until she was sober enough to drive home. Instead, the woman said she woke up to the police officer and one of her female friends knocking on her car window.Westerman allegedly stated he was going to order her an Uber to take her to her friend’s house, the women said.“You are going to Uber us back to my house, right?” the woman asked Westerman, who allegedly responded, “Yes.” Illinois Police Chief Shared Photos From Secret Recordings of Sexual Encounters: ProsecutorsInstead, Westerman drove the trio back to his house, where he allegedly raped one of the women, the charging documents state. The woman stated she tried to stop Westerman when he got on top of her, but he “told her that he liked it when she pushed at him and when she told him to stop.”After the assault, the 22-year-old said she woke up to find “her pants were on the floor,” according to the document. She then told her friend what had happened and the two left immediately, according to police. Another 20-year-old woman told authorities she was drinking at the officer’s home on June 8, 2019 when she fell asleep in his guest bedroom. She alleged the cop woke her up and forced her to have sex with him—but she didn’t initially report the incident because “she knew Defendent Westerman was a Baltimore County Police Officer.”Two weeks later, authorities allege Westerman sexually assaulted another 22-year-old woman at a birthday party. That woman, who described herself as the officer’s friend, said he took her to a “secluded area” in Middle River, where “he wanted to show or tell her something.” Instead, the cop allegedly grabbed and tried to kiss her twice before she left with a relative, charging documents state.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.
More than 200 gun rights activists wearing “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers rallied Monday in Virginia, vowing to fight any attempt by the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to pass new restrictions on gun ownership. "Hands off our guns, hands off our rights, and hands off our guns," said Bob Good, a member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors.
It might be the most Japanese of political scandals: a furore over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's guest list at a party to mark the annual cherry blossom season. As scandals go, it has plenty of juicy elements - alleged mafia guests, disappearing evidence, even gaffes by Abe, who appeared to lay blame for shredded documents on a disabled worker. It's the latest headache for Japan's longest-serving premier, who has already weathered two cronyism scandals in recent years and has faced an almost daily drubbing by opposition lawmakers since the scandal emerged in early November.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday met his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, for the first time ever at a Paris summit aimed at agreeing on measures to help end five years of conflict in the east of Ukraine.
Due to security concerns, lieutenant colonels Illich Sánchez and Rafael Soto wouldn’t reveal their location, or say exactly when or how they left Venezuela. “We want to clarify to all of the Venezuelan people that the decision taken April 30 was in fulfillment of the constitution, the republic's laws and our democratic institutions,” Sánchez said in a handwritten missive sent to the AP confirming that he and the other 16 troops had all safely left the country. The previously untold story of how Sánchez and Soto managed to dupe their superiors and plot a revolt against Maduro underscores how discontent — and fear — has been running high inside Venezuela's barracks even as the embattled leader clings to power amid punishing U.S. sanctions imposed after a presidential election last year many say was fraudulent.
Turkey has deported to France the “Islamic State matchmaker” who lured a British teen bride to Syria as part of a drive to send foreign fighters back to their countries of origin. Tooba Gondal, 25, is among 11 French nationals that Turkey repatriated early on Monday, according to France's Centre for Analysis of Terrorism, CAT, citing official sources. A French judicial source confirmed that four women and their seven children had arrived in France. Two of the women returned were already targeted by arrest warrants and will soon face a judge, while the other two were sought by police and have been placed in custody, the French source said. The children have been taken into care. Ms Gondal, from Walthamstow, east London, has been "detained for questioning" and faces terror charges, said CAT. She will then likely be detained while awaiting trial. She was born in France but moved to UK capital as a child and had British residency. A source close to the family told The Telegraph they were upset by the UK's decision to refuse her return. "Her kids most certainly will go into foster care away from her and any of her family in Britain,” said the source. Tooba Gondal, known as the 'Islamic State matchmaker' pictured before leaving for Syria in 2015 Ms Gondal has been accused of acting as an online recruiter and “matchmaker” for the terrorist group by luring women to Syria to marry Isil fighters. Among them was reportedly Bethnal Green schoolgirl