Dem lawmaker says it's his 'mission' to have Trump removed from office
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 19:12:56 -0500

Dem lawmaker says it's his 'mission' to have Trump removed from office“It’s about what he’s doing to our country and how he is corrupting our society,” said Rep. Al Green.

Obama aides deny they left behind nasty notes when they departed White House — in 2017
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 11:50:33 -0500

Obama aides deny they left behind nasty notes when they departed White House — in 2017White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Obama officials left Trump personnel messages after the presidential transition.

Arizona border activist told migrants he 'could not hide them'
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 14:09:44 -0500

Arizona border activist told migrants he 'could not hide them'An Arizona human rights activist charged with harboring two migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally testified that he told the men he "could not hide them" but let them stay in a building while they recovered from a desert trek. Scott Warren, 37, appeared on Tuesday in his second federal felony trial this year after a Tucson jury was unable to reach a verdict in June on whether he broke the law by giving food, water and shelter to two Central American migrants. The trial is likely to set a precedent on what kind of help Americans can legally give undocumented migrants as U.S. President Donald Trump makes tougher immigration enforcement a major re-election theme.

American Airlines admits a midair accident that knocked out 2 flight crew was not caused by spilled soap
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 14:19:02 -0500

American Airlines admits a midair accident that knocked out 2 flight crew was not caused by spilled soapAmerican Airlines admitted Tuesday the powerful fumes that knocked two flight attendants unconscious and forced a flight to make an emergency landing were not caused by spilled soap, as the airline had previously claimed.

Lam Calls for Peaceful End to Hong Kong Siege as Numbers Dwindle
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 05:20:13 -0500

