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FaviconTurkey starts returning IS fighters; deports US national 11 Nov 2019, 7:48 pm

Turkey starts returning IS fighters; deports US nationalTurkey on Monday deported citizens of the United States and Denmark who fought for the Islamic State and made plans to expel other foreign nationals as the government began a new push to send back captured foreign fighters to their home countries, a Turkish official said. The move comes just over a week after the Turkish interior minister said Turkey was not a "hotel" for IS fighters and criticized Western nations for their reluctance to take back citizens who had joined the ranks of the extremist militant group as it sought to establish a "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that about 1,200 foreign IS fighters were in Turkish prisons and 287 members, including women and children, were recaptured during Turkey's offensive in Syria.


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FaviconUPDATE 2-France, Germany, Britain urge Iran to reverse nuclear deal breaches 11 Nov 2019, 7:36 pm

UPDATE 2-France, Germany, Britain urge Iran to reverse nuclear deal breachesFrance, Britain and Germany said on Monday they would consider a dispute resolution mechanism enshrined in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that could lead to United Nations sanctions being reimposed for recent breaches of the pact. In a joint statement, the three countries, known as the E3, warned Iran that its latest actions were hindering their efforts to defuse tensions in the region. "Iran's action ... has potentially severe proliferation implications," the three countries said in the statement.


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FaviconLittle Rock teachers to go on strike over district's control 11 Nov 2019, 6:44 pm

Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district's controlLittle Rock teachers will go on strike for one day this week over an Arkansas panel's decision to strip their collective bargaining power and complaints about state control of the 23,000-student district, union officials said Monday. The strike that will take place Thursday will be only the second time teachers have walked out of the job in Little Rock history. The Little Rock Education Association's announcement comes after the state Board of Education in October voted to no longer recognize the union when the contract expired Oct. 31.


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FaviconThousands of Twitter 'bots' targeted Kentucky with fake news on election night 11 Nov 2019, 6:35 pm

Thousands of Twitter 'bots' targeted Kentucky with fake news on election nightThousands of accounts with "bot-like" automated behavior spreading misinformation about the race.


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FaviconPoland Rebukes Netflix After ‘Terrible Mistake’ on Holocaust 11 Nov 2019, 5:49 pm

Poland Rebukes Netflix After ‘Terrible Mistake’ on Holocaust(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s prime minister wrote an official letter to Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings requesting that the media streaming company correct facts about the Holocaust in its “The Devil Next Door” documentary series.The European Union member lurched into the international spotlight last year after its nationalist ruling Law & Justice party outlawed the phrase “Polish death camps.” It also criminalized suggesting that the nation was complicit in the mass murder of Jews and other people by the Nazis during their occupation of the country in World War II.A Netflix spokesperson said the company is “aware of the concerns” about the show and is “urgently looking into the matter” after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote to Hastings.Morawiecki called out Netflix for what he called “a terrible mistake” in the five-part series. The show focuses on John Demjanjuk, a retired Ford Motor Co. auto mechanic who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and convicted by a German criminal court for aiding in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.The series showed a map of death camps that said they were located in Poland, using the country’s current borders.The Polish government has repeatedly pushed for commentary on the death camps to label them as being operated by the Nazis in “German-occupied Poland,” because the eastern European nation had no government of its own on its home soil after the invasion of Adolf Hitler’s forces.“Not only is the map incorrect, but it deceives viewers into believing that Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps,” Morawiecki wrote, saying he believed it was an “unintentional” mistake. “Today, we still owe this truth to the victims of World War II.”Morawiecki enclosed a 1942 map in the letter, which was backed by a comment from the Auschwitz Memorial saying that “more accuracy” should have been expected from the production.(Updates with details of complaint in sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Maciej Martewicz in Warsaw at mmartewicz@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wojciech Moskwa at wmoskwa@bloomberg.net, Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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FaviconAs Trump impeachment probe goes public, Schiff takes center stage 11 Nov 2019, 5:39 pm

As Trump impeachment probe goes public, Schiff takes center stageAdam Schiff, the head of the Democrats' investigation of President Donald Trump, sought Hollywood glory in his younger days as a prosecutor by crafting a screenplay for a thriller. As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff on Wednesday will gavel in the first open hearing of the investigation into whether Trump violated his oath of office and the law in seeking help from Ukraine for his 2020 re-election campaign. In appearance, few might have cast Schiff, 59, as the Democrats' attack dog to take down a Republican leader who is fighting tooth and nail to save his presidency.


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FaviconUPDATE 1-Polish far-right groups march on independence anniversary 11 Nov 2019, 4:40 pm

UPDATE 1-Polish far-right groups march on independence anniversaryTens of thousands of Poles took part in a far-right march in the capital Warsaw on Monday to mark Polish independence, an annual event that has become a focus of friction between nationalists and liberals. Poland has become increasingly polarised since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015, calling for a revival of patriotic and Catholic values in public life and a rejection of Western liberalism. Critics say PiS, which won a second term last month with 44% of the vote, has tacitly encouraged groups with roots in the fascist and anti-Semitic movements of the 1930s that organise the march, although the party denies this.


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FaviconJoe Biden aides reportedly worry their meetings are too congratulatory 11 Nov 2019, 3:22 pm

Joe Biden aides reportedly worry their meetings are too congratulatoryFormer Vice President Joe Biden seems to feel his 2020 run may be faltering. His campaign aides still reportedly don't want to tell him that.Biden's presidential campaign has all the trappings of a winning run: An experienced, beloved politician with a tragically heroic backstory, Edward-Isaac Dovere describes in The Atlantic. But polls and fundraising totals are showing Biden isn't thriving the way he'd hope, and his staffers are reportedly struggling to claim otherwise."Biden's campaign lives in a dual reality," in which he's simultaneously winning most polls and yet still "being written off as finished," Dovere writes. Biden aides chalk a lot of that rhetoric up to the media, making "vaguely Trumpian" complaints in which they claim reporters "cover only bad news about Biden and fail to understand what actual heartland voters want," Dovere continues.Yet behind the scenes, Biden is "aware that there are issues with the campaign, especially as it relates to money," one staffer said. His Iowa organization is smaller than Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and even South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's, and fundraising shortfalls have turned into cutbacks on TV and online ads. That fact has led some aides to "feel like they're just spinning one another in staff meetings about how well things are going," some tell The Atlantic -- and even Biden himself is reportedly "realizing with dread that the race might be slipping away."When asked about his supposedly falling campaign, Biden unequivocally defended his fundraising and organizing. Read more at The Atlantic.More stories from theweek.com The coming death of just about every rock legend The president has already confessed to his crimes Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?


