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  • Florida high court sides with governor on felon voter rights

    Golocal247.com news

    The Florida Supreme Court sided with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday in a legal dispute over restoring voting rights to felons with unpaid fines — one of many clashes over the ballot box in a state that will play a crucial role in this year's presidential election. The court's advisory opinion — requested by the Republican governor last year — has no immediate legal consequence, but could influence federal judges weighing legal wranglings over the voter-approved measure known as Amendment 4. In a separate opinion, the court found no reason to prevent a measure from going to voters this year that would tweak the state's constitution to specify that “only a citizen” of the United States can vote in Florida.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:03:32 -0500
  • Groom accused of sexually assaulting underage server at his wedding gets probation

    Golocal247.com news

    A South Jersey man will serve six years of probation after admitting to indecent exposure and simple assault at his wedding venue.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:31:29 -0500
  • Jordan, Meadows Send Letter to FISA Court Questioning Kris Appointment

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    House Oversight Committee Republicans Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows issued nine demands to FISA Court presiding judge James Boasberg in a Thursday letter in response to the appointment of Obama Department of Justice lawyer David Kris to help oversee the FBI’s reform of FISA applications.The letter, obtained by National Review, asked Boasberg to identify who else besides Kris was considered, whether Kris’s past defense of the FISA application to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page was taken into account, and whether “the FISC bears any responsibility for the illegal surveillance of Carter Page,” among other concerns.“If the FISC’s goal is to hold the FBI accountable for its serious misconduct, Mr. Kris does not appear to be an objective — or likely effective — amicus curiae for several reasons,” the letter states. “At minimum, the selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI to ensure it effectuates meaningful reform.”A Republican official with knowledge of the letter told National Review that the letter signaled a concerted Congressional effort to reform FISA.“For too long, the FBI has remained largely un-checked when it comes to the FISA process. Congress must ensure that FISC stands ready to protect civil liberties without even the slightest indicia of political bias,” he said.The letter appears to be a follow-up to Monday comments from Meadows, who said in an interview that Republicans were “appealing this to the Judge” regarding Kris's appointment. The North Carolina Congressman also slammed the move to appoint Kris, saying that “there’s no way” Kris is the right man to address abuses “if he doesn’t even acknowledge that there is a problem.”Kris, a former assistant attorney general in the Obama DOJ’s national security division, has extensive experience with the FISA Court, serving as an amicus curiae, or special adviser, since March 2016.A frequent contributor to Lawfare blog, Kris was an outspoken defender of the FBI’s authority in surveilling Page, who was accused of being a Russian agent.Following the release of heavily-redacted FISA applications used to surveil Page in July 2018, Kris doubled down. “It seems to me very likely that if we get below the tip of the iceberg into the submerged parts and more is revealed, it will get worse, not better,” for Page, he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow at the time. The letter references Kris's comment to Maddow as evidence that he is biased in favor of the bureau and against Page.DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed in December that the FBI knowingly withheld information that Page was a CIA informant in order to obtain a FISA warrant against him, and even doctored an email to keep the information from the court. The report also revealed that the bureau did not inform the FISC of the partisan origins of the uncorroborated Steele dossier despite its playing a "central and essential" role in their application to surveil Page.In their letter, Jordan and Meadows also request that Boasberg give greater insight into the details surrounding the court’s assessment of the Page applications, including when it “first received any indication that information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page was misleading or false.”

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:10:25 -0500
  • U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait less than week after election

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    A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the island's defense ministry said, less than a week after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen won re-election by a landslide on a platform of standing up to China which claims the island. The ship sailed in a northerly direction through the sensitive waterway and Taiwan's armed forces monitored it throughout, the ministry said in a brief statement on Friday, describing the sailing as an "ordinary mission". Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial and diplomatic issue and Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 19:29:06 -0500
  • This Harvard-educated, NASA-qualified, Navy SEAL gives his kids this simple advice every day

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    "It wasn't as simple as, 'I want to do this because it's an accomplishment,'" Jonny Kim told Insider. "It's never been that shallow for me."

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:29:53 -0500
  • 10 Home Prep Tips Before Going on Vacation

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    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:00:00 -0500
  • Fires, then floods: How much can a koala bear?

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    A week ago, koalas at an Australian wildlife park were in the path of raging bushfires. On Friday, they were soaking wet and being carried to safety from flash floods. Months of drought that have contributed to Australia's catastrophic bushfire season have this week given way to huge downpours in some of the blaze-ravaged areas.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:53:25 -0500
  • Republican tells female reporter 30 schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with her

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    A Republican lawmaker is facing calls for a sexual harassment investigation after he told a young female reporter that a group of high school boys “could have a lot of fun” with her.Peter Lucido, a Michigan state senator, has been accused of making inappropriate comments to local reporter Allison Donahue during a tour of the state Capitol.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:09:00 -0500
  • Secrets Stolen: What Will China Do With Data On Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense?

