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  • Intel Officers 'Terrified' Of Briefing Trump On Russia Because He Would 'Explode': Report

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    "He'll explode and the whole thing will get derailed, because he has this weird affinity for Putin," a former national security officer said.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 18:07:46 -0400
  • Nigeria unrest: Protesters shot in Lagos as millions put under curfew

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    Casualty figures and who opened fire in Lagos are not yet known, as anti-police anger spreads.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 18:00:20 -0400
  • Nigeria protests: Millions placed under curfew as violence spreads

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    Curfews are extended beyond the city of Lagos as anti-riot officers struggle to control protests.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 16:36:37 -0400
  • Beheading in France could bolster president's claim that Islam is in 'crisis' – but so is French secularism

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    A French high school teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his class was beheaded on Oct. 16 by an 18-year-old Muslim refugee in what France’s President Emmanuel Macron characterized as an “Islamist terrorist attack.”The killing is the latest high-profile attack by a Muslim extremist in France, coming after the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine and the 2016 truck attack in Nice. It also occurred two weeks after Macron gave a controversial speech defining Islam as “a religion that is in crisis today all over the world.”France, which colonized many Muslim-majority territories in Africa and the Levant in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Algeria and Mali, has Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority – 6 million people, or 9% of its population. Macron’s Oct. 2 speech outlined a legislative proposal to fight “Islamist separatism.” If passed in Parliament, it would essentially ban home-schooling of all children aged 3 and up and prevent foreign-trained imams from leading French mosques. The goal, said the president, is “to build an Islam in France that can be compatible with the Enlightenment.” Macron’s analysis concludes, simply, that Islam is somehow at odds with modern Western society. But my research on state secularism and religion shows that the reality is much more complicated. French versus American secularismFrench secularism, which is embraced by both the progressive left and the Islamophobic right, goes well beyond the American democratic concept of separating religion and state. Called “laïcité,” it essentially excludes religious symbols from public institutions. France has banned Muslim women’s headscarves in schools and outlawed religious face coverings everywhere. There are no such bans in the United States.While both America and France have ongoing debates about “Islamic fundamentalism” and “Muslim terrorists” and views that can be defined as Islamophobic and have some popular support, American democracy generally provides better opportunities for the integration of various religious groups. In France, the Constitution defines the state only as secular, without delineating the boundaries of that secularism. In the United States, the First Amendment restricts the secular state’s engagement with religion, saying the government can neither establish a religion nor prohibit a religion’s free exercise. It would be difficult for the U.S. to announce, as Macron did, a state-sponsored project to “forge a type of Enlightenment Islam.”Indeed, 11 years before Macron voiced his provocative view, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a famous speech on Islam in Egypt in 2009, attempting to reset the relationship between America and the Muslim world.Emphasizing Muslims’ contributions to American society, Obama said, “It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.”Obama’s speech reflected an idealized American melting pot, a place where hyphenated identities like Muslim-American are common. French secularism sees no hyphenated identities – only French or Not French. Islam and the secular stateSome in France also see this rigid secularism as unequal to the challenges of multiculturalism and migration. The eminent scholar Jean Bauberot, for example, defends a more “pluralistic secularism” – one that tolerates certain religious symbols in public institutions. France has in fact made many exceptions for Catholics. The government provides substantial public funding to private Catholic schools, which educate about a quarter of all K-12 students, and six of 11 official holidays in France are Catholic holidays. Too often, laïcité translates into an unwillingness to accommodate the religiously based demands of Muslims. In 2015, a Muslim advocacy organization sued a municipal authority in France’s Burgundy region for refusing to offer an alternative to pork in public school cafeterias. The court compelled the town to reverse its policy, but not because it violated religious freedom. The court found the menu violated the children’s rights.France’s founding commitment to equality under the law likewise forestalls meaningful social debate on racial discrimination; its census does not even collect information on race. Although France’s biggest minority is mostly composed of nonwhite Muslim immigrants from its former colonies in Africa and their descendents, Macron’s speech referenced only in passing to French colonialism.[Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get expert takes on today’s news, every day.] BlasphemyThat said, I find some truth in Macron’s speech. But the “crisis” facing Islam lies in the historical and political failings of the Muslim world, not in the religion itself.As my 2019 book, “Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment,” documents, many Muslim countries like Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia have long-lasting authoritarian regimes and chronic underdevelopment. In 32 of the world’s 49 Muslim-majority countries, blasphemy laws punish people who speak sacrilegiously about sacred things; in six countries, blasphemy is a capital offense. These laws, which block freedom of expression, are more rooted in the interests of the conservative clergy and authoritarian rulers than in the Islamic faith, my research shows. They actually contradict several Quranic verses that urge Muslims not to coerce or retaliate against people of other faiths. Still, in Western countries where Muslims are a minority, extremists occasionally take it upon themselves to punish those who, in their view, mock the Prophet Muhammad. That has caused global controversies over cartoons and movies. At times, in France and beyond, it has led to an unacceptable outcome: murder.Such killings, whether perpetrated by the state or by individuals, are tragedies. But to frame them as a purely religious problem ignores the socioeconomic and political origins of Islamic blasphemy laws, and the anti-democratic cultural consequences of authoritarianism in many Muslim countries. It also overlooks the difficult reality that social alienation is an underlying factor in the radicalization of some young Muslims in the West. Multiple secularisms, multiple IslamsMacron’s speech made some gestures toward greater inclusion. “I want France to become a country where we can teach the thoughts of Averreos and Ibn Khaldun,” he said, referencing two eminent Muslim thinkers of the 12th and 14th centuries, and envisioned “a country that excels in the study of Muslim civilizations.” That plural in “civilizations” is meaningful. It acknowledges that Islam is not monolithic. Neither is French secularism. Both are complex systems with varied interpretations. In truth, Macron doesn’t need to “build an Islam in France that can be compatible with the Enlightenment,” because that already exists. Whether French secularism can adapt to Islam is another question.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Ahmet T. Kuru, San Diego State University.Read more: * Teachers in France, on the front line of defending the values of the Republic * Execution for a Facebook post? Why blasphemy is a capital offense in some Muslim countriesAhmet T. Kuru does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:40:32 -0400
  • Trump ups pressure on Barr to probe Bidens as election nears

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    President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to immediately launch an investigation into unverified claims about Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon its historic resistance to getting involved in elections. With just two weeks to go before Election Day, Trump for the first time explicitly called on Barr to investigate the Bidens and even pointed to the nearing Nov. 3 election as reason that Barr should not delay taking action. Trump has been leveling accusations of corruption against Biden without verified evidence for months, but is stepping up the pressure in the final days of the campaign.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:39:20 -0400
  • Leaders in US, Europe divided on response to surging virus