Lam Calls for Peaceful End to Hong Kong Siege as Numbers Dwindle(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has called for a peaceful resolution to a university siege that has transfixed the city and raised fears of a crackdown on scores of protesters who remain trapped in a campus surrounded by police.Lam said she had instructed police to try and resolve the situation at Hong Kong Polytechnic University peacefully and to not immediately arrest minors under the age of 18 who remain trapped there. Several dozen are believed to be left inside after some 600 protesters escaped or were evacuated overnight, including several hundred who were under 18 years old.“We’re extremely worried about the dangerous situation in the campus,” Lam said in a briefing on Tuesday morning. She added a peaceful resolution “can only be achieved with the full cooperation of the protesters, including, of course, the rioters. They have to stop violence, give up their weapons, and come out peacefully and take the instructions from police.”The city’s hospitals said later Tuesday they were overwhelmed by an influx of some 280 injured protesters coming from the campus, as police fired 1,458 rounds of tear gas the day before. PolyU requested that officers not enter the campus for the time being so that people who remain can be given the chance to leave in a peaceful and orderly manner, according to a statement on the school’s website that didn’t provide details of their condition.Running battles between police and protesters on Monday featured raging fires, tear gas and flaming vehicles. By the evening tens of thousands of demonstrators marched toward the university to aid those stuck in the campus, leading to more clashes throughout the night. Some managed to leave from the university in Kowloon by climbing over walls, while police arrested dozens of others on Monday -- sometimes tackling them to the ground or pounding them with batons.Lam Urges Besieged Protesters to Heed Police: Hong Kong UpdateThe government on Monday had warned those inside to surrender peacefully and urged others to stay away from the site as protesters pleaded for reinforcements to battle police. Medical personnel were allowed in to tend to the wounded, while university officials called for a negotiation and parents held signs saying “Save the Kids.”Hong Kong Financial Elites Shun Local Schools as Protests MountThe chaos again made Hong Kong look in television images more like a war zone than a financial hub. Although stocks finished the day higher after losing 5.6% last week, signs of disarray were evident: The government ordered schools to remain shut for a sixth day, a major tunnel linking Kowloon with Hong Kong Island remained closed and officials warned that they may need to scrap District Council elections scheduled for Sunday.“If the police want to go in and smash the movement, this is their opportunity,” said David Zweig, director of Center on China’s Transnational Relations and professor emeritus at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “On the other hand, it could also be an opportunity to tone things down and start a dialog with university officials that could lead to a broader discussion.”“It can’t go on in this form forever,” Zweig said. “The world now sees Hong Kong as a mess.”Campus BattlegroundSecretary of State Michael Pompeo said the U.S. is “gravely concerned” about rising violence in Hong Kong and called on Lam to allow an independent probe of protest incidents -- one of the key demands of protesters. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged President Donald Trump to speak out on behalf of the demonstrators.“The world should hear from him directly that the United States stands with these brave women and men,” McConnell said Monday afternoon on the Senate floor, where lawmakers are considering a bill supporting the demonstrators that would impose penalties on Beijing for infringing on the city’s autonomy.Police surrounded the university over the weekend after students fortified the campus with makeshift barricades and scattered debris in front of the nearby cross-harbor tunnel that connects the peninsula with Hong Kong Island.Protesters fired arrows from behind the barricades, injuring one officer, and threw scores of petrol bombs at officers who tried to sweep in. They also set police vehicles ablaze as officers warned protesters that they would use live rounds. Police kept up pressure, surrounding the campus, blocking exits and making dozens of arrests.Read the latest on Hong Kong’s protests“We have to take the risk,” said one 26-year-old protester surnamed Lee, who took part in battle. “We have no alternative.”Some of the most prominent members of the protest movement warned that the siege could end with widespread bloodshed.“Is the world going to witness bloody crackdown w/o stopping ruthless regime?” said Joshua Wong, who led the 2014 Occupy protests and has been one of the most visible demonstrators in what is now a leaderless movement.Over the weekend, Chinese troops exited their barracks in the former colony to help clear roadblocks, raising fears among the opposition that Beijing might directly intervene. On Tuesday, Lam downplayed the significance of People’s Liberation Army troops appearing on the streets of Hong Kong for the first time during the ongoing unrest.“It is not uncommon from time to time for the garrison to undertake voluntary and charitable activities in Hong Kong,” she said. “I would suggest that we do not over-interpret this particular act of voluntary involvement.”The Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper said there was no room for compromise, and the editor-in-chief of the Global Times newspaper called for police to use live rounds if attacked.China further signaled it would take a hard line when a spokesman for the top office overseeing Hong Kong said a court ruling Monday that declared a mask ban unconstitutional challenged the authority of Beijing’s rule. The decision by the High Court marked a setback for Lam and raised questions about the limits of colonial-era emergency powers that she invoked for the first time in more than a half century to pass the measure.Chaotic StartOfficials in her administration pleaded on Monday with protesters to leave, saying the bill that sparked the protests allowing extraditions to China had been completely withdrawn. Demonstrators are still demanding an independent inquiry into police abuses and the right to nominate and elect their own leaders, even if they stand up to Beijing.“Realistically, we must put an end to violence,” said Matthew Cheung, Lam’s deputy. “Unless you’ve got a peaceful environment, law and order restored to law-abiding Hong Kong, you won’t have the environment, the ambiance to conduct dialogue.”Hong Kong Home Sales Plunge as Violent Protests Shut Down CityThe chaotic beginning to the workweek on Monday followed a previous week of unprecedented violence, with five straight days of chaos beginning with the shooting of a protester last Monday.The worsening violence prompted many major universities to cancel the entire semester and led to classes being canceled at Hong Kong’s pricey private schools. Countless major events -- including a major music festival and a Goldman Sachs anniversary event -- have been cancelled or postponed.“Some Hong Kong people have really lost patience with the radical protesters,” said Emily Lau, a veteran politician and former chairperson of the opposition Democratic Party, on Bloomberg Television. “But there are others who are very sympathetic, who will take to the streets in black to continue to support them. So it is a city that is split asunder.”‘Political Solution’Even with growing disenchantment about the increased violence, many white-collar professionals have flooded into the city’s financial district to voice support for the students.“We don’t really care about politics,” said one 40-year-old woman surnamed Cheung, who wore a blazer and an Apple watch, at a lunch time protest on Friday as crowds chanted “Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!” “But right now, they just want to show the world, the Hong Kong government, that we do care -- that we do want to fight for it, even though we’re not in the front lines, holding the umbrellas, fighting through tear gas.”As the violence worsens between protesters and police, the government has insisted it won’t yield to any further political demands. At the same time, there’s a growing sense that protester tactics are beginning to lead to fiercer confrontations, particularly as they dig in to hold territory like the PolyU campus.“This is a political problem requiring a political solution,” said Steve Vickers, a former head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Criminal Intelligence Bureau who is now chief executive officer of Steve Vickers and Associates, a political and corporate risk consultancy.“But in the end,” he added, “when the violence gets to a point where people are throwing hundreds of petrol bombs, and bows and arrows are wounding people, there comes a point when you can’t let that go on.”(Updates with injuries in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Aaron Mc Nicholas, Natalie Lung, Fion Li, Chris Kay and Colin Keatinge.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at;Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at sbanjo@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at, Daniel Ten Kate, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

