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- 'Cheap shot': Sanders fires back when Bloomberg goes after 'socialism'
Michael Bloomberg attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders at Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, with the billionaire former New York City mayor claiming the self-described democratic socialist’s ownership of multiple homes makes him a hypocrite.
- Rohrabacher confirms he offered Trump pardon to Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email
Former congressman Dana Rohrabacher confirmed to Yahoo News he told Julian Assange President Trump would pardon him if he turned over information proving Russians weren't the source of Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks.
- A Google manager has been arrested and charged with murder after his wife was reported missing in Hawaii
- Democrat Warren, worried campaign will run out of cash, taps $3 million loan
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren raised more money than most of her Democratic presidential rivals in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses, but spent so heavily that her campaign took out a $3 million loan fearing she would run out of cash. Warren raised $10.4 million in contributions in January -- more than former Vice President Joe Biden's $9 million and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg's $6 million -- but ended the month with only $2.3 million in cash, according to disclosures filed on Thursday. All of the presidential hopefuls were required to submit financial disclosures on Thursday, public documents that offer insights into how they are managing their multi-million campaign operations.
- Coronavirus: Princess Cruises boss under fire for blowing kisses at ship where two have died and 3,000 have been quarantined for weeks
The president of Princess Cruises welcomed a coronavirus-quarantined ship by blowing kisses and making heart signs, captured on a video set to upbeat music and posted on social media the same day as reports of the deaths of two passengers had surfaced.In a video posted to the company's social media on Wednesday, Jan Swartz is seen wearing a surgical mask and forming heart hands over her head as the cruise ship finally begins to disembark after its passengers were forced to remain at a port in Yokohama, Japan for several weeks following a shipwide outbreak of the flu-like respiratory virus.
- US judge sides with migrants in case against Border Patrol
A U.S. judge in Arizona sided Wednesday with migrants who have long-complained about inhumane and unsanitary conditions in some U.S. Border Patrol facilities in the state. The ruling came weeks after the conclusion of a seven-day trial in which attorneys for migrants who sued in 2015 argued that the agency holds immigrants in extremely cold, overcrowded, unsanitary and inhumane conditions. The order makes permanent a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury issued in 2016 requiring the Tucson Sector to provide clean mats and thin blankets to migrants held for longer than 12 hours and to allow them to clean themselves.
- Pompeo says 'mature, responsible countries' don't 'restrict speech' after China expels reporters
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is condemning China for its decision to expel three reporters from The Wall Street Journal from the country."Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions," Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday. "The correct response is to present counter arguments, not restrict speech."This came after China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said three journalists from the Journal would have their credentials revoked over the paper's recent headline, "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia," The New York Times reports. The reporters weren't actually involved with the article, which was an opinion piece, but Beijing called the story "racist" and "malicious." The journalists, two of whom are American and one of whom is Australian, have been ordered to leave China within five days, although the Times notes it's not clear if that's possible, as one of is currently in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus.Journal editor Matt Murray called China's actions "harsh and unprecedented," saying the paper "will continue in the coming days to push for this action to be reversed." The Foreign Correspondents' Club also called the expulsion "an extreme and obvious attempt by the Chinese authorities to intimidate foreign news organizations." The Journal noted this is "the first time in the post-Mao era that the Chinese government has expelled multiple journalists from one international news organization at the same time."Pompeo's condemnation came after he warned African countries in a speech Wednesday to "be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises" in an apparent swipe at China. The State Department also told China Tuesday that five major Chinese news outlets will be treated as foreign state operatives by the United States going forward.More stories from theweek.com The growing crisis in cosmology The Democrats gave Mike Bloomberg what he deserved A deluge of new, belated Baby Yoda merchandise is on the way
- Virginia lawmakers reject assault weapons ban over fears of potential civil war
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's push to ban the sale of assault weapons has failed after members of his own party balked at the proposal. Senators voted to shelve the bill for the year and ask the state crime commission to study the issue, an outcome that drew cheers from a committee room packed with gun advocates.
- Don't Listen to the 'Michael Bloomberg Lost the Debate' Hype
- 9 Rural Farms of the 21st Century Featuring Stunning Modern Design
- Suspects in abduction, murder of 7-year-old Mexican girl detained
Mexican authorities arrested a couple believed to have kidnapped, tortured and murdered a seven year-old girl on Wednesday, days after the discovery of the victim's body sparked protests in the violence-wracked country. The suspects "were detained in a town in the State of Mexico," Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted, without giving more detail. Prosecutors on Tuesday released pictures of the two suspects -- identified as Giovana and Mario Alberto "N" -- after searching a house near the victim's home.
- 'I sleep at night': Ex-Trump adviser John Bolton says his testimony would not have changed impeachment outcome
- More than half of all coronavirus cases outside China are from the Diamond Princess, but the cruise ship is already planning to set sail again in April
- Elizabeth Warren trolls Republican donor with ad in his paper telling him how much tax she'll make him pay
Elizabeth Warren has bought ad space in a newspaper owned by Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, taunting the billionaire with an estimate for how much he would pay during the first year of her presidency with her promised 2 per cent wealth tax.“Here’s how much Sheldon Adelson pays under Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax in the first year: $2,300,000,000,’ the ad, printed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, says.
- Airport worker with no license takes plane for spin near D.C., almost crashes, feds say
- China says will help manage Mekong as report warns of dam danger
VIENTIANE/BANGKOK (Reuters) - China on Thursday said it was helping its downstream neighbors cope with a prolonged drought by releasing more water from its dams on the Mekong River, adding it would consider sharing information on hydrology to provide further assistance in the future. The statement came as a new economic report predicted that the building of dams to harness hydropower on the Mekong River would reshape the economies of five countries along the waterway, fuelling long-term inflation and dependence on China. The drought over the past year has severely hurt farming and fishing in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, and many blame China's 11 dams on the upper Mekong - which China calls the Lancang River - as well as climate change.