Shamima Begum. She used social media to post images of herself wearing a burqa and holding an assault rifle. In October, Ms Gondal told the Telegraph how she managed to escape from Ain Issa camp with her two infant children, along with hundreds of other foreign suspected Isil women in a mass prison break after Turkey launched its offensive. She expressed a desire to be sent to the UK or Turkey. “I want to go home, see my family,” the former Goldsmiths, University of London, student said via WhatsApp messages. “But if I am not able, I want to seek refuge in Turkey." Married and widowed three times while living in Isil’s “caliphate”, she was banned from re-entering the UK last November by a Home Office exclusion order, but her three-year-old son is entitled to citizenship because of his British father. However, her 18-month-old daughter's late father was Russian. Last month, Turkey stepped up the return of suspected foreign Isil members - either held in Turkish prisons or in Syria - back to their countries of origin, saying Turkey was "not a hotel" for foreign fighters. The Turkish interior ministry on Monday confirmed it had sent 11 French relatives of suspected "terrorist fighters" back home. According to CAT, one of the deported women was Amandine Le Coz, who had been married to a Moroccan militant killed in Syria. She joined Isil with her husband in 2014. The French foreign ministry and interior ministry declined to comment. The mother-of-two, seen here with a Kalashnikov, was denied return to the United Kingdom with her children Credit: Telegraph Turkey stepped up its deportation of foreign fighters after criticism from Western countries, in particular, France, over its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria. The move has created a conundrum for European governments over how to manage the return of radicalised militants, some of them battle-hardened. Britain, which has taken one of the strongest stances against the return of its nationals, has deprived many of them of their citizenship. Under a 2014 accord between France and Turkey, Paris agreed to take back jihadists trying to return home from Syria via Turkey and incarcerate them at home. Some 300 French nationals have been thus returned in the past five years. However, France is keen on foreign suspects being sent for trial near to their place of arrest - notably Iraq, where several of its nationals have recently been handed death sentences. America last month clashed with Europe over the issue, with Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, insisting they needed to “hold them to account”. "Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated," he said in a meeting of the international coalition against Isil in Washington DC. Ankara says it has around 1,200 foreign Isil members in custody. There are understood to be around 10 British men, 20 women and 30 children, currently detained in Kurdish-run camps and prisons around north-east Syria.
A team from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) based in Austria said climate change not only resulted in higher temperatures but is also producing more severe climatic events such as drought, heatwaves and floods. "Climatic shocks to agricultural production contribute to food price spikes and famine, with the potential to trigger other systemic risks, including political unrest and migration," IIASA lead author Franziska Gaupp said.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by a convicted murderer who filed a civil rights lawsuit because Texas prison officials denied her request to be considered for gender reassignment surgery. The justices let stand a lower court's decision to reject the claim by inmate Vanessa Lynn Gibson that denying the surgery request violated the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Gibson, 41, who is transgender and also goes by the name Scott in court papers, was assigned male at birth and has lived as a female since age 15.
A convicted burglar who assaulted and raped women and children during a two-week rampage across Britain while wrongly free from jail was given 33 life sentences on Monday, with the judge saying he would never cease to be a danger to society. Joseph McCann, 34, was convicted of 37 offences relating to 11 victims aged between 11 and 71, committed in April and May this year. Sentencing him at London's Old Bailey Court, judge Andrew Edis said he was "a coward, a violent bully and a paedophile".
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a novel case by Arizona seeking to recover billions of dollars that the state has said that members of the Sackler family - owners of Purdue Pharma LP - funneled out of the OxyContin maker before the company filed for bankruptcy in September. The justices declined to take the rare step of allowing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to pursue a case directly with the Supreme Court on the role the drugmaker played in the U.S. opioid epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans annually in recent years. The lawsuit accused eight Sackler family members of funneling $4 billion out of Purdue from 2008 to 2016 despite being aware that the company faced massive potential liabilities over its marketing of opioid medications.