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    Virus cases are surging across Europe and many U.S. states, but responses by leaders are miles apart, with officials in Ireland, France and elsewhere imposing curfews and restricting gatherings even as some U.S. governors resist mask mandates or more aggressive measures. The stark contrasts in efforts to contain infections come as outbreaks on both sides of the Atlantic raise similar alarms, including shrinking availability of hospital beds and rising deaths. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:05:47 -0400
  • Melania Trump nixes campaign trip due to cough from COVID

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    Melania Trump’s return to the campaign trail will have to wait. The first lady has decided against accompanying President Donald Trump to a campaign rally Tuesday in Erie, Pennsylvania, because of a lingering cough after her bout with COVID-19, said Stephanie Grisham, her chief of staff. It was to be Mrs. Trump's first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus, as well as her first time out on the campaign trail in more than a year.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:57:36 -0400
  • US spacecraft diving to asteroid for rare rubble grab

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    A NASA spacecraft descended Tuesday toward the surface of an asteroid 200 million miles away to collect a handful of rubble for return to Earth. The Osiris-Rex spacecraft dropped out of orbit around asteroid Bennu right on time, beginning a 4 1/2-hour plunge to the rough, boulder-covered face of the ancient space rock. It was America's first attempt to gather samples from an asteroid, something already accomplished by Japan — twice.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:19:31 -0400
  • Israel says it uncovers deep militant tunnel dug from Gaza

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    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:44:51 -0400
  • How Google evolved from 'cuddly' startup to antitrust target

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    In Google's infancy, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin reviled Microsoft as a technological bully that ruthlessly abused its dominance of the personal computer software market to choke off competition that could spawn better products. Like Microsoft was 22 years ago, Google is in the crosshairs of a Justice Department lawsuit accusing it of wielding the immense power of its internet search engine as a weapon that has bludgeoned competition and thwarted innovation to the detriment of the billions of people using a stable of market-leading services that includes Gmail, Chrome browser, Android-powered smartphones, YouTube videos and digital maps.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:21:40 -0400
  • UN urges India government to better protect rights defenders

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    The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday urged India’s government to do more to protect human rights defenders, who have come under mounting pressure in recent months in the world’s largest democracy. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's office pointed to three “problematic” laws in India that have variously tightened restrictions on non-governmental organizations and led to a crackdown on dissent. The comments marked a potent new expression of concern about recent actions from the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which views most foreign-funded non-profit organizations and rights groups with suspicion.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:11:55 -0400
  • Germany to spend €500m upgrading ventilation systems against virus

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    Germany is to spend €500m (£450m) on upgrading ventilation systems in public buildings to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Schools, universities, public offices and museums will be able to apply for grants of up to €100,000 (£91,000) to retrofit their existing air conditioning or ventilation systems with filters. The coronavirus is chiefly spread by aerosols exhaled by the infected when they sneeze or cough, and a number of new filtration systems have been developed which can stop most of the microscopic droplets. The money is only available for public buildings in which large numbers of people gather, such as school auditoriums and theatres. Germany has something of a national obsession with ventilating rooms and Angela Merkel’s government is promoting the practice as part of the fight against the coronavirus.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:47:16 -0400
  • UK's Lords condemns Brexit bill as UK-EU talks stay stalled

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    Britain’s upper house of Parliament delivered a resounding condemnation of the government’s contentious new Brexit legislation on Tuesday, as a standoff continued between the U.K. and the European Union over future trade relations. The House of Lords voted 395-169 to add words to the Internal Market Bill expressing “regret” for the legislation and saying it “would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom.” The bill breaches part of the legally binding Brexit withdrawal agreement by allowing Britain to override key provisions on Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that shares a land border with the EU.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:45:52 -0400
  • Michel Barnier 'could be in London on Thursday' for Brexit talks

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    Michel Barnier could be in London for rebooted Brexit negotiations on Thursday, sources in Brussels and the UK suggested amid cautious optimism a free trade agreement can still be struck. The EU’s chief negotiator today tried to convince David Frost to return to the negotiating table, after Boris Johnson declared negotiations “over” last week. Meanwhile the Prime Minister suffered a heavy defeat and Tory peer rebellion in the House of Lords over controversial Brexit legislation that breaks international law. If Mr Barnier was to visit London it would be the most tangible signal since last week that there could still be a deal between the UK and EU. One senior UK Government source said ministers were "hoping to hear more from the EU" before the end of this week. A second source said Mr Barnier could be in London on Thursday. A Brussels source added that Mr Barnier could come on Thursday but "it is not confirmed". After video conference talks with Lord Frost, Mr Barnier tweeted, “We should be making the most out of the little time left. Our door remains open." A Number 10 spokesman said that the two men had a “constructive discussion” and would stay in touch. The trade talks, which stalled on fishing, the level playing field guarantees and the deal’s enforcement, were still on ice, he said. UK sources described the state of talks as “fragile”. “We’re not there yet,” one source said. The Prime Minister declared he was ready to “embrace” no deal on Friday, unless there was a “fundamental change” of approach from the EU. Mr Barnier agreed to UK demands for intensified trade negotiations across all subjects and on the basis of common legal texts on Monday. A Downing St spokesman said that negotiations would only resume if the EU accepted that “movement” in the talks needs to come from the bloc, as well as the UK. The European Commission’s chief spokesman said yesterday (TUES) that both sides would have to compromise to get a deal. “This is a question 101 [a basic question] for students in international negotiations,” he said in Brussels. “I think it’s pretty obvious in order to come to an agreement both sides need to meet. And this is also obviously the case in this negotiation.” The EU has set an end of October deadline for the deal to be finished so there is enough time to ratify it before the end of the transition period on December 31. Brussels has made clear it will never sign a trade deal, if the UK pushes ahead with the Internal Market Bill. Peers yesterday (TUES) fired the opening salvo in a looming battle with the Government over the legislation, which disapplies parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. Members backed a "regret" amendment in the House of Lords by 395 votes to 169, a majority of 226, in a heavy defeat for the Government. The amendment warned contentious clauses involving Northern Ireland "would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom". 39 Conservative peers defied the Government, including Lord Howard, former chancellors Lord Lamont of Lerwick and Lord Clarke of Nottingham, and Theresa May's former chief of staff Lord Barwell. The defeat sets the scene for the likelihood of protracted parliamentary "ping pong", where legislation is passed between the two Houses. The Prime Minister and Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, held a conference call with business chiefs on Tuesday to urge them to prepare for leaving the single market and customs union at the end of the year. With just 10 weeks until the transition finishes, Mr Johnson and Mr Gove told bosses they should be ready for major change regardless of whether there is a deal with Brussels. The bosses told the BBC that it was a "terrible call" and accused the Prime Minister of "being disrespectful" after he told them coronavirus had led to apathy about preparing for the end of the transition period

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:41:36 -0400
  • Bolivia appears to shift back left as Morales party claims victory after election