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    If China can break into top-secret Israeli computers, they can break into America’s—and everybody else’s, too.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0500
  • 'Days of God': A look at Iran's mounting crises

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    The Islamic Republic has been reeling from one crisis to another, from the targeted killing by the United States of its top general to the Revolutionary Guard's accidental shootdown of a passenger plane carrying scores of young people, most of them Iranians. U.S. sanctions have crippled its economy as tensions with America have soared. In a rare Friday sermon in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stuck to the playbook Iran has relied on since 1979, blaming the country's woes on the U.S. and other Western powers, and proclaiming that Iranians still support the Islamic Revolution.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:50:14 -0500
  • 'Kill shot that took them out': Video reportedly shows 2nd Iranian missile hitting passenger jet

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    Surveillance video circulating on social media appears to show two Iranian missiles slamming into a Ukrainian jet that crashed, killing 176.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 15:58:39 -0500
  • Michael Avenatti Tossed in Jail for ‘Foreseeable Future’

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    LOS ANGELES—United States District Court Judge James V. Selna ordered today that Stormy Daniels’ ex-attorney Michael Avenatti remain in federal custody for possible violation of his conditions of pretrial release and be transported “forthwith” to New York, where he will stand trial next week.The judge found there was probable cause Avenatti had committed crimes in violation of the terms of his bond and ordered the embattled celebrity attorney detained without bond. Avenatti will continue to be held in an Orange County jail pending transfer to New York and will remain in custody “for the foreseeable future,” according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.Prosecutors in California say that since Avenatti was released on bond after a not-guilty plea to federal charges in March, he has engaged in a scheme to defraud victims—ranging from former colleagues and clients to two ex-wives—by concealing funds and “structuring” currency transactions to amounts below the $10,000 amount that w0uld automatically trigger reporting by the bank to the government.As The Daily Beast first reported, the pugnacious lawyer was arrested by federal authorities on Tuesday evening during an appearance at State Bar Court in Los Angeles, during a disciplinary hearing in which the State Bar of California claimed Avenatti had scammed a client out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.In New York, Avenatti faces federal charges that he attempted to extort millions out of Nike in order to keep mum on the sports company reportedly paying out high-school basketball players. “I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap,” Avenatti allegedly threatened Nike’s legal team. He also faces wire fraud and bank fraud charges in California, over allegedly misappropriating a client’s settlement money. If convicted, he could face decades in prison.Michael Avenatti Arrested by Feds at California State Bar HearingMichael Avenatti Lived the High Life While Owing Millions to IRSA court filing by the government, which the Santa Ana court unsealed on Wednesday after the arrest, alleges that Avenatti committed a slew of state and federal offenses during the 10 months since he was granted pretrial release in California—including mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. By Judge Selna's estimate, Avenatti engaged in more than 20 cash transactions in excess of $5,000 since he was arraigned in March. In remanding Avenatti into custody, Judge Selna declared that the former media darling’s release on pretrial bond posed an “economic danger to the community.”He ruled in favor of federal prosecutors who argued that Avenatti lied to investigators and directed money he was obligated under judicial order to pay to creditors, using it instead to fund a lavish lifestyle that included an $11,000-a-month apartment, expensive artwork and vacations, membership in an exclusive private club, and a luxury car.  Other allegations of fraudulent activity from the court filing include arranging for his first ex-wife, Christine Avenatti Carlin, to use a portion of a $717,000 payment to purchase a $50,000 Mercedes Benz in her name that he and his personal driver repeatedly used to transport him. Avenatti, the document says, completed the paperwork to purchase the Mercedes in his own name on May 6, 2019, but returned days later with Carlin to purchase the car in her name. Carlin and her current husband, Brian Carlin, are the third-party sureties for Avenatti’s March release on an unsecured $300,000 appearance bond pending trial in the California case. In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Sagel raised the possibility that Carlin received as much as $200,000 in payment from Avenatti in return for serving as his third-party surety. “He paid her to be a surety to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars, minus the $50,000 for the car she bought for him,” Sagel told the court. Afterward, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to say if Carlin or her husband were currently under federal investigation. Prosecutors also allege that Avenatti used nearly half the proceeds from a $33,000 cashiers check to buy back a piece of art work at auction, despite standing judicial orders to use such money to pay back his numerous creditors. According to court filing, Avenatti owes roughly $5 million to a former law partner pursuant to a judgment issued in the LA Superior Court; roughly $2.2 million to a former client pursuant to a judgment issued in Santa Barbara Superior Court; roughly $2.5 million to his second wife, Lisa Storie Avenatti, pursuant to spousal and child support orders issued in Orange County Superior Court; and approximately $1.5 million to the Washington State Department of Revenue pursuant to a tax warrant. Another client who is a star witness in the California criminal case alleges that Avenatti stole nearly $840,000 from him, funneling money from a lawsuit settlement fund to his own personal use. Lawyers for Avenatti argued that the purchases referenced in the government's filing were properly reported to the court's Pretrial Services Officer. Due to the rapid pace of events that have unfolded since Avenatti’s unexpected arrest, the pretrial officer has not yet made a determination in the matter, the court said. Avenatti’s attorney Dean Steward downplayed the government’s case, calling the 59-page filing an “attempt to collect debts through the U.S. Attorney's Office.” Steward argued that Avenatti’s attempts to “make it harder” on his numerous creditors is not a crime, and that there is “no law or statute that says he has to pay [his creditors] in any particular order.” He also disputed a number of the more attention-grabbing purchases, insisting that the Mercedes belongs to Avenatti’s ex-wife, and stressing that dues paid to maintain private club membership were “valuable and transferrable.”   At one point in the hearing, Steward leveled an inflammatory accusation against Assistant U.S. Attorney Sagel, claiming the prosecutor was acting out a personal animus against Avenatti because one of Avenatti’s alleged victims is being represented by high-profile former U.S. federal prosecutor Andrew Stolper. “Are you accusing Mr. Sagel of misconduct?” the judge asked him. “Of course, absolutely, without a doubt,” Steward replied. Sagel called the accusation “sad,” and said Steward had heard it from “an individual sitting four feet away” from him, referring to Avenatti, who was seated at the defense table. Avenatti received the judge’s ruling with a stony expression and was quietly escorted from court in the custody of a federal marshal. He is currently being held in a jail in Santa Ana, which has a contract with the federal government to house prisoners.  Prior to his arrest, Avenatti had been making plans to board a flight to New York in preparation for his trial scheduled to begin on Tuesday. With today’s ruling, he will be transported by authorities and remain in custody while he awaits to the start of his trial. 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.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 15:42:38 -0500
  • Ukraine asks FBI to help probe suspected Russian hack of Burisma