(Bloomberg) - President Jair Bolsonaro said trade with Argentina “will remain the same” despite his animosity with President-elect Alberto Fernandez but didn’t confirm whether Brazil will send a high-ranking representative to his inauguration in Buenos Aires.Asked whether he had changed plans to send Citizenzhip Minister Osmar Terra to Fernandez’s swearing-in, Bolsonaro on Monday said he’s analyzing Argentina’s guest list before deciding whether to send an official to the Dec. 10 ceremony.Over the weekend, the Brazilian president ordered Terra’s trip to Buenos Aires to be canceled and opted to send no cabinet member to the inauguration of his political adversary, according to a Brazilian official with direct knowledge of the matter.For now, Brazil’s ambassador to Argentina, Sergio Danese, will represent the government at the event, according to the presidency’s press office.Relations between Brazil and Argentina, which are traditionally political and trade allies, have worsened in recent weeks amid an ideological clash between Fernandez’s left-wing movement and Bolsonaro’s hard-right administration. The spat has also raised prospects that Latin America’s largest economy may pull out of the Mercosur customs union - which counts Brazil and Argentina as its two largest members - if differences persist.Citizenship MinisterHours after his election victory, Fernandez set the stage for the first diplomatic tiff between the two countries by calling for the release of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist icon and Bolsonaro adversary. Bolsonaro said he wouldn’t call Fernandez to congratulate him and wouldn’t attend the Argentine presidential inauguration, marking the first time in recent history for a Brazilian head of state.Read more: Bolsonaro to Skip Fernandez Inauguration as Argentina Spat GrowsNewspaper Clarin reported that Bolsonaro changed plans to send Terra to Buenos Aires because he was annoyed by a Brazilian delegation led by lower house Speaker Rodrigo Maia, which met Fernandez in Argentina last week.Bolsonaro was aware of the delegation’s travel plans, Clarin reported Maia as saying. Terra had been preparing to meet with both Fernandez and outgoing President Mauricio Macri, as well as local business leaders.To contact the reporters on this story: Murilo Fagundes in Brasilia at email@example.com;Simone Iglesias in Brasília at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Walter Brandimarte at email@example.com, Matthew MalinowskiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden said his son Hunter will not be engaged in any foreign business if the former vice president is elected in 2020.“They will not be engaged in any foreign business because of what's happened in this administration,” Biden told "Axios on HBO."Hunter Biden raised eyebrows when it came to light that he held a lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was fighting corruption in Ukraine as vice president. The set-up prompted Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens while temporarily withholding U.S. military aid, an alleged quid pro quo that became the basis for the impeachment inquiry against Trump.“I don't know what he was doing. I know he was on the board. I found out he was on the board after he was on the board and that was it,” Biden said.A photo from the summer of 2014 shows Biden, then vice president, and his son Hunter with Devon Archer, who, like the younger Biden, served on the board of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company."No. Because I trust my son," Biden responded when asked whether he wanted to get to the bottom of his son's business dealings.The former vice president added that he is not worried since there is "not one single bit of evidence" and "nothing on its face that was wrong."Biden cited the business conflicts of interest of members of President Trump's family for his decision to have his family eschew foreign business opportunities, saying, "if you want to talk about problems, let's talk about Trump's family."Trump has been criticized for allegedly encouraging government spending at his luxury resorts, including floating his Miami golf resort as an ideal spot to host the 2020 G-7 summit.
Sweden's former envoy to Beijing is to go on trial for overstepping her duties by trying to negotiate the release of a Chinese-Swedish dissident held in China, prosecutors in Stockholm said Monday. Anna Lindstedt is accused of brokering an unauthorised meeting during her time as ambassador to get publisher Gui Minhai freed, a statement from the prosecutor's office said. Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders out of a Hong Kong book shop, disappeared while vacationing in Thailand in 2015 before resurfacing in mainland China.
In early October, Elizabeth Warren hit her stride. Her stock in the Democratic primary had been climbing steadily since midsummer, and as Joe Biden continued to lag, the Massachusetts senator became the first presidential hopeful to overtake him as front-runner in the RealClearPolitics polling average.She’s been in free fall ever since.Warren now sits at just 14.8 percent in the RCP average, in third place behind Bernie Sanders, with about half the support Biden has. The former vice president has lost a step or two (or several) since his time as Obama’s right-hand man, but it’s looking less and less likely that Warren will be the Democrat to supplant him as the party’s favorite heading into 2020’s early primaries.For media observers who have been pulling for Warren from the start of her campaign, there can be only one plausible explanation for her fall from grace: sexism.On November 10, after Biden attacked Warren’s Medicare for All plan and her campaign shot back, saying the former vice president was using GOP talking points against her, Biden released a statement saying Warren’s response was reflective of an “angry unyielding viewpoint.” Warren’s defenders have latched on to the phrase as evidence that Biden — along with voters who have declined to back Warren — is guilty of sexism.