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- Swedish prime minister warns Donald Trump he cannot influence ASAP Rocky judicial process
The Swedish prime minister has disputed Donald Trump’s claim over the treatment of a detained American rapper following a phone call between the two leaders. Platinum-selling artist A$AP Rocky was arrested in Sweden in early July on suspicion of assault following a street brawl. Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday that he had spoken to Prime Minister Stefan Lofven offering to personally vouch for his bail. Mr Trump said the Swedish PM assured him that the rapper would be treated fairly. “Just had a very good call with @SwedishPM Stefan Löfven who assured me that American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly," Mr Trump said in a post on Twitter. "Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative... Our teams will be talking further, and we agreed to speak again in the next 48 hours!" Just had a very good call with @SwedishPM Stefan Löfven who assured me that American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly. Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2019 But a spokesperson for the Swedish leader has maintained Mr Lofven told Mr Trump the government cannot influence the judicial process. The spokesperson said: “It was a friendly and respectful phone call which lasted about 20 minutes. The Prime Minister made sure to point out that the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts, are completely independent. "He also pointed out that everyone is equal before the law and that the government neither can nor will try to influence the judicial process." Mr Trump said he and Mr Lofven had agreed to speak again over the next two days, another claim disputed by Sweden. “It is possible that there will be follow up calls but right now there is not one scheduled or planned,” a spokesperson said. A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was detained following a fight in Stockholm, where he had been performing. The district court decided on Friday that Rocky would remain in custody for one more week to allow police to complete their investigation. They have until 25 July. Mayer has claimed he was acting in self defense after two young men harassed and followed him and his entourage. Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have called for the 30-year-old artist to be freed following his arrest on 3 July. The US president intervened after an appeal from rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian.
- Alleged American ISIS Sniper Brought Home by the Defense Department to Face Charges
An American citizen who allegedly served as a sniper for ISIS and became a leader for the terrorist group is expected to appear in federal court on Friday after being returned to the United States by the Defense Department, officials said.Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, who was born in Kazakhstan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, is charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS, the Justice Department announced on Friday.A U.S. official confirmed to Task & Purpose that the Defense Department had transported Asainov from Syria to the United States. Asainov had been in the custody of Syrian Democratic Forces.No further information about the military's role in transporting Asainov, to the United States was immediately available.Asainov is accused of leaving Brooklyn in December 2013 to fight for ISIS in Syria, a Justice Department news release says. After becoming an ISIS sniper, he was promoted to become an "emir" in charge of training fighters how to use weapons and also tried to recruit someone else to leave the United States and become an ISIS fighter.Prosecutors claim Asainov tried to buy a scope for his rile by paying roughly $2,800 to a confidential informant, the news release says."Asainov subsequently sent the confidential informant two photographs depicting the defendant holding an assault rifle fitted with a scope," the news release says. "He messaged one associate exclaiming, in reference to ISIS, 'We are the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed' and stating that he wished to die on the battlefield."
- Iran's Zarif calls for 'prudence and foresight' as tensions mount
Iran's top diplomat said on Sunday that only "prudence and foresight" could alleviate tensions between his country and Britain after Tehran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker. "Having failed to lure @realDonaldTrump into War of the Century, and fearing collapse of his #B_Team, @AmbJohnBolton is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire," Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter.
- Oliver Stone Asks Vladimir Putin to Be His Daughter’s Godfather
Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/GettyFilmmaker and conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone has made no secret of his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, but now he has taken it to a whole new level by trying to make him his 22-year-old daughter’s godfather. “Does she want to become an Orthodox Christian?” Putin asked when Stone floated the idea during a sit-down in the Kremlin. “We’ll make her that [Orthodox],” Stone replied, according to a transcript of the interview put out by the Kremlin Friday. Putin appeared to wriggle his way out of the proposal (“You have to ask her,” he said) before Stone went on to complain about “American culture,” taking particular issue with what he described as a focus on gender identity and people labeling themselves as “transgender” and “cisgender.” Stone quickly steered the conversation toward a controversial 2013 Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda” among minors, a law which experts say has prompted a surge of homophobic violence in the country. “It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law,” Stone said. The interview, transcripts of which were released Friday, took place in mid-June, shortly before Stone announced the upcoming premiere of his new documentary Revealing Ukraine, which purports to “investigate” the “ongoing Ukrainian crisis” but seems instead to serve as a promotional spot for pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk. The “documentary” has been hyped up by Russian state media, where it premiered on Friday. It was also due to air on Ukraine’s 112 TV channel, which Medvedchuk reportedly took control of late last year, but the station said it was forced to cancel the broadcast after protests. Stone has claimed his dabblings in Ukraine offer viewers a new perspective on the 2014 Maidan revolution and war in Donbass that he says “Western media has largely ignored,” but that “perspective” has relied solely on claims fed to him by pro-Russia politicians, Putin allies, and Putin himself. In his sit-down with the Russian president, Stone vacillated between spouting off common Kremlin propaganda on Ukraine and fawning over Putin as a “peacemaker.” After echoing the Kremlin conspiracy theory that the pro-Russian leaders in Kyiv accused of gunning down innocent protesters in the 2014 revolution were actually framed in some vast conspiracy that may or may not have involved former U.S. President Barack Obama, and that Ukraine, not Russia was to blame for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Stone expressed concerns about Putin’s emotional well-being. “You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time,” he said, later adding, “I am very worried about you.” The two ended the interview by taking a parting picture together. Oliver Stone’s Latest Piece of Pro-Putin Propaganda May Be His Most Shameless Move YetRead 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.
- Vatican opens burial chambers in hunt for princesses and missing teen
The Vatican on Saturday opened two burial chambers discovered under a trapdoor as it attempts to get to the bottom of a riddle involving two 19th-century princesses and a teenager who went missing 36 years ago. The ossuaries were found last week under the floor of the Pontifical Teutonic College after the shock discovery earlier this month that the bones of the princesses had disappeared from tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery. The graves of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Charlotte Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1836 and 1840, were exhumed after an anonymous tip-off that they may hold the remains of a missing Italian youngster.
- Funeral service held for 86 Muslims killed by Serbs
PRIJEDOR, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Several thousand people attended a funeral service in Bosnia on Saturday for 86 Muslims who were slain by Serbs in one of the worst atrocities of the country's 1992-95 war. Relatives of the victims, religious leaders and others gathered at a soccer stadium near the eastern town of Prijedor, standing solemnly behind lines of coffins draped with green cloths. The Serbs later threw bombs onto the bodies, which made identifying the victims difficult.