- Germany's immigrant community in Hanau reeling after attack
In the German town of Hanau, a longtime immigrant destination with decades of coexistence between people of different origins, residents were left with the fear Thursday that their community was targeted after a gunman shot and killed nine people of foreign background. Residents shook their heads at a level of violence that is rare in Germany, and wondered at the degree of anti-foreigner hatred expressed by the attack in a place where Turks and ethnic Kurds patronize the same hookah bars, and where members of both groups were among the victims along with people with roots in Bulgaria, Bosniaand Romania, according to media reports. Among the dead was the owner of the Midnight Shisha Bar, an immigrant from Turkey who worked and saved to buy his own business, along with the gaming kiosk next door.
- Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg are both 78. And both, it turns out, have had heart operations.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned 78 years old last Friday. That makes him the same age as his top rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and six months older than former Vice President Joe Biden.> Today is @MikeBloomberg's birthday; he's turning 78 years old. > > Yesterday, a voter told me he was interested in Bloomberg because "Biden & Bernie are too old."@JoeBiden is 77. @BernieSanders is 78.> > — Maura Barrett (@MauraBarrettNBC) February 14, 2020Everybody is expected to pile on Bloomberg in Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Nevada, and Sanders tested out his salvos in a CNN town hall on Tuesday night. But age isn't the only thing Bloomberg and Sanders have in common. Neither has been a Democrat for most of the past two decades, for example, and both have had two coronary arterial stents inserted near their hearts to relieve blockages.Sanders, who had a heart attack in October, said Tuesday night that he won't release his full medical records. After getting out of the hospital, he had said "the people do have a right to know about the health of a senator, somebody who's running for president of the United States — full disclosure." On Tuesday night, Sanders said the three letters he released from doctors equal "a detailed medical report," and when pressed on whether he plans to release his medical records, he said, "I don't think we will, no."Bloomberg disclosed his 2000 heart operation for the first time in 2007. In December, he released a letter from his longtime physician, Dr. Stephen Sisson at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, attesting that Bloomberg is "in outstanding health," though he developed an irregular heartbeat called an "atrial fibrillation" last year and is treating it with blood thinners. Bloomberg "has had normal cardiac stress testing annually" since he had the stents inserted in 2000, Sisson wrote, and the artery has not become clogged again."Heart problems are extremely common in older adults," The Associated Press notes. At the same time, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday found that 53 percent of voters have "some reservations" or are "very uncomfortable" with a candidate who had a recent heart attack.More stories from theweek.com Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils The family of 1 new Trump pardon recipient donated $200,000 to Trump's re-election effort last fall Obama poked Trump on the economy. Trump took the bait.
- Tennessee prisoner to face electric chair for killing inmate
A Tennessee inmate is scheduled Thursday to become the fifth to die in the state's electric chair in the past 16 months. Each of those inmates chose electrocution over the state's preferred execution method — lethal injection.
- Mormon Brigham Young University has removed its 'homosexual behavior' ban from the school's honor code
- Iran's leaders warn low turnout in election will boost Trump
Voters set to shun Friday’s parliamentary poll in sign of protest or indifferenceIran’s senior leaders flooded the media with eve-of-poll warnings that abstentions in Friday’s parliamentary elections – either through indifference or as a protest – will only encourage Donald Trump to step up economic sanctions against Tehran.The one-week period of officially sanctioned campaigning for a seat in the next five year parliament ended on Wednesday night, 24 hours before voting started amid the first serious outbreak of coronavirus in Iran.Fifty-eight million Iranians are entitled to vote in what the Iranian government claims is the benchmark for democracy in west Asia, but which many in the west dismiss as an elaborate charade. On Thursday the US announced sanctions against five members of the guardian council, saying the body that vets all parliamentary candidates was guilty of electoral manipulation.The elections are seen as a real chance for conservatives – known as “principalists” – to cement their grip on power by seizing control of one of the last of Iran’s political institutions outside their control.Reformist politicians are divided: some favour abstention on the twin grounds that the elections have been rigged, through the mass disqualification of reformist candidates, and that the parliament is toothless, as legislation from the current Reformist-led parliament has been blocked by the council. “The last parliament tried to do something about political prisoners, and to go to visit the jails, and was just told to go away”, said one reformist.But other reformists insist the stakes are too high to abandon the ground to hardliners. Mostafa Kavakebian, a prominent Tehran reformist, wrapped up his campaign at Shahid Mo’atamedi, a sports complex in Khazaneh, a run-down working class neighbourhood in south Tehran, by claiming the future of the country as a semi-pluralist republic was at risk.As he climbed into his car after a rally in front of 300 supporters, he was still complaining that too many reformists had been disqualified from standing by the guardian council.Surrounded by reporters and jostling supporters, he said the reformists “ran out of time to challenge the disqualifications” and said the whole process – including the criteria by which candidates could be disqualified – needed overhaul. The outgoing parliament’s legislation to reduce the guardian council’s scope for interference had been blocked by the guardian council itself, he said.In a speech, he warned: “If parliament becomes a political monopoly, the institutions parallel to parliament will be doubled in strength. The parliament will be neutralised and the republican aspect of the Islamic Republic system would be a show.”He urged the Iranian government to stop dodging the blame for all the country’s problems: “We will not let people’s livelihoods get any worse. Our youth are unemployed and want jobs and housing. We should not hide these problems and simply put the responsibility of America, Israel and the Saudis. I know they are not powerful enough to do these things” .He defended his long-term advocacy of engagement with the west, saying: “Our goal is to solve the issue of sanctions in order to solve the economic problems of the people. We have no desire to negotiate with the terrorist America that martyred [the commander of Iran’s Quds Force] Qassem Suleimani, but we believe we should have a interaction with the world.”Qassem Suleimani, killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad, had become well known among Iranians and was sometimes discussed as a future president. Many considered Suleimani to have been the second most powerful person in Iran, behind supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, but arguably ahead of President Hassan Rouhani. He was commander of the Quds Force, the elite, external wing of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the Trump administration designated as a terror organisation in April last year. He was born in Rabor, a city in eastern Iran, and forced to travel to a neighbouring city at age 13 and work to pay his father’s debts to the government of the Shah. By the time the monarch fell in 1979, Suleimani was committed to the clerical rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and joined the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary force established to prevent a coup against the newly declared Islamic Republic.Within two years, he was sent to the front to fight in the war against the invading Iraqi army. He quickly distinguished himself, especially for daring reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines, and the war also gave him his first contact with foreign militias of the kind he would wield to devastating effect in the decades to come.By the the time the Iraq government fell in 2003, Suleimani was the head of the Quds force and blamed for sponsoring the Shia militias who killed thousands of civilian Iraqis and coalition troops. As fighting raged on Iraq’s streets, Suleimani fought a shadow war with the US for leverage over the new Iraqi leadership.Once described by American commander David Petraeus as ‘a truly evil figure’, Suleimani was instrumental in crushing street protests in Iran in 2009. In recent months outbreaks of popular dissent in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran were again putting pressure on the crescent of influence he had spent the past two decades building. Violent crackdowns on the protests in Baghdad were blamed on militias under his influence. Eighteen months before his death, Suleimani had issued Donald Trump a public warning, wagging his finger and dressed in olive fatigues. “You will start the war but we will end it.”Michael SafiMany of those advocating abstention are close to despair and admit they have been over-optimistic about the change that can be achieved under the uncompromising supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Yet some figures in government are nervous, fearing that the guardian council may have shot itself in the foot and depressed the turnout in urban areas by going so much further than normal in debarring so many prominent reformists.As a result, patriotic calls to vote to defeat the west came from every layer of Iranian government – military, political and clerical.Hesameddin Ashena, a senior adviser to the president, Hassan Rouhani, said that however angry people might feel, abstention “will only please Iran’s enemies and lead to increased sanctions, an increased probability of military invasion, larger budgets for hired anti-Iranian media, a decline in national resilience and reduced political bargaining power”.Khamenei himself warned that “friends and foe are watching out for the election results”. He said the enemies wanted to see what had been the result of Trump’s policy of “maximum economic pressure”. He said it was not just an Iranian’s “national and revolutionary duty to vote, but a religious one”.Even Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister, also said a big turnout would strengthen Iran diplomatically, although he said he would have preferred to have seen a wider choice of candidates.A turnout well below 50% would probably unnerve the regime and reveal disenchantment with an apparently ineffective parliament.In the 10 parliamentary elections since the 1979 revolution, turnout peaked at 71% in 2006. The lowest turnout was 51% in 2004, and the average is just over 62%.Abbasali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman for the guardian council, predicted a turnout of more than 50%, although some say the turnout in reformist-minded cities such as the capital could be a derisory 30%In the course of an hour-long press conference at a plush north Tehran hotel, Kadkhodaei was directly challenged about fixing the election. Question after question from foreign and domestic reporters focused on why he had disqualified so many reformists. None of the questions had been vetted in advance.Impassive throughout and virtually hidden from view by a phalanx of microphones, he insisted the council “is not a political club, and simply follows the letter of the law as it had in previous elections”. He said it was up to the candidates to make public any reason they had been rejected.Asked whether “a one-horse race tends to produce less interest in the outcome of the race”, he said this was not a relevant comparison, arguing there were “many political parties from which voters could choose”.But rejected reformist candidates say their letters of rejection were explicitly political, citing issues such as their loyalty to the supreme leader, the nuclear deal or their attitude towards the hijab. “They are so arrogant they do not really hide what they are doing,” one activist said.
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- Coronavirus: CDC issues new travel notices for Hong Kong, Japan
- US military truck caught on camera ramming Russian jeep off the road in Syria
- China kicked out 3 Wall Street Journal reporters after it published an op-ed using a term that invokes the biggest humiliation in Chinese history
- Former Mexico President Pena Nieto investigated in corruption probe: report
Mexican law enforcement authorities are investigating a former president, Enrique Pena Nieto, as part of an inquiry into corruption, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Pena Nieto has become embroiled in the investigation of Emilio Lozoya, the former chief executive of Mexico's state oil firm Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. Lozoya is accused of corruption related to a wide-ranging bribery and money-laundering case involving Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht SA. Lozoya, who was arrested in Spain last week, has denied wrongdoing.
- Kill Shot: Did Elizabeth Warren Just Knock Michael Bloomberg Out of the Presidential Race?
Fighting words last night at the MSNBC debate: “So, I'd like to talk about who we're running against, a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And, no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg,” Warren said.
- Google Manager Arrested After Wife’s Body Found on Hawaii Beach
On Wednesday, distraught Google product manager Sonam Saxena spoke to a local Hawaii newspaper, pleading for help in finding his missing wife.The couple from Washington state, who had two young daughters, were on their annual family vacation to Hawaii when Smriti Saxena disappeared at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday. Sonam said he’d left his wife on a secluded beach south of Anaehoomalu Bay to take a 20-minute walk back to their Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort room to retrieve Smriti’s asthma inhaler. When he returned, her purse and phone were there but she was gone.“She got an asthma attack right there on the beach and she was feeling weak, he told West Hawaii Today. “So, I said, ‘Hey, you know what? You stay here, you have your phone with you and I’ll just go to the room grab your inhaler and pump and come back.’”Sonam pleaded for Big Island residents to help find Smriti. He even tweeted a message to Hawaii’s governor and shared it with his LinkedIn network. “Can you please promote this tweet so that I can tell my daughters where their mom is,” he wrote.However, on Wednesday, Hawaii Island Police arrested Sonam on one count of murder in the second-degree after a female body believed to be Smriti’s was found near Anaehoomalu Bay in the district of South Kohala. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of death.Smriti, a 41-year-old business program manager for Microsoft, was last seen on Tuesday night at the Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa, police said. Her husband, a 43-year-old who works in Google’s Seattle office as the head of product for Google’s Cloud Deployment Manager, said they’d taken a stroll to the beach shortly after. He told West Hawaii Today that he was “disturbed” when he came back from fetching the asthma inhaler to find his wife missing. He said he rushed back to the hotel to check if she’d returned to the room before calling 911.Hawaii Police put out a missing persons alert for Smriti at about 1:30 a.m. the following morning, and discovered her body six hours later. By that afternoon, they had arrested Sonam.The pair had been married for 17 years with two daughters, aged 13 and 8. They celebrated the older daughter’s birthday in Hawaii each year, Sonam had said. According to his LinkedIn, Sonam moved to Seattle from India in 2008 and worked for SkyKick and Microsoft before joining Google.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.