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FaviconTulsi Gabbard is demanding an apology from Hillary Clinton 11 Nov 2019, 2:58 pm

Tulsi Gabbard is demanding an apology from Hillary ClintonRep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is keeping up her feud with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Gabbard's 2020 campaign released a letter from its legal counsel Monday demanding Clinton apologize and retract comments she made about her in October, The Hill reports. Clinton in a podcast on Oct. 17 called Gabbard the "favorite of the Russians," also saying she's being groomed for a third-party bid. The latter remark was initially reported widely as referring to Russians grooming Gabbard, though Clinton's spokesperson later said she meant Gabbard is being groomed by Republicans. Clinton additionally referred to Jill Stein as "also a Russian asset" after talking about Gabbard, with the "also" seeming to suggest Clinton thinks Gabbard is one as well. Gabbard's legal counsel rejected Clinton's explanation for the "grooming" comment, in the Monday letter calling the idea that she meant Republicans "spin developed only after you realized the defamatory nature of your statement, and therefore your legal liability." Clinton's comments are "actionable as defamation," the letter also says, going on to demand she "immediately hold a press conference to verbally retract -- in full -- your comments." Beyond that, Gabbard's counsel demands Clinton release a retraction on her Twitter account and distribute it to major news outlets, with an exact wording even being provided; a statement has Clinton saying she made a "grave mistake," that she apologizes, and that "I support and admire" Gabbard's work.This is Gabbard's latest escalation of her war against Clinton after tearing into her immediately after the October comments in a stunning Twitter thread, calling her "the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long." More stories from theweek.com The coming death of just about every rock legend The president has already confessed to his crimes Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?


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FaviconApple reportedly revealed the devices it expects to replace the iPhone during a secret employee meeting in October (AAPL) 11 Nov 2019, 2:30 pm

Apple reportedly revealed the devices it expects to replace the iPhone during a secret employee meeting in October (AAPL)Apple has multiple devices in the works, set to arrive in 2022 and 2023, that are intended to eventually replace the iPhone, The Information reported.


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FaviconHow Trump's impeachment will unroll 11 Nov 2019, 2:28 pm

How Trump's impeachment will unrollThe start of open hearings in the impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump on Wednesday will give the American public their first chance to witness live the explosive showdown between Democrats and Republicans over the US leader's future. The hearing before the House Intelligence Committee marks the second phase of the impeachment investigation into allegations that Trump abused his powers by seeking help for his 2020 reelection campaign from Ukraine. Trump is under threat of becoming only the third president in US history to be impeached -- formally charged with violating his duties as president or committing crimes, and placed on trial in the Senate.


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FaviconAirlines are flying tons of unneeded fuel around the world to save as little as $52 by not filling up in countries with higher prices 11 Nov 2019, 2:18 pm

Airlines are flying tons of unneeded fuel around the world to save as little as $52 by not filling up in countries with higher pricesThe practice, called fuel tankering, gives airlines an often tiny saving at the cost of much-larger carbon emissions, BBC's 'Panorama' said.


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FaviconWorld’s first airport therapy pig hogs the limelight at San Francisco airport 11 Nov 2019, 1:12 pm

World’s first airport therapy pig hogs the limelight at San Francisco airportPigs might not fly, but LiLou the therapy pig wants to make air travel less stressful. The five-year-old Juliana pig and her owner, Tatyana Danilova, are part of San Francisco International Airport’s "Wag Brigade" - a program that brings therapy animals to the airport to cheer passengers up and help ease travel anxieties.


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FaviconEU agrees sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling, to add names later 11 Nov 2019, 12:45 pm

EU agrees sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling, to add names laterThe decision, reflecting a broader deterioration in EU ties with Turkey, aims to punish Ankara for violating Cyprus' maritime economic zone by drilling off the divided island. It follows a separate decision to stop new arms sales by EU governments to Turkey over Ankara's Oct. 9 incursion into Syria. Turkey, which is a formal candidate to join the EU, says it is operating in waters on its own continental shelf or areas where Turkish Cypriots have rights.


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FaviconBoris Johnson on Track for Win, With Majority on Knife Edge, Odds Say 11 Nov 2019, 12:39 pm

Boris Johnson on Track for Win, With Majority on Knife Edge, Odds Say(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.If you listen to bookmakers, the central question in the U.K. general election is not whether Boris Johnson will win, but by how much.Johnson is the overwhelming favorite to remain as prime minister after the Dec. 12 poll, according to bookmaker Paddy Power. At 3/1 on to lead the next government, punters would need to bet three pounds ($3.86) to win one pound -- effectively meaning the betting firm gives Johnson a 75% chance to keep his job.Odds also suggest he has an increasing chance of winning an overall majority in Parliament -- which he has repeatedly said he needs to end the impasse over Brexit.On Monday, Ladbrokes placed about a 60% chance on a Johnson majority, even before Nigel Farage said his Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.“A hung parliament was the most likely scenario according to the betting last week, but the bookies are reporting a fair move towards a Tory majority by punters over the weekend,” Ladbrokes said.Analysts and traders study bookmakers’ odds to help predict the outcome of market-moving events, though their reliability was dealt a blow in the 2016 referendum on the U.K.’s membership of the European Union. As the campaign ended, odds implied a 90% chance of voters opting to remain in the bloc.The current election odds are backed by recent opinion polls, which give the Conservatives a 12 percentage point lead over Labour on average.The odds on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn winning are 2/1 against, effectively a 33% chance, meaning gamblers would need to risk one pound to win two. His party has about a 5% chance of an overall majority in the House of Commons, according to Betfair.To contact the reporters on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net;Peter Flanagan in Dublin at pflanagan23@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Emma Ross-ThomasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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FaviconDo you have the right to recline your airline airplane seat? No, and here's why 11 Nov 2019, 12:34 pm

Do you have the right to recline your airline airplane seat? No, and here's whyIf you're seated in Economy, then reclining your airline seat is unacceptable.  It's rude – and it's wrong, since we're officially out of space.


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FaviconSwedish police set up task force to combat gang violence 11 Nov 2019, 12:12 pm

Swedish police set up task force to combat gang violenceSwedish police said on Monday they would set up a special task force to deal with a wave of shootings and bombings linked to criminal gangs following the fatal shooting of a 15-year old in the city of Malmo at the weekend. Sweden has long held a reputation as being one of the safest countries in the world and while overall crime and murder rates remain low, gang wars in major cities have claimed an increasing number of victims in recent years. On Saturday, two 15-year-olds were shot outside a pizza restaurant in Malmo in what police said appeared to be a gang conflict over control of the drug trade in the area.


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FaviconAirbnb, Chobani among companies to oppose U.S. asylum work permit slowdown 11 Nov 2019, 12:00 pm

Airbnb, Chobani among companies to oppose U.S. asylum work permit slowdownAirbnb, Chobani, Western Union and a dozen other companies are urging the withdrawal of a Trump administration proposal to slow down the work permit approval process for asylum seekers. The companies - joined by Uniqlo, Ben & Jerry's, DoorDash and others - spoke out against a recently proposed regulation in a letter sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday. The proposed regulation is part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to crack down on asylum seekers.