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    Arce’s victory is bound to reenergize Latin America’s left, whose economic justice message has appeal as poverty is expected to surge to 37% this year, according to the U.N.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:22:05 -0400
  • DR Congo jail break: 'Islamist ADF rebels' free 1,300 inmates

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    The attackers came in large numbers and broke the jail's door, officials say.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:15:20 -0400
  • Turkey evacuates large military post in northwest Syria

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    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 10:21:07 -0400
  • Wisconsin voters line up to cast early in-person ballots

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    Voters across Wisconsin lined up Tuesday to cast their ballots on the first day of early in-person voting in the presidential battleground state, marking the beginning of the final push to Election Day in two weeks. The campaigns of President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, were encouraging their supporters to vote early in Wisconsin, which Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes four years ago. Trump held a rally in the southern Wisconsin community of Janesville on Saturday.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 10:01:55 -0400
  • Berkshire Hathaway to pay $4.14 million to settle Iran sanctions violations claims

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    Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc agreed to pay $4.14 million to settle civil allegations that a Turkish subsidiary committed "egregious" violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Tuesday. The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said Iscar Turkey sold 144 shipments of cutting tools and related inserts worth $383,443 to two Turkish distributors from December 2012 to January 2016, knowing they would be shipped to a distributor in Iran for resale, including to Iran's government. OFAC said the sales occurred under the direction of some senior managers, after Iscar Turkey's general manager concluded it was "inevitable" that U.S. and European Union sanctions against Iran would be lifted and sought to be "well positioned" to capitalize.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 09:58:45 -0400
  • Local Young Leader Selected as a Youth Delegate for the 2020 YOUNGA Forum--Global Takeover of the United Nations

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    This fall, Jessie Chung from Hong Kong has been selected to represent Family Mask for the inaugural YOUNGA™ Forum. Organized by BridgingTheGap Ventures, this first-of-its-kind virtual global youth takeover of the United Nations is focused on a central theme for 2020—the future youth want, the action we need.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 09:54:00 -0400
  • US, Russia appear set to extend last remaining nuclear pact

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    The United States and Russia inched closer Tuesday to a deal to extend their last remaining arms control pact, after U.S. threats to allow the deal to expire early next year. The two sides signaled they are ready to accept compromises to salvage the New START treaty just two weeks ahead of the U.S. presidential election in which President Donald Trump faces a strong challenge from former Vice President Joe Biden, whose campaign has accused Trump of being soft on Russia.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 09:44:39 -0400
  • ING says Brexit deal will be done but no deal risk uncomfortably high

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    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 08:52:30 -0400
  • Russian media may be joining China and Iran in turning on Trump

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    It can be easy to overlook how the rest of the world is making sense of America’s chaotic campaign season. But in many cases, they’re paying attention just as closely as U.S. voters are. After all, who wins the U.S. presidency has implications for countries around the world. Since Sept. 22, we’ve been using machine-learning algorithms to identify the predominant themes in foreign media coverage.How different countries cover the race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden can shed some light on how foreign citizens discern the candidates and the American political process, especially in places that have strict state control of media like China, Russia and Iran. Unlike in the U.S., where there is a cacophony of perspectives, by and large the media in these three countries follow very similar narratives.In 2016, we did the same exercise. Back then, one of the main themes that emerged was the decline of U.S. democracy. With scandal and the disillusionment of voters dominating the headlines, America’s global competitors used the 2016 election to advance their own political narratives about U.S. decline. Some of these themes have emerged in the coverage of the current race. But the biggest difference is their portrayal of Trump. The last election cycle, candidate Trump was an unknown. Although foreign nations acknowledged his political inexperience, they were cautiously optimistic about Trump’s deal-making ability. Russian media outlets were particularly bullish on Trump’s potential. Now, however, the feelings appear to have changed. China, Iran and even Russia seem to crave a return to normalcy – and, to some extent, American leadership in the world. Dissecting the debateTo assess how America’s competitors make sense of the 2020 campaign, we tracked over 20 prominent news outlets from Chinese, Russian and Iranian native language media. We used automatic clustering algorithms to identify key narrative themes in the coverage and sentiment analysis to track how each country viewed the candidates. We then reviewed this AI-extracted information to validate our findings. While our results are still preliminary, they shed light on how these countries’ media outlets are portraying the two candidates. Two key moments from the 2020 campaign – the first debate and Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis – are particularly illustrative. After the first debate, the Chinese media questioned its usefulness to voters and generally portrayed Trump’s performance in a negative light. To them, the “chaotic” back-and-forth was a sobering reflection of America’s political turbulence. They described Trump as purposely sabotaging the debate by interrupting his opponent and, in the days after the debate, noted that his performance failed to improve his lagging poll numbers. Biden was criticized for being unable to articulate concrete policies, but was nonetheless praised for being able to avoid any major gaffes and – as an article from the Xinhua News Agency put it – responding to Trump with “fierce words.”Unlike in 2016, where Clinton was portrayed as anti-Russian, corrupt and elitist, Russian media appeared more willing to characterize the Democratic Party nominee in a positive light. In fact, Russian coverage expressed surprise over Biden’s debate performance. He didn’t come across as feeble; instead, he was, as the daily newspaper Kommersant wrote, a lively opponent who appeared to be “criticizing, irritating and humiliating” Trump by calling him a “liar, racist and the worst president.” They did praise Trump’s especially aggressive rhetoric. However, our analysis found that Russian media also repeatedly claimed that, unlike 2016, voters today were tiring of his bombast.While Trump’s post-debate posturing received some positive coverage, Russian media largely lamented his administration’s failure to deliver substantive progress toward normalizing relations between the two countries. They noted the debate neither clarified policies for voters nor for international observers. Iranian media took the strongest anti-Trump stance. Reports routinely pointed out that Trump has had no foreign policy successes, and has only exacerbated relations with the country’s major rivals. According to Iranian media outlets, Trump’s lack of accomplishments has left him with no choice but to rely on insults and personal attacks.Biden, however, was said to have kept his calm. As Al Alam News wrote, he used “more credible responses and attacks than Trump.”The former vice president, in their view, promised some semblance of normalized diplomatic relations. ‘Intransigence’ and ‘ignorance’The final month of the U.S. presidential race is known for last-minute surprises that can upend the race. This year was no exception, with Trump’s Oct. 2 announcement of his COVID-19 diagnosis quickly shifting media coverage from the debate to Trump’s health.He received little sympathy from foreign outlets. Across the board, they were quick to note how his personal disregard for public health safety measures symbolized his administration’s failed response to the pandemic.For example, one Chinese media outlet, The Beijing News, characterized the diagnosis as “hitting” the president “in the face,” given his previous downplaying of the epidemic. Other reports claimed Trump lacked “care about the epidemic,” including disregard for “protective measures such as wearing a mask.” Chinese outlets suggested Trump would use the diagnosis to win sympathy from voters, but also noted by being sidelined from holding campaign rallies, he could lose his “self-confessed” ability to attract voters. Russian media, on the other hand, remained confident that Trump would recover and repeated the White House line of Trump’s good health.At the same time, Russian outlets tended to chastise Trump’s unwillingness to avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing or wear a mask, all of which violated his administration’s basic health guidelines. Likewise, Russian reports criticized Trump’s post-diagnosis behavior – like tweeting video messages while at the hospital and violating quarantine with his public appearances – as “publicity stunts” that jeopardized the safety of his Secret Service detail and supporters. Again, Iranian media most directly criticized Trump. Reports characterized Trump as “determined to continue the same approach,” despite his diagnosis, and remain “without a muzzle,” “irresponsibly” continuing to tweet misinformation falsely comparing COVID-19 to the flu.Coverage centered on Trump’s inability to, as Al Alam put it, show “any sympathy” for the over 200,000 dead Americans. This death toll, the same article noted, was attributed to Trump’s “mismanagement, intransigence, ignorance and stupidity,” highlighted by his cavalier disregard for safety guidelines such as wearing a mask. In the bag for Biden?Many of the criticisms of the U.S. found in foreign media outlets in our 2016 study appear in this year’s coverage. But since the 2016 election, geopolitics have changed quite a bit – and, for many of these countries, not necessarily for the better. That might best explain their collective ire toward Trump.During Trump’s first term, Iranians absorbed the U.S.‘s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the reimposition of sanctions and the assassination of one of its top generals. The Chinese entered into a trade war with the U.S., while the U.S. government leveled accusations of intellectual property theft, mass murder and blame for the spread of what Trump has called the “China Virus.” Russians, meanwhile, have seen themselves – fairly or not – bound to Trump’s 2016 election victory and outed as an international provocateur. That Trump has not been able to deliver on normalizing U.S. Russian relations despite four years of posturing and political rhetoric has perhaps made Trump more of a political liability than worthwhile ally. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic sparked unrest in Russia’s backyard, but mounting regional instability is also undermining Putin’s image as a master tactician. [Get our best science, health and technology stories. Sign up for The Conversation’s science newsletter.]As a result, these countries’ outlets appear to have shifted attention away from a broad critique of U.S. democracy toward exasperation with Trump’s leadership. The two, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive. And these countries’ relatively positive characterizations of a potential Biden administration likely won’t last. But even the country’s supposed adversaries seem to be craving a return to stability and predictability from the Oval Office.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Robert Hinck, Monmouth College; Robert Utterback, Monmouth College, and Skye Cooley, Oklahoma State University.Read more: * For the ‘political-infotainment-media complex,’ the Mueller investigation was a gold mine * How the media encourages – and sustains – political warfareRobert Hinck receives funding from the US Department of Homeland Security and US Department of Defense. Robert Utterback receives funding from the US Department of Homeland Security and US Department of Defense.Skye Cooley receives funding from the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Defense.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 08:23:42 -0400
  • Restoring seagrasses can bring coastal bays back to life