- 41 Low-Carb Breakfasts You'll Actually Want To Eat
- Universal Orlando reopens after police respond to report of a gunman in parking garage
- A Passenger Was Fined $105,000 and Banned for Life for 'Extremely Disruptive Behavior' on an Airplane
- Rep. Cummings: 'No doubt' about President Trump being racist
- Voice Of America Ignores Reasons For Trump’s Criticism Of Rep. Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar, but failed to include most of the reasons for the criticism.VOA wrote “Trump has found his latest target for acerbic ridicule — a hijab-wearing Muslim newcomer to Congress named Ilhan Omar.”The news agency mentioned briefly only two instances of Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks, referring to one as playing “off tropes questioning the influence of Jewish money in American politics.”Trump began tweeting Sunday about how the “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen…should go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it’s done.”The tweets were likely aimed at Democratic Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.The article explains how Omar is a refugee from Somalia who has worked her way up to become “the first Somali-American Muslim legislator in U.S. history.” It also stated that Trump “vilified” Omar and three other congresswomen after he tweeted suggesting they “go back” to their home countries.The article briefly mentions that Omar apologized to some Jewish communities after backlash from both Democrats and Republicans, and that the House of Representatives approved resolutions to “indirectly rebuke Omar.”VOA’s article avoids giving most of the reasons for Trump’s criticism of Omar, but details the aggressive commentary used by Trump in his attacks against her and other congresswomen.Omar has made several anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments, almost all of which were not reported by VOA in the article.
- UPDATE 1-Panama says withdrawing flag from tanker towed to Iran, cites violations
Panama's maritime authority said on Saturday it had begun the process of withdrawing the registration of an oil tanker called MT Riah, which was towed to Iran after it disappeared from ship tracking maps in the Strait of Hormuz on July 14. Panama began the flag withdrawal process on Friday after an investigation determined the tanker had "deliberately violated international regulations" by not reporting any unusual situation, the authority said in a statement. Panama, which has the largest shipping fleet in the world, has recently withdrawn flags from dozens of vessels, some of which were operated by Iran.
- Manhunt underway after North Carolina woman, Australian boyfriend murdered in Canada
- Ex-NRA Ad Firm: Um, Wayne LaPierre is Lying
Lucas Jackson/ReutersIn a new filing against the National Rifle Association, lawyers for ad agency Ackerman McQueen suggest that longtime NRA executive Wayne LaPierre is lying about a critical moment in the gun rights group’s recent leadership shake up. At issue is multi-million-dollar litigation between the NRA and its ex-ad firm. In court filings of its own, the NRA has alleged that Oliver North, the groups's former president, was ousted in part because he withheld information from the NRA about payments he took from Ackerman McQueen, which had served as the gun rights group’s primary ad contractor until just months ago. The NRA claims North kept the nature of his deal with Ackerman McQueen a secret from LaPierre and the gun group’s leadership. But in a July 16 filing that was reviewed by The Daily Beast, Ackerman McQueen alleges that LaPierre himself helped negotiate the deal between their firm and North. And they hint that they have documentation to prove it. In a statement, the NRA denied the suggestions. “The facts are clear – Mr. LaPierre and the NRA had no idea that Col. North was negotiating to become an employee of Ackerman McQueen,” said Andrew Arulanandam, managing director of NRA Public Affairs. “And to the extent Col. North was pushing a contrived narrative about Mr. LaPierre and the NRA, he was conflicted. He was an employee of Ackerman at the time he was allegedly scheming with the agency to unseat Mr. LaPierre.” It’s a messy new chapter in the months-long legal battle between the NRA and the ad firm it used for more than three decades. And it comes as the gun group has jettisoned senior staff and faced revolts from grassroots activists and donors. “LaPierre negotiated the terms of the North Contract directly with Lt. Col. North and a detailed term sheet was sent to AMc [Ackerman McQueen] for completion of the formal agreement,” the filing reads. The NRA’s then-treasurer, Wilson “Woody” Phillips, also reviewed and approved North’s contract with the firm, according to the filing, and the NRA board’s audit committee green-lit the contract as well. “On at least two occasions, counsel for the NRA has reviewed the North Contract,” the filing adds. NRA Pulls the Plug on NRATVAckerman McQueen’s insistence that NRA officials were aware of the contract with North is directly at odds with the contention the NRA made in a suit it filed against the ad agency in April. North was ousted from the NRA that month during the group’s annual meeting and has since accused LaPierre of gross mismanagement and making highly questionable expenditures. The NRA, meanwhile, has alleged that North tried to oust LaPierre in a coup. And in a separate suit in May, it accused Ackerman McQueen of breach of contract by leaking information about both LaPierre and the NRA’s finances. Ackerman McQueen had been a central force behind the NRA’s evolution from a gun rights group to a conservative cultural institution. As part of that mission, the ad firm helped launch and manage NRATV, the NRA’s recently shuttered internet-video arm. The NRA has alleged in court that Ackerman McQueen had refused to share its analytics with the gun group. But In its July 16 filing, Ackerman McQueen claims that the opposite is true. “Two days before the lawsuit was filed, LaPierre was in AMc’s office and was in attendance for the presentation of the NRATV analytics,” it reads. “LaPierre walked out of the meeting.” A spokesperson for the NRA’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The filing indicates that the fight between the NRA and Ackerman shows no signs of losing steam. Earlier this week, longtime NRA director of public affairs Jennifer Baker left the group. And a month ago, the group parted ways with its longtime top lobbyist, Chris Cox. 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.
- Iraq Kurds arrest two suspects in killing of Turkish vice consul
Iraqi Kurdish authorities announced Saturday they had arrested two suspects involved in the murder of three people, including a Turkish diplomat, in the regional capital Arbil this week. The autonomous region's security council first said its counterterrorism unit had arrested "the main perpetrator" Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old from Turkey's Diyarbakir region. The council had put out a wanted notice for Dag a day earlier in connection to Wednesday's killing of Turkish Vice Consul Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals.
- Pittsburgh marks its 4th alligator sighting since May
A baby alligator was found far from the tropics in the parking lot of a grocery store outside Pittsburgh on Friday morning, the fourth alligator discovered near the city since May. An employee found the 2-foot-long (60-centimeter-long) creature near a garbage can at the Giant Eagle grocery store in Shaler, about 10 miles (15 kilometers) north of Pittsburgh. "It looks like a little baby alligator," Shaler Township Police Lt. Dave Banko told the Tribune Review newspaper.
- 9-year-old girl dies after bounce house blown into power lines
- O'Rourke and de Blasio spar over 'Medicare for All'
- How the Moon Landing Was Filmed
- 2020 Vision: Democratic candidates raise funds off 'Send her back' chant at Trump rally
- Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday he had not yet decided on how to respond to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to join a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. "We've started to hear the United States' thinking on this and we want to keep listening carefully," he said on national television as votes were being counted for the upper house election. "At the same time, Japan also has friendly ties with Iran," Abe added.
