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International News

  • Nigerian singer sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano state

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    Musician Yahaya Sharif-Aminu broadcast a song about Prophet Muhammad in March.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 15:38:52 -0400
  • Mauritius oil spill: Fears vessel may 'break in two' as cracks appear

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    The MV Wakashio, which ran aground on a coral reef on 25 July, is now leaking oil off the island.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 15:37:35 -0400
  • Turkey's Halkbank urges dismissal of U.S. indictment in Iran sanctions case

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    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 15:12:47 -0400
  • French expert: Dangerous chemicals remain in Beirut port

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    Chemical experts and firefighters are working to secure at least 20 potentially dangerous chemical containers at the explosion-shattered port of Beirut, after finding one that was leaking, according to a member of a French cleanup team. French and Italian chemical experts working amid the remains of the port have so far identified more than 20 containers carrying dangerous chemicals, Anthony said. The experts are working with Lebanese firefighters to secure all of the containers and analyze their contents, he said.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 15:07:24 -0400
  • Beirut Blast Hit 3 Disparate Neighborhoods. Now They're United in Rage.

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    BEIRUT -- For months, the restaurateurs poured their time and money into a gamble on a new joint called "The Barn."Conceived as a healthy eatery in the hip, historic Beirut neighborhood of Gemmayzeh, it was set to open Monday with organic produce and a curved marble bar. But the explosion that ripped through Beirut last week beat the opening by six days, blasting the restaurant's metal doors into the dining room and carving a path of destruction.Sitting in the remains, the founder, Rabih Mouawad, said the blast -- which officials said was caused by the detonation of chemicals stored for years at the city's port -- showed how gravely the country needed to change."If there is ever a turning point for Lebanon, this will be it," he said. "We just got hit by a nuclear bomb! If that doesn't change things, nothing will."In three ravaged neighborhoods -- one middle class, one poor and one upscale -- the catastrophe has united everyone in rage against a government seen as corrupt, dysfunctional and ineffectual. Dozens of conversations in these areas found residents of different classes who were already seething over the country's failures of leadership and are now demanding change even more forcefully than before.Lebanon had already been sinking into a bog of interlocking crises that will make recovery far more difficult. Even before the coronavirus pandemic triggered a global recession, Lebanon's economy was shrinking, its currency was crashing, and banks were refusing to give people their money. Power cuts left many in the dark, and protesters marched frequently against their leaders.Then a huge cache of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer and explosives, detonated at the port Tuesday, killing more than 150 people, injuring some 6,000 and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, according to officials.That lent a new sense of urgency to the campaign for a change in government.GemmayzehIf you ever received a postcard from Beirut, chances are good the photo on it was taken around Gemmayzeh. Just south of the port, the predominantly Christian, middle-class district is dotted with stone churches and historic homes with exposed rafters and arches facing the street.Picturesque stairwells covered in arty graffiti run between apartment buildings. The main drag is lined with bars and restaurants where patrons, in better times, overflowed into the street through the night.This was where Mouawad and his business partner, Chantal Salloum, tried their luck with The Barn, investing $450,000 to get it ready.But the blast heavily damaged the neighborhood, punching through apartments, killing residents in their homes and blocking roads with rubble and uprooted trees.Days later, scarcely a pane of glass remained. Holes in walls allowed glimpses into once-concealed bedrooms. Red roof tiles had been scraped from old houses, their walls leaning dangerously over the street."We don't want to give up, and we don't want to leave the country," Mouawad said.But questions abounded with few answers.How to rebuild? When would the banks reopen, and would they give out money? How would imported supplies enter the damaged port? How much would metal and glass cost now that demand was off the charts?Across the street, Angel Saadeh, 65, was cleaning out the destroyed apartment where she had raised six children since her marriage in 1971."Tell the world that we need aid -- not money, but nuclear bombs to drop on these politicians!" she screamed. She insulted them one by one until her granddaughter, Melissa Fakhri, 20, mentioned a Christian warlord turned party leader her grandmother liked.Saadeh said he was better than the others."Grandma, all of them means all of them!" Fakhri said, reciting a common protest chant.Later, volunteer cleaners on the street chanted the classic battle cry of the Arab Spring uprisings: "The people want to topple the regime!" Saadeh ran to the window, pumping her fists.The QuarantineThe neighborhood known as the Quarantine clings to Beirut like a forgotten annex. Named for its history as a holding area for potentially infectious travelers, it is poor, polluted and squeezed between the port, a major highway and a garbage processing facility, which sends a stench wafting through the cinder block apartments."The Quarantine has always been neglected," said Fakhrideen Shihadi, a Quarantine native who oversees its tin-roofed mosque.The cranes of Beirut's port loom over the neighborhood, but its proximity to one of the country's key economic arteries brought little money to the area. Plum jobs at the port, and the illicit income they generated, were divvied up between political parties to reward loyalists and fund operations."The port is all wasta," Shihadi said, using an Arabic word for the family, sectarian and political connections that Lebanese rely on for jobs and services.Lacking wasta, he got laid off from his job at a garbage company in 2017, he said, and has since worked weighing garbage at the processing facility. But as Lebanon's economy contracted, his employer stopped paying him three months ago, he said. He kept working anyway so he wouldn't lose the job.Then the explosion tore through the neighborhood, shaving walls from its tenements, killing four of Shihadi's neighbors and filling the streets with smoke and wounded people. He and his family escaped their building unscathed but found their neighborhood wrecked.The blast shook mortar from the ceiling of the stone church and punched in the roof of the mosque. Days later, a mournful recitation of the Quran emanated from its minaret, and residents prayed on carpets on the asphalt outside.Government assistance to residents here and in other hard-hit areas has been scant."Aid organizations could come, but we expect nothing from the state," Shihadi said. "Here, people help other people."And that's what happened.That morning, hundreds of volunteers from elsewhere in the city had showed up wielding brooms and shovels to help clean up. They scooped up shattered drywall in the hospital and swept glass from damaged apartments.In an empty lot by the church, volunteers distributed water, cookies and meals donated by companies. A man in a white truck handed out ice cream.The blast also tore through the local government hospital, known for treating children, the poor and crash victims from the highway, damaging the facility so badly that it shut down.Dr. Michel Matar, head of the hospital's board, wondered aloud how the hospital, and Lebanon as a whole, could move on."We are not moving forward. We are moving backward," he said. "We cannot continue like this."Yahia al-Osman, a laborer, sat outside his building as volunteers handed out sandwiches and cleared roads. Little remained of his fourth-floor apartment."We were dying here before the explosion," he said. "What will we do after it?"DowntownThe graffiti starts before you reach downtown, west of the port."The revolution of the people.""Bring down the rulers.""Danger: Corruption."After the country's devastating 15-year civil war ended in 1990, Beirut's downtown was rebuilt, with investments from the Persian Gulf and wealthy Lebanese, as a showcase meant to reclaim Lebanon's reputation as the "Switzerland of the Middle East."Cobblestone streets around a famous clock tower next to the Parliament echoed Paris, and the neighborhood filled up with banks, travel agencies and a glitzy pedestrian mall teeming with luxury brands.But the area never fully took off.Most Lebanese couldn't afford the apartments or restaurants, and political turbulence and fear of Iran-backed Hezbollah, the militant group and political party, scared off wealthy tourists, making parts of the area feel like a ghost town in recent years.Anti-government protests erupted last fall, with demonstrators demanding the ouster of the political elite they accuse of wrecking the country. Security forces responded by ringing the Parliament with barricades and concertina wire, keeping citizens out while legislators in armed convoys zoomed in for sessions that rarely addressed the country's mounting problems.As the Parliament has become more fortresslike, the surrounding streets have been covered with graffiti and damaged in clashes with the security forces.Then the explosion hit downtown, shattering the windows of the luxury shops and apartments and bringing angry protesters back to the streets. Over the weekend, the area became a battleground of tear gas, fires and flying rocks as angry protesters tried to shake a political order they felt had failed them.Days earlier, young people who saw the blast as the latest product of the state's many ills had gathered in nearby Martyrs' Square, under a giant raised fist reading "homeland."A makeshift shrine near a statue honored those who had died in the blast. Their photos showed men in military uniforms, a smiling woman by the seaside, a man in tuxedo and a fire crew with a woman paramedic.Hassan Hijazi, 19, a car mechanic, and Karim Shamiyeh, 19, a waiter, relaxed after helping blast victims clean their homes. They were mad that their money had lost its worth, that young men like them without political connections struggled to get good jobs and that government neglect had led to a tragic explosion."We can't continue unless we put our hands together and get rid of all the politicians," Hijazi said. "But I don't know how we are going to do it."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 14:59:06 -0400
  • UN food chief: Beirut could run out of bread in 2 1/2 weeks

