DC5m United States mix in english 1826 articles, created at 2016-12-08 09:49


 1 /1826 

The Latest: Wreaths presented to honor Pearl Harbor fallen (25.99/26)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) - The Latest on a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor (all times Hawaii): 12:45 p.m. After a Pearl Harbor ceremony marking the anniversary of the 1941 attack, several dignitaries and officials rode boats to a memorial sitting over the sunken hull of the USS Arizona. They presented wreaths in honor of those who died in the Japanese attack on the harbor 75 years ago. Others giving wreaths included the USS Arizona Reunion Association and the consulate general of Japan. Thousands of servicemen and women and members of the public attended the ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday to mark the anniversary. The ceremony was held on a pier across the harbor from where the Arizona sank. ___ 9:35 a.m. U. S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris says those who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor never failed to stand for the national anthem. His remarks Wednesday at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack generated a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd, with people whistling and hooting. Thousands gathered for the event, held on a pier across the harbor from where the USS Arizona sank during the 1941 attack. Harris told the crowd: "You can bet that the men and women we honor today - and those who died that fateful morning 75 years ago - never took a knee and never failed to stand whenever they heard our national anthem being played. " In recent months, San Francisco 49ers quarter Colin Kaepernick and others have knelt through the national anthem to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities, drawing criticism and acclaim alike. ___ 8:35 a.m. Laura Stoller accompanied her adoptive grandfather, a Pearl Harbor survivor, to the ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She described her trip with 96-year-old Stan VanHoose of Beloit, Wisconsin, as "overwhelming in a wonderful way. " Before the ceremony, the two watched crowds of people jostling to get autographs from the survivors and pose for photos with them. Stoller says it's fun to see the veterans get the recognition they deserve. She also is enjoying seeing the survivors reconnecting and sharing stories with each other. VanHoose served on the USS Maryland. ___ 8 a.m. Thousands gathered at Pearl Harbor bowed their heads for a moment of silence as a remembrance ceremony for those killed in the Japanese attack 75 years ago got underway. The USS Halsey sounded its whistle to start the moment at 7:55 a.m. - the same moment Japanese planes began their assault on Dec. 7, 1941. F-22 fighter jets flying in formation overhead broke the silence afterward. Wednesday's ceremony is being held on a pier across the harbor from where the USS Arizona sank during the raid, killing 1,177 sailors and Marines. The ship's casualties accounted for almost half of the more than 2,300 servicemen killed in the attack. There's a clear blue sky over the harbor as the ceremony gets underway. ___ 7:50 a.m. A 95-year-old veteran from Columbus, Ohio, is visiting Pearl Harbor for the first time since 1945. Veterans advocates raised money to pay for Milton Mapou's (MAY-poh) trip. He and other survivors returned to Pearl Harbor on Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack that drew the U. S. into World War II. On Dec. 7, 1941, Mapou was getting ready to sit down for breakfast on board the USS Detroit when he heard an explosion. He went topside to see a plane coming in low. It dropped a torpedo but missed the Detroit. Later, Mapou shattered a leg during the war when a kamikaze plane sunk his ship and cut it in half between Okinawa and Japan. ___ 5: 28 a.m. President Barack Obama in Washington issued a statement Wednesday on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Obama says he and first lady Michelle Obama join Americans in "remembering those who gave their lives" on Dec. 7, 1941. More than 2,300 service people died that day. Obama said "we can never repay the profound debt of gratitude we owe to those who served on our behalf. " Thousands, including servicemen and women and members of the public, are expected to attend a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday to mark the anniversary. The president said he will visit the U SS Arizona Memorial later this month with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. ___ 9:25 p.m. Surprise, fear, anger and pride. That's what Pearl Harbor survivor Jim Downing recalls about the attack that plunged the U. S. into World War II. Downing plans to return to Pearl Harbor Wednesday with other survivors to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack that left more than 2,300 service people dead. Thousands of servicemen and women and members of the public are also expected to attend the ceremony. Downing, a 103-year-old resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, served on the USS West Virginia, which lost 106 men. He says he spent two hours fighting fires and checking the name tags of the dead so he could write their families personal notes about how they died. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 2 /1826 

Likely head of Dept. Homeland Security — RT America (23.99/26)

Several news outlets, including The New York Times and Reuters, said Kelly was Trump’s leading pick to head the Department of Homeland Security.
General Kelly had a 45-year career in the Marine Corps, served in Vietnam, commanded Camp Pendleton troops in Iraq, and headed US Southern Command. Here are five important things to know about Kelly.
While serving as head of Southern Command, which included the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he rejected criticism from human rights activists about the treatment of detainees.
General Kelly told reporters in January 2016, a week before he was due to retire from Southern Command, the remaining 105 inmates held at the US Navy base are "all bad boys. "
"They are all bad boys. We have dossiers on all of them. Some of them were more effective in being bad boys than others. You know, you – we can, I think – we can all quibble on whether 13 or 12 or eigh years... in detention is enough to have them having paid for whatever they did, but ... they're bad guys," said Kelly according to CNS News.
Kelly said the program to force-feed prisoners on hunger strike was “reasonable and humane.”
He was also at odds with the Obama administration's own claim that the prison was a recruitment tools for Islamic State.
“Bombing the living shit out of ISIS in Iraq and Afghanistan, Syria, that would maybe irritate them more than the fact we have Guantanamo open,” General Kelly told Defense One in January 2016.
READ MORE: US General IS recruits could enter America via Caribbean
For terrorist groups and rights activists alike, “what tends to bother them is the fact that we’re holding them there indefinitely without trial … it’s not the point that it’s Gitmo. If we send them, say, to a facility in the US, we’re still holding them without trial.”
As head of SouthCom, Kelly repeatedly asked Congress for more money for expanding operations. In July 2014, he told Defense One that the “near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [undocumented immigrant] flow” were existential threats.
“If the average American doing a little blow on the weekends thinking there is no harm in it knew the harm, [that] it results in countries being destroyed,” he said, things may change.
Kelly also expressed annoyance with the political gymnastics in government that officials used to avoid acknowledging US troops engaged in combat in the Middle East despite the Obama administration's pledge there would be "no boots on the ground. "
“If there’s a country and it’s dangerous and we deploy a US military man or woman, if there’s only one there, and they never leave the capital, that is ‘boots on the ground,’” Kelly told Defense One. “We do a disservice to the sacrifice of these people, particularly if they are killed, when we say there’s no boots on the ground.”
Kelly is also known for his unfortunate status as the highest-ranking US military officer to have lost a child to the war in Afghanistan. His youngest son, Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, stepped on a land mine while leading a platoon in Afghanistan in 2010.
On his retirement he was asked what it would be like no longer being a Marine. “I’ll always be a Marine,” he said.
Asked about his retirement and what he might do, he said,
“I’d love to find a way to keep giving.”
“My fear was of being offered a job that would be kind of a full-time position at a veterans organization or even in the government … I’d prefer to not be that, to come up the Beltway every day.”

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 3 /1826 

Time magazine names Donald Trump person of the year – video (21.99/26)

Time magazine announces Donald Trump as its person of the year on Wednesday, describing him on its front cover as the ‘president of the divided states of America’. Assistant managing editor at Time, Ben Goldberger, says that for 90 years the magazine has named the person ‘who’s had the greatest effect on the world and the news for good or for ill’. Photograph: Time magazine/Nadav Kander

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 4 /1826 

Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later: U. S. Recalls A Shocking Attack : The Two-Way : NPR (20.99/26)

Bill Chappell
An explosion at the Naval Air Station, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor is seen during the Japanese attack. The U. S. is marking the 75th anniversary of the violence that thrust the country into World War II.
Fox Photos/Getty Images
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An explosion at the Naval Air Station, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor is seen during the Japanese attack. The U. S. is marking the 75th anniversary of the violence that thrust the country into World War II.
Marking the day in 1941 that thrust the U. S. into World War II, Americans are honoring veterans and remembering those who lost their lives in Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. We're also remembering how the nation responded to what President Franklin Roosevelt called a "date which will live in infamy. "
"The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association once had 18,000 members," Wayne Yoshioka from Hawaii Public Radio reports for Morning Edition. "It was disbanded in 2011, when membership was down to 2,700. "
Here are some highlights of how public media outlets are covering the anniversary of a surprise strike that killed more than 2,300 people:
About an hour and a half before the attack, Navy veteran Will Lehner tells NPR , he was part of a patrol crew that sank a small Japanese submarine near the entrance to the harbor. Lehner says, "We saw a lot of smoke and planes diving. We didn't know how bad it was until about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and we had to go in. " He adds, "That's when we saw all of the destruction. There were bodies floating in the water. "
Earl Smith, 94, was on board the USS Tennessee during the attack — and as he tells Hawaii Public Radio , he was also part of his ship's baseball team, which had just beaten teams from the USS West Virginia and the USS Arizona in a double-header on Dec. 6. This year, he traveled back to Pearl Harbor for the anniversary — but as he tells Hawaii Public Radio, Smith doesn't like to see the roster of the dead that's memorialized in the harbor: "Half of the West Virginia's ballplayers were killed, and all of the Arizona's ballplayers were killed. "
From Arizona Public Media comes an interview with USS Arizona survivor Lauren Bruner, who was 21 when the attack came. Bruner, who's now 96, was in charge of fire control for the ship's guns. He was among the last to leave the ship — and he did so with two bullet wounds and burns on more than 70 percent of his body.
"Schools were closed, mail was censored, and food and fuel were rationed as Hawai'i was put under martial law," Hawaii Public Radio reports. Barbara Del Piano says her family was about to eat waffles after going to church when news of the attack came. "Everything changed after that. Never again was Hawai'i the same," says Del Piano, who was 12 at the time. "It was so sad to see our casual, easy way of living disappear overnight. "
Now 92, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (then Aiko Yoshinaga) was a senior at Los Angeles High School at the time of the attack. She recounts to NPR the story of how she and her family were sent to detention centers and internment camps. She gave birth to her daughter in the Manzanar War Relocation Center, near Death Valley, Calif.
As for the man who planned the Japanese attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a naval historian recounts how Yamamoto was well acquainted with the U. S., having attended Harvard and studying the life of Abraham Lincoln.
"Like Lincoln, Admiral Yamamoto was also raised in very poor conditions and studied very, very hard to get to where he was," historian Capt. Yukoh Watanabe tells NPR. "Lincoln was so attractive as a leader and not because he was perfect, but because he had his faults. "
Watanabe then reads from a letter Yamamoto wrote about how he viewed the surprise attack on the U. S.:
"I find my present position extremely odd, obliged to make up my mind to and pursue unswervingly a course that is precisely the opposite of my personal views. Perhaps this, too, is the will of heaven. "

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 5 /1826 

Branstad formally accepts offer to become China ambassador (19.99/26)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be the next U. S. ambassador to China. Trump announced his pick of Branstad on Wednesday at a Manhattan fundraiser. A Trump transition spokesman confirmed that Branstad had accepted the nomination. Branstad aides... ...

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 6 /1826 

No survivors in Pakistan commercial plane crash with 48 aboard (18.99/26)

LAHORE, Pakistan — A Pakistan International Airlines commercial flight with 48 people aboard crashed in a mountainous area of the country Wednesday, leaving no survivors, airline officials said.
Forty-two passengers, five crew members and one ground engineer were on the flight that went missing shortly after taking off from the Pakistani city of Chitral for Islamabad, PIA said. Daniyal Gilani, a spokesman for the airline, said the plane had lost touch with control tower operators. The passengers included two infants, and a famous singer Junaid Jamshed, as well as three foreigners from Australia, South Korea and China.
“All passengers and members of crew are dead,” Azam Sehgal, chairman of the PIA, told a news conference at the Islamabad airport late Wednesday. He said the plane’s black box recorder had been found.
Sehgal said the pilot of the ATR-42 aircraft told the control tower at 4:09 p.m. that an engine had developed a technical fault. Moments later he made a “mayday call,” shortly before the plane disappeared. Sehgal said PIA 661 was fit to fly and it was unclear what caused the crash.
"I think that there was no technical error or human error," Sehgal said. "Obviously, there will be a proper investigation.”
The crash site is about 45 miles west of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. State TV carried pictures of a huge fire near the crash site in a village.
Rescue team member Mohammad Kashif Kashif, told local broadcaster GEO TV, they put the fire out by placing sand on the branches and area surrounding the crash site.
"The debris was scattered about 100 meters out. The plane fell in a ravine behind the mountains so the debris is not very scattered. People on the ground told me that the plane slammed onto the ground two or three times before it fell into the water," Kashif said. "There is no question of landing in this terrain for helicopters or planes. There are settlements on both sides of the crash site.”
At Islamabad airport, family and friends of passengers and crew members waited for news of survivors earlier Wednesday, as Pakistani television broadcast photos of smoldering remains of the plane.
After the news broke that there were no survivors, some recalled fond memories of captain Mohammed Salehyar Janjua.
"He always said that flying there rejuvenated him," said Farooq Ali, a friend of Janjua, referring to flying in northern Pakistan. "He was a very down-to-earth humble person and I have lost a great friend in him. "
Fans of former pop star Jamshed took to social media to mourn the singer who was an icon in the '80s and '90s with his band Vital Signs before becoming an Islamic preacher and televangelist.
“Dear Junaid, I shall cherish all our memories together ... prayers for your final journey ... till we meet again,” tweeted singer Fakhar-e-Alam.
Pakistani singer Faakhir Mehmood credited Jamshed with the development of Pakistan's pop industry.
“He was the man who laid down the foundation of Pakistan’s pop music industry and his contributions will be remembered for a long time," he told The Nation newspaper. "Most importantly, he used his iconic personality for the betterment of humanity and did a lot of charity work. "
Friends of co-pilot Ahmed Janjua spoke about his philosophical take on flying.
“He would say ‘I love flying, I love to travel and that is why I made flying my passion,’” Anas Khan recalled. Janjua often compared flying to “an individual’s ups and downs in life.”
Hussain Ceen Tayyab of Karachi, a soccer colleague of Janjua said he will be missed.
"Ahmed (Janjua) actually came into this world to live his dream: His only dream was to become a pilot, and he lived to do that," he said. "Janjua was my friend, football colleague and a neighbor I will always miss. 12/8 will now be an unforgettable date. "
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his “deep grief and sorrow” over the crash.
In a statement, Sharif said “the entire nation is deeply saddened over today’s unfortunate crash and shares the grief of the families who lost their dear ones.”
In 2007, the European Union banned most PIA planes from flying to Europe because of its poor safety record. The ban was partly lifted for cargo flights in 2014.
The last major plane crash in Pakistan took place in 2012, when a Bhoja Air passenger plane went down in bad weather near Islamabad. All 130 people on board were killed. Two years earlier, an Airblue commercial flight crashed into the hillside outside Islamabad while trying to land, killing all 152 people on board.

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 7 /1826 

Trump to pick Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt as head of EPA, source confirms to CNBC (18.99/26)

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as head of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, a source familiar with the decision confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday.
Pruitt has been a fierce critic of the EPA, and has been tied to the oil and gas industry, which aligns with Trump's signaling an interest in loosening energy regulations.
"Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace; every week they come out with new regulations," Trump said during a television interview earlier this year.
Pruitt became the top prosecutor for Oklahoma, which has extensive oil reserves, in 2011, and has challenged the EPA multiple times since, including in a pending lawsuit to throw out the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The plan is the centerpiece of Obama's climate change strategy and requires states to curb carbon output.
In an interview with Reuters in September, Pruitt said he sees the Clean Power Plan as a form of federal "coercion and commandeering" of energy policy and that his state should have "sovereignty to make decisions for its own markets. "
Of the 19 previous EPA administrators going back to 1970, Pruitt would easily be the most stridently anti-environment person to ever head the agency.
Word of Trump's pick immediately drew criticism from the left.
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat representing Hawaii, also indicated he will oppose Pruitt to head the EPA.
And New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in a Wednesday statement that he stands ready "to use the full power" of his office to force the EPA to uphold national environmental laws. He called Pruitt "a dangerous and unqualified choice" for the agency.
Activist groups also decried Pruitt as Trump's EPA pick.
"Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club said in a release.
Greenpeace said in a statement that Pruitt had been "an enthusiastic shill for the fracking industry, and a reckless obstruction to the Clean Power Plan. "
"By appointing Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump is putting America at risk. Pruitt is a pure product of the oil and gas industry, installed in successive government posts to sell out his constituents at every turn," Greenpeace said through a spokesman. "He will push this country far behind the rest of the world in the race for 21st century clean energy. With Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, the people and the environment will be in the hands of a man who cares about neither. "
The Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan in 2015 as a key part of meeting U. S. obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump vowed during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris deal, but since the election has said he will keep an "open mind. "

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 8 /1826 

U. S. mayors ask Trump to keep young illegals immigration policy (18.99/26)

By Daniel Bases NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Mayors from the largest U. S. cities warned President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday of the potential economic harm he might cause if he wipes out a program that allows young illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. They warned in a letter that as much as $9.9 billion in tax revenue would be lost over four years and $433.4 billion in U. S. gross domestic product would be wiped out over 10 years if he cancels a policy aimed at protecting these people from deportation. DACA, or The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, was created through an executive order in 2012. It allows undocumented young people brought to the United States before the age of 16 to remain without fear of deportation as they pursue a higher education, work or engage in military service. The deferred action is subject to renewal every two years. The mayors asked for the program to allow for initial applications and renewals to continue until "Congress modernizes our immigration system and provides a more permanent form of relief for these individuals. " As president, Trump would have the authority to undo DACA. "This program helps foster economic growth and enhances public safety and national security," said the letter, written by the Democratic Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, and signed by mayors of other major U. S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. "We are clear as mayors that these are dreamers who are seeking the American Dream, and we should embrace them rather than do a bait-and-switch," Emanuel said after presenting Trump the letter at a meeting in New York. Trump has called for the deportation of illegal immigrants, an estimated 11 million people, and promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico. According to the letter, which was made available to the press, nearly 742,000 undocumented youths have participated in DACA. DACA is part of the broader immigration issue of municipalities that offer themselves up as "sanctuary cities," where local law enforcement refuse to report to federal authorities undocumented immigrants they encounter. Trump has threatened to cut off federal funding for those municipalities. While he would have the authority to cut some kinds of funding, mayors of those cities have said they will not be pressured to report migrants to federal agents. Santa Ana city council voted on Tuesday to declare their community in Southern California of 325,000 people, half of whom are foreign born and 80 percent of Hispanic descent, a sanctuary city. In Los Angeles, the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to ask county departments to provide plans for shielding undocumented immigrants from U. S. immigration authorities, said Jessie Gomez, a spokeswoman for Supervisor Hilda Solis. The board oversees health, law enforcement and social welfare departments that operate county-wide but it does not administer the city of Los Angeles. Nearly one million residents of Los Angeles County are believed to be undocumented immigrants, according to Solis' office. White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday said he could not address the incoming president's potential actions but that the current administration was working to ensure Trump's team understood why Obama pursued the policy. "The president's been crystal clear, both in words and deeds, about his view that young people who are American in every way but their papers shouldn't be deported... A policy of deporting them would be inconsistent with our values," Earnest said of DACA. (Reporting by Daniel Bases; Additional reporting by Melissa Fares in New York, Ayesha Rascoe in Washington and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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 9 /1826 

Dylann Roof trial begins (14.99/26)

Roof studied the church's long history in the black community, found out what time a Bible study class would be held, loaded his gun the night before, packed extra ammunition and drove more than an hour to the church, Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson told the jury of nine whites and three African-Americans.
He was welcomed into the Bible study and displayed a "cold and hateful heart" by sitting with the group more than 30 minutes, Richardson said.
As the 12 people stood to offer prayers and close their eyes, Roof opened fire with a Glock .45-caliber pistol, firing 70 rounds, Richardson said. Nine people were killed.
Tywanza Sanders, one of those killed, told Roof that he didn't have to shoot them, saying "we mean you no harm," the prosecutor said, recounting the story of one of the survivors. Roof, who is white, replied, "Y'all are raping our white women, y'all are taking over the world," Richardson said.
After he was captured, authorities learned Roof had written a "manifesto" of his racist beliefs and posed for photos with the US flag burning in one hand and the Confederate flag in the other, Richardson said.
Roof also designed his own logo that included his initials, a swastika and the number 88, which for white supremacists stands for "Heil Hitler," the prosecutor said. "He created the symbol to reflect who he was, what he thought and what he had done," Richardson said.
Defense statement
Opening for the defense, attorney David Bruck told the jury, "you're probably wondering why there has to be a trial. "
Authorities previously said Roof had confessed to the killings and told the FBI that he hoped to provoke a race war.
The practical reason for the trial, Bruck said, is that the government has asked for the death penalty.
Bruck said the jury will decide guilt or innocence in the first phase of the trial. In the second phase, the jury will decide on punishment.
Bruck reminded the jury of Roof's youth and urged them to try to understand him. Roof told the FBI he didn't have any friends, Bruck said.
Jurors should ask where Roof's feelings of racial hatred came from, Bruck said.
"How much sense does this crime make, does it make any sense and if any at all, what does that tell you? " he asked.
Bruck ended by saying he probably would not call any witnesses.
Roof sat mostly motionless in his state-issued, gray-and-white striped jumpsuit throughout both opening statements, barely looking up from the defense table.
Jury seated
Earlier Wednesday, eight white women, two African-American women, one white man and one African-American man were seated on the jury, according to a pool report from the US District Court in Charleston.
Two white women, two white men, a black woman and a black man were picked as alternates, the pool report said.
All 18 panelists will listen to testimony and arguments without knowing whether they are jurors or alternates.
Roof was granted the right to represent himself during the questioning of potential jurors, but US District Judge Richard Gergel granted Roof's motion on Monday to have attorneys assist him during the guilt phase of his trial. Roof has asked that he act for himself in any sentencing proceeding.
In another order Tuesday, the judge rejected the defense motion to restart the jury questioning. Gergel wrote that Roof actively participated in jury qualification questioning.
Last week, the judge deemed Roof was competent to stand trial .
Roof faces 33 federal charges: nine counts of violating the Hate Crime Act resulting in death; three counts of violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill; nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death; three counts of obstruction of exercise of religion involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon; and nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Roof, 22, also faces nine counts of murder and other charges in the state court system. His trial in that case is scheduled to start in January.
Motion to delay denied
Roof had sought to have the trial delayed because of a mistrial in the prosecution of Michael Slager, another racially charged trial held in Charleston.
That mistrial -- less than 48 hours before Roof's trial was scheduled to begin -- "is highly likely to create undue pressure on the jury to compensate for the judicial system's apparent failure to punish Mr. Slager by imposing a harsher punishment here," Roof's attorneys said in a motion filed Tuesday.
But Gergel didn't accept that argument.
"The notion that a prospective juror in this case would respond to a mistrial in a state court case involving a police officer's alleged criminal activity by imposing greater than deserved punishment on a defendant who is alleged to have entered a church building during Wednesday night Bible study and committed completely unrelated crimes seems utterly farfetched and illogical to the court. "
Slager, who is white, shot and killed Walter Scott, 50, who is black, after an April 4, 2015, traffic stop. The shooting was captured on a bystander's cell phone video, which showed Scott running away as Slager fired eight times, striking Scott three times in the back. The jury failed to reach a verdict after 22 hours of deliberation.

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 10 /1826 

Americus, Georgia shooting: 1 officer dead, 1 injured (12.99/26)

AMERICUS, Ga. — Authorities say one law enforcement officer is dead and another is in “very, very critical condition” after a shooting in southern Georgia, reports CBS affiliate WMAZ. Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles says the two officers were shot Wednesday in Americus, about 130 miles south of Atlanta. The suspected shooter, who police identified as Minguell Kennedy Lembrick, remains at large.
Americus police Chief Scott Mark says one of his officers died and a Georgia Southwestern College officer was critically wounded in a shooting Wednesday afternoon, WMAZ reports. They were at an apartment complex near the campus at the time of the shooting, reportedly responding to a domestic disturbance call. The university, which is in Americus, issued an alert on its website saying the shooting occurred off campus but that the campus was on lockdown. Dianne Brown, an administrative assistant with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said the shooter is not a student at the university.
Brown said one officer was airlifted to a hospital for treatment and the other was driven to a hospital.

Georgia police officer fatally shot; college on lockdown
Authorities: 1 officer killed, 1 wounded; shooter at large
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Georgia police officer fatally shot; second officer wounded
Two officers shot near GSW Univ. campus in Americus, GA; Gunman at large
Georgia Southwestern University locked down after off-campus shooting - Story
Two Georgia police officers in critical condition, campus in lockdown as gunman remains on loose
Man fatally shot by Ohio police officer identified as UAE student


 11 /1826 

Teenagers charged in Tennessee wildfires that killed 14 (11.99/26)

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Two juveniles have been charged with starting the historic wildfires that killed more than a dozen people in Tennessee this month, authorities said Wednesday.
Investigators said the teenagers were arrested and charged with aggravated arson. Neither their names, ages or genders were disclosed, though.
The fires were Tennessee's worst in decades and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes and other structures. At least 14 people died and 150 were hurt as the result of the fires in Sevier County, the center of which is the resort town of Gatlinburg.
It wasn't clear whether the teens might face additional charges, such as murder or manslaughter, although prosecutors could try them both as adults.
"Everything is on the table," prosecutor James Dunn said.
Dunn added that the juveniles are residents of Tennessee, but not Sevier County.
Tennessee officials do not reveal criminal records of juveniles unless it involves serious charges, like murder or rape. However, if the case is sent to criminal court, the records will become public.
Officials said the two will have a detention hearing within the next three days.

Charges dropped in Detroit cop killing case
2 juveniles charged in Tennessee wildfires that killed 14
2 juveniles charged in Tennessee wildfires that killed 14 - Story
Two Juveniles Charged With Arson in Deadly Tennessee Wildfire
Two juvenile suspects charged with setting deadly Tennessee wildfires that killed 14
Two charged with starting Tennessee wildfire that killed 14 people
2 juveniles charged with arson in Tennessee wildfires that killed 14
2 Juveniles Charged in Tennessee Wildfires That Killed 14


 12 /1826 

Michelle Obama was fast asleep when Trump won (11.99/26)

Michelle Obama was not awake to watch America go red on Election Night.
“I went to bed ... I don't watch debates. I don’t like to watch the political discourse. I never have,” Obama told People Magazine in an article published Wednesday.
“I barely did with him,” she said about her husband, President Obama.
The first lady — who until 2016 had stayed largely out of the political spotlight — became one of Hillary Clinton’s most effective surrogates during her campaign.
“This is our democracy and this is how it works and so, we are ready to work with the next administration and make sure they are as successful as they can be. Because that’s what’s best for this country,” she continued.

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 13 /1826 

Ohio GOP wants to add 20-week abortion ban to heartbeat bill (11.99/26)

Abortions would be banned after 20 weeks under a bill Republican lawmakers hoped to pass Wednesday and add to legislation already on its way to GOP Gov. John Kasich that...

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 14 /1826 

Renzi to step down now that Senate OK’s Italy’s budget (10.99/26)

Rome —Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said he would resign Wednesday evening now that Parliament has approved the 2017 national budget, a step required by the nation’s president before he would let the leader step down.
Renzi had pledged to quit as head of the Italy’s nearly 3-year-old center-left government because voters in a referendum ballot on Sunday rejected a series of constitutional reforms he had championed.
On Monday, President Sergio Mattarella asked Renzi to stay in office at least until the critical budget legislation was approved. The Senate voted 173-108 Wednesday to pass the budget law, which was put to a confidence vote to speed up its passage.
“Budget law approved. At 7 p.m. formal resignation. A thank-you to everybody. Long live Italy” Renzi tweeted after the vote.
A huddle was set to take place just before that time among Renzi and prominent members of his Democratic Party, which he leads and which is Parliament’s largest party.
If the pattern from Italy’s scores of previous political crises holds, Mattarella would ask Renzi to remain in office in a caretaker role, while he sounds out other party leaders to see if solid backing exists for a new government.
If a new government coalition is cobbled together, Mattarella would not have to dissolve Parliament and trigger elections so far ahead of their scheduled spring 2018 date.
But political leaders from nearly all stripes are aiming to hold elections as soon as they overhaul Italy’s current electoral law. Any new government’s tenure therefore might end once that reform is achieved.
Infighting and party maneuverings have dogged the Democratic Party for the last few years. One of the moves that antagonized many in his party was Renzi’s bold maneuver to trigger the downfall of his predecessor as premier, Enrico Letta.
Since the premier’s center-left government assumed power in February 2014, it has focused on reforms Renzi contended were vital to modernize Italy’s administration and rejuvenate its sclerotic economy.
Renzi sorely miscalculated support for the constitutional reforms Italian voters turned down in a Dec. 4 referendum. He pledged to resign if the referendum was defeated.
After nearly 60 percent of voters cast “no” ballots, he told the nation his government was finished.
The reforms included reducing the size and powers of the Senate, while another would have transferred powers from Italy’s regions to the central government.
The government insisted the changes were needed to reduce legislative and administrative gridlock, widely blamed for a good deal of Italy’s economic woes.
Critics said the reforms risked eroding democracy.

Matteo Renzi resigns as Italy's premier
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi formally resigns
The Latest: Renzi arrives to tender resignation as Italy PM
Italy PM Renzi resigns, president to consult with parties
Italy's Matteo Renzi officially resigns after referendum defeat
Renzi to step down now that Senate OK'd Italy's 2017 budget
The Latest: Renzi says not afraid of new elections in Italy
The Latest: Renzi Says Not Afraid of New Elections in Italy


 15 /1826 

EU official hopeful for trade deal under Trump presidency (9.99/26)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A senior European Union official on Wednesday expressed hope that the incoming Trump administration will continue talks on a comprehensive free trade agreement with Europe. EU Ambassador to the U. S. David O'Sullivan told a conference in Washington that he hopes that negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will go on despite President-elect Donald Trump's negative comments on trade. Trump has spoken out against various trade deals during the presidential campaign. The Obama administration has been negotiating the agreement, also known as TTIP, for three years. TTIP aims to remove barriers to trade between the world's two largest economies, to boost economic growth and employment and harmonize labor, safety and environmental standards. "We stand ready to continue these negotiations and bring them to successful conclusion," O'Sullivan told a conference on EU-U. S. relations. "We still think the objective arguments... in favor of a good trans-Atlantic deal remain valid. " O'Sullivan added that if trade talks were to resume next year, a deal could be reached in a year or two. At the same time O'Sullivan noted that Trump has yet to formulate his position on TTIP. During a heated presidential campaign, where trade was a central issue, Trump has said that international deals cost Americans theirs jobs. "We simply do not know in the light of everything that has been said about trade where this new administration will stand. So we are being respectful of that," he added. Proponents of the agreement argue that lowering tariffs and harmonizing rules would give a much-needed boost to businesses at a time of global economic uncertainty. But trade unions, nationalists and green groups in Europe have lobbied hard against the deal. In the U. S., labor unions have complained that the deal is aimed at lowering, not improving standards. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 16 /1826 

Official: Fire at warehouse trapped people on second floor (9.99/26)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The fire that killed 36 people during a dance party at an Oakland warehouse grew rapidly and was raging by the time people on the second floor of the building detected it, trapping them upstairs, investigators said. Federal investigators provided the details Wednesday. With the death toll at 36, officials earlier announced that recovery efforts at the site have ended. Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said it appears the fire started on the first floor "and the occupants were consumed by smoke before they could get out of the building. " She said smoke traveled up two stairwells, trapping the occupants on the second floor. The news comes a day after Oakland officials declared a local state of emergency. The Oakland City Council is slated to ratify the state of emergency on Thursday. This will begin the process for state and federal aid. A refrigerator was a potential source of the fire, but it was too soon to say for sure, said Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "We have no indication that this was intentionally set," she said. Tearful family members visited the scene Tuesday and exchanged hugs hours after the founder of the arts collective that used the warehouse stood near the gutted building and said he was "incredibly sorry. " Derick Ion Almena said he was at the site to put his face and his body in front of the scene, but he deflected blame for the blaze, saying he signed a lease for the building that "was to city standards supposedly. " "Everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together," Almena told the "Today Show" on NBC. The fire broke out during a dance party Friday night in the cluttered warehouse. It had been converted to artists' studios and illegal living spaces, and former denizens said it was a death trap of piled wood, furniture, snaking electrical cords and only two exits. Almena did not respond to emails or calls to phone numbers associated with him by The Associated Press. He told San Jose television station KNTV that he didn't attend the event Friday night and that he and his wife had decided to stay at a hotel because he was exhausted. City and state officials fielded years of complaints about dangerous conditions, drugs, neglected children, trash, thefts and squabbles at the warehouse, raising questions about why it wasn't shut down. The district attorney warned of possible murder charges as she determines whether there were any crimes linked to the blaze. A building inspector who went to an Oakland warehouse on Nov. 17 after receiving a complaint of illegal interior construction left after being unable to get inside. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said late Tuesday the inspector followed procedure and later sent a request to the owner to gain entry. She did not reveal the outcome of that request. Under the Oakland city code, building officials and fire marshals need court permission to enter commercial lodgings if the owner or manager refuses access. Building inspectors typically cannot force entry to a property unless there are pressing circumstances, Schaaf said. Fire officials have started knocking down parts of the building, known as the "Ghost Ship," that they said were structurally unsound. Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. J. D. Nelson said that of the 36 victims found, 35 have been identified and 20 of their families have been notified. Officials are still lacking any type of identity for one person. Stories of the victims' last minutes, meanwhile, emerged. Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said that some of the victims texted relatives, "I'm going to die," and "I love you. " Rescue crews found bodies of people "protecting each other, holding each other," Kelly said. ___ Thanawala reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer, Olga R. Rodriguez, Tim Reiterman, and Kristin J. Bender in San Francisco contributed to this report. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Latest: Official: Fire trapped people on second floor
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Official: Fire at Oakland Warehouse Progressed Rapidly, Trapped People on Second Floor
Official: Fire at Oakland warehouse progressed rapidly, trapped people on second floor
Officials ID 7 warehouse fire victims


 17 /1826 

Renzi quits; search on for new leader to guide Italy to vote (9.99/26)