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FaviconSaudi Arabia Gives First Permanent Residencies to Foreigners 11 Nov 2019, 11:17 am

Saudi Arabia Gives First Permanent Residencies to Foreigners(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia granted 73 foreigners “premium” residency under a new program to attract overseas investment by enabling selected people to buy property and do business without a Saudi sponsor.The kingdom received thousands of applications after offering permanent residency for 800,000 riyals ($213,000) or a one-year renewable permit for 100,000 riyals. The first batch of recipients come from 19 countries and include investors, doctors, engineers and financiers, according to a statement Monday from the government’s Premium Residency Center. It didn’t detail how many were granted permanent residency.The program, approved in May, is the latest sign of how the kingdom is rethinking the role for foreigners as it works to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil. It’s a landmark move in a region where many overseas workers are subject to some of the world’s most restrictive residency rules. The premium residencies also allow holders to switch jobs, exit the kingdom easily and sponsor visas for family members.The idea for a long-term Saudi residency was first floated in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. At the time, he estimated the program would generate about $10 billion in annual revenue by 2020.While Saudi Arabia is seeking to encourage the affluent to stay, monthly fees imposed on foreign workers and their families, along with sluggish economic growth, have prompted hundreds of thousands of other expats to leave. Those levies are designed to spur private businesses to hire Saudi nationals as citizen unemployment hovers above 12%.To contact the reporter on this story: Vivian Nereim in Riyadh at vnereim@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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FaviconWhat slowdown? Chinese shoppers set new 'Singles' Day' spending record 11 Nov 2019, 10:54 am

What slowdown? Chinese shoppers set new 'Singles' Day' spending recordChinese consumers spent a record amount on Alibaba platforms Monday during the annual "Singles' Day" buying spree, the world's biggest 24-hour shopping event, which kicked off this year with a glitzy show by US singer Taylor Swift. China's economy is in an extended slowdown exacerbated by the US trade war, and the Singles' Day fire sale is viewed as a snapshot of consumer sentiment in the world's second-biggest economy. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said his tariffs on Chinese goods have put the country's economy on the ropes, but the state-run tabloid Global Times said the shopping figures proved otherwise.


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FaviconUS-born IS bride appeals again to come home from Syria 11 Nov 2019, 10:37 am

US-born IS bride appeals again to come home from SyriaA US-born woman who says she regrets having joined the Islamic State group has appealed again to come home from the refugee camp where she lives with her small son in Syria. The government is refusing to let Hoda Muthana return to the US, arguing that she is not an American citizen. In an interview with NBC News published Saturday, Muthana said she "regrets every single thing" done by IS, which she joined in 2014 after embracing extremist ideology while living with her family in Alabama.


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FaviconVietnamese court finds Australian guilty of terrorism 11 Nov 2019, 9:53 am

Vietnamese court finds Australian guilty of terrorismA Vietnamese court on Monday sentenced a 70-year-old Australian to 12 years in jail on terrorism charges, state media reported. The Tuoi Tre newspaper said Chau Van Kham, a Sydney resident of Vietnamese origin, was found guilty of "terrorism to oppose the people's administration" in a half-day trial at Ho Chi Minh City People's Court. It said two Vietnamese men, Nguyen Van Vien and Tran Van Quyen, were also sentenced to 11 and 10 years respectively on the same charge.


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FaviconChina accuses US of using UN to 'meddle' in Tibet 11 Nov 2019, 9:38 am

China accuses US of using UN to 'meddle' in TibetChina accused the US on Monday of using the United Nations to "meddle" in Tibet, as Washington intensifies its bid to prevent Beijing from handpicking the Dalai Lama's successor. Last week, Sam Brownback, the United States' ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said the US wanted the UN to take up the succession issue of the Tibetan spiritual leader. The choice of the Dalai Lama's successor "belongs to the Tibetan Buddhists and not the Chinese government", Brownback told AFP.


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FaviconKavanaugh Makes Rare Public Foray for Group Vetting Trump Judges 11 Nov 2019, 9:00 am

Kavanaugh Makes Rare Public Foray for Group Vetting Trump Judges(Bloomberg) -- Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has done his best to keep a low profile in the 13 months since one of the most polarizing Senate confirmation fights in U.S. history.From the bench, his questions have been evenhanded and his opinions have been measured. His public appearances have been rare.But Kavanaugh will be back in the spotlight when he gives the featured dinner speech on Thursday at the annual Washington convention of the Federalist Society, the powerful conservative legal group that helped put him on the court.The appearance, in front of an organization Kavanaugh joined in 1988 as a law student, will offer a reminder of his professional roots and help showcase the group’s success in helping load the federal courts with conservative judges -- one of President Donald Trump’s signature achievements.It will also provide a fresh indication of how the Supreme Court’s most controversial justice will navigate the raw feelings that remain after his nomination by Trump and narrow Senate confirmation in the face of sexual assault allegations.About 2,300 people are expected to attend the Antonin Scalia Memorial Dinner, a black-tie-optional event that brings legal luminaries to the cavernous Main Hall of Washington’s Union Station every year. The event will be open to the media, though broadcast coverage will be prohibited.When many Americans last saw Kavanaugh, he was at his Senate confirmation hearing angrily and tearfully denying that he had assaulted Christine Blasey Ford decades ago when both were teenagers.“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election,” Kavanaugh said, with rage that would later be lampooned by actor Matt Damon on “Saturday Night Live.”He was confirmed on a 50-48 vote.‘Gracious’ JusticeThat Brett Kavanaugh bears little resemblance to the one who now sits at one end of the Supreme Court bench, seen only by the few hundred people who typically attend its camera-free argument sessions.Kavanaugh tends to politely challenge both sides during arguments, almost always without tipping his hand on his own views. He often chats amicably with Justice Elena Kagan, who sits to his right and seems to have far more to discuss with him than with Justice Samuel Alito on her other side.“He seems quite comfortable,” said Carter Phillips, a veteran Supreme Court lawyer at Sidley Austin. “He’s very gracious, extremely well-prepared. His questions are good.”Kavanaugh’s written opinions have generally been measured. Though he has almost always voted with his conservative colleagues when the court splits along ideological lines, he has eschewed the sweeping rhetoric of Trump’s other Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch. On occasion, Kavanaugh has written separate opinions to describe his position as a limited one.“He appears more cautious and pragmatic than Gorsuch, but it’s too early to tell too much,” said Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.Kavanaugh’s colleagues have publicly welcomed him and said they don’t harbor any ill feelings.“We are all human beings, we all have pasts,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told a judicial conference in September, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Now whether things occurred or didn’t occur, all of that is irrelevant.”Female ClerksJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg praised Kavanaugh for hiring four women to serve as his law clerks for his first term, something no justice had done in any term.That decision is as close as Kavanaugh has come to publicly addressing the confirmation controversy since he joined the court.“It was all women, and I think that was not coincidental,” said Melissa Murray, a New York University law professor who testified during the confirmation hearing that she was concerned Kavanaugh would vote to overturn abortion rights. “I think it was intended to be a rebuttal to those who believe those allegations, took those allegations seriously. I think he wanted to sort of counteract the perception that might have been left after the confirmation hearing.”For the public at large, Kavanaugh remains a polarizing figure -- far more so than his longer-serving colleagues. A Marquette Law School poll conducted in September found that 32% of respondents had an unfavorable view of Kavanaugh, with 26% holding a favorable view. No other justice had an unfavorable rating higher than 23%.Though he has met privately with smaller groups, the Federalist Society speech will mark only the second time Kavanaugh has spoken publicly outside the court since the White House ceremony that followed his October 2018 confirmation. Kavanaugh appeared in May with the man he succeeded, Justice Anthony Kennedy, before a conference of judges and lawyers.Standing OvationKavanaugh’s reception at the Federalist Society event is all but certain to be positive, probably overwhelmingly so, though it’s possible he’ll face protests.“I expect he’ll get a very warm reception,” said Adler, a Federalist Society member who plans to attend.Kavanaugh got a lengthy standing ovation when he arrived for last year’s dinner, which took place less than six weeks after the Senate vote. He opted not to give a talk at that event, instead agreeing to speak this year, according to two people familiar with the planning.The Federalist Society’s executive vice president, Leonard Leo, has served as a key adviser to Trump on judicial nominations. Leo declined to be interviewed about Kavanaugh’s work on the court, saying he generally doesn’t comment on individual justices.The dinner is part of a three-day program that features speeches by Gorsuch and Attorney General Bill Barr as well as panel discussions on a plethora of legal topics.“I think it is meaningful that he’s choosing to make a debut of sorts at this particular venue,” Murray said.Chances are Kavanaugh’s speech will steer clear of any discussion of the confirmation controversy. He probably will at least touch on the judicial philosophy that made him a Federalist Society favorite in the first place. He might show the side of himself that promised at his confirmation hearing to be part of a “team of nine” on the court.“I think it will be different than it was in his last public appearance,” said Phillips with a laugh. “He is by nature a gracious and even-tempered person. I expect that that’s the way he will come across.”To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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FaviconSyria's Assad: anybody will be able to run at 2021 election 11 Nov 2019, 7:25 am