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    The head of the U.N. food agency said Monday he’s “very, very concerned” Lebanon could run out of bread in about 2 ½ weeks because 85% of the country's grain comes through Beirut's devastated port — but he believes an area of the port can be made operational this month. David Beasley, who is in Beirut assessing damage and recovery prospects, told a virtual U.N. briefing on the humanitarian situation following last week’s explosion in the Lebanese capital that “at the devastated site, we found a footprint that we can operate on a temporary basis.” “Working with the Lebanese army, we believe that we can clear part of that site,” Beasley said.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 14:18:42 -0400
  • Brent Scowcroft Never Hated His Enemies

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- As I was preparing to assume duties as supreme allied commander at NATO a decade ago, the two people I sought out for counsel were both generals: Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft.The advice from Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was essentially personal, and it boiled down to: “Don’t start to think you are Charlemagne over there, Stavridis.” Meaning, don’t let your ego get out in front of you, and listen to your mentors and the chain of command.Scowcroft, who had served as national security adviser for Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, spent a couple of hours with me and laid out a detailed geopolitical picture. Reflecting on his time served in half a dozen presidential administrations, the general provided a balanced, sensible and practical approach to take with both the Russian Federation and our European allies. As we concluded our lengthy talk, he patted me on the shoulder and said: “You’ll do well over there, Jim. Don’t let the Russians get under your skin.”Scowcroft, who died on Thursday, was a slight, understated man — an outward appearance that belied his iron will and ability to stay calm in any situation. The book he and the first President Bush wrote about the end of the Cold War, “A World Transformed,” is the best volume about America’s role in the world in the 21st century. During my four years at NATO, and in the years afterward as dean at the Fletcher School at Tufts, I talked to him often. In thinking about his passing, it occurred to me that his life and career epitomized a certain kind of American public servant in three important ways — each with a lesson for U.S. foreign policy today.First and most importantly, the general was humble, self-effacing and kind. He knew each member of his team wherever he was stationed, and took the time to make each of them feel important and valued. There was never a shred of arrogance in Brent Scowcroft, despite all the accolades, degrees, heady positions, medals, and eventually a presidential Medal of Freedom and an honorary British knighthood. He loved his country deeply, but saw America in its complexity and acknowledged its failed moments — including the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which he opposed.A second quality was his unemotional, analytic approach to the world, sometimes called realpolitik. Scowcroft earned his spurs around former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and took Kissinger’s place the first time he became national security adviser. When he told me not to let the Russians get under my skin, he meant to stay calm and be the adult in the room. As Don Corleone puts it in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather”: “Never hate your enemies — it affects your judgment.”This lesson in realism remains a striking and necessary lesson for the U.S. today, from dealing with the dangerous adventurism of Vladimir Putin to the irascible behavior of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.Finally, the general advocated an international outlook. He was a keen student of history, and in that 2009 talk he pointed out to me that a century earlier, the world was on the verge of two global conflicts in three decades. His prescription was simple: to best protect the nation and serve its interests, America had to remain engaged in the world — not as the world’s policeman, but as a source of leadership when it mattered.The isolationism that arose after World War I, including the rejection of the League of Nations and the trade wars of the late 1920s and 1930s, enabled the rise of fascism. As messy and complex as today’s world is, Scowcroft would remind us, we cannot simply turn our backs and withdraw from it.In the last few years, I saw the general from time to time — his office was near mine on Farragut Square in Washington. Although he was in his 90s, he took time to stop and chat about the world, and America’s place in it. I will miss him deeply, and I hope that the lessons of his extraordinary life will help America to stay calm, to re-engage with the world, and to shed the arrogance and bluster that is undermining its ability to lead in these challenging times.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 13:18:15 -0400
  • Trump says US 'will have a deal with Iran within four weeks' if he is re-elected

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    Donald Trump has promised a new nuclear deal with Iran “within four weeks” if he is re-elected in November, according to a video of his remarks from inside a New Jersey fundraiser.Footage from a campaign fundraiser on Sunday show the president addressing a crowd of packed-in supporters, none of whom appear to be wearing masks or socially distanced while at the home of a friend of the president who died from coronavirus.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 12:53:02 -0400
  • Health officials are quitting or getting fired amid outbreak

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    Vilified, threatened with violence and in some cases suffering from burnout, dozens of state and local public health officials around the U.S. have resigned or have been fired amid the coronavirus outbreak, a testament to how politically combustible masks, lockdowns and infection data have become. One of the latest departures came Sunday, when California's public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell, quit without explanation following a technical glitch that caused a delay in reporting virus test results — information used to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools. Last week, New York City’s health commissioner was replaced after months of friction with the Police Department and City Hall.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 12:50:19 -0400
  • Coronavirus: How fast is it spreading in Africa?

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    There are signs the rate of increase in cases is slowing, but do we know the true scale of the outbreak in Africa?

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 11:23:13 -0400
  • 1 dead, 6 rescued after gas explosion levels Baltimore homes

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    A natural gas explosion destroyed three row houses in Baltimore on Monday, killing a woman and trapping other people in the wreckage. At least six people were hospitalized as firefighters searched for more survivors. A fourth house in the row was ripped open, and windows were shattered in nearby homes, leaving the Reisterstown Station neighborhood in northwest Baltimore strewn with debris and glass.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 10:46:45 -0400
  • The arrest of 33 Russian mercenaries amid election chaos in Belarus is testing Putin's patience

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    "It's not a great situation in general but doubly dangerous because nobody can say for sure what Putin will do," a NATO official told Insider.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 10:21:35 -0400
  • Born with 1 hand, she's an inspiration in virus fight

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    Two years out of medical school, respiratory therapist Savannah Stuard is on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 in New Orleans, operating ventilator equipment or manually pumping air into patients’ lungs. It's even more complicated for Stuard, who was born without a left forearm. Stuard, who works at Ochsner Medical Center, keeps the tip of her left arm covered with a glove secured by tape.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 10:05:36 -0400
  • Kenya's Tsavo National Park: Fire put out after two days

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    The Kenya Wildlife Service blames the huge fire in the country's biggest park on arsonists.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 09:26:37 -0400
  • World leaders offer aid but demand reform as Lebanon protests continue

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    Lebanon was on edge Monday after enraged protesters and world leaders alike demanded political reform following last week’s deadly explosion and waited to see if they would get it. Protesters took to the streets of Beirut again Sunday with video showing what appeared to be tear gas canisters being fired at demonstrators who had congregated in a street near the parliament. The scenes of public fury came as world leaders pledged millions in emergency aid to the country's explosion-ravaged capital in a teleconference co-organized by France and the United Nations.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 07:46:00 -0400
  • Iran shutters newspaper after expert questions virus numbers

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    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 07:35:19 -0400
  • Denmark's fence to keep out wild boars seems to be working

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    The number of wild boars in Denmark has fallen since a 70-kilometer (43.4-mile) fence was erected along the German border to protect the valuable Danish pork industry. The fence was put up last year in an attempt to prevent wild swine crossing from Germany and breeding with farm pigs or possibly bringing in disease. Since then, the number of wild pigs in Denmark has fallen from 35-40 to fewer than 25, even though some piglets have been born in recent months, officials said Monday.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 07:02:59 -0400
  • Lebanese government resigns after Beirut blast, public anger

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    Lebanon’s prime minister stepped down from his job Monday in the wake of the catastrophic explosion in Beirut that has triggered public outrage, saying he has come to the conclusion that corruption in the country is “bigger than the state.” It follows a weekend of anti-government protests after the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut’s port that decimated the facility and caused widespread destruction, killing at least 160 people and injuring about 6,000 others. In a brief televised speech after three of his ministers resigned, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he and his government were stepping down.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 06:10:37 -0400
  • Hundreds ransack downtown Chicago businesses after shooting