ROME (AP) - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi resigned Wednesday evening, his self-inflicted penalty for staking his job on constitutional changes voters resoundingly rejected earlier in the week. He was asked by Italy's president to stay on in a caretaker's role until a new government can be formed. Renzi had first offered his resignation on Monday, shortly after voters rejected the constitutional reforms his center-left government had championed. President Sergio Mattarella, Italy's head of state, told him to stay in office until Parliament completed approval of the 2017 national budget. A few hours after the budget was passed on Wednesday, Renzi returned to the Quirinal presidential palace. This time, Mattarella accepted the resignation of the man who in February 2014 became Italy's youngest premier at age 39. A presidential palace official, Ugo Zampetti, told reporters that Mattarella would begin consultations Thursday with the heads of Parliament's two chambers, as well as with former President Giorgio Napolitano. After hearing out minor parties on Friday, Mattarella on Saturday plans to take proposals from the major players, including the Democratic Party that Renzi leads and the populist 5-Star Movement, Parliament's No. 1 and No. 2 parties respectively. It could be clear whom Mattarella might tap to be the next premier once those meetings are done. One strong possibility is a government that would rule until Parliament hashes out a new election law in a bid to bring political stability to Italy. The talks are aimed at sounding out party leaders to determine the configuration of a new government that would have enough support in Parliament to win both the required confirmation vote and to lead the country until elections are next held. Elections are scheduled for spring 2018, but Renzi's humiliating defeat in the referendum will likely hasten that date considerably, possibly bringing a vote in spring 2017. Opposition parties, including the anti-euro 5-Star Movement, are pressing for the elections to be held soon. "We want to go to the ballot box soon," said Roberto Fico, a 5-Star lawmaker. But Fico, as have both other opposition leaders and leaders from Renzi's Democrats, also cited the need for Parliament to approve a new election law before the national contests are called. In a speech to a meeting of the Democratic Party leadership just before he resigned Wednesday, Renzi took responsibility for his political debacle. But, sounding a bullish note, he asserted that his party would be ready for the elections whenever they are held. "We have no fear of anything or anybody, if the others want" elections soon, Renzi said. Ultimately, it will be up to Mattarella to decide whether Parliament should be sent packing early. Many Italian governments have collapsed far before the end of Parliament's five-year term. Italian lawmakers have struggled for decades to devise an electoral system that would make the country more governable. A new law, one giving the winner a big bonus in the lower Chamber of Deputies, was passed during Renzi's tenure. But no new law was made for the upper house, the Senate, while the constitutional reforms voters ultimately rejected in a referendum Sunday were on the table. One of the proposed reforms would have stripped the Senate of most of its powers and make it no longer directly elected. Instead, Italian voters pulled the plug on the reforms, and now political leaders agree the electoral rules as they now stand are unworkable. Infighting and party maneuverings have dogged the Democratic Party for the last few years. One of the moves that antagonized many in the party was Renzi's bold maneuver to trigger the downfall of his predecessor as premier, Enrico Letta. The last elected Italian premier was Silvio Berlusconi, the media mogul who started his third term in 2008. When Italy's financial instability forced Berlusconi to resign in 2011, economist Mario Monti was appointed. After a year, Monti's so-called technocrat government collapsed. Letta and then Renzi were appointed. ___ Frances D'Emilio is on twitter at Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Italy's Matteo Renzi officially resigns after referendum defeat
Matteo Renzi Resigns, Ending Italy’s 63rd Government in 70 Years
Matteo Renzi Has Resigned as Italy's Premier, but the President Asked Him to Stay on Until a New Government Is in Place
Italy PM Renzi resigns, president to consult with parties
Matteo Renzi has resigned as Italy’s premier, but the president asked him to stay on until a new government is in place
Renzi to step down now that Senate OK'd Italy's 2017 budget
Matteo Renzi resigns as Italy's premier
Italy PM Matteo Renzi resigns - but asked to stay until new government is in place


 18 /1826 

Donald Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Ally of Fossil Fuel Industry, to Lead E. P. A. (9.99/26)

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency , a transition official said, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change.
Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign. Mr. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “ war on coal.”
Mr. Pruitt, 48, who has emerged as a hero to conservative activists, is also one of a number of Republican attorneys general who have formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, a 2014 investigation by The New York Times revealed.
At the heart of Mr. Obama’s efforts to tackle climate change are a collection of E. P. A. regulations aimed at forcing power plants to significantly reduce their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution. It will not be possible for Mr. Trump to unilaterally cancel the rules, which were released under the 1970 Clean Air Act. But it would be possible for a legally experienced E. P. A. chief to substantially weaken, delay or slowly dismantle them.
As Oklahoma’s top law enforcement official, Mr. Pruitt has fought environmental regulations — particularly the climate change rules. Although Mr. Obama’s rules were not completed until 2015, Mr. Pruitt was one of a handful of attorneys general, along with Greg Abbott of Texas, who began planning as early as 2014 for a coordinated legal effort to fight them. That resulted in a 28-state lawsuit against the administration’s rules. A decision on the case is pending in a federal court, but it is widely expected to advance to the Supreme Court.
As Mr. Pruitt has sought to use legal tools to fight environmental regulations on the oil and gas companies that are a major part of his state’s economy, he has also worked with those companies. For example, the 2014 investigation by The Times found that energy lobbyists drafted letters for Mr. Pruitt to send, on state stationery, to the E. P. A., the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and even President Obama, outlining the economic hardship of the environmental rules.
Industries that Mr. Pruitt regulates have also joined him as plaintiffs in court challenges , a departure from the usual role of the state attorney general, who traditionally sues companies to force compliance with state law.
The close ties have paid off for Mr. Pruitt politically: Harold G. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Energy, a North Dakota oil and gas firm that also works in Oklahoma, was a co-chairman of Mr. Pruitt’s 2013 re-election campaign.

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 19 /1826 

Thousands of geese die after landing in toxic US water (9.97/26)

Thousands of migrating geese have died after taking refuge from a snowstorm in toxic mine waters in the western United States, mine officials have said. As many as 10,000 snow geese descended on the abandoned open Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana on November 28 and since then several thousand have perished, said Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for Montana Resources, which jointly manages the pit with the Atlantic Richfield Company. Thompson told the Montana Standard Tuesday that mine workers tried to prevent the huge flock from landing on the water -- which contains sulfuric acid and heavy metals -- by using noise makers, spotlights and other methods but failed to scare them all off. He described the pit's 700-acre (280-hectare) lake as "white with birds" when the flock landed on the water. Since then, area residents have found dead birds in parking lots, in front of a casino, on the roadside and outside town. Thousands more are estimated to have died in the lake according to drone and flyover footage, officials say. "Trying to get some idea of mortality has been difficult," Joe Vranka of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told the Billings Gazette. Some of the birds have been found alive in and around Butte and officials said rescuers were trying their best to save them. Meanwhile both the company and the EPA are keeping a close watch to prevent any additional flocks headed toward Butte from landing in the water. This is not the first time geese have died at the pit, which ceased operating in 1982 and has since been submerged with toxic water. In 1995, 342 dead geese were found floating in the pit. EPA officials said the companies that manage the mine will be fined if found not in compliance with a "bird hazing" program designed to prevent animals from spending too much time in the water. The strategy includes firing off shotguns in the air and loud noises to scare off birds.

Open Pit Mine in Montana Kills Thousands of Migrating Snow Geese
Hundreds of snow geese die in toxic pit mine
Thousands of snow geese die after landing in toxic Montana mine pit
Thousands of snow geese die after landing in a toxic mine pit in Montana
Up to 10,000 Geese Die after Landing in Toxic Lake
Thousands of geese die after landing in toxic waters of pit mine
Thousands of snow geese die after landing on Superfund site
Thousands of snow geese die after landing in toxic Montana mine pit, turning acid water ...


 20 /1826 

Charleston church gunman Dylann Roof 'evil, evil, evil' (9.86/26)

The man accused of murdering nine black people in a South Carolina church last year is "evil, evil, evil", a tearful survivor said as the trial began.
Felicia Sanders, whose son Tywanza died in the 17 June 2015 massacre, said Dylann Roof, 22, was welcomed by the bible study class before opening fire.
She said she initially mistook the shooting inside the Charleston church for an electrical fault with a lift.
If jurors find him guilty, they will decide if he should be put to death.
Mr Roof sat looking at the defence table during Ms Sanders' emotional testimony.
What victims' families told Roof
Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson told jurors - in a court barely a mile from where the bloodbath unfolded - that Mr Roof had a "cold and hateful heart".
The prosecutor said the accused had turned his gun on the group about half an hour after joining them at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
He fired 70 shots, 60 of which made impact, according to Mr Richardson.
The accused also hurled insults at his victims during the attack, Mr Richardson said, and left survivors "to tell his story".
The assistant US attorney said the accused had planned to inspire a "race war".
Mr Roof "hoped to send a message to other white people to stand up and do something," Mr Richardson said.
The accused, according to the prosecution, had "claimed white superiority".
"His manifesto was a call to arms, a belief that it was not too late take this country back from black Americans. "
Mr Richardson said the jury would hear Mr Roof's two-hour recorded confession to FBI agents following his arrest.
"He admitted that he almost didn't do it, that he almost walked out the door," assistant US attorney said, saying Roof had chosen the church due to its prominence among African-Americans.
"But in the end he decided that he just had to do it. "
The prosecutor said the jury would also see excerpts from the accused's "manifesto", which he allegedly typed on his father's computer hours before the attack.
Mr Roof's lawyer, David Bruck, said he may not call any witnesses because there is little question his client committed the attack.
"He did it," said the attorney. "You're probably wondering, so what we are doing here? Why does there need to be a trial? "
The lawyer said he hoped Mr Roof would be held in prison for the rest of his life, rather than executed by the state.
The accused has said he wishes to act as his own attorney if convicted, once the sentencing phase of the trial begins.
Last week he had asked to act as his own lawyer throughout the case.
But earlier this week he changed his mind, saying he would only represent himself after his guilt or innocence is determined.
The jury comprises two black women, eight white women, one white man and a black man.
Mr Roof is charged with 33 federal counts, including hate crimes.

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 21 /1826 

Dissidents urge Trump to press China on human rights (8.99/26)

Exiled Chinese dissidents are urging President-elect Donald Trump to champion human rights in China and recognize self-governing Taiwan as "a full democratic country. "
Several former political prisoners spoke before at congressional commission days after Trump spoke by phone with Taiwan's president in defiance of decades of diplomatic convention. That has fueled speculation Trump could adopt a tougher American policy toward China, although he has shown little interest in advocating for civil liberties in the communist-ruled nation.
Rebiya Kadeer (reb-EE-yah kah-DEER), an exiled leader of the Muslim Uighur (wee-GER) minority, said at Wednesday's hearing, "Any sign that the United States is ready to relinquish its commitment to raising human rights concerns in favor of achieving policy gains elsewhere will be a victory for China. "

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 22 /1826 

Pearl Harbor: A Photo Essay of the ‘Date Which Will Live in Infamy’ (8.99/26)

Americans across the country are commemorating the December 7, 1941 attack on the military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii today – an attack that sunk 12 battleships, obliterated hundreds of aircrafts, killed thousands, and forced the United States into World War II. ...

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 23 /1826 

Prosecutor drops charges in death of Detroit college officer (8.96/26)

DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors dropped murder charges Wednesday against a man in the killing of a Detroit college police officer who was shot in the head while on duty. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said charges against DeAngelo Davis, 31, of Detroit, were dropped, but she did not say why and did not take any questions from reporters during a news conference. Davis was accused of shooting Wayne State University Officer Collin Rose on Nov. 22. Davis had been jailed without bond since his arrest that night. He faced charges of first-degree murder and murder of a police officer. "As you can imagine, the officers from the homicide task force, including the Michigan State Police and the Detroit Police Department, have been working diligently and literally... around the clock, along with members of my office on this case," Worthy told reporters. "We all remain deeply committed to making sure that justice is done in this case, making sure that the perpetrator for the killing of Officer Rose is brought to justice. " Davis became a suspect in Rose's shooting almost immediately. In a statement after he was charged, Worthy said Davis was riding a bicycle when Rose stopped him. Rose was shot shortly after requesting help from other officers. The Associated Press left a message late Wednesday morning for Davis' attorney, Nicole James. Wayne State, which has more than 27,000 students, employs about 65 officers. Rose, 29, died a day after the shooting and was posthumously promoted to sergeant. He is the only Wayne State officer killed in the line of duty. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at the time that Rose was investigating possible thefts of navigation systems from vehicles.

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Prosecutor Kym Worthy drops charges in WSU cop killing


 24 /1826 

Congress shortchanging NYC on Trump security (8.95/26)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s mayor and other Democratic officials said Wednesday that Congress was proposing to pitch in far too little for protecting Trump Tower: $7 million, a fifth of what New York requested.
“New York City taxpayers should not be on the hook for 80 percent of the national bill” to protect President-elect Donald Trump and his family, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement calling for Congress to “step up” in coming months.
Since Trump won the Nov. 8 election, security around the eponymous Fifth Avenue skyscraper where the Republican lives and works has been stepped up to extraordinary levels. The New York Police Department has played a major role, along with the Secret Service and Trump’s private security personnel.
The tower is now safeguarded by a phalanx of city police officers armed with assault weapons, bomb-sniffing dogs and concrete barriers. Police have closed some lanes on Fifth Avenue, barricaded the block where Trump Tower residents have a private entrance and set up checkpoints manned by officers in guard booths.
De Blasio wanted up to $35 million in federal reimbursement for police overtime and other costs of safeguarding Trump from Election Day to his Jan. 20 inauguration. But stopgap spending legislation unveiled Tuesday in the Republican-led Congress includes $7 million.
The legislation would keep the government running through April. The House is expected to vote as soon as Thursday, and the Senate soon after.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called the $7 million proposal “outrageous.” Congressional Democrats from New York have also complained; one, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, said Wednesday that “Republicans in Congress have abdicated this basic responsibility” of protecting the president-elect in an area so busy that 7,000 pedestrians per hour pass by.
Similar reimbursements have been made in the past for large-scale events such as Pope Francis’ visit to the city last year.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 25 /1826 

Nightclub victims’ kin: Oakland fire families face long road (7.99/26)

PROVIDENCE, R. I. (AP) — Authorities investigating the California warehouse party fire that killed 36 people have said they are considering a criminal case — even murder charges. But as relatives learned after a nightclub fire killed 100 people in Rhode Island, any prosecution would be a long and complicated road that may not end with a feeling of justice.
The 2003 fire at The Station in West Warwick was started by pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White, which set fire to foam that lined the walls as soundproofing. It was actually highly flammable packing foam, never approved for such a use, and the crowded club became an inferno in seconds.
In Oakland, investigators have said they’re looking at electrical appliances as possible causes in the Friday night fire in the warehouse packed with wooden structures, where electricity was provided by cords that snaked through the space.
Relatives of those killed and lawyers involved in the Rhode Island case said they see troubling parallels.
In both fires, there was an alleged lack of proper permits and loads of highly flammable material inside. In both, the operators were accused of ignoring safety standards, such as providing adequate fire exits. As in Rhode Island, there are suggestions that officials in Oakland didn’t do enough to inspect and monitor the building, leading to tragedy.
At The Station, inspectors failed to note the foam in their reports. They also raised the club’s capacity, so people were allowed to pack inside.
A nearly 10-month grand jury investigation resulted in involuntary manslaughter charges for three people: the club’s owners, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, and the man who set off the pyrotechnics, Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele.
But many were outraged that the town’s fire marshal and Great White leader Jack Russell were not charged.
Dave Kane, whose son, Nicholas O’Neill, died in The Station fire, said he believes he is seeing in Oakland what he saw in Rhode Island: a rush to blame the operator of the space and to protect public officials.
“The elected officials, the fire officials, they’re the responsible ones,” Kane said, adding a message to families in Oakland: “Don’t get your hopes up, because too many people have to cover themselves, and that’s the problem.”
Jeff Pine, a former Rhode Island attorney general who represented Jeffrey Derderian, said The Station fire represented a “perfect storm” of things going wrong simultaneously.
In such cases, manslaughter charges are more likely than murder charges, he said. Murder usually requires some level of criminal intent or malicious conduct, such as someone intentionally setting the fire, he said. Authorities said on Tuesday there is no indication the Oakland fire was intentionally set.
Tom Briody, who defended Biechele, said establishing criminal intent is a high burden, but there is a tendency to lower it when so many people are killed.
“The reality is that when you have a large death toll, the cases get investigated more aggressively. Ultimately, I think the burden somehow lowers itself,” he said. “Somehow, it becomes a lot easier to convince folks that someone’s to blame than when there’s a smaller amount of damage or harm.”
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has said Oakland investigators are looking into “Who knew what? Who ignored what, and who completely disregarded what?”
Warehouse operator Derick Ion Almena deflected questions from NBC’s “Today” about whether he should be held accountable, but said he signed a lease for building that was “to city standards, supposedly,” and said he would put his three children to sleep there at night.
Biechele ultimately pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter and served less than two years in prison. The Derderians pleaded no contest to the same charges without admitting guilt. Michael Derderian spent less than three years in prison, and Jeffrey Derderian got community service.
“That was rather devastating,” said Chris Fointaine, whose son, Mark, died, and whose daughter was badly injured. “The fact that one brother walked away with basically no time, and the other with what we considered a slap on the wrist.”
She said relatives of those killed became their own sort of family and drew support from each other in the years that followed.
“They need to be prepared for this to be dragging for a long, long time,” she said of the families in Oakland. “I think the only comfort that we found was in each other.”
In Rhode Island, the criminal case took more three years, and the civil cases against dozens of people and companies took six. The settlements totaled $176 million.
Fontaine called those settlements the most insignificant thing that happened in the case.
“To me, that was the least important. To me, seeing justice served would have been the most helpful,” she said. “We never got that justice served. And we never will.”
Need a break? Play a quick game of solitaire or Sudoku. Or take one of our fun quizzes!
See photos of the most expensive homes sold in the D. C. region in November.

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 26 /1826 

Trump's Cabinet Picks Have a Combined Wealth of $11B. How Did They All Make Their Money? (7.99/26)

President-elect Donald Trump ran on a campaign of blue-collar anger and populism, but he is now drawing fire for stocking his White House with fellow billionaires.
Financial success isn't necessarily a barrier to public service. President Obama has a billionaire on staff too: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, from real estate and family banking investments in Chicago.
But already the combined wealth of Trump's prospective cabinet tops $11 billion — more than 30 times greater than that of even President George W. Bush 's White House. And Trump isn't halfway done with his picks.
Here's a look at how some of the wealthiest appointees stack up so far, according to estimates from Forbes, The Guardian and
Co-owner of Chicago Cubs. Billionaire father founded the Ameritrade discount brokerage services.
Daughter-in-law of Amway co-founder. Brother founded Blackwater. Fierce faith-based proponent of school voucher programs.
Dubbed the "king of bankruptcy. " Restructured failed companies in steel, coal, and telecommunications using leveraged buyouts.
Worked 17 years at Goldman Sachs. Started his own hedge fund and invested in two Donald Trump projects. Turned around failed home lender IndyMac. Company was involved in string of lawsuits over questionable foreclosure practices.
A former Republican presidential candidate and neurosurgeon with revenue from best-selling books, paid speeches and board positions. Has said social safety net and welfare programs create dependency among poor.
Former member of both Bush administrations. Daughter of a shipping magnate. Married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
An orthopedic surgeon with medical industry companies in his stock portfolio who wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with tax credits and health savings accounts.
Republican Senator from Alabama. Noted advocate for reducing legal immigration. Supported Bush tax cuts, opposed 2009 stimulus and Obamacare.
Top contributors are in legal, health, real estate and utilities, especially a gas and electric company and a coal-mining firm.

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 27 /1826 

Pope Francis says spreading fake news is a sin and compares it to eating feces (7.93/26)

In an interview with a Belgian Catholic weekly publication released Wednesday, Pope Francis criticized the spread of fake news in graphic terms, comparing it coprophagia, according to a translation of the transcript published by the Vatican.
Coprophagia is the act of eating one’s own feces.
Francis also compared “disinformation” from the media to coprophilia, or an interest in feces, often for sexual arousal.
“Disinformation is probably the greatest damage that the media can do,” Francis told Tertio, the Belgian magazine .
Francis’ comments were part of a broader critique of the news media, which he said carried “a very great responsibility” because of its ability to help shape public opinion. Because of this, he said, the press are the “builders of a society” and face a particular set of temptations.
In particular, Francis, who included himself as a person who uses the media to spread his opinion, the press should avoid slander, especially in politics, and defamation. The pope used the example of uncovering and publishing mistakes from a person’s past after they have already been punished by the justice system as a “harmful” sin.
But Fancis’ sharpest remarks came in his warning to the press to avoid publishing disinformation and covering only scandals.
Failing to include relevant information or facts in a story prevents consumers from being able to make a “serious judgment,” and covering “scandal” and “ugly things” is akin to eating feces, he said.
“Since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, it can do great harm,” he said.
Francis apologized if he had caused any offense by using such graphic words but said it was necessary to convey his point.
Scrutiny of the impact of fake news has exploded since the Nov. 8 election of President-elect Donald Trump, with many saying it had helped his campaign. Others are calling on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit to do more to prevent false stories from spreading.
Just this Sunday, a man was arrested after entering a Washington, D. C. pizzeria with an assault rifle to “self-investigate” fake news stories of a child trafficking ring involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to the Washington Post .
Francis ended his comments on a positive note, however, saying that the media “can construct and do immense good.”

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 28 /1826 

Megyn Kelly, Tina Fey talk empowerment in the time of Trump (7.83/26)

" What an amazing year it's been for women, " Tina Fey shouted out Wednesday morning before she buckled over with a sustained and slightly maniacal laugh. Speaking to a room of celebrities, Hollywood execs and reporters in Los Angeles at The

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 29 /1826 

Trump denies Air Force One threat is retaliation for Boeing CEO's comments (7.77/26)

Trump set off a firestorm Tuesday morning when he — seemingly out of nowhere — tweeted that the cost of the replacement program would hit $4 billion. The social media post ended with two ominous words for Boeing: “Cancel order!”
He later made a rare appearance in the lobby of Trump Tower to tell reporters “the plane is totally out of control,” adding that he thinks “Boeing is doing a little bit of a number — we want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”
Just over 24 hours later, Trump was asked about his criticism on NBC’s “Today Show” program. The president-elect denied seeing a Chicago Tribune article posted Tuesday morning that contained comments from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg about the importance of free trade to his company’s overall business — and noted it sells one of every three 737 airliners to China.
During the campaign — and since, including a U. S. foreign policy protocol-breaking phone call with Taiwan’s president — Trump used an anti-trade and tough-on-China populist position to help win over working-class Democrats in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.
But Muilenburg, in comments that the newspaper reported were from the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association last week, argued Washington cannot afford to sit on the sidelines of global trade talks.
“If we do not lead when it comes to writing these rules, our competitors will write them for us,” he said.
The Tribune article was posted at online at 7:30 a.m. Trump’s tweet went out at 8:52 a.m, as CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out.
On Wednesday the president-elect denied, when pressed by “Today” co-host Matt Lauer, that his attack on the Air Force One replacement program was retaliation for Muilenburg’s pro-trade and friendly-with-China stances.
But he did escalate his growing war with the Chicago-based defense and aerospace giant when he threatened again to cancel the new program and merely keep the 25-year-old existing Air Force jets in service unless Boeing reduces costs.
But here’s the catch: The new presidential planes are still in development, and not set to being in service until 2024. The youngest of the two current jets would have flown for 33 years at that point.
When the Pentagon announced the deal in early 2015, the Air Force set the budget for the new planes at $1.65 billion, but current estimates have varied.
Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, on Tuesday said the president-elect’s cost estimate was not that far off. That’s because the Pentagon’s last budget plan included $2.9 billion for research and development, but does not yet show the cost of actually buying the two new jets at a cost of more than $1 billion, Harrison tweeted.
When asked for comment, Boeing at first seemed caught off guard. In a later Tuesday statement, the company claimed its existing contract for the program is worth $170 million.
“We look forward to working with the U. S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer,” Boeing said in a statement.
In other news, Trump on “Today” said he is “fairly close” to selecting a secretary of state nominee. “I think next week will be the time I announce it,” adding that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains in the running. So, too, does ExxonMobile Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, he said.
Meantime, he said his transition team could make other Cabinet announcements on Wednesday or Thursday.
Additionally, a Trump aide on a Tuesday conference call with reporters said the president-elect sold all of his stocks in June. Trump a day later said he did so not to make money but because he sensed he would win the presidency.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I’m making decisions for this country,” Trump said.

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 30 /1826 

USMC pilot missing after ejecting from F/A-18 over Japan (7.62/26)

OKINAWA, Japan, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A U. S. Marine Corps pilot ejected from his F/A-18 Hornet during a training mission over Japan on Wednesday and remains missing, officials said.
The pilot escaped from his fighter jet about 20 miles southeast of Iwakuni. Details of the accident were not immediately disclosed.
A search for the pilot was conducted in the area he ejected but he was not immediately located.
Search teams continue to search for the unidentified pilot.

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 31 /1826 

Softbank tycoon who met with Trump is Japan's deal maker (7.59/26)

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, who met with President-elect Donald Trump and then announced plans to create 50,000 jobs and invest $50 billion in U. S. startups, has been one of Japan's most aggressive overseas investors for over two decades. He's getting an early start on deal-making with the future president. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Son founded Softbank in 1981 after selling a pocket translator he invented while still in college to Sharp Corp. for $1 million. Softbank became Japan's largest distributor of computer software and leading publisher of computer-related magazines and books, going public in 1994. The Tokyo-based company is now one of Japan's biggest telecoms providers, with more than 63,590 employees, a solar power business, humanoid robots for home use, ride-booking services and financial technology. It recently set up a $25 billion private fund for technology investments, along with Saudi Arabia and other investors, that Son says could grow to $100 billion. But Softbank has had its ups and downs over the years, occasionally having to retrench and sell off investments. Here are some highlights: ARM HOLDINGS: In July, Softbank bought Britain's ARM Holdings for 24.3 billion pounds ($32 billion), in a deal the British government hailed as a vote of confidence despite its decision to leave the European Union. ARM is known as an innovator in smartphone technologies and the "internet of things. " ''Now is the time. This is the Cambrian explosion," Son recently told investors in a presentation. SPRINT CORP.: Son's 2013 purchase of a 70 percent stake in Sprint Nextel for $20 billion was the biggest foreign acquisition in the history of Japan Inc. The U. S. wireless carrier is slowly turning itself around, though it reported a loss of $142 million in its fiscal second quarter. Son hopes to expand Softbank's U. S. footprint by acquiring T-Mobile. On Tuesday, he praised Trump as a "deregulator," suggesting he is hoping the new administration might ease hurdles to such a deal. Son has said he believes the mobile internet is the most important, backbone technology for the 21st century, but the U. S. lags in terms of speed. He could be looking to focus investments in that area. ALIBABA: Son says he parted "unwillingly" with some of his investment in the Chinese e-commerce giant to help pay for the ARM acquisition. "But I still believe in Alibaba's future; it is still in the process of growth and it has a big future," he said in an earnings presentation last month. SUPERCELL: Earlier this year, Softbank sold its stake in Finnish game developer Supercell to Chinese technology firm Tencent in a deal that values the company at about $10.2 billion. INDIA: Son has pledged to invest $10 billion in India over 10 years, though Softbank has had to write off losses from ride hailing technology company Ola Cabs and e-commerce company Snapdeal. EARLIER DEALS: In 1995, back when Softbank was still a software distributor and publisher of computer and hi-tech magazines, it bought Comdex and other computer-related show businesses from The Interface Group. Eventually it sold off the trade shows. Over the years, Son has also invested in satellite TV and other media ventures, in banking and in Japan's Nasdaq. An investment in U. S. computer memory board maker Kingston Technology Corp., in 1996, is considered one of Son's missteps. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 32 /1826 

NTSB: Driver in fatal Baltimore bus crash has history of crashes, seizures (7.53/26)

BALTIMORE -- The driver of a Baltimore school bus that careened into a transit bus, killing six people , including himself, was speeding, had a history of previous crashes and had a seizure the week before, national investigators said Wednesday.
Glen Chappell was driving about 57 mph in a 30-mph zone - nearly twice the speed limit - when he struck a Ford Mustang from behind before colliding with an oncoming Maryland Transit Administration bus last month, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s initial report.
Chappell was driving the school bus for AAAfordable LLC of Baltimore, which held a contract with Baltimore City Public Schools. No children were on board at the time of the crash.
The transit bus driver and four passengers were also killed. Eleven people sustained injuries.
Incident reports referencing Chappell’s previous crashes and other problematic issues said Chappell had “seizure-like episodes,” and had a seizure just a week before the Nov. 1 crash.
In addition, while Chappell had a medical certificate allowing him to drive the school bus, he had not filed it with the Maryland Vehicle Administration, which made it illegal for him to be driving the bus, the report said.
Chappell’s wife told investigators after an earlier crash that he had been taking medication for seizures when he got into an accident two years ago.
Chappell had been driving buses since 2008. He began working for AAAfordable in 2014, but took a break between April and August of this year, during which time he drove for other bus companies.
Chappell was just a short distance from picking up his first kids for the school bus when the accident occured.
Police spokesman T. J. Smith said at the time of the crash that the damage was huge.
“It literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus. It’s catastrophic damage,” Smith said.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis characterized riders on the No. 10 MTA bus as workers traveling on a route from Dundalk, a largely blue-collar community southeast of Baltimore, toward Catonsville, a western suburb.
“They’re on their way to make a living, they’re on their way to the job and they’re on their way to support their families,” Davis said, “Our hearts and prayers go out to them, to their families, to their co-workers as well.”
The school bus first hit a silver Ford Mustang, crushing its rear and forcing its nose into the pavement. Then it hit a pillar at a cemetery entrance hundreds of feet down the street. Veering across the center line, the yellow school bus slammed into the front driver side of the MTA bus, ending about 100 yards from the pillar.
The school bus raked the side of the commuter bus, ending with its front end buried toward the back of the MTA vehicle.

Driver in fatal crash was speeding, had prior wrecks
Bus driver who caused fatal Baltimore crash had history of seizures
NTSB: Driver in fatal crash was speeding, had prior wrecks
NTSB: Driver in Fatal Crash Was Speeding, Had Prior Wrecks
NTSB: Driver in fatal Baltimore crash was speeding
NTSB: Driver in fatal Baltimore school bus collision was speeding, had history of seizures, crashes
NTSB: Driver in fatal Baltimore school bus crash was speeding, had prior wrecks


 33 /1826 

Senate passes $6.3 billion medical research bill and sends to Obama (7.37/26)

The $6.3 billion bill — known as the 21st Century Cures Act — won large majorities in the House and Senate despite warnings from some consumer groups that industry-sought provisions to speed approval of new drugs and medical devices jeopardize patient safety.
Obama, who strongly endorsed the bill, said it “could help unlock cures (for) Alzheimer’s, end cancer as we know it, and help people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need.”
The 94-4 Senate vote followed several years of lobbying by patient advocates and powerful industries, including drug manufacturers. The bill cleared the House last week by a 392-26 vote.
“Finding solutions for deadly and debilitating health threats and combating insidious public health threats should be a dual imperative for our nation, and this legislation could well usher in an era of unprecedented progress on both fronts,” said Mary Woolley, president of Research! America, a coalition of more than 350 academic research organizations, disease advocacy groups, drug makers and other industries.
The bill would provide $4.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health to support research efforts, such as the so-called Cancer Moonshot initiative championed by Vice President Joe Biden.
Food and Drug Administration will receive an additional $500 million to streamline its review of new drug therapies.
The legislation also advances federal initiatives that have languished for years, including new funding sought by public health departments to combat the opioid epidemic.
Other parts of the bill would support steps designed to strengthen the nation’s mental health system by coordinating treatment research, supporting community efforts to reduce homelessness and keeping mentally ill patients out of the criminal justice system.
Advocates say substantial additional funding is needed beyond what is provided in the bill.
The legislation has generated concerns among many consumer advocates, who have warned that provisions that would speed federal regulatory review of new drugs and medical devices could expose patients to new risks.
“The bill has been sold erroneously as a common sense, bipartisan compromise that enables scientific innovation and medical breakthroughs for America,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “But in reality, the legislation includes a grab bag of goodies for Big Pharma and medical device companies that would undermine requirements for ensuring safe and effective drugs and medical devices.”
Several leading liberal lawmakers have also blasted the legislation for including what Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last week called “corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer.”
The White House acknowledged that it has issues with parts of the legislation, but Obama noted that the tradeoffs were worth it.
“Like all good legislation, it reflects compromise,” the president said during his weekly radio address Saturday.
Hospitals and insurance companies successfully lobbied for the bill to include provisions shielding them from cuts in what the federal Medicare program pays them.
Another provision favored by industry would exempt some payments that physicians receive from drug and device makers from federal reporting requirements designed to alert patients to potential conflicts of interest.
Conservative activist group Heritage Action for America opposed the bill because it will add to federal spending.
The bill’s spending is offset with cuts in Medicare payments for drug therapies and medical equipment, other spending reductions and the sale of 25 million barrels of oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve.