“The Sexism Is Getting Sneakier” was the headline of one article in the Atlantic on the subject, in which the author mused:> Anger, rendered as a criticism . . . is a targeted missile, seeking the spaces in the American mind that still assume there is something unseemly about an angry woman. It is attempting to tap into the dark and ugly history in which the anger displayed by a woman is assumed to compromise her—to render her unattractive precisely because the anger makes her uncontrollable.The Washington Post’s analysis of the incident ran under the headline “Is Elizabeth Warren ‘angry’ and antagonistic? Or are rivals dabbling in gendered criticism?” The authors suggested that charges against Warren “get at something far beyond her policy positions, and into one of the most fraught areas for a female candidate: Is she likable?”The New York Times report noted that “by calling Warren’s approach ‘condescending,’ ‘angry’ and elitist, Biden and his allies are making a risky case against a female candidate.” An opinion article in Essence magazine put it much more bluntly: “Only Sexist Men Take Issue with Elizabeth Warren’s Justified Anger.”Though Warren brushed off questions about Biden’s use of “angry,” she seems more than willing to use rhetoric about sexism to her advantage. When Kamala Harris exited the race in early December, Warren’s campaign took the occasion to send a fundraising email reading, “Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand — two women senators who, together, won more than 11.5 million votes in their last elections — have been forced out of this race, while billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have been allowed to buy their way in.”It turns out that Warren supporters were laying the groundwork to defend her with an argument about pervasive sexism even before her rise and fall. “‘A Woman, Just Not That Woman’: How Sexism Plays Out on the Trail” was the headline of a Times piece in February. “Reluctance to support female candidates is apparent in the language that voters frequently use to describe men and women running for office; in the qualities that voters say they seek; and in the perceived flaws that voters say they are willing or unwilling to overlook in candidates,” the author asserted.“Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and the sexist hypocrisy of the ‘likability’ media narrative. Here we go again” was the contribution from an NBC News opinion article, which claimed that only female candidates are subjected to criticism of their appearance and tone. In September, a Democratic strategist said that supporting Sanders over Warren is “showing your sexism.”But if sexism really were to blame, why would Warren have spent several months as the race’s second front-runner, in close contention with Biden? What few on the left appear to have considered is the possibility that Warren’s policy positions and recent blunders bear the most responsibility for her declining popularity.Over the last several months, Warren has stumbled — and not because voters discovered she’s a woman.There was this report puncturing her narrative about having faced pregnancy discrimination. There was her false response to a question about whether her children had ever attended private school. And there was her repeated refusal, during the last debate before her Medicare for All rollout, to say whether her plan would raise taxes on the middle class, along with her subsequent falsehood that it would not.But the best explanation for Warren’s decline is her Medicare for All plan itself, and her drop in the polls is clearly correlated with its rollout. As recently as October 22, Warren trailed Biden in the RCP average by about four points. The week following her Medicare for All debut, she had dropped nearly ten points behind him. By mid November, she had fallen into third place behind Sanders, and she hasn’t recovered her second-place standing since.Finally, if sexism were responsible for the bulk of Warren’s woes, the polling data would make little sense. In the most recent Quinnipiac poll, for example, 23 percent of women said they preferred Biden, while 16 percent favored Warren. A recent poll from The Hill/HarrisX found a similar situation: Thirty-three percent of female respondents chose Biden, 16 percent chose Sanders, and only 10 percent chose Warren.To claim that Warren’s collapse is the result of sexism, her defenders would have to excuse her obvious missteps and insist that women fail to embrace female candidates due to “internalized misogyny.” And, of course, they’re all too happy to do just that.
This city's deepest wound - the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured hundreds more - will be re-examined Thursday when lawyers for bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev seek to have his death sentence lifted because the jury pool was too traumatized to render a fair verdict. The then-19-year old Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan sparked five days of panic in Boston that began April 15, 2013, when they detonated a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs at the race's packed finish line. The pair eluded capture for days, punctuated by a gunbattle with police in Watertown that killed Tamerlan and led to a daylong lockdown of Boston and most of its suburbs while heavily armed officers and troops conducted a house-to-house search for Dzhokhar.
Pete Buttigieg implied that he would take money off billionaires and closed-door fundraisers during a terse exchange with a student activist, amid growing criticism of the Democratic candidate’s fundraising strategy.The 2020 presidential candidate has come under scrutiny for his decision to take money from wealthy donors after a number of Democrats have pledged to take “big money” out of politics.