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    Hundreds of people descended on downtown Chicago early Monday following a police shooting on the city's South Side, with vandals smashing the windows of dozens of businesses and making off with merchandise, cash machines and anything else they could carry, police said. Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that the Sunday afternoon shooting of the man who had opened fire on officers apparently prompted a social media post that urged people form a car caravan and converge on the business and shopping district.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 06:09:03 -0400
  • Belarus Offers Autocrats a How-Not-To-Do-It Lesson

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    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 06:00:38 -0400
  • German finance minister to lead center left into 2021 vote

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    Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party named Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Monday as its candidate to become chancellor in the country's national election next year. Scholz, 62, who is considered to be on the right of the Social Democrats, has won widespread praise for his handling of the financial turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After serving as the mayor of Hamburg during 2011-2018, Scholz joined Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet two years ago in a government that pairs the Social Democrats in a “grand coalition” with her center-right Union bloc.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 05:42:53 -0400
  • Lebanon's justice minister resigns in wake of explosion

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    Lebanon’s justice minister has resigned in protest, the third Cabinet member to do so following last week’s devastating explosion in Beirut, the state news agency reported Monday. If a total of seven ministers resign, the Cabinet would effectively become a caretaker government. The explosion, along with a severe economic crisis, has been widely blamed on decades of corruption and misrule by Lebanon’s entrenched political class.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 05:41:37 -0400
  • China sanctions 11 US politicians, heads of organizations

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    China on Monday announced unspecified sanctions against 11 U.S. politicians and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have already been singled out by Beijing. Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said the 11 had “performed badly” on issues concerning Hong Kong, where China has cracked down on opposition voices following its imposition of a national security law in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city last month.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 05:37:26 -0400
  • Russian Media Warns Not to Sell Out the ‘Motherland’ to State Department for $10M

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    In Moscow, the State Department’s offer of $10 million in exchange for evidence of Russian election interference rang hollow. The move was perceived not as a shark bite, but rather as a toothless scowl of the Trump administration—nothing more than an election-year propaganda stunt.“Desperate much?” crowed the Kremlin-funded media outlet RT. “The State Department website will now be overwhelmed by people ratting out their neighbors,” quipped Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. For the benefit of Western audiences, Russian officials and state-sponsored media outlets mocked the idea of such a “bounty” as a ridiculous proposition—but on a domestic front, the State Department’s initiative was met with an obvious pushback, to make sure that no one gets any ideas.‘America’s Dying’: Russian Media Is Giddy at Chaos in the USAState-controlled Russian media sprang into action, laboring to dissuade any potential takers of the tempting reward. Deputy of the Russian Duma Timofey Zhukov, who reported receiving a bounty text message mass-mailed by the State Department, appeared on Russia’s state TV news talk show 60 Minutes to deter Russian citizens from implicating the Kremlin. Zhukov exclaimed: “Russia is not for sale!”“Simply put, this is an offer to become a snitch, a rat,” noted Olga Skabeeva, 60 Minutes host. She asked: “Would you sell your Motherland for 10 million dollars?”For any Russian who might be nonetheless enticed by the promised payout, Skabeeva had another message: “Dear Russians, please, don’t write anything to anyone.” She proceeded to elaborate that since the United States never paid the promised $25 million reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden, the State Department wouldn’t come through in this instance either. This talking point was echoed by multiple participants of 60 Minutes.Notably, the State Department’s report on Russian disinformation specifically referenced the program 60 Minutes. The inclusion had the host Skabeeva beaming with pride.“It would be useless to initiate contact with them and they probably won’t send any money. I think this is nothing more than an act of propaganda, aiming solely to demonstrate that the United States is standing up against Russian and Chinese pressure,” opined journalist Dmitry Galkin. When he dared to express his willingness to even think about divulging such information, Skabeeva promptly accused Galkin of treason. Military expert Igor Korotchenko exclaimed that Galkin should be escorted out in handcuffs.Alexei Naumov, an expert from the Russian International Affairs Council, asserted that by offering this bounty, the State Department is acting in the interests of the Russian Federation. Naumov suggested that the Kremlin could offer up a random individual who is not connected with the Russian government, prosecute that person for interfering in American elections, collect the reward and call it a day. Skabeeva disagreed that it would be possible to disassociate such a person from the Russian government and angrily described Naumov and Galkin as “potential traitors” in the studio. She proceeded to remind everyone of the protracted term of imprisonment that would await such a person.Ivan Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trends Studies, argued that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should be sued and sanctioned: “This is an inducement to treason!” To emphasize the point, the text of Article 275 of the Criminal Code of Russia was shown on the screen, describing treason as "espionage, disclosure of state secrets, or any other assistance rendered to a foreign State, a foreign organization, or their representatives in hostile activities to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation.”Russian MFA’s Zakharova mocked the State Department’s proposition, but the wording of her written commentary carried ominous overtones. Zakharova pointed out that anyone divulging information would be giving it not to the Department of State, but to America’s intelligence agencies. She noted that Pompeo formerly served as the director of the CIA and warned that the United States is seeking to harvest personal data of the Russians.Zakharova disingenuously claimed that after the 2016 elections, “neither American prosecutors nor judges found the ‘Kremlin's hand’, no one found it.” In reality, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation determined that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” establishing that “the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts...”Russia’s preference for the Trump presidency hasn’t changed, which was reiterated in Friday’s statement from William Evanina, director of the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center, who noted that “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden” and “some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”Russian propagandists are disturbed by the potential impact of the State Department’s anti-meddling efforts on Biden’s candidacy—and Russia as a whole. “This is an attempt to destabilize our country,” stressed 60 Minutes host Skabeeva. Political commentator Sergey Strokan pointed out that complaints and reports that might be sent to the State Department could reveal information about democracy, human rights violations and other issues plaguing Putin’s Russia. Strokan described the potential stream of data as “Klondike gold for Biden,” who—unlike Trump—seeks to confront and pressure the Kremlin.The Kremlin, indeed, has much to hide—but some think that Russian interference in the U.S. elections is nothing to be ashamed of. During the 60 Minutes broadcast, Leonid Kalashnikov, senior lawmaker of the Russian State Duma, asserted that Russia should be loud and proud about its efforts: “Yes, we can do it. We have our intelligence services, we have our propaganda. We have smart people, journalists, who influence the minds and the people—and let’s not be shy about it and say that we aren’t influencing anybody. We are and we will continue influencing them.” Skabeeva loudly chimed in: “And we won’t sell the Motherland for 10 million dollars!”  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.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 04:40:49 -0400
  • New Belarus protests after authoritarian leader re-elected