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 34 /1826 

John Kelly Has ZERO Intention Of Closing Guantanamo Bay (6.99/26)

Former Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly was a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s decision to shut down the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, and it’s unlikely that will change in his new role as President-elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security.
As the former head of United States Southern Command, it was Kelly’s job to implement Obama’s policy to shut down Gitmo , but he was not afraid to voice his disapproval of the decision.
“They’re detainees, not prisoners,” Kelly told the Military Times in January.
His disagreement with Obama eventually led the administration to publicly blame him for intentionally creating obstacles to detainee releases in December, 2015. Kelly denied the accusations, adding that he and his staff have never “refused or curtailed” delegation visits to the detention center. Kelly did his job, but he had no doubt the detainees were legitimate threats to national security.
“Every one has real, no-kidding intelligence on them that brought them here,” Kelly told the Military Times in November. “They were doing something negative, something bad, something violent, and they were taken from the battlefield. There are a lot of people that will dispute that, but I have dossiers on all of them, built and maintained by the intelligence community, both military and civilian.”
“There are no innocent men down there,” he added.
Kelly is intimately familiar with the threat posed by terrorists like those held in Guantanamo Bay on both a professional and personal level. He saw the effect of radical Islamic terrorism first hand as a commander during the Iraqi occupation, and lost his son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, in Afghanistan Nov. 9, 2010.
President Obama increased Guantanamo detainee releases in 2016 in an effort to close the facility before he leaves office in January. Obama will likely not be able to release the remaining 59 detainees by Trump’s inauguration Jan. 20.
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 35 /1826 

The Latest: Wisconsin recount more than 70 percent complete (6.93/26)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Latest on recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (all times local): 3:20 p.m. Wisconsin's presidential recount is more than 70 percent complete, and Democrat Hillary Clinton has gained just 82 votes on President-elect Donald Trump. Trump won Wisconsin by more than 22,000 votes. The latest results were reported Wednesday by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. It says all counties remain on track to finish their work by the state-imposed deadline of 8 p.m. Tuesday. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is pushing for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Wisconsin, 34 of 72 counties have completed their work and the others are all nearing completion. More than 2.1 million votes out of the nearly 3 million cast have been recounted. ___ 3:05 p.m. A judge has rejected a Green Party request to allow software experts to inspect Philadelphia's election systems for evidence they were hacked. The judge's refusal Wednesday comes after Philadelphia's election board rejected the idea, too. It is part of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's efforts to force recounts of the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Republican Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in all three states. A Friday federal court hearing is scheduled in a separate Green Party request. The party says an examination of central voting system software in six Pennsylvania counties using different types of paperless electronic voting machines would take two or three days. ___ 1:20 p.m. A federal judge in Detroit has heard arguments over whether he should drop his decision that started the recount of Michigan's presidential votes. Judge Mark Goldsmith told lawyers Wednesday he would make a written decision. Lawyers for the state Republican Party and Attorney General Bill Schuette told Goldsmith that his earlier ruling is moot after the Michigan appeals court said the Green Party candidate didn't qualify for a recount. The appeals court said Jill Stein won just 1 percent of the vote and isn't an "aggrieved" candidate under state law. More than 20 counties so far have been recounting ballots since Monday. The appeals court told the Michigan elections board to reconsider Stein's petition and reject it. The board plans to meet after Goldsmith makes a decision. Goldsmith's order started the recount this week. The issue for him was timing - not whether a recount was appropriate. ___ 10:45 a.m. The Michigan elections board will wait to decide whether to end the state's presidential recount until it sees what a federal judge does. The Board of State Canvassers met Wednesday, a day after the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered it to dismiss Green Party candidate Jill Stein's petition. The board recessed shortly before the federal judge was to hold a hearing in Detroit on stopping the recount, which began Monday. Stein lawyer Mark Brewer says the ruling wasn't given immediate effect, so the board is "under no mandate to do anything. " He says stopping the recount would increase voter suspicion about election integrity. Stein is appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court. Trump attorney Eric Doster says it's "pretty clear" the board must end the recount because fourth-place finisher Stein isn't an "aggrieved" candidate. ___ 1:30 a.m. A federal judge could decide whether to end Michigan's presidential recount after the state's second-highest court said the Green Party nominee was ineligible to seek a second look at millions of ballots. The federal judge who on Monday ordered the recount to begin will hold a hearing Wednesday on whether to stop it. The state elections board also is meeting Wednesday, a day after the Michigan appeals court ordered it to dismiss Jill Stein's recount petition. The court noted that she got 1 percent of the vote and has no chance of catching Republican Donald Trump, who narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton in the state. Meanwhile, a court hearing will be held Friday on a possible recount in Pennsylvania. A recount in Wisconsin so far shows Trump gaining votes over Clinton. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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US Judge to Hear Arguments on Michigan Presidential Recount


 36 /1826 

Corey Lewandowski says Trump has made it ok to say 'Merry Christmas' again (6.77/26)

Corey Lewandowski said on Tuesday that Donald Trump has made it OK to say 'Christmas' again.
During the appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program, the former Trump campaign manager also commented , "Merry Christmas... It's not a pejorative word anymore. "
The comment drew a chuckle from Hannity, who, along with other hosts from the network, have reportedly accused liberals of waging a 'War on Christmas.'
That alleged battle was also referenced by Donald Trump during his campaign.
In August, Trump said he makes a particular effort to say 'Christmas' in acknowledgement of the nation's "persecuted" Christians.
While it's unclear exactly how Trump defines 'persecution,' he did vow that, if elected, he would right wrongs by ensuring the words 'Merry Christmas' be featured in department stores all across the land.

Corey Lewandowski says 'You can say Merry Christmas again because Trump is president'
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Philippines' Duterte says Trump made him feel 'like a saint'
Philippines' Duterte Says Trump Made Him Feel 'Like a Saint'
Philippines' Duterte says Trump made him feel like a saint
Lewandowski: Trump Has Done More For America In The Last 4 Weeks Than Obama Has In The Last 4 Years


 37 /1826 

Broad rally drives Dow, S&P to record highs (6.66/26)

NEW YORK – The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes soared to their biggest gains since the presidential election on Wednesday and set all-time highs. Investors bought stocks that do well in times of faster economic growth, like technology and industrial companies, but they also snapped up stocks that pay large dividends.
Stocks moved steadily higher throughout the day after a mixed open. Phone and real estate companies made the largest gains, but the rally moved into high gear in the afternoon, as airlines, railroads and trucking companies soared.
Investors took the rally in transportation stocks as a sign of optimism about economic growth. Technology and consumer-focused companies also jumped. Biotech drug companies took steep losses after President-elect Donald Trump said he wants to reduce drug prices.
The transportation sector reached an all-time high for the first time in two years. Julian Emanuel, an equity strategist for UBS, said investors were pleased to see that record because they see it as a sign businesses will start spending more, which would bolster economic growth.
“The consumer has really been the engine of the economy,” he said. “The missing piece has been the corporate side, the industrial side.”
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 297.84 points, or 1.5 percent, to 19,549.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 29.12 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,241.35. The Nasdaq composite recovered from an early loss to rise 60.76 points, or 1.1 percent, to 5,393.76. That was about five points short of its all-time high.
The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks also recovered from an early loss and set its own a record as it gained 11.84 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,364.51.
U. S. government bond prices rose, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.34 percent from 2.39 percent. Bond yields have risen sharply since the summer but have slipped in the last few days.
The lower bond yields have helped stocks that are seen as bond substitutes, like real estate investment trusts. Their big dividends are attractive to investors who want income, so when bond yields fall, investors often turn to those stocks. Industrial real estate company Prologis rose $1.62, or 3.2 percent, to $52.32 and Verizon picked up $1.02, or 2 percent, to $51.38.
AT&T also jumped as a Senate antitrust panel scrutinized its planned $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner, the parent of HBO. Legislators asked if the deal would improve competition and reduce prices for consumers, as the companies say it will. AT&T gained $1.10, or 2.8 percent, to $40.45 and Time Warner edged up 8 cents to $93.98.
A wide array of companies that stand to benefit from faster economic growth also climbed. Home improvement retailer Lowe’s rose $3.94, or 5.4 percent, to $76.40 and truck maker Paccar jumped $3.20, or 5 percent, to $67.63. U. S. Steel added $1.54, or 4.3 percent, to $37.49.
IBM led technology companies higher as it rose $4.44, or 2.8 percent, to $164.79. Hard drive maker Western Digital climbed $5.30, or 8.3 percent, to $69.15 after it extended a patient licensing deal with Samsung.
In an interview with Time magazine, which named him Person of the Year, the president-elect said he wants to reduce drug prices. He did not say how his administration plans to do that. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned on reducing drug prices, and drug company stocks had rallied since the election as investors felt that was less likely to happen under Trump.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index tumbled 2.9 percent, as those companies make costly medications and might stand to lose the most under tighter price regulations. Amgen lost $3.92, or 2.7 percent, to $141.19 and Vertex Pharmaceuticals sank $2.80, or 3.6 percent, to $75.32.
Abbott Laboratories moved to terminate its purchase of diagnostic test maker Alere. Abbott agreed to buy Alere in February for about $5.8 billion, or $56 per share. But since then, Alere has recalled a key monitoring device and delayed a financial statement, and it’s being investigated over its overseas business. Alere said Abbott’s lawsuit is without merit.
Alere stock dropped $3.19, or 8 percent, to $36.67 and Abbott stock added 6 cents to $38.48.
Benchmark U. S. crude oil lost $1.16, or 2.3 percent, to $49.77 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, slid 93 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $53 a barrel in London. Energy companies traded higher Wednesday, although they rose less than the rest of the market.
European stock indexes jumped as investors anticipated that the European Central Bank will extend its bond-buying stimulus program Thursday. The stimulus is designed to boost growth and inflation. European stock indexes climbed. Germany’s DAX gained 2 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain rose 1.8 percent. The CAC 40 of France picked up 1.4 percent.
The dollar fell to 113.85 yen from 114.05 yen. The euro rose to $1.0759 from $1.0715.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline lost 3 cents to $1.51 per gallon. Heating oil slipped 2 cents to $1.62 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $3.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $7.40 to $1,177.50 an ounce. Silver jumped 47 cents to $17.28 an ounce. Copper dipped 4 cents to $2.64 a pound.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent and the South Korean Kospi inched up 0.1 percent. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent.
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Dow skyrockets 300 to another all-time high Contact WND
High-dividend stocks push US indexes to record highs
Secretary of State Kim Wyman raises concerns over Trump policy
A broad rally drives Dow, S&P 500 indexes to record highs
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Markets Right Now: Dow, S&P 500 surge to record high closes
Dow, S&P 500 close at record highs
Broad rally takes US indexes back above record highs


 38 /1826 

Jury Picked, Opening Statements Set in Church Slayings Trial (6.62/26)

Twelve jurors were chosen Wednesday to decide the death penalty trial of a white man who authorities say wanted to start a race war by killing nine black people in a South Carolina church.
Opening statements were underway in the trial of Dylann Roof in a federal courthouse about a mile away from the church. Roof wore a gray and white striped prison jumpsuit and stared mostly at the table in front of him.
According to a reporter who observed the jury selection process, the panel appears to be racially mixed.
Authorities say Roof sat with 12 people in Bible study and prayer for an hour at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, before pulling a gun from his fanny pack, firing dozens of shots and reloading several times.
His trial begins as another racially charged one ended Monday in a mistrial. Jurors couldn't agree on a verdict for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who shot a black man in the back as he was running away from a traffic stop.
In contrast to the Slager case, Roof's lawyers have offered several times to plead guilty if federal prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. They refused.
Authorities say Roof hurled racial insults during the massacre, telling the parishioners he was killing them because he wanted a war between whites and blacks because blacks were raping white women and taking over the country.
Roof left three people alive in the church basement so they could tell the world his reasons for the shooting, police said. Two others, who were in another room, also survived.
The church slayings took place a little more than two months after the Slager shooting, which was shown online and on TV millions of times after a bystander recorded it. Charleston has stayed mostly calm, and the state prosecutor has promised a retrial.
Prosecutors have said it would take six to seven days to make their case against Roof. Defense attorney David Bruck said Roof's case would take little additional time.
The past week has had its own drama as Roof fired his lawyers to act as his own attorney, then hired them back Monday. But he said he will represent himself if he is found guilty and must fight for his life during the penalty phase.
Roof's attorneys said they don't know why he wants to be his own lawyer but said in other cases defendants have been trying to avoid having their lawyers introduce embarrassing evidence that could sway jurors.
Roof faces 33 charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. State prosecutors also plan a death penalty trial on nine murder charges.

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The Latest: Jury picked in Dylann Roof-church slayings trial ::
The Latest: Jury Picked in Dylann Roof-Church Slayings Trial


 39 /1826 

Report: Bob Dole lobbied Trump team for months on Taiwan (6.49/26)

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole lobbied Donald Trump’s team for months on rethinking relations with Taiwan, a new report revealed, following the president-elect’s phone call with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ying-wen.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Dole’s role Monday. The New York Times gave further details about how the Republican, who now works as a lobbyist for the Washington firm Alston & Bird, helped facilitate the phone call.
Reviewing disclosure documents filed with the Justice Department last week, the Times found that Dole was paid about $140,000 from May to October for his work coordinating the series of meetings with Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers and officials in Taiwan. The Times noted that Dole, who was the only former Republican presidential nominee to endorse Mr. Trump’s campaign, was “acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan” in the proceedings.
Donald Trump's team is defending a "congratulatory" phone call he took from the president of Taiwan, an incident that angered Beijing, which has ...
“It’s fair to say that we had some influence,” Dole said in an interview with the Times. “When you represent a client and they make requests, you’re supposed to respond.”
Of Taiwan’s hopes for the incoming administration, Dole said they were “very optimistic.”
“They see a new president, a Republican, and they’d like to develop a closer relationship,” he told the Times.
Dole’s role in facilitating Taiwan talks with Mr. Trump’s team included arranging a meeting between Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican who has been nominated to head up the Justice Department, and Stanley Kao, Taiwan’s envoy to the U. S.
Even before Mr. Trump’s Election Night win, Dole had tried to establish early relationships between the campaign and Taiwanese officials. He attempted to involve the then-candidate’s aides in a U. S. delegation to Taiwan and he worked to include language favorable to the island in the party’s platform.
According to the lobbying disclosure documents filed to the Justice Department, Dole and his firm were contracted with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U. S. and were responsible for attempting to obtain Taiwan’s membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, advancing “Taiwan’s military goals,” and “promote travel to Taiwan by and skeek meetings with U. S. Administration officials, Members of Congress, and other prominent Americans.”
The president-elect received some criticism over his call with Tsai over the weekend, when China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, launched an official diplomatic complaint over the conversation.
“We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement. “I must point out that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory.”
Later, Beijing seemed to downplay the talks. In a China Daily editorial, they said, “It exposed nothing but his and his transition team’s inexperience in dealing with foreign affairs.”
Mr. Trump’s call with Tsai was the first time a president or president-elect has spoken with a Taiwanese leader since the U. S. first cut off diplomatic relations with the island nation in 1979.

Bob Dole lobbied Donald Trump on Taiwan before phone call
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Ex-Sen. Bob Dole facilitated Donald Trump call with Taiwan leader
Ex-Sen. Dole facilitated Trump call with Taiwan's leader
Ex-Sen. Dole facilitated Trump call with Taiwan
Report says Dole facilitated Trump call with Taiwan's leader


 40 /1826 

‘Loving’ Took on New Relevance After Trump’s Win (6.44/26)

“ Loving ” director Jeff Nichols acknowledges that moviegoers may see the film in a different light following the recent presidential race and the election of Donald Trump.
The movie is about the marriage of Richard and Mildred Loving (played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) whose union was illegal in Virginia until they challenged the state’s law prohibiting biracial nuptials. That led to the landmark Supreme Court decision in Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down miscegenation laws across the country.
The movie began its release on Nov. 4, just days before the election in which issues of race and gender were front and center.
Hollywood Struggles to Embrace Ideals of Its Liberal-Message Movies
“I think everybody is looking at all parts of their life differently after Election Day, no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on,” Nichols tells Variety ‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “You really can’t avoid it. I think what Richard and Mildred tell us, and show us, more importantly, is the power of individuals to do something. And that is a good thing to be reminded of right now because we have been so caught up in the political system and watching it take effect that you might forget that two people can change things.
“It is possible,” he adds. “It is not just a platfude or something. It happened and it happened not because they had a political agenda. They were just being true to themselves, and that is a good thing to be reminded of after this election.”
Nick Kroll , who plays the Lovings’ attorney, Bernie Cohen, said that “whatever is happening on the political landscape is happening. But people have to choose to live their life in a specific way and choose to love who they love and try to be in communities that through their own conviction fight to live the way they want to live.”
Jeff Nichols Says Racial Tensions in ‘Loving’ More Relevant Than He Hoped It Would Be Today
The movie, which has grossed $5.6 million so far in limited release, is told from the point of view of the couple, and centers on their relationship. Perhaps the most surprising is the extent to which it avoids taking an overt political stance or even focusing on the courtroom drama of the case.
The Loving decision was cited as precedent in the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country. It took decades for some states to officially discard their anti-biracial marriage laws, and Nichols says that there is still “a very long way to go in terms of accepting the Supreme Court ruling” on same-sex marriage.
“The relevance of this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” Nichols says.
Listen to excerpts from the interview with Nichols and Kroll below:
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety ‘s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel. It also is available on demand.

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 41 /1826 

Sandy Hook truther charged with threatening victim's parents (6.42/26)

Long before a gunman marched into a Washington D. C. pizza restaurant on Sunday to "investigate" the goofball " Pizzagate " conspiracy theory, another fake news story was also causing real world problems — and this week a woman behind that particular conspiracist fantasy was arrested by federal authorities.
On Monday, a Florida woman — who buys into the Alex Jones-inspired myth that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax — was arrested after allegedly threatening the parents of one of the victims of the deadly mass shooting.
Related: Remembering Sandy Hook
According to court records obtained by Vocativ, Lucy Richards, 57, sent several threatening messages to a man whose son was killed when Adam Lanza stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, armed with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S assault rifle and murdered 26 people, including 20 children under the age of seven. The parent who received the threats was Lenny Pozner, a vocal critic of the Sandy Hook "truthers" and a frequent target of their online vitriol.
"You gonna die," one message sent in January read, according to the indictment. "Death is coming to you real soon. "
In other messages, Richards allegedly made similar threats — "Death is coming to you real soon and there's nothing you can do about it," read one. "Look behind you, death is coming to you real soon," read another, according to court records.
The Sandy Hook hoax is a baseless conspiracy theory propagated by crackpots like far-right-wing radio host Alex Jones and by renowned racists like David Duke who, per usual, blames the Jews for staging the supposed hoax that took the lives of 27 people.
"Lead bul­lets are not mur­der­ers. The real mur­der­ers are not the bul­lets, but the Bul­lies of the Zio Media," Duke posted on his website following the shooting, using a term for Zionist. "Guns did not cre­ate the hor­ror in that lit­tle school in Sandy Hook, Con­necti­cut. The Zio mas­ters of the media did. They have devoured the real Amer­ica. The mas­ters of the media con­tinue to take us down the path of human depravity. "
Richards isn't the first Sandy Hook truther to face criminal charges for harassing the families of the victims. In November of 2015, 32-year-old Matthew Mills confronted the sister of Victoria Soto, a Sandy Hook teacher killed trying to protect her students from Lanza, and shoved a photo in her face while ranting about how the shooting was a hoax, and that Victoria Soto never actually existed. In April, he accepted a plea deal that landed him on probation for two years.
After years of relentless harassment from Sandy Hook truthers, Pozner organized HONR , a resource center for families of victims who are the targets of harassment.
"There was a segment of the population that wanted to have these things debunked," Pozner told New York Magazine in September. "All they know is what they're seeing online, the buzz of all of this dis­information, and someone needed to provide the service of offering accurate information should they want it. "
The post Sandy Hook Truther Charged With Threatening Victim's Parents appeared first on Vocativ.

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Feds: Woman made death threats to Sandy Hook parent
Feds: Woman made death threats to Sandy Hook parents
Feds: Woman Made Death Threats to Sandy Hook Parents


 42 /1826 

Attorney for man wrongly accused in cop killing: Law enforcement 'dropped the ball' (6.35/26)

DeAngelo Davis spent two weeks in jail accused of killing Wayne State Police Officer Collin Rose, who was shot in the head while on patrol in Detroit Nov. 22.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Wednesday morning joined Detroit Police Chief James Craig, whose department made the arrest, to announced Davis had been eliminated as a suspect in the officer's death and all charges, including that of first-degree murder, would be dismissed.
Davis' attorney is now calling the arrest and charges a rush to judgement by law enforcement.
They offered no apology, explanation for the arrest or corrective actions to avoid a similar future occurrence. Worthy said she couldn't discuss any details for fear it could impact the ongoing murder investigation.
Davis remained jailed late Wednesday afternoon and was expected to be released Wednesday evening, according to his attorney, Nicole L. James.
James said her client plans to address the media at a later date.
The attorney issued this statement:
My client and I, like the rest of the community are saddened by the death of Wayne State University Public Safety Officer Sgt. Collin Rose. As a daughter of a veteran Detroit Police Officer I understand and appreciate how they risk their lives protecting our community. The murder of Sgt. Rose was a tragic loss to the community and law enforcement, but it was also wrong to snatch Mr. DeAngelo Davis off the street and try this case in the media despite a lack of evidence connecting him to the crime. The rush to judgment by the Detroit Police Department, Wayne State Public Safety and the Prosecutor's Office resulted in Mr. Davis being vilified and his reputation sullied by both the national and local media. As a former assistant prosecutor in Wayne County for more than 15 years I respect the role the police have in our community but I also respect the criminal process. And in the case of Mr. Davis, law enforcement officials dropped the ball. Mr. Davis will be holding a news conference at a later date.
Craig said his detectives have been working "literally around the clock" and the investigation didn't end with Davis' arrest. He remains "optimistic" the killer will soon be arrested.
Police arrested Davis hours after the officer was shot following a massive manhunt involving helicopters and several police agencies. Police initially said Davis was suspected of shooting Rose in the head after the officer attempted to stop and question Davis, who was believed to have been riding his bicycle near the Wayne State University campus in an area that had seen an uptick in larcenies.
Rose died the following day.
There is a $15,000 reward, $5,000 from the ATF, $5,000 from Detroit Dog Rescue and $5,000 posted by Crime Stoppers, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.
Tips may provided to 1-888-ATF-TIPS; or CrimeStoppers, 1-888-283-8477.

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 43 /1826 

Trump On 'Saturday Night Live': 'It’s A Terrible Show' (6.28/26)

President-elect Donald Trump called “Saturday Night Live” a “terrible show” Wednesday in an interview with Matt Lauer.
Trump explained on the “Today” show that he doesn’t think “SNL” is a bad show just because of the way they mock him but overall the skits are “terrible” and the show just isn’t “funny.” (RELATED: This ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketch Was Too Much For Donald Trump)
WATCH: “I like Alec, but his imitation of me is really mean-spirited and not very good.” @realdonaldtrump on #SNL
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 7, 2016
“Well, I hosted SNL when it was a good show, but it’s not a good show anymore,” Trump explained. “Nothing to do with me — there’s nothing funny about it. The skits are terrible.”
Larry David Calls Deport Racism’s Bluff And Interrupts Donald Trump’s SNL Monologue [screenshot NBC]
“I mean, I like Alec [Baldwin], but his imitation of me is really mean-spirited and not very good,” he added. “I don’t think it’s good. I do like him, and I like him as an actor, but I don’t think his imitation of me gets me at all. And it’s meant to be very mean-spirited, which is very biased. I don’t like it. So I can tweet that out.”
The president-elect told Lauer he thinks the way the show is going it won’t be around much longer after the anchor asked why he doesn’t just choose not to watch.
“Frankly, the way the show is going now — and you look at the kind of work they’re doing–who knows how long that show is going to be on,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible show.”
(Photo: YouTube screengrab)
Trump also defended his Twitter to get his message out.
“Frankly, it’s a modern day form of communication,” he added. “Between Facebook and Twitter, I have, I guess, more than 40 million people. That’s a modern day form of communication. I get it out much faster than a press release. I get it out much more honestly than dealing with dishonest reporters because so many reporters are dishonest.”
Trump has tweeted after the last two episodes of “SNL,” according to another report. Over the weekend he called the show “totally biased, not funny” and called out Baldwin’s impersonation of him as “sad.”

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 44 /1826 

Michigan GOP Elector Launches Website Urging Vote for Trump (5.99/26)

A Republican member of the Electoral College from Michigan has created a website urging Donald Trump supporters to rally electors around the president-elect.
Brian Fairbrother, deputy clerk for the Detroit suburb of Shelby Township, launched this week. Fairbrother says he and fellow electors have been deluged with missives from people urging them to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or another Republican.
Fairbrother tells The Associated Press he's received "thousands" of emails and letters. He doesn't believe any of the writers supported Trump.
Michigan law mandates electors vote according to the results of the state's presidential election. Trump won Michigan by.2 percentage points.
One Texas elector recently reversed his pledge to support Trump. Another resigned rather than vote for him.
Electors convene Dec. 19 to vote for president.

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 45 /1826 

Jury seated in Charleston shooting trial (5.75/26)

Dylan Roof faces 33 counts, two dozen falling under hate crime statutes. If convicted, Roof would potentially be the first person to receive the death penalty in federal court for a hate crime.

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 46 /1826 

Oakland "Ghost Ship" warehouse search concludes after 4 days, leaving death toll at 36 (5.74/26)

OAKLAND, Calif. - Recovery efforts at an Oakland warehouse fire have ended four days after the blaze, and the death toll stands at 36, officials said Wednesday.
The news comes a day after Oakland officials declared a local state of emergency due to the fire. The Oakland City Council is slated to ratify the state of emergency on Thursday. This will begin the process for state and federal aid.
A refrigerator was a potential source of the fire, but it was too soon to say for sure, said Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
“We have no indication that this was intentionally set,” she said.
Oakland’s mayor confirms there were multiple complaints filed against the structure. She’s promising complete transparency, including the release overnight of years of city records connected with the property.
According to one document, inspectors came just two weeks before the fire but were unable to gain access. Video obtained by CBS News shows police officers inside the structure, purportedly less than two months ago.
Authorities have begun identifying the victims of a deadly warehouse fire that claimed the lives of 36 people
Officials have begun releasing victims’ identities , and all but one of the 36 have been identified so far.
Tearful family members visited the scene Tuesday and exchanged hugs hours after the founder of the arts collective that used the warehouse stood near the gutted building and said he was “incredibly sorry.”
Derick Ion Almena said he was at the site to put his face and his body in front of the scene, but he deflected blame for the blaze, saying he signed a lease for the building that “was to city standards supposedly.”
“Everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together,” Almena told NBC.
The fire broke out during a dance party Friday night in the cluttered warehouse. It had been converted to artists’ studios and illegal living spaces, and former denizens said it was a death trap of piled wood, furniture, snaking electrical cords and only two exits.
Almena did not respond to emails or calls to phone numbers associated with him by The Associated Press. He told San Jose television station KNTV that he didn’t attend the event Friday night and that he and his wife had decided to stay at a hotel because he was exhausted.
City and state officials fielded years of complaints about dangerous conditions, drugs, neglected children, trash, thefts and squabbles at the warehouse, raising questions about why it wasn’t shut down. The district attorney warned of possible murder charges as she determines whether there were any crimes linked to the blaze.
A building inspector who went to an Oakland warehouse on Nov. 17 after receiving a complaint of illegal interior construction left after being unable to get inside.
Emergency crew workers and vehicles are shown in front of the site of a warehouse fire in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said late Tuesday the inspector followed procedure and later sent a request to the owner to gain entry. She did not reveal the outcome of that request.
Under the Oakland city code, building officials and fire marshals need court permission to enter commercial lodgings if the owner or manager refuses access.
Building inspectors typically cannot force entry to a property unless there are pressing circumstances, Schaaf said.
Fire officials have started knocking down parts of the building, known as the “Ghost Ship,” that they said were structurally unsound.
Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. J. D. Nelson said that of the 36 victims found, 35 have been identified and 20 of their families have been notified. Officials are still lacking any type of identity for one person.
Stories of the victims’ last minutes, meanwhile, emerged.
Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said that some of the victims texted relatives , “I’m going to die,” and “I love you.”
Rescue crews found bodies of people “protecting each other, holding each other,” Kelly said.

ATF: Ghost Ship fire started on 1st floor; no evidence of fire alarms
Warehouse fire recovery effort complete; death toll at 36
The Latest: Recovery efforts at warehouse complete
The Latest: Recovery Efforts at Warehouse Complete
Oakland releases documents showing complaints against Ghost Ship, lot
Search of Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse complete; 36 total victims
Recovery Efforts End At Oakland Warehouse; Death Toll Stands At 36 : The Two-Way : NPR
Search for Victims in Oakland Warehouse Fire Concludes; Death Toll Stands at 36


 47 /1826 

Textbook claiming slaves were treated like 'family members' banned in Connecticut (5.56/26)

A textbook claiming slaves were 'cared for like members of the family' by their owners has been pulled from classrooms. The fourth-grade social studies book, The Connecticut Adventure by John W Ifkovic, was flagged with public school officials in the state after a parent complained last month. In one of the book's chapters about slavery in the state, it appeared as though the author tried to downplay the significance of the horrific trade. 'Compared to other colonies, Connecticut did not have many slaves,' a passage reads. 'Some people owned one or two slaves. They often cared for them and protected them like members of the family. they taught them to be Christian, and sometimes to read and write.' It took less than a week for the 250-page book to be pulled from classes after the complaint was made, Hearst Connecticut Media reports. Norwalk Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Michael Conner released a statement explaining the decision, saying the wording was 'offensive to many' and 'simplistic'. 'The portion of the textbook minimizes the impact and implications of slavery from the perspective of many constituents in the Norwalk community,' Conner said. All copies of the book will be gone by January 3, 2017. A spokeswoman for the school district said 10 out of 12 students have used the book since it was added to classrooms in 2007, before adding the decision to get rid of it had been backed by the community. 'When it was brought to our attention it was pretty clear it wasn’t consistent with our core beliefs and values,' Brenda Wilcox Williams told Hearst. 'We felt it was important to respond quickly as a result of that. 'It’s also a sign that there has been a lot of change in the district and that we are moving toward a district that is responsive to the community.' The book was written in 2001. Slavery in Connecticut dated as far back as the mid-1600s, and by 1710 the governor of the time stated there were about 100 slaves in the state. That number continued to grow until, by the time of the Revolution, Connecticut had the most slaves in the New England area with 6,464. The state also emancipated slaves slower than other states in the region, according to Connecticut History , 'claiming it wanted to ensure the process respected property rights and did not disrupt civic order'. Gradual abolition was passed in 1784, but slavery did not officially end in the state until 1848. | Textbook that says some slaves treated like family is pulled
Fourth grade textbook saying slaves were like 'family' pulled from Connecticut school district
Textbook that says some slaves treated like family is pulled
School district to stop using textbook that says some Connecticut slaves were treated like family
Textbook That Says Some Slaves Treated Like Family Is Pulled


 48 /1826 

SpaceX pushes back until January its first launch since rocket explosion (5.54/26)

SpaceX’s first launch since a rocket explosion on a pad at Cape Canaveral has been pushed back to January.
The Hawthorne-based company said Wednesday it needs more time to finish its investigation into the explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a satellite that Facebook planned to use to provide internet access to developing nations. Instead of launching on Dec. 16 as tentatively planned , SpaceX will try in early January.
“We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January,” SpaceX said in a statement.
SpaceX has been grounded three months since the dramatic accident, which originated in the upper stage of the Falcon rocket. The Falcon and its satellite were destroyed in the massive fireball that erupted Sept. 1 as the rocket was being fueled for a test-firing.
The pad remains damaged at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SpaceX hopes to switch soon to another pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The next Falcon to fly will carry 10 satellites for Iridium Communications, and launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc.
The Virginia-based communications company has the largest fleet of global commercial satellites in space, and has been working for years to replace its entire fleet with upgraded satellites for increased connectivity.

SpaceX's 1st launch since rocket blast now bumped to January
SpaceX postpones launch until early January
Elon Musk's SpaceX says rockets to remain grounded until January
Musk's SpaceX says rockets to remain grounded until January
SpaceX won't launch another rocket this year
SpaceX now hopes to return to flight in January, not this month


 49 /1826 

The Latest: Ellison to resign seat if chosen to lead DNC (5.54/26)

The Latest on Congress (all times local):
11:25 a.m.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison says he'll resign his seat in Congress if he wins election as the Democrats' party chair.
Ellison says in a statement that he'll be "all-in to meet the challenge" of rebuilding the party after Democrats' devastating defeat in the 2016 elections.
The race to lead the Democratic National Committee has emerged as a central battleground in the fight for the future of the Democratic Party.
Ellison says he decided to vacate his seat after hearing from many party activists concerned that he couldn't hold both positions. He plans to continue serving in Congress until the DNC election.
The former chairwoman, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, attracted criticism for being focused on her own re-election and insufficiently committed to the job of leading the national party.
11:00 a.m.
Sen. Barbara Boxer has bid an emotional farewell to the chamber, recalling a career devoted to liberal causes like women's rights and the environment and her penchant for building odd-couple alliances with top Republicans like Jim Inhofe, a crusty conservative from Oklahoma.
With allies like House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi watching, Boxer recalled accomplishments like after-school programs, setting aside California wilderness lands, and last year's highway bill. That last measure was worked out with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with whom Boxer enjoyed a chilly relationship for two decades.
Also saying goodbye was first-term New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, defeated for re-election last month. She spoke with pride of her work on defense issues and on a recent law to combat opioid addiction.

Ellison says he'll resign from Congress if elected DNC chair
Keith Ellison will resign Congress for DNC chair
Progressive-Backed Rep. Keith Ellison Says Would Vacate Seat to Head DNC
Keith Ellison says he will leave Congress if elected DNC chair
Ellison vows to resign seat if he wins DNC's top job
Jihadi Keith Ellison: I’ll Resign From Congress If I Win DNC Chairmanship
Ellison to Resign House Seat If Chosen to Lead DNC


 50 /1826 

Mitt Romney is now top contender for secretary of state (5.53/26)

Mitt Romney is now the strongest remaining candidate for President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports.
No final decision has been made yet, but Romney, in comparison with Gen. David Petraeus (ret) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is in the strongest position to date.
CBS News confirms that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be named the next ambassador to China, and Marine Corps General John Kelly will be the n...
Petraeus, sources told Garrett, is out of the running. Gen. John Kelly’s nomination to run the Department of Homeland Security played a large role: Mr. Trump will not have four generals in the upper echelons of the Trump administration -- the other two are Gen. James Mattis (ret), who was named defense secretary, and Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn (ret), who will be national security adviser. Giuliani is still on the short list, but he is not considered as likely as he once was to get the job.
The president-elect discussed Romney’s prospects in an interview Wednesday with NBC’s “Today” show.
“I’ve spoken to him a lot. We’ve come a long way together,” he said. “We had some tremendous difficulty together and now I think we’ve come a long way. But the answer is yes, he does.”
The Trump transition team is also gauging how much of a confirmation fight Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson would face, were he to be named secretary of state.
The former House Speaker and Trump Transition Vice Chair, who mocked Romney this week for 'sucking up' to the President-elect, says he would supp...
“He’s built a tremendous company over a period of years with great style,” he said on the “Today Show.”
The transition team is not expecting a secretary of state announcement Wednesday.
Mr. Trump also mentioned he has been consulting with President Obama on his cabinet appointments.
“I have asked him what he would think of this one and that one. I’ve asked him what he thinks are the biggest problems of the country, what are some of the greatest assets going forward. We have a very good dialogue,” he told the “Today Show.” “I really -- I do like him. I love getting his ideas. And I may differ. In many cases, I differ very greatly. In many cases I’m the opposite.”
When “Today” host Matt Lauer asked if he had ever taken President Obama’s recommendation on a specific appointment, Mr. Trump gave this response: “I would say that, yes, I take his recommendations very seriously, and there are some people that I will be appointing and in one case have appointed where he thought very highly of that person, yes.”
Further announcements on Mr. Trump’s appointments are expected in the coming days.
South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Republican, is the top candidate for director of the Office of Management and Budget, CBS News Major Garrett reports.
Mr. Trump’s picks for labor and interior secretaries could also come by week’s end.
CBS News’ Major Garrett contributed to this report.