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    A century ago Virginia’s coastal lagoons were a natural paradise. Fishing boats bobbed on the waves as geese flocked overhead. Beneath the surface, miles of seagrass gently swayed in the surf, making the seabed look like a vast underwater prairie. More than 70 species of seagrasses grow in shallow waters around the world, on every continent except Antarctica. In Virginia, beds of eelgrass (Zostera marina) provided habitat for bay scallops and food for birds, and kept barrier islands from washing away. Eelgrass was so common that people who lived near the shore packed and baled it to use as insulation for homes, schools and hospitals. In the 1930s, however, pandemic plant disease and repeated hurricanes eliminated the eelgrass along Virginia’s eastern shore. The once-vibrant seafloor became barren mud, leading to a loss of “wildfowl, the cream of salt-water fishing, most of the clams and crabs, and all of the bay scallops,” sportsman and publisher Eugene V. Connett wrote in 1947. We are marine scientists who study seagrasses, marine biodiversity and coastal ecosystems. In a newly published study, we describe the results of a 20-year mission to reintroduce eelgrass into Virginia coastal bays using a novel seed-based approach. This project has now restored 9,600 acres of seagrasses across four bays – one of the most successful marine restoration efforts anywhere in the world. It has triggered large increases in fishes and invertebrates, made the water clearer and trapped large quantities of carbon in seafloor sediments, helping to slow climate change. We see this work as a blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems along coastlines around the world. Why didn’t seagrasses recover naturally?Development, nutrient runoff and other human impacts have damaged marshes, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses in many bays and estuaries worldwide. Loss or shrinkage of these key habitats has reduced commercial fisheries, increased erosion, made coastlines more vulnerable to floods and storms and harmed many types of aquatic life. Rapid climate change has compounded these effects through rising global temperatures, more frequent and severe storms and ocean acidification.In the late 1990s, local residents told two of us who are longtime students of seagrasses (Robert “JJ” Orth and Karen McGlathery) that they had spotted small patches of eelgrass in shallow waters off Virginia’s eastern shore. For years the conventional view had been that seagrasses in this area had not recovered from the events of the 1930s because human activities had made the area inhospitable for them.But studies showed that water quality in these coastal bays was comparatively good. This led us to explore a different explanation: Seeds from healthy seagrass populations elsewhere along the Atlantic coast simply weren’t reaching these isolated bays. Seagrasses are underwater flowering plants, so seeds are among the main ways they reproduce and spread to new environments. Sowing a new cropFrom our earlier research, we knew that when eelgrass seeds fall from the parent plant, they sink to the sea bottom quickly and don’t move far from where they land. We also knew that these seeds don’t germinate until late fall or early winter. This meant that if we collected the seeds in spring, when eelgrass flowers, we could hold them until the fall, helping them survive over the months in between.We decided to try reseeding eelgrass in the areas where they were missing. Starting in 1999, we collected seeds by hand from underwater meadows in nearby Chesapeake Bay – plucking the long reproductive shoots, bringing them back to our laboratory and holding them in large outdoor seawater tanks until they released their seeds naturally. After about 10 years we started gathering the grasses using a custom-built underwater “lawn mower” to collect many more of the reproductive shoots than we could by hand. In 2001 we sowed our first round by simply tossing seeds from a boat. Our first test plots covered 28 acres of mud flats in waters 2 to 3 feet deep. Returning the following year, we saw new seedlings sprouting up. Each year since then, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve, along with staff and students from the University of Virginia, have led a team of scientists and citizens to collect and seed a combined 536 acres of bare bottom in several coastal bays.These initial plots took off and rapidly expanded. By 2020 they covered 9,600 acres across four bays. Several factors helped them flourish. These bays are naturally flushed with cool, clean water from the Atlantic Ocean. And they lie off the tip of Virginia’s eastern shore, where there is little coastal development. Sheltering marine life and storing carbonSince eelgrass disappeared from these bays in the 1930s, human understanding of seagrass ecosystems has evolved. Today people don’t pack their walls full of seagrass insulation but instead value different services they provide, such as habitat for fish and shellfish – including many commercially and recreationally important species.Scientists and government agencies also have recognized the importance of coastal systems in capturing and storing so-called “blue carbon.” In fact, we now know that seagrasses constitute a globally significant carbon sink. They are a key tool for reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and slowing climate change[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]We are working to understand the valuable services that our restored seagrass beds provide. To our surprise, fish and invertebrates returned within only a few years as the meadows expanded. These organisms have established extensive food webs that include species ranging from tiny seahorses to 6-foot-long sandbar sharks.Other benefits were equally dramatic. Water in the bays become clearer as the seagrass canopy trapped floating particles and deposited them onto the bottom, burying significant stocks of carbon and nitrogen in sediments bound by the grasses’ roots. Our research is the first to verify the overall net carbon captured by seagrass, and is now being used to issue carbon offset credits that in turn create more funds for restoration. One big question was whether restoring seagrasses could make it possible to bring back bay scallops, which once generated millions of dollars for the local economy. Since bay scallops no longer existed in Virginia, we obtained broodstock from North Carolina, which we have reared and released annually since 2013. Regular surveys now reveal a growing population of bay scallops in the restored eelgrass, although there is still some way to go before they reach levels seen in the 1930s. A model for coastal restorationRepairing damaged ecosystems is such an urgent mission worldwide that the United Nations has designated 2021-2030 as the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. We see the success we have achieved with eelgrass restoration as a prime model for similar efforts in coastal areas around the world. Our project focused not only on reviving this essential habitat, but also on charting how restoring seagrasses affected the ecosystem and on the co-restoration of bay scallops. It provides a road map for involving scholars, nonprofits organizations, citizens and government agencies in an ecological mission where they can see the results of their work.Recent assessments show that the restored zone only covers about 30% of the total habitable bottom in our project area. With continued support, eelgrass – and the many benefits it provides – may continue to thrive and expand well into the 21st century.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Robert J. Orth, Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Jonathan Lefcheck, Smithsonian Institution, and Karen McGlathery, University of Virginia.Read more: * Mapping the world’s ‘blue carbon’ hot spots in coastal mangrove forests * Mauritius oil spill: how coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass could be affectedRobert J. Orth receives funding from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Coastal Zone Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Virginia Recreational Fishing License Fund, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Virginia Sea Grant . He is an elected official on the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors as an independent. Jonathan Lefcheck is supported by the Michael E. Tennenbaum Secretarial Scholar gift to the Smithsonian Institution.Karen McGlathery receives funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Fisheries and Wildlife Foundation, and Virginia Sea Grant.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 08:19:26 -0400
  • U.S. Diplomats and Spies Battle Trump Administration Over Suspected Attacks