    Golocal247.com news

    Ukraine has asked the FBI in the United States for help investigating a suspected cyberattack by Russian military hackers on Burisma, an energy company caught up in the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump. The Ukrainian interior ministry on Thursday also announced an investigation into the possible illegal surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch, formerly the American ambassador to Kiev, following the release of text messages this week by the U.S. Congress as part of the impeachment case. The FBI said it had visited the home and business of Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut who sent the text messages to Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, that suggested Hyde had Yovanovitch under surveillance.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 07:45:50 -0500
  • U.S., Japan May Invest in Indonesia Islands Near South China Sea

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    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S., Japan and South Korea are keen to invest in Indonesia’s Natuna Islands as President Joko Widodo steps up efforts to rebuff Chinese claims over the resource-rich waters in the South China Sea.The countries are interested in building fisheries processing and manufacturing industries in Natuna, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan, told reporters in Jakarta on Friday. Indonesia can manage the sea dispute with China without going into a war, Pandjaitan, a former general, said.“The U.S. investors have expressed their interest, along with investors from Japan, Korea and China,” Padjaitan said. “For us, it doesn’t matter where they come from.”Widodo’s efforts to lure foreign investment into the Natuna islands may ratchet up tension with Beijing following the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels into an area claimed by Indonesia as an exclusive economic zone. Indonesia is not a claimant in the broader dispute over the South China Sea, but it does insist on its sovereign rights to waters around the Natunas.Beijing says while it has no territorial disputes with Jakarta, claims over maritime interests in certain waters in the South China Sea “overlap.”“War is the last resort in our negotiation process,” Pandjaitan said referring to the standoff with China on Natuna. “But under no circumstances will we negotiate our sovereignty and territorial rights.”Jokowi, as Widodo is commonly known, visited the Natuna islands last week and asserted Indonesia’s sovereignty over the waters after authorities deployed fighter jets and warships to push back the Chinese fishing vessels, which were accompanied by coast guard ships. The president also inaugurated a fisheries processing center in the region and days later invited Japan to invest in Natuna to develop the fishing industry.Indonesia is also seeking investment by Vietnamese marine processing companies. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met officials of Hai Nam Co., a seafood importer this week in Ho Chi Minh City, and asked it to explore a joint venture with Indonesian companies for a fisheries processing unit in areas including Natuna, according to a foreign ministry statement Thursday.It has identified a location in north Natuna for a fishing port, while southern Natuna will serve as a base for the navy, Pandjaitan said. The country will also soon acquire its first ocean-going vessel, probably from Denmark, to beef up its sea powers, he said.To contact the reporters on this story: Arys Aditya in Jakarta at aaditya5@bloomberg.net;Harry Suhartono in Jakarta at hsuhartono@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net, Thomas Kutty AbrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 01:39:51 -0500
  • Camera Captures the Moment a Deer Sheds Its Antlers in the Middle of the Night

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    If you blink you might miss it

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:21:34 -0500
  • Philippines reimposes ban on workers deploying to Kuwait

    Golocal247.com news

    The Philippines said Friday it was reimposing a ban on its citizens going to work in Kuwait after a Filipina was allegedly killed by her employer, echoing a 2018 row between the two countries. President Rodrigo Duterte approved the ban as his government accused the emirate of covering up the killing of a maid, one of about 240,000 Filipinos working in the Gulf state. Duterte's government briefly banned Filipinos deploying for work in Kuwait two years ago amid a diplomatic row that began with the discovery of the remains of a murdered Filipina maid in her employers' freezer.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 19:16:41 -0500
  • Bureaucracy to brutality: New evidence reveals IS hierarchy

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    Documents compiled by a U.S.-based Syrian rights group reveal how Islamic State militants used one of their most powerful bureaucratic bodies to regulate daily life and impose and execute penalties. The Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Center said Thursday that the evidence — documents produced by IS itself — could help identify individuals responsible for atrocities during the militants' four-year reign of terror and lead to criminal prosecutions. The 24-page report, called “Judge, Jury and Executioner,” is based on dozens of documents obtained by SJAC from inside Syria and collected by a local activist from abandoned IS offices in Raqqa province, where the militants also had their self-declared capital in a city that carries the same name.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:13:28 -0500
  • Iranian general says officials lied about shooting down jet to defend national security

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    An Iranian general defended his government's decision to lie for days about whether it shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people onboard.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:03:07 -0500
  • The Iranian government is turning on its military after it lied about the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane

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    Experts say the Iranian government's U-turn on its military reflects that it is struggling to control the narrative around the downing of the plane.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:27:00 -0500
  • Princess Cruises responds after 'Marriage Story' actress speaks out, sues alleging bedbugs

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    A "Marriage Story" actress and her husband are suing Princess Cruises, alleging their room was infested with bedbugs.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:57:20 -0500
  • Aide Accused of Murdering Former Arkansas State Senator Offered ‘Gold’ From Jail for Hit on Ex: Prosecutors