- Execution for a Facebook post? Why blasphemy is a capital offense in some Muslim countries
Junaid Hafeez, a university lecturer in Pakistan, had been imprisoned for six years when he was sentenced to death in December 2019. The charge: blasphemy, specifically insulting Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. Pakistan has the world’s second strictest blasphemy laws after Iran, according to U.S. Commision on International Religious Freedom.Hafeez, whose death sentence is under appeal, is one of about 1,500 Pakistanis charged with blasphemy, or sacrilegious speech, over the last three decades. No executions have taken place. But since 1990 70 people have been murdered by mobs and vigilantes who accused them of insulting Islam. Several people who defend the accused have been killed, too, including one of Hafeez’s lawyers and two high-level politicians who publicly opposed the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted for verbally insulting Prophet Muhammad. Though Bibi was acquitted in 2019, she fled Pakistan. Blasphemy and apostasyOf 71 countries that criminalize blasphemy, 32 are majority Muslim. Punishment and enforcement of these laws varies. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia. Among non-Muslim-majority cases, the harshest blasphemy laws are in Italy, where the maximum penalty is three years in prison.Half of the world’s 49 Muslim-majority countries have additional laws banning apostasy, meaning people may be punished for leaving Islam. All countries with apostasy laws are Muslim-majority except India. Apostasy is often charged along with blasphemy. This class of religious laws is quite popular in some Muslim countries. According to a 2013 Pew survey, about 75% of respondents in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia favor making sharia, or Islamic law, the official law of the land. Among those who support sharia, around 25% in Southeast Asia, 50% in the Middle East and North Africa, and 75% in South Asia say they support “executing those who leave Islam” – that is, they support laws punishing apostasy with death. The ulema and the stateMy 2019 book “Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment” traces the root of blasphemy and apostasy laws in the Muslim world back to a historic alliance between Islamic scholars and government.Starting around the year 1050, certain Sunni scholars of law and theology, called the “ulema,” began working closely with political rulers to challenge what they considered to be the sacrilegious influence of Muslim philosophers on society. Muslim philosophers had for three centuries been making major contributions to mathematics, physics and medicine. They developed the Arabic number system used across the West today and invented a forerunner of the modern camera.The conservative ulema felt that these philosophers were inappropriately influenced by Greek philosophy and Shia Islam against Sunni beliefs. The most prominent in consolidating Sunni orthodoxy was the brilliant and respected Islamic scholar Ghazali, who died in the year 1111.In several influential books still widely read today, Ghazali declared two long-dead leading Muslim philosophers, Farabi and Ibn Sina, apostates for their unorthodox views on God’s power and the nature of resurrection. Their followers, Ghazali wrote, could be punished with death. As modern-day historians Omid Safi and Frank Griffel assert, Ghazali’s declaration provided justification to Muslim sultans from the 12th century onward who wished to persecute – even execute – thinkers seen as threats to conservative religious rule. This “ulema-state alliance,” as I call it, began in the mid-11th century in Central Asia, Iran and Iraq and a century later spread to Syria, Egypt and North Africa. In these regimes, questioning religious orthodoxy and political authority wasn’t merely dissent – it was apostasy. Wrong directionParts of Western Europe were ruled by a similar alliance between the Catholic Church and monarchs. These governments assaulted free thinking, too. During the Spanish Inquisition, between the 16th and 18th centuries, thousands of people were tortured and killed for apostasy.Blasphemy laws were also in place, if infrequently used, in various European countries until recently. Denmark, Ireland and Malta all recently repealed their laws.But they persist in many parts of the Muslim world. In Pakistan, the military dictator Zia ul Haq, who ruled the country from 1978 to 1988, is responsible for its harsh blasphemy laws. An ally of the ulema, Zia updated blasphemy laws – written by British colonizers to avoid interreligious conflict – to defend specifically Sunni Islam and increased the maximum punishment to death. From the 1920s until Zia, these laws had been applied only about a dozen times. Since then they have become a powerful tool for crushing dissent.Some dozen Muslim countries have undergone a similar process over the past four decades, including Iran and Egypt. Dissenting voices in IslamThe conservative ulema base their case for blasphemy and apostasy laws on a few reported sayings of Prophet Muhammad, known as hadith, primarily: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” But many Islamic scholars and Muslim intellectuals reject this view as radical. They argue that Prophet Muhammad never executed anyone for apostasy, nor encouraged his followers to do so.Nor is criminalizing sacrilege based on Islam’s main sacred text, the Quran. It contains over 100 verses encouraging peace, freedom of conscience and religious tolerance. In chapter 2, verse 256, the Quran states, “There is no coercion in religion.” Chapter 4, verse 140 urges Muslims to simply leave blasphemous conversations: “When you hear the verses of God being rejected and mocked, do not sit with them.”By using their political connections and historical authority to interpret Islam, however, the conservative ulema have marginalized more moderate voices. Reaction to global IslamophobiaDebates about blasphemy and apostasy laws among Muslims are influenced by international affairs.Across the globe, Muslim minorities – including the Palestinians, Chechens of Russia, Kashmiris of India, Rohingya of Mymanmar and Uighurs of China – have experienced severe persecution. No other religion is so widely targeted in so many different countries. Alongside persecution are some Western policies that discriminate against Muslims, such as laws prohibiting headscarves in schools and the U.S. ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries.Such Islamaphobic laws and policies can create the impression that Muslims are under siege and provide an excuse that punishing sacrilege is a defense of the faith.Instead, I find, such harsh religious rules can contribute to anti-Muslim stereotypes. Some of my Turkish relatives even discourage my work on this topic, fearing it fuels Islamophobia. But my research shows that criminalizing blasphemy and apostasy is more political than it is religious. The Quran does not require punishing sacrilege: authoritarian politics do.[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Conservative Islamic views are gaining ground in secular Bangladesh and curbing freedom of expression * Imran Khan hopes to transform Pakistan but he’ll have far less power than past leadersAhmet T. Kuru is a FORIS scholar at the Religious Freedom Institute.