One state tops list for best restaurants in U.S
Trump says Romney still in running for secretary of state post
Trump: Romney still in running for secretary of state
Trump says he's still considering Romney for secretary of state: 'It's about what's good for the country'
Paul Ryan: 'I'd Love' to See Mitt Romney at State
'It's not about revenge': Trump says Mitt Romney is still in the running for secretary of state – as he touts Exxon CEO as another possible pick


 51 /1826 

Trump's search for diplomat revives Romney, Huntsman rivalry (5.52/26)

They are distant cousins, courtly would-be presidents and scions of Mormon dynasties once enmeshed in long and unsuccessful races to the White House. Now Donald Trump , the brash Manhattanite who got there first, may have revived the rivalry

Trump: Romney still in the running
Trump says Romney still in running for secretary of state post
Trump: Romney still in running for secretary of state
Trump teases State Dept. search, says Romney still in mix
Trump says he's still considering Romney for secretary of state: 'It's about what's good for the country'


 52 /1826 

Poll: Majority of Americans think Donald Trump can keep his business (5.49/26)

Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe Donald Trump and his family can keep his business empire while serving as president of the United States , according to a new poll published Wednesday.
The Bloomberg Politics survey found that 69 percent of people think it’s too extreme to force Mr. Trump and his family to sell their business enterprise to avoid conflicts of interest. A little over a quarter of Americans (26 percent) say Mr. Trump should sell his businesses, while five percent of Americans remain unsure.
About two-thirds of people think Mr. Tump needs to choose between being president and being a successful businessman.
The survey results come just as the president-elect announced, without offering up proof, that he sold all his stocks in June -- a declaration prompted by continued scrutiny over his potential conflicts of interest once he moves into the White House. Mr. Trump has previously said that he would have his children take over the business to avoid conflicts of interest, but his children have already played prominent roles during his presidential transition.
The Bloomberg poll also showed a post-election bump in Mr. Trump’s favorability numbers, which tends to happen among victorious candidates. Fifty percent of Americans view Mr. Trump favorably, compared to the 33 percent that saw in a positive light back in August. The president-elect’s ratings, however, lag behind President Obama’s numbers just after his first election: According to a Gallup poll released in January of 2009, Mr. Obama had a 78 percent favorability rating.
After the way Mr. Trump has conducted himself in the weeks following the election, 55 percent of those surveyed rate themselves as more optimistic about the incoming administration, the poll shows. Thirty-five percent are more pessimistic. A majority of Americans -- 79 percent -- believe President-elect Trump should tone down the heated rhetoric of his campaign days.
When it comes to Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks , 51 percent approve of his nominations so far: Ninety-one percent of Trump voters are in favor of them, while 76 percent of Clinton voters disapprove.
A slight majority -- 54 percent -- believe the president should be picked by the popular vote: Eighty percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say that, while 68 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents think the Electoral College should continue deciding the presidency. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s Democratic challenger, is currently winning the popular vote in the U. S. by over 2.5 million ballots.
The poll of 999 American adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups. It was conducted Dec. 2-5 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co.

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Poll: 69 Percent Think Trump Shouldn't Sell His Businesses
Two Thirds Of Americans Happy To Let Trump Keep Businesses
Poll: 75 Percent of Americans Who See Fake News Believe It
Michael Moore: “The American People Do Not Support” President-Elect Trump


 53 /1826 

Carolina Herrera: It would be "an honor" to dress Melania Trump (5.48/26)

NEW YORK -- While a few designers have made news saying they would not dress the future first lady, Carolina Herrera said she’d be honored if Melania Trump wore one of her outfits.
The famed designer spoke about Trump on the red carpet before she received an honor of her own Tuesday night from the Women’s Leadership Council at Lincoln Center.
Who might dress the wife of President-elect Donald Trump has become an issue after designers Sophie Theallet and Tom Ford -- who have both dressed first lady Michelle Obama -- said they wouldn’t do so for Mrs. Trump, a former model.
But when asked if she would, Herrera said, “Of course I will, as the first lady of this country I will. Of course.”
Designer Tom Ford says he refused to dress incoming first lady Melania Trump years ago because she's "not necessarily my image. " Watch his explan...
She added, “It is an honor to dress the first ladies of the country and it’s something to do for the United States. It’s not for myself. It’s for the public.”
Obama has worn Herrera while in the White House.
Herrera was lauded at the event for her 35 years of fashions by Emmy Rossum and Seth Meyers, among others. Diana Ross sang a mini-concert in Herrera’s honor, including hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’m Coming Out.”

Carolina Herrera says it would be an honor to dress Melania Trump
Trump to meet with Chicago mayor, N. Carolina governor, others
Designers line up to dress Melania Trump
Trump Speech Highlights: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Carolina Herrera says it's an honor to dress Melania Trump
Carolina Herrera says she will dress Melania Trump


 54 /1826 

Brad Pitt looks to seal custody documents (5.48/26)

The actor has been denied a request for an emergency hearing, at which he planned to ask for all documents and proceedings related his and Jolie's custody battle for their six children be sealed, according to documents obtained by CNN.
Pitt filed a request for the emergency hearing on Tuesday, saying sealing the documents would "protect the privacy" of their children and "avoid subjecting them to the negative impact of the intense media coverage and worldwide public scrutiny. "
RELATED: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's custody tangle
Jolie's camp opposed the emergency hearing and also alleged Pitt's request was "a thinly veiled attempt to shield himself, rather than the minor children, from public view," according to the documents.
In November, the Department of Child and Family Services and the FBI closed their investigations into child abuse allegations against Pitt.
Pitt and Jolie are currently following an informal custody arrangement established in October with help from childcare professionals. Under the temporary agreement, Jolie retains physical custody and Pitt is given supervised visits with Maddox, 15, Pax, 12, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8.
Last month , Jolie's representatives confirmed the arrangement and said it was "in the children's best interest. "
Pitt is seeking joint custody. Jolie has requested physical custody of the children, with visitation for Pitt. A court hearing is scheduled on the matter in January.

Judge 'denies Brad Pitt's emergency request to keep custody battle with Angelina Jolie private'
Angelina Jolie is househunting in Los Angeles and has no plans to move to London 'because she wants the kids to be close to dad Brad Pitt'
Judge refuses Brad Pitt's request to seal custody filings
Judge refuses Brad Pitt’s request to seal custody filings
Brad Pitt 'requests hearing to keep custody battle with Angelina Jolie private'
Judge rejects Brad Pitt’s request to seal custody details
Brad Pitt wants to seal custody documents after Angelina Jolie's voluntary custody agreement becomes public


 55 /1826 

Wall Street surges to new highs; transports set record (5.46/26)

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Wall Street surged on Wednesday, with the Dow industrials and S&P 500 hitting fresh records, as equities continued their march upward after the election of Donald Trump as U. S. president, and a new high for transportation stocks added to the bullish tone.
All three major indexes finished more than 1 percent higher.
The gains came even as Trump's comments on prescription drug pricing wounded the healthcare sector.
U. S. equities have scaled new highs since the election, with investors encouraged by Trump's plans for economic stimulus and to reduce corporate taxes and regulations.
"I think it's continuation of the view that the new administration will be pro-business," said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer of Bryn Mawr Trust in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 297.84 points, or 1.55 percent, to 19,549.62, the S&P 500 gained 29.12 points, or 1.32 percent, to 2,241.35 and the Nasdaq Composite added 60.76 points, or 1.14 percent, to 5,393.76.
The S&P 500 set a new closing high for the first time since Nov. 25.
The Dow Jones Transport Average rose 2.5 percent and set new all-time intraday and closing highs, surpassing its prior peaks from late 2014.
A finish above the closing record for the transportation average could indicate further gains as it triggers a bullish sign for some investors who look for parallel performance for both the Dow industrial and transportation averages.
"You're going to have these (software) programs that are now going to say Dow Theory has been confirmed and they then initiate buy orders, which creates more fuel for the fire," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.
Gains were broad-based with 10 of 11 major sectors in positive territory.
A $3-billion trading program to buy a broad spectrum of stocks also came into the market in the afternoon and "really just sparked this market to move higher and higher," said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner for Meridian Equity Partners, an equity and options broker-dealer in New York.
Telecommunications and real estate, which are high dividend payers, posted the strongest sector gains.
"There's a little bit of a bond market rally going on, certainly in the long end, so that means dividend stocks feel better," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.
Traders also pointed to covering of short positions ahead of Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank as a catalyst driving the market higher.
Trump's victory has been seen as a boon, particularly for financial and industrial stocks that have surged since the election.
But biotechnology and pharmaceutical stocks tumbled on Wednesday after Trump promised in a Time magazine article that "I'm going to bring down drug prices. "
The S&P healthcare fell 0.8 percent, the only group in negative territory. The Nasdaq Biotechnology index slumped 2.9 percent, recovering from steeper losses initially after Trump's comments were publicized.
Trump's effect was seen on Tuesday, as well, with Boeing's stock falling briefly after his tweet that an order for a revamped Air Force One plane should be canceled over high costs.
"I think it is a new fact of life ... that fundamentals can be swept aside any day by comments from the (President-elect)," said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.
About 8.2 billion shares changed hands in U. S. exchanges, above the 8 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.31-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.80-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 98 new 52-week highs and seven new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 350 new highs and 32 new lows. (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew and Caroline Valetkevitch in New York and Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish)

US STOCKS SNAPSHOT-Wall St run continues; Dow transports hit record
Stocks open slightly lower
Dow, S&P and Transports Close at All-time Highs as Stocks Surge more than 1%
WALL STREET: Dow, S&P 500 surge to all-time record high closes
US STOCKS-Wall Street surges to new highs; transports set record
Markets Right Now: Dow, S&P 500 surge to record high closes
US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 surge to highs; transports set record


 56 /1826 

$20,000 reward offered in manhunt for accused Georgia cop killer (5.39/26)

AMERICUS, Ga. -- A massive manhunt is underway to find the man accused of shooting two police officers in southwest Georgia.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stepped up the pressure by offering a $20,000 reward for the arrest of Minguell Lembrick.
"This is a very dangerous individual. We need to have him off the street," GBI Director Vernon Keenan said. "We want him arrested so he can face the court. "
Lembrick is accused of shooting Americus police officer Nicholas Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University officer Jody Smith. Police said Smarr and Smith were responding to a domestic call when Lembrick fired multiple shots and escaped.
Smarr died and Smith is currently in critical condition.
Thirty GBI agents and support from an additional 20 agencies are joining in the manhunt to track down Lembrick.
"We had great support previously in these type of investigations that offer a reward because," Keenan said. "Often, that will bring citizens to the forefront who will provide us with information. "
People have been warned not to approach Lembrick since he is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who spots him should call 911.
Tipsters can also call 911 or the Crime Stopper's hotline at 229-924-4102.
(© 2016 WXIA)

The Latest: Post on suspect's FB page: 'Not going to jail'
Two officers shot near GSW Univ. campus in Americus, GA; Gunman at large
1 officer killed, 1 in critical condition; Suspect still at large
The Latest: Post on Suspect's FB Page: 'Not Going to Jail'
1 officer killed, 1 in critical condition; Manhunt underway
Police: Deputy shoots man at suburban Atlanta courthouse
1 officer killed, 1 critical, manhunt underway in Georgia — RT America
Prosecutors drop murder charges against accused Michigan cop killer


 57 /1826 

Campus police officer shoots teen at Nevada high school (5.39/26)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A campus police officer shot a knife-wielding Nevada high school student who was fighting with a classmate Wednesday, according to authorities and a student.
At Hug High School, Reno police Officer Tim Broadway told reporters that one person was taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries and the campus remained locked down, “but the kids are safe.”
“There is not an active shooter,” Broadway said.
Nevada Department of Public Safety Director James Wright told The Associated Press that a 16-year-old was taken to Renown Hospital Medical Center in Reno after he was shot by a campus police officer.
Neither Wright nor Broadway knew the extent of the teen’s injuries, and a hospital spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to requests for information.
Wright said the officer wasn’t injured.
A student, Robert Barragan, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that two male students were fighting outside the school library when one pulled a knife and stabbed the other before a police officer shot the knife-wielding student in the shoulder.
But a Washoe County School District spokeswoman told the Gazette-Journal that only one person was injured.
The shooting was reported about 11:30 a.m. at the school on the city’s north side a few blocks from U. S. Highway 395.
The district issued a statement before 1 p.m. calling the campus “currently stable and secure with heavy police presence.”
Broadway said students would be released later in the day, and parents were directed to a staging area.
Hug High opened in 1968 and is named for Proctor Ralph Hug Jr., a former teacher, athletic coach and Washoe County School superintendent who served as a state senator and a federal judge.
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
Need a break? Play a quick game of solitaire or Sudoku. Or take one of our fun quizzes!
See photos of the most expensive homes sold in the D. C. region in November.

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Teenager shot by campus police officer at Reno high school
Student shot by police at Reno, Nevada high school
Campus police officer shoots teen at Reno high school
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 58 /1826 

Linda McMahon picked to be Small Business administrator (5.37/26)

"Linda has a tremendous background and is widely recognized as one of the country's top female executives advising businesses around the globe," Trump said in a statement. "She helped grow WWE from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide. "
He continued, "Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small businesses and unleash America's entrepreneurial spirit all across the country. "
McMahon is the co-founder of the professional wrestling franchise WWE along with her husband, Vince McMahon, and twice a former Republican Senate candidate from Connecticut. She stepped down from her duties at WWE in 2009 and ran two failed bids for the Senate in 2010 and 2012.
She's donated $6 million in August and September to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that supported Trump's presidential bid.
She tweeted on Wednesday, "Honored to be appointed by President-Elect @realDonaldTrump to serve as head of @SBAgov advocating for our small businesses & entrepreneurs! "
She wasn't always a fan. During the Republican primary, she told Yahoo's Katie Couric that she was offended by Trump's comments about women, calling them "deplorable. "
"He's not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light," McMahon said. "Maybe he regrets them, maybe he doesn't. I realize he punches hard when he punches back, but that's just over the top. "
But after the primaries, McMahon told the Associated Press that even though Trump wasn't her first choice for the nomination, she became a strong supporter of the business mogul.
"Once you're his friend, he is loyal to the end," she said. "He's an incredibly loyal, loyal friend. "

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The Latest: Trump picks WWE’s Linda McMahon for SBA job
Trump picks wrestling magnate Linda McMahon to lead Small Business Administration


 59 /1826 

WikiLeaks’ Assange releases his version of what happened in Swedish sex case (5.36/26)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Wednesday provided intimate details of what he termed a consensual sexual encounter in Sweden in 2010 that unfolded into a global legal tussle and a six-year battle on his part to escape confinement.
In a defiant bid to pressure Sweden to drop a presumed sexual assault investigation, which has led to Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, the Australian released a 19-page statement that he gave a visiting Swedish prosecutor Nov. 14-15.
“I am now releasing my statement to the public,” Assange said in a separate note . “I want people to know the truth about how abusive this process has been.” He said he is “entirely innocent” of any wrongdoing.
The statement by Assange includes text messages allegedly taken from his sexual partner’s cell phone indicating what Assange said was “clearly consensual sex,” not rape.
He called on Sweden to drop the inquiry, halt his “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” and provide ironclad guarantees that it would not send him to stand trial in the United States, which Assange believes has an open criminal investigation against him.
From his refuge on the first floor of the embassy in London’s Knightsbridge district, Assange and his nonprofit WikiLeaks organization, which has published around 10 million secret emails and documents over the past decade, remain a thorn in the side of the U. S. government and U. S. politicians. In July, the group released internal Democratic National Committee emails, leading to the resignation of its chairwoman , Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
That leak, and a subsequent one of emails from the inbox of the chief of the Hillary Clinton campaign, John Podesta, proved damaging to Clinton’s ultimately failed presidential bid .
Assange said U. S. prosecutors desperately want to see him behind bars.
“In Alexandria, Virginia, a Grand Jury has been meeting behind closed doors for the past six years under case number 10GJ3793 to explore ways to imprison me and seven others,” Assange said, referring to other managers of WikiLeaks.
Assange said his fears are grounded in the prosecution of U. S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of espionage for leaking some 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013.
While details of Assange’s dalliances in Sweden in August 2010 have come to light over the years in news accounts, never have they emerged under his name and perspective.
Assange blasted Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny for holding the criminal investigation without seeking testimony from him and denying him the presence of a defense attorney.
“She has for more than six years refused to take my statement during which time she has done nothing to pursue the preliminary investigation,” Assange wrote.
WikiLeaks was under siege in the summer of 2010. Assange’s personal bank cards were blocked following the group’s publication of some 75,000 Pentagon documents related to the war in Afghanistan and in the run-up to the publication of some 250,000 confidential U. S. diplomatic cables, he wrote.
Early in his visit to Sweden, Assange said a young woman came to hear him lecture, then joined a small group having lunch with him. He identified her only as S. W. He said she sought him out.
Assange said S. W. sent a cellular text message to a friend on Aug. 14 that read: “I want him. I want him.”
He said the woman, an employee of the National Museum, took him there. “At the Museum an IMAX film was playing, where she kissed me and placed my hands on her breasts,” Assange asserted.
Days later, on Aug. 16, Assange said the woman “invited me to her home” and “made it very clear that she wanted to have sexual intercourse.”
“During that night and again in the morning we had consensual sexual intercourse on four or five occasions. Her words, her expressions and her physical reactions made it clear to me that she encouraged and enjoyed our interactions,” Assange wrote.
The next morning, S. W. texted a friend: “JA did not want to use a condom.”
On Aug. 20, the woman called Assange from a hospital and asked him to come to take a test for sexually transmitted disease (STD) so that she wouldn’t worry about infection, he wrote.
“She said that it was normal in Sweden to go to the police to get advice about STDs and that if I didn't come down to the hospital she would go to the police to ask whether I could be forced to get tested,” Assange wrote. “I told her I found her mention of police strange and threatening.”
Assange said he was “certain she expressly consented to unprotected sex” and that a subsequent text message she sent to a friend indicated he had not forced himself upon her while she slept. “I was half asleep,” S. W. texted on Aug. 18, Assange said.
Assange portrayed other text messages from S. W. as indicating that Swedish police were eager to press charges against him over her opposition.
The woman, “while at the police station, wrote that she ‘did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange’ but that ‘the police were keen on getting their hands on him,’ ” Assange quoted the texts as saying, adding that she was shocked when they arrested him because she “only wanted him to take a test.”
The lawyer for S. W., Elisabeth Massi Fritz, told the Swedish TT news agency that “Assange seems desperate” and “the only thing I can say is that Assange has low credibility and we will prove this when we prosecute.”
Assange did not mention in his statement that he reportedly had sex with a second Swedish woman during the same period, and that she went to police alleging Assange had resisted wearing a condom.
The Swedish prosecutors’ office declined to discuss the case with McClatchy.
Assange said he’d endured four and a half years holed up at the embassy without sunlight and medical attention, and that Swedish prosecutors delayed coming to speak with him with the intent of prolonging his detention.
“You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy,” Assange said.
That period, he added, “is already far longer than the maximum penalty I could ever theoretically face in Sweden.”
No formal legal charge has been filed against Assange, who on Thursday begins his seventh year battling Ny’s arrest order, which England carried out on Dec. 7, 2010.

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Businessman Trump urged to keep U. S.-Cuba detente going (5.36/26)

By Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Republican and Democratic U. S. lawmakers joined Cuban entrepreneurs on Wednesday to urge President-elect Donald Trump to continue President Barack Obama's engagement with Havana, despite Trump's threat to end detente with the island. "There is bipartisan support for moving forward," said Democratic Representative James McGovern, at a news conference at the U. S. Capitol where four small business owners who had traveled from the communist-ruled country also appealed to Trump, as a businessman, to support continued opening. More than 100 Cuban small business owners sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday urging him not to roll back Obama's rules to ease restrictions on travel, trade and investment and toward more normal diplomatic relations. The appeal to Trump from Cuba's fledgling private sector underscored increased uncertainty about future relations between the two former Cold War foes, given his vow to halt what he called Obama's "deal" with Havana unless it agreed to new terms with Washington. Obama administration officials, seeking to further cement changes before Trump takes office on Jan. 20, were due to hold talks with Cuban counterparts in Havana on Wednesday. It was the first such meeting since the election of Trump and the death of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro. Appealing to Trump's roots as a real estate developer, the Cuban entrepreneurs wrote, "As a successful businessman, we're confident that you understand the importance of economic engagement between nations. " "Additional measures to increase travel, trade and investment  will benefit our companies, the Cuban people and U. S. national interests," they wrote. "We look forward to taking advantage of any openings that your administration makes to the Cuban private sector and the Cuban economy as a whole. " The letter, organized by Cuba Educational Travel, a U. S. company that arranges trips to the island, and coordinated with the Washington lobbying group Engage Cuba, was signed by startup companies and small-scale entrepreneurs. They included family-owned restaurants, high-tech firms, car services and hair salons. "A lot of what we've been able to achieve is because of the links between the U. S. and Cuba," Yamina Vicente, who owns Decorazon, a party planning and decorating business, in Havana. "Trump is a businessman and I hope that he will understand," she said. The Obama administration has pressed for additional U. S. business deals in Cuba in hopes of making detente irreversible. U. S. businesses fear a reversal of Obama's opening could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Line said on Wednesday they had received approval from Cuba's government to operate cruises to the island and would soon be announcing itineraries. Obama and President Raul Castro announced a breakthrough in diplomatic relations nearly two years ago. Since then, ties have been restored, and Obama has used executive actions to ease some business and travel restrictions, although the Republican-controlled U. S. Congress has resisted removing the broader U. S. embargo. Trump has said Obama should have cut a "better deal," echoing critics who have said Cuba was given too many concessions. At a campaign rally in Miami, Trump said he would seek to reverse Obama's moves unless Cuba allowed greater freedom. The Cuban government so far has mostly refrained from commenting on Trump's statements. U. S. supporters of detente have said it is improving Cubans' lives while opening cracks in the socialist system. Raul Castro started introducing market-style reforms in 2011. Cuban entrepreneurs have complained, however, that more changes are needed. Private businesses still have no access to wholesale stores and can only import or export via government agencies. internet service on the island are also extremely limited. (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Andrew Hay)

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Rahm Emanuel to Trump: Keep Obama's 2012 DACA program to protect DREAMers (5.35/26)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 16 other mayors are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to continue the Obama administration’s 2012 program that has deferred deportations for hundreds of thousands of people who came to the U. S. illegally as children.
“I delivered to the president-elect, his senior adviser and his chief of staff a letter signed by [17] mayors, put together from across the country, about our DACA students and that they were working hard toward the American dream,” Emanuel told reporters Wednesday after meeting with Mr. Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan.
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The letter asked the incoming administration to keep the current administration’s program going until Congress passes immigration reform.
“We ask your Administration to continue to accept and adjudicate initial applications and renewals for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) until Congress modernizes our immigration system and provides a more permanent form of relief for these individuals,” the letter said. “Ending DACA would disrupt the lives of close to one million young people, and it would disrupt the sectors of the American economy, as well as our national security and public safety, to which they contribute.”
The letter was also signed by the mayors of New York, Nashville, Providence, Los Angeles, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore, St. Louis, Phoenix, Boston, Houston, Minneapolis, San Jose and Long Beach, California.
Emanuel said he spoke to Mr. Trump Wednesday about the importance of sanctuary cities, which the president-elect has said he would defund when he’s in the White House. They also discussed transportation, investments in infrastructure, jobs programs and Chicago’s community college system, Emanuel said.
Since 2011, Emanuel has served as the mayor of Chicago. He previous served as President Obama’s chief of staff in the White House.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has not made clear if he would keep or eliminate the DACA program and has instead emphasized that his top priority is to deport millions of criminal undocumented immigrants.

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Next North Carolina governor says he can carry out agenda (5.30/26)

RALEIGH, N. C. (AP) - North Carolina's incoming Democratic governor says he's optimistic he'll be able to repeal the state's law limiting the state's LGBT protections, vowing to use an array of strategies to pull back on the conservative agenda of a Republican-dominated legislature. Roy Cooper told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday - two days after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory conceded - that he wants to assemble issue-specific coalitions on issues like education, criminal justice reform and ending House Bill 2. That law directs transgender people to use restrooms in schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. Republicans command veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, so Cooper will be hard-pressed to block Republican legislation. Just a few legislative Republicans now say they want House Bill 2 repealed. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Thousands seek refuge after deadly Indonesian earthquake (5.27/26)

MEUREUDU, Indonesia – Thousands of people in the Indonesian province of Aceh took refuge for the night in mosques and temporary shelters after a strong earthquake Wednesday killed nearly 100 people and destroyed dozens of buildings.
Some were homeless after the quake made their houses unsafe and others were too scared to return home. Killer quakes occur regularly in the region, where many live with the terrifying memory of a giant Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake that struck off Sumatra. The magnitude-9.1 quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 100,000 Acehnese.
Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman, chief of the army in Aceh province, said at least 97 died in the magnitude-6.5 quake that hit before dawn Wednesday, while four people had been pulled from the rubble alive. The Indonesian government declared a two-week emergency period in Aceh and some aid was already reaching hard-hit areas.
The rescue effort involving thousands of search officials, villagers, soldiers and police is concentrated on Meureudu, a severely affected town in Pidie Jaya district near the epicenter. Excavators and rescue teams removed debris from shop houses and other buildings where people were believed buried.
TV footage showed rescuers in orange uniforms shining flashlights into the interiors of broken buildings as they searched for signs of life. The pace of the search slowed after night fall, hampered by rain and blackouts.
The U. S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered about 12 miles southeast of Sigli, a town near the northern tip of Sumatra, at a depth of 11 miles. The agency had initially placed the epicenter undersea. It did not generate a tsunami.
Siti Rukiah, 51, a mother of four, was among the many people taking refuge in local mosques. She and about 100 other people from Pante Raja, a seaside village in Pidie Jaya district, fled to Nur Abdullah mosque located on higher ground in a nearby hamlet.
She said the quake was shallow and felt so powerful she had to grab onto a table to keep from falling down. She was sure a tsunami was coming.
“I’m really scared about a tsunami,” said Rukiah, whose brother and neighbors died in the 2004 disaster. “I don’t want to return home tonight, not only because my house is damaged, but I am still afraid an aftershock could cause a tsunami.”
Aceh’s disaster mitigation agency said more than 600 people were injured. The national disaster agency said about 245 buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed in Pidie Jaya and neighboring Bireuen district, including 14 mosques. The rest were mainly dwellings and shop houses. Roads also cracked and power poles toppled over.
The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. The 2004 quake and tsunami killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Aceh.
John Ebel, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Boston College, said there is a risk of aftershocks that even if relatively weak could cause further damage to buildings, particularly because modern building codes aren’t consistently enforced in Indonesia.
In the capital, Jakarta, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he had ordered all government agencies to take part in the rescue efforts for Aceh, a conservative Muslim province that has considerable autonomy from the central government under a peace deal with separatists.
Aiyub Abbas, the chief of Pidie Jaya district, said there was urgent need for emergency supplies.
Zunaidi, a village chief in Pidie Jaya, said about 1,700 people from the village moved to a temporary shelter at an Islamic boarding school about 6 miles south of Meureudu town.
He said most took shelter because they feared aftershocks could knock down their houses that were partially damaged.
“We are still afraid to return home because of aftershocks, downpours and blackouts,” said Zunaidi, who goes by a single name. The boarding school was providing generators, food and medicine, but people complained of a lack of clean water and baby food, he said.
The Indonesian Red Cross deployed emergency response teams and advertised bank accounts for donations. Its head of disaster management, Arifin Hadi, said five water trucks had been sent into the quake area. Aid, including hygiene kits, tarpaulins, jerry cans, blankets and family assistance kits, is being distributed, with more to be sent from Jakarta, he said. The International Organization for Migration sent an assessment team to Aceh.
The general hospital in Pidie Jaya was overwhelmed with the numbers of injured and many people were being treated in tents pitched on its grounds, according to its director Muhammad Reza Faisal. He said five of the quake victims died at the hospital.
Villager Ahmad Salam said he and his family couldn’t sleep in their house because its roof was damaged and rain was pouring in. The family went to the same mosque they took shelter in after the 2004 disaster.
“Even after 12 years, it feels like yesterday that the tsunami washed away my house,” Salman said.
Karmini and Wright reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Associated Press journalists Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta and Ayi Yufridar in Bireuen, Indonesia, contributed to this report.
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Rescuers search rubble after earthquake kills dozens in Indonesia (5.27/26)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Rescuers are still combing the rubble for survivors after an earthquake in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Wednesday morning.
At least 52 people were killed, including young children, and 73 seriously injured, according to Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management.
The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake damaged many homes, shops and mosques, in the district of Pidie Jaya, hundreds of which had been completely destroyed.
Additional medical personal have been sent to the region after the local Pidie Jaya hospital was damaged in the quake, which struck just as many residents were preparing for early morning prayers.
‘We have to move fast’
Speaking in Jakarta, National Board for Disaster Management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll could still rise.
“Now our priority is the search and rescue operation. We have to move so fast to save them,” Sutopo said.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered immediate assistance to be sent to Aceh on Wednesday in the wake of the earthquake.
In a statement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it had deployed two staff to help coordinate any assistance.
“They’ll be our eyes and ears on the ground and be able to give us a much clearer picture of what the need are,” IOM disaster preparedness project manager Peter Kern said.
No tsunami warning issued
No tsunami warnings or advisories have been issued. The epicenter was 12 miles (19 kilometers) southeast of the town of Sigli in Aceh province.
Despite the lack of a tsunami warning, Sutopo said some residents had fled to find safety in the hills after the quake. “They are still traumatized by the last big earthquake and tsunami in 2004,” he said.
The 2004 disaster killed more than 80,000 people after a tsunami swept across the Indonesian region, leaving millions homeless.
Large earthquakes are relatively common around Indonesia, which sits on the infamous Ring of Fire, a set of fault lines which circle the Pacific Basin.
Wednesday’s earthquake is Indonesia’s second major temblor in 2016, and its most severe yet.
In March, a magnitude-7.8 quake struck off the south-western coast of Sumatra, but despite initial warnings, no tsunamis or deaths were registered as a result.

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Brexit at the supreme court and the Casey review – Politics Weekly podcast (5.25/26)

Anushka Asthana hears from former attorney general Dominic Grieve on the supreme court Brexit hearings and from the SNP’s Stephen Gethins. Plus: following a major report on integration we hear from Shaista Gohir, Sunder Katwala, Phoebe Griffith and Labour’s Chuka Umunna

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 66 /1826 

Rams punter Johnny Hekker is nominated for Walter Payton award (5.23/26)

Rams punter Johnny Hekker was chosen as the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, presented annually to an NFL player for civic leadership in his community.
“It’s a huge honor,” Hekker said Wednesday after practice. “As athletes, we’re blessed with so much, to be recognized for your contributions outside football is pretty cool.”
Hekker, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has been involved with several charitable organizations and events since the Rams returned to Los Angeles from St. Louis.
“I hope the people of L. A. just know that I love them and have their back and we appreciate their support so much,” he said. “With what we do with football, I think it’s important that we give back and support them with what we’ve been blessed with.”
Hekker, 26, said his desire to help others was fostered by his upbringing. His father worked in a facility for people with developmental disabilities.
“We were always there helping, just doing whatever family events we could do there,” Hekker said. “And growing up in church, we were taught to be a good steward of what you’re given, your gifts and blessings.
“So to be able to give back is huge. That’s what it’s all about.
The winner of the Walter Payton award will be announced Feb. 4.

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Illinois manufacturers criticize Exelon law (5.22/26)

PORT BYRON, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signing nuclear plant legislation on Wednesday (all times local):
12:10 p.m.
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association says Gov. Bruce Rauner weakened Illinois’ job prospects by signing a nuclear-energy subsidy.
Rauner signed the law Wednesday creating a plan to allow Exelon Corp. to keep two unprofitable nuclear plants open with $235 million a year from ratepayers. But he says it will save consumers money by providing a reliable source of energy and through energy efficiency programs.
The manufacturers’ group says Illinois lost 10,000 high-paying jobs last year while neighboring states grew. It says that “building a guaranteed rate hike into state law” and reversing decades of deregulated energy production will weaken the economy.
10:50 a.m.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation providing billions of dollars in subsidies to Exelon Corp. so the power giant can keep unprofitable nuclear plants running in Clinton and the Quad Cities.
Rauner’s office says he signed the measure Wednesday morning during a ceremony at Riverdale High School in Port Byron. He planned to sign it again later in the day in Clinton. Both cities are home to nuclear plants. State lawmakers approved the legislation during last week’s veto session.
Rauner said in a statement that “while this legislation isn’t perfect, it allows us to protect jobs, ratepayers and taxpayers.” He says he wasn’t willing to “gamble with thousands of good paying jobs.”
Exelon says the law “safeguards the state’s top source of clean energy, protects and creates thousands of jobs and strengthens the Illinois economy, while preserving competitive rates.”
4:40 a.m.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is set to sign legislation that provides billions of dollars in subsidies to Exelon Corp. so the power giant can keep unprofitable nuclear plants running in Clinton and the Quad Cities.
The Republican is scheduled to sign legislation Wednesday to keep the Quad Cities plant open in Port Byron in the morning and do the same later in the day in Clinton to keep the plant there running.
The measure that provides $235 million per year to Exelon was approved by lawmakers last week. It calls for more than 4 million customers of power-distributing subsidiaries ComEd and Ameren to pay more to finance the plan. Rauner previously criticized “special deals” for corporations but last week said closing the plants would have “devastated the two communities.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 68 /1826 

NATO commander says 150 Turkish officers have left post-coup (5.21/26)

NATO’s top military officer said Wednesday that about 150 Turkish officers have been recalled or retired from the alliance’s high command since a failed coup attempt in Turkey, placing a significant burden on his staff. ...