Syria's Assad: anybody will be able to run at 2021 electionSyrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian presidential election in 2021 would be open to anybody who wants to run and that there would be numerous challengers for the presidency. Assad, who made the comment in an interview broadcast on Monday on Russian state-funded television channel RT, faced two challengers at the 2014 election which he won by a landslide, but which his opponents dismissed as a charade. There are going to be numerous nominees," Assad said.


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FaviconKenya’s Salve for Ethnic Animosity Is at Risk of Backfiring 11 Nov 2019, 4:00 am

Kenya’s Salve for Ethnic Animosity Is at Risk of Backfiring(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterA plan championed by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga to end ethnic animosity may end up widening fault lines that have triggered sporadic violence in the East African nation.The two men commissioned a study on how to promote reconciliation in the wake of a disputed election in 2017 that threatened to reignite a conflict in which more than 1,100 people died a decade earlier. Their so-called Building Bridges Initiative envisions an end to a winner-take-all electoral system, watering down the executive’s powers and an enhanced role for parliament, according to a draft seen by Bloomberg. The document was verified by people with knowledge of the report, who asked not to be identified because the information is still private and could be amended.While most politicians initially welcomed the rapprochement between the one-time foes and their attempts at nation-building, it’s caused ructions in the ruling Jubilee Party because it could pave the way for Odinga to become president in 2022 and leave Kenyatta’s deputy, William Ruto, out in the cold.“Ruto is deeply suspicious of BBI because he sees it as a vehicle to create a coalition that excludes him,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. “The threat is that this then raises the political temperatures, and each side starts to prepare for the worst.”Ethnic-Based CoalitionsKenyan politics have long been a minefield, with largely ethnic-based coalitions determining who wields power. The five biggest groups are Kenyatta’s Kikuyu, Ruto’s Kalenjin, Odinga’s Luo, the Luhya and the Kamba, and whoever secures backing from at least three of them is almost assured of winning the presidency.Allegiances are consistently shifting. Ethnic violence, mainly between Kenyatta and Ruto supporters, flared up after a disputed 2007 vote and both men were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed until the cases were thrown out for lack of evidence.The two then joined forces to win elections in 2013 and 2017. While Ruto backed Kenyatta for the presidency on the understanding that he’d be next in line for the job in 2022, their relationship has soured since Odinga entered the fray.“The intention from the word go is to give Raila a safe route to power,” said Herman Manyora, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Nairobi. “For as long as it destroys Ruto’s presidential dream, he won’t support it.”Monumental ReportOdinga, 74, who leads the Orange Democratic Movement and has unsuccessfully run for office four times, has also had a fractious relationship with Kenyatta and accused him of stealing the last two elections. They reconciled in March 2018, but the terms of the deal they reached were never publicly revealed.Odinga last year said he’d continue to push for a raft of reforms including the reintroduction of the role of a prime minister -- a post he held under a power-sharing accord that helped halt the 2007-8 violence.A final version of the Building Bridges Initiative report will be presented to Kenyatta and Odinga this week, according to Martin Kimani, the secretary of a panel that’s drafting the plan. He described its contents as “monumental,” but declined to reveal details.Besides proposing changes to the way the government is structured, the panel will also make recommendations on how to tackle corruption and share out the nation’s prosperity, according to its nine-point brief. The initiative will be subjected to a national debate and possibly a referendum before being formally adopted.Burning BridgesIf a referendum does happen, it will likely be a dress rehearsal of the 2022 vote that will pit Odinga against Ruto, according to Manyora.Ruto will back the new plan if it benefits the Kenyan people, but will oppose it if it only creates positions for a few, his spokesman David Mugonyi said by phone.Odinga’s spokesman Dennis Onyango said he couldn’t talk about the BBI report because he hasn’t seen it, while Kenyatta’s publicist Kanze Dena declined to comment.It’s unclear whether the new initiative will have the desired effect, said Bobby Mkangi, a lawyer who helped draft Kenya’s current constitution.“In a sense, it could either be burning bridges or building bridges,” he said. “We may have to engage in a trial-and-error journey in the quest of nation-building and trying to find what works best for us and mitigate exclusion.”\--With assistance from Mike Cohen.To contact the reporter on this story: David Herbling in Nairobi at dherbling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net, David Malingha, Mike CohenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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FaviconFather who lost wife, sons says life 'turned upside down' 11 Nov 2019, 1:37 am

Father who lost wife, sons says life 'turned upside down'A U.S. citizen who lost his wife and two of his sons when they were ambushed by gunmen in Mexico said his life has been upended and he's leaving the country with the rest of his family, ABC News reported. David Langford told ABC's "World News Tonight" Sunday that "my whole life has turned upside down. Langford's wife, Dawna, and two of his sons, Trevor Langford, 11, and Rogan Langford, 2, were among the nine women and children killed in the ambush Monday in the Mexican state of Sonora.


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FaviconTeenagers charged with murder of photographer after allegedly pushing log off cliff 10 Nov 2019, 10:06 pm

Teenagers charged with murder of photographer after allegedly pushing log off cliffTwo teenagers are facing murder charges after a 6-foot log fell from a cliff and killed a photographer taking school pictures below.


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FaviconThousands join French march against Islamophobia 10 Nov 2019, 8:22 pm

Thousands join French march against IslamophobiaOver 10,000 people turned out north of Paris on Sunday for a march against Islamophobia that drew criticism from both the government and the far right. The march was called by a number of individuals and organisations, including the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). It also came as the debate over the veil has been revived in France and against a background of several jihadist attacks in France in recent years.


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FaviconMembers of community attacked in Mexico doubt they'll return 10 Nov 2019, 7:33 pm

Members of community attacked in Mexico doubt they'll returnA Utah man who helped get his mother and other family members safely out of northern Mexico after nine people were killed in an apparent ambush said Sunday that most fled to Arizona with whatever they could fit in their cars and trucks and they'll likely never return. More than 100 people left their rural community in northern Mexico on Saturday in an 18-vehicle caravan after the attack Monday in which nine women and children were killed by what authorities say were hit men from drug cartels. "I went down there to get my mother and get my family out, my brothers and sisters and lots of kids," Mike Hafen said Sunday in telephone interview from his sister's home in Phoenix.


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FaviconPoll: Bloomberg's potential run is a flop with Democrats 10 Nov 2019, 7:15 pm

Poll: Bloomberg's potential run is a flop with DemocratsA new poll shows Michael Bloomberg at 4 percent nationally as he considers a presidential bid, showing that he's well-known — but widely disliked — by the Democratic electorate, according to a new poll.