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    WASHINGTON -- The strange sound came at night: a crack like a marble striking the floor of the apartment above them.Mark Lenzi and his wife had lightheadedness, sleep issues and headaches, and their children were waking up with bloody noses -- symptoms they thought might be from the smog in Guangzhou, China, where Lenzi worked for the State Department. But air pollution could not explain his sudden memory loss, including forgetting names of work tools.What began as strange sounds and symptoms among more than a dozen U.S. officials and their family members in China in 2018 has turned into a diplomatic mystery spanning multiple countries and involving speculation about secret high-tech weapons and foreign attacks.One of the biggest questions centers on whether Trump administration officials believe that Lenzi and other diplomats in China experienced the same mysterious affliction as dozens of diplomats and spies at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, which came to be known as Havana Syndrome. American employees in the two countries reported hearing strange sounds, followed by headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and memory loss.But the government's treatment of the episodes has been radically different. The State Department, which oversaw the cases, has produced inconsistent assessments of patients and events, ignored outside medical diagnoses and withheld basic information from Congress, a New York Times investigation found.In Cuba, the Trump administration withdrew most of its staff members from the embassy and issued a travel warning, saying U.S. diplomats had experienced "targeted attacks." President Donald Trump expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington and started an independent review, though Cuba denied any involvement.The administration took a softer approach with China. In May 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA director during the Cuba events, told lawmakers that the medical details of one U.S. official who had fallen ill in China were "very similar and entirely consistent" with the syndrome in Cuba. The administration evacuated more than a dozen federal employees and some of their family members.The State Department soon retreated, labeling what happened in China as "health incidents." While the officers in Cuba were placed on administrative leave for rehabilitation, those in China initially had to use sick days and unpaid leave, some officers and their lawyers say. And the State Department did not open an investigation into what happened in China.The administration has said little about the events in China and played down the idea that a hostile power could be responsible. But similar episodes have been reported by senior CIA officers who visited the agency's stations overseas, according to three current and former officials and others familiar with the events.That includes Moscow, where Marc Polymeropoulos, a CIA officer who helped run clandestine operations in Russia and Europe, experienced what he believes was an attack in December 2017. Polymeropoulos, who was 48 at the time, suffered severe vertigo in his hotel room in Moscow and later developed debilitating migraine headaches that forced him to retire.The cases involving CIA officers, none of which have been publicly reported, are adding to suspicions that Russia carried out the attacks worldwide. Some senior Russia analysts in the CIA, officials at the State Department and outside scientists, as well as several of the victims, see Russia as the most likely culprit given its history with weapons that cause brain injuries and its interest in fracturing Washington's relations with Beijing and Havana.The CIA director remains unconvinced, and State Department leaders say they have not settled on a cause.Critics say disparities in how the officers were treated stemmed from diplomatic and political considerations, including the president's desire to strengthen relations with Russia and win a trade deal with China.China diplomats began reporting strange symptoms in spring 2018, as U.S. officials stationed there were trying to coax their Chinese counterparts into a trade deal that Trump had promised to deliver. The president was also looking to Beijing for help in clinching nuclear talks with North Korea and consistently lavished praise on Xi Jinping, China's authoritarian leader.According to half a dozen U.S. officials, State Department leaders realized that pursuing a similar course of action as they had in Cuba -- including evacuating missions in China -- could cripple diplomatic and economic relationships.With Cuba, Trump sought to reverse President Barack Obama's detente. Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Havana during the events, said the Trump administration's move to withdraw staff members "dovetailed fortuitously with their objective on Cuba."Those who fled China have spent more than two years fighting to obtain the same benefits given to the victims in Cuba and others attacked by foreign powers. The battles have complicated their recovery and prompted government retaliation that might have permanently damaged their careers, according to interviews with more than 30 government officials, lawyers and doctors.U.S. lawmakers have criticized what they call secrecy and inaction from the State Department and are pressing the agency to release a study it received in August from the National Academies of Sciences, which examined potential causes of the episodes."These injuries, and subsequent treatment by the U.S. government, have been a living nightmare for these dedicated public servants and their families," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. "It's obvious how a U.S. adversary would have much to gain from the disorder, distress and division that has followed."Dr. David A. Relman, a Stanford University professor who is chair of the National Academies of Sciences committee that examined the cases, said it was "disheartening and immensely frustrating" that the State Department had refused to share the report with the public or Congress "for reasons that elude us."In a statement, the department said: "The safety and security of U.S. personnel, their families and U.S. citizens is our top priority. The U.S. government has not yet determined a cause or an actor."Lenzi said he had sued the department for disability discrimination, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel is pursuing two investigations into the State Department's conduct.The Office of Special Counsel declined to comment. But in an April 23 letter viewed by the Times, special counsel officials said investigators had "found a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing" by the State Department, though the inquiry continues."This is a deliberate, high-level cover-up," Lenzi said. "They have hung us out to dry."The situation has been complicated by the fact that U.S. officials and scientists still debate whether the symptoms resulted from an attack.Many diplomats, CIA officers and scientists suspect a weapon producing microwave radiation damaged the victims' brains. But some scientists and government officials argue it was a psychological illness that spread in the stressful environment of foreign missions. Some point to chemical agents, like pesticides.The Trump administration has not clarified its view or said exactly how many people were affected.At least 44 people in Cuba and 15 in China were evaluated or treated at the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania. Others went elsewhere. At least 14 Canadian citizens in Havana say they have suffered similar symptoms.Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania declined to discuss details but dismissed the idea of a psychological illness, saying the patients they treated had sustained a brain injury from an external source.Some senior officials at the State Department and former intelligence officers said they believed Russia played a role. The country's intelligence operatives have seeded violence around the world, poisoning enemies in Britain and fueling assaults on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.During the Cold War, the Soviet Union bombarded the U.S. Embassy in Moscow with microwaves. In a 2014 document, the National Security Agency said it had intelligence on a hostile country using a high-powered microwave weapon to "bathe a target's living quarters in microwaves," causing nervous system damage. The name of the country was classified, but people familiar with the document said it referred to Russia.Several of the cases against the CIA affected senior officers who were traveling overseas to discuss plans to counter Russian covert operations with partner intelligence agencies, according to two people familiar with the matter. Some CIA analysts believe Moscow was trying to derail that work.Polymeropoulos declined to discuss his experiences in Moscow, but he criticized how the U.S. government had handled its injured personnel. He is pushing the agency to allow him to go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the hospital that has treated some of those who were affected in Cuba.Some top U.S. officials insist on seeing more evidence before accusing Russia. Gina Haspel, the CIA director, has acknowledged that Moscow had the intent to harm operatives, but she is not convinced it was responsible or that attacks occurred, two U.S. officials said.Nicole de Haay, a CIA spokesperson, said the "CIA's first priority has been and continues to be the welfare of all of our officers."Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, has called any insinuation of Moscow's involvement "absolutely absurd and bizarre." A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Washington said the purported attacks were most likely a case of "mass hysteria."Lenzi, who has an extensive background working in the former Soviet Union, said classified material pointed to the country that had carried out the attacks, but the State Department denied him access to the documents.Top officials "know exactly which country" was responsible, Lenzi said, adding that it was not Cuba or China but another country "which the secretary of state and president do not want to confront."The first person to fall ill in China, a Commerce Department officer named Catherine Werner, who lived next door to Lenzi, experienced vomiting, nausea, headaches and dizziness for months before she was flown to the United States in April 2018.According to a whistleblower complaint filed by Lenzi, the State Department took action only after Werner's visiting mother, an Air Force veteran, used a device to record high levels of microwave radiation in her daughter's apartment. The mother also fell ill.That May, U.S. officials held a meeting to reassure U.S. officers in Guangzhou that Werner's sickness appeared to be an isolated case. But Lenzi, a diplomatic security officer, wrote in a memo to the White House that his supervisor insisted on using inferior equipment to measure microwaves in Werner's apartment, calling it a "check-the-box exercise.""They didn't find anything, because they didn't want to find anything," Lenzi said.He sent an email warning U.S. diplomats in China that they might be in danger. His superiors sent a psychiatrist to evaluate him and gave him an official "letter of admonishment," Lenzi said.Months after he began reporting symptoms of brain injury, he and his family were medically evacuated to the University of Pennsylvania.Other officers in China were experiencing similar symptoms. Robyn Garfield, a Commerce Department officer, was evacuated from Shanghai with his wife and two children in June 2018.Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania told Garfield that his injuries were similar to those of Americans in Cuba, but the State Department's medical bureau said they stemmed from a 17-year-old baseball injury, he wrote in a Facebook group for U.S. diplomats in March 2019.The State Department labeled only one China officer as having the "full constellation" of symptoms consistent with the Cuba cases: Werner, the first evacuee. In an internal letter, the department said 15 others in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing had some symptoms and clinical findings "similar to those" in Cuba, but it had not determined they were suffering from "Havana syndrome."Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania said they did not share individual brain scans with the State Department, so the government lacked necessary information to rule out brain injuries in China."It seems to me and my doctors that State does not want any additional cases from China," Garfield wrote, "regardless of the medical findings."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 08:15:06 -0400
  • Election 2020 Today: Trump burns funds, GOP gets out vote