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Why does Angela Merkel suddenly want to ban the veil? (5.20/26)

But on Tuesday night, "Mutti" or "Mom," as she is affectionately called, made an impassioned plea to her party: "I have also asked you for a lot," she told the more than 1,000 members of her Christian Democratic Union gathered, "because the times have asked us for a lot. I know that very well. And I cannot promise that the demands in the future will be any less because we have to do what the times demand from us. "
Merkel is facing tremendous pressure from voters -- as well as from her own party -- for allowing more than 890,000 asylum seekers into the country last year.
Initially, Germans opened their doors. Crowds came to train stations to applaud arriving asylum seekers, greeting them with flowers and chocolate. There is even a special word for it: "willkommenskultur. "
But the numbers began to strain social services. Local councils complained there wasn't enough space to house everyone. Last year, one mayor took CNN for a tour of facilities , where refugees were forced to sleep on mattresses in the hallways of the official's office.
Then came New Year's Eve in Cologne. Police said that mobs of "North African and Middle Eastern men" sexually assaulted hundreds of women in the fireworks chaos.
Earlier this week, on the eve of the CDU party conference, police announced that a 17-year old Afghan refugee was suspected of raping and killing a 19-year-old university student.
National statistics show some crimes, such as burglaries and petty offenses, have gone up since the start of the year as Germany's population has grown, but that less than 1% of sex crimes and even fewer homicides are tied to immigrants or refugees.
Nonetheless, much of the public no longer welcomes refugees but views them with suspicion. Riots between local residents and refugees have broken out in eastern Germany. Arson attacks on refugee shelters have skyrocketed. Support for far-right parties has surged.
Merkel's party was defeated in her own constituency of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern by the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party. The latter campaigned on a promise to stop immigration and won 20% of the vote.
Within the CDU, party members have grumbled that Merkel was out of touch with the public mood.
This, perhaps, is why she has made a major political concession -- one that's been criticized by refugee rights groups: backing a ban by party members on full-face veils .
Merkel is staring down the barrel of arguably the most important vote of her life. The German federal election, taking place next year , will attract attention from the entire world, as many are depending on the Chancellor to fight back against the seemingly unstoppable march of populism. This task is daunting enough without pressure coming from your own party members.
Merkel told her party: "We do not want any parallel societies and where they exist we have to tackle them. "
She said, "Our laws have priority over honor codes, tribal and family rules, and over the Sharia. That has to be expressed very clearly. That also means that with interpersonal communication, which plays a fundamental role here, we show our face. This is why the full facial veil is inappropriate, and should be banded wherever it is legally possible. It does not belong in our country. "
Less than 300 Muslim women in Germany are thought to wear the niqab or full-face veil. None are known to wear a burqa. But it is an easy way for Merkel to gain political capital within her own party and act tough on integration to the German public.
At the end of her speech, Merkel received a standing ovation and sustained rounds of applause that lasted for 11 minutes. She was elected to lead the party with 89% of the vote, slightly less than she had hoped to gain.
Merkel has shown she can lead her party. Now she needs to show she can win back public confidence before next year's elections.

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Dozens of Civilians Killed in Air Strike Near Iraqi Border with Syria – Reports (5.15/26)

Dozens of civilians were killed in an airstrike on the Islamic State-held town of Qaim in Iraq on Wednesday, local MPs and medics told Reuters, adding that many women and children were among the dead.
The airstrike reportedly hit a busy market in the small town, which is located in Anbar province, near the Syrian border.
Anbar lawmaker, Ahmed al-Salmani, and medical sources told Reuters that 55 civilians were killed.
It is not yet clear whose planes carried out the reported strike.
Airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) have previously been carried out by the US-led coalition, which is helping local security forces in their fight against the terrorists.
Last week, the coalition acknowledged that 54 civilians were “inadvertently killed” in seven of its strikes in Iraq and Syria between March and October this year.

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 71 /1826 

John McCain: 'Pearl Harbor forever changed the world' (4.99/26)

The US Senator John McCain has said that many families were changed after Pearl Harbor.
He spoke during a commemoration ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack.

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 72 /1826 

Political lifer Matteo Renzi is unwilling to let go (4.99/26)

Start spreading the news: like Frank Sinatra during his extended swansong, Matteo Renzi is saying farewell with no intention of going anywhere.
The outgoing Italian Prime Minister bowed out Wednesday, three days after his constitutional reform proposals were booed off by voters.
And just like 'Ol' Blue Eyes', the ambitious 41-year-old exits the stage with his sights on a comeback.
What is uncertain is whether his party or the electorate want an encore from a performer who fluffed his lines when he gambled on the referendum.
Regrets? He admitted he'd had a few when he first said he was going to quit, in the wee small hours of the morning, on Monday.
But by Wednesday afternoon, when he went to President Sergio Mattarella to tender his resignation, he was signalling they were really too few to mention.
He was leaving Italy as a country with "fewer taxes and more rights," he said in a farewell speech that sounded like an election campaign launch.
Can Renzi return as king of the hill? That will depend on behind-the-scenes discussions within his divided Democratic Party (PD).
In the short-term at least, Italy's youngest ever premier will remain top of the party heap.
But some PD barons are frustrated at being excluded from Renzi's ratpack and with the young leader always wanting to do things his way.
With an election possibly only a little over two months away, Renzi's sure-footedness and popularity are both under scrutiny.
In Sinatra terms, the pledge to quit if he lost the referendum looks like a case of 'Fools rush in where wise men never go ...'
- Hubris then nemesis -
To Renzi's critics, it was a sign of the hubris that had come to define his premiership.
Nemesis, when it came, was brutal. Italians massively rejected Renzi's reform plan.
Most worryingly for PD strategists, the poll breakdown also pointed to young voters being most likely to reject Renzi's vision and PD support being eroded in its heartlands.
Renzi seemed to succumb to over-confidence after a prodigious rise.
He was just 39 when he took office in February 2014, using his control of the PD apparatus to orchestrate the ditching of his predecessor, Enrico Letta, days after reassuring him he was safe.
With that coup, Renzi had gone from being mayor of Florence to running the country in just three months. He enjoyed an extended honeymoon after settling into Palazzo Chigi, the premier's official residence in Rome.
Italians seemed to welcome the youthful premier as a breath of fresh air that would blow away the memories of Silvio Berlusconi's unproductive, often embarrassing, years in office.
Drawing inspiration from Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign, Renzi promised far-reaching change and earned himself a reputation as a workaholic.
- Burning midnight oil -
His schoolteacher wife Agnese and three children stayed at the family home in Tuscany while Renzi burned the midnight oil in Rome, doing deals to get his reforms through parliament or toiling on the detail of policy initiatives.
But as a sluggish economic recovery failed to gain any real momentum, discontent began to mount and Renzi began to be viewed as part of the problem, not the solution.
It was a turnaround the former Catholic boy scout was not prepared for and even a ringing endorsement from Obama could not lift his flagging fortunes.
Grumbling in his own party culminated in former Prime Minister Massimo d'Alema calling Renzi a Twitter-obsessed "oaf" while the left kept sniping away at what they saw as a dangerously pro-business agenda.
Renzi delivered significant labour market reform, a modest recovery and oversaw Italy granting legal recognition to gay relationships for the first time.
But the recovery was not strong enough to pay any real dividends politically, the labour reforms have yet to turn into significant jobs growth and critics noted that Renzi had mostly side-stepped the battle over legislation on same-sex civil unions, which was diluted in the end.
Renzi has been a full-time activist or politician since he finished legal studies in his native Florence. But for a brief spell in the family advertising business in his early 20s, it is all he has done and all the signs Wednesday were that is what he wants to continue doing.

Matteo Renzi resigns as Italy's premier
Italy's Matteo Renzi officially resigns after referendum defeat
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi formally resigns
Matteo Renzi asked to stay on as caretaker Italian PM
'Thanks to all and long live Italy' – PM Matteo Renzi tenders resignation again
Italian PM Matteo Renzi says he will now resign as budget law is passed
Matteo Renzi resigns as Italian premier after losing referendum


 73 /1826 

GOP sets up quick path to grant waiver for Gen. Mattis to be defense secretary (4.99/26)

Republican lawmakers have designed an accelerated procedure to grant a waiver for retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as defense secretary by including the matter in a must-pass spending bill likely to be approved by Friday night.
The bill would limit debate on the one-time waiver for Mattis to 10 hours, essentially curtailing in-depth discussion about how his appointment would affect the tradition of civilian control of the military.
The language is tucked into an emergency spending bill – known as a continuing resolution – that finances government operations into at least March. Most federal agencies will run out of money unless Congress passes the bill by Friday night.
Language in the spending bill appears airtight to prevent prolonged debate about Mattis, who retired in 2013 after a distinguished career that included campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan and a stint in charge of Central Command, the Tampa, Florida-based regional base for operations from the Middle East to Afghanistan.
If approved, Mattis would become only the second recently retired military officer appointed as secretary of defense since Gen. George C. Marshall, the war hero named defense secretary in 1950, nearly five years after Marshall left active duty.
Lawmakers in 1947 approved the National Security Act, which required that the defense secretary be a civilian who had been out of the military for 10 years. Congress later cut the waiting period to seven years.
Mattis, who is held in high regard by Marines with whom he served, has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, although some lawmakers voice concerns about civilian control of the military.
“Civilian leadership of the military has been a cornerstone of our democracy since the Founders, and for good reason,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.
The Senate spending bill said the 10 hours of debate allowed to discuss the nomination would be divided up by majority and minority leaders, and no motions to postpone a vote would be allowed. Following debate, a vote must take place. Passage requires two-thirds of the 100-seat chamber.

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 74 /1826 

Panel meets as judge’s decision on recount looms (4.99/26)

The panel of two Republicans and two Democrats has a 9:30 a.m. meeting at the Capitol and was ordered Tuesday by the Michigan Court of Appeals to reconsider and reject Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount petition.
Republican canvasser Colleen Pero said Wednesday morning that she wants to recess the meeting to await a decision by U. S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith on whether the recount must go on.
Goldsmith has scheduled a 10:30 a.m. hearing at the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit to hear arguments for lifting the order he issued after midnight Monday that forced the recount to commence at noon that day in Oakland and Ingham counties.
A three-judge Michigan Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously Tuesday that Stein’s petition was unlawful and should be rejected by the Board of State Canvassers.
The appellate judges said Stein could only be considered aggrieved if she lost an election she otherwise would have won were it not for errors in the certified vote count.
Stein finished a distant fourth place with less than 1.1 percent of the vote.
Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump, the Michigan Republican Party and Attorney General Bill Schuette have attacked Stein’s eligibility to force the recount, which state officials estimate will cost taxpayers $4 million if completed.
The Board of State Canvassers needs Goldsmith to lift his order for the panel to act on rejecting the petition, as directed by the state Court of Appeals. The elections panel also has a history of deadlocking on highly partisan issues, which it did last Friday over Trump’s objection to the recount.
Stein attorney Mark Brewer said Wednesday he has sought permission late Tuesday from the Michigan Supreme Court for consideration of an immediate appeal.
On Tuesday, Brewer filed a motion with the Michigan Supreme Court seeking to disqualify Chief Justice Robert Young and Justice Joan Larsen because Trump has them on his short list for a possible appointment to the U. S. Supreme Court.
In just two days of counting, Brewer said the recount has exposed issues with ballots , polling precinct procedures and other problems in the state’s election system.
“I think this is very healthy and revealing and it would be terrible to put it to a stop,” said Brewer, a former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.
(517) 371-3661
Twitter: @ChadLivengood

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 75 /1826 

Pamela Anderson visits Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (4.50/26)

Pamela Anderson was pictured this evening visiting Julian Assange for the fourth time in three months. The Baywatch star, 49, walked along Kensington, London, with her jacket over her shoulders as she carried bags from upmarket Whole Foods. The former Playboy model was delivering the Wikileaks founder his dinner at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Mr Assange has been hiding at the building in London under political asylum since 2012 to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden. He has struck up an unlikely friendship with Pamela and even complained when she kept bringing him 'vegan foods'. Last month, the mother-of-two's arms were kept full, as she juggled a straw bag, coffee shop carrier bag and a tray laden with treats like fruit salad and vegetarian burgers. But Mr Assange described the vegan treats as 'torture'. Pamela set up The Pamela Anderson Foundation at the start of 2014 with the goal of using her celebrity to help environmental causes and to protect vulnerable people and animals. Since then she has raised awareness for organisations such as PETA and Mercy For Animals, and joined initiatives that seek to protect the Arctic, halt deforestation and speak out against the force feeding of ducks and geese, a practice used in the production of foie gras. In August 2014 fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood introduced Pamela to Julian. It comes as bizarre rumors spread that Mr Assange may have died after a visit from Pamela in October. The former Playboy model said the WikiLeaks founder was doing 'really well' but expressed concern for him and his family. The Australian has been living in the embassy for over four years and has been granted political asylum by Ecuador. He is due to be questioned over a sex allegation in Sweden - which he denies. Mr Assange believes that if he goes to Sweden he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks. The ex-Baywatch star told the Press Association: 'I really believe in him and think he's a good person, and I'm concerned about his health, his family, and I just hope that by some miracle he's set free.'

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 76 /1826 

Israel's Netanyahu gives conditional "No" to meeting Abbas in Paris (4.45/26)

By John Irish and Ori Lewis PARIS/JERUSALEM, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he had told French President Francois Hollande he would not meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas if France pushed ahead with an international peace conference in Paris later this month. France has been trying to convince Netanyahu, who has repeatedly rejected the conference proposal, to meet with Abbas in Paris to try to revive moribund peace talks between the two sides, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Wednesday. "Netanyahu told Hollande that if there will not be an international conference in Paris, he will come to meet Abu Mazen (Abbas) for direct talks without preconditions," the statement said Netanyahu told Hollande. "Israel will not participate in an international conference that will not contribute to achieving peace," it added. Paris has remained determined to stage the conference. It believes that bringing the two leaders to meet with Hollande a day after the conference would be a way of circumventing Israeli accusations that the French initiative aims to impose a multilateral solution. "We have to recreate the conditions for a two-state solution and we are determined more than ever to do everything to implement our initiative. The sooner the better," Ayrault told reporters at a news conference with his Spanish counterpart, Alfonso Dastis. Ayrault confirmed that invitations had been sent to Netanyahu and Abbas to attend a face-to-face meeting. Diplomats said that Hollande was also planning to call U. S. President Barack Obama to discuss the issue. Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said the Palestinians welcomed "any French effort to salvage the faltering political process. " France has repeatedly tried to breathe new life into the peace process this year, holding a preliminary conference in June where the United Nations, European Union, United States and major Arab countries gathered to discuss proposals without the Israelis or Palestinians present. The plan was to hold a follow-up conference before Christmas with the Israelis and Palestinians involved to see whether the two sides could be brought back to negotiations. The conference of foreign ministers was aimed at agreeing on a joint statement that would reaffirm the two-state solution on the basis of pre-1967 borders and according to Security Council resolutions, diplomats said. The last, U. S.-backed talks ended in failure in April 2014 and the outgoing U. S. administration appears unwilling to tackle the issue before President-elect Donald Trump takes over in January. With Obama wary of being seen picking a fight at a time when he hopes to persuade Trump to preserve parts of his legacy, including the Iran nuclear deal, Obamacare and the opening to Cuba, it is not clear whether the United States will attend a new meeting in Paris. If they were not to attend the chances of a conference taking place would be slim, a French diplomat said. In New York, diplomats at the United Nations said Arab state ministers were due to meet next week to discuss a Palestinian push for a U. N. resolution on settlements and were likely to decide the content of a draft text and when it would be circulated to the Security Council. Diplomats said New Zealand was also working on a draft U. N. resolution on the Middle East peace process that would reaffirm the Security Council's commitment to a two-state solution. (Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Michelle Nichols in New York, editing by Larry King and Hugh Lawson)

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Israel rejects Paris summit open to talks with Palestinians
Israel Rejects Paris Summit, Open to Talk With Palestinians


 77 /1826 

Peter Thiel adds allies to Trump transition (4.42/26)

Thiel, a billionaire investor and Facebook ( FB , Tech30 ) board member, joined the transition team days after the election and is gradually bringing on other members of his circle.
While Thiel clashed with Silicon Valley during the campaign by endorsing Trump early, this group may be the strongest -- or only -- bridge between the tech industry and the president-elect.
Mark Woolway, the acting CFO of troubled HR software startup Zenefits and Thiel's longtime business associate, is joining the President-elect's transition effort.
"Mark will continue to serve as acting CFO at Zenefits while he helps out on the transition team," Jessica Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Zenefits, confirmed in a statement provided to CNNMoney.
Woolway was an early VP at PayPal ( PYPL , Tech30 ) , which was cofounded by Thiel. He later served as a managing director at Thiel's hedge fund, Clarium Capital.
Kevin Harrington, who has worked as a managing director at two of Thiel's investment firms, is also said to be working with the transition team for the Department of Commerce, according to Forbes .
Separately, Bloomberg reports Jim O'Neill, another Thiel colleague, is being considered to take over the Food and Drug Administration.
Trump's team did not respond to a request for comment.
Related: What Trump's presidency means for Silicon Valley
The latest batch of rumored and confirmed appointments highlight Thiel's influence in Trump's sphere.
Since joining the transition team, Thiel has been spotted at Trump Tower in New York on about half a dozen occasions, according to press pool reports. Thiel is said to be playing a role in organizing a meeting between Trump and top tech executives next week.
Last month, Trump's transition team announced that it was adding Trae Stephens to a "landing team" tasked with managing the transition at the Department of Defense. Stephens currently works as a principal at Thiel's Founders Fund.
David Sacks, a friend of Thiel's who recently stepped down as CEO of Zenefits, has also been rumored to be taking a position on the transition team. Sacks has denied it publicly.
Thiel, a PayPal cofounder and Facebook ( FB , Tech30 ) board member, shocked many in the tech industry by speaking at the Republican National Convention and pledging to donate $1.25 million to elect Trump in the final weeks of the campaign.
"Most Americans don't live by the [Washington] Beltway or San Francisco Bay. Most have not been a part of that prosperity," Thiel said at an event in October defending his endorsement. "What Trump represents isn't crazy and it's not going away. "
Thiel is famous in Silicon Valley for holding extreme, counterintuitive views. He is a rabid libertarian who has invested money to make people immortal, develop floating cities away from the reach of governments, and convince young people not to go to college, among other endeavors.

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 78 /1826 

Weist is USF's interim coach after losing Taggart to Oregon (4.41/26)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - South Florida co-offensive coordinator T. J. Weist will lead the 25th-ranked Bulls in the Birmingham Bowl following coach Willie Taggart's departure to Oregon. Taggart resigned Wednesday to take over a program that appeared in the national championship game just two seasons ago. He went 24-25 in four years at USF, including 18-7 and two bowl berths the past two seasons. Weist will serve as interim coach the rest of the season, which concludes with a Dec. 29 matchup against South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. Meanwhile, athletic director Mark Harlan said a national search for a permanent successor will begin immediately. "We will work quickly, but with careful thought and discussion to find our next football coach. ... I want to thank Willie Taggart for the leadership, energy, and excitement he brought to our program over the last four years," Harlan said, adding that the strides the Bulls made under the former Jim Harbaugh assistant "both on and off the field speak for themselves. " Taggart lost 21 of his first 28 games at USF before going 17-4 over his past 21. "We now have the foundation of our football program in place," school president Judy Genshaft said. "We have a terrific group of student athletes who are laser-focused on the Birmingham Bowl and next year's season. " Taggart leaves USF (10-2) with four seasons remaining on a five-year, $9 million contract he received for turning around a program that fell on hard times after climbing as high as a No. 2 ranking in 2007. The deal he received last winter included a provision for a $1.7 million buyout. The Bulls won a school-record 10 games this season - losing only to Florida State and Temple - with quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack leading Taggart's high-paced "Gulf Coast" offense. The Oct. 21 road loss to Temple cost the team the American Athletic Conference Eastern Division title and an opportunity to play in last week's AAC championship game. Weist, completing his first season at USF, shared offensive coordinator duties with Darren Hiller. "The trajectory of USF athletics is strong. It has elevated the spirit of our campuses as well as our national profile," USF Board of Trustees chair Brian Lamb said. "I know that the young men in our football program will continue to be highly successful on the field and in the classroom. " ___ More AP college football: and Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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AP Source: USF’s Taggart to be next Oregon football coach


 79 /1826 

Dershowitz: Republicans Should Want Democrats To Elect Keith Ellison For DNC Chair (4.40/26)

DERSHOWITZ: If I were a Republican strategist and I were given the choice to pick the head of the Democratic National Committee, I’d say pick [Congressman Keith] Ellison! He would be great for the Republicans, and he’s going to be great for the Republicans. A major contributor to the democratic party has said, essentially, don’t count on me anymore.
He is going to lose many, many Democrats. He’s going to lose many pro-Israel Democrats, many pro-American Democrats. Forget about Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism and the fact that this guy was part of that for years. Do you know what he said at one point to somebody when he was a student at the Minnesota Law School?
He said to somebody who was a woman and Jewish, I can have no respect for you — this is Ellison saying this, not Farrakhan. I can have no respect for you because you’re Jewish and you’re a woman, and as a woman, you shouldn’t be working, you should with home. you should be home.

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 80 /1826 

Actually, Trump could succeed in lowering drug prices (4.37/26)

President-elect Donald Trump is on a negotiating roll.
He's still enjoying great publicity for his deal with Carrier to keep 1,100 jobs in Indiana, seems to have effectively used Twitter to impress upon Boeing the need to cut its price for the new Air Force One program, and the CEO of Japan's SoftBank even came to Trump Tower on Tuesday to announce a $50 billion investment in the U. S.
And now, in an interview with Time Magazine for the issue that names him as the magazine's "Person of the Year," Trump put the drug industry in his crosshairs, saying he is going to bring down prescription drug prices.
That set off a firestorm, with drug stocks taking a hit and speculation swirling about whether his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, or Congress, would allow that to even happen.
I'm with Wall Street on this one. After what we've seen him do in the past few weeks alone, I wouldn't bet against him. Trump is once again uniquely positioned to get it done.
No, it's not because Trump is a saint or a savant or even the toughest guy on the block. But it is because Trump continues to be a unique combination of two things we really haven't ever seen in the modern White House: A business negotiator and a politician will no actual political ideology.
The characteristic Trump seems to value the most about himself is his persona as a deal maker. Yes, that's why the title of his most successful book is "Art of the Deal" and he references it all the time. Critics of his businesses record can quibble about how wealthy he really is and how much success he's had overall, but only a fool would deny that Trump is adept at dealmaking and certainly delights in the give and take of it all. Having the presidency and all of the deal-making apparatus the White House gives him is definitely making Trump look like a kid in the candy shop right now.
With the drug companies, he indeed has a lot of negotiating power. We know they will listen closely to everything Trump says about lowering their corporate taxes because Big Pharma has been such a leader in the corporate tax inversion craze in recent years. We know those companies will also listen because Trump wants to reduce regulations and prescription drugs are possibly the most regulated products in America. Drug companies also happen to manufacture many of their most expensive and popular drugs overseas, which has added to our trade deficit in a big way over the last decade. Don't be surprised if those companies are willing to lower the prices of those foreign-made drugs in return for promises that Trump will lay off their heavy use of overseas plants. There are more examples, but this is not a negotiation where the only thing Trump will have in his pocket is the fact that he's the new president.
Will Trump get a commitment from the drug makers to cut prices on the biggest drugs by a certain percentage in return for killing off a set of costly regulations? He certainly could. Will he issue a special new tax deduction or credit for Big Pharma that offsets lower drug revenues? It's possible. He likes to make deals and he has a Republican Congress likely to back him if he does.
But here's a question we have to ask: Sure, Trump is a guy who likes to negotiate, but haven't all the recent Presidents of the United States had basically the same negotiating tools at their disposal? At one time or another, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama had their party in control of Congress and at least the option to make the same kind of deal Trump seems poised to make. So why didn't they? The easy answer is usually something along the lines of blaming crony capitalism or the power of lobbyists and corporate donors. But the real answer lies in recognizing another truly unique thing about Trump: He really has no discernible political ideology.
It's important to understand that Trump is clearly not beholden to the conservative Republican ideology of keeping Big Government out of free enterprise as much as possible. He slayed that supposedly sacred cow during the GOP primaries and still won the nomination in a landslide. And Trump also is not going to be held down by the liberal Democrats' ideology that bemoans special tax breaks and other "corporate welfare" deals to big corporations. As this election developed, it became more and more clear that Trump was, in essence, a third-party candidate running on the Republican ticket out of personal expediency. Yes, the GOP will take the lion's share of the political profits from Trump's win. But a great deal of the GOP conservative ideology is going to be sacrificed in return. It already has. Trump isn't even president yet and he's sacrificed a lot of it already.
Trump would like us all to think that he's the master negotiator and that's the only real reason why he can and possibly eventually will make some headway on reducing prescription-drug costs. But that angle is only half of the story. No negotiator or president can get anything done as long as the person or company on the other side of the table knows there are certain tools or threats the president won't be able to use in the end. Adherence to one political ideology or another has always kept a lock on some of the best tools a president could use in economic negotiations of all kinds. But Trump's lack of political ideology is the key to unlock those tools and he's clearly showing he has no philosophical problem with using it.

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 81 /1826 

British PM challenges lawmakers to back Brexit timetable (4.36/26)

British Prime Minister Theresa May secured a symbolic victory on Brexit on Wednesday after MPs agreed not to delay her plans to begin the EU exit talks by the end of March, although she had to promise to give them more details of her negotiating strategy.
The opposition Labour party's original motion demanded the government publish its "plan" before triggering EU Article 50, which begins the two-year exit process.
This motion had been expected to draw support from dozens of May's Conservative MPs but the premier fended off a rebellion with a last-minute amendment, accepting the Labour motion on condition that MPs support her timetable for triggering the Brexit talks.
Lawmakers voted 461 in favour of the amendment, backing May's timeline to trigger the divorce negotiations with Brussels by March 31, 2017.
A total of 89 MPs voted against that amendment, in which May agreed to provide further details on her negotiating strategy before triggering Article 50 of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, with the results announced in parliament.
A second vote saw 448 lawmakers support the motion in its entirety, with the amendment, while 75 lawmakers voted against.
The House of Commons vote is not binding and the government is still fighting a challenge at the Supreme Court against moves to give parliament the final say on starting the Brexit process.
Following the results MP Hilary Benn, from the opposition Labour Party, said he hoped the vote would prompt the government to give more information on its plans for negotiating Britain's future outside the European Union.
"When they have said they are going to publish a plan, I expect to see some detail.
"Parliament doesn't intend to be a bystander, parliament intends to be a participant," he told BBC News.
Iain Duncan Smith, from the ruling Conservative Party, said the vote was "a very historic moment" which enabled the government to act on Brexit.
"The government now has a blank cheque, and I think that's a good thing," he told Sky News.
May has so far refused to give a "running commentary" on her strategy, insisting that revealing her hand prematurely would undermine the negotiations.
- 'A trap' -
Ahead of the vote Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer welcomed the amendment, saying the government had "caved in" and "must now prepare its plan and publish it".
He called for an outline plan by January, warning that his party would not accept a "late, vague plan" that allowed no time for parliamentary debate.
May has previously said she wants the "best possible deal" for trade with the EU, to create new deals outside the bloc and to control immigration.
Government minister David Lidington said there would be a "statement about our negotiating strategy and objectives" before Article 50 is triggered.
But the approved motion gives ministers considerable leeway to withhold details, by stating "there should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations".
The amended motion was opposed by one Conservative MP -- former chancellor Ken Clarke -- and nine Labour MPs. Five of the Liberal Democrats' nine MPs also voted against the final motion, along with 51 out of the total 54 Scottish National Party lawmakers, among others.
A further challenge for May comes with the Supreme Court case, which could give MPs the chance to block Brexit at a later date by voting against the government, the newspaper added.
- Court case arrest -
The Supreme Court is holding hearings this week over whether the government or parliament should begin the Brexit process, but both sides said the case is not affected by Wednesday's Commons debate.
The prime minister is appealing a ruling by the lower High Court last month which decided she cannot use her executive power to trigger Article 50 and must first seek authorisation from parliament.
MPs overwhelmingly opposed Brexit during the June referendum on the subject, prompting concerns they might seek to delay Britain's withdrawal or at least soften the terms of the break.
The court case has reignited strong passions over Brexit, and the claimant leading the challenge against the government, investment fund manager Gina Miller, has received death threats.
Police said Wednesday they had arrested a 55-year-old man on suspicion of racially aggravated malicious communications, as part of an investigation into online threats against an unnamed woman, believed to be Miller.

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British Parliament Set To Back PM Theresa May's Brexit Timetable


 82 /1826 

Architect wants to use golden pigs to hide Trump name on Chicago tower (4.34/26)

The 20-foot-tall “Trump” sign on the side of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago has raised ire ever since it was installed in 2014, before the building’s namesake was a presidential candidate.
Critics deemed the sign tasteless, “an aesthetic assault on the surrounding scenic waterfront view,” according to the Hyperallergic arts and culture website.
One Chicago tour guide made it a stop on her downtown “disaster” tour .
Now a Chicago architect has created a unique way to partially block “the sign’s visual noise.”
Jeffrey Roberts at New World Design Ltd . proposes floating four giant, gilded pig balloons next to the building, strategically placed to “provide visual relief to the citizens of Chicago by interrupting the view of the ostentatious Trump Tower Chicago sign.”
The bloated balloons, which look like giant piggy banks, would be attached to buoys in the Chicago River, which the building overlooks.
“Flying Pigs on Parade” invites viewers to read between the lines.
The design follows “rigorous rationale in providing layers of meaning while allowing for nuanced interpretations by viewers,” the firm writes on its website .
Pink Floyd fans will recognize the homage to the band’s 1977 “Animals” album, which, like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” depicted pigs as the rulers of society.
“While many Donald Trump protests have taken place across the country, the latest in Chicago takes its inspiration from an unusual source,” says Billboard .
“The protest follows Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters’ use of a giant inflatable pig that flew over the crowd at the Desert Trip music festival. On that occasion, the pig was printed with the phrases ‘f*** Trump and his wall’ and ‘Ignorant, lying, racist, sexist.’”
The pigs are rife with other symbolism, according to the architecture firm’s website .
Their gold color is a “commentary on the gaudy style of Mr. Trump’s own gold ensconced penthouse interior he has labeled ‘comfortable modernism.’”
Flying pigs reference the once-perceived small chance of Trump becoming president.
Pigs refer to Trump’s infamous “Miss Piggy” critique of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
Four pigs symbolize “each of the four years the world will need to endure the Trump presidency.”
And, the pigs fly eastward toward Washington, D. C.
The firm is exploring ways to make the project happen.