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FaviconJamaican lottery scam victim hoping to get back her $400K 10 Nov 2019, 6:27 pm

Jamaican lottery scam victim hoping to get back her $400KA 90-year-old North Dakota woman who was robbed of her life savings by a Jamaican lottery scam says she has been paid back only $287 of the $400,000 she's owed. Edna Schmeets of Harvey, a small central North Dakota town about 77 miles (124 kilometers) northeast of Bismarck, was the victim whose case launched what became the first large-scale Jamaican lottery scam case prosecuted in the U.S. All 31 defendants have been prosecuted, including 14 Jamaican nationals who were extradited from that country. "I'm so disappointed," Scmeets told the Bismarck Tribune of the small amount she's gotten back.


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FaviconTrump impeachment: CNN host interrupts senior Republican to correct president's false claims on Ukraine aid 10 Nov 2019, 6:24 pm

Trump impeachment: CNN host interrupts senior Republican to correct president's false claims on Ukraine aidCNN host Jake Tapper interrupted a senior Republican to correct him as he repeated a false claim by Donald Trump about European aid to Ukraine.Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, cited the president's claim that he had withheld almost $400 million in military assistance because he was concerned that the EU was not doing enough.


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FaviconHouse Republican: Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' but not impeachable 10 Nov 2019, 6:21 pm

House Republican: Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' but not impeachableRep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Sunday that President Trump's call with Ukraine's president was "inappropriate" — but it did not warrant his impeachment.


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FaviconRepublicans demand Hunter Biden and whistleblower appear at televised Donald Trump impeachment hearings 10 Nov 2019, 6:05 pm

Republicans demand Hunter Biden and whistleblower appear at televised Donald Trump impeachment hearingsRepublicans have demanded that Joe Biden's son and an anonymous whistleblower should give evidence during highly anticipated televised impeachment hearings this week. It came as America's big three networks - CBS, NBC and ABC - all announced wall-to-wall coverage. They will break into scheduled programming to carry the sessions live, so voters can watch the case against Donald Trump. The three witnesses at the hearings on Wednesday and Friday will be George Kent, a top State Department official, William Taylor, a US diplomat in Ukraine, and Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine. But Republicans want to her from the whistleblower who kickstarted the impeachment inquiry after complaining about a July 25 telephone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Mr Trump is accused of holding up $392 million in military aid in an effort to pressure Mr Zelenskiy into investigating Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, for corruption. Mr Trump vehemently denies doing so. Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father, as vice president, was heading Ukraine policy for the Obama administration. Hunter and Joe Biden Credit: Reuters Congressman Devin Nunes, the lead Republican on the House intelligence committee, which will host the televised impeachment hearings, demanded Hunter Biden and the whistleblower appear. But Adam Schiff, the Democrat committee chairman, refused to call them, and accused Republicans of trying to turn impeachment into a "sham investigation of the Bidens." The televised impeachment inquiry sessions come 46 years after America was transfixed by the Watergate hearings. Around three quarters of the US population watched at least some of the Watergate hearings on television. A major difference this time will be social media, with Republicans and Democrats able to react instantly to developments. Days before the hearings Republicans appeared increasingly fractured over how to defend the president. Some Republican senators and members of Congress have stuck to Mr Trump's description of his call with Mr Zelenskiy as "perfect," and maintained there was no "quid pro quo" offered by the president. Others have suggested there was an "appropriate quid pro quo". And, some said his behaviour raised concerns but did not rise to the level of impeachment. There were also some who refused to discuss the matter at all, on the basis they would be jurors in an eventual Senate trial of Mr Trump. Several Republican senators declared they would not even watch the televised hearings this week. They included Lindsey Graham, a friend of Mr Trump, who called it a "sham". He added: “It’s being driven by political people. I think this is a bunch of crap." Senator Lindsey Graham says he will be one of the few Americans not watching the live impeachment inquiry hearings Credit: AP Alex Conant, a Republican strategist, said: "It’s not good. It’s hard to rally people to your side without a coherent and sustainable message." Meanwhile, Mick Mulvaney, Mr Trump's acting chief of staff, asked a court to decide whether he should adhere to a request from Congress to give evidence privately to the impeachment inquiry.The White House has ordered him not to do so. As he prepared to watch the televised hearings Mr Trump attended a college American football game in Alabama, where more than 100,000 people packed into a stadium. Mr Trump at the Alabama game Credit: AP When Mr Trump appeared on a big screen he was cheered and there were chants of "USA, USA." Outside the stadium an inflatable 20ft-high "Baby Trump" protest balloon was slashed and deflated. A man reportedly ran at the balloon with a knife and cut an 8ft long gash in it. The "Baby Trump" protest balloon after it was attacked Credit: The Tuscaloosa News Local police said Hoyt Deau Hutchinson, 32, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. Mr Trump's reception in Alabama was a sharp contrast to the booing when he attended a World Series baseball game in Washington two weeks ago


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FaviconKlobuchar attacks Bloomberg and Buttigieg as Democrat infighting grows 10 Nov 2019, 5:20 pm

Klobuchar attacks Bloomberg and Buttigieg as Democrat infighting grows* Polling shows voters generally satisfied with the candidates * Can Pete Buttigieg’s moderate message win over purple Iowa?Senator Amy Klobuchar campaigning in Iowa on 8 November. Photograph: Jack Kurtz/ZUMA Wire/REX/ShutterstockOn a weekend of sharp infighting among Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Amy Klobuchar hit out at Michael Bloomberg.“When people look at the White House and see this multi-millionaire messing up so many things,” the Minnesota senator told CNN’s State of the Union, “I don’t think they think, ‘Oh, we need someone richer.’ I think you have to earn votes, not buy them.”Klobuchar also criticised Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has surged in Iowa. The senator repeated her contention that a female candidate with Buttigieg’s experience would not have made the debate stage.Bloomberg, 77 and a three-term mayor of New York, has an estimated personal fortune of $51.1bn. Having long flirted with a run for the Democratic nomination, on Friday he registered to enter the Alabama primary.Responding to comments by a Bloomberg adviser that the former mayor thinks none of the current contenders will be able to beat Donald Trump, Klobuchar said: “I don’t think you can just waltz in and instead of saying, ‘I’m good enough to be president,’ your argument is that the other people aren’t good enough.“I’m looking forward to debating Mayor Bloomberg but not if his whole purpose is to say the rest of the field isn’t good enough.”A Bloomberg run is not a done deal.Advisers to the billionaire indicated earlier this week that he plans to win the nomination by skipping early voting states like New Hampshire and Iowa before making a massive ad spend in larger states.But polling of likely Democratic primary voters generally indicates satisfaction with the candidates who make up a historically large and diverse field. A Morning Consult poll conducted on 8 November found that just 4% of Democratic primary voters would make Bloomberg their choice.As Klobuchar spoke on Sunday, one news outlet reported that “sources close” to Bloomberg were already walking back the likelihood that he will enter the race, describing his move this week as a trial balloon.Axios reported that even Bloomberg’s own polling data pointed to “perhaps insurmountable hurdles”, especially if former vice-president Joe Biden stays in the race as the leading centrist candidate.On Saturday, news broke that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos had asked Bloomberg to enter. At a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders greeted the report with laughter.On Sunday, Klobuchar denied a reported rift between her campaign and that of Buttigieg. Confronted with a New York Times report which detailed supposed irritation with the 37-year-old’s success among older candidates who have held state or national office, Klobuchar said she believed Buttigieg was qualified to be president.But she added: “I’m the one from the midwest who has actually won a state-wide race over and over again. That is not true of Mayor Pete. We should be able to have those debates about candidates without being accused of being negative.”Klobuchar has qualified for the next two Democratic debates but remains way off the pace set by Warren, Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg. Referring to herself, Warren and Senator Kamala Harris of California, Klobuchar suggested a woman would not be on the debate stage if she held the same qualifications as Buttigieg.“Do I think that we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t. Maybe we’re held to a different standard.”Klobuchar also responded to feuding between the frontrunners over Warren’s “Medicare for All” plan, which would eliminate all private insurance. After Biden painted the Massachusetts senator as an out-of-touch elitist, Warren retorted that if the former vice-president was just going to repeat Republican talking points, he should run in a different primary .“I don’t think Elizabeth Warren is elitist,” Klobuchar said. “She’s pushing for a policy I don’t agree with that would kick 149 million Americans off their healthcare in four years.”