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    Thousands of people protested in Belarus for a second straight night Monday after official results from weekend elections — dismissed by the opposition as a sham — gave an overwhelming victory to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, extending his 26-year rule until 2025. Lukashenko responded with a tough crackdown on demonstrations, .deriding the opposition as “sheep” manipulated by foreign masters. Dozens were injured and thousands detained hours after Sunday's vote, when police brutally broke up mostly young protesters with tear gas, water cannons and flash-bang grenades and beat them with truncheons.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 03:19:13 -0400
  • 55 years after riots, Watts neighborhood still bears scars

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    There were no fires this time in Watts. There was no looting, no shooting and no National Guard troops patrolling. Protesters filled the streets around the country in late May and June following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, demanding an end to police brutality.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 03:01:07 -0400
  • Blast destroyed landmark 19th century palace in Beirut

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    The 160-year-old palace withstood two world wars, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the French mandate and Lebanese independence. After the country's 1975-1990 civil war, it took 20 years of careful restoration for the family to bring the palace back to its former glory. “In a split second, everything was destroyed again,” says Roderick Sursock, owner of Beirut's landmark Sursock Palace, one of the most storied buildings in the Lebanese capital.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 01:59:05 -0400
  • Schools mull outdoor classes amid virus, ventilation worries

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    It has been seven years since the central air conditioning system worked at the New York City middle school where Lisa Fitzgerald O’Connor teaches. There is no evidence that the disease can spread through ventilation systems from one classroom to the next, according to Dr. Edward Nardell, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in airborne diseases.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 01:08:46 -0400
  • Extreme poverty rises and a generation sees future slip away

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    As a domestic worker, Amsale Hailemariam knew from the inside out the luxury villas that had grown up around her simple shelter of raw metal and plastic sheeting. Decades of progress in one of modern history’s greatest achievements, the fight against extreme poverty, are in danger of slipping away because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world could see its first increase in extreme poverty in 22 years, further sharpening social inequities.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 01:02:14 -0400
  • Why choice of running mate matters more than usual this year

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    For all the secrecy and speculation that typically surrounds the search for a vice presidential candidate, the decision rarely sways an election. At a minimum, the decision will shift the force of the campaign — at least temporarily — away from Donald Trump's turbulent presidency onto Biden himself. More fundamentally, the choice offers Biden an unusual opportunity to unify a party still reeling from Trump's 2016 win and solidify its future.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 00:51:35 -0400
  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump's smoke and mirrors on executive orders

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    President Donald Trump isn't telling the full story when it comes to executive orders on coronavirus relief payments and health care. Over the weekend, the president suggested that his move to bypass Congress with executive action calling for up to $400 in weekly unemployment assistance would mean immediate cash in hand for laid-off Americans during the pandemic.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 00:24:38 -0400
  • Puerto Ricans, upset at botched primary, demand answers

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    The future of Puerto Rico's botched primaries rested in the hands of the island's Supreme Court as answers trickled out Monday on why voting centers lacked ballots and forced officials to reschedule part of the primaries in a blow to the U.S. territory’s democracy. A plan to hold another primary on Aug. 16 for centers that could not open on Sunday could change depending on the ruling of a lawsuit filed by Pedro Pierluisi, who is running against Gov. Wanda Vázquez to become the potential nominee of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

    Mon, 10 Aug 2020 00:02:28 -0400
  • Azar visit to Taiwan is fresh thorn in prickly US-China ties

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    An ongoing visit by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan will likely exacerbate mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary. From the South China Sea to TikTok, Hong Kong and trade, China and the U.S. find themselves at loggerheads just three months ahead of the American presidential election.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 22:49:53 -0400
  • Brexit will give UK freedom to set new laws on illegal migrants, Downing Street says