Architects propose bizarre sculptures to block Trump Tower sign
Chicago mayor, Trump talk future of immigration policy
Trump to meet with Chicago mayor, N. Carolina governor, others
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to meet with Trump on Wednesday


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AT&T touts Time Warner merger at U. S. Senate hearing (4.30/26)

WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - AT&T Inc's planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc will increase innovation and bring "better-priced options" to consumers upset by high cable bills, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told lawmakers on Wednesday. "We want consumers to pay for their content once and watch it any where any time," he said at a hearing of the Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the panel, expressed concern that the deal would create incentives for AT&T to refuse to license Time Warner's movies and television shows to competitors. She also said AT&T could favor its own shows over independent content. Time Warner owns HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network and the Warner Bros film studio. Senator Al Franken, also a Democrat, expressed the same concern and pressed Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes on whether the new, combined company would raise rates to others who would broadcast its content. "It would not have the incentive nor would it have the ability," Bewkes responded. AT&T's Stephenson agreed: "It would make no sense... to do that. " Senator Mike Lee, a Republican who chairs the antitrust panel, said the review by the U. S. Justice Department would be "very fact-intensive. " "Consumer welfare is maximized by protecting competition, not necessarily by protecting competitors," Lee said. The Justice Department will determine whether the deal is legal under antitrust law. If the agency decides to stop a proposed transaction, it must convince a judge to agree. Stephen has said that the Federal Communications Commission would also review the deal if AT&T decides to assume any of Time Warner's licenses. Franken said he wanted to see the FCC review the merger because of their tougher standard. Senator Richard Blumenthal said he had "serious concerns about this transaction. I have yet to be convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks. " But he was also concerned that President-elect Donald Trump, whose administration will decide whether to approve the merger, had said during the campaign that it should be blocked. "What troubles me is that the president-elect has said that his Justice Department will enforce a different standard of law depending" on whether he is angered by news coverage, said Blumenthal, calling the notion "absolutely abhorrent". Stephenson said he had not been in touch with Trump's transition team on the issue and that he expected the Justice Department would review the merger fairly. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban told the Senate panel that the merger would create another competitor against large companies like Apple Inc, Google, Microsoft Corp, Inc and Facebook Inc. "Delivering content to consumers in this app-driven world is not easy," he said in written testimony. "Alone, it will be very difficult, if not impossible for either AT&T or Time Warner to compete. " And more change would be coming, he said: "There's going to be people cutting the broadband cord. " (Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Alan Crosby)

Rural America Supports The AT&T/Time Warner Merger
Lawmakers Change Tone on AT&T and Time Warner Deal
AT&T defends Time Warner megadeal to skeptical lawmakers
AT&T, Time Warner CEOs go to Capitol Hill to stump for merger
Innovation or a monopoly? AT&T, Time Warner go before Senate


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'Office Christmas Party' takes T. J. Miller down memory lane (4.28/26)

NEW YORK — When “Office Christmas Party” was partially filmed in Chicago in the spring of 2015, it brought back a lot of important career memories for the movie’s star, T. J. Miller.
“It was crazy for me,” said Miller, sharing his thoughts about filming the R-rated holiday-themed comedy (opening Friday). “I came up in comedy doing stand-up at the Lincoln Lodge and at Second City. So, the most surreal moment of my life came doing this film, when I was walking over the bridge over the Chicago River with Jason Bateman.
“You see, we were filming our bridge scene below the plaza and the building where I used to work, as a legal secretary at a law firm, Patton & Ryan, while I was trying to make it as a stand-up at the same time. At lunchtime, I would go into someone’s office while they were at lunch to look out the window and down on that bridge. I’d think, ‘Will I ever be in movies or on the TV?’
“Then suddenly, here I was — with Jason Bateman — and I looked up at that building where I used to work and thought, ‘You see? I’m here with Jason Bateman in this big movie! … Totally surreal.”
The movie focuses on a desperate, last-ditch attempt by Miller’s Clay Vanstone character to prevent his tough-as-nails sister and company CEO (played by Jennifer Aniston) from closing the Chicago branch of their technology company. Clay thinks that throwing an over-the-top holiday office party will win over the guy controlling a business contract that would save the branch.
That fellow is Walter Davis, played by noted actor Courtney B. Vance. “When [directors Will] Speck and [Josh] Gordon told me they had cast Courtney, I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming,” Miller said. “But then I saw how brilliant it was. In the beginning you see Courtney as people usually see him on-screen — very serious and controlled. But then, he makes a real turn and goes completely off the rails. His commitment to the comedy here was just as strong as the commitment he has always given to his dramatic roles.
“It’s off the charts. Frankly, I think he rivals some of the characters in ‘Animal House’ — including John Belushi!”
As Jason Bateman sat down to chat about “Office Christmas Party,” the actor smiled. “How did you like the way we destroyed your town?” he joked — referencing the wild antics at the bash noted in the movie’s title. “I must say, I still am blown away by the ideas the production design team came up for this film — especially the party’s aftermath!”
Bateman plays the company’s chief technical officer, who is constantly trying to rein in Clay’s nutty ideas and love of partying hearty.
Turning to his memories of shooting the movie in Chicago, Bateman noted, “We really got lucky. We filmed in the spring [of 2015] and a lot of money had been put into the budget for visual effects to create and augment any snow that might still be there. As it was, you guys didn’t have any snow for couple of months before we began shooting. But lo and behold, on the first day we started filming outside, it began snowing. It did so on the second day as well, and I believe it also snowed a bit on the third day. We got really, really fortunate, given this IS a Christmas movie!”
Asked for his own Christmas party memories, Bateman claimed, “I don’t recall a lot of them. Maybe the better ones I can’t remember,” he joked, adding, “No, I get soft and boring around the holidays.
“I like to watch my little girls really dig Christmas. They are 10 and about to be 5. So, the notion of Christmas is really coming on for the 5-year-old. However, the older girl is starting to get a little questionable about it, so it’s an interesting time to live through all that with them.”
Reflecting on all the crazy things that happen in “Office Christmas Party,” Bateman chuckled, “This film clearly proves you can have as wild a time in Chicago as you can have anywhere in the world — unless you follow the Bears this year! … Thank God for the Cubs! Now that was a reason to throw a big party!”

Get a peek at 'Office Christmas Party,' 9 other new movies opening Friday (Dec. 9)
Oops! Jennifer Aniston forgot to take tag off her designer coat at 'Office Christmas Party' screening in NYC
‘Office Christmas Party’ Review: A Rager With ‘Die Hard’-Level Damage
'Office Christmas Party' Review
The merriment seems forced at juvenile 'Office Christmas Party'


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Democratic states wary as Trump embarks on victory tour (4.27/26)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- As Donald Trump makes his thank-you tour of states that voted for him, other parts of the country are gearing up to do battle with his administration.
Three of the most populous, urban and ethnically diverse states -- California, New York and Illinois -- voted heavily for Hillary Clinton and are at odds with the incoming administration on such issues as immigration, health care, climate change, abortion rights and gun control.
In Massachusetts, a state Clinton won by more than 25 points, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey has threatened to sue if the incoming administration carries out Trump campaign promises she contends are unconstitutional. The incoming top law enforcement official in California has hinted at a similar approach.
"If you want to take on a forward-leaning state that is prepared to defend its rights and interests, then come at us," Rep. Xavier Becerra said just hours after he was appointed California's attorney general by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Nothing has stirred more anxiety in the states that voted for Clinton than Trump's statements on immigration. During the campaign, he pledged to deport millions of people in the country illegally and bar Muslims from entering. In Ohio last week, on the first stop in his thank-you tour, Trump reiterated his intent to build "a great wall" along the Mexican border.
On Monday, the California Legislature returned for the first time since the election and passed a resolution urging the Trump administration not to pursue mass deportations. An estimated 2.4 million Californians are immigrants in the U. S. illegally.
Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both houses in California, also announced legislation that would provide lawyers to those in deportation proceedings and train criminal defense attorneys to advise clients on the immigration consequences of their cases.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said the intent is to put a "firewall" around Californians.
"If you want to get to them, you have to go through us," he said.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio is also pushing back. He said he and Trump talked about immigrants in the country illegally and "exclusionary policies" involving Muslims, among other issues.
"I reiterated to the president-elect that I would be open-minded as we continue substantive discussions, but I would also be vigilant," said de Blasio, a Democrat.
In Chicago, the nation's third-largest city and a Democratic stronghold, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced $1 million to help people fight deportation.
On Wednesday, Emanuel emerged from a meeting with Trump saying he had presented the president-elect with a letter from 14 mayors asking him not to scrap an Obama administration policy that protects people who entered the country illegally as children from deportation. Trump's tough talk during the campaign led to concerns that he would end the policy and deport them.
"We are clear as mayors that these are dreamers who are seeking the American Dream, and we should embrace them rather than do a bait-and-switch," Emanuel said after the meeting in New York.
In an interview with Time magazine, which named him its Person of the Year this week, Trump appeared to soften his stance. He said he will "work something out" to help those who were brought to the U. S. illegally as children, though he offered no details.
In Rhode Island, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has pledged to do whatever the city can to protect residents from being deported for civil immigration violations.
Democrats in California, where Clinton crushed Trump by nearly 4.2 million votes, are especially riled by Trump's presidency. Party leaders said many of the state's priorities of recent years, including its pioneering laws to fight global warming and its efforts to greatly expand health care, are threatened.
California was the first state to embrace the Affordable Care Act and has the largest population of beneficiaries. Trump's threats to repeal and replace the federal health care law could strip coverage for hundreds of thousands of people, Rendon warned.
On his "USA Thank You Tour" -- a series of rallies in favorable states that presidential historians say is unprecedented for a president-elect -- Trump has mentioned one issue on which there might be broad agreement. Political leaders in Democratic-learning states and cities are encouraged by his proposal to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure.
New York, for example, is looking for billions in federal help to rebuild highways, modernize New York City's subways and construct a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, the incoming Senate minority leader, said the first 100 days of a Trump administration "could provide us with a real shot at fixing New York's aging sewers, roads and bridges. "
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke with Trump after the election and described him as "very supportive of our efforts to invest in infrastructure. " Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a building boom, while the region known for gridlocked freeways is expanding rail systems.
Garcetti, a Democrat, said he is not concerned that Trump will favor Republican states with money for building and construction.
"He comes from a blue city in a blue state and more importantly than politics, he comes from a place where people depend on the subway and depend on public transportation to reduce traffic and pollution. So he gets that," the mayor said.

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Trump, Democratic states to clash over hot-button issues
Trump, Democratic states to clash over hot-button issues ::


 86 /1826 

Syria Rebels Call For Truce As Aleppo Losses Mount (4.26/26)

Rebels in Aleppo called for a five-day truce and the evacuation of civilians on Wednesday after losing more than three quarters of their territory including the Old City to a Syrian army offensive.

US, Western leaders calling for immediate Aleppo cease-fire
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Syria minister says Aleppo advance is "strategic victory"


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Police: Holiday music blaring from her car, woman tries to run over ex-boyfriend (4.24/26)

CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. — State police say holiday music was blaring from a western Pennsylvania woman’s car as she tore up the yard of her ex-boyfriend’s home, nearly running the man and his family over.
Forty-seven-year-old Mary Jo Smith was charged Tuesday with multiple offenses stemming from Monday’s incident.
Alan McCutcheon says he was setting up a Christmas light display outside of his Fayette County home when Smith yelled “Merry Christmas” and made several passes through his yard.
“She proceeded to do a pretty significant amount of damage to the outside of the residence,” Tpr. Stefani Lucas with Pennsylvania State Police told CBS Pittsburgh.
All one needs to do is follow the tracks to see where Smith was aiming.
“The Christmas decorations were damaged, the vehicle was damaged, property was damaged, the home itself [was damaged],” Lucas said.
But state police say Smith was targeting more than just animate objects.
“The ex-boyfriend did attempt to make contact with her at one point by coming out of the residence,” Lucas said. “At that point, she attempted to drive the vehicle at him. He had to use the tree that was in the yard for cover.”
State police say Smith attempted to hit the 64-year-old along with his wife and adult daughter. No one was injured.
The joyride caused more than $500 in damage, leaving behind tire tracks and a trail of broken lights and decorations.
It’s unclear if Smith has an attorney who could comment.

Deck the ... Look out! Woman tries to run over decorating ex
Deck the ... Lookout! Woman tries to run over decorating ex
Pa. woman accused of tearing up ex-boyfriend's yard as he hung Christmas decorations
'Drunk' woman blaring Christmas music 'tries to mow down her ex-boyfriend, 64, while he was out hanging holiday decorations'


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Meghan Markle shows love for Prince Harry with necklace (4.23/26)

A telling accessory! Meghan Markle stepped out in Toronto, Canada on Monday while visiting a flower shop. But it wasn’t the colorful blossoms that got everyone talking.
The “Suits” star, 35, wore a gold necklace with a tiny H and tiny M on it, which fans took to represent Harry and Meghan.
The Maya Brenner Asymmetrical Letter necklace is 14k gold, and retails for $240 with $60 for each additional letter.
Meghan Markle stepped out in Toronto wearing an "M and H" necklace!
The actress has been dating Prince Harry for several months now, with the royal going public with their romance in November in an unexpected formal statement.
ET confirmed that Prince Harry traveled to Toronto briefly to be with Markle after his two-week Royal Tour of the Caribbean.
“Harry has been traveling and wanted to make time to see Meghan,” a source told E! News . “They wanted their time together to be private.”
The Brit returned to London this week after his Canadian excursion and attended a charity event at Broadgate Circus on Wednesday.
For more on their blossoming romance, watch the clip below!

Rejoice! A Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding could rescue 2017
Prince Harry leaves girlfriend Meghan Markle's Toronto home after Caribbean visit
Prince Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle appears to declare her love for the British royal with necklace
Prince Harry makes detour for Meghan Markle, costing British taxpayers extra in security
Britain's Prince Harry turns trader for charity day


 89 /1826 

Payson woman sentenced for hitting, killing boy while driving under the influence (4.22/26)

PROVO, Utah — A Payson woman who pleaded guilty in October to causing a boy’s death by operating a vehicle negligently was given her sentence Wednesday.
Tabatha Magoon will spend one to five years in prison for causing the death of 8-year-old Kaydon Sillitoe on March 20.
According to court documents, a urinalysis showed Magoon had amphetamines, opiates, methamphetamine and oxycodone in her system when she struck Kaydon with her vehicle in a Payson neighborhood.
Kaydon was riding a skateboard he received as a birthday present the day before his death.
Magoon struck a plea deal in the case in October, in which she agreed to plead guilty and serve time in prison in exchange for pleading to a reduced charge. The charge of operating a vehicle negligently, causing injury or death was reduced from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony as part of the plea arrangement.
Magoon’s sentence is running concurrently with the one-year sentence she was given for possession of a controlled substance.
Brandon Sillitoe, Kaydon’s father, said he isn’t satisfied with the sentence.
“I don’t call it justice. I just think it’s a consequence for her actions and is a very slim slap on the wrist,” Brandon Sillitoe said.

72-year-old woman hit and killed by vehicle in Hickory
Woman accused of killing twin in Hawaii to OK extradition
Woman Accused of Killing Twin in Hawaii to OK Extradition
Lawyer: Woman accused of killing twin to OK extradition


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Eyeing re-election, Germany's Merkel takes tougher tone on migrants (4.21/26)

By Paul Carrel ESSEN, Germany, Dec 7 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives toughened their tone on integrating migrants on Wednesday, passing a resolution on tackling forced marriage and honour killings, and cracking down on dual citizenship. A day after Merkel called for a ban on full-face Muslim veils "wherever legally possible", her Christian Democrats (CDU) endorsed that message and stressed the values they want the 890,000 migrants who arrived in Germany last year to adopt. Merkel, who implored the party on Tuesday to help her win a fourth term in office at federal elections next year, told N-TV at the end of a two-day CDU party conference that individual criminals among the migrants must be found and prosecuted. But she was quick to say: "We must not draw conclusions about the whole group of people seeking protection. " Neighbouring Austria on Sunday rejected a candidate vying to become the first freely elected far-right head of state in Europe since World War Two, halting - at least temporarily - the wave of populism sweeping Western democracies. In a sign of how much Germany's "Willkommenskultur", or welcoming culture, has faded since the 2015 influx, Jens Spahn, a deputy finance minister and senior CDU member, said legal barriers for deportation must be lowered. "Those who are not refugees, who are not fleeing from Iraq or Syria from war and persecution, must return to their homelands - and that needs to be done consistently," he told Deutschlandfunk radio. SWING TO THE RIGHT Ahead of next year's election, the CDU is trying to mend fences with its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is tougher on immigration, to try to claw back support lost to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). But Merkel is reluctant to move too far from the centre. In a sign the CDU base is moving to her right, party members adopted a motion to oblige young people who grow up in Germany to foreign parents to decide by the age of 23 whether they will take German nationality or that of their parents' home country. The CDU leadership had urged members to reject the motion, which went back on a compromise reached in 2014 with the Social Democrats (SPD), junior party in Merkel's ruling coalition, allowing those concerned to take two passports at 23 years old. "Such a step backward into the past will not take place with the SPD," Katarina Barley, secretary general of the centre-left Social Democrats, told the Funke media group. "The CDU has swung to the right at its party congress," she said. Reacting to the vote, Merkel showed she is not in lock step with her party base by insisting the 2014 double-passport agreement with the SPD would not be abandoned before next year's election and that campaigning should not focus on the issue. She was re-elected chairwoman of the CDU by 89.5 percent of the delegates present at the conference in the western city of Essen, where she was first elected party chairwoman in 2000. Her score was down from 96.7 percent two years ago but above her lowest winning score of 88.4 percent in 2004, and daily newspaper Bild dubbed the winning margin "Merkel's little victory". An Emnid poll on Sunday showed support for the CDU and CSU at a 10-month high of 37 percent, 15 points ahead of the SPD. Seeking to claw back ground lost to the AfD, CDU members at the conference adopted a measure calling for forced marriage and honour killings to be "prevented and prosecuted rigorously". German police this week detained an Iraqi migrant for suspected rape only days after an Afghan refugee was held in a separate rape and murder case. Germany has registered some 1,475 child marriages, according to interior ministry figures collected since last year's influx of migrants. The Justice Ministry said its latest statistics showed there was a conviction for forced marriage in 2014, but that did not necessarily reflect the scale of such crimes. (Additional reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Weakened Merkel embarks on tough election campaign
German conservatives back Merkel amid tough talk on migrants
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German Chancellor Merkel's party labels BDS antisemitic
Merkel's conservatives back tougher rules on dual citizens


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Millions accept invite to rural Mexican girl Rubi’s quinceanera (4.20/26)

MEXICO CITY - Millions of people have accepted a videotaped invitation to a girl’s coming of age party in rural northern Mexico after the invite went viral.
The Ibarra family’s invitation for their daughter’s down-home 15th birthday party complete with horse races and local music groups was posted to a local web site.
Evidently the family’s simple, sincere demeanor caused the invitation to go viral, even though the township of 10,000 where the family lives couldn’t hold a tenth of the millions who watched, “liked” or otherwise responded.
Authorities in the northern state of San Luis Potosi said they were adding extra security measures for Rubi Ibarra’s “Sweet 15’ party on Dec. 26 in the small town of La Joya.
State congressman Roberto Segovia has said he wants Red Cross and state civil defense personnel be posted in the area.
The party invitation has turned into an internet meme, with many jokingly comparing it to an epic music festival. Even some companies in Mexico have sought to cash in on the party’s popularity.
¡Para que llegues con bien a los 15's de Rubi usa #CastrolGTX en tu próximo cambio de aceite! #rubixv #XVdeRuby
Just got to rubis xv
Got VIP for Rubi's 15 ✊🏽 about to wear my cherro hat and boots

More than a million RSVP to quinceanera after family's video goes viral
More than 1 million people have RSVP’d to this girl’s quinceanera
Millions leap at party invite by Mexican rural family
Millions accept invite to Mexican girl's party after post goes viral
Millions Leap at Party Invite by Mexican Rural Family


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Irish court unfreezes 100m euros for Khodorkovsky (4.15/26)

An Irish court on Wednesday released 100 million euros ($107 million) in frozen assets for exiled former Russian oil tycoon and Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Irish Times reported.
Dublin District Court judge Timothy Lucey said there were no reasonable grounds for maintaining a freeze on the funds which was imposed in 2011 following an embezzlement ruling against him in Russia.
The 53-year-old former oligarch, who spent a decade in prison on controversial charges and now lives mainly in Britain while supporting opposition forces in Russia, welcomed the news.
"Mikhail Khodorkovsky welcomed the decision of the Dublin District Court on unfreezing assets of the investment fund of which he is a beneficiary," said a statement from his foundation, Open Russia.
"He noted that he will spend a portion of the unfrozen funds to support the work of the Open Russia movement, which he founded in 2014," it said.
Andrei Kondakov, head of the International Centre for Legal Protection, which leads Russia's defence on claims relating to Khodorkovsky's former Yukos oil empire, protested the ruling.
"The Russian side is extremely surprised by today's decision by the Irish court as it had not been properly informed of Khodorkovsky's appeal," he said.
Russia "did not have the chance to take part in the proceedings and provide the necessary evidence on the illegal origin of these funds," he added.
Contacted by AFP, Khodorkovsky's Irish lawyer Dara Robinson was not available for comment.
Khodorkovsky was convicted two highly controversial tax evasion and fraud trials that were widely seen as the Kremlin's retribution for him getting involved in opposition politics.
After he was unexpectedly pardoned by Putin and released in late 2013, Khodorkovsky moved abroad and he now supports various opposition projects in Russia.

Irish court orders Russian oligarch's assets unfrozen
Irish Court Orders Russian Oligarch's Assets Unfrozen
Irish court orders Russian oligarch’s assets unfrozen
Irish court releases assets worth $100 mln to Russia's Khodorkovsky


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See Every Person of the Year Ever in 30 Seconds (3.99/26)

When Charles Lindbergh was selected by TIME’s editors as 1927’s “Man of the Year,” he kicked off an annual tradition that continues to this day. Here, see every Person of the Year cover in the history of the franchise, all in 30 seconds. ...

Clinton takes second place to Trump — again
Donald Trump is Time's 'Person of the Year'
See every Time 'Person of the Year' cover in 30 seconds
Trump is Time magazine's Person of the Year
Trump named Time Person of the Year


 94 /1826 

Church attack survivor recalls loud noise, then darkness (3.75/26)

CHARLESTON, S. C. (AP) - A survivor of last year's massacre at a black South Carolina church testified Wednesday that her Bible study group had just closed their eyes and started praying when a loud sound shattered the stillness. The basement room went dark. When Felicia Sanders opened her eyes, she saw a young white man the parishioners had welcomed to the study only a half-hour earlier. Dylann Roof was mowing down the pastor and eight others with gunfire and hurling racial insults. Sanders, the first witness in Roof's death penalty trial, fought back tears as she recalled sheltering her granddaughter under a table and telling her to play dead. She watched in horror as her son Tywanza and her 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson, were killed in the fusillade. At one point, she looked across the courtroom toward Roof and called him "evil, evil, evil. " The gunman had planned the attack for months and traveled about 100 miles to Charleston on June 17, 2015, to attack Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest black church in the South, because of what it represented, prosecutors said. He told the parishioners he was killing them because blacks were raping white women and taking over the country. In a manifesto found later, he said he hoped to start a race war. The attorney for the 22-year-old all but conceded during opening statements that Roof committed the slayings but suggested that he should be spared the death penalty. One of three survivors, Sanders said Roof came by the Wednesday night gathering and was given a study sheet and a Bible by the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor and a state senator. When she heard the loud noise, she assumed something was wrong with the electricity. Then she saw the real reason. "I screamed he had a gun," she said. But by that time, Pinckney had already been shot. Soon her son was hit. "I watched my son come into this work and I watched my son leave this world," she said before becoming so distraught that U. S. District Judge Richard Gergel called a recess. Several people sitting among the survivors' family members and several jurors dabbed away tears. Roof, wearing a striped prison jumpsuit, just stared down at the defense table, as he did throughout the day. "He just sits there the whole time. Evil, evil, evil as can be," Sanders testified. In the prosecution's opening statement, Assistant U. S. Attorney Jay Richardson said Roof had a "cold and hateful heart. " "He pulled the trigger on that Glock.45 more than 70 times that night. More than 60 times he hit parishioners," the prosecutor said. Before the slayings, Roof had posed in photos with the Confederate flag. The attack prompted South Carolina to completely remove the emblem from its Capitol grounds. Other state and local governments voted to take down Confederate monuments, remove the flag from parks or rename government buildings honoring Confederate soldiers. If Roof is convicted, the case will move to the penalty phase, where he plans to act as his own lawyer to apparently fight for his life. A panel of 12 jurors, five black jurors and one person of another race were selected, according to court officials who said the alternates will not be picked until the end of the trial. Defense attorney David Bruck said the facts of the case are largely undisputed and that he would likely ask few questions of the government witnesses. He may not call any witnesses of his own. The defense has said repeatedly in both federal and state court that Roof is willing to plead guilty if capital punishment is taken off the table. Prosecutors have refused. Roof faces another death penalty trial next year in state court. Bruck urged jurors to pay attention to the little things and use their common sense to determine what made Roof hate black people so much. He tried to hint at reasons why Roof should not be put to death, but prosecutors objected, saying that was for the penalty phase. The judge agreed. Roof's trial began only days after another one with racial overtones ended in a mistrial. Jurors could not agree on a verdict for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who shot a black man in the back as he was running away from a traffic stop. A bystander recorded the shooting, and it was seen widely on TV and online. The church slayings took place a little more than two months after the Slager shooting, and Charleston has stayed mostly calm, unlike other cities where police shootings and perceived racial injustice has rocked communities. State prosecutors plan to retry Slager. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Prosecutor: Killer at black church had cold, hateful heart
Survivor Recalls Fear, Anger on Day of Pearl Harbor Attack
Survivors recall Pearl Harbor attack, 75 years later


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NATO Secy General: 'Trump is committed to NATO' (3.62/26)

John Kerry is assuring European leaders of America's continuing support of NATO. Nato's Secretary General is confident in that commitment, despite the President-elect's affinity for Russia.

Trump nominates former Southern Command general to lead Homeland Security
Fleischer: Trump runs into ‘turbulance’ with Secy. of State
Trump Appoints Oklahoma’s Attorney General To Head EPA
Trump to Tap Oklahoma Attorney General to Lead EPA


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LeBron: No Statement by Not Staying at Trump-Branded Hotel (3.56/26)

LeBron James said he wasn't trying to make a statement by not staying at a Donald Trump-branded hotel with the Cleveland Cavaliers, calling it a personal preference.
"It would be the same if I went to a restaurant and decided to eat chicken and not steak," James said.
James and some other players didn't stay with the team at the Trump SoHo in lower Manhattan before the Cavs' game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. James said it was the first time in his career he hasn't stayed with his team, though he said he rode the bus to the morning shootaround as usual with the squad.
James endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned with her in Ohio. Several of his teammates, including Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert and others have expressed their disappointment about Trump's win.
"At the end of the day I hope he's one of the best presidents ever, for all of our sake," James said. "For my family, for all us. "
A team spokesman didn't say how many players opted not to stay in the team hotel and wasn't sure how James met up with the bus.
Coach Tyronn Lue, who stayed with the team, was asked if it was odd to have the players split up on the road.
"It's not normal, but considering the circumstances that's what we have," Lue said. "But that's not my main objective. My main thing is to try to get this team to stay on track and play the right way and try to get back on track by playing Cleveland Cavalier basketball. "
James wouldn't talk about Knicks President Phil Jackson, who angered the All-Star forward last month by referring to his friends and business partners in an ESPN interview as a "posse. "

LeBron: No statement by not staying at Trump-branded hotel
LeBron won’t stay at Trump hotel but hopes ‘he’s one of the best presidents ever’
LeBron James on why he wouldn't stay at Trump's NYC hotel
LeBron James says refusing to stay at Trump SoHo hotel with Cavaliers isn’t ‘a statement’


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The Latest: Renzi asked to stay on as caretaker PM (3.50/26)

ROME (AP) - The Latest on the political crisis in Italy (all times local): 8:00 p.m. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has resigned after a humiliating defeat on his reforms agenda that was central to his nearly three-year-long government. President Sergio Mattarella asked him Wednesday evening to stay on in a caretaker role until a new government can be put in place. A presidential aide, Ugo Zampetti, told reporters that Mattarella will start consultations late Thursday with various party leaders to see where support lies for a new government. Renzi tried to resign on Monday, but Mattarella told him to stay on until Parliament gave final approval to the 2017 national budget legislation. The Senate approved the budget earlier Wednesday. ___ 7:30 p.m. Matteo Renzi has arrived at the Quirinal presidential palace in Rome to formally hand in his resignation as Italian premier. Renzi tried to resign on Monday, but President Sergio Mattarella told him to stay on until Parliament gave final approval to the 2017 national budget legislation. A few hours after the Senate did so, Renzi, who is also Democratic Party leader, returned to the palace Wednesday evening to formally resign. Mattarella is expected to sound out other party leaders on what to do next. Several opposition forces are pressing for parliamentary elections ahead of their scheduled 2018 date. Renzi decided to resign after voters Sunday resoundingly rejected government-backed constitutional reforms in a referendum. ___ 6:50 p.m. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, on the verge of resigning, says his Democratic Party doesn't fear elections if they're called soon, as some opposition parties demand. Renzi addressed his bickering party Wednesday shortly before he was due at the Quirinal presidential palace to tender his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella. Italy's youngest-ever premier, Renzi, 41, miscalculated that voters would approve reforms his center-left government championed. The constitutional reforms were defeated by voters in a referendum Sunday. Renzi kept his pledge that he'd step down if the referendum failed. Renzi told the Democrats, Parliament's largest party, that his nearly three-year-old premiership gave Italians "fewer taxes and more rights. " He said Democrats "have no fear of anything or anybody if the others want" elections soon. Mattarella will decide if early elections are warranted. ___ 3:45 p.m. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says he'll resign now that Parliament has completed approval of the 2017 national budget. Renzi had offered his resignation two days earlier to President Sergio Mattarella following his humiliating defeat in a government-backed voter referendum on reforms. But Mattarella told him to stay in office until passage of the budget law, which was done Wednesday afternoon. Renzi tweeted that he plans to go to the president to resign at 7 p.m. (1800 GMT). ___ 3:35 p.m. The Italian Senate on Wednesday has approved the 2017 state budget, a step required by the nation's president before he would accept Premier Matteo Renzi's resignation. It was unclear when Renzi might return to the Quirinal presidential palace to formally resign following the rejection by voters of constitutional reforms he had championed. On Monday, President Sergio Mattarella asked Renzi to stay in office at least until the critical budget legislation was approved. The Senate voted 173-108 to pass the budget law, which was put to a confidence vote to speed up its passage. A huddle was set for Wednesday evening among prominent members of Renzi's Democratic Party, which he leads and which is Parliament's largest party. ___ 8:50 a.m. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi is opening his final days in office by meeting with his party members, as opposition leaders jockey for position following his resounding defeat in a weekend referendum. Renzi will address his Democratic Party later Wednesday. The Senate, meanwhile, begins debating the 2017 budget, passage of which will trigger his official resignation. Italian President Sergio Mattarella had asked Renzi to stay on until the crucial budget law clears before he begins consultations with political leaders on forming a government that can last until new elections are held. Those talks could start over the weekend. Renzi sorely miscalculated in the runup to the Dec. 4 referendum on constitutional reforms, vowing to resign if it failed. In the end, 60 percent of voters cast "no" ballots. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Latest: Renzi says he will resign with budget's passage
Matteo Renzi resigns as Italy's premier but asked to stay on in caretaker role
Matteo Renzi asked to stay on as caretaker Italian PM
Italy PM Matteo Renzi resigns - but asked to stay until new government is in place


 98 /1826 

Trump faces unanswered questions about his stock portfolio (3.42/26)

Donald Trump’s conflict-of-interest problems are well documented, but they’ve largely dealt with his real-estate holdings around the world. A week ago, the Washington Post added an additional wrinkle : the president-elect “has disclosed owning millions of dollars of stock in companies with business pending before the U. S. government and whose value could rise as a result of his policies.” The article added that Trump’s stock holdings have included shares in companies that stand to directly benefit from his administration’s policies, which in turn creates “another area rife with potential conflicts of interest that Trump has yet to address as he prepares to take office.” But, the Washington Post reported last week, Trump “has said he will separate” himself from his stock investments “in some fashion.” Yesterday, the issue came to the fore when Trump lashed out at Boeing, a company the president-elect has owned stock in. As the Huffington Post noted , this led to questions for Team Trump, which received an unexpected answer.
President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman said on Tuesday that Trump had sold off all his investments in the stock market more than five months ago, but the Trump transition team has yet to offer any evidence to substantiate this claim. The statement came during the team’s daily conference call with reporters. Asked about a tweet that Trump had sent out earlier Tuesday morning accusing Boeing of overcharging for two new Air Force One planes, spokesman Jason Miller said Trump “sold all of his stock back in June.” At the time, Miller seemed to be saying that the president-elect had sold his shares in Boeing. But Miller later told at least two media outlets that Trump had sold his shares in all public companies, not just Boeing.
NBC’s Matt Lauer asked Trump this morning why he didn’t make some kind of announcement in June when, according to his spokesperson, the Republican sold his entire stock portfolio, with shares valued at tens of millions of dollars. “Oh, I let everybody know,” Trump said . “I let everybody know.” By all appearances, that’s not at all true – Trump doesn’t appear to have told anyone, at least publicly. And therein lies part of the problem. We don’t know, for example, whether Trump and his team are brazenly lying, referring to stock sales that may have never occurred. If the sales did happen, we don’t know who the stocks were sold to or how much money Trump made. We don’t know why he and his aides kept these transactions under wraps in June – if the transactions happened – or why Trump made up an imaginary announcement on the “Today” show this morning. Norm Eisen, who served as President Obama’s ethics counselor, told the Washington Post that the stock sales – if they occurred – would be “absolutely a step in the right direction,” but it’s not incumbent on Trump to take the next step and fill in the blanks. “We need to know, has [Trump] put them in conflict free assets … or has he bought other stocks or assets that would create new conflicts?” Eisen asked . “It’s all the more reason that we need a prompt and full financial disclosure. If he did liquidate all his stocks, what did he do with the money? What bank is the money in? What did he buy? It’s a lot of money.” Again, we don’t actually know that the money exists, or whether Trump, who’s earned a reputation for jaw-dropping dishonesty, has just made up another tall tale. It’d be easy to substantiate the claims, but without that evidence, there’s no reason to give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt – and every reason not to. But let’s say for the sake of conversation that Trump and his team are telling the truth, and Trump really did sell off his entire stock portfolio over the summer. Let’s also say, just for kicks, that Trump meant to tell the public, but the liquidation of tens of millions of dollars in stocks slipped his mind. The question then becomes, why’d he bother? Trump told Lauer this morning, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I’m making deals for this country that maybe will affect one company positively and one company negatively. I just felt it was a conflict.” Trump added that he hoped to avoid “a conflict of interest owning all of these different companies.” That’s not a bad answer – or at least, it wouldn’t be if Trump didn’t continue to have all kinds of other conflict-of-interest problems , which to date, he’s chosen to ignore. Indeed, the president-elect boasted a couple of weeks ago, “[T]he president can’t have a conflict of interest…. [I]n theory, I can be president of the United States and run my business 100 percent…. [T]he president of the United States is allowed to have whatever conflicts he wants.” If Trump could explain why he’s so selective about when and why conflicts matter, it’d go a long way towards resolving this ridiculous puzzle.

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 99 /1826 

Oakland warehouse received multiple complaints prior to fire that left 36 dead — RT America (3.40/26)

The information came from Oakland city records released on Tuesday and goes back as far as 1992, showing a litany of complaints about dangerous conditions and a high level of trash at the warehouse.
The latest complaint was filed November 14, three weeks before the fire, over “illegal interior building structure.” A building inspector went to the warehouse on November 17 but was unable to get inside.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told reporters the inspector followed procedure and later sent a request to the owner to gain entry, according to AP.
Other complaints were of “trash and debris” on the property, “ pallets and construction materials blocking the sidewalk,” and constructing a house or structure without permits. The complaints were filed in 2016 and 2014.
The building’s owner, Chor N. Ng, received a citation in November for hazardous trash and debris surrounding the building. There is evidence that Eva Ng, the owner’s daughter, responded to the complaints and made efforts to fix the problems, clearing the lot and painting the fence.
Eva Ng told the Los Angeles Times the warehouse was leased as studio space for an art collective and was not used as a dwelling.
The warehouse was listed as a commercial space and had not received any residential or public assembly permits.
City officials did not sign off on a special permit for the event on Friday at which the people died, according to Oakland’s interim director of planning and building, Darin Ranelletti.
For seven years there appears to have been a drop off in complaints about the warehouse, then multiple reports in 2005 and 2007 over the empty lot being used a junk yard and parking lot, and liens filed against the building. There was also a report of ‘fire damage’ in 1988.
Oakland authorities said more records about the warehouse and the lot were being collected by various city departments and will be made available.
Investigators are said to be zeroing in on a refrigerator and other electrical appliances as a possible cause of the fire.
Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told AP investors were looking at “anything electrical” on the first floor of the warehouse near the origin of the blaze.
“We have no indication that this was intentionally set,” she said.
The manager of the warehouse, Derick Ion Almena, who wasn’t there at the time of the fire, has come under widespread scrutiny after former tenants and visitors reported unsafe conditions, such as fires sparked by faulty electrical cords. Almena told reporters he signed a lease for the building that “was to city standards supposedly.”
“Everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together,” Almena told the ‘Today Show’ on NBC.
It is not clear if Almena will face criminal charges. Authorities are trying to determine whether there’s any criminal liability and if so, who is responsible, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley told CNN.