- See the 2020 Chevy Corvette C8 Driving on the Road Undisguised
- Secrets: Everything You Wanted to Know About Israel's Nuclear Weapons
The Iranian nuclear nonproliferation agreement has been the top foreign policy issue throughout Washington for the past two months. Approving or disapproving the deal was the first order of business for the U.S. Congress until the very last day of congressional action under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (September 17). Hours of debate have been conducted on the floors of the House and Senate, both chambers have held roll call votes, and Senate Democrats bonded together to filibuster a motion of disapproval — a resolution that would have prevented President Obama from providing the Iranians sanctions relief.The Obama administration’s main selling point for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is based on the theory that forcing Tehran to downgrade its nuclear program will make the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East — the world’s most frenetic and violent region even without nuclear weapons— far less urgent. Yet we should remember that there is in fact a state in the region that already possesses nuclear weapons. That state happens to be Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East: Israel.(This first appeared in September 2015.)There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Israel’s nuclear arsenal. That is partly due to the Israeli security establishment’s unwritten rule of never speaking about the country’s nuclear weapons program in public in order to preserve the principle of deterrence. But there are indeed some basic elements of Israel’s nuclear program that are acknowledged by defense analysts in the United States and around the world.1. The Number is in Doubt:
- Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria
A young citizen journalist was among 11 civilians killed in air raids on Syria's Idlib region Sunday, rescue workers and a monitor said, as he filmed the Russia-backed regime bombardment of the battered enclave. Anas al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets who also contributed to AFP.
- Woman Calls 911 on Black Family Falsely Claiming They`re a Gang
- 1 killed, 4 injured when Alaska flight aborted on takeoff
A Maryland man visiting Alaska with his family was killed and one of his three children was critically injured Friday after their floatplane's takeoff was aborted. Alaska State Troopers identified the deceased man as Joseph Patenella, 57. The critically hurt child was flown to Anchorage for treatment, along with two other family members.
- More Than 20 People Detained for Attack on LGBT Parade in Poland
(Bloomberg) -- More than 20 people were detained after an attack on participants and police at the first LGBT pride parade in Bialystok in eastern Poland.Four of the people detained are suspected of offences including threatening police officers and assault, a spokesman for the regional police headquarters told Bloomberg on Sunday. Surveillance-camera footage is being used to identify further suspects, he said.Some of the 800 pride participants were spat on and kicked, footage in the local media showed. Police were also attacked with bottles and stones and one officer was wounded. Offenders will be punished, Interior Minister Elzbieta Witek said in a twitter post on Sunday.Gay rights are a polarizing issue in Poland before fall general elections. The ruling Law & Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has warned that the advancement of gay rights is a “grave danger” for family life and the future of the European Union, underscoring a departure from the EU’s liberal, multicultural mainstream.Kaczynski’s supporters have embraced his message, with about 30 cities, mostly in the former communist country’s poorer eastern regions, adopting declarations saying they’re “free from LGBT ideology” and opposing “social engineering that’s foreign to Polish culture and natural order.” The pro-government Gazeta Polska weekly is now planning to distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers to its readers.To contact the reporter on this story: Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at email@example.com, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Lawmaker describes 'unacceptable' border detention conditions, meets with US citizen in Border Patrol custody
- Ilhan Omar and ‘Send Her Back’
‘Send her back!” they chanted, meaning Representative Ilhan Omar, the Somalia-born Jew-hating weirdo elected to Congress by the ghastly fruitcakes who run things in Minneapolis. President Donald J. Trump, elected president by the ghastly nut cutlets who run things in much of the rest of the country, basked in the chant, glowing like a gopher sauntering forth from Chernobyl — he was, in effect, hearing his own daft words shouted back at him ecstatically, and he has a real weakness for that sort of thing.Much has been made about whether the episode and Trump’s words inspiring it were racist; my own view is that Donald Trump is incapable of being a racist in the traditional sense of that word, because racism is derived from a perverted and misapplied sense of loyalty, a sentiment from which President Trump is manifestly immune. What is more interesting — and more troubling — is what the exchange says about our eroding sense of citizenship.The American Revolution was the process by which our Founding Fathers elevated themselves from subjects to citizens, and citizenship is the foundation of the American identity. You can become an American because you can become a citizen — you can move to Poland or China, but you cannot become Polish or Chinese, no matter how long you live there, no matter how the state classifies you, no matter how well you learn the language, even if you make a really mean bigos or niu za tang. America is not an idea or a collection of documents, but neither is it a closed ethnolinguistic set. It is a nation in which relations among the people and between the individual and the state are defined by the terms of citizenship.Citizenship is a precious thing. To be a citizen is more dignified and more honorable than to be a subject. When the Romans lost their republic and slid into empire, it was not democracy they were losing — they never suffered from that particular superstition — but their status as citizens. There were things the Roman state could not do to a Roman citizen — crucifixion, for example. The state had to respect the citizen because the citizen was the building block out of which the republic was built. The conversion of the Roman republic into an empire under god-emperors was a catastrophe for the Roman citizen — not only politically but also culturally and spiritually and, eventually, economically. God-emperors are not traditionally real big on property rights and due process.The idea that Ilhan Omar could — even as a matter of mass-dunderhead rhetoric — be treated as a non-citizen because the president and his admirers do not like her politics (which are quite unlikeable) does violence to the idea of citizenship per se. In that much, it is fundamentally and literally un-American.It is not the worst act of violence committed against the concept of citizenship in recent years: That particular distinction belongs to Barack Obama, who unilaterally arrogated to himself (and his successors!) the power to order the extrajudicial killing of American citizens in conditions that, once the legalistic mumbo-jumbo is penetrated, amount to “whenever and wherever the president damned well feels like it.” In principle and as a matter of citizenship, there is no meaningful difference between Barack Obama’s ordering the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki — “the Osama bin Laden of Facebook,” they called him — and Donald Trump’s (hypothetically) ordering the assassination of a political critic in Reno. The pretext of “national security” will cover a multitude of sins.Ilhan Omar became a U.S. citizen when she was a teenager. (As Jake Tapper wryly points out, she has been a citizen longer than the president’s wife has.) Maybe it was a mistake to let her into the club — I am open to the argument that we should be far choosier about whom we offer the honor and dignity of American citizenship. I might even ask some pointed political questions: Are you a Communist? Are you a Jew-hating weirdo? But we didn’t do that. Ilhan Omar is a citizen and must be dealt with as one.“Oh, they’re just being puckish!” comes the inevitable response. “It’s a high-spirited response to how genuinely awful Ilhan Omar is! They’re just trolling the Democrats and the media!” That may be the fact, in which case — grow the hell up. Ideas have consequences, even half-formed and half-understood ones.“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” So said Abraham Lincoln in much more difficult times than these. We should resist the urge to treat our presidents as god-emperors, but Lincoln testifies to the fact that presidential words matter.Alas, so does Donald Trump.
- Irish, EU governments sound out Johnson to avoid no-deal Brexit: Sunday Times
Ahead of Boris Johnson's likely election next week as Britain's prime minister, EU countries are secretly wooing him in a bid to thrash out a new Brexit plan that would avoid a no-deal disaster, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. German and French figures as well as the Dutch and Belgian governments have also established contact with Johnson's team and signaled an intention to do a deal, it added. In a limited extract released on Saturday evening ahead of publication, the paper reported that Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has indicated Dublin is prepared to compromise.