Timothy Ginter, who said he had ‘no knowledge’ of Project Blitz, was listed as co-chair of state branch of group behind the campaignAn Ohio legislator who said he had “no knowledge” of a rightwing Christian bill mill called Project Blitz is, in fact, the co-chair of the state branch of an organization behind the campaign.The Ohio state representative Timothy Ginter sponsored a bill called the Student Religious Liberties Act. Opponents argued the bill would provide students with a religious exemption to facts, and would frighten teachers and school administrators into including religion in school functions.The Guardian revealed the bill was nearly identical to one promoted by Project Blitz, a state legislative project guided by three Christian right organizations, including the Congressional Prayer Caucus (CPC), WallBuilders and the ProFamily Legislators Conference. Project Blitz aims to promote and help pass conservative legislation across the US to fulfil its rightwing Christian agenda.When initially approached, Ginter told the Guardian in an email from a legislative aide that he had “no knowledge of ‘Project Blitz’ and has not been working with WallBuilders or the Congressional Prayer Caucus”.However, a screenshot shows Ginter was listed as the co-chair of the Ohio Prayer Caucus, the state chapter of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, as recently as January 2019. Ginter’s former chief of staff, Chris Albanese, is currently listed as the state director of the state chapter of CPC, Ohio Prayer Caucus.“I would call it an outright lie,” said Frederick Clarkson, a senior research analyst with Political Research Associates, and an expert on the Christian right. “The Prayer Caucus in the states are the action arm of Project Blitz – it is Project Blitz,” he said. “When he told you, ‘I’ve never heard of Project Blitz,’ that was a lie,” said Clarkson.The Guardian repeatedly called and emailed both Ginter and the the Republican Ohio house speaker, Larry Householder. Neither responded to these phone or email requests.In a statement at the time, Ginter argued the bill was necessary because, “well-funded groups” were intimidating school officials with “the thread of litigation”. His bill, he argued, would clarify their responsibilities.Ginter also argued the Student Religious Liberties Bill was not a Christian bill, because it does not explicitly mention Christianity. However, the Ohio Prayer Caucus he co-chaired explicitly lays out that it support legislators “who are standing for faith, morality and Judeo-Christian principles”.The Congressional Prayer Caucus also circulated an Ohio Prayer Proclamation. Among its signers are Ginter; the former representative Bill Hayes, who originally sponsored the bill; and the former House speaker Cliff Rosenberger. Rosenberger resigned in 2018 after a search warrant and subpoena revealed the FBI was investigating Rosenberger for corruption involving three payday lending representatives, according to the Dayton Daily News.Prominent defenders of religious liberties, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Defamation League, oppose the legislation. Republicans in the Ohio House passed the legislation with a party-line vote in November. It has not yet been taken up by the Ohio senate.
As the country looks for ways to deal with mass shootings at schools, some have responded by saying more people should carry guns, including teachers. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” President Donald Trump told the National Rifle Association convention in April. An Associated Press investigation has found accidental shootings occur at law enforcement agencies large and small across the United States every year.
Emergency crews scrambled to a popular tourist island off the coast of New Zealand on Monday afternoon, local time, as a volcano erupted and left at least five people dead and even more injured or missing.The unexpected eruption occurred on White Island, also known as Whakaari, which sits about 30 miles (48 km) offshore from mainland New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty.After conducting inquiries with tour operators, New Zealand Police said 47 people were on the island when the volcano rumbled to life. (Image/Michael Schade) Authorities confirmed that five people died in the disaster and eight people remain missing. Thirty-one people were evacuated from the island and are being treated at seven hospitals around the country. Several victims have reportedly suffered severe burns.Three survivors have already been treated and discharged from Whakatane Hospital.According to police reports, anyone found alive on the island was evacuated.Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and deputy police commissioner John Tims held a joint press conference on Tuesday to address the tragedy."I know that there will be a huge amount of anxiety for those who had loved ones on the island at the time," Arden said. "We don't have full clarity at this point and you'll understand why we're loath to get into speculation." Smoke bellows from Whakaari, also known as White Island, volcano as it erupts in New Zealand, Dec. 9, 2019, in this image obtained via social media. (GNS Science via REUTERS) By Monday evening, search and rescue efforts were stalled with authorities deeming the island too dangerous."The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims said. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."However, shortly after midnight Tuesday local time, the police issued an update where they said they do not believe there are any survivors on the island and were working to confirm the exact number of those that died, in addition to the five fatalities already confirmed.A number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island allowed the police to determine that there were no remaining survivors."No signs of life have been seen at any point," the police said.A New Zealand Defense Force ship will approach the perimeter of the island at first light Tuesday to deploy drones and observational equipment to further examine the area, officials said.Both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are believed to be involved, according to the police. Among the missing or injured include residents of the United States, Australia, US, U.K. China and Malaysia, according to Radio New Zealand.Michael Schade, a tourist on the island around the time of the eruption, said on Twitter he was near the main crater about 30 minutes before the incident occurred. He said the boat ride home was "indescribable" as injured tourists were being tended to and massive plumes of ash billowed nearby."My thoughts with the families of those currently unaccounted for, the people recovering now, and especially the rescue workers," Schade wrote.Photos Schade post showed White Island tour operators helping people evacuate as thick plumes of ash towered into the sky.More than 30 of those touring the island at the time of the explosion are believed to be guests of the Royal Caribbean International ship "Ovation of the Seas.""We are devastated by today's events and our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy," the cruise line told CNN. "We are working together with local authorities, and we are providing all the help and care we can to our guests and their families, including offering medical resources and counseling. We are also sending staff members from both our ship and our Sydney and Auckland offices to assist family members however possible. Ovation of the Seas will remain in port as long as needed to assist with the situation."Satellite images captured the huge plume of smoke and ash that spewed into the sky during the eruption.> A deadly eruption of the WhiteIslandVolcano on Dec. 9, 2019 off of NewZealand in the BayofPlenty could be seen by the GOESWest satellite from more than 22,000 miles up. > Learn more: https://t.co/edzgIgVjpc pic.twitter.com/2NApJNH6Tw> > - NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) December 9, 2019The New Zealand Civil Defense encouraged people living in or near the affected ash fall areas to consider staying indoors, closing windows and doors to limit the entry of volcanic ash and wearing a handkerchief or dust mask over the nose and mouth."Wear eyeglasses, NOT contact lenses as fine ash will get under the lens," they said in a post on Facebook.Dry and sunny weather was present at the time of the incident and that is expected to continue into midweek as officials continue their recovery efforts."Largely dry weather is expected across the island and surrounding waters through Wednesday," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Leister. "Winds out of the south to southeast into Wednesday will take any additional ash plumes away from land."GeoNet, the government earthquake agency, said in a statement that the eruption was "short-lived" and generated an ash plume 12,000 feet into the sky.The agency issued a Volcanic Alert Level of three for the eruption, indicating a minor volcanic eruption with a majority of the eruption hazards located near the vent. The Volcanic Alert Level is a scale ranging from zero to five with five representing a major eruption. An aerial view shows smoke billowing above the crater of Whakaari, also known as White Island, volcano as it erupts in New Zealand, Dec. 9, 2019, in this image obtained via social media. GNS Science via REUTERS "Ash fall appears to be confined to the island and we do not expect more than a minor amount of ash to reach East Cape in the coming hours," GeoNet said. "We are aware that people were on the island immediately before the eruption and we express our concern for their safety."GeoNet suspended their webcams on the volcano and removed the images of the moments leading up to and during the eruption from their website while search and rescue efforts are underway."Our sympathies are with those families affected by the Whakaari/White Island eruption," the company said in a statement on their website.White Island is known to be New Zealand's most active cone volcano, according to the agency. Prior to the eruption, scientists had noticed a recent uptick in volcanic activity on the island, according to The Associated Press.On Nov. 18, GeoNet raised the Volcanic Alert Level on White Island from one to two following an uptick in sulfur dioxide gas, according to the AP. The agency also reported an increase in the strength of volcanic tremors in the weeks prior.
NEW YORK - At a police station tucked into an end-of-the-line subway terminal in South Brooklyn, the new commander instructed officers to think of white and Asian people as "soft targets" and urged them to instead go after blacks and Latinos for minor offenses like jumping the turnstile, a half-dozen officers said in sworn statements."You are stopping too many Russian and Chinese," one of the officers, Daniel Perez, recalled the commander telling him earlier this decade.Another officer, Aaron Diaz, recalled the same commander saying in 2012, "You should write more black and Hispanic people."The sworn statements, gathered in the last few months as part of a discrimination lawsuit, deal with a period between 2011-15. But they are now emerging publicly at a time when policing in the subway has become a contentious issue, sparking protests over a crackdown on fare evasion and other low-level offenses.The commander, Constantin Tsachas, was in charge of more than 100 officers who patrolled a swath of the subway system in Brooklyn, his first major command. Since then, he has been promoted to the second-in-command of policing the subway system throughout Brooklyn. Along the way, more than half a dozen subordinates claim, he gave them explicit directives about whom to arrest based on race.Those subordinates recently came forward, many for the first time, providing signed affidavits to support a discrimination lawsuit brought by four black and Hispanic police officers.The officers claim they faced retaliation from the New York Police Department because they objected to what they said was a long-standing quota system for arrests and tickets, which they argued mainly affected black and Hispanic New Yorkers.The authorities have deployed hundreds of additional officers to the subways, provoking a debate about overpolicing and the criminalization of poverty. Videos of arrests of young black