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Inspectors tried to access Oakland warehouse before deadly fire
Oakland fire: Complaints filed repeatedly about warehouse


 100 /1826 

Ivanka Trump puts on a leggy display on her way to meet with Al Gore in New York (3.39/26)

'Santa being "rescued" by firefighters from the rooftop of the New York City Fire Museum this morning!' she captioned the clip. 'Joseph, and the hundreds of kids gathered to watch this holiday tradition, absolutely loved it! 'Thank you to the brave men and women who work every day at fire houses across this country risking their lives to keep us safe,' she added. 'We are grateful to you!' In the heartwarming video, firefighters can be seen helping Santa Claus onto ladder of their truck while Ivanka and her son are heard celebrating his rescue in the background. Ivanka converted to Judaism when she married Jared in 2009, and the two are raising their children to be Jewish as well. However, it seems like couldn't help but get into the Christmas spirit on Sunday.

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 101 /1826 

Gatlinburg fire: 2 juveniles face aggravated arson charges (3.38/26)

Additional charges are being considered, 4th District Attorney General James Dunn said, including the possibility of seeking a transfer to adult criminal court.
He said the youths were from Tennessee, but not from Sevier County, where the fires started. Neither their ages nor genders were released.
Fourteen people lost their lives in the fires and a further 134 were injured, according to officials. Residents and visitors to the resort-heavy area were among the dead.
The fires gnawed away over 1,600 structures, scorching homes, cabins and churches along a fiery path through Sevier County.
The area is a popular tourist destination in eastern Tennessee, home to the Dollywood amusement park and the resort town of Pigeon Forge.
Recent heavy rains helped extinguish much of the fire. As of Wednesday, the fire was 64% contained, fire officials reported.
Developing story - more to come

Two Juveniles Charged With Arson in Deadly Tennessee Wildfire
2 juveniles charged with arson in Tennessee wildfires that killed 14
Two juveniles charged with starting Tennessee fires that killed 14


 102 /1826 

Fake News: Mediaite Claims CNN, Megyn Kelly More Influential Than Drudge (3.35/26)

Mediaite’s “most influential news media” list claims Matt Drudge is less powerful than CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly despite the fact they failed to stop Donald Trump while the Drudge Report placed the presidency in his grasp.
In fact, the top 25 list reads more like a who’s who in establishment media than a power ranking; most of the reporters on the list claimed Trump would never become president, but they lacked the influence to make that happen.
Drudge was listed only on #4 while Kelly and Zucker were listed #2 and #1 respectively.
Mediaite also strangely listed the New York Times’ Carolyn Ryan, who’s largely unknown by news consumers, as #3 ahead of Drudge.
However, the mainstream media previously admitted the Drudge Report was likely the only outlet powerful enough to stop Trump – but didn’t.
“CNN couldn’t stop Donald Trump. Neither could Fox News,” reported Business Insider. “…But some observers say that one man may have had the power to prevent Donald Trump’s accession within the Republican Party: Matt Drudge.”
This implies that the Drudge Report has far more influence than all of the mainstream media combined.
The Drudge Report even eclipsed CNN and Fox News in traffic in Oct. 2016 as the mainstream media launched their final salvos to in a desperate, last attempt to stop Trump:
But of course, their attacks failed: Trump was elected, the Drudge Report exploded in popularity and now the mainstream media is losing influence, despite what Mediaite wants you to believe.
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Megyn Kelly Talks About Donald Trump And The Media
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Megyn Kelly to Trump Aide: Stop Stirring up Social Media


 103 /1826 

Man pleads guilty in 2008 murder of Marigny woman, DA says (3.35/26)

A man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2008 stabbing death of a woman inside her Marigny home, the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office said. Joseph Brandt, 47, pleaded guilty as charged at an arraignment Tuesday (Dec. 6) and will begin a life sentence Dec. 13, the office said.
In August 2008, authorities found Jessica Hawk murdered at her residence in the 300 block of Chartres Street. Hawk was lying on a mattress with more than 20 deep stab wounds, as well as defensive wounds on her hands and arms, according to the district attorney's office.
NOPD conducted several interviews in 2008, but the case went cold after they failed to make an arrest. At around the same time, Brandt, who was serving a sentence for burglary in Texas, told Department of Correction officials in that state that he had a confession to make, the DA's office said.
Brandt recounted several vivid details in the crime that had not been made public, noting that he had cut his hand in the attack. Medical records showed he was treated for a severed tendon in August 2008, according to the district attorney's office.
Assistant District Attorneys Laura Rodrigue, Tiffany Tucker and Ian Dover prosecuted the case.
"It was important to pursue prosecution to not only strengthen public safety, but also to provide closure for the family and friends of Jessica Hawk," District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said in a statement.

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 104 /1826 

Wall Street CEO: Trump Will Change 'Architecture' Of America (3.34/26)

A former investment banker and current chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s economic forum claims the new administration will be incredibly pro-deregulation, a statement that will likely have widespread impacts on the global business community.
After being named the chair of Trump’s economic forum Dec. 2, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman said “if you look at the architecture of the world, it’s going to change very substantially.” The investment mogul hinted at what he means by the statement, saying that the incoming administration plans to reverse “piles” of regulations currently imposed on American businesses, as well as cut taxes significantly.
The changes, Schwarzman says, will be “very, very substantial.”
As a well-known member of the investment community and someone who has the ear of the president-elect, Schwarzman is undoubtedly aware that his words will be heard and echoed in business. Schwarzman “has been in finance for 45 years,” and anticipates “with a high level of confidence” that these changes will happen, promising that America will be a pro-business environment under Trump.
Even before Shwarzman came on board the Trump team, the president-elect made his plans for massive deregulation well known. He promised to end “all unnecessary regulations,” imposed on the energy industry, to “dismantle” the 2,300-page Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act , and to put a moratorium on any new regulations when he takes office.
In addition to his deregulation agenda, Trump’s tax plan is likely to be very pro-business. His plan aims to lower the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 15 percent, and promises the lowest tax rates since before World War II, shrinking the tax brackets from seven down to three. (RELATED: Which Candidate Is Better For Your Bottom Line: Trump Or Clinton?)
American businesses, for their part, have reacted favorably to the Trump win. The Dow Jones reached a record intra-day trading high for the twentieth time this year Wednesday morning, twelve of which came after Election Day. The benchmark index gained over 1,000 points in just the first week after the election. (RELATED: Dow Reaches New Record Trading High)
As President-elect Trump noted several times during his campaign, many companies are outsourcing jobs to Mexico, Ireland , and other nations as a result of the burdens imposed on business in the U. S. (RELATED: More Companies Moving To Mexico, Finding Fewer Laborers To Fill Jobs)
Carrier, an air-conditioning, heater and refrigerator manufacturer, announced in February that it would close two Indiana plants and move its operations outside of U. S. borders, leaving 1,400 workers out of a job. Trump managed to strike a deal with Carrier, ensuring that the company would keep nearly factory 1,000 jobs in Indiana. This was also the first real example of Trump putting word to deed.
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 105 /1826 

VIDEO: Earnest, White House Praise Trump's Mattis Nomination (3.33/26)

White House press secretary Josh Earnest praised Donald Trump’s nomination of James Mattis during Wednesday’s White House press briefing.
“General Mattis has served as the commander of Central Command for two or three years while President Obama was in office,” Earnest told reporters. “He has served his country with distinction as a decorated Marine Corps veteran.”
He also notably declined to comment on Gen. Mattis’ three years in retirement, four short of the seven years required of former military officials before heading the Department of Defense.
(Getty Images)
“All of these principles come into play, and I certainly wouldn’t want any sort of commentary about this to be construed as some sort of implicit criticism of Gen. Mattis for a variety of reasons.”
Earnest further stated that President-elect Trump should be given “significant latitude” in nominating cabinet officials.
“President Obama has long made the argument that while the Senate does have some responsibility to confirm the president’s nominees,” he explained. “The president, at the same time, should be given a significant latitude to assemble his team.”
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 106 /1826 

Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey to leave school for NFL draft (3.32/26)

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
McCaffrey announced his decision on Wednesday, saying he has done everything he could in college and playing in the NFL has been his dream since childhood.
McCaffrey was the runner-up last season for the Heisman Trophy when he broke Barry Sanders’ NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a season with 3,864. He rushed for 2,019 yards and eight scores, added 645 yards receiving and 1,200 yards on returns.
McCaffrey was not as prolific this season as he was slowed in October by an injury. He still rushed for 1,596 yards and scored 16 touchdowns for the Cardinal.
McCaffrey says he plans to return to school to get his degree.
Need a break? Play a quick game of solitaire or Sudoku. Or take one of our fun quizzes!
See photos of the most expensive homes sold in the D. C. region in November.

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 107 /1826 

Syrian president says Aleppo will change course of war - state TV (3.30/26)

BEIRUT, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said recent army advances in Aleppo will completely change the course of the country's war, state television reported on Wednesday. Syrian government forces may be on the verge of taking full control of the city, Syria's most populous before the war and which has been divided between government- and rebel-held zones for years. Recapturing it would represent the most important stride forward in Assad's efforts to end the rebellion after nearly six years of conflict. "Aleppo will completely change the course of the battle in all of Syria," the broadcaster quoted Assad as telling al-Watan newspaper in an interview due to be published on Thursday. He also said the Syrian government consulted with Russia daily, and "no decision is issued without discussions between the two countries". Aleppo has become the focal point of the war, which pits Assad, helped by Russia's air force and Iranian-backed militias, against mostly Sunni rebels groups including some supported by the United States, Turkey and Gulf monarchies. Assad described Aleppo as the "last hope" of rebels and their backers, "after their failure in the battles of Damascus and Homs", pro-Damascus television al-Mayadeen reported. Damascus and Moscow have said they want rebels to leave the city and will not consider a ceasefire unless that happens. The war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people, made more than half of Syrians homeless and created the world's worst refugee crisis. "The decision to liberate all of Syria is taken and Aleppo is part of it," Mayadeen quoted Assad as saying. (Reporting by Ellen Francis and Kinda Makieh, editing by Larry King and John Stonestreet)

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 108 /1826 

FIFA to use video replays to help referees at Club World Cup (3.30/26)

FIFA says referees will be using video replays at this month's Club World Cup in Japan to help them make "match-changing" decisions in its first ever use of TV feeds during a game.
FIFA says "an important piece of history will be made" when Video Assistant Referees are given access to all the broadcast TV feeds in an operations room - and can then communicate with the match referee on key decisions such as goals, penalty decisions and straight red cards.

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 109 /1826 

East Orange Man Faces Murder Charge In Strangulation Death Of Sarah Butler Of Montclair (3.26/26)

MONTCLAIR, N. J. (CBSNewYork) – Police have arrested an East Orange man in the death of Sarah Butler .
Butler, 20, had been missing for more than a week before her body was found in Eagle Rock Reservation .
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 20, was an acquaintance of Butler’s, according to prosecutors. He ran into Butler in Orange on Nov. 22, the day she was last seen alive, prosecutors said.
Sarah Butler (credit: CBS2)
Wheeler-Weaver faces murder and desecration of human remains charges.
Prosecutors believe Wheeler-Weaver strangled Butler and brought her body to Eagle Rock Reservation. Her body was found under a pile of leaves.
Wheeler-Weaver is being held on $1 million bail.

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 110 /1826 

One dad just discovered alpacas and social media can't stop laughing (3.26/26)

We often learn new things when we travel: we see new places, meet new people, try new foods. What about discovering an animal you had no idea existed? That's what happened to one father, and his reaction is adorable.
Twitter user and UI Artist Alexandria Neonakis received texts from her father while in Peru and she couldn't help but share them on Twitter :
"My dad is in Peru having a melt down over alpacas," she said.
She was not kidding: Her dad called the alpaca the softest, most huggable animal he's ever encountered.
Her father's face next to the alpaca is pure bliss:
Not only is Neonakis' dad and the alpaca adorable together, but the Internet seemed to think so too: her tweet went viral and gained thousands of likes and retweets.
Take a look at animals in unlikely places
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 111 /1826 

Protests, scuffle as "alt-right" leader Richard Spencer speaks on Texas campus (3.26/26)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Tensions ran high as hundreds of people protested a white nationalist’s speech on the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday night, reports CBS Dallas.
Several groups demonstrated outside the student center during and before the appearance by Richard Spencer, who leads the so-called “alt-right movement,” a largely anonymous online organization.
At one point, Spencer told the crowd, “America at the end of the day belongs to white men.”
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer waves goodbye after his speech during an event not sanctioned by the school, on Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas, on night of December 6, 2016
Spencer took to the stage to promote what he calls “a movement of identity.”
He is spreading his message of strengthening the white race to any and all who will listen, CBS Dallas observes. The station adds that, despite his openly racist rhetoric, Spencer denies he’s racist, claiming he only wants to awaken his “oppressed people.”
Some of the roughly 600 people who filled the student center ballroom silently held signs while others loudly chanted slogans in anger, jeering Spencer, but some clapped in support.
A brief scuffle broke out but was quickly quelled by police suited up in riot gear. Those attending the speech had to walk a gantlet of chanting protesters while leaving the hall.
Scuffle breaks out at Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer speech at Texas A&M. Cops step in and break up groups @CBSDFW
In contrast, hundreds more gathered at nearby Kyle Field to hear music and speeches highlighting diversity and unity, as a counter to Spencer.
“I think it’s important to show that hate speech is not tolerated on this campus,” said TAMU student Raul Garcia.
Others who don’t support Spencer’s message expressed support of his First Amendment rights.
The dividing line between protesters and state police. Richard Spencer, who sparked outrage among campus, has left campus @CBSDFW
“I mean, it’s his right to say what he wants, it’s also our right to reject that type of message,” said TAMU student Lauren Thompson.
Another message Spencer had for those in attendance was to watch President-elect Donald Trump closely.
Students raise fists as Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer answers questions at Texas A&M @CBSDFW
“We need to be willing to criticize Donald Trump,” said Spencer. “I am worried about Donald Trump becoming just another Republican and not fulfilling the promise of his campaign.”
A&M officials say they didn’t schedule the speech by Spencer, who was invited to speak by a former student who reserved campus space available to the public.
Two non-students were arrested at the event, according to TAMU police.

Hundreds protest speech by white nationalist
White nationalist Richard Spencer fuels protest as he mocks critics in Texas
'America belongs to white men': Controversial Alt-right leader sparks fury at Texas A&M


 112 /1826 

Keir Starmer pushes for detailed Brexit plan – video (3.25/26)

Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, challenges David Davis in the House of Commons on Wednesday to produce a ‘detailed’ picture of his aims before article 50 is formally triggered. MPs voted overwhelmingly to back government plans to trigger article 50 by the end of March

Keir Starmer calls for 'detailed' Brexit plan after MPs vote to trigger article 50
UK govt agrees under pressure to divulge Brexit plan details
UK Government Agrees To Reveal Details Of Brexit Talks Plan
'Late, vague plan' for Brexit unacceptable, says Keir Starmer
UK govt agrees to reveal details of Brexit talks plan


 113 /1826 

Trump says he sold stocks because 'I just thought it was a conflict,' offers no proof (3.21/26)

Donald Trump said Wednesday that he sold his stocks in June because he thought he would win the presidency and wanted to avoid conflicts when making policy.
A Trump spokesman said Tuesday that the president-elect sold his shares of companies in June, but his transition team did not provide any documents to prove the sale.
Trump's stock holdings were one small part of his presidential decisions that could have affected his personal fortune. For example Trump's proposals to loosen financial regulations and promote American energy production could have boosted some of the companies in which he invested.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I'm making deals for this country that maybe will affect one company positively and one company negatively, so I just thought it was a conflict," Trump told NBC's "Today. "
For example, Trump's administration could decide on the fate of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, which is operated by Energy Transfer Partners. He held shares of the company earlier this year.
Trump's brokerage accounts also had shares of Apple , JPMorgan Chase , Wells Fargo and Verizon, among dozens of other companies, as of May, according to a financial disclosure document. Some of those stocks have rallied since Trump's election, partly on hopes about his policy agenda.
Trump claims he "let everybody know" that he sold his stocks in June, though CNBC could not find a record of his campaign announcing that. However, he told Fox Business in August that he "got out" of the stock market, but did not specify when.
A stock sale only reduces some conflicts for Trump's presidency, as his company still has real estate holdings around the globe. Trump plans to hand his businesses over to his three eldest children, but that may not eliminate conflicts , as they serve on his transition team and daughter Ivanka sat in on a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump: I sold stocks because I thought I'd win
Trump says he dumped stock portfolio because he thought he'd win
Trump now says he sold stocks to avoid conflicts of interest


 114 /1826 

Not so jolly: Mom wants NC Santa fired for fat-shaming son :: (3.20/26)

FOREST CITY, N. C. — Here's a not-so-jolly story: A mother wants her local St. Nick kicked to the curb for fat-shaming her son.
Ashley Mayse tells WLOS-TV ( ) that her 9-year-old son started crying when the Santa Claus on Main Street in Forest City, North Carolina, told him to "Lay off the hamburgers and french fries" during his Christmas visit on Saturday.
The Santa is employed by the town of Forest City, and Mayse says coal in his stocking would be too good for such behavior. The town manager says Santa apologized to the family as well as a supervisor, but mom wants him to get a pink slip.
Anthony Mayse, meanwhile, says he tore up his photo with Santa and will take his wish list to another Father Christmas next year.

Mom says Santa insulted her son
Not so jolly: Mom wants NC Santa fired for fat-shaming son
9-year-old says he was fat-shamed by Santa


 115 /1826 

Rome's first female mayor breaks silence to say Brexit-inspired no vote that shook EU establishment will 'write a different story for Europe' (3.20/26)

Rome's anti-establishment mayor Virginia Raggi said she is proud of the Italian referendum that shook the EU establishment and will change the future of Europe. Speaking for the first time since Sunday's historic 'no' vote, the glamorous 38-year-old told MailOnline: ‘People rose their heads against the establishment and I am very proud of this. ‘Citizens are beginning to understand what is going on in Europe and who should be really in control. We are writing a different story now in Europe.’ Italy rejected Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's proposed constitutional reforms in a vote that took on an anti-establishment significance after he promised to step down if defeated. The was also a slap in the face of EU leaders, who were perceived to have supported Renzi. And in an exclusive interview, mother-of-one Raggi told MailOnline: 'People are no longer just doing what they are told. 'They can get information from many sources, they don’t just believe the media and political leaders. It makes me very proud.’ Rome’s first female mayor, a married lawyer who lives in a working class suburb of the capital, swept to victory in June, replacing 61-year-old Ignazio Marino who had stepped down amid an expenses scandal. She soon became the pin up of Italy's Five Star Movement, a rule-breaking, populist party founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, which has taken Italy by storm and rattled EU leaders. Her mass appeal was matched only by Alessandro Di Battista, 37, the party's ‘heartthrob revolutionary’, known for his flirtatious ways and selfie smile, who has vowed that ‘nothing will stop Five Star when the moment comes’. The party is known for its colourful MPs, many of whom are young and female, and all of whom pledge to serve no more than two terms. Five Star MEPs are part of Ukip’s political bloc in Brussels, and Britain’s bold decision to leave the EU was seen as an inspiration by the party. Five Star MP Riccardo Faccaro, 35, told MailOnline that he would have voted for Brexit had he been British, as the EU was ‘a negative force in the world’ which has made many member states ‘poorer, both economically and socially’. ‘As Italians, Brexit has a big meaning for us,’ he said. ‘The establishment threatened the UK with dramatic consequences, and this did not take place. ‘Brexit has become a symbol, it has taken our fear away. It has given Italy the confidence to demand that the EU change, or else we will leave the Eurozone and maybe even the EU.’ The Five Star Movement led the campaign against Renzi’s referendum, claiming that he was trying to concentrate power in his own hands. The Italian leader’s humiliating defeat by the electorate is a huge boost for the insurgent movement, which is now the most popular opposition party in Italy. EU leaders were perceived to back Europhile Renzi in the referendum, and the decisive ‘No’ vote has caused deep concern in Brussels. Maria Edera Spadoni, a 36-year-old Five Star MP who also supported Brexit, said: ‘The referendum was a big signal to the government and the EU. We made another anti-establishment decision, and the EU is afraid. ‘Europe is just exploding. If the leaders don’t change their attitude, the EU will be broken into 1,000 pieces.’ Silvia Benedetti, 36, another Five Star politician, added: ‘Why should the EU leaders be worried about direct democracy? I think if they’re worried about it, they should recalibrate their way of thinking. ‘Or maybe the EU should be recalibrated, putting financial and economic interests after values like democracy.’ The movement has promised a referendum on membership of the Euro and wants radical EU reform, but has not yet vowed to take Italy out of the EU. Five Star Council of Europe delegate Manlio Di Stefano, 35, said he has encountered arrogance at the heart of Brussels. ‘The MEPs spend their whole time discussing how to get rid of the Brits as quickly and easily as possible, but they never discuss why Britain wanted to leave in the first place,’ he told MailOnline. ‘When the elites use the term “populist”, they mean it as an insult. But I say that they should reflect on what they have done to create Euroscepticism in Europe. ‘The dream of the EU wasn’t the problem. It was what the elite did to it. They spend most of their time acting on corporate interests while the people suffer high unemployment. So why should people rely on them any more? ‘Our referendum was another slap in the face for the EU. But I think it will take even more than this for them to wake up.’ The upstart party has campaigned against uncontrolled immigration, corruption, big business and career politicians. Last month, Raggi pledged to invite Donald Trump to Rome City Hall, and has vowed to clean up Italian politics, echoing his ‘drain the swamp’ motif. Yet her leadership has been seen as chaotic, with four top officials resigning and a scandal over the appointment of a sanitation chief. Eighteen of Five Star’s 106 MPs have left the party in the last three years, throwing doubt on their ability to govern. The movement’s popular appeal, however, continues to snowball. Five Star politicians give up 50 per cent of their salaries, with the money going towards funding small businesses in Italy. They also serve no more than two terms in office, and the party has rejected the funding that the government provides political parties. Five Star’s Marta Grande, 29, the youngest sitting member of parliament in Italy, told MailOnline that the party’s youthfulness was part of its appeal. ‘Young people’s voices need to be heard, and we are doing that,’ she said. ‘In 2010, Berlusconi tried to say “Google” and instead he said “Gogol”. All of Italy’s youth were laughing at him. ‘We are the party that is in touch with the youth. Why shouldn’t a 30-year-old debate with Renzi or Berlusconi on TV? With Five Star, it is possible.’ According to Faccaro, this note of anti-establishment optimism is embedded in the very history of the movement. ‘We did not start off wanting to be politicians, we just demanded that politicians give power to the people,’ he said. ‘They said no, so we decided to replace them with our own candidates. ‘One day, we will also replace Junker.’

Italy PM Renzi resigns, president to consult with parties
Italy's Matteo Renzi officially resigns after referendum defeat
Matteo Renzi resigns as Italy's premier


 116 /1826 

Stormont assembly's consent required before Brexit, court told (3.18/26)

The formal consent of the Stormont assembly would be required before Brexit because the process would “drive a wedge” between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, the supreme court has been told.
On the third day of the politically sensitive hearing, legal consensus over the UK’s unwritten constitution began to fray as lawyers from Belfast and Edinburgh argued that even parliament on its own cannot trigger article 50 of the treaty on European Union .
Submissions by Northern Ireland QCs and Scotland’s lord advocate introduced an extra dimension of political and legal complexity into Theresa May’s attempt to take the UK out of the EU. If successful, they would force the government to obtain the support not only of MPs and peers at Westminster but also the approval of the devolved legislatures.
So far most of the dispute inside the packed, neo-Tudor courtroom has focused on whether the government or parliament has legitimate authority to trigger Brexit by giving formal notice to Brussels under article 50 of the UK’s intention to depart. Because of the urgency and significance of the constitutional issues, for the first time 11 justices are sitting together on the supreme court bench to hear the case.
There was passing reference in court to the House of Commons debate on Brexit held on Wednesday, but Lord Pannick QC, who represents the lead claimant, Gina Miller, told the justices: “ Only an act of parliament can lawfully confer power on the [government] to give notification under article 50. The law is not altered by a motion in parliament. A motion in parliament cannot effect the legal issue in this case.” The government’s QC, James Eadie, has already indicated that any bill put before parliament would only contain a “one-line” statement .
David Scoffield QC, who represents politicians and civil rights groups across Northern Ireland’s divided community, told the court that leaving the EU would involve “driving a wedge” between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.
He agreed with arguments presented by other claimants that ministers could not trigger Brexit on the basis of residual prerogative powers and that parliamentary authority would be required. The government’s assertion of its powers “are cavalier – with both a large ‘C’ and a small ‘c’,” Scoffield said, referring back to the English civil war and 17th century battles between parliament and the crown.
But he then went on to argue that the Good Friday agreement and the 1998 legislative settlement of the Troubles had created additional rights for the people of Northern Ireland, many aspects of which, like the north-south ministerial council, stipulated close cooperation within the EU between governments in Belfast and Dublin.
“The agreement expressly said that the UK and Ireland would develop close cooperation as partners operating within the EU,” Scoffield said. “It required the implementation of EU programmes on an all-Ireland and cross-border basis.”
Numerous bodies have a “clear operational remit” to work together across the island. “The [Good Friday] agreement makes it clear that the elements hang together and are interlocking,” Scoffield added. Even control over international relationships with the Irish Republic has been transferred to the Northern Ireland assembly.
Ronan Lavery QC – who represents Raymond McCord, a campaigner for victims’ rights in Northern Ireland whose son was killed by loyalist paramilitaries – went further, telling the supreme court that Good Friday agreement transferred sovereignty out of parliament’s hands.
“It would be unconstitutional for the UK to withdraw from the EU without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland,” Lavery said. “Being part of the EU was part of the [1998] constitutional settlement. There has been a transfer of sovereignty under the Good Friday agreement and the Northern Ireland Act. The people of Northern Ireland now have sovereignty over any constitutional change rather than parliament. The notion that parliament is supreme or has primacy has gone.”
Triggering article 50 without the agreement of the Stormont assembly, Lavery said, undermines the principle of “consent and self-determination” expressed by the Northern Ireland Act.
James Wolffe QC, Scotland’s lord advocate, who represents the views of the SNP government, referred to the Sewel convention, which says that if Westminster is introducing legislation on issues that have been devolved it “normally” has to seek the consent of the devolved assemblies in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.
“I do not assert that the Scottish parliament has a veto on withdrawal from the EU,” Wolffe told the judges, “but the question of whether the Scottish parliament consents is a matter of constitutional significance.” The Sewel convention, he said, “entitles these legislatures to have a voice in the decision”.
Earlier Dominic Chambers QC, who represents Deir Dos Santos, the second main claimant, told the court that if Theresa May triggered Brexit without proper parliamentary approval she would be acting “unlawfully”.
“Parliament is supreme,” Chambers said. “No person or body can override or nullify legislation. These EU law rights [acquired through the 1972 European Communities Act] are enshrined in parliamentary legislation.
“By triggering article 50 these statutory rights will be nullified and overridden. The absence of parliamentary authorisation for the executive to override primary legislation... will be contrary to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and therefore it will be acting unlawfully.”
Chambers said that the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty was “forged on the battlefields of the 17th century in the [English civil war] between crown and parliament”.
During the hearing, Lord Sumption’s ties have drawn pointed comments from those watching online. On Wednesday, he sported a colourful 2012 Olympic Team GB tie.
On another day Sumption had what appeared to be a piano keyboard design dangling from his neck. Was the Olympic tie a subliminal message to reassure patriotic readers or a gesture of support for the master of the rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, one of the three high court judges condemned by the Daily Mail as “enemies of the people”? Etherton was an Olympic fencer.
The hearing continues.

Brexit Referendum Not Legally Binding, UK Supreme Court Told
Brexit referendum not legally binding, Supreme Court told
Brexit Referendum Not Legally Binding, Supreme Court Told


 117 /1826 

Trump to deliver economic tailwind, his economist fans say (3.17/26)

By Ann Saphir SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Donald Trump's planned tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks will propel the world's biggest economy out of its slow-growth doldrums, economists sympathetic to the U. S. president-elect's policies say. Fifty-three of 63 economists and business school professors surveyed by Reuters who either said they voted for Trump or broadly support his economic proposals thought the 3 percent to 4 percent growth Trump promised in his campaign is achievable. They were among a group of 305 economists who signed a letter criticizing Hillary Clinton's economic policies ahead of the November presidential election. "I'm very enthusiastic about prospects for the economy under Trump," said Ann Sherman, a finance professor at DePaul University in Chicago who voted for Trump. She was among the overwhelming majority of respondents to the Reuters survey who thought his plans to cut taxes and streamline regulations would jumpstart growth. Financial markets seem to agree. U. S. stocks have soared to record highs in the weeks since the election, and bond yields have perked up to levels more consistent with faster growth and inflation. Mainstream economists are not buying it. The U. S. economy did grow at a 3.2 percent annual pace last quarter, government figures show. But economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics after the election forecast annual growth between 1.6 percent and 2.5 percent for the next five years. Federal Reserve policymakers release their own forecasts next week. In September, they projected annual growth of 2 percent or less for the next several years. Since the election, many have said they know too little about the new president's policies to justify any big revisions. The optimistic view from Trump-supporting economists derives from their expectation that scrapping Obamacare, loosening rules on banks and energy companies, and lowering taxes can ease two of the U. S. economy's most stubborn headwinds - slow productivity growth and a shrinking labor force. "There are so many bad regulations and disincentives to work holding the economy back that it won't be hard to get some momentum if they are fixed," said Robert Whaples, an economics professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It also stems from their belief Trump will temper his anti-trade rhetoric, which two-thirds of the economists who endorsed his policies viewed as anti-growth. In the NABE survey, more economists picked infrastructure spending than any other policy option as the key thing the next president can do to boost the economy. Just 11 of 63 Trump-supporting economists said it should be a priority; 14 said it should be dropped. (Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Nobel Economics Winner Hart Worried About Trump's Econ Plans
Nobel economics winner Hart worried about Trump's econ plans
The Latest: Nobel economics winner not impressed with Trump


 118 /1826 

Trump's effort to save Carrier jobs 'makes our life very difficult,' says economic developer (3.14/26)

"Economic development is a local and state issue. If the federal government intervenes on a local level, it makes our life very difficult," said Klohs, after The Right Place's annual economic outlook breakfast.
While she pledged to avoid discussing politics in her review and forecast for West Michigan's economy, Klohs said she was unnerved by Trump's effort to intervene in United Technologies' decision to export 800 jobs to Mexico from its Carrier air conditioner plant near Indianapolis.
"You need to have a solid policy (at the federal level)," said Klohs, whose agency has successfully lobbied state and local governments to offer tax and training incentives to keep and attract companies in West Michigan. "It makes me very nervous. "
Last week, Trump announced a deal in which United Technologies would receive $7 million in tax credits from Indiana, to be paid in $700,000 installments each year for a decade in exchange for keeping 800 factory jobs in Indiana.
Carrier also agreed to invest $16 million in its Indiana operation, but United Technologies still plans to send 700 factory jobs from a plant in Huntington, Ind., to Monterrey, Mexico.
Asked about the impact of Trump's victory on West Michigan's economy, Klohs said it's too early to tell.
"We don't know yet," she said. "There are 4,500 appointments being made. Every agency in Washington is going through changes. We're waiting just like you. "
2017 forecast: Investment growth will outstrip job growth in West Michigan

Carrier union boss: Trump is only half-way done saving jobs
Carrier Union Leader on Trump's Jobs Claim: "I Almost Threw Up in My Mouth"
Carrier union boss: Donald Trump ‘lied his a** off’ about saving 1,100 jobs from moving ...


 119 /1826 

"Day of Infamy" FDR speech 1st draft goes on display in New York (3.14/26)

HYDE PARK, N. Y. - Seventy-five years after he dictated what would become one of the most famous speeches ever delivered by an American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first draft of his “Day of Infamy” speech is on display at his former upstate New York estate-turned-museum.
The exhibit titled “Day of Infamy: 24 Hours that Changed History” is on display at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park through Dec. 31.
The exhibit includes a rare public display of Roosevelt’s first draft of the speech he dictated to his secretary in the hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 .
The document shows FDR’s own handwritten editing of his words, including where he scratched out “world history” and wrote “infamy” in the opening sentence.
The first draft, which is about two-and-a-half pages, is rarely displayed in order to protect its condition.
The first draft of President Roosevelt’s speech to the Joint Session of Congress, asking for a declaration of war against Japan.
Paul Sparrow, director of the FDR Library, said: “Some of his advisors, the Secretary of State, Secretary of War, wanted him to deliver a much longer speech.”
The State Department drafted a 17-page speech rehashing the history of U. S.-Japanese relations, but Roosevelt set it aside and went with his gut.
“He knew that the American public wanted to hear that we had been wronged and that we will find a way to victory,” Sparrow said.
“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”
When he addressed the joint session of Congress, Roosevelt -- who was paralyzed by polio from the waist down -- insisted on walking to and from the podium.
“He’s supporting his weight as he did in public on a cane and on his son’s arm,” Eberhardt said. “By holding his weight in that manner, he’s able to pitch his body forward slowly and walk to the rostrum to deliver the speech.”
Sparrow added, “He put the weight of the world on his paralyzed legs and carried America from the past into the future, and changed us from an isolationist nation into a global superpower.”
The speech lasted just 6 1/2 minutes. But it transformed the nation from a state of shock into a state of war.