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    ON THE TRAIL: President Donald Trump will be in Pennsylvania. TRUMP SPENDING: Trump’s sprawling political operation raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017 — and set a lot of it on fire. Now, with two weeks until the election, his campaign acknowledges it is facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Democratic nominee Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising. That has put Trump in the position of needing to do more of his signature rallies during the coronavirus pandemic while relying on an unproven theory that he can turn out infrequent voters who nonetheless support him at historic levels.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 07:47:49 -0400
  • Coronavirus: What's happening to the numbers in Africa?

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    There's been a rise recently in cases and deaths in some areas, but is this a longer-term trend?

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 07:43:46 -0400
  • Iran breaks its record for most new virus cases in one day

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    Iran on Tuesday reported its highest single-day toll of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with more than 5,000 new infections, as the country struggles to cope with a surge in transmission. Iran’s health ministry also reported that 322 people had died from the virus, pushing the death toll over 31,000. Health minister Saeed Namaki made a dramatic appeal for people to follow health guidance measures, saying that without public help, “the pandemic in this country will not get better and we'll have to collect the bodies," the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 07:25:23 -0400
  • Barnier ready to intensify Brexit talks- EU financial services chief

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    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 07:14:57 -0400
  • Trump set to remove Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

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    The US president says he will act once Sudan pays $335m to "US terror victims and families".