In rare move, N. Carolina county removes Confederate statue
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 07:01:30 -0500

In rare move, N. Carolina county removes Confederate statueA North Carolina county removed a Confederate statue from a historic courthouse early Wednesday, joining the handful of places around the state where such monuments have come down in recent years despite a law protecting them. Preparations began Tuesday night to carefully dismantle the statue of a soldier outside the historic Chatham County courthouse, where it had stood since 1907, and continued for hours overnight, said county spokeswoman Kara Lusk Dudley. The removal comes months after Winston-Salem officials removed a Confederate statue from land there that had passed into private hands.

Lawyer for NSC Adviser Vindman Sends Letter to Fox Demanding Retraction of ‘Espionage’ Allegation
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 15:50:26 -0500

Lawyer for NSC Adviser Vindman Sends Letter to Fox Demanding Retraction of ‘Espionage’ AllegationA lawyer for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman sent a letter to Fox News on Wednesday demanding the network either retract or issue a correction for a segment of the The Ingraham Angle, in which guest John Yoo, a former top lawyer in the Bush administration, seemed to suggest that Vindman might be guilty of espionage.Vindman, who listened to the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that forms part of the impeachment probe, testified in House hearings on Tuesday regarding the matter. Vindman is a long-serving military officer whose family fled Soviet Ukraine when he was three years old.During the October 28 airing of "The Ingraham Angle," host Laura Ingraham speculated on Vindman's motives for testifying."Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest," Ingraham said. "Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?""I found that astounding,” Yoo responded. "Some people might call that espionage.""LTC Vindman and his family have been forced to examine options, including potentially moving onto a military base, in order to ensure their physical security in the face of threats rooted in the falsehood that Fox News originated," Vindman's lawyer David Pressman wrote.Pressman noted that espionage is a crime punishable by death, and that Vindman "had never in his decorated 20-year career of service to his country been accused of having dual loyalties or committing espionage."A spokeswoman for Fox News said she had no immediate comment when asked by the New York Times.Yoo wrote an op-ed in USA Today after the segment aired in which he clarified that he meant Ukraine may have committed an espionage operation, but that he didn't accuse Vindman specifically of espionage.Pressman wrote in his letter that "Mr. Yoo’s argument that he did not intend to accuse LTC of Vindman of ‘espionage’ — that he was accusing the nation of Ukraine instead — is as legally irrelevant as it is factually incredible."

Russia's TU-22M3 Backfire Bomber Has A New Supersonic Missile (And The Navy Is Worried)
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 18:30:00 -0500

Russia's TU-22M3 Backfire Bomber Has A New Supersonic Missile (And The Navy Is Worried)A formidable strike capability.

Las Vegas victim dies, making deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history even deadlier
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 10:20:50 -0500

Las Vegas victim dies, making deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history even deadlierKimberly Gervais was shot in the 2017 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, which left 58 other people dead.