men and of a woman selling churros in the subway system have gone viral in recent weeks. Demonstrators have taken to the subway system and jumped turnstiles in protest.Six officers said in their affidavits that Tsachas, now a deputy inspector, pressured them to enforce low-level violations against black and Hispanic people, while discouraging them from doing the same to white or Asian people.Tsachas declined to comment when reached by telephone this week, but his union representative said the inspector denied the allegations of misconduct. The Police Department also declined to address the allegations.The department has said in the past that its enforcement of fare evasion is not aimed at black and Hispanic people.More than three years ago, when Tsachas was promoted to his current rank, the police commissioner at the time, William J. Bratton, said that allegations Tsachas pushed quotas were false."I have full faith and support in him," Bratton said. He added that Tsachas had "the requisite skills and comes highly recommended."Most of the people arrested on charges of fare evasion in New York are black or Hispanic, according to data the Police Department has been required to report under local law since 2017.Between October 2017 and June 2019, black and Hispanic people, who account for slightly more than half the population in New York City, made up nearly 73% of those who got a ticket for fare evasion and whose race was recorded. They also made up more than 90% of those who were arrested, rather than given a ticket.Some elected officials have complained about the apparent racial disparity in arrests, saying it may indicate bias on the part of officers or an unofficial policy of racial profiling by the police."The focus of black and brown people, even if other people were doing the same crime, points to what many of us have been saying for a while," the city's public advocate, Jumaane Williams, said. "The same actions lead to different results, unfortunately, depending on where you live and an overlay of what you look like."Enforcement has surged nearly 50% in 2019, as city police officers issued 22,000 more tickets for fare evasion this year compared to 2018, according to Police Department data from Nov. 10.While the affidavits focus on a time period that ended nearly five years ago, they suggest at least one police commander openly pushed racial profiling when making arrests in the subway."I got tired of hunting Black and Hispanic people because of arrest quotas," one former officer, Christopher LaForce, said in his affidavit, explaining his decision to retire in 2015.In the affidavits, the officers said that different enforcement standards applied to different stations across Transit District 34, which spanned stations across South Brooklyn: Brooklyn's Chinatown in Sunset Park; neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish communities; a corner of Flatbush that is home to many Caribbean immigrants; and the Russian enclave around Brighton Beach."Tsachas would get angry if you tried to patrol subway stations in predominantly white or Asian neighborhoods" LaForce said in his affidavit. He added that the commander would redirect officers to stations in neighborhoods with larger black and Hispanic populations.Diaz, who retired from the Police Department last year, described in his affidavit how on one occasion Tsachas seemed irritated at him for having stopped several Asian people for fare evasion and told him he should be issuing tickets to "more black and Hispanic people."At the time, Diaz said, he was assigned to the N Line, which passes through neighborhoods with large numbers of Chinese Americans. He had arrested multiple residents of that neighborhoods for doubling up as they went through the turnstiles, according to his affidavit.Other officers described similar experiences. Some of the officers claimed in affidavits that Tsachas urged his officers to come up with reasons to stop black men, especially those with tattoos, and check them for warrants.Of the six officers, all but one is retired. They are all black or Hispanic. The affidavits were given to The New York Times by one of the four officers who has sued the Police Department, Lt. Edwin Raymond.The allegations in the affidavits were bolstered by a police union official, Corey Grable, who gave a deposition in June in the same lawsuit that recounted his interactions with Tsachas. He recalled Tsachas had once complained about a subordinate who Tsachas said seemed to go for "soft targets."Unsure what that meant, Grable asked if the officer was ticketing old ladies for minor offenses? Tsachas responded: "No, Asian."Grable, who is black, asked, "Would you have been more comfortable if these guys were black or Hispanic?""Yes," Tsachas replied, according to Grable's recollection.Tsachas joined the Police Department in 2001 and patrolled public housing developments in Harlem for five years. He later analyzed crime patterns in Queens and across the city before being transferred to the Transit Bureau. He was a captain in 2011 when he was appointed to command Brooklyn's District 34, a position he held for at least four years.In 2015, he took command of neighboring Transit District 32, where Raymond, who is currently suing him, worked. At the time Raymond held the rank of police officer.Raymond has charged in the lawsuit that Tsachas blocked his promotion by giving him a low evaluation as punishment for not making enough arrests.Raymond, who is now a patrol supervisor in Brooklyn, recorded a conversation in October 2015 in which Tsachas encouraged him to arrest more people and gave an example of the sort of arrest he did not want: a 42-year-old Asian woman with no identification arrested on a charge of fare beating."That's not going to fly," he said, according to the recording, first described in a New York Times Magazine article.Raymond, who still had the rank of police officer at the time, responded that it was unconstitutional to consider race when deciding whom to arrest. Tsachas, a captain at the time, then apologized, saying the comment "didn't come out the way it's supposed to."Raymond said he believed Tsachas should not have been promoted. "It's a spit in the face of communities of color that this man is given more power after being exposed as a bigot," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company