75 years later, remembering FDR's day of 'infamy,' a phrase that almost wasn't
First draft of FDR's 'Day of Infamy' speech on display
1st draft of FDR's 'Day of Infamy' speech on display in NY


 120 /1826 

Top baby names of 2016 revealed (3.14/26)

Choosing a name for a baby is a lot of pressure for new parents.
There's nothing quite as terrifying as gifting a child with a name for the rest of their life without even meeting them first.
If you are wanting your kid to fit in with the other popular kids, one trick is to check out the top baby names list for 2016.
According to BabyCenter's data based on 400,000 parental entries, the top boy name is Jackson and the top girl name is Sophia.
But Mom365 gets their names data daily from 1500 hospitals, and they claim that the top boy name is Noah and the top girl name is Olivia.
The advantage is that any of these names can claim to be the most popular, so that gives parents double the choices.
Other popular names include Emma and Ava for baby girls and Liam and Aidan for boys.
Just make sure that if you pick a popular name that you practice saying the name with the first letter of your last name.
Not only for school, but also when your little darling goes on The Bachelor to find a mate.
RELATED: See last year's top baby names
More from : The perfect gifts for the homebody 5 reasons you shouldn't drive without a dashcam This baby who sleep-eats pasta is all of us

And the top 10 viral YouTube videos of 2016 are ...
The top baby names of 2016
And the 2016 CNN Heroes Top 10 are ...


 121 /1826 

AP sources: Locke, McGowan agree with Marlins (3.13/26)

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Left-hander Jeff Locke has agreed to a one-year contract with the Miami Marlins worth $3,025,000, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. In addition, the Marlins agreed to a one-year contract to keep right-hander Dustin McGowan, one of the people said. The people spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreements had not been announced. The 29-year-old Locke had spent his entire big league career with Pittsburgh and was 9-8 with a 5.44 ERA this year in 19 starts and 11 relief appearances, his highest ERA since 2012. His best season was 2013, when he went 10-7 with a 3.52 ERA in 30 starts, earning a spot on the NL All-Star roster. Locke gets the same salary he had this year with the Pirates. He became a free agent when Pittsburgh failed to offer a contract by the Dec. 2 deadline. McGowan, 34, had a 2.82 ERA in his first season with the Marlins, striking out 63 in 67 innings. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP source: Rodney, D-backs agree to $2.75M, 1-year contract
AP source: Gomez agrees to $11.5M deal to stay with Rangers
Philadelphia Phillies sign reliever Joaquin Benoit to 1-year pact
AP sources: Locke, Marlins agree to $3,025,000, 1-year deal


 122 /1826 
1.4 | Malta bans gay conversion therapy, first for Europe (3.12/26)

Malta has become the first European country to ban gay conversion therapy, imposing fines of up to €10 000 and a jail term of up to one year for offenders. ...

Malta bans gay conversion therapy, first for Europe
Malta bans gay conversion therapy, a first for Europe
Malta Bans Gay Conversion Therapy, a First for Europe


 123 /1826 

Controversial firearms-only hunt in New Jersey bags record 607 bears so far (3.12/26)

TRENTON, N. J. - Hunters have killed a record 607 bears in New Jersey.
The number was reached Tuesday when hunters bagged 18 bruins during the second day of the second part of this year’s hunt. The previous record was 592 bears killed in 2010.
The firearms-only New Jersey bear hunt , which began Monday, followed October’s six-day hunt, which was limited to bows and arrows and muzzle-loading guns. In October, hunters killed 562 bears.
The hunt is scheduled to last through Saturday, but officials say it will be suspended once the cumulative harvest rate of tagged bears reaches 30 percent. The season total is currently 24 percent.
Animal rights’ groups and lawmakers say the hunt causes more problems and is “inhumane.”
Opponents are rallying behind the apparent death of Pedals, a bipedal bear and internet celebrity believed to be killed in October’s hunt.
Pedals walked upright like a human and was seen in numerous videos , becoming a celebrity.
"Pedals" the bear was caught taking a stroll through New Jersey. The critter is known for its human-like demeanor and walking on its hind legs. C...
“This is nothing more than a slaughter, an unnecessary slaughter, of a beautiful animal,” Sen. Ray Lesniak, who sponsored Pedals’ Law which would ban bear hunts altogether in the Garden State, CBS New York reported. The law would also call for non-lethal means to control the population, including birth control and distribution of bear-resistant containers.
Pedals first surfaced about two years ago in Jefferson Township. The bear walked with an unusual gait on its hind legs and was spotted ambling around neighborhoods. It appeared in videos posted online and shown on national television. The New Jersey Herald reports that roughly two dozen people gathered early Monday at the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area in Fredon to peacefully show their opposition to the hunt. Officials said no arrests had been reported. Some protesters yelled “stop the killing” and “murderers” while another read what was intended as a eulogy for a killed bear as the first few hunters carried their kills to the check-in station at the wildlife area.

Record 607 Bears Killed In Annual New Jersey Hunt
Record 607 bears killed in New Jersey's hunt
Record 607 Bears Killed in New Jersey's Hunt


 124 /1826 

Glencore, Qatari fund buy 19.5 percent in Russia's Rosneft (3.12/26)

The Kremlin says that a consortium of Glencore and Qatar 's sovereign wealth fund has acquired a 19.5-percent stake in Russia's top state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, in a deal worth 10.5 billion euros ($11.3 billion).
The sale is part of the Russian government's efforts to privatize some state assets to help balance the budget amid a two-year recession.
President Vladimir Putin 's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday described the deal as the largest in the global energy market this year.
He told reporters that Putin congratulated Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin on the deal and ordered Rosneft to work together with the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank to prevent the deal from destabilizing Russia's currency markets.

Kremlin says Glencore, Qatari fund to buy 19.5 pct stake in Rosneft
Glencore, Qatari Fund Buy 19.5 Percent in Russia's Rosneft
Glencore, Qatari fund buy 19.5 percent in Russia’s Rosneft


 125 /1826 

Maryland's 'Sen. Barb' and veteran Sen. Boxer bid farewell (3.12/26)

Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski , a 40-year veteran of Congress and a tough-as-nails advocate for Maryland, the poor and women's rights, said farewell to the Senate on Wednesday, recalling her roots as a Baltimore community

California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer bids farewell to Congress after 33 years
California Senator Barbara Boxer gives farewell speech after 24-year run
Watch: California's Barbara Boxer gives farewell Senate speech


 126 /1826 

Trump Vows to 'Work Something Out' With DREAMers (3.12/26)

President-elect Donald Trump pledged to "work something out" with undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and subsequently signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"We're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud," he said of DREAMers in an interview with Time magazine , which recently named him their Person of the Year.
"They got brought here at a very young age. They've worked here. They've gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they're in never-never land, because they don't know what's going to happen. "
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a letter to Trump on behalf of 17 mayors, calling on the president-elect to continue the program started under President Barack Obama.
"I delivered to the president-elect, his senior adviser, and his chief of staff a letter signed by [17] mayors, put together from across the country, about our DACA students and that they were working hard toward the American dream," Emanuel told reporters Wednesday, after meeting with Trump at his Manhattan headquarters in Trump Tower, CBS News reported.
Emanuel tweeted the text of the letter from his official Twitter account later Wednesday morning.
In a private meeting, Mayor Emanuel hand-delivered a letter from US mayors to the President-Elect urging him to continue the DACA program.
"We urge you to exercise your Constitutional authority to provide pardons to DREAMers both retroactively and prospectively," the letter read.
"We ask your administration to continue to accept and adjudicate initial applications and renewals for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) until Congress modernizes our immigration system and provides a more permanent form of relief for these individuals," the letter continued.
"Ending DACA would disrupt the lives of close to one million young people, and it would disrupt the sectors of the American economy, as well as our national security and public safety, to which they contribute. "

Trump on DREAMers: We'll 'work something out'
Trump Says He'll 'Work Something Out' For DREAMers
Led By California, Democrats Vow to Say ‘No’ to Trump — on Everything


 127 /1826 

Senate Republicans Block Sanders-Backed 'Trump Proposal' on Rx Drugs (3.12/26)

'It is incomprehensible to me that we have a major bill dealing with prescription drugs and yet we are running from the most important issue and that is the greed of the pharmaceutical industry'
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks on the U. S. Senate floor on Tuesday. (Screenshot)
Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a Bernie Sanders-backed amendment aimed at lowering prescription drug prices and allowing for the import of low-cost medicines from other countries.
Sanders (I-Vt.) sought to attach the proposal to the controversial 21st Century Cures Act , which is ostensibly geared toward fueling medical innovation. Both Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have decried the legislation, poised to pass the Senate on Wednesday, as a Big Pharma giveaway.
In a statement, Sanders described his amendment as a "Trump proposal," noting that the president-elect advocated for its major components on the campaign trail.
The senator from Vermont said:
During his run for the White House, Trump called for requiring Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower prices. In a speech in New Hampshire last Feb. 7, Trump criticized current U. S. law that forbids Medicare from negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies. Trump said: "We are not allowed to negotiate drug prices. Can you believe it? We pay about $300 billion more than we are supposed to, than if we negotiated the price. So there’s $300 billion on day one we solve. "
Trump's campaign platform also advocated making it legal to reimport cheaper drugs from other countries.
As such, he declared on the Senate floor Tuesday, "I am quite confident that all of my Republican colleagues will support an amendment in my hands that will do exactly what Trump said he would accomplish as president. "
However, The Hill reported :
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, blocked the former Democratic presidential candidate's move, arguing it would threaten the passage of the medical cures legislation.
"The sure way for this bill not to pass in this Congress is to do something that changes the subject," he said.
In turn, Sanders said he could not support the legislation.
"It is incomprehensible to me that we have a major bill dealing with prescription drugs and yet we are running from the most important issue and that is the greed of the pharmaceutical industry," Sanders said. "The prescription drug industry, along with Wall Street, is the most powerful political force in America. I have been fighting the greed of the prescription drug industry for decades. And, as far as I can tell, the prescription drug industry always wins, but the American people lose. "
The House approved the bill last week; it is expected to pass the Senate easily on Wednesday and be signed by President Barack Obama shortly thereafter.
Watch Sanders' full remarks (beginning around hour 1:30) below:
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Syrian government advances despite rebel cease-fire offer (3.11/26)

BEIRUT (AP) - Syria's government ignored a rebel cease-fire proposal for Aleppo on Wednesday as its forces captured new neighborhoods around the city center and squeezed some 200,000 tired and frightened civilians into a shattered and rapidly shrinking opposition enclave. Facing a punishing and brutal defeat, rebel factions proposed a five-day cease-fire for the eastern parts of the city to evacuate the wounded and civilians wishing to flee. "The artillery shelling is non-stop," a resident told The Associated Press by messaging service. He asked to conceal his name out of fear for his safety. "The humanitarian situation is really tough. There are corpses on the streets. ... There is very little food. Bread is distributed every two or three days, six pieces per family. That's small, not enough for breakfast," he said. Government officials had not directly addressed the rebel proposal by the evening. "The decision to liberate all of Syria has been taken, and that includes Aleppo," Syrian President Bashar Assad told the state newspaper al-Watan. Brig. Gen. Zeid al-Saleh told state TV that rebels must leave Aleppo or face death. The Syrian government and its ally Russia have rejected previous cease-fires for the war-torn city, keeping up the military offensive that has forced rebel retreats and displaced at least 30,000 civilians in the past 11 days, according to U. N. figures. U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Wednesday in Hamburg, Germany but did not release any statements. The rebels made no offer to pull out of Aleppo, though their proposal promised to negotiate the fate of the city when the humanitarian crisis eases. A rebel spokesman said al-Qaida-linked group Fatah al-Sham Front, which has a limited presence among the fighters, will abide by the proposal. Government forces and regional militias fighting alongside them, meanwhile, captured new ground in Aleppo's old city and its Bab al-Nairab district, home to one of the city's main water stations, according to monitoring groups and state media. The rebels continued their shelling of the western government-held districts of the city. Syria's state news agency reported that 12 people were killed by mortar and rocket fire landing in western Aleppo. Syrian military media said the government had captured three-quarters of the opposition's former enclave Tuesday. The U. N. estimated 275,000 people were still residing there before the start of the ground offensive. The government is supported by Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah, Iraqi and Iranian militias, and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV broadcast from Aleppo's iconic citadel in the late afternoon. With the latest gains, the endgame for Aleppo, which has been carved up between the government and the rebel side for the past four years, appears to draw even closer. If Aleppo - the country's former commercial hub - is captured by government troops, it would be a turning point in the conflict, putting the five largest cities in Syria and the coastal region back under state control. The Syrian government has been demanding the complete evacuation of all rebels from eastern Aleppo, but locals involved in the negotiations with the rebel factions said this has not been seriously considered. "There's no point to the civilians staying without the protection of the Free Syrian Army," said Hamza al-Khatib, the spokesman for the civil society ad hoc Committee to Save Aleppo. He said he expected about half of the remaining population would evacuate under the terms of the proposal, if given the chance. Al-Khatib himself, who is the hospital director for the now debilitated Quds Hospital, said he would remain. "If there is even one person remaining, then it is my duty to stay with them," he said. Capt. Abdel-Salam Abdel-Razek of the rebel Nour el-Din el-Zinki faction - one of the largest operating inside Aleppo - said the cease-fire proposal was driven by humanitarian concerns. The proposal called for the immediate evacuation of 500 seriously wounded residents and for allowing civilians wishing to leave to head to rural northern Aleppo province, where there is almost no government presence. Abdel-Razek said this proposed humanitarian pause would be monitored by the United Nations. Wissam Zarqa, an English teacher in eastern Aleppo and an outspoken government opponent, said the rebel retreat from large parts of Old Aleppo was "concerning. " "We are exhausted. There is a lot of death and unprecedented destruction," he said. Leaders of the U. S., Britain, Germany, Italy, France, and Canada also called for an immediate cease-fire for the city to allow the U. N. to deliver aid to the remaining besieged opposition districts. "We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid," the leaders said in a joint statement, adding that hospitals and schools appeared to have been targeted "in an attempt to wear people down. " They called on the U. N. to investigate reports of war crimes and accused Russia of blocking efforts to halt the bloodshed. The display of diplomatic unity appeared timed to build support for the rebels' proposed ceasefire, though White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the statement was not in response to any existing proposals to address the violence, but was drafted to demonstrate "clear, unified, international support" for a diplomatic arrangement to reduce bloodshed and allow humanitarian aid to flow. Rebel defenses in eastern Aleppo have collapsed rapidly in the face of a massive government assault. On Tuesday, Syrian government forces captured Aleppo's centrally located al-Shaar neighborhood, securing about 45 square kilometers (17 square miles) of the besieged enclave less than two weeks after launching their ground offensive. The offensive was preceded by an intensive bombing campaign that knocked out medical facilities and left the civilian population reeling. According to the Observatory, 369 civilians, including 45 children, have been killed in eastern Aleppo since Nov. 15. The Observatory said 92 civilians, including 34 children, were killed by rebel shelling in government-controlled western Aleppo. Also Wednesday, the state SANA news agency said several Israeli surface-to-surface missiles struck a military airport west of Damascus. No injuries were reported. SANA said the missiles fell within the perimeter of the Mezzeh military airport, the main air base for the capital. The base has come previously under rebel fire. It was the second such Israeli strike into Syria recently, according to the Syrian government, following two missiles fired from Lebanese airspace toward the outskirts of Damascus last week. But Wednesday's attack is believed to be the first from Israel into the vicinity of Damascus in years. Israel is widely believed to have carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria in the past few years that have targeted advanced weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman did not acknowledge any responsibility for the strike and reiterated his government's position not to get involved in the Syrian war. ___ Associated Press writers Dominique Soguel in Istanbul, Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow, and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Syrian Army retakes 70% of E. Aleppo, evacuates over 1,200 civilians – Russian military — RT News
US, Western leaders calling for immediate Aleppo cease-fire
Nearing Defeat, Rebels Seek Talks on Fate of Aleppo


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Fitbit buys smartwatch maker Pebble's software assets (3.11/26)

Fitbit has bought smartwatch maker Pebble's software and intellectual property as it tries to strengthen its position in the wearables market. Pebble, which began as a crowdfunded project in 2012 and raised more than $10 million in a Kickstarter campaign, was one of the first companies to make smartwatches that used electronic ink displays and connected to smartphones. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Bloomberg had earlier reported that it was valued at less than $40 million. Scroll down for video Pebble will no longer produce or sell any of its smartwatches, according to the company's website. 'Due to various factors, Pebble can no longer operate as an independent entity, and we have made the tough decision to shut down the company,' it said. 'The deal finalized today preserves as much of Pebble as possible. 'We are no longer manufacturing, promoting, or selling any new products. 'Active Pebble models in the wild will continue to work.' Many of the firms staff are set to join Fitbit. 'Much of our team and resources will join Fitbit to deliver new 'moments of awesome' in future Fitbit products, developer tools, and experiences. 'It's a bittersweet time, no doubt. 'We'll miss what we're leaving behind, but are excited for what the future holds. ' The overall wearables market grew 3.1 percent in the third quarter, with Fitbit's share accounting for 23 percent of the overall market, according to research firm IDC. Fitbit also said it would partner with Medtronic Plc to allow patients with type 2 diabetes to monitor their glucose levels and physical activity data. Fitbit's shares were up 1.1 percent at $8.07 in morning trading. Sales of the company's colorful wristbands and clippable widgets, which track heart rate, calories, sleeping patterns and step counts, have come under pressure in a peaking market for wearables and as new rivals step in. Fitbit in November forecast revenue of $725 million-$750 million for the current quarter, implying revenue growth of 5.4 percent at the top end, way below the 38.4 percent analysts had expected. Fitbit blamed a transition to newer products, greater-than-anticipated softness in the wearables market and production issues with the new Flex 2 wristband for the weak outlook. 'We think demand for current product feature set may be saturated, and at this point, only new product form factors and functionality could inflect demand,' SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analysts wrote, cutting their price target to $10 from $17. Fitbit needs to create a hit product like Charge HR, which introduced continuous heart rate reading, rather than having products such as Blaze and Charge 2, which just bring incremental improvements, analysts said. Fitbit, which launched two new fitness wristbands, Charge 2 and Flex 2, in late August, said it sold 5.3 million devices in the third quarter, just above analysts average estimate of 5 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount. 'We believe the real upside for FIT is having products with a more compelling use case: digital health/connected fitness are those opportunities,' Oppenheimer analysts wrote, slashing their price target to $12 from $25. The company, a leader in the U. S. fitness wearables market, has been spending heavily to diversify its portfolio and enter new markets. 'We would suggest that real-time blood pressure monitoring is the most logical next hit product if Fitbit can pull it off,' Dougherty & Co analysts wrote in a note. Fitbit is also facing competition from Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, Garmin Ltd, Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc with its Apple Watch line.

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Fitbit acquires software assets from rival Pebble


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Kerry resumes talks with Lavrov on Aleppo truce (3.10/26)

US Secretary of State John Kerry held fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Germany Wednesday on efforts to halt fighting and withdraw rebels from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.
Kerry, who is on a farewell tour in Europe, and Lavrov were in the northern city of Hamburg for a gathering of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that opens Thursday.
Kerry will continue on to Paris to take part in a separate meeting organised by his French, German and Qatari counterparts Saturday on Syria, the State Department said.
The announcement came as the United States, Britain and France led a joint call for an immediate ceasefire to allow aid to reach Aleppo, in an appeal backed by Canada, Germany and Italy.
In Hamburg, Lavrov said as he walked into a hotel to meet Kerry, in a brief comment to journalists, that "I agreed and confirm the support of the American proposal of December 2".
The Russian side had earlier said Kerry's proposal made in Rome last Friday involves a complete rebel withdrawal from eastern Aleppo, but then accused Washington of backtracking and cancelling talks due to be held in Geneva this week.
Kerry denied any change of plans and Washington itself accused Moscow of stalling after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution on Monday calling for a seven-day ceasefire.
Kerry, taking part in his last NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, said he would work for a relaunch of peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition with the help of President Bashar al-Assad's ally Russia.
"Russia says Assad is ready to come to the table... and I am in favour of putting that to the test," Kerry said in Brussels.
Kerry has had repeated meetings on Syria with Lavrov as the situation in Aleppo has deteriorated.
Moscow launched an air war in support of Assad's forces last year, while Washington has supported rebel forces battling the regime.
Kerry, asked by a journalist in Hamburg what it would take to bring peace to Aleppo, said only: "common sense".

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Kerry, Lavrov to discuss safe passage for rebels out of Aleppo -U.S. official


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Johnny Depp, Will Smith, George Clooney on 'overpaid' Forbes list (3.10/26)

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Johnny Depp and Will Smith topped a list on Wednesday of Hollywood's most overpaid actors, an illustration that star power does not always bring in dollars at the movie box-office. Fan favorite George Clooney also found himself on the annual Forbes list after the limited commercial appeal of films like "Hail Caesar," "Money Monster" and the 2015 flop "Tomorrowland. " Depp led the list for the second straight year after his movie "Alice Through The Looking Glass" brought in just $300 million at the global box-office after costing about $170 million to produce. Forbes compiles the list by comparing the estimated pay for a lead actor in his or her last three movies with the estimated production costs and box-office gross of those movies. It calculated that Depp, whose 2015 movie "Mortdecai" also bombed, returned just $2.8 dollars at the box-office for every $1 he was paid. Depp, 53, who became one of Hollywood's highest paid actors with "Pirates of the Caribbean," also had a bad 2016 on the personal front. His split from actress Amber Heard made headlines when the pair exchanged allegations of violence and blackmail that were later dropped, and Depp paid out $7 million in a divorce settlement. "Concussion", the 2015 film about football head injuries that starred Smith, grossed just $13 million more than its $34 million budget. It followed disappointing receptions for "Focus" and "After Earth" and led to a $5 return at the box-office for every $1 Smith was paid, Forbes calculated. Clooney came in 5th on the list, with a box office return of $6.70 for every $1 he was paid, largely because of the failure of "Tomorrowland" which cost $190 million to produce. "Magic Mike" star Channing Tatum and comedian Will Ferrell rounded out the top 5 on Forbes list of most overpaid actors. The full list can be seen at (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Frances Kerry)

The movie star is dead
Johnny Depp Tops Forbes List of Most Overpaid Actors
Johnny Depp tops most overpaid actor list for second year in a row


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IOC extends sporting sanctions against Russia with McLaren report looming (3.10/26)

The International Olympic Committee has extended the sanctions it imposed on Russia this summer until further notice as the sporting world waits for the publication of a landmark report into the country's recent doping history on Friday. The IOC's executive board announced a series of "provisional measures" in July when Richard McLaren released an interim version of his report into state-sponsored doping in Russia. Those measures included a ban on Olympic accreditation for officials from Russia's ministry of sport, the removal of IOC "patronage" to any sports event in Russia, the reanalysis of every Russian sample from the 2014 Winter Olympics and a request to all sports federations to "freeze their preparations" for major events in the country. Enforcement of that freeze, however, has been patchy, with several winter sport federations still scheduled to stage major events in Russia this winter and beyond. That, however, could change if McLaren's final report is as damning as expected when it is released online at 1115 GMT on Friday. In a statement released after the second day of a three-day gathering of the IOC's executive board in Lausanne, Olympic bosses described the allegations against Russia as "a fundamental attack" on the integrity of the Games and thanked McLaren for his work. It also restated its reasons for setting up two commissions to respond to McLaren's evidence. "In order for the competent bodies, including the International Olympic Committee, to draw the relevant conclusions, due process now has to be followed," the IOC statement said. "The evidence provided by Professor McLaren in his investigation has to be evaluated, and those implicated have to be given the right to be heard. This includes the athletes, the Russian ministry of sport, and other implicated persons and organisations. "Once all the evidence has been considered, the IOC executive board will then issue the appropriate measures and sanctions related to the Olympic Games. " The statement added: "The IOC executive board has further decided to extend the provisional measures taken on 19 July 2016 against Russia until further notice. " The first of those commissions, the so-called inquiry commission, is now being chaired by former Swiss politician Samuel Schmid, after French judge Guy Canivet surprisingly pulled out on Tuesday for what the IOC described as "personal reasons". This commission will address the claims that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping system between 2010 and 2015, with particular regard to Sochi 2014. The disciplinary commission, led by veteran Swiss IOC member Denis Oswald, will look at how anti-doping samples were manipulated in the build-up to and during the Winter Games. Both commissions have been in contact with McLaren and the IOC said it has given the professor full access to the anti-doping samples it has stored from Sochi.

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PRESS DIGEST-Australian News - Dec 8 (3.09/26)

Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW ( U. S. Republicans slam secret Obama-Turnbull refugee deal Climate backflip ignores expert advice Woolworths braces for judgement on ACCC supplier case WA posts worst economic result in 27 years Staples Australia on the block; Morgan Stanley mandated TPG Telecom lays out strategy to deal with NBN challenge THE AUSTRALIAN ( Blackstone fields GPT, Investec interest in $500m portfolio Star looking to roll dice on merger with NZ rival Nikkei a possible buyer of Australian Financial Review Wasps to save Christmas Island's red crabs from crazy ants

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Child Laborers In Bangladesh Are Working 64 Hours A Week (3.08/26)

Jason Beaubien
Babu, 8, works at a brick factory in Narayanganj, Bangladesh.
KM Asad/LightRocket via Getty Images
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In Bangladesh, a new report finds, impoverished children are working long hours in violation of that country's labor laws. Children under the age of 14 who've given up school for jobs are toiling an average 64 hours a week, according to a British think tank.
Researchers from the London-based Overseas Development Institute surveyed nearly 3,000 households in the slums of the capital Dhaka. They found children as young as 6 employed full-time and others working up to 100 to 110 hours a week. On average the working children earned less than $2 a day.
"The prevalence of child labor in Bangladesh is worrisome," says Maria Quattri , a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and one of the authors of the study. Quattri says the majority of girls who are employed are toiling in the garment industry. Boys' jobs are more varied. Some work as day laborers on construction sites or making bricks. Others sell products on the street or work in shops. But 13 percent of the boys also reported working in clothing factories or other parts of the textile industry.
The legal age of employment in Bangladesh is 14, although 12 and 13 year olds are permitted to do what's deemed "light work" for up to 42 hours per week. Light work is not strictly defined but explicitly prohibits children from working all-night shifts or in railways, ports or factories.
Quattri says this survey found that the labor laws are widely ignored. The government doesn't have the labor inspectors or other officials necessary to enforce them. She also says much of the work done by children is off the books in the informal sector, making it harder to regulate.
"So they're mainly working for subcontractors in informal garment factories that produce a part of the product that is then sold to formal businesses. And the formal businesses export the product," she says.
Bangladesh is a densely populated nation of 150 million people at the mouth of the Ganges River. It's made significant progress over the last two decades in cutting its poverty rate from 50 percent of the population down to about a third. But millions of Bangladeshis still live in sprawling slums.
This new report from the Overseas Development Institute shows that child labor remains a significant problem in the South Asian country. Public education is free and compulsory only for elementary school. Quattri says the cost of tuition is one of the main reasons poor families said they sent their 11, 12 and 13 year olds into the workforce instead of school.
This report and others suggest that millions of kids under the age of 14 are working in Bangladesh. The researchers found that the majority of working kids struggled to read the simple sentence "the girl is playing" in Bengali. Many of them couldn't read it at all. Once they start working 60, 80 or a hundred hours a week, Quattri says, it's very hard for them to ever escape these low-wage jobs.

Child labour 'rampant' in Bangladesh factories, study reveals
Thousands of Bangladesh kids working 64 hours a week
Bangladeshi slum kids work over 60 hours a week to make clothes - research


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11-year-old Cruz Beckham debuts holiday charity single (3.08/26)

LONDON -- Another Beckham has stepped into the spotlight.
Cruz, the 11-year-old son of David and Victoria Beckham, has released his debut single, a holiday-themed pop track titled “If Every Day Was Christmas.”
Cruz previewed the song Wednesday on Britain’s Capital FM. He said the song contained “two of my favorite things -- singing and Christmas.”
Father David said he was “really proud” of his youngest son. Proceeds from the single will go to a charity for disadvantaged children.
Cruz is being managed by Scooter Braun, who shepherded Justin Bieber from teen YouTube sensation to global stardom.
Former soccer star David and Spice Girl-turned-fashion designer Victoria have three other children: 17-year-old Brooklyn, 14-year-old Romeo and 5-year-old Harper. Brooklyn has embarked on a career in modeling in recent years, and Romeo has previously appeared in ad campaigns for Burberry while also designing his own line of sunglasses.

Cruz Beckham releases first single 'If Every Day Was Christmas' for charity
David Beckham's son Cruz, 11, releases debut music single
The Beckhams’ 11-year-old son drops holiday song


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Trial opens for Kentucky man (3.08/26)

GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) — Trial has begun for a Kentucky man accused by authorities of killing his former girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter and disposing of her body inside a well.
Local news organizations report 26-year-old Anthony Barbour’s trial opened Tuesday on murder and other charges in the death of Laynee Wallace last year.
Wallace’s body was found in Kentucky’s Barren County on May 25, 2015, a week after she disappeared.
Prosecutor John Gardner says Barbour killed the girl and placed her body in a bag that he put in a safe before dropping it down a well on his family’s farm. Authorities say Barbour was arrested afterward.
Gardner says Barbour told police he had injected methamphetamine on May 17 and taken the toddler with him to look for arrowheads when she fell off a bluff.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Girl's body found in well: Trial opens for Kentucky man
Girl's Body Found in Well: Trial Opens for Kentucky Man
Double-murder trial opens in Everett


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12-year-old escapes near abduction in Southfield (3.08/26)

SOUTHFIELD, MI -- Police say two men attempted to abduct a 12-year-old middle school student in Southfield about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Thompson Middle School student was walking home after school on Southwood Drive in the area of 10 Mile and Greenfield when a black four-door Dodge Ram pickup with two men inside stopped.
"The driver lowered the window and told the victim to get in the truck," Southfield police said in a statement. "The victim refused. The passenger then got out of the truck and grabbed the victim's collar. The victim was able to pull away and run home. "
The victim told police he'd seen the pickup in the area multiple times during the last week.
The pickup had a black rims and a silver Ram logo on the front grille.
The driver is described as a white man in his 40s with short black hair and a mustache. He was wearing a red and black checkered jacket.
The passenger was described as a white man wearing a black or gray jacket and blue jeans with a hole in the knee. He wore a ski mask covering his face.
Southfield police plan to add patrols near the school.
Anyone with information is asked to call police, 248-796-5500.

Rock Hill police charge middle school student with assault after hallway incident
Boy, 12, escapes kidnapping attempt in Southfield
Boy, 12, escapes attempted abduction in Southfield


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Groups call blocking of inaugural protests unconstitutional (3.08/26)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Protest organizers and their attorneys say the National Park Service is quashing dissent by blocking access to public space for those who want to demonstrate during President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. The park service historically reserves space for use by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, but activists say the denial of protest permits has gone too far this time and is unconstitutional.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Attorneys challenge park service over inauguration protests
Trump inauguration protesters: We're being muzzled
Trump inauguration protest groups demand access to Washington sites


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Nordstrom’s $85 leather-wrapped rock has sold out (3.08/26)

Looking to buy a classy pet rock this holiday season? Believe it or not, a lot of people were.
An $85 leather-wrapped stone — yes, you read that right — has sold out at Nordstrom after going viral on social media. A smaller version, sensibly priced at $65 for the budget-conscious rock lover, is also out of stock.
“A paperweight? A conversation piece? A work of art? It’s up to you,” reads the description at the Nordstrom online store.
It goes on in over-the-top detail: “This smooth Los Angeles-area stone — wrapped in rich, vegetable-tanned American leather secured by sturdy contrast backstitching — is sure to draw attention wherever it rests.”
The leather pouch was designed in Los Angeles using “traditional saddle-stitching techniques.” The rock is courtesy of, well, the earth. So don’t expect yours to look just like the online image. “Each piece is unique and will vary slightly,” the listing notes. Rocks these days.
Nordstrom didn’t return CNN’s repeated requests for comment, but the store told Buzzfeed News that the product, which went on sale on Nov. 18, is most definitely “not a joke” and is actually one of its most popular items.
Still, people on Twitter were quick to mock the rock. One user even created a @NordstromRock account. The account is not associated with Nordstrom.
It wasn’t long before all that sass made its way to Nordstrom’s online comment section. Some people couldn’t get over the price, while others were just hilariously confused.
“Choose this over food!” one commenter joked.
“I had to send it back because there weren’t any doggone instructions. I don’t even know how to turn the flippin thing on,” another wrote.
The comments on the item have since been disabled.
It’s unclear whether Nordstrom will restock the rock in time for last-minute holiday shoppers. The internet can only hope.

People are rolling over Nordstrom’s $85 stone in a pouch
Nordstrom's $85 leather-wrapped rock has sold out
Nordstrom baffles the Internet by offering rock in a leather pouch for $85


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Duterte says OK to bomb fleeing militants and their hostages (3.08/26)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he told his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts that their forces can bomb fleeing Filipino militants and their kidnap victims at sea because the hostages “are not supposed to be there.”
Duterte said in a speech that he told Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo that their forces could enter Philippine waters while pursuing Muslim militants who are fleeing with hostages.
Duterte said he told the leaders that if the militants were about to escape, “bomb them. If they cannot be captured you bomb them. How about the hostages? Eh, bomb them also. They’re not supposed to be there, there is a warning.”
The brash-talking Duterte cited a U. S. travel advisory warning Americans not to travel in the treacherous waters bordering the three countries.
The Abu Sayyaf militant group is holding more than a dozen mostly foreign hostages in their jungle lairs on the southern Philippine island of Jolo.
Despite discussions among the three leaders on ways to strengthen security along their sea borders, Abu Sayyaf militants and allied gunmen from Jolo and nearby islands have continued to target and kidnap crewmen of slow-moving tugboats as well as fishing boats.
The ransom-seeking militants, who are notorious for beheadings, have also attacked cargo ships and separately snatched a South Korean skipper and Vietnamese crewmen in the southern Philippines. The U. S. and the Philippines consider the Abu Sayyaf a terrorist organization.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

U.S. wants to repair "bad relations" with the Philippines - Duterte
Duterte