FBI seeks interview with CIA whistleblower
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 07:16:37 -0500

FBI seeks interview with CIA whistleblowerThe FBI recently sought to question the CIA whistleblower who filed a complaint over President Trump’s July 25 Ukraine call — a move that came after a vigorous internal debate within the bureau over how to respond to some of the issues raised by the complaint’s allegations and whether they needed to be more thoroughly investigated, according to sources familiar with the matter.

US aircraft carrier transits Strait of Hormuz
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 16:43:01 -0500

US aircraft carrier transits Strait of HormuzThe US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the key Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday to show Washington's "commitment" to freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said, amid tensions with Tehran. The group's move through the strategic waterway separating Iran and the United Arab Emirates towards the Gulf was scheduled, and unfolded without incident, the US Navy said in a statement. It was the first time a US aircraft carrier group went through the strait since Iran downed a US drone in June in the same area.

Chinese bishop 'on the run' after refusing to join state-sanctioned church
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 06:52:40 -0500

Chinese bishop 'on the run' after refusing to join state-sanctioned churchA Catholic bishop in China is believed to be on the run from state security after refusing to bring his church under a government-sanctioned religious association. Guo Xijin, 61, has fled the custody of state agents and has gone into hiding, reported Catholic Asia News, a website, and cannot be immediately reached for comment.  Mr Guo is part of a group of bishops that many religious and human rights experts feared would be persecuted after the Vatican inked a deal with Beijing last year on the ordaining bishops.  China has long insisted that it approve appointments, clashing with absolute papal authority to pick bishops. The agreement broke that standoff, and could help pave the way for formal diplomatic ties, but also stoked worries that the Chinese state would have too much power to regulate religion.  Since Communism took hold in China, there have been in practice two Catholic churches - one sanctioned by the government, and an underground one loyal to the Vatican, and it remains unclear what would happen to bishops who refused to fall in line with the government. China’s officially atheist Communist Party – has engaged in a widespread crackdown on religion in the last few years. Authorities have banned Arab-style onion domes on mosques and other buildings – even if merely decorative. The UN estimates more than a million Muslims have been detained in chilling “re-education” camps, where former detainees have told The Telegraph they were subject to physical torture, psychological intimidation and political indoctrination. The government has shut down churches not sanctioned by the Party, detaining priests and members of various congregations. And houses of worship, including Buddhist temples, are now mandated to have pictures of Xi Jinping, the leader of the Party.  Chinese authorities claim that people have freedom of religion – provided that they worship in state-sanctioned temples, churches, and mosques. The government has said that all religious believers must “be subordinate to and serve the overall interests of the nation and the Chinese people,” making it explicit that they must also “support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Extinction Rebellion aims to turn up political heat with hunger strikes
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 11:22:02 -0500

Extinction Rebellion aims to turn up political heat with hunger strikesExtinction Rebellion activists pressing for more rapid action on climate change threats on Wednesday entered a third day of a week-long hunger strikes in 27 countries. The strikes, which began Monday, have been in part spearheaded by 20-year-old Giovanni Tamacas, a University of San Diego student, who carried out a solo hunger strike last month in front of the White House. “We are hunger striking because we have no choice," he said in a statement, arguing governments and corporations "have criminally and catastrophically failed to tackle the climate and ecological emergency".

India Army to Cut Sniper Rifle Orders by About 70%
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 04:35:44 -0500