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FaviconNew York City wrestles with surge of violent police clashes 10 Nov 2019, 4:56 pm

New York City wrestles with surge of violent police clashesA surge in violent police clashes has left a trail of bodies across New York City, stoking tensions between officers and critics who say they have been too quick to use deadly force. Since mid-October, New York Police Department officers have shot five people, killing four of them — a torrent that left department veterans struggling to recall another time there were so many on-duty shootings in the city in such a short span. Two days later, police killed a man in Brooklyn after they say he slammed an officer's head with a chair.


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FaviconSmall plane crashes in Texas during 'gender reveal' stunt 10 Nov 2019, 3:13 pm

Small plane crashes in Texas during 'gender reveal' stuntPassenger injured as pilot slowed plane at low altitude to ‘dump 350 gallons of pink water’ in stunt gone badly wrongGender reveal parties let expecting parents reveal whether they are going to have a boy or a girl. Stunts gone wrong have become a staple of online reporting. Photograph: Beautyinoddplaces/Getty Images/iStockphotoIn another instance of a “gender reveal” stunt gone badly wrong, a small plane crashed in Texas after “dump[ing] about 350 gallons of pink water” to indicate that a friend of the pilot was going to have a daughter.According to a National Transportation Safety Board report into the crash, which happened near the town of Turkey on 7 September, “the pilot reported, that while maneuvering at a low altitude in an aerial applicator airplane, he dumped about 350 gallons of pink water for a gender reveal.“The airplane ‘got too slow’, aerodynamically stalled, impacted terrain and came to rest inverted.”The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions before the plane crashed.The NTSB report added: “The Federal Aviation Administration inspector … [said] there were two persons on board the single-seat airplane.”The pilot was not injured. The passenger suffered minor injuries.Gender reveal parties let expecting parents reveal whether they are going to have a boy or a girl. Stunts gone wrong have become a staple of online reporting.In Iowa in October, a 56-year-old grandmother was killed when a device meant to shoot out coloured powder exploded instead.In Arizona in 2017, a man fired a rifle at a target that exploded, releasing blue powder. It also started a wildfire that burned 73 sq miles of mostly Forest Service land. The man was ordered to pay nearly $8m in restitution.Earlier this year, Jenna Karvunidis, a mother of three who in 2008 was one of the first people to hold a gender reveal, told the Guardian she “had released something bad into the world”.Aside from accidents, Karvunidis said she regretted the focus of such events on traditional notions of gender.“I started to realize that nonbinary people and trans people were feeling affected by this,” she said, “and I started to feel bad.”


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FaviconPoll: Bloomberg's potential run is a flop with voters so far 10 Nov 2019, 11:52 am

Poll: Bloomberg's potential run is a flop with voters so farMichael Bloomberg is running at 4 percent nationally as he teases a presidential bid, showing that he's well known — but widely disliked — by the Democratic electorate, according to a new poll. No contender is viewed more negatively by Democrats than the billionaire former New York City mayor. The Morning Consult poll, released Sunday, reflects the enormous challenge confronting Bloomberg as he considers a late entry into the 2020 race.


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FaviconIndia's Nuclear Arsenal Keeps Growing, And That's Bad News For Pakistan and China 10 Nov 2019, 10:30 am

India's Nuclear Arsenal Keeps Growing, And That's Bad News For Pakistan and ChinaIndia could be approaching 200 warheads.


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FaviconCruel jokes about the old are everywhere. When will we face our ageism epidemic? 10 Nov 2019, 7:03 am

Cruel jokes about the old are everywhere. When will we face our ageism epidemic?We tolerate mockery of the elderly that we’d never allow if it targeted another group. But we’ll all be old one day‘It’s not only in the sphere of comedy that the old are discussed in ways that would never be tolerated by (or about) another group.’ Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty ImagesWatching Saturday Night Live over the past few seasons, I’ve noticed the increasing number and frequency of jokes about old people: the feebleness of the aging brain, the repulsiveness of the elderly body, particularly the elderly female body.Partly because no one, it seems, is ever “called out” for ageism – I can’t think of one public figure who has been “cancelled” for mocking the aged – I persuaded myself that, as an older person, I was being hypersensitive. But then, this past weekend, on the Weekend Update segment, the cast member Micheal Che told a series of jokes about a report that a Chinese woman in her 60s had given birth. The labor, Che noted, had involved an unusual amount of “friction” and (I may be slightly misquoting here) the delivery had been like “removing a penny from a wad of chewing gum”. Moreover, he added, the new mother could nurse simply by leaning over the crib. The audience laughed. I winced. My husband said: “Ouch.”I tried to think of another demographic – Asians? African Americans? Women? Members of the LGBT community? – who would have been the object of humor quite so cruel, so barbed, so personal. But it’s not only in the sphere of comedy, and on network TV, that the old are discussed in ways that would never be tolerated by (or about) another group.This summer, the New York Times ran a piece by Ann Bauer titled Do Old People Have a Different Smell? After renting her house to an elderly couple, Ms Bauer returned to find that her home had an odd scent, “strange and cloyingly human”. A Google search provided Ms Bauer with conflicting results. One biologist at the Monell Chemical Research Center found that an increased concentration of an unsaturated aldehyde produced, in the old, “a distinctive grassy, waxy or fatty odor”. This confirmed what a Japanese study had found in 2001. Apparently the Japanese “have a name for older person odor – kareishu – and it has a definitely negative association”. These conclusions were disputed by an organic chemist, also at the Monell, who was himself jokingly accused of being biased, because he was old.The results of these studies interested me less than the fact that they were carried out out at all – and, I assume, funded. Are there studies in progress designed to determine if black people smell funny, or if one can identify a gender nonconforming person by an educated sniff?Ageism is more than a joke. Age discrimination in the work place is difficult to prove, to prosecute and to rectify than any other sort of employment bias. That elderly person greeting you at the door of Target or checking out your groceries at the supermarket may well have once held – and been fired from – a very different job.> Imagine how you might feel, in some as yet unimaginable future, to be told, simply because you have survived, to have a terrible dayIt’s unsurprising that animosity toward the elderly has been profitably commodified. Again according to the New York Times, the phrase “OK Boomer” is “Generations Z’s ... retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it.” OK Boomer now appears on phone cases, stickers, pins, and sweatshirts and on a range of products that say, “OK boomer, have a terrible day.” “‘If they do take it personally’,” according to one 17-year-old quoted in the piece, “‘it just further proves that they take everything we do as offensive.’” And yet one wonders if the public would be quite so amused by a logo that said: “OK Jews, have a terrible day.” Given the losses and infirmities that so often accompany age, don’t the elderly have enough bad days without being told to have more?The accepted explanation and justification for all this is that the old have ruined things for the young: we’re responsible for climate change, for income inequality, for the cascading series of financial crises, for the prohibitive cost of higher education. Fair enough, I suppose, though it does seem unjust to direct one’s anger at the average middle-class senior citizen struggling to survive on social security rather than raging at, let’s say, the Koch brothers the Sacklers, the big banks, and the fossil-fuel lobbyists who have effectively dismantled the EPA. OK, Morgan Stanley, have a terrible day.In any case, I think that the animosity toward the old is less economic than existential, less political than primal, less about student debt than about fear of one’s own ageing. No one particularly wants to get old, however preferable it is to the alternative: an early death. What’s striking is that the prejudice against the elderly is the only bigotry directed at the inevitable future of the bigot. Few misogynists, I imagine, fear that they eventually will turn into women, nor do racists worry that the passing decades will radically alter their ethnicity and the color of their skin. But the young will get old, if they’re lucky. Meanwhile they might consider the fact that ageing is challenging enough without one’s being mocked and derided for having experienced a natural process that no medical or cosmetic intervention can ultimately prevent.I’m not suggesting more “calling out”, more cancellations. We have enough of that already. So perhaps the answer is more consciousness, more compassion, a more empathic imagination. Believe it or not, the old still have a sense of humor, even about the ageing process. But cruelty is something else. Imagine how your grandpa would feel surrounded by scientists eager to determine if he had an unpleasant odor, or how your grandmother would like hearing her flesh compared to a wad of chewing gum. Then imagine how you might feel, in some as yet unimaginable future, to be told, simply because you have survived, to have a terrible day.