Around 2,000 US Army soldiers have been banned from one of the main streets in the Italian city of Vicenza after a brawl between soldiers and locals. The temporary ban, which affects members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade stationed in the city, involves the quaint via Contra' Pescherie Vecchie, where two young Vicenza men say they were surrounded and beaten by several soldiers after a verbal exchange just outside a popular watering hole for off duty combat paratroopers. “This is not my face. I was not like this before,” Riccardo Passaro, 21, told La Repubblica from the hospital where he is recovering from reconstructive facial surgery after his jaw was shattered. City authorities are studying CCTV images to identify the culprits of the latest violent episode, which prompted Mayor Francesco Rucco to request special restrictive measures from the base commander. Col. Kenneth Burgess issued a memo warning that personnel caught entering the restricted zone during the 45-day ban faced disciplinary sanctions. “It is a decree without precedent in Vicenza and for this we thank the American authorities," Mayor Rucco said. The US military presence in Vicenza has been expanding for the last decade, with construction of the large Del Din annex north of the historic Ederle garrison to help lodge US Africa Command and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which conducts contingency response and NATO ally training in Europe. Vicenza's 113,000 inhabitants now intermingle, mostly peacefully, with more than 12,000 Americans, including military family members and employees of the two bases bookending the city. But an uptick in problems related to heavy drinking, violence and public disorder since the expansion has exasperated locals. In 2014, several rape investigations and a car crash in the city centre involving three pedestrians made headlines. In 2016 and 2017 there were bloody brawls involving injuries and property damage. And in 2018, police intervened 550 times in violent incidents involving Americans, prompting new joint night patrols this year by U.S. military police and Italian Carabinieri.
A week after Meet the Press host Chuck Todd accused Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) of pushing Russian propaganda on Ukraine, the NBC News anchor forcefully confronted GOP Sen. Ted Cruz over the Texas lawmaker’s belief that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.With the House of Representatives heading towards an impeachment vote, Cruz argued on Sunday that Democrats haven’t yet proven that the president violated any laws, insisting that Trump was just concerned about “investigating corruption” when he pressured Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.“What I don’t understand is why do you believe that if an American is committing corruption we should have a foreign government to announce an investigation,” Todd wondered aloud. “Is that appropriate or do you go to American authorities?”“So, I believe any president, any Justice Department has the authority to investigate corruption,” Crus responded. “In this case, there was serious evidence on the face of corruption. The reason Hunter Biden got that position is because his daddy was vice president.”Fiona Hill Blasts GOP ‘Alternate Narrative’ on UkraineTodd, meanwhile, pressed forward and asked the conservative senator whether or not he believed that Ukraine meddled in the election—a talking point that has gained more traction among Republicans lately.“I do. And I think there is considerable evidence,” Cruz replied.“You do?” Todd shot back, expressing shock. “You do?!”Earlier this fall, the intelligence community briefed senators and their aides that Russia has spent the past year attempting to frame Ukraine for Russia’s 2016 election interference. During an impeachment hearing last month, former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill also criticized Republicans for pushing a “fictional narrative” on Ukraine meddling, adding that it likely came from a Russian disinformation campaign.Todd went on to remind Cruz about the president’s own smear campaign against him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary when they were both fighting for the Republican nomination.“Senator, this sort of strikes me as odd because you went through a primary campaign with this president,” the Meet the Press anchor noted. “He launched a birtherism campaign against you. He went after your faith; he threatened to quote ‘spill the beans’ about your wife about something. He pushed a National Enquirer story, which we now know he had a real relationship with the editors.”“I appreciate you dragging up all that garbage, that’s very kind of you,” Cruz snarked back.“Let me ask you this,” Todd continued. “Is it not possible that this president is capable of creating a false narrative about somebody in order to help him politically?”Cruz laughed off Todd’s questions, asserting “that’s not what happened” and that the transcript of Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president shows nothing wrong. He then claimed that while he does believe Russia interfered in the last election he doesn’t think that means Ukraine didn’t.The two would go back-and-forth over the evidence that the Ukraine government interfered in the election, with Cruz pointing to a 2016 op-ed by the Ukrainian ambassador criticizing Trump’s stance on Russian aggression against Ukraine as proof.“That’s the difference? What you are saying—you are saying a pickpocket, which essentially is a Hill op-ed, compared to Bernie Madoff and Vladimir Putin,” Todd snapped back. “You are trying to equate—make them both seem equal. I don’t understand that.”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.
A woman was stung by a scorpion which climbed up her trouser leg during a United Airlines flight.The passenger was attacked by the eight-legged arachnid while travelling from San Francisco to Atlanta.
A 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.