- Putin hails US for helping prevent terror attack in Russia
Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hailed the FBI for sharing information that helped thwart a terror attack by adherents of the Islamic State group in St. Petersburg during the New Year holidays. The FSB in December announced the detention of two Russian men who confessed to plotting the terror attacks in St. Petersburg.
- Airports warn of chaos with looming Real ID license deadline
Without a special Real ID driver's license or card, airline passengers will be required to present a passport, military ID or Global Entry card to pass through security, even for domestic flights, starting in October.
- Intelligence employee pleads guilty to leaking classified info to journalists
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- Michael Bloomberg was mercilessly attacked in his first debate – and he flopped
Bloomberg was hammered all night over stop-and-frisk, Wall Street, and his opposition to raising the minimum wage. He didn’t take it well Before Wednesday night’s debate, Mike Bloomberg’s critics had been furious with the Democratic National Committee for changing its rules to allow Bloomberg on the debate stage. But it turned out the critics should have been thanking the DNC. Bloomberg was absolutely terrible. His campaign may not literally have ended on the debate stage, but it’s hard to see how any viewer could come away believing his pitch that he is “the best candidate to take on Trump”.Bloomberg was ill-prepared, uncharismatic and unlikable. The other candidates ran rings around him. Elizabeth Warren sank her teeth in early, interrupting Bloomberg’s opening statement to point out how his long history of sexist comments about women made him a lot like Donald Trump. Warren landed even more brutal blows later in the debate, when she challenged Bloomberg to release women from the non-disclosure agreements his company had forced them to sign in sexual harassment lawsuits. Bloomberg mumbled some lame excuse about how the agreements were consensual, but was clearly caught off-guard, and Warren wouldn’t let the issue go.Bloomberg looked feeble, and after the debate some Democratic bigwigs were already reportedly concluding that “Bloomberg isn’t the answer.”Bloomberg was mercilessly attacked all night by the rest of the candidates over stop-and-frisk, Wall Street, his Republican past and his opposition to raising the minimum wage. He did not have any idea how to respond to the barrage. On stop-and-frisk, he simply lied, saying that he had tried to end the policy when in fact he had escalated it. Warren was having none of this, and correctly pointed out that Bloomberg was failing to take responsibility for the consequences his policy had for African Americans. Joe Biden echoed the sentiment, saying that Bloomberg’s apologies for stop-and-frisk were insufficient. “It’s not whether he apologized or not. It’s the policy. And the policy was abhorrent.” Biden energetically opposed Bloomberg throughout the night, showing a passion and lucidity that has been missing from the last months of his flagging campaign.It wasn’t just Bloomberg who came under fire. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg have never liked each other, and they became downright nasty. Klobuchar once again took the opportunity to point out that Pete has never won a statewide race, while Buttigieg replied with a canned line about how if Minnesotan senators made good nominees, Walter Mondale would have been president. Buttigieg also seized the opportunity to poke at Klobuchar over forgetting the president of Mexico’s name. Klobuchar struggled, asking Pete if he was calling her “dumb”. Buttigieg is a practiced debater and delivers his lines well, and his polished hokum about how “Washington” doesn’t respect small-city rust belt mayors clearly gets on Klobuchar’s nerves to no end.> In terms of who the debate served best, Bernie Sanders was the clear winnerWarren was unusually vicious toward other candidates, making direct attacks on nearly every one of her opponents. She was spirited and articulate, and with her memorable exchanges with Bloomberg, she will widely be seen as the “winner” of the debate. But it also seemed as if she was desperate to strike as many blows in as many directions as possible, conscious that her campaign needs a miracle if it is going to survive.In terms of who the debate served best, Sanders was the clear winner. He went into it the frontrunner, and mostly just needed to avoid embarrassing himself. The debate went far better than he could even have hoped. His chief rival, Bloomberg, flopped completely. The other centrists spent time bickering with each other that could have been spent trying to undermine Sanders. Warren did the “dirty work” of eviscerating Bloomberg, allowing Sanders to make a more elevated pitch and somewhat rise above the fray. He was given plenty of time to talk, and while he stuck close to his usual talking points he had above-average energy and was clearly enjoying himself. He was effective in pointing out how Buttigieg dishonestly presents the costs of Medicare For All without mentioning the benefits, and easily parried Bloomberg’s absurd attempt to conflate Sanders’ democratic socialism with “communism”. Bloomberg was a perfect foil for Sanders; Sanders probably wishes Bloomberg had been there all along, a cartoon of an evil billionaire for Sanders to point to as an example of everything wrong with the country.Sanders went into the debate the frontrunner and he left the frontrunner. If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar were to stand any chance of overtaking Sanders, they needed to make him look foolish, and they didn’t. Instead, they looked petty, and he survived. Warren was in good form, but she’s simply not going to reclaim the lead over Sanders at this point. Bloomberg was the only serious threat, and he fizzled, showing that the “electability” case for his candidacy is laughable. It’s increasingly clear that Sanders has no serious opposition and Democrats are going to need to start reconciling himself to the inevitability of his nomination.But some clearly aren’t reconciled. One concerning moment in the debate came at the very end, where each candidate was asked if they believed that the candidate with the most delegates should be given the nomination, or the “superdelegates” should be allowed to intervene. Sanders was the only candidate who would say that the nomination should go to the individual with the most delegates. Every other candidate is apparently leaving open the possibility of the Democratic party overriding the popular vote at the convention, presumably in order to deny Sanders the nomination.Alarmingly, even if Sanders is the clear public favorite, there are still those Democrats who think he needs to be stopped at all costs.