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    A woman awaiting trial for allegedly killing a former Arkansas state senator was hit with new charges Tuesday after she promised fellow inmates she would give them “gold and silver” to murder the victim’s ex-husband and his new wife, prosecutors said. Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, who pleaded not guilty to several charges in the June murder of former State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, was slapped with two counts of soliciting to commit murder and two counts of solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence in connection with the elaborate plot she allegedly tried to orchestrate from prison.The former campaign staffer for Collins-Smith has been behind bars since June 14—10 days after the 57-year-old Republican was found fatally stabbed and wrapped in a blanket under a tarp at the end of her Pocahontas, Arkansas, driveway. Former Arkansas State Senator’s Shooting Death Investigated as ‘Homicide’Authorities at the time said O’Donnell was caught on video removing Collins-Smith’s home surveillance cameras on May 28, 2019—the last day the politician was seen alive—but have not elaborated on the details of the murder due to a gag order. O’Donnell, 49, faces the death penalty on the original murder charges and is being held without bond in Jackson County. “These newest charges further cement in our minds that the police have arrested the right person. Rebecca O’Donnell’s threats are being treated very seriously but have not deterred our faith in what we are committed to: justice for Linda,” the family of Collins-Smith said in a Wednesday statement to The Daily Beast. “Thank you all for your continued support, prayers and well wishes.”According to several jailhouse informants, O’Donnell allegedly tried to hire two fellow inmates to stage a murder-suicide at the home of the lawmaker’s ex, former state Judge Phil Smith, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the Jackson County Circuit Court on Tuesday. During a Nov. 7 interview, one of the inmates told an Arkansas State Police special agent that O’Donnell wanted her to “shoot or hang Mr. Smith” and include a “suicide note” that the 49-year-old had handwritten, the affidavit states. The same inmate was then told to pack a bag to make it seem like his new wife “was in the process of leaving him,” the affidavit states.Prosecutors allege O’Donnell told other inmates that “Phil Smith needed to be killed” so that “charges would be dropped off her.” In exchange for the hits, the inmates were told they could take a bag of “gold and silver” from Smith’s home—which investigators said had been appraised to be worth between $20,000 and $30,000 during his divorce.O’Donnell, in addition to working on Collins-Smith’s campaign, had served as a witness in the couple’s acrimonious divorce, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.They Were Hired to Murder a Man’s Ex-Wife, But Accidentally Killed Her Sister: SheriffThe former campaign staffer also allegedly tried to enlist the inmates to go to Randolph County Jail to blow up her 2005 Honda Civic so she could “destroy any evidence” that could be used in her murder trial because “police had planted stuff in her truck,” the affidavit states. On top of that, she allegedly asked two inmates to kill a judge and prosecutor connected to her murder case.The prosecutor, Henry Boyce, was taken off the case in December without citing a reason. “My family’s faith in Becky is unwavering. We cannot imagine the evidence will actually substantiate these allegations. The allegations defy believability. I won’t even comment on the informant’s extensive criminal history but instead will wait to see if the state produces credible evidence at trial,” Tim Loggains, O’Donnell’s fiancé, said a statement. One inmate told police that while she never considered killing Smith, she was worried “a more gullible” inmate might. The three other inmates who reported O’Donnell also stated they refused the murder requests.Maryland Millionaire Daniel Beckwitt Found Guilty of Murder in 2017 Death of Man Who Helped Dig Bunker TunnelsO’Donnell’s defense attorney, Lee Short, denied the allegations in a statement to ABC News, casting doubt on the inmates’ credibility, insisting they had an incentive to offer information for a reduced punishment. Short did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.“It’s not surprising at all—inmates do it all the time,” Short said. “In high-profile cases, especially homicides, people tend to seek opportunities to improve their situations by giving statements against people.”Collins-Smith was first elected to the state senate in 2014 but lost her re-election bid in 2018. Prior to her time in the Senate, the lawmaker served in the statehouse of representatives from 2011 to 2013. While she was elected as a Democrat, Collins-Smith switched parties just months after taking office, citing a change in “ideals.”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.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 13:51:07 -0500
  • Merkel to seek end to Huawei dispute in her conservative camp: sources

    Golocal247.com news

    Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet senior conservative lawmakers on Thursday to resolve a dispute in her own party over whether to bar China's Huawei [HWT.UL] from the country's 5G network rollout, party sources said. Merkel's conservatives are divided on whether to support a proposal by their Social Democrat junior coalition partners that, if approved, would effectively shut out the Chinese technology giant from the network. Handelsblatt business daily was first to report on Wednesday the planned meeting between Merkel and senior conservative lawmakers.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 18:44:48 -0500
  • North Korea Fact: Trillions of Dollars in Wealth Is Sitting Below the Surface

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    The reclusive regime sits on $10 trillion in minerals.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 02:33:00 -0500
  • Australia’s Wildfire Crisis: Key Numbers Behind the Disaster