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    Coronavirus latest news: PM urges authorities to keep schools open even if local lockdowns are imposed Tom Harris: Labour is in no position to give moral lectures after trying to foist Corbyn on the nation Portugal could come off the quarantine list - visitors to France may have to isolate Rise in UK Covid-19 cases: is better testing fuelling the increase? Nick Timothy: Britain has no way to protect itself from this new wave of immigration Subscribe to The Telegraph, free for one month Brexit will give the UK the opportunity to draw up new laws for dealing with migrants crossing the Channel illegally, Downing Street has said. More than 4,000 people are believed to have made the journey so far this year, some of them vulnerable individuals including young children, pregnant women and disabled people. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are currently bound by the Dublin Regulations for returns and they are inflexible and rigid - for example, there is a time limit placed on returns, it's something which can be abused by both migrants and their lawyers to frustrate the returns of those who have no right to be here. "At the end of this year we will no longer be bound by the EU's laws so can negotiate our own returns agreement. "The Home Office continue to look at all available options to tackle this issue." Earlier today, Boris Johnson said the Government was "looking at the legal framework that we have", saying current laws meant "that when people do get here, it is very, very difficult to then send them away again even though blatantly they've come here illegally." Immigration minister Chris Philp is due to hold talks with French counterparts tomorrow, amid reports that the UK is planning to deploy the Navy. Read below for the latest updates.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 21:38:31 -0400
  • Mauritius oil spill: Locals scramble to contain environmental damage

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    The MV Wakashio, which ran aground on a coral reef on 25 July, is now leaking oil off the island.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 16:55:22 -0400
  • Niger attack: French aid workers among eight killed by gunmen

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    The attack happened in a region which draws visitors to the last giraffe herds in West Africa.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 16:54:55 -0400
  • States on hook for billions under Trump's unemployment plan

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    Whether President Donald Trump has the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits by executive order remains unclear. Equally up in the air is whether states, which are necessary partners in Trump's plan to bypass Congress, will sign on. Trump announced an executive order Saturday that extends additional unemployment payments of up to $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 16:04:04 -0400
  • National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien won’t say if Trump warned Putin to stop election meddling

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    Robert O’Brien said Sunday the Trump administration has “made it very clear” to Russia that it should stop meddling in the upcoming election. O’Brien downplayed intelligence reports last week that detailed Russia’s active and concrete campaign to help Trump, equating it with what intelligence officials call China’s vague “preference” for Democrat Joe Biden. “Whether it’s China, Russia or Iran, we’re not going to put up with it, and there will be severe consequences with any country that attempts to interfere with our free and fair election,” O’Brien said.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 15:40:23 -0400
  • Israeli jeweler makes $1.5m gold coronavirus mask

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    An Israeli jewelry company is working on what it says will be the world's most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering with a price tag of $1.5 million. The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the request of the buyer, said designer Isaac Levy. The glitzed-up face mask may lend some pizzazz to the protective gear now mandatory in public spaces in many countries.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 15:34:33 -0400
  • Yemen's rebels say floods, heavy rains left over 130 dead

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    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 15:14:42 -0400
  • National security adviser: 'Almost nothing' left to sanction 'of the Russians'

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    Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan repeatedly pushed National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien on Sunday to say whether President Trump has told Russian President Vladimir Putin "to knock it off" when it comes to U.S. election interference. O'Brien said he doesn't get involved with his boss' conversations with other world leaders, but said the Trump administration remains committed to keeping Moscow out of the picture.Trump, O'Brien said, has been tougher than his predecessors. So much so, he argues, that there's little else Washington can do since they've already "sanctioned the heck out of" individuals, companies, and the government in Russia, kicked Russian spies out of the U.S., and closed down consulates and other diplomatic facilities. "Nevertheless we continue to message the Russians, and President Trump continues to message the Russians: don't get involved our elections," O'Brien said, adding that the warning extends to Beijing and Tehran, as well.> “There’s almost nothing we can sanction left of the Russians,” @robertcobrien says when pressed if @realdonaldtrump ever told Russia's Vladimir Putin to "knock it off" with threats of election interference in 2020 during their last phone call in July pic.twitter.com/KvGtmsrpgo> > — Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 9, 2020Brennan, however, pointed out throughout the interview that intelligence reports indicate that the messaging — and the sanctions — don't seem to have gotten through to the Kremlin, as there's still evidence Russia is working to undermine the electoral process stateside. Foreign policy experts have also suggested current sanction policy doesn't always prove to be a deterrent, since Moscow views them as permanent and therefore has little incentive to change its behavior purely based on those actions.More stories from theweek.com Donald Trump's impotent tyranny QAnon goes mainstream 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's 'it is what it is' COVID response

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 13:40:00 -0400
  • Lebanon's allies pledge major resources to help rebuild Beirut after deadly blast