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Donald Trump is being ridiculed online after having the audacity to criticise Washington Post reporter Jennifer Rubin for making a typo in a tweet, the president being well known for regularly making ludicrous spelling errors in his own posts.He has also been busy deriding his Democratic 2020 rivals on the campaign trail in Phoenix, Arizona, using a rally speech to push an election rigging conspiracy theory, call the FBI “dishonest scum” and complain that Conan, the US military’s war hero dog, “got more publicity” than him over the killing of Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
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Authorities are seeking an “armed and very dangerous” man who is believed to have killed three men and left their bodies in a Southern California cemetery, the Riverside County sheriff said Thursday. The three men — Perris residents Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50; Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38 and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28 — were killed at the same time. Sheriff Chad Bianco said at a news conferencethere is a felony warrant out for the arrest of Jose Luis Torres Garcia, 33, with $3 million bail.
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- Racist German Shooter Exposes the Global Network of Hate
BERLIN—Late Wednesday night in the central German city Hanau, a gunman that police have identified as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen opened fire at two shisha bars. They’re the kind of places favored by people who enjoy a laid-back atmosphere as they puff tobacco bubbling through water-filled hookahs, and on any given evening, many of those folks may be from Turkish, Kurdish, or North African backgrounds. They’re quiet places for conversation and minding your own business. Do Germans Know a Hate Crime When They See It?But Rathjen just started blowing people away. He first opened fire at a hookah bar called Midnight in the center of Hanau. He then drove five minutes away to the Arena Bar and Cafe, where he opened fire again. He killed nine and injured several others at the two locations, then fled. Police swarmed into the neighborhood. When they tracked Rathjen down and stormed his apartment at 5 a.m., they found his dead body next to that of his 72-year-old mother. Apparently he had shot her, too.Investigators also found a manifesto with racist and ultranationalist views, and the federal prosecutor is treating the case as an example of extreme-right terrorism and it is already clear the shooter was drawing on the international propaganda of hate that has inspired murderers from New Zealand to the United States. It is also apparent that, despite condemnation of the killings by the ascendant far-right German opposition party AfD, or Alternative für Deutschland, it has contributed to this country's increasingly incendiary atmosphere.Witnesses were stunned.“I got a call from a colleague that there was a shooting,” Can Luca Frisenna, the 24-year-old son of the owner of a convenience store next to the Arena Bar, told reporters in front the taped-off crime scene. “I drove here directly. First I thought that my father had been hit and my little brother... and then I saw both of them, they were in shock, they were crying. Everyone was shocked.“Things like this do not happen in this area,“ Frisenna said. "It’s like a film, like a prank. I can’t yet believe what has happened. I think all of my colleagues, they are like my family, they cannot believe it either.”Both the Midnight and the Arena have owners with Kurdish backgrounds, according to Mehmet Tanriverdi, the chairman of the Kurdische Gemeinde Deutschland, or Kurdish Community in Germany.Tanriverdi said that five of the nine victims have Kurdish backgrounds, but “They are German citizens.” One witness, Kenan Kocak, told the television network station NTV, “It’s very sad in particular that young people—a young lad, and a young girl about 20 or 25 years old—have died. I was there with them yesterday. Someone who worked there was also taken to the hospital. It looks very bad.”The news agency ANF has identified two of the people killed as Ferhat Ünvar and Gökhan Gültekin, both young men. A week ago the killer, who described himself as a bank teller, published a video on YouTube in which he addressed “all Americans.” He spoke English in a light German accent and mouthed bizarre conspiracy theories about “underground military facilities” on U.S. soil. He referred repeatedly to 9/11 as an example of the imminent threat. He said that he, for one, has been under surveillance since birth and called on American citizens to wake up and “fight now.” The video appeared to have been recorded in a private apartment; a bookshelf in the background was stacked with dozens of binders. Meanwhile, Rathjen uploaded a 24-page text on his personal website. It included long sections of white supremacist, ethno-nationalist rambling. He wrote that “not everyone who owns a German passport is purebred and valuable.” He talked about one German Volk—“the people” in the ethno-nationalist sense—which he describes as being the best. Otherwise there are only “destructive races.” The “solution to the puzzle,” he wrote (misspelling “puzzle”—is that billions of people (he named Arab countries and Israel) be “annihilated.”If such demented ravings were limited to one unhinged bank teller with a gun, society might rest easy in spite of the tragedy. But they are not. Last week, police in Germany arrested 12 right-wing extremists who allegedly had been planning terror attacks on mosques across the country, inspired by those carried out in New Zealand last year. They had plans to provoke revenge attacks and bring about a “civil war,” authorities said.This often is part of the global hate network's gospel. The young white supremacist who murdered nine black men and women in a Bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina, one evening in June 2015, preached much the same philosophy.Inside the Head of Dylann Roof, Jihadist for White HateRathjen also wrote about the coming “war” on his website, claiming that it would be a double blow, both against the secret organizations that he says are reading his mind, and against the “degeneration of the Volk.”Right-wing extremists who turn to terror rely on apocalyptic scenarios (“civil war”) to characterize their targets as a threat and thus justify their criminal acts as “self