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FaviconThailand wants to ban these three pesticides. The US government says no 10 Nov 2019, 7:00 am

Thailand wants to ban these three pesticides. The US government says noThe Trump administration is putting profits before people by pressuring the country not to ban harmful chemicals made by Dow, Syngenta and MonsantoBottles of paraquat are displayed for sale at a gardening shop in Bangkok. Thailand is banning this and other chemicals from 1 December despite US pressure. Photograph: Romeo Gacad/AFP via Getty ImagesYou know it’s a dark day for America when foreign leaders have to lecture US officials about the importance of prioritizing public health over corporate profits.Yet that is what is happening now, as the Trump administration pressures Thailand not to ban three pesticides that scientific research has shown to be particularly dangerous to children and other vulnerable populations.Thailand’s leaders have said that as of 1 December, a ban will take effect on the use of the following farming chemicals: chlorpyrifos, an insecticide made popular by Dow Chemical that is known to damage babies’ brains; Syngenta’s paraquat, a herbicide scientists say causes the nervous system disease known as Parkinson’s that has been banned in Europe since 2007; and Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide, which is linked to cancer and other health problems.Dow, Syngenta and Monsanto have each merged their way to become bigger corporate behemoths in recent years, wielding their power in Washington to keep their money-making pesticides on the market. They are not having as much luck keeping foreign leaders in line, however, amid growing global awareness of the risks many pesticides spell for human health.Thailand joins dozens of countries that have already banned or are planning bans on paraquat, chlorpyrifos and/or glyphosate. Thailand’s national hazardous substances committee voted last month to ban all three due to the dangers established by scientific evidence.Thailand’s leaders were motivated in part by research showing that use of these chemicals in agriculture not only puts farm workers at risk, but also endangers consumers because the bug and weed killers’ residues persist in fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods.In the United States, pesticide residues are so common in domestic food supplies that a Food and Drug Administration report issued in September found more than 84% of domestic fruits, 53% of vegetables, and 42% of grains sold to consumers carried pesticide residues.US regulators parrot industry talking points as they insist that dietary exposures to pesticides are nothing to worry about and say any risks to farm workers can be mitigated with proper training, protective clothing and other measures.> It’s certainly not surprising that the Trump administration is working to protect glyphosate and other pesticides that bring profits to big corporationsAccording to Thai news reports, US officials have also been warning that the ban will interfere with lucrative trade. The US is especially upset about a glyphosate ban, arguing that it could limit hundreds of millions of dollars in Thai imports of US grains, which are often laced with glyphosate residues.Outraged Thai officials say they have been forced to “clearly explain” to US officials that Thailand’s priority is the health of Thai consumers. “Our job is to take care of the people’s health,” the public health minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, told the press.If only US leaders had such moral clarity.It may be disgraceful, but it’s certainly not surprising that the Trump administration is working to protect glyphosate and other pesticides that bring profits to big corporations. The agrochemical industry players are devoted donors to the political machinery that runs Washington and they expect a return on their dollars.Chlorpyrifos was scheduled to be banned two years ago from US agricultural use but when Trump came into office the EPA decided to delay any action until at least 2022. The agency is currently updating its risk assessment of paraquat, seeking public comments through 16 December; but it appears poised to allow continued use, albeit with restrictions. And earlier this year the EPA affirmed that it continues to find no health risk associated with glyphosate.One example of the governmental fealty was laid out in an internal Monsanto consultant’s report made public through litigation against the company. The report quotes a White House policy adviser as saying: “We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have.”It is true that every day seems to offer a new opportunity for outrage with the Trump administration. Whether it is feckless foreign policy moves, illicit self-dealing or controversial corporate alliances, there is no shortage of scandal to alarm and divide Americans. It is often easiest to simply ignore the headlines and convince ourselves the partisan battles don’t actually affect us.But when it comes to the food we eat and feed our families, we only harm ourselves when we ignore policies that literally promote the poisoning of our children for profit. We can’t afford to look away from this. * Carey Gillam is a journalist and author and a public interest researcher for US Right to Know, a not-for-profit food industry research group. She is a Guardian US columnist


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FaviconReview launched into onshore impact of offshore wind farms 10 Nov 2019, 6:00 am

Review launched into onshore impact of offshore wind farmsThe energy minister is to launch a review into the impact wind farms have onshore amid claims the countryside is being “concreted over” with substations and cable corridors built as supporting infrastructure. The move has been welcomed by campaigners who have been fighting proposals in the East of England to build substations and cable trenches “the size of Wembley stadium” to get electricity from wind farms to the National Grid. The activists are urging energy companies and the National Grid to develop an “offshore ring main” where the wind farms come online at the coast rather than inland. Andrea Leadsom, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, has announced the review after meeting a delegation of MPs from Suffolk and Norfolk last month. George Freeman, who is standing again to be Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, has written to campaigners explaining how the review would analyse the environmental impact caused by a network of cable trenches and substations, as well as the possibility of an alternative offshore ring main. He wrote: “We will be able (after the election) to look properly at the overall environmental implications for the offshore and onshore wind infrastructure as a whole. “Norfolk and Suffolk has some of the most beautiful, valued and recognised wetland and onshore coastal habitats. It would be madness to damage these special environments by bringing renewable energy onshore in an environmentally damaging way.” Campaigners say the southern North Sea is becoming the country’s “offshore energy powerhouse” with up to ten wind farms proposed. While campaigners are not opposed to renewable energy at sea, they are concerned that planning permission for additional vast onshore plants are being given the greenlight because it deemed essential power network infrastructure. Fiona Gilmore, of SEAS, the Suffolk Energy Action Solutions group, said residents fear major onshore plant was being rushed through. “We are totally in favour of offshore renewables and wind energy but the delivery of that energy needs to be implemented in a responsible way, avoiding unnecessary devastation,” she said.  “Scottish Power Renewables [SPR] is planning to build a concrete jungle on virgin, coastal countryside to bring offshore wind energy onshore to connect to the Grid. “SPR has not been put under any pressure to look for existing brownfield sites and there is no impetus on firms to develop offshore wind energy transmission infrastructure solutions. “We need to be world leaders in the delivery of green energy not just in terms of producing that energy, otherwise that energy is no longer green.” SPR, one of a number of energy companies building wind farms in the southern North Sea, was last night unavailable for comment.