- US heatwave: National Weather Service bakes biscuits inside hot car in safety warning about leaving children or pets
The National Weather Service has baked biscuits inside a hot car, in a safety message about the peril of leaving children or pets inside a vehicle.As a heatwave takes grip of large swathe of the US, with up to 200m people expected to be affected by a heat index of up to 115f degrees (46c), the officials performed the experiment inside a car in Nebraska to show how hot vehicles can become when left unattended. To demonstrate the dangers, the NWS staff set about baking the biscuits in the city of Omaha, using only heat from the sun.“If you are wondering if it’s going to be hot today, we are attempting to bake biscuits using only the sun and a car in our parking lot,” NWS Omaha said on Twitter. “We will keep you posted with the progress.”CNN said four biscuits were placed on a baking sheet on the dashboard of a car and left to sit in the sun. After 60 minutes, the pan had reached 175.2f (80c) and the tops of the biscuits reached 153f. The back seat registered 120.4f in the shade.It said, four hours later, the tops of the biscuits were nearly finished baking, but the bottoms remained doughy.The car had to be turned around to adjust for the changing angle of the sun.> Biscuits are starting to get a slightly golden tinge to them. pic.twitter.com/ptL24RHQfs> > — NWS Omaha (@NWSOmaha) > > July 18, 2019The experiment was carried out to warn people about the dangers of leaving children or pets inside vehicles, even for for a short period of time. US summers frequently come with stories of tragic deaths as a result of a toddler or baby being left in a car.CBS News said six people had died in connection with the heat – four people in Maryland, one in Arizona, and another in Arkansas.Several events were cancelled in New York City, including OZY Fest and the NYC Triathlon.The NWS said the east coast and midwest are likely to see temperatures in the upper 90s, combined with high humidity. Experts are urging people to limit their time outside and drink lots of water. Cities in Vermont and New Hampshire are opening shelters where people can cool off. Some power outages have been reported in Philadelphia and after storms in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Police in Braintree, Massachusetts, asked residents “to hold off” all criminal activity until the extreme heat is over.“Folks. Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday,” the department wrote on Facebook. “It is straight up hot as soccer balls out there. Conducting criminal activity, in this extreme heat is next level henchmen status, and also very dangerous.”Additional reporting by Associated Press
- Will Taiwan Get the New F-16V Fighters It Desperately Wants?
On July 8, the U.S. State Department announced it would approve a $2.2 billion arms deal with Taiwan including 108 Abrams main battle tanks and 250 Stinger man-portable surface-to-air missiles—a deal which elicited new sanctions from Beijing on the companies involved. But the announcement was more notable for what the approval didn’t include—a nearly done-deal for sixty-six F-16V jet fighters built fresh off the F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina.This would have been the first sale of new Western combat jets to Taiwan since 1992—a fact not unrelated to Beijing’s claims that sales of jet fighters to the “renegade province” constitute a redline.This stance caused three prior U.S. presidents to shy away from additional jet sales, but from the beginning, the Trump administration has proven consistently willing to disregard Beijing’s sensitivities regarding Taiwan. The absence of the F-16V deal from the July 8 approval was likely linked to U.S.-China negotiations to end a simmering trade war. Perhaps the Trump administration delayed or canceled the F-16V approval to avoid sabotaging the talks, or is withholding the jets as a possible bargaining chip to extract concessions from Beijing.For now, the deal’s fate remains uncertain as Taipei and its allies in Congress lobby strongly for it to proceed.Taiwan’s Precarious Status
- Ramush Haradinaj, Kosovo's 'Rambo' ex-PM and Serbian antagonist
Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned as Kosovo's prime minister on Friday, is hailed as a hero at home -- where he is nicknamed "Rambo" -- but considered a war criminal by Belgrade, which has long sought to see him behind bars. The controversial 51-year-old, who was a wartime commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), stepped down after being summoned as a suspect by a war crimes court in the Hague. It is the second time he has resigned after being called before a war crimes court over crimes allegedly committed by the ethnic Albanian KLA separatists during the 1998-99 war.
- The Return of the Godfather: The Old Mafia Is New Again
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyROME–Five fleshy, bare-chested men in tight swimsuits on a dinghy doesn’t normally garner much attention in the bay of Palermo, Sicily. But it did last August when American mobster Thomas Gambino, 47, and Italian mafioso Tomasso Inzerillo, 72, were among those on board. They were overheard discussing how to divvy up the profits from the suspicious sale of Caribbean property that New York-based Gambino crime family boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali had recently unloaded. Hitman Handed License Plate to Mob Boss Before Shooting Him to DeathItalian investigators working with the FBI had planted bugs to catch anything they might say. Now, finally, the joint operation had a solid lead to a connection between the once omnipotent American crime family and the power-hungry Sicilian clan.Central command for the joint operation sent officers to the Dominican Republic and redoubled their surveillance in New York and Sicily, launching the investigation dubbed “New Connection” that netted 19 men in raids of both crime syndicates this week in Palermo, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. Among those arrested in Italy was Thomas Gambino who happened to be back in Sicily for a “family vacation.”The police used WhatsApp, the encrypted international messaging service, to launch the raids. “In Palermo, it’s 3am, and muggy. In New York, it’s 9pm and looks like it might rain,” the Palermo anti-mafia police said at a press conference about the arrests. “A WhatsApp message is sent to the joint squad. It’s the sign the Italian police and their FBI colleagues have been waiting for because from Sicily to the U.S., the old Mafia has returned.”What the cops uncovered during the investigation that led to this week’s arrests was a growing link between the Sicilian and New York mobs that centered on money laundering, drugs and extortion. At one point in phone taps over the last year Gambino can be heard telling his Sicilian counterparts, “We can definitely do business here,” according to police transcripts seen by The Daily Beast. But the criminal collaboration—and the joint Italian-FBI investigation—was nearly thrown into chaos when Cali was gunned down in front of his Staten Island, New York, home last March. In the hours after the hit, investigators on both sides of the Atlantic were concerned that it could have been a Sicilian mobster warning the American clan to stay away. But as it turned out Cali was gunned down by a Donald Trump-supporting MAGA flunky, Anthony Comello, who allegedly just wanted to date his daughter.“It was a huge relief that it was so random,” an Italian anti-Mafia investigator told The Daily Beast.The Boss of Bosses Dies. Will Sicily’s Mafia Turn to the U.S. for Leadership?Cali, who was born in Sicily and married into the Inzerillo family at a young age, was known as the “Ambassador” between clans in New York and Palermo. He was the tie that bound the Gambino crime family and the Cosa Nostra’s once powerful Inzerillo clan, and police waited to find out what his death ultimately would mean. With Cali’s support from America, the Inzerillo family was on a trajectory back to power after the boss of bosses Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina died in prison in late 2017. In the 1980s, before his arrest, Riina launched what is known as the Second Mafia War, ordering deadly hits on the heads of the strongest Palermo crime families who threatened his dictatorial power. Among those he killed was the then-powerful Palermo crime boss Salvatore Inzerillo, whose family then fled in self-imposed exile to New York. While in the States, investigators say, the Inzerillo mobsters worked covertly with the Gambino crime family to line their pockets and help fund their return to power in Sicily one day—all the while allegedly promising the Gambino crime family its due reward for the help. Riina was serving out several life sentences in solitary confinement when he died, but he still held sway among the Cosa Nostra’s fractious clans, and he still wanted all the Inzerillos dead. Riina’s death finally provided the opening the Inzerillos had been waiting for to make a grab for power. Several Gambino crime family members had already moved to Palermo permanently after Riina’s death to reap the benefits of the close ties that were sure to come with the Inzerillo clan’s return to power. It was all going to plan until “Franky Boy” Cali was killed. “It could have gone either way, they could have severed ties or made them stronger in his memory,” the anti-Mafia police source said. “In the end they worked harder ‘for Franky’.”The merged clans soon strengthened their hold on companies dealing with wholesale food supplies, gambling outlets and online betting through which they engaged in extortion, loan sharking and money laundering. More than a dozen businesses, from casinos to car dealerships in Sicily and New York state, were sequestered as part of the “New Connection” joint operation. “The investigation has registered the strong bond established between Cosa Nostra of Palermo and U.S. organized crime, with particular reference to the powerful Gambino crime family of New York,” Italian investigating prosecutor Roberto Tartaglia said in a statement after this week’s arrests. “Those Riina wanted dead were creating a special link between Palermo and New York.”Even with the 19 arrests, no one assumes the battle against organized crime is over. “They were the losers who ran away so they wouldn’t be killed by Riina,” Palermo police commissioner Renato Cortese said when he announced the arrests. “They continue to be losers.” 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.