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 07:09:52 -0400
  • Yom Kippur Zoom reunites Holocaust survivors 71 years later

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    Holocaust survivors Ruth Brandspiegel and Israel “Sasha” Eisenberg call their reunion a miracle that began on the holiest day in Judaism, and it only happened thanks to a prayer service that was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Decades ago their families, who came from the same city in Poland, escaped the Nazis, crossed into the Soviet Union and were sent to different labor camps in Siberia, where Eisenberg was born. More than 70 years later, Brandspiegel, now a Philadelphia resident, heard a familiar name being called out in a Yom Kippur service held in late September via Zoom by her son's synagogue in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 07:00:50 -0400
  • Danish submarine killer briefly escapes from prison

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    A Danish man convicted of torturing and murdering a Swedish journalist on his homemade submarine made a dramatic but brief escape from a suburban Copenhagen prison Tuesday, reportedly taking a hostage to break out before police recaptured him. Peter Madsen was quickly apprehended near the Herstedvester prison where he is serving a life sentence for the killing of Kim Wall. Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup called the escape attempt “very serious.”

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 06:49:53 -0400
  • Philippines' president takes responsibility for thousands of deaths during drugs crackdown

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    The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail. President Rodrigo Duterte's televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster - and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader's bloody campaign. The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Mr Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police since he took office in mid-2016, but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger. "If there's killing there, I'm saying I'm the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war," Mr Duterte said. "If you get killed, it's because I'm enraged by drugs," said the president known for his coarse and boastful rhetoric. "If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly." He said, however, that drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, alleging that those may have been committed by gangs. Mr Duterte has made a crackdown on drugs a centerpiece of his presidency. At the height of the campaign - which has often targeted petty dealers and users along with a handful of the biggest druglords - images of suspects sprawled dead and bloodied in the streets were frequently broadcast in TV news reports and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Tens of thousands of arrests in the initial years of the crackdown worsened congestion in what were already among the world's most overcrowded jails. U.N. human rights experts and Western governments led by the United States have raised alarm over the killings, enraging Mr Duterte, who once told former U.S. President Barack Obama to "go to hell."

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 06:44:20 -0400
  • Why we can still end poverty, even after coronavirus made it worse

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    The Poor Law commissioners, those hated workhouse bureaucrats put into power when the UK nixed an early form of Universal Basic Income, tried to block the report from being written, and when Chadwick wrote it anyway, refused to sign it. Times were so good until very recently that the United Nations had officially committed to end extreme poverty by the year 2030.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 06:30:00 -0400
  • Emirati officials pay first Israel visit after forging ties

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    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 05:57:56 -0400
  • AP finds most arrested in protests aren't leftist radicals

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    President Donald Trump portrays the hundreds of people arrested nationwide in protests against racial injustice as violent urban left-wing radicals. Very few of those charged appear to be affiliated with highly organized extremist groups, and many are young suburban adults from the very neighborhoods Trump vows to protect from the violence in his reelection push to win support from the suburbs. Attorney General William Barr has urged his prosecutors to bring federal charges on protesters who cause violence and has suggested that rarely used sedition charges could apply.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 05:30:16 -0400
  • Retail E-Commerce Packaging Market Worth $68,388.1 Million by 2030 Says P&S Intelligence

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    With the constant rise in population, the global retail e-commerce packaging market would grow at a massive 12.1% CAGR between 2020 and 2030. At this rate, the industry size is expected to increase from $19,022.7 million in 2019 to over $68,388.1 million by 2030. The United Nations (UN), in the 2019 edition of its World Population Prospects report, says that from 7.7 billion in 2019, the number of people on this planet will rise to 10.9 billion by 2010

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 05:30:00 -0400
  • Founder of UAE state-run WAM news agency dies at 78

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    Ibrahim al-Abed, the founder of the United Arab Emirates' state-run WAM news agency and a pioneering media figure as the oil-rich nation grew into a regional power, died Tuesday. Al-Abed long served as the head of the country's National Media Council, a government regulatory body. “Five decades Ibrahim spent working tirelessly until the last day,” Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum wrote on Twitter.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 05:04:17 -0400
  • Palestinian official Erekat in critical, stable condition

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    Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat remained in critical but stable condition in an Israeli hospital Tuesday, his family said, as he continued his life-threatening battle against the coronavirus. Erekat’s family told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that he was receiving artificial respiration in the intensive care unit at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center. Hadassah said late Tuesday that Erekat has been placed on an ECMO machine, which provides for the oxygenation of blood while preventing damage to the lungs caused by mechanical ventilation.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 04:35:26 -0400
  • How clothes reflect growing Oromo ethnic pride in Ethiopia

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    Oromos have complained of marginalisation but they are now increasingly assertive in their identity.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 04:04:30 -0400
  • From 'role models' to sex workers: Kenya's child labor rises

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    The teenage girls cannot remember how many men they have had to sleep with in the seven months since COVID-19 closed their schools, or how many of those men used protection. From their rented room in Kenya’s capital, the girls say the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus or HIV does not weigh heavily on them in a time when survival is paramount. According to UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, recent gains in the fight against child labor are at risk because of the pandemic.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 03:57:49 -0400
  • What are the treatment options for COVID-19?

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    For example, steroids such as dexamethasone can lower the risk of dying for severely ill patients. A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health updates guidelines as new studies come out.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 03:06:23 -0400
  • Republicans see bright spot in 2020 voter registration push

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    The Republican Party has cut into Democrats' advantage in voter registration tallies across some critical presidential battleground states, a fact they point to as evidence of steady — and overlooked — enthusiasm for President Donald Trump and his party. Democrats appear to have been set back by their decision to curb in-person voter registration drives during much of the pandemic.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 01:33:41 -0400
  • In debate countdown, Trump holds rally, Biden does prep

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    President Donald Trump shunned formal debate practice Tuesday and was heading instead for another of his big rallies, two days ahead of the final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign. Democrat Joe Biden took the opposite approach, holing up for debate prep. In the leadup to Thursday's faceoff in Nashville, Trump is trailing in polls in most battleground states as he works to pull off a repeat of his come-from-behind victory of 2016.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 01:28:42 -0400
  • Safety board: Lack of oversight blamed for deadly boat fire

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    The lack of oversight by a Southern California boat owner led to a fire that killed 34 people on a 2019 scuba diving excursion, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled Tuesday. The predawn fire aboard the Conception is one of California’s deadliest maritime disasters, prompting criminal and safety investigations. The Sept. 2, 2019, tragedy killed 33 passengers and one crew member on a Labor Day weekend expedition near an island off Santa Barbara.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 01:23:57 -0400
  • Bears, whales and wolverines: the species imperiled by Trump's war on the environment