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FaviconBAD NEWS: The Virginia-Class Attack Submarine Is Losing Its Stealth Coating 10 Nov 2019, 4:30 am

BAD NEWS: The Virginia-Class Attack Submarine Is Losing Its Stealth CoatingA whistleblower goes up against one of America's largest weapons makers.


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FaviconChina's Investments In Special Forces Are Paying Off In Deadly Ways 10 Nov 2019, 3:00 am

China's Investments In Special Forces Are Paying Off In Deadly WaysSpecial operations soldiers are a force multiplier.


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FaviconRussian Historian Accused of Murdering His Student After Being Found Drunk in River With Bag of Severed Limbs 10 Nov 2019, 12:39 am

Russian Historian Accused of Murdering His Student After Being Found Drunk in River With Bag of Severed LimbsDenis Sinyakov/AFP/GettyA well-known Russian military historian and professor at St. Petersburg State University was found in a river in the center of the city early Saturday morning drunkenly trying to dispose of a woman’s severed arms, according to Russian media reports. Police reportedly soon found the woman’s decapitated head and body, along with a bloody saw, in his apartment, and divers are said to have found her legs in black plastic bags at the bottom of the Moyka River. The alleged historian-turned-murderer, identified by Russia’s Interfax news agency as 63-year-old Oleg Sokolov, has already confessed to the killing, according to his lawyer, Alexander Pochuyev. “If such a heinous crime, which my client has confessed to, did take place, it was committed under the influence of strong factors, possibly pathological intoxication or temporary insanity,” Pochuyev was quoted as saying by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   Pochuyev added “the verdict has not been passed yet, and until that moment a person is forbidden to be considered guilty” under Russia’s Criminal Code.Sokolov has reportedly entered a plea bargain for the gruesome murder of the 24-year-old victim, tentatively identified by law enforcement sources as Anastasia Eshchenko, one of his students and his co-author on research projects about the French military rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. Police have not yet confirmed a motive, but several local media reports suggest Sokolov and Eshchenko had a closer relationship than that of a teacher and student. Interfax cited sources saying the two lived together. Sokolov is said to have told detectives during his interrogation that he purchased a saw to get rid of Eshchenko’s body and drank booze during the dismemberment because he “repeatedly felt sick.” He also reportedly said he planned to commit suicide afterwards wearing the uniform of Napoleon. Sokolov is considered one of Russia’s leading experts on Napoleonic wars, and is well-known for reenacting moments of Napoleonic history. He was awarded France’s Legion d’Honneur in 2003. Sokolov was also a member of France's Institute of Social Science, Economics and Politics, but he had been stripped of his position on its scientific committee Saturday, the society said in a statement.“We could never imagine that he could commit such an odious act,” as an academic of such high standing, the ISSEP said. The battle re-enactor was also initially listed as a member of the Russian Military Historical Society, but by Saturday evening the organization insisted it had no ties to him. Russian state media reports that Sokolov is detained in a hospital and is being treated for hypothermia.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.


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FaviconAide to Ukrainian President Addresses Bill Taylor Testimony 9 Nov 2019, 11:46 pm

Aide to Ukrainian President Addresses Bill Taylor TestimonyTom Brenner/ReutersIn his testimony before the impeachment inquiry last month, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor described a conversation about a sensitive topic: whether or not Ukrainian law enforcement should investigate Petro Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine who lost a re-election bid to Volodymyr Zelensky on April 21. Now, one of the Ukrainians in that conversation is indicating that Taylor’s testimony didn’t capture the full story. Taylor, America’s top diplomat in Kyiv, is a key witness in Democrats’ investigation of President Donald Trump and his policy toward Ukraine. In his testimony, Taylor said two Zelensky aides, Andriy Yermak and Igor Novikov, reacted strongly after Taylor and then-special envoy Ambassador Kurt Volker urged them not to scrutinize Poroshenko. Poroshenko faced criticism during the election for certain military decisions and had faced a bruising scandal when news broke in the weeks before Election Day about the alleged involvement of the son of one of his close business partners in a scheme to soak Ukraine’s defense sector for millions of dollars. One of Poroshenko’s top national security officials, Oleg Gladkovsky, resigned over the news and was reportedly detained last month as part of an investigation into the situation.  “Kurt said, you know, you should move forward, don’t prosecute Poroshenko,” Taylor said in his testimony, describing a conversation that happened on September 14. “And they responded, take a look at this.”Yermak and Novikov pulled out their phones, according to Taylor, and showed the two American diplomats “pictures of their relatives–one was a brother, and one was a cousin–who had been killed or wounded in the east.”Taylor apparently saw a connection between the military service of the aides’ family members and the Zelensky administration’s approach to Poroshenko. “[T]hey showed this to Kurt and me, and they said, Poroshenko is responsible for this,” Taylor said. “There was a deep-seated anger at Poroshenko at an emotional level. And that was one of the things motivating–one of the things motivating the attacks on, or the court cases on President Poroshenko.”Reached for comment about the exchange, Novikov offered a view of the issues they discussed at that dinner that differed from Taylor’s. “The fact that one of my close relatives is serving Ukraine, risking his life to protect our country from the Russian aggression makes me proud, not angry,” he told The Daily Beast. “The main issue with Mr. Poroshenko is corruption, especially within the defense sector. In my view, it is unacceptable to steal from the very people who are defending our freedom.” “I strongly believe that if Ukraine were to deoligarchize itself, there should not be two separate categories: ‘good oligarch’ and ‘bad oligarch,’” he added. “No one should be above the law. Is Mr. Poroshenko an oligarch? I have an opinion on that, but I’ll let everyone else also be the judge of that.” Volker and Taylor’s efforts to influence Ukrainian prosecutors’ investigation decisions made for a bit of discomfort, according to George Kent, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. Kent said that when Taylor and Volker urged Yermak not to investigate Poroshenko, Yermak pointed to American efforts to get Ukraine to open politically motivated investigations. “Andry Yermak said: What? You mean the type of investigations you’re pushing for us to do on Biden and Clinton? And at that point Kurt Volker did not respond,” Kent said. Taylor is set to testify publicly next week as part of Congressional Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. The inquiry focuses on efforts by members of the Trump administration to pressure Kyiv to announce investigations into alleged Ukrainian interference in the U.S. 2016 election and a company linked to former Vice President Joe Biden. 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.


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