- Baby's family mad about hospital bills in cut-from-womb case
A Chicago-area hospital says it regrets sending bills to the family of a baby boy who died about seven weeks after attackers cut him from his mother's womb. Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn sent bills for Yovanny Lopez's care that totaled about $300,000, said the family's lawyer, Frank Avila. Some bills even referred to Yovanny as "Figueroa, boy" — the last name of Clarisa Figueroa, who is accused of orchestrating the attack on the baby's mother so that she could claim him as her own.
- Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Looks Like a Winner. But Is He a Leader?
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party, Servant of the People, is set to win Sunday’s parliamentary election, gaining a near-majority that would hand the novice president more power than his predecessor enjoyed. What Zelenskiy is going to do with it is largely still a mystery.Ukraine’s constitution places the responsibility for forming the cabinet in the parliament’s hands. This means Zelenskiy, elected in April on promises of draining the political and bureaucratic swamp, has had his hands tied so far: The outgoing parliament, which he dismissed soon after taking office in May in order to hold an early election, has been hostile to him. (Because Servant of the People was registered only last year, it had no sitting members of the legislative body.) Zelenskiy, for example, got into a public row with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who failed to consult him as he continued former President Petro Poroshenko’s rigid, unproductive line in the matter of freeing 24 Ukrainian sailors held captive in Russia. The president has been unable to get the parliament to dismiss Klimkin.So Zelenskiy, a former comedian and TV producer, focused on running his party’s election campaign rather than trying to govern. His approach was two-pronged: Proving to voters that he’s going to be relentlessly demanding of Ukraine's bureaucracy and political class and showing that he’s willing and able to de-escalate the conflict with Russia.To the former end, he traveled around Ukraine and spoke harshly with various officials. In Boryspil, a small city just east of Kiev, he kicked a city council official out of a meeting, denouncing him as a “highwayman” and a “devil.” “Do you consider me an idiot?” he asked Oleksandr Vlasov, head of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service during a meeting in Odessa before asking for his resignation. (Vlasov resigned, though Zelenskiy had no power to fire him). In the industrial city of Zaporizhzhya, he made the mayor promise to resign if an important bridge isn’t fixed by October 15.These fireworks have been somewhat reminiscent of Nikita Khrushchev, who once ran Soviet Ukraine and then the entire Soviet Union with similar brio; or of Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of neighboring Belarus. But, in the context of a campaign, it was probably the best way for Zelenskiy to show he is holding true to his promise of renewal. To boost the message, Zelenskiy proposed that top officials and state company bosses from the Poroshenko presidency be “lustrated” – banned from government jobs. Ukraine’s anticorruption agencies, meanwhile, have taken a sudden interest in businesses close to Poroshenko and his team; officially, Zelenskiy has nothing to do with that.Negating Poroshenko’s showy militarism was the other pillar of Zelenskiy’s campaign. He canceled the Independence Day military parade in August, one of his predecessor’s favorite events, and ordered that its cost of $11.5 million be paid out as bonuses to troops. And he worked hard to engineer a big prisoner exchange with Russia, something Poroshenko was loath to do, insisting that the Kremlin unconditionally release dozens of Ukrainians held in Russia on various political charges.At the time of this writing, the exchange hadn't occurred, but significant steps had been taken to make it possible. Swallowing his pride, Zelenskiy called Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 11 to discuss the issue. The two countries’ human rights commissioners, Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Denisova and Russsia’s Tatyana Moskalkova, met in Moscow to exchange lists of prisoners. The Ukrainian list included the 24 sailors taken prisoner by Russia last year when their vessels tried to break through to the Sea of Azov port of Mariupol past a de facto Russian blockade. (This request earned Zelenskiy some criticism, since an international maritime tribunal had ruled that Russia should free rather than exchange them. ) On Wednesday, however, a Russian court extended their detention another three months.Whether the prisoner exchange takes place in the coming days or not, Zelenskiy has succeeded in showing Ukrainians that, though he has no intention of surrendering to Putin, he’s focused on negotiating rather than simply relying on Western support or nurturing vain hopes of an eventual military victory. That reinforces his earlier, popular promises to work toward ending the war with Russian-backed separatists.All this activity has kept Servant of the People’s support steadily above 40 percent in an overwhelming majority of polls. No other party has been polling more than 12 percent. Poroshenko’s European Solidarity Party has failed to get much traction, and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland and rock singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s Voice parties appear destined to play bit parts in the next parliament unless Zelenskiy needs their support to form a majority coalition. Even if that occurs, their rewards still won’t be huge, given their low support levels. Essentially, Zelenskiy has owned the campaign on the national level. The only likely surprises can come from first-past-the-post constituencies, which fill half the parliament. That system leaves the old elites a chance to hold on to some political influence, and Servant of the People’s candidates in some localities appear weak compared with the political veterans and business tycoons running against them.Nonetheless, Zelenskiy has a shot at near-dictatorial powers. So far, he’s given little indication of what he might do with them, and there’s no unity even among his closest advisers on how soft or how tough a stance Ukraine must take with Russia and its own Russian-speaking population. The world has only really seen Zelenskiy the politician in campaign mode. He’s been impressive – but he’s still a wild card as Zelenskiy the leader.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Kentucky host Matt Jones yanked amid speculation he'll challenge Mitch McConnell
- 10 Surprising Moon Facts! (That Were Totally Wrong)
- Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin complains about current U.S. lunar ability
When President Donald Trump asked Buzz Aldrin, the second human ever to walk on the moon, what he thought about the United States' current ability to operate in space 50 years after the Apollo 11 mission, the ex-astronaut had a ready response. "Actually, I've been a little disappointed over the last 10 or 15 years," Aldrin told Trump on Friday. With the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing being celebrated this week, Trump brought into the Oval Office the surviving astronauts from that mission, Aldrin and Michael Collins, and relatives of the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
- Lawsuit: North Dakota officers used 'violence' on protester
Marcus Mitchell, 24, filed the lawsuit Thursday against Morton County, the city of Bismarck and state Highway Patrol officers. Highway Patrol spokesman Wade Kadrmas declined comment, citing pending litigation. A Morton County official didn't immediately respond to the Bismarck Tribune's request for comment Thursday.