India Army to Cut Sniper Rifle Orders by About 70%(Bloomberg) -- The Indian Army plans to buy just 1,800 state-of-the-art sniper rifles and 2.7 million rounds of ammunition -- less than a third of its total requirement -- driven by budgetary constraints and the need to speed up deliveries, people with knowledge of the matter said.The military pruned its original requirement of 5,720 sniper rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition, which would have cost $140 million, to prioritize spending and advance the purchase of more modern equipment, they said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.Indian Army spokesman Aman Anand said he had no comment to offer on the change in procurement plans.The Indian armed forces have 450,000 infantry soldiers, of whom only half go into ground battle and an even smaller number of them use sniper rifles to take out specific enemy targets through precision firing.The move is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s $250-billion modernization plan for the Indian defense forces, as the infantry soldiers continue to face the brunt of deadly attacks in disputed border areas such as Kashmir and the northeast.Plans to buy new equipment from global manufacturers, however, has been hit by bureaucratic delays and the Modi government’s desire to meet the needs of the armed forces through the domestic industry under his ‘Make in India’ initiative, a key plank to boost local defense manufacturing and woo his core supporters.The 1.3 million-strong Indian Army’s previous efforts to buy 5,720 sniper rifles in a process that began in Feb. 2018 was scrapped in July this year after four vendors, including the U.S.-based Barrett, Indonesia’s PT Pindad and Russia’s Rosoboronexport, failed to meet technical requirements, such as technology transfers for manufacturing the ammunition by local industry.Through the new bid to buy a smaller quantity of 8.6 mm sniper rifles and .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition, India wants to overcome the hurdles in first identifying the vendor to buy them in a fast-track mode, before placing future orders for 4,000 more sniper rifles.To contact the reporter on this story: N. C. Bipindra in New Delhi at nbipindra@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Syracuse University has suspended all fraternity activities for the rest of the semester after a black student said a group of students accosted her and called her a racial slur
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 15:23:45 -0500

Syracuse University has suspended all fraternity activities for the rest of the semester after a black student said a group of students accosted her and called her a racial slurThe student newspaper reported that a black female student was called the N-word while walking on campus Saturday night.

10 Things We Want to Leave Behind in the 2010s
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 11:40:00 -0500

10 Things We Want to Leave Behind in the 2010s

Meet What Could be The U.S. Navy's Ultimate Weapon (As in a New Destroyer)
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 03:11:00 -0500

Meet What Could be The U.S. Navy's Ultimate Weapon (As in a New Destroyer)Navy Flight III Destroyers have a host of defining new technologies not included in current ships.

Teen used remote-controlled car to smuggle meth across US border, officials say
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 11:20:23 -0500

Teen used remote-controlled car to smuggle meth across US border, officials sayA 16-year-old boy allegedly tried to smuggle methamphetamine across the U.S.-Mexico border with a remote-controlled car, Border Patrol agents said.

House Democrats ponder expanding impeachment probe after Sondland 'game changer' testimony
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 20:54:24 -0500

House Democrats ponder expanding impeachment probe after Sondland 'game changer' testimonyGordon Sondland’s explosive testimony Wednesday that “everyone was in the loop” on President Trump’s efforts to secure an investigation of a political rival prompted rank-and-file Democrats to discuss whether it was time to expand their probe.

7 Amazing Facts About Jaguars, One of the World's Coolest Cats
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 18:04:00 -0500

7 Amazing Facts About Jaguars, One of the World's Coolest Cats

Special envoy Kurt Volker says 'most people' didn't see the distinction between Burisma and investigating former Vice President Biden
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 17:04:42 -0500

Special envoy Kurt Volker says 'most people' didn't see the distinction between Burisma and investigating former Vice President BidenSpecial envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker said during questioning that "others didn't see the distinction" between Burisma and investigating former Vice President Biden.

Former Baltimore mayor charged with wire fraud over 'Healthy Holly' book sales
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 08:28:10 -0500

Former Baltimore mayor charged with wire fraud over 'Healthy Holly' book salesFormer Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was charged on Wednesday with wire fraud and tax evasion relating to sales of her self-published "Healthy Holly" children's book to charities where she worked, federal prosecutors said. The charges against the Democrat and former state lawmaker relate to her dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System, where she was a board member, and which paid her for her children's books. Pugh, 69, who initially defended the arrangement, called it a “regrettable mistake” in March and resigned in May.