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    Despite a grim outlook for American biodiversity, Trump has lifted protections for at-risk animals as part of his aggressive rollback of environmental rules * 75 ways Trump made America dirtier and the planet warmerThe prognosis for biodiversity on Earth is grim. According to a sobering report released by the United Nations last year, 1 million land and marine species across the globe are threatened with extinction – more than at any other period in human history.According to a recent study, about 20% of the countries in the world risk ecosystem collapse due to the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, a result of human activity in tandem with a warming climate. The United States is the ninth most at risk.Despite this desperate outlook, the Trump administration, as part of its aggressive rollback of regulations designed to protect the environment, has lifted protections for America’s animals. It has shrunk several national monuments and opened up a huge amount of federal land for oil and gas drilling, coalmining and other industrial activities – actions that conservationists warn could imperil species whose numbers are already dwindling and that are core to the health of our ecosystems.Here we look at some of the animals most at risk from Trump’s rollbacks. WolverinesIn 2019, the Trump administration changed the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, making it harder to protect animals. “There are many species that have been wrongly denied protection over the last several years because of this,” says Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity.Just last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will deny protections for the snow-loving wolverine under the Endangered Species Act. Wolverines were wiped out across most of the country by the early 1900s following unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns. According to Hartl, they are slowly clawing their way back in some areas but there are presently fewer than 300 wolverines left in the contiguous United States. Sage grouse.The Trump administration plans to open up drilling on 9m acres of public land in the west, which are the habitat for thegreater sage grouse, a bird known for its mating dance and is considered an “umbrella species” – a bellwether for the health of many other species. Sage – grouse once numbered as high as 16 million across the western United States, but the bird’s populations have plummeted in recent decades.To accomplish its goal, the Trump administration planned to lift the protected status of the greater sage grouse in order to lease the land for oil and gas drilling, mining and other development projects. This despite the interior department’s research that the impacts of oil and gas on the sage grouse are “universally negative and typically severe”.In May, a judge put those rollbacks on hold, citing the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa), a key law that requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impact of planned projects. But in July, Trump gutted Nepa. Conservationists worry the Trump administration will now be able to get away with removing protections for the greater sage grouse – among many other critical species. Atlantic bluefin tunaThanks to overfishing and the continuing demand for bluefin tuna on the lucrative sushi market, the Atlantic bluefin tuna is at a fraction of its historic population.Earlier this year, the National Marine Fisheries Service passed a rule removing critical longline fishing gear restrictions in specific areas of the Gulf of Mexico during April and May, the bluefin’s peak spawning time. The easing of these protections means vessels can fish for similar yellowfin tuna with longline gear and kill a certain number of bluefin as accidental “bycatch”. Whooping craneThe endangered whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, has made an amazing comeback from the brink of extinction since 1940 when only 15 birds survived. Since then, captive breeding programs and reintroduction efforts have boosted their numbers to several hundred.But that comeback is now threatened. Earlier this year, the Trump administration weakened critical protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), a 100-year-old law that protects more than 1,000 bird species, including the whooping crane.The new stance from the federal government will essentially allow the “incidental” killing of birds via buildings, energy production and other developments that act as avian death traps. A federal court recently struck down the Trump administration’s reinterpretation of the law. Last week, the government announced its intention to appeal. Monarch butterfly.Human development has eradicated large swaths of the monarch butterfly’s native milkweed habitat. Along with severe weather, this has resulted in a 90% loss in the monarch’s numbers over the last two decades. “They could be wiped out in just a few decades,” Hartl says.The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the monarch’s designation under the Endangered Species Act. A ruling is expected by December of this year.But the Trump administration’s changes to the Endangered Species Act threaten efforts to preserve the monarch, which many scientists view as threatened. Listing the monarch butterfly as an “endangered” or “threatened” species could extend it protections from the soybean and corn farmers that compete for its habitat – but changes to the ESA end blanket policies protecting all “threatened” species in favor of individual plans developed for each species on a case-by-case basis. Black bearsThe Trump administration scrapped an Obama-era ban on a series of practices that limited how hunters killed bears and other predators on Alaskan national preserves. In doing so, the administration gave the green light to practices like setting dogs on black bears and killing bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens.“When you allow widespread hunting of carnivores, that has a huge impact on the entire ecosystem,” Hartl says. The ban aimed at avoiding artificially reducing Alaska’s predator populations in an effort to keep ecosystems in balance. BeesBees and other pollinators are vital for global food security. But they – and, in turn, our food chain – are under threat. In 2018, the Trump administration weakened regulations on pesticide use in national wildlife refuges, opening the door to increased pesticide use across 150m acres of important pollinator habitat. The decision reverses an Obama-era ban on the use of neonicotinoid, or “neonic”, insecticides as well as genetically engineered crops within refuges.Neonic insecticides are a leading factor in mass pollinator die-offs worldwide. A report released last year found that US agriculture is 48 times more toxic to insects like bees and other pollinators than it was 20 years ago, largely due to an increased use of neonicotinoid pesticides. What’s worse, according to Hartl, is that the use of such toxic pesticides will harm not only pollinators but birds, fish and other wildlife. North Atlantic right whaleIn June, Trump announced that commercial fishing will be allowed in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monument off the coast of southern New England. As a result, hundreds of marine mammals that swim in the monument, like the endangered North Atlantic right whale, will be at increased risk of entanglement in fishing gear.After centuries of commercial whaling, only about 500 North Atlantic right whales remain. Although the imperiled species received protected status in the 1930s, North Atlantic right whales have been slow to recover, in part due to deaths from ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Leatherback turtles/humpback whales.In 2017, the Trump administration withdrew a proposed rule meant to protect whales, turtles and dolphins, including several endangered species among them, from mile-long swordfishing gill nets off the west coast. Fishermen use these nets by hanging them like walls above the seafloor and they often indiscriminately catch whatever flows into them. (Gill net fishing is banned in most of the world’s high seas.)Death and injuries from entanglement spell trouble for endangered marine creatures such as humpback whales and leatherback turtles that feed off the Pacific coast. In 2016, at least 54 humpback whales were found tangled in fishing gear off the west coast.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 01:00:58 -0400
  • Shutting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Would Be Counterproductive

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    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 01:00:49 -0400
  • Argentina passes 1 million cases as virus hits Latin America

    Golocal247.com news

    At the edge of Argentina in a city known as “The End of the World,” many thought they might be spared from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Sitting far from the South American nation’s bustling capital, health workers in Ushuaia were initially able to contain a small outbreak among foreigners hoping to catch boats to the Antarctic at the start of the crisis. “We were the example of the country,” said Dr. Carlos Guglielmi, director of the Ushuaia Regional Hospital.

    Tue, 20 Oct 2020 00:01:26 -0400
  • Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in drug crackdown

    Golocal247.com news

    The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail. President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster — and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader’s bloody campaign. The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges.

    Mon, 19 Oct 2020 23:58:47 -0400
  • Republicans see bright spot in voter registration push

    Golocal247.com news

    The Republican Party has cut into Democrats' advantage in voter registration tallies across some critical presidential battleground states, a fact they point to as evidence of steady — and overlooked — enthusiasm for President Donald Trump and his party. Democrats appear to have been set back by their decision to curb in-person voter registration drives during much of the pandemic.

    Mon, 19 Oct 2020 21:25:28 -0400
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