- Man arrested after allegedly raping 4-year-old girl in McDonald's play area bathroom
- North Korea slams Japan over its trade spat with Seoul
North Korea's state media has slammed Japan for its recent trade restrictions against Seoul over wartime slavery disputes, accusing Tokyo of "destroying the trend of peace" on the Korean peninsula. After South Korea's high court ordered Japanese firms that used forced labour to compensate Korean victims, Tokyo earlier this month restricted the export of several chemicals to South Korea that are crucial to its world-leading chip and smartphone companies. South Korea's left-leaning President Moon Jae-in, who favours engagement with Pyongyang, has said Tokyo's actions are "politically motivated" and have caused an "unprecedented emergency" for Seoul's export-driven economy.
- School Board Votes to Paint Over George Washington Mural In San Francisco
The San Francisco Board of Education unanimously voted last month in favor of painting over a George Washington mural series on a school wall depicting Washington standing over a Native American’s corpse and another in the company of slaves on his Mount Vernon estate.“This is reparations,” Education Board Commissioner Mark Sanchez said in a KQED report when asked about the estimated $600,000 price tag for its removal. It could reportedly take a year to complete. The 1,600-square-foot mural series titled “Life of Washington” was painted on San Francisco’s George Washington High School in 1936 by a Russian-American artist and Stanford University art professor Victor Arnautoff.It was funded by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration and shows a variety of scenes from Washington’s life. School district spokeswoman Laura Dudnick confirmed that although only two mural pieces stand out as offensive to members of the community, the board’s decision would apply to all 13 panels of the mural. School board members had to decide whether to cover and preserve the painting using panels or textile, or completely erase it by painting over it. Buckling under pressure from those who find the images offensive to certain members of the school community, the board decided to paint over it. Advocates for removing the mural included local high school students, George Washington High School graduates, and Native Americans.
- The Mystical Megachurch Ruling Over Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe’s Hometown
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyIn the hours after Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s World Cup victory, the footballer celebrated on Instagram with a photo of her hometown paper, the Record Searchlight. The caption read: “Hometown love is the best kind of love.” Rapinoe grew up in the small logging town of Redding, California, and has maintained a close relationship with the community. She runs spring soccer clinics, regularly comes home for the annual Redding Rodeo, and even spearheaded a fundraiser after the Carr Fire destroyed several local homes. In the past, the town has celebrated their homegrown celebrity: in 2015, Redding declared July 21 “Megan Rapinoe Day,” named a street in her honor, and changed the address of their soccer field to “15 Rapinoe Way,” after her jersey number. But Redding’s relationship with Rapinoe has grown uneasy. In a recent Record Searchlight letter to the editor, a resident called the soccer player “a selfish unpatriotic bigot and a total disgrace to our national team.” In a follow-up article, an ex-firefighter told the Searchlight he “hope[s] she breaks her legs.” As a general rule, Redding skews conservative. Shasta County, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa in the House, is one of the most solidly red counties in California—roughly 64 percent of local voters are registered Republicans and in 2016, the county turned out overwhelmingly for Trump, including Rapinoe’s father. In June, when Rapinoe kneeled during the National Anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, she irked many of her old neighbors. That sentiment compounded when Rapinoe announced she would not go to the White House if she won the World Cup, and joined the roster of public figures singled out on the president’s Twitter. “The team being invited to the White House, Americas house, is an honor,” said Karen Margrave, a Redding realtor who first expressed her anger on Facebook. “It doesn’t matter whether or not you like the President, you’re representing Americas Soccer Team! Everything doesn’t have to be political.”How ‘Walking Protest’ Megan Rapinoe Became U.S. Soccer’s Middle Finger to TrumpRapinoe’s international celebrity has put Redding and its political fault lines in the spotlight. But the politics of Redding are complicated beyond simple party affiliations, in part because the town is also home to another divisive, wildly successful, cultural claim to fame: the Bethel Church. The multimillion-dollar revivalist megachurch has stirred controversy in Rapinoe’s hometown and throughout the religious world for its embrace of consumerist Christianity, extensive gay conversion therapy programs (Rapinoe is an out lesbian), and semi-mystical practices. Bethel members believe that miracles can occur on earth, and YouTube is filled with footage of their efforts: from faith healing, to “fire tunneling” (where members form a “tunnel” with two lines and speak in tongues to people passing through), to “grave sucking”—where someone lies on a grave to “suck up” the dead person’s blessings. Bethel wields immense local influence: of Redding’s 90,000 residents, 11,233 are Bethel members, according to a report from northern California magazine A News Cafe. They maintain an extensive media presence—including a TV subscription service with 19,000 subscribers, two weekly podcasts with downloads in the millions, several well-attended annual conferences, and a music production arm with multiple chart-topping hits. (Justin Bieber is a fan; last year, he covered one of their singles, “Reckless Love”). Media and product sales alone earned Bethel some $23 million last year, according to A News Cafe, but the registered “nonprofit” organization also generates income from a K-8 academy called Bethel Christian School, an online and summer program called WorshipU, the Bethel School of Technology, the Bethel Conservatory of the Arts, and recently announced plans for the Bethel Business School. Most famously: they operate the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where each year some 2,000 students pay $12,050 to study at the unaccredited three-year seminary, also known as “Christian Hogwarts.”Bethel plays a unique role in the political landscape of Redding. The town’s mayor, Julie Winter, serves on Bethel’s Board of Elders and the church—which reported earnings of $60.8 million last fiscal year, in an area with a $46,389 median income—has funded several city initiatives. In 2011, when Redding considered closing its civic auditorium for financial reasons, Bethel offered to lease and manage it for the town, putting in some $1 million for repairs and paying an annual rent of $750,000, according to a press release from last year. In 2017, when the police force faced budget cuts, Bethel donated $500,000 to the unit, and then an additional $740,000 to pay the salaries of four officers. Just months later, the council unanimously voted to approve construction for a new, $96-million church campus, despite widespread local concern. As an enthusiastic article in Zôcalo Public Square put it: “Bethel’s engagement with Redding is big and broad, touching almost every aspect of civic life.”The church’s strengthening grip on the town has bred suspicion and resentment among non-Bethel residents which far exceeds any angst over Megan Rapinoe. Spokespeople for the Bethel Church, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, Bethel President Bill Johnson and Bethel Senior Associate Leader Kris Valloton declined to speak with The Daily Beast for this story. In a statement provided by email, a Bethel representative wrote: “We celebrate the US Women’s Soccer Team’s historic fourth win of the World Cup and join in applauding our hometown’s talented athlete, Megan Rapinoe, and the success she has achieved on the world stage!”The roots of Bethel date back to 1954, when the church opened in Redding as an affiliate of a Pentecostal congregation called the Assemblies of God. For years, Bethel existed as a modest offshoot. That changed in 1996, when a pastor named Bill Johnson signed on to lead the ministry. According to Johnson’s personal biography, he accepted the job on a single condition: “I was born for revival and would pursue revival—this was not negotiable.” Once he took over, the church began to grow and, as Johnson put it, “to see many healings