French court confirms sentence for Picasso's electrician over hoarded art
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 10:45:19 -0500

French court confirms sentence for Picasso's electrician over hoarded artA French court on Tuesday confirmed the two-year suspended jail terms given to Pablo Picasso's former electrician and his wife, who hoarded 271 of the great painter's works in a garage for four decades. The verdict by the Lyon court is the latest twist in a decade-long legal saga, which took the couple, who claim the works were a gift, all the way to France's top appeals court. Pierre and Danielle Le Guennec were first given two-year suspended terms in 2015 after being convicted of possession of stolen goods over the huge trove of works by Picasso, including nine rare Cubist collages and a work from his famous Blue Period.

Isil leaders with 'vast amounts of cash' planning comeback in Turkey, Iraq spy chief claims
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 08:27:52 -0500

Isil leaders with 'vast amounts of cash' planning comeback in Turkey, Iraq spy chief claimsSenior Islamic State members with access to “huge” amounts of money are in Turkey and plotting a comeback, an Iraqi spy chief has warned. Lieutenant General Saad al-Allaq, head of Iraq’s Military Intelligence, claimed in an interview with CNN that Iraq has given Ankara dossiers on nine alleged leaders of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), including top financiers for the terror group. The general said senior Isil figures known as "emirs" have access to vast reserves of cash and were forming new cells in Turkey. He claimed many of them had managed to escape from Isil’s final patch of territory in Baghouz, eastern Syria, after bribing Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to reach Idlib in the north-west. From there, he said, they crossed the border to Gaziantep in southern Turkey. "Some of its important leadership fled north, I mean in the direction of neighbouring countries and into border areas like Gazientep," Lt. Gen. Allaq said. US Special Forces, figures at lower right, moving toward compound of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi  Credit: Department of Defense  "They have secretly crossed into these areas from the Syrian-Turkish border - top leaders who have money. They crossed with the help of smugglers by paying large amount of money and have secretly entered Turkish territory." He added: "Those elements who are right now in Turkey play a key role in the recruitment of fighters and terrorists." CNN was shown Iraq’s arrest warrants for the nine men, who are described as bomb makers. Lt. Gen. Allaq said the men were "among the best bomb makers that Isis ever had." Lt. Gen. Allaq, who rarely gives interviews, said Iraq had intelligence that Isil leaders were planning jailbreaks of its supporters held in prisons and camps across Syria and Iraq. Isil members are led away to be questioned by coalition forces after surrendering, near Baghuz, eastern Syria Credit: Sam Tarling  Turkey told the US network they were looking into the allegations. He said a new Isil mission code-named "Break Down the Fences" intended to storm jails where their followers were being held and try to replenish its manpower. Several high-profile Isil figures and their family members have been discovered in recent weeks in or near Turkey. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader, was found hiding three miles from the border of Turkey in the Syria village of Barisha in Idlib, where he was killed in a US raid on October 26. Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, Isil’s spokesman, was killed the following day several miles away near the town of Jarablus, which is under Turkish administration. Turkey then announced arrests it had made of Baghdadi’s relatives, who had apparently been hiding in the country.

School district in rural Colorado tries new ways to attract teachers
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 20:43:02 -0500

School district in rural Colorado tries new ways to attract teachersThe Big Sandy School District in Simla, Colorado, has 335 students from grades pre-K to 12th grade who learn under one roof

Forget the Bombs or Missiles: Iran's Intelligence Machine Is Quite Powerful
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 08:20:00 -0500

Forget the Bombs or Missiles: Iran's Intelligence Machine Is Quite PowerfulA remarkable collaborative project between The Intercept and the New York Times has provided the general public with a little more insight into the Iranian spy-games. They are quite something.

NASA just detected water vapor on a moon of Jupiter — yet another clue that Europa's hidden ocean could hold alien life
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0500

NASA just detected water vapor on a moon of Jupiter — yet another clue that Europa's hidden ocean could hold alien lifeAlien life could be hidden in the salty ocean below Europa's surface. An upcoming NASA spacecraft will hunt for more clues.