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    Countries including Britain pledged to donate "major resources" to help rebuild Beirut after Tuesday's blast, saying any aid will be "directly delivered to the Lebanese population" amid growing anger over government corruption. The push for aid came as Emmanuel Macron, the French president, warned that the future of the nation hung in the balance in the wake of the explosion, which demolished half of its capital city. “The August 4 explosion sounded like a thunderclap. The time for awakening and action has come,” Mr Macron said, opening the international aid summit. Political and economic reforms, he added, would allow “the international community to act effectively alongside Lebanon for reconstruction … It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake.” Britain pledged an extra £20m in aid for the stricken city on top of £5m already promised, via the UN's World Food Programme. Mr Macron reiterated calls for an independent, impartial inquiry into the causes of the disaster, echoed shortly after the conference by Donald Trump, the US president. Mr Trump "urged the Government of Lebanon to conduct a full and transparent investigation, in which the United States stands ready to assist,” the White House said in a statement. However, Michel Aoun, the president of Lebanon, has been quick to quash the prospect of an international investigation, calling it a “waste of time.” Mr Aoun has instead thrown his weight behind a domestic investigation. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as anti-government protesters, have little faith in the government to conduct its own independent investigations. “There’s no trust. The trust has gone completely between the people and this state,” retired army general Georges Nader, who led a brief civilian takeover of Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday, told the Daily Telegraph. The donation of aid to Lebanon is a highly politicised issue. A commonly repeated refrain from the streets of Beirut, as volunteers stepped in to organise clean up operations, is that money should not go to the government, which they say created the conditions for Tuesday’s blast through corruption and negligence. The explosion was caused when 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate ignited after sitting in a warehouse at Beirut’s port, causing massive destruction to swathes of downtown Beirut. “I guarantee you, this aid will not go to corrupt hands,” Mr Macron said to crowds greeting him during a visit to the city on Thursday. Equally, some foreign governments - foremost among them Mr Trump’s administration - are sceptical of writing blank cheques to a government seen to be under the influence of Iran, via its local proxy Hizbollah. As a result, much of the aid pledged at Sunday’s conference is going through third party organisations, both international and local.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 13:16:40 -0400
  • DC shooting leaves 1 dead, some 20 injured

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    Christopher Brown, 17, died in the shooting that occurred after midnight in a southeast side neighborhood where people had gathered for music and food, Peter Newsham, the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters. “There was some kind of a dispute,” Newsham said. Newsham said a motive for the shooting wasn’t clear.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 12:19:37 -0400
  • Letter from Africa: 'How I helped put Gambians on Google Maps'

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    A journalist is instrumental in the introduction of an address system which could help save lives.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 11:30:24 -0400
  • Lebanon priests recount horror as blast rocked church

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    The video shows Father Rabih Thoumy swinging a chain censer sending smoke into the air when abruptly there is a rumble and then a loud bang as the shockwave from Beirut's devastating explosion slams into the church. There were tears and shock.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 11:22:10 -0400
  • How Kristi Noem, Mount Rushmore and Trump Fueled Speculation About Pence's Job