including multiple cases of cancer healed.” In 1998, Johnson and an auto repairman-turned-prophet named Kris Vallotton opened the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. The goal, according to an alumni report, was to “equip and deploy revivalists who passionately pursue worldwide transformation in their God-given spheres of influence.” The first class had 36 students; by 2010, there were 1,500. Now, the school boasts more than 10,000 alumni. Creative CommonsMuch of the local resentment toward Bethel involves their practice of “faith healing,” or the belief that physical ailments can be cured by prayer. According to Redding residents, it’s common for Bethel members to approach pedestrians and offer to help with minor ailments. “They stop you and ask to pray for something that they think is wrong with you,” said Nathan Blaze, a 15-year Redding resident and the administrator of two Redding-themed meme pages: “Redding Be Like” and “Bethel Memes.” But Bethel members direct faith healing at more serious and permanent conditions. Will Smith, a former Bethel member who lives in the Bay Area, said congregants often approach his friend’s son, who lives with cerebral palsy, offering to cure his illness—a gesture the child and his parents find distressing. Faith healers believe all health concerns are curable with enough effort, from cancer to HIV to actually being dead—Bethel maintains something called a “Dead Raising Team.” In a survey of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry alumni from 2018, graduates claimed to have healed 50,000 people since last year, “including several dead raisings!” It’s a practice that secular citizens have found traumatic: In 2008, a Shasta County man sued a Bethel student over an accident which left him paraplegic. The man claimed she had pushed him off a cliff and, upon thinking he had died, attempted to faith heal him rather than call 9-1-1 (a judge later ruled in favor or the student).Still, the practice continued. On January 2, 2014, a 15-year-old boy named Orian LeBlanc suffered from an asthma attack and collapsed in the street. A Bethel student named Andrea Martin found his body. According to the boy’s grandmother, Donna Zibull, doctors said LeBlanc was still alive when she found him—he had passed out from lack of oxygen and cardiac arrest. But in a post on Facebook, Martin claimed the boy had already died and that after she’d prayed, paramedics had revived him. LeBlanc spent six days in the hospital in a vegetative state before passing away on January 8, 2014. According to Zibull, the Dead Raising Team visited him there and spent four days chanting, speaking in tongues, claiming they saw God in the room, and promising his mother Orian would come back. “I know it’s a hard call for anyone to come upon that situation, but afterwards, the Bethel lady brought several people up to [Orian’s] room,” Zibull said. “They were up there for like four days, trying to revive him... It got too out of control. We had to just ban them from the room.” After her grandson’s death, Zibull got involved with a small group of Redding residents and started a Facebook page called “Concerned Citizens About Bethel.” They started with about 40 people, but the group quickly grew to several thousand members. In 2017, Zibull took over the group and renamed it “Investigating Bethel.” Zibull held meetings, passed out stickers, and scheduled protests around Bethel’s faith healing conferences. The group began keeping count of local businesses owned by Bethel members. And they started getting concerned about an idea at the crux of the church’s ideology: the “Seven Mountain Mandate.”Megan Rapinoe of the USA celebrates after scoring during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match between France and USA at Parc des Princes on June 28, 2019, in Paris, France.Richard Heathcote/GettyThe “Seven Mountain Mandate” is the belief, held across several Pentacostal and Charismatic movements, that in order for Jesus to return to earth, churches must influence and infiltrate the seven major pillars of society: government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, religion, and business. In the book The Rise of Network Christianity, which includes deep investigations into Bethel’s practices and ideology, Brad Christerson and Richard Flory claim that the goal of the mandate is to radically transform cities, ethnic groups, and nations as opposed to just individuals. “If Christians permeate each mountain and rise to the top of all seven mountains,” they write, “society would have biblical morality, people would live in harmony, there would be peace and not war, there would be no poverty.”It’s a stance that helps explain Bethel’s investment in producing their own media, opening schools, sponsoring local arts, and expanding local businesses. It also is why Zibull, Blaze, Smith and others grew concerned over the church’s role in local and national politics. Colton Redwine, a former Bethel student who was dismissed from the school after coming out as gay, pointed to the church’s political track record on legislation related to homosexuality, which it opposes and believes can be altered with conversion therapy. In 2018, Bethel came down hard against three bills in the California state legislature: AB 1779, AB 2119 and AB 2943, which aimed to restrict gay conversion in California, including prohibiting licensed mental health officials from offering conversion therapies. The church released statements and sent letters to legislators opposing the bills. In a live-streamed lecture called “What Would Jesus Do In A PC World?,” Bethel’s second-in-command, Kris Vallotton, urged the congregation to reach out to officials and get the bills withdrawn. When Redding residents led a protest rally, Vallotton walked back his comments, but maintained opposition to the bills. Smith, a former Bethel member, said he left the church after its president, Bill Johnson, and his wife, Beni Johnson, made public statements of support for Trump following the 2016 election, citing their opposition to abortion, “open border policies,” welfare, same-sex marriage, socialism, and higher taxes, among other things. “I had always picked up on little subtle conservative points in their sermons, but it didn’t bother me,” Smith said. “It was really around 2016, when Trump started becoming a big figure in the election, that my thoughts on Bethel started to change. People call Megan Rapinoe political, but it became clear to me that they were very politically motivated.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Venezuela Claims U.S. Military Aircraft Violated Its Airspace
(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. intelligence aircraft flew over Venezuelan airspace on Friday in “a clear provocation” and in violation of international treaties, officials with President Nicolas Maduro‘s defense ministry said.The alleged incident may further roil Washington-Caracas relations at a time Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is visiting Latin America, and as a summit of so-called anti-imperialist countries is held in Venezuela’s capital.The U.S. military aircraft entered local airspace over the Caribbean in a one-hour flight in breach of international treaties until it was pursued by the Venezuelan air force, according to defense officials.The flight occurred around midday local time on Friday and created a safety risk for commercial aircraft in the vicinity of Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Twitter.Venezuela identified the U.S. plane as an “EP-3E Aries II, a four-engine, low-wing aircraft, intelligence and electronic warfare, which uses state-of-the-art equipment to penetrate and interfere with communication systems.”Maduro’s government on Saturday started a two-day summit of the Non Aligned Movement, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in attendance. At the same time, Pompeo was in Ecuador, where he met with President Lenin Moreno, and will travel on Sunday to Mexico and Honduras.U.S. military officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. has been trying to coalesce support around National Assembly leader Juan Guaido since he declared himself Venezuela’s interim president in late January. More than 50 countries now support Guaido and the U.S. regularly announces new sanctions against Maduro and his associates.To contact the reporter on this story: Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at email@example.com, Ros Krasny, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Baby born on 7-Eleven Day at 7:11 p.m., weighs 7 lbs., 11 oz., gets 7-Eleven college fund
- Mother wrongly diagnosed with breast cancer has double mastectomy before doctors realise their mistake