Ukrainian gas executive cooperating in US probe of Giuliani
Tue, 19 Nov 2019 17:49:56 -0500

Ukrainian gas executive cooperating in US probe of GiulianiFederal prosecutors in New York are investigating Rudy Giuliani's business dealings, including whether he failed to register as a foreign agent.

Mayor Pete’s Convenient Excuse
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 14:10:17 -0500

Mayor Pete’s Convenient ExcuseIf Pete Buttigieg doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, it won’t be because African Americans were too homophobic to vote for him.While the Buttigieg campaign has never explicitly endorsed this theory, it started the ball rolling back in July, when the Berenson Strategy Group, consulting with the Buttigieg campaign, conducted three focus groups with 24 uncommitted African-American voters in South Carolina and wrote up a memo on the results. They concluded, “Being gay was a barrier for these voters, particularly for the men who seemed deeply uncomfortable even discussing it. Their preference is for his sexuality to not be front and center.”(Which voters want a presidential candidate’s sexuality to be front and center?)That entire memo seemed tone-deaf and condescending, declaring, “They are going to need to see real demonstrations of broad enthusiasm and likely some endorsements from ‘cool’ black people to help them believe that ‘other people’ don’t have a problem with it and it won’t be a vulnerability in a general election matchup with Trump.”Recent weeks have brought more signs that while Buttigieg is wowing Iowa caucusgoers and raking in the cash from the Democratic party’s donor class, he is, at least so far, getting nowhere with this demographic in this key early state. Buttigieg received 0 percent among South Carolina African-American likely primary voters in the latest Quinnipiac poll, 0 percent in the October Winthrop poll, and 1 percent among this demographic in the Monmouth poll. The Post and Courier poll showed him trailing billionaire Tom Steyer among African Americans in South Carolina.This is not complicated: A candidate who cannot win support among African Americans is extremely unlikely to become the nominee, and if by some miracle Buttigieg did win the nomination, a Democratic nominee who couldn’t generate enthusiasm among African-American voters would have a tough time beating Donald Trump. African-American turnout in presidential elections declined 4.7 percent from 2012 to 2016, and while Hillary Clinton prefers to blame a massive secret scheme of voter suppression, it doesn’t seem quite so unthinkable that some black voters were more motivated to reelect the first African-American president than vote for her. (One study calculated 4.4 million Obama voters stayed home in 2016, a third of them black.)But as much as the Buttigieg campaign might prefer to blame homophobia, it’s easy to find reasons -- compelling reasons -- why African Americans might not make him their first choice. * At the beginning of the year, almost nobody had heard of the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and few Democrats outside Indiana knew anything about him. In the Quinnipiac poll, 60 percent of African Americans said they hadn’t heard enough about Buttigieg to have an opinion about him. * In mid-June, just as Buttigieg was starting to get national media attention and shortly before the first debate, a white South Bend police officer shot and killed Eric Logan, a black man who was allegedly armed with a knife. The officer’s body camera wasn’t turned on during the incident. The shooting inflamed racial tensions in the city, and when Buttigieg returned from the campaign trail for a town-hall meeting, attendees shouted, “You are lying!” and “We don’t trust you.” Just as Buttigieg was meeting his national audience, he could not argue that he had improved race relations in his home city. * Days later, in the first debate, Rachel Maddow noted that the police force in South Bend is now 6 percent black in a city that is 26 percent black and asked Buttigieg, “Why has that not improved over your two terms as mayor?” Buttigieg answered, “Because I couldn’t get it done.” That answer is blunt and humble but not one that is likely to reassure any African Americans with doubts about him. * Buttigieg’s recent outreach to African Americans was painfully awkward. His campaign sought out Democratic figures to sign on in support of his “Douglass Plan for Black America” and then put out a release that left the impression they were endorsing Buttigieg’s presidential bid. Of the 297 names of figures registered to vote in South Carolina, at least 42 percent were white. Then the media determined that the photo of a black woman smiling at a young black boy that had been splashed for weeks across the web page detailing Buttigieg’s plan to combat racial inequality . . . depicted a woman and boy from Kenya. Buttigieg himself didn’t pick out the photo, but it reinforced an existing tone-deaf image. * Think of the sorts of Democratic voters who are wowed by Buttigieg so far -- gays, the donor class, the meritocratic elites in Manhattan or California -- and now compare them with African Americans living in the South Carolina cities of Marion (median income $31,725), Orangeburg ($27,564), or Dillon ($38,344). Do you think Buttigieg’s résumé of Harvard University, Oxford, and McKinsey Consulting is automatically going to impress them? Or do you think they might see his life experience as quite different from theirs? Note that in the Quinnipiac poll, 32 percent of black likely primary voters said “someone who cares about people like you” is the most important quality they seek in a candidate. * At 37, Buttigieg is the youngest candidate, and whether or not you concur with President Trump’s assessment that he looks like Alfred E. Neuman, he looks young, and it doesn’t help that he’s roughly five feet, eight inches tall. Buttigieg is seeking the support of voters older than him. In 2016, almost two-thirds of the people who voted in the Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina were over age 45.It’s not like African Americans in the Palmetto State dislike Buttigieg; only 16 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him in that Quinnipiac poll. But they barely know him, and they have a lot of more familiar options they like better. Only an opportunist with an axe to grind would look at that phenomenon and conclude, “Ah-ha! It must be homophobia!”But perhaps the “sour grapes” instinct is almost irresistible in politics; when a candidate doesn’t win the support of a particular demographic, the fault must lie with the demographic, not the candidate. Just as Kamala Harris publicly speculated that hostility to African-American women was holding her back (in a Democratic primary!), and Amy Klobuchar contended that women candidates were being held to a tougher standard, candidates are almost inevitably drawn to the reassuring belief that the voters who aren’t supporting them are morally defective in some way. This is how you get American leaders denouncing segments of the electorate as “deplorables” and “human scum” and so on.Because after all, it couldn’t possibly be the candidate’s fault that some voters don’t like him.