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    (Bloomberg) -- Australia is in the grip of deadly wildfires burning across the country, triggering an emotive debate about the impact of climate change in the world’s driest-inhabited continent. The unprecedented scale of the crisis, and images of terrified tourists sheltering on beaches from the infernos, has shocked many Australians.With the nation only midway through summer and suffering a prolonged drought, authorities fear the death toll will continue to mount as more homes and land are destroyed. Here are some key details of the crisis:How many people have died?Since the fire season began months ago during the southern hemisphere winter, at least 28 people have died. Among the fatalities are volunteer firefighters, including a young man who died when his 10-ton truck was flipped over in what officials have described as a “fire tornado.” Australia’s worst wildfires came in 2009 when the Black Saturday blazes left 180 people dead.How big an area has burned?Massive tracts of land have burned. Almost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) have been destroyed -- that’s almost the size of England. In New South Wales state alone, more than 5.2 million hectares of forest and bush has been destroyed, while more than 1.4 million hectares has been burned in Victoria. The fires are so large they are generating their own weather systems and causing dry lightning strikes that in turn ignite more. One blaze northwest of Sydney, the Gospers Mountain fire, has destroyed about 512,000 hectares -- about seven times the size of Singapore.The scale of the blazes dwarfs the California wildfires in 2018, which destroyed about 1.7 million acres, and about 260,000 acres in 2019.How many homes have been destroyed?Some 2,600 homes have been destroyed, mostly in New South Wales. Scores of rural towns have been impacted, including the community of Balmoral about 150 kilometers southwest of Sydney, which was largely destroyed before Christmas.What’s the economic impact?The near-term cost is mounting. Toxic smoke shrouding Canberra has shuttered businesses and government departments and forced national carrier Qantas Airways Ltd. to cancel flights. The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of 2020 that brings in an estimated A$290 million, has seen qualification games disrupted due to the smoke. Economists estimate the wildfires and associated drought could cut up to half a percentage point off GDP growth as agriculture, tourism and sentiment take a hit.How has wildlife been affected?The University of Sydney estimates that 800 million animals have been killed by the bushfires in New South Wales alone since September and one billion have died nationally. The “highly conservative figure” includes mammals, birds and reptiles killed either directly by the fires, or later due to loss of food and habitat. The fires have raised concerns in particular about koalas, with authorities saying as much as 30% of their habitat in some areas had been destroyed. Images of the marsupials drinking water from bottles after being rescued have gone viral on social media.How can I help?Donations are flooding in to help with the relief effort, led by wealthy philanthropists, companies, investment banks and a string of celebrities. Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation has pledged A$70 million. Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman, who is Australian, is pitching in A$1 million, while pledges have come in from stars such as Elton John, Chris Hemsworth, Bette Midler and Nicole Kidman.\--With assistance from Jason Scott.To contact the reporter on this story: Edward Johnson in Sydney at ejohnson28@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net, Jason ScottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 18:15:40 -0500
  • Honduran migrant caravan rumbles on through Guatemala

    Golocal247.com news

    More than 1,000 Honduran migrants broke through a police barrier on the border with Guatemala on Thursday in a bid to join hundreds of others heading for the United States. The latest Central American migrant caravan formed despite increased attempts by President Donald Trump to keep them out of the US. Last year the US signed a deal with Guatemala that obliges migrants traveling through it and seeking asylum in the US to first request protection in the Central American nation.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 01:55:04 -0500
  • Report: Israeli home demolitions in east Jerusalem spiked

    Golocal247.com news

    Israeli authorities demolished homes in Palestinian areas of east Jerusalem at a significantly higher rate in 2019 than the previous year, according to an Israeli advocacy group. In a new report, Ir Amim said 104 housing units were demolished in 2019, compared() to 72 units in 2018. Aviv Tatarsky, the Ir Amim researcher who wrote the report released Wednesday, said the group found that only 7% of housing units advanced by city planners last year were for Palestinian neighborhoods.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:00:52 -0500
  • Biden allegedly told Bush in 2002 he'd get the Nobel Peace Prize if he could invade Iraq quickly

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    Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has been distancing himself from his 2002 vote for the invasion of Iraq as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 14:23:56 -0500
  • The Best Compact Fitness Equipment Under $300

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    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:56:52 -0500
  • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, entire Cabinet resign

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    Dmitry Medvedev made the announcement after Vladimir Putin unveiled a series of changes Medvedev said would alter the country's balance of power.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 15:35:45 -0500
  • FBI arrests 3 alleged neo-Nazis who were armed and anticipating a race war

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    The arrests come ahead of a big gun-rights rally in Virginia, where the governor has warned that there are "credible threats" of malicious activity.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:03:59 -0500
  • Qatar further eases restrictions on migrant workers' exit

    Qatar said on Thursday it had scrapped restrictions on leaving the country for nearly all migrant workers as part of reforms answering accusations of exploitation especially in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup. The measure removes exit visas for hundreds of thousands of domestic workers left out of earlier reforms - mainly from Asian nations like Nepal, India and the Philippines - whom rights groups said were left open to abuse by being excluded. Unions and activists have documented labor exploitation, dangerous conditions and deaths of workers building stadiums and infrastructure for both the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the upcoming event in Qatar.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 06:46:11 -0500
  • A man who was put up in a Comfort Inn 'boardroom suite' discovered it was literally a boardroom with a bed

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    The stranded traveler shared his amusement on Twitter, where the photo of the "boardroom suite" hotel room went viral.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 17:37:03 -0500
  • Brazil Looks to India as Trade Ties with Argentina Deteriorate