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    WASHINGTON -- Since the first days after she was elected governor of South Dakota in 2018, Kristi Noem had been working to ensure that President Donald Trump would come to Mount Rushmore for a fireworks-filled July Fourth extravaganza.After all, the president had told her in the Oval Office that he aspired to have his image etched on the monument. And last year, a White House aide reached out to the governor's office with a question, according to a Republican official familiar with the conversation: What's the process to add additional presidents to Mount Rushmore?So last month, when the president arrived in the Black Hills for the star-spangled spectacle he had pined for, Noem made the most of it.Introducing Trump against the floodlit backdrop of his carved predecessors, the governor played to the president's craving for adulation by noting that in just three days more than 125,000 people had signed up for only 7,500 seats; she likened him to Theodore Roosevelt, a leader who "braves the dangers of the arena"; and she mimicked the president's rhetoric by scorning protesters who she said were seeking to discredit the country's founders.In private, the efforts to charm Trump were more pointed, according to a person familiar with the episode: Noem greeted him with a 4-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included a fifth presidential likeness: his.But less than three weeks later, Noem came to the White House with far less fanfare -- to meet not with Trump, but with Vice President Mike Pence. Word had circulated through the Trump administration that she was ingratiating herself with the president, fueling suspicions that there might have been a discussion about her serving as his running mate in November. Noem assured Pence that she wanted to help the ticket however she could, according to an official present.She never stated it directly, but the vice president found her message clear: She was not after his job.There is no indication Trump wants to replace Pence. Trump last month told Fox News that he's sticking with Pence, whom he called a "friend."Yet with polls showing the president trailing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Republicans at risk of being shut out of power in Congress, a host of party leaders have begun eyeing the future, maneuvering around a mercurial president.Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas was in New Hampshire late last month, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida is angling to take over the Senate Republican campaign arm to cultivate donors, and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is defending Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading expert on infectious disease, while separating herself from Trump on some national security issues.At the same time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is attempting to shore up his conservative credentials by pushing a hard line on China, and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky are attempting to reclaim their standing as fiscal hawks by loudly opposing additional spending on coronavirus relief.Drawing less attention, but working equally hard to burnish her national profile, is Noem. The governor, 48, has installed a TV studio in her state capitol, become a Fox News regular and started taking advice from Trump's former 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who still has the president's ear.Next month, she'll address a county Republican dinner in Iowa."There seems like there might be some interest on her part -- it certainly gets noticed," Jon Hansen, a Republican state representative in South Dakota, said of Noem's positioning for national office.Her efforts have paid off, as evidenced by the news-driving celebration at Mount Rushmore. Yet Noem's attempts to raise her profile have not been without complications. And they illustrate the risks in political maneuvering with a president who has little restraint when it comes to confidentiality, and a White House that shares his obsession about, and antenna for, palace intrigue.To the surprise of some of her own advisers, Noem flew with Trump to Washington on Air Force One late in the evening after his Mount Rushmore speech. Joined by Lewandowski, she and the president spoke for over an hour privately during the flight -- a fact that Trump and some of his aides soon shared with other Republicans, according to officials familiar with his disclosure.An aide to Noem, Maggie Seidel, said she did not raise the vice presidency with Trump. Lewandowski, who is a paid adviser to the Pence-aligned Great America PAC, also denied that he or the governor ever raised the subject of replacing Pence on the ticket.Lewandowski, in a brief interview, described Noem as a star who "has a huge future in Republican politics."A White House official laughed at the notion that Trump is open to replacing Pence, a move that, among other things, would exude desperation. And regarding the phone call about adding the president's image to Rushmore, the official noted that it is a federal, not state, monument.Still, word of the Air Force One conversation quickly reached White House officials, including those in Pence's office.A short time later, Noem was jetting back to the capital, this time in less grand fashion, after requesting a meeting with Pence.White House aides kept Noem from meeting with Trump again, one person familiar with the planning said. But Pence's office gladly put his session with the governor on his public schedule and the vice president tweeted about it afterward. Noem's aides, hoping to tamp down questions about the second trip, emphasized that she had also met with officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies while she was in the capital.One official close to the vice president said that Noem did not discuss her Air Force One flight with Pence but used the conversation to say she wanted to help the campaign however she could. The official suggested that the vice president's team has an opportunity for her in mind: helping Pence prepare to debate whichever woman Biden selects as his running mate.Yet one senior Trump adviser has recently lamented to others that Trump could have boosted his reelection campaign had he replaced Pence with a woman, according to people familiar