defense.”Politicians from Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), now Germany’s biggest opposition party, have spurred this narrative by spreading conspiracies about “ethnic replacement” and disinformation campaigns about non-existent crimewaves—as exemplified by campaign posters that accused hookah bars of being places of “rape “ and “poison.”For Germany’s radical right, escalation is the goal. Crime levels in Germany are still at an all-time low. Right-wing terrorism aims to spread fear and potentially bring about authoritarian measures that the AfD cannot implement directly. So of course AfD politicians have condemned the terror attack—one AfD politician wrote on Twitter, “Is this still the ‘Germany in which we live well and happily’ that Merkel’s CDU (Conservative party) conjured up in 2017?”Four months ago, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet tried to commit a terror attack against a synagogue in the city of Halle an der Saale, and killed two bystanders. As was the case with Rathjen, he had not been known to intelligence services prior to his act of terror. Meanwhile, Stephan E., the man accused of murdering conservative politician Walter Lübcke on his front porch in June, was a neo-Nazi in the '90s, but only became active again in the past few years. The German newspaper Die Zeit reported Thursday that police found a New Right book in his apartment that propagates the same ethnic replacement theories AfD politicians have cited. In 2016, 18-year-old student David Sonboly killed nine people in Munich on the fifth anniversary of the terror attack in Norway by Anders Breivik. He had been bullied at school, but turned his resentment and fury on people simply for their appearance, claiming that refugees and immigrants were a threat to Germany’s future. In 2018, reporters from the newspaper Taz uncovered a network of people (including soldiers from the German army) who were preparing “kill lists” of left-wing politicians and activists, whom they could execute on the apocalyptic “Day X.”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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- Billionaire Andre Esteves Back In Spotlight Five Years After Arrest
(Bloomberg) -- Andre Esteves, once the golden boy of Brazilian finance, has been gradually taking on a more public role since his arrest five years ago, culminating in an appearance Wednesday in which he headlined a conference and laid out an optimistic vision for Latin America’s largest economy.Now 51 and a little grayer at the temples, Esteves was more statesman than banker as he spoke to a crowd of more than 700 and touched on topics ranging from Brazil’s growth prospects to its currency and even the nation’s controversial president, Jair Bolsonaro.He made no mention of Banco BTG Pactual SA, the financial powerhouse he helped found, nor did he comment on his 23-day stint in an infamous Rio de Janeiro prison after an arrest that nearly toppled his empire. All charges against him were dismissed.Esteves laid out a scenario of moderate -- “even mediocre” -- growth for Brazil in coming years during a one-hour Q&A with a Brazilian journalist kicking off the second day of BTG’s annual conference in Sao Paulo. Expansion will be far from spectacular at about 2% or 3% a year, but it’ll be enough to keep Brazilians happy, he said.Growth Agenda“We’re going to push growth by empowering capital markets and by making micro and macro economic reforms, reinforcing fiscal strength and by reducing the size of the state,” he said. “This is the agenda for growth and not by pushing down interest rates.”Though Esteves has made public appearances in the years since he stepped down as BTG’s chief executive officer following his 2015 arrest, including at the World Economic Forum in Davos, this was the first time he took the spotlight.Esteves, who has a degree in engineering, began his career as a computer technician at Banco Pactual, BTG’s predecessor, in 1989, before moving to the trading desk and the fixed-income team. By 2002, he was a managing partner and in 2006, Pactual was sold to UBS for $2.6 billion. Esteves became one of Brazil’s youngest self-made billionaires. He and his partners bought the bank back three years later and set out to expand operations. BTG went public in 2012.Then came the sweeping corruption scandal known as Carwash, which over several years toppled dozens of well-known politicians and business leaders. Esteves was arrested in late 2015 for allegedly participating in a scheme to tamper with the testimony of a former Petroleo Brasileiro SA executive.Liquidity CrisisWhile prosecutors later acknowledged they didn’t have enough evidence to move forward with charges or a trial, the scandal threw BTG into a liquidity crisis amid a surge of customer redemptions. The bank was forced to seek a rescue of 6 billion reais ($1.4 billion) from Brazil’s privately owned deposit-insurance fund, and in the following months, it unloaded more than $3.5 billion in assets while also cutting jobs.The bank welcomed Esteves back as a senior partner two days after he was freed from house arrest in April 2016. In December, Brazil’s central bank cleared Esteves to return as a member of the bank’s controlling group. At a recent press conference, BTG CEO Roberto Sallouti said having Esteves -- who’s worth about $3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index -- back in the group fixes “an absurd injustice.”At Wednesday’s conference, Esteves waded into Brazilian politics, saying Bolsonaro “has matured politically over the past year” and has a better relationship with other branches of the government than suggested by press headlines.“Our democracy is very healthy and doing well, thanks,” Esteves said. “The economic agenda is exceptional.”Asked about what his biggest fear was, Esteves was quick to answer: “Ignorance, and nothing else.”\--With assistance from Ricardo Strulovici Wolfrid.To contact the reporter on this story: Felipe Marques in Sao Paulo at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Pierre Paulden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jessica Brice, Steven CrabillFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
- Former Australian PM suspected pilot of mass-murder mission in MH370 tragedy
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the “top levels” of the Malaysian government long suspected that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 almost six years ago was a mass murder-suicide by the pilot.