    (Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is set to visit India next week, aiming to boost trade with a rapidly growing market as ties with neighboring Argentina deteriorate.With the Asian nation expanding around 7% a year over the past decade, Brazil sees a huge potential for its exports of food and commodities, according to Marcos Troyjo, the special secretary of foreign trade and international relations at the Economy Ministry.“International experience shows us that people eat more and invest in infrastructure when their income doubles,” Troyjo said in an interview in Brasilia.Why in India, 5% GDP Growth Is Cause for Alarm: QuickTakeBrazil sees a chance to increase its $7 billion in annual bilateral trade with India to $25 billion in the next few years. With the South Asian giant doubling its per capita income in the last 10 years and set to overtake China in terms of population in the next decade, India represents a massive potential market for Brazil as it opens its economy to the world, Troyjo said.Argentine RowsBrazil’s plans to deepen its relationship with India come as its ties with neighboring Argentina deteriorate.While 2019 saw the two economies work together to push for a trade deal between the Mercosur customs union and the European Union, relations have soured since the election of Bolsonaro’s ideological opposite, Alberto Fernandez.With both the new Argentine government and many lawmakers in the EU lukewarm about the agreement, its future is unclear.“We are aiming for a greater integration of Brazil into the world economy,” Troyjo said. “What we are going to do with Mercosur is in line with this. But all the signs that we have seen in the last few weeks have been bad.”Read more: Implement EU-Mercosur Trade Deal Swiftly, Says BolsonaroBrazil would not tolerate any foot-dragging on the part of its Mercosur partners, he added. “We cannot allow, as in the past, to travel at the speed of a convoy, where everyone’s speed is determined by the speed of the slowest vehicle.”Davos MessageBefore the trip to India, the economic team, including Troyjo and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.Their message to the potential investors at the Swiss resort will be that Brazil has managed to reform its pension system, in contrast to those countries that are still increasing their spending on old-age benefits.Brazil is swimming against the tide, Troyjo said, that is the great difference between the country and the rest of the world.“We have a huge stock of liquidity in the world and a lack of investment in infrastructure,” he said. “We want to tackle this great paradox.”While Brazil is also looking to develop its relationship with China, this will not extend to the signing of a trade deal. Instead Brasilia wants to see the EU-Mercosur deal finalized in order to make the country more attractive for the Chinese.Troyjo said that the signing of the first phase of a U.S.-China agreement is a welcome development and should have a positive impact on Brazil. According to Troyjo, at this moment in time what the country needs most is a reduction in the level of global uncertainty in order to move ahead with economic reforms.“It’s best to do this when the skies are blue than in the middle of a rainstorm,” he said.To contact the reporters on this story: Martha Beck in Brasilia at mbeck96@bloomberg.net;Simone Iglesias in Brasília at spiglesias@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Robert Jameson, Bruce DouglasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 16:42:39 -0500
  • Trump threatened UK with 25% car tariffs unless it agreed to accuse Iran of breaking nuclear deal

    Golocal247.com news

    Donald Trump threatened the UK with a 25 per cent tariff on its cars unless the British government officially accused Iran of breaking the 2015 nuclear deal, it has been reported.The secret threat last week, first reported by The Washington Post, which cited unnamed European officials, would have seen the tariff imposed on all European automobile imports to the US unless Britain, France and Germany agreed to the ultimatum.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 08:42:13 -0500
  • Truck slams into Illinois Starbucks; 4 sent to hospitals

    A pickup truck slammed into an Illinois Starbucks on Thursday, injuring several people and causing massive damage to the coffee shop, police said. Patrick Polidori, public affairs officer for McHenry police, told The Associated Press that the driver and four people inside the cafe were injured. Police said it wasn't known why the Dodge Ram ran off the roadway in McHenry, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, and struck a vehicle at the drive-thru window before colliding with the building.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 19:48:14 -0500
  • Race to save animals on Australia's fire-ravaged 'Galapagos'

    Golocal247.com news

    On an island famed as Australia's "Galapagos" for its unique and abundant wildlife, rescuers are racing to save rare animals in a bushfire-ravaged landscape. The charred forest floor on Kangaroo Island is littered with corpses of animals incinerated by the blazes that swept through two weeks ago. Unprecedented fires across swathes of southern and eastern Australia over the past five months have killed an estimated billion animals.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 03:36:44 -0500
  • Royal Caribbean blames 'reckless' grandfather in toddler Chloe Wiegand's death

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    "His actions... were reckless and irresponsible and the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents," Royal Caribbean said in court documents.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:48:54 -0500
  • Former Philippine police chief will be charged for drug war corruption

    Golocal247.com news

    The former chief police enforcer of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs will be charged with corruption for allegedly protecting officers linked to the narcotics trade, the country's justice department said Thursday. Oscar Albayalde resigned in October after serving as Philippine police chief for more than a year, having presided over an anti-narcotics crackdown that left thousands of drug suspects dead.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:25:37 -0500
  • Pentagon to soon resume Saudi training halted after base shooting

    The Pentagon said on Thursday it would soon announce a resumption in operational training of Saudi military officers in the United States, suspended after a Saudi officer's fatal shooting of three Americans at a Florida naval base last month. The U.S. military grounded Saudi pilots and restricted the some 850 visiting Saudi military personnel in the country to classroom training as part of a "safety stand-down" during which time it reviewed vetting procedures. Next week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper is due to visit the base in Pensacola, Florida, where the shooting took place and will brief base leadership on planned improvements in vetting of foreign military personnel and changes to security procedures, including physical security at U.S. bases, the Pentagon said.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:14:08 -0500
  • Aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln shatters US Navy's record for longest post-Cold War deployment with 10-month around-the-world tour

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    The Lincoln broke a cruise record the ship set nearly two decades earlier, sailed around the world, and sent warnings to both Russia and Iran.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:25:59 -0500
  • Researchers Discover Five New Exoplanets in Our Cosmic Backyard

    Golocal247.com news

    Meet 'Cold Neptune,' a newly discovered exoplanet that redefines the word 'cold.'