with the conversations. One potential candidate mentioned was Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador who is close to the president's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.However, Pence has been an unstinting ally of Trump, and the vice president retains a number of allies in the president's orbit."I think we'll win South Dakota either way," Brian Ballard, a lobbyist close to Trump, said.That these kinds of speculative conversations about a different running mate have taken place at all, though, illustrates the depth of frustration in Trump's inner circle over his political fortunes. With early voting starting in less than two months in some states, the president's ineffectual response to the coronavirus has alienated voters and made the election primarily a referendum on him.Speculation has long lingered in Republican circles that Trump could swap out Pence for Haley, partly because of the president's own musings about it.For a time in 2018, Trump queried people about Pence's loyalty. And officials in the administration, including some close to Pence, said they believed that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were angling to replace him with Haley.In his memoir, "The Room Where It Happened," the former national security adviser John Bolton recounts how, flying to Iraq on Christmas night in 2018, the president asked him for his opinion on jettisoning Pence.Noem, the daughter of a rancher who took over her family's property after her father died, has insisted that she has little appetite to return to Washington, where she served as South Dakota's sole House member for eight years before becoming governor."She's focused on being the governor of South Dakota," said Seidel, her senior adviser.The president's transition team contacted her about interviewing for a Cabinet post after the 2016 election, but she was already planning to run for governor then. Some of her allies believe she'd also be open to the interior or agricultural secretary roles in a second Trump term before the 2024 race.Noem's poll numbers have increased after a difficult first year in office. But to some of her aides, Lewandowski, a hard-charging New Englander, has been a disruptive presence in Pierre, South Dakota's small state capital. He appeared as a guest speaker at one luncheon with cabinet officials and pressed the governor's appointees to make a more aggressive case for her, irritating the state officials, according to a person briefed on the events.The governor is now on her third chief of staff because the last one, Joshua Shields, left in part because of the increased role of Lewandowski, according to South Dakota Republicans.Lewandowski has sought opportunities that could benefit both Trump and Noem. He recently discussed with the president's advisers sending Trump to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, where there would be a big crowd and where the two might have appeared together again; Trump's aides did not want him in the same politically safe state twice in two months.Noem has been a steadfast ally of Trump and has mirrored his handling of the virus.She has pushed for schools to reopen for in-person classes, denounced mask mandates and had South Dakota participate in a study on hydroxychloroquine, the malaria treatment Trump has trumpeted.It was her star turn at Mount Rushmore, though, that has gotten Republicans talking and been a boon to South Dakota tourism, the state's second-largest industry.Recognizing the president's immense interest in the monument, Noem worked with his Interior Department to ensure there would be fireworks for the celebration, a long-standing priority for Trump. There had been no fireworks there for the previous decade because of environmental and fire-risk concerns.In the weeks leading up to the event, Noem went on Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News to make clear she was expecting to "have a large event" for the president and would not require social distancing or masks.Then, as the president sat watching her remarks in a bunting-wrapped box just offstage, she praised America as a place where someone who was "just a farm kid" could become "the first female governor of South Dakota."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 11:09:30 -0400
  • 6 Gulf Arab countries back extending UN arms embargo on Iran

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    A six-nation bloc of Gulf Arab nations torn apart by internal strife endorsed an extension of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire. The Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council backing an extension of an arms embargo that's kept Iran from purchasing foreign-made weapons like fighter jets, tanks and warships. The GCC — comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — alleged Iran had "not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighboring countries, directly and through organizations and movements armed and trained by Iran.”

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 09:43:09 -0400
  • Puerto Rico halts primary voting in centers lacking ballots

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    Puerto Rico on Sunday was forced to partially suspend voting for primaries marred by a lack of ballots as officials called on the president of the U.S. territory’s elections commission to resign. Meanwhile, Vázquez called the situation “a disaster” and demanded the resignation of the president of the elections commission. “They made the people of Puerto Rico, not the candidates, believe that they were prepared,” she said.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 09:35:08 -0400
  • 5.1-magnitude quake hits North Carolina, causes minor damage

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    The most powerful earthquake to hit North Carolina in more than 100 years shook much of the state early Sunday, rattling homes, businesses and residents. The National Weather Service in Greenville said the 5.1-magnitude temblor struck at 8:07 a.m., following a much smaller quake several hours earlier. There were no reports of serious injuries, but some minor structural damage was reported in Sparta, as well as cracks in roads.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 09:15:43 -0400
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