- Who won the Nevada Democratic debate? Our panelists' verdict
The debate was so vicious at times that it resembled a circular firing squad. So who emerged as the victor? Jessa Crispin: ‘Angry Elizabeth Warren is back – and that’s good’So thrilled to have lived long enough to witness Mayor Bloomberg’s performance on the debate stage. Oh, to revel in his deadly charisma, in his power to unify the nation and lead us into a better future. He was so magnetic I simply kept forgetting he was on the stage. He was so inarticulate, timid, easily flummoxed, and filled with an obvious contempt for the proceedings, it’s no surprise so many (who may have undisclosed financial ties to the man and his company) have declared him the obvious winner.Was the audience drunk? Why am I not? Everyone’s inhibitions seemed lowered, including the very vocal crowd, Amy Klobuchar seemed seconds away from throwing a binder at Mayor Pete’s head, and we finally got angry Elizabeth Warren back for an evening. Angry Elizabeth Warren is the best Elizabeth Warren. Where has she been? Give her more to do, we miss her.There’s no real winner here. Everyone took a lot of hits from their colleagues and no one crawled out unscathed. But I think we can easily declare a loser, and that would be the moderators. The moderators have indeed been the losers through this whole process. They ask the same questions their colleagues asked in the last 84 Democratic debates, they often don’t follow up when answers are vague or misleading, they pose gotcha questions that have very low stakes. When a host for The View has more perseverance on making a squirming Amy Klobuchar answer for her problematic prosecutorial past, particularly as it involves the lack of justice in police-related shootings, maybe it is time for some soul-searching, public resignations, and replacement by journalists with spines. We have a moderator who referred to one candidate’s followers as brownshirts, and he’s just allowed to pretend to be an objective interlocutor? OK, cool, seems fine.The result was not as substantive as it could have (should have) been, but it made for some good TV. And at the end of the day, that’s probably enough for our distinguished men and women of television media.There must be something to the idea that pressure and pain have the ability to shape one’s character in transformative ways. * Jessa Crispin is the host of the Public Intellectual podcast and a Guardian US columnist Benjamin Dixon: ‘Bloomberg has no chance’Mike Bloomberg demonstrated tonight that, in his life as a billionaire, he must not have had to deal with any character-building pressures in a very long time. All of the money in the world could not purchase charisma enough to make up for the dull and glum presentation he gave tonight.I will admit that, up until this point, I believed Bloomberg was an existential threat to our democracy because of his ability to purchase everything from talent to silence. But no one could look at the debate tonight and honestly believe that the former mayor would stand a chance against Donald Trump. No one could look at Bloomberg’s performance and believe that this man could inspire the movement necessary to win in November.Michael Bloomberg spent more than $400m only to get on the national stage and show that he is not ready for primetime. This is what happens when you sit on the outside of the democratic process and use your money to create an image of you that is bigger than life.And it’s hard to live up to that image when you lack the charisma and character that those of us in the working class earned the hard way. * Benjamin Dixon is the host of The Benjamin Dixon Show Art Cullen: ‘Elizabeth Warren might have saved her campaign’Elizabeth Warren closed Wednesday’s debate by describing herself as a fighter. She brought plenty of punch to the stage from the get-go by slicing and dicing billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Warren put her rivals on their heels – she said Bloomberg referred to women as “fat broads and horse-faced lesbians”, said Pete Buttigieg’s healthcare plans boiled down to a Power Point presentation and that Amy Klobuchar’s could fit on a postage stamp. Mike Bloomberg was awful. Klobuchar was on the defensive. And the elephant in the room, Bernie Sanders, was able to point out that Medicare for All will actually save $450bn – and universal healthcare is what put him at the front of the pack in the first place. He did not appear to lose stride. Warren saw Klobuchar’s breakthrough in the New Hampshire debate. She spared no one, and savaged Bloomberg. Everyone was throwing punches but nobody hit as hard as Warren. With Super Tuesday less than two weeks away, this raucous debate was a clincher, and Warren might have saved her struggling campaign with direct appeals to minority women so important in the Nevada caususes. Joe Biden, not so much. * Art Cullen is editor of The Storm Lake Times in north-west Iowa, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. He is a Guardian US columnist and author of the book Storm Lake: Change, Resilience, and Hope in America’s Heartland. Arwa Mahdawi: ‘Bloomberg bombed, Warren won’Looks like Michael Bloomberg just found out money can’t buy you everything. The multibillionaire has spent almost $400m on ads but apparently zero time preparing for the debate stage. He had embarrassingly inadequate responses for predictable questions on stop-and-frisk and the silencing of women in his companies with NDAs. His lack of substance was matched with a complete lack of charisma. According to some in the Establishment, we should forgive Bloomberg’s history of sexism and racism because he’s the only person capable of beating Trump. If they still think that after this pitiful debate performance then we’re in trouble.While Bloomberg bombed, Elizabeth Warren had her best debate ever. She was impeccably prepared and utterly eviscerated Bloomberg. Warren has been lagging in the polls, leading some to prematurely write her off; big mistake. Pete Buttigieg’s performance was also noteworthy. The mayor may be able to read Norwegian but he can’t seem to read a room. Buttigieg’s constant attacks on Amy Klobuchar made him look like a mansplaining bully.“Mayo Pete” has been gliding through this election but I wouldn’t be surprised if more people start to find his patronizing demeanour a little hard to stomach. * Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian US columnist Lloyd Green: ‘Bernie Sanders emerged as the winner’The Democrats’ Game of Thrones-style debate was a two-hour extravaganza that boosted Donald Trump’s chances. Obviously, that’s not what the Democratic National Committee intended but it’s what happened – a circular firing squad more intent on unloading on each other than at going at the president.Elizabeth Warren flayed Mike Bloomberg with a helping hand from Joe Biden. New York’s ex-mayor appeared rusty and unprepared. The attacks were predictable yet he looked flatfooted. When you’re defending non-disclosure agreements, you’re losing. On Wednesday night, money didn’t buy everything.Lest Warren get cocky, it is worth remembering that early voting in the Nevada caucuses was well under way before the Massachusetts senator took the stage. As a result, any post-debate bounce will probably be short lived.Come Saturday evening, the headlines will either be about the order of finish or how Nevada botched its caucuses. Warning: Iowa redux is a real possibility.In the end, Bernie Sanders emerged as the winner in the room. He entered as the Democrats’ frontrunner and nothing altered that reality. According to the polls, Sanders is leading by double digits both in Nevada and nationally among Democrats. The question is whether his lead becomes insurmountable. We will know soon enough. * Lloyd Green was opposition research counsel to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign and served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992
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The U.S. Army and its closest allies have a problem. The region of the world where they arguably are most likely to deploy its heaviest vehicles for high-tech combat also is peppered with flimsy old bridges that can’t support the vehicles’ weight.
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Relatives of a black Connecticut man killed by a state trooper are seeking more than $10 million in wrongful death damages from state and local police, according to legal notices filed Thursday. Lawyers for the family of Mubarak Soulemane, 19, asked the state claims commissioner for permission to sue the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and top state police officials including Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella for $10 million. West Haven's counsel, Lee Tiernan, said the town's policy is not to comment on pending litigation.