A mother who was wrongly diagnosed with breast cancer underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy before the NHS hospital realised its mistake. Sarah Boyle has been left traumatised after doctors at Royal Stoke University Hospital misdiagnosed her with triple negative breast cancer at the end of 2016. The hospital only recognised the error several months later in July 2017, by which time the 28-year-old had already received several rounds of gruelling treatment and major surgery. The mother of two also had to cope with the knowledge that the breast implants may put her at added risk of developing cancer. Her lawyers said the mistake occurred because a biopsy sample was incorrectly recorded. Mrs Boyle has suffered psychological trauma as a result the ordeal and also continues to endure ongoing symptoms caused by the unnecessary treatment. She was initially told that her cancer treatment may harm her fertility. The patient was ultimately able to have a second child, who is now seven months old, but she was unable to breastfeed him due to the treatment. The trust has since admitted liability and apologised to Mrs Boyle, although legal proceedings are continuing. "The past few years have been incredibly difficult for me and my family,” she said. "Being told I had cancer was awful, but then to go through all of the treatment and surgery to then be told it was unnecessary was traumatising. "And while I was delighted when I gave birth to Louis, it was really heartbreaking when I couldn't breastfeed him.” "As if that wasn't bad enough, I am now worried about the possibility of actually developing cancer in the future because of the type of implants I have and I am also worried about complications that I may face because of my chemotherapy.” Mrs Boyle worries her breast implants may increase her future cancer risk Credit: SWNS The case emerged weeks after health chiefs warned that 11,000 patients a year may be dying as a result of NHS blunders. A new strategy was unveiled last month with an aim of saving 1,000 lives a year within five years by ensuring all staff, however, junior, are trained to act if they spot risks. Mrs Boyle was aged 25 when she was misdiagnosed. She was later informed by her treating doctor, Mr Sankaran Narayanan, that her biopsy had been incorrectly reported and that she did not have cancer. Sarah Sharples, from Irwin Mitchell solicitors, which is representing Mrs Boyle, said: "This is a truly shocking case in which a young mother has faced heartbreaking news and a gruelling period of extensive treatment, only to be told that it was not necessary. "The entire experience has had a huge impact on Sarah in many ways. "While we welcome that the NHS Trust has admitted to the clear failings, we are yet to hear if any improvements have been put in place to prevent something like this happening again. "We are also deeply concerned following reports surrounding the type of implants Sarah has, with suspicions over their potential link to a rare form of cancer. A spokesman from the University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust said: “A misdiagnosis of this kind is exceptionally rare and we understand how devastating this has been for Sarah and her family. He added: “Ultimately the misreporting of the biopsy was a human error so as an extra safeguard all invasive cancer diagnoses are now reviewed by a second pathologist.” The trust said it had shared the findings of its investigation with Mrs Boyle.
- Brazil alerted companies about U.S. embargo on Iran: Bolsonaro
The Brazilian government has been alerting local companies about the extent of sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran and the possible consequences in case of noncompliance, President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday. "There is this problem, the U.S. unilaterally imposed these sanctions on Iran. Brazilian companies have been informed by us about this situation and are running a risk there," Bolsonaro told reporters.
- Taiwan says it will treat Hong Kong asylum seekers humanely
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she would follow "humanitarian principles" in dealing with asylum seekers from Hong Kong, which has been roiled by pro-democracy protests. Tsai made the comments after Radio Free Asia reported that more than a dozen protesters from Hong Kong have fled to Taiwan.
- Explosion in popularity of hemp products leaves Texas unable to bust marijuana users
Texas politicians thought they were clear: the bill they overwhelmingly passed allowing the growth and sale of hemp had nothing to do with legalising cannabis.“This is no slippery slope towards marijuana,” Charles Perry, a Republican state senator who sponsored the bill, said in May, according to The Dallas Morning News.But since Greg Abbott signed the measure into law in June, county prosecutors around Texas have been dropping some marijuana possession charges and declining to file new ones, saying they do not have the time or the laboratory equipment needed to distinguish between legal hemp and illegal marijuana.Collectively, the prosecutors’ jurisdictions cover more than 9 million people — about a third of Texas’ population — including in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.The accidental leniency represents one of the unintended consequences states may face as they race to cash in on the popularity of products made with or from hemp.Interest has surged in oils, gummies and other goods infused with CBD, or cannabidiol, which is processed from cannabis plants but does not produce a psychoactive effect.The police and prosecutors in Florida are facing the same problem as their Texan colleagues after the Sunshine State legalised hemp in July.“This is not just Texas,” said Peter Stout, president of the Houston Forensic Science Centre, which runs tests for the Houston Police Department and other agencies.“Everybody is struggling with this.”In Texas, prosecutors have already dropped scores of possession cases, and they’re not just throwing out misdemeanours.The Travis County district attorney, Margaret Moore, announced this month that she was dismissing 32 felony possession and delivery of marijuana cases because of the law.Ms Abbott and other state officials, including the attorney general, pushed back on Thursday, saying prosecutors should not be dropping cases because of the new legislation, known as H.B. 1325.“Marijuana has not been decriminalised in Texas, and these actions demonstrate a misunderstanding of how H.B. 1325 works,” the officials, all Republicans, wrote in a letter to prosecutors.Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney and a Democrat, shot back by saying that laboratory confirmation “has long been required” to prove someone’s guilt.Before the legislation went into effect, laboratories had to identify hairs on marijuana flowers and test for the presence of cannabinoids, a process that required just a few minutes and a test strip that turned purple when it was positive.Because the new law distinguishes between hemp and illicit marijuana, prosecutors say labs would now be required to determine the concentration of THC in the seized substance.Mr Stout said he has been able to identify only two labs in the country that can make the fine distinction necessary and that are accredited in Texas. Both of them are private.Prosecutors would need to pay the labs to run the tests — sometimes hundreds of dollars for each sample — and to testify about the results at trial.Sending all of the state’s suspected marijuana to a small number of labs would likely overwhelm them, prosecutors have said, and would result in severe backlogs.Still, many prosecutors agree with the governor and are continuing to charge and prosecute marijuana cases as usual.The district attorney in El Paso, Jaime Esparza, a Democrat, said this month that the law “will not have an effect on the prosecution of marijuana cases in El Paso” and a spokeswoman confirmed that he had not thrown out any cases because of the law.The sudden dismissals in other districts have been a welcome surprise for those who had been facing charges.Brandon Ball, a lawyer, said one of his clients in Fort Bend County had been distraught about the possession charge she faced until it was unexpectedly dismissed.She kept thanking him, but it wasn’t her lawyer who beat the case.“I was trying to explain, it wasn’t me, it was this law,” Mr Ball said, referring to the hemp legislation.Mr Ball, now an assistant public defender in Harris County, explained that test results are vital for prosecutors trying to prove that someone had an illegal substance.“The law is constantly changing on what makes something illegal, based on its chemical makeup,” Mr Ball said.“It’s important that if someone is charged with something, the test matches what they’re charged with.”New York Times