Singapore ‘Repatriates’ Hongkonger Who Held Political Meeting
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 22:14:09 -0500

Singapore ‘Repatriates’ Hongkonger Who Held Political Meeting(Bloomberg) -- A Hong Kong resident living in Singapore has been “repatriated” home after organizing an illegal gathering of mostly ethnic Chinese last month to talk about the ongoing protests, according to local media reports.Restaurant owner Alex Yeung, along with a 55-year-old former Hong Kong resident, were issued a “stern warning” over what was said to be a gathering of about 10 people sharing their views of the escalating protests, which is an offense under the Public Order Act. Yeung, who has a Youtube channel of largely pro-Beijing content was further instructed he would not be allowed to enter Singapore again without permission from the authorities.“Singapore has always been clear that foreigners should not advocate their political causes in Singapore, through public assemblies, and other prohibited means,” the Singapore Police Force told Channel News Asia late on Wednesday.Speaking from Singapore’s Changi Airport on Thursday morning ahead of his flight, Yeun said he was now free to go where he pleased and thanked Singapore for upholding the rule of law.Illegal Gatherings“The Singapore Police Force has made no indictment against me. I am warned to refrain from any criminal conduct in the future under their discretion,” he said in a video posted to YouTube. “Singapore is a very civilized country with very good security.”In 2017, Singapore revoked the permanent residency of prominent academic and China expert Huang Jing after he allegedly used his position to covertly advance the agenda of an unnamed foreign country at Singapore’s expense.Hong Kong has been gripped for days by the standoff at the city’s Polytechnic University, where hard-core protesters remain surrounded by police. The unrest began in June with largely peaceful marches against legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China and have since mushroomed into a broader push for demands including an independent probe into police violence and the ability to nominate and elect city leaders.Speaking to reporters on Monday, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing warned a similar situation could “easily happen” in his country if the government is complacent. Under restrictive laws, cause-related gatherings are illegal without a police permit and participants are subject to fines without it.\--With assistance from Chester Yung.To contact the reporter on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.