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 14:41:13 -0500
  • When Iran Took Americans Hostage, Bernie Backed Iran’s Defenders

    Golocal247.com news

    Bernie Sanders, a top competitor in the Democratic primaries, has attacked Joe Biden for bringing “just a lot of baggage” into the race. But if past views are a major consideration, consider the baggage that Sanders drags into the campaign.Go back over 40 years, to the start of Iran’s long conflict with the United States. On April 1, 1979, the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had returned to Iran from exile to assume command of the revolt, became Supreme Leader in December of that year. His rise was accelerated by the seizure on Nov. 4 of 52 American diplomats and citizens, and citizens of other countries, at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The hostage crisis became the means by which the Ayatollah crushed political opponents in Iran. Dealing with the hostage taking became the overwhelming political crisis for President Jimmy Carter. It lasted 444 days. Virtually all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents—united in support of the hostages and the international call for their freedom. One prominent political figure on the 2020 stage, then almost completely unknown, stood apart by joining a Marxist-Leninist party that not only pledged support for the Iranian theocracy, but also justified the hostage taking by insisting the hostages were all likely CIA agents. Who was that person? It was Bernie Sanders.  Sanders would like the public to believe, as an AP story put it, that “democratic socialism [is] the economic philosophy that has guided his political career.” But that has not always been the case. In 1977, he left the tiny left-wing Liberty Union Party of Vermont that he’d co-founded, and in 1980 instead aligned himself with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the self-proclaimed Trotskyist revolutionary party, became its presidential elector in Vermont, and campaigned for its candidates and platform that defended the Iranian hostage seizure.  In fact, the SWP’s position on Iran is part of what distinguishes it from democratic socialist groups. When its presidential candidate, Andrew Pulley, came to speak at the University of Vermont in October 1980, Sanders chaired the meeting. Pulley attracted only 40 students to his rally, where he concentrated, according to the SWP’s newspaper The Militant, “on the Iran-Iraq war,” and condemned “anti-Iranian hysteria around the U.S. hostages.” Military action against Iran was not at that point theoretical—Pulley’s speech came six months after the attempt to free the hostages in Operation Eagle Claw had failed. In his standard stump speech, Pulley condemned “Carter’s war drive against the Iranian people,” and said that the U.S. “was on the brink of war with Iran,” which would be fought “to protect the oil and banking interests of the Rockefellers and other billionaires.” Americans, he predicted, would soon “pay on the battlefields with our very own lives.” Their criticism of the Ayatollah was intended “to get us ready for war.” And, Pulley charged, the media who criticized those of us who were against “American imperialism” were “declared insane.”  As for the hostages, Pulley said “we can be sure that many of them are simply spies… or people assigned to protect the spies.”  Pulley’s words were a direct echo of what the Islamic  Society of University Teachers and Students had declared on Nov. 4, 1979 : “We defend the capture of this imperialist embassy, which is a center for espionage.” Six months after the 1980 election, on May 21, 1981, Sanders spoke at another Pulley rally. “For the last 40 years,” Sanders said, “the Socialist Workers Party has… been harassed, informed upon, had their offices broken into, had members of their party fired from their jobs, and have been treated with cold contempt by the United States government.”  Even worse, he went on, apparently referring to the Iranian hostage crisis, “now anybody who stands up and fights and says things is automatically a terrorist.” He claimed that he had been investigated himself by the FBI because “I was an elector for the Socialist Workers Party,” referring to his formal role in the 1980 election with the Trotskyists.    The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Asked about the SWP in 1988, Sanders, then the mayor of Burlington and a congressional candidate, talked down the connection, saying that: “I was asked to put my name on the ballot and I did, that’s true." Today, no mention of Sanders’ association with the SWP appears in any campaign biography he has issued. But Sanders remained tied to the party after 1980. He was a featured speaker at a Boston rally for the SWP’s Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate and the party’s slate for Congress in 1982, the year after he was narrowly elected mayor of Burlington. In 1984, he again spoke on behalf of the SWP’s presidential candidate, this time former Black Panther Mel Mason, telling The Militant that “at a time when the Democratic and Republican parties are intellectually and spiritually bankrupt, it is imperative for radical voices to be heard which offer fundamental alternatives to capitalist ideology." It remains unclear when Sanders’s affiliation with the SWP ended.  Of course, Sanders had a right to his beliefs. But he has not been fully transparent about what those beliefs, connections, and loyalties have been over the years. Sanders says that he has been consistently and firmly dedicated to democratic socialism. His record, however, reveals a very different story around the time of the Iranian hostage crisis. But Democratic voters today concerned above all with defeating Donald Trump and the electability of their prospective presidential candidate need to know the whole of Sanders’ history. He has not always been the democratic socialist he claims to be. Sanders could have supported the Socialist Party, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, or Social-Democrats U.S.A., the three leading democratic socialist organizations existing in 1980. He rejected them. Instead he embraced a Marxist-Leninist communist sect that proclaimed its solidarity with Iran. The preeminent democratic socialist of the time, Michael Harrington, wrote that the hostage taking was “terribly wrong,” and that “the original evil was compounded by the psychological and physical brutalization to which at least some of the hostages were subjected. The moral stance of those who denounce such acts is clear and compelling.” Far from denouncing the acts, Sanders stood with those who applauded the hostage taking. If Sanders were to become the Democratic presidential nominee, all this will come pouring out in Trump ads on television and social media. Voters  will see TV clips of the American hostages, blindfolded and abused, alongside Sanders as the Trotskyist elector supporting the Iranian kidnappers. Rest assured, Trump will make absolutely sure that it is Sanders’ own past that will bury him and perhaps the Democratic Party. 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.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:00:52 -0500
  • EU border chief says migrant entries from Turkey on the rise

    Golocal247.com news

    The number of migrants entering Europe from Turkey rose significantly last year as people fleeing strife in Syria and Afghanistan flooded into the country and then set out for Greece, the head of the European Union’s border agency said Friday. More than 82,000 migrants tried to enter Europe without authorization in 2019, an increase of 46% over the previous year, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said in Brussels. “This was mainly due to the situation in Syria, but also instability in Afghanistan, and changing policies towards Afghan nationals by Iranian and Pakistani authorities,” Leggeri told reporters.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 08:17:28 -0500
  • John Bolton will reportedly reveal some of what he knows about Trump's Ukraine scandal in his upcoming book

    Golocal247.com news

    If you really want to know what former National Security Adviser John Bolton though of President Trump's actions regarding Ukraine, you may not have to rely on the Senate to call him as a witness in the president's upcoming impeachment trial. That's because Bolton is going to reveal some of what he saw in his upcoming book, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times. The book, which is almost finished, is reportedly going to detail Bolton's time in the White House, events related to Russia and Venezuela, and his interactions with other administration officials, some of whom reportedly don't come across very well, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The Ukraine scandal, which is at the center of Trump's impeachment, will fill at least some pages, too, and Bolton is expected to share some of his observations about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.Bolton has said he's prepared to testify should the Senate issue a subpoena, but it's unclear if the upper chamber will do so. Read more at The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com Ukraine gives Trump the corruption investigation he asked for DOJ reportedly eyeing James Comey as it investigates old leak of classified information Mitch McConnell should recuse himself

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 16:31:04 -0500
  • These Are the Crazy High-Tech Weapons America Would Fight World War III With

    Golocal247.com news

    Better to deter than to actually fight.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:59:00 -0500
  • Rain douses some Australian bush fires but flash floods now threaten wildlife

    Golocal247.com news

    Heavy rains in fire-ravaged eastern Australia have brought welcome relief for firefighters and farmers, but sparked flash floods that have led to fresh scrambles to save native animals.  As the rain hit on Thursday the New South Wales State Emergency Services department warned that the sudden heavy downpours in some areas would bring flash flooding, falling trees and landslides where the fires have wiped out vegetation.  On Friday, the warnings were realised when flash floods hit the Australia Reptile Park on the NSW east coast, and the state's koalas - having lost thousands of their number and huge swathes of their habitat - needed to be rescued again as floods thundered down fire-blasted hills empty of vegetation.  Park director Tim Faulkner told local media that the sudden floods on Friday morning were “incredible”.  “Just last week we were having daily meetings to discuss the imminent threat of bushfires,” he said. “Today, we've had the whole team out there, drenched, acting fast to secure the safety of our animals and defend the park from the onslaught of water… We haven't seen flooding like this at the park for over 15 years.” And while the rains have doused fires in some areas, blazes continue to rage across many other parts of the country where the weather stayed dry, including in other parts of New South Wales where 82 fires were still burning, with 30 out of control, and in the state of Victoria, to the south. Parts of the state’s Alpine region were evacuated again as erratic winds caused spot fires around a large blaze at Mount Buffalo.  The rain also completely missed Kangaroo Island, the nation's third biggest off the southern coast of the mainland, where fires have devastated the formerly wildlife-rich national park.  The authorities have warned the crisis could worsen again with Australia only halfway through its summer. The unprecedented fires, fuelled by climate change and a years-long drought, have already claimed 28 lives over the past five months. They have scorched massive tracts of pristine forests in eastern and southern Australia, decimated livestock on already barren farms and destroyed 2,000 homes. In areas where rain has arrived, there are new concerns that muddy ash will be swept into rivers and lakes, exacerbating an emerging crisis as fish die in vast numbers due to ash poisoning the waterways. The NSW Department of Primary Industries has received reports of “hundreds of thousands” of fish dead in the Macleay river since December 2019.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:19:19 -0500
  • Texas carries out first US execution of 2020

    Golocal247.com news

    Texas on Wednesday carried out the first execution of the year in the United States, putting to death by lethal injection a man convicted of killing his wife 15 years ago because she wanted a divorce. John Gardner, 64, was sentenced to death in 2006 for killing his fifth wife, who had left him after multiple incidents of physical violence and filed for divorce. Tammy Gardner died two days later.

    Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:40:59 -0500
  • Libya's Haftar committed to ceasefire, Germany says

    Golocal247.com news

    A Libyan military commander waging an offensive to capture the capital Tripoli is committed to a ceasefire, Germany said on Thursday, in an apparent advance for efforts to end a near-decade of turmoil in the North African country. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, after visiting the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, also said commander Khalifa Haftar is willing to attend a conference in Berlin on Sunday about the conflict. Haftar's office was not available for comment.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 10:50:15 -0500
  • Japan convicts Australian who sought to see his children

    Golocal247.com news

    An Australian journalist based in Japan says he is a victim of Japanese child custody laws that allow only one parent access to children of broken marriages, a day after he was convicted of trespassing at the apartment building of his estranged wife's parents to try to find his children. Scott McIntyre was arrested in November, a month after he entered the apartment building. The Tokyo District Court on Wednesday sentenced McIntyre, a former sports journalist for Australia's SBS network, to six months in prison.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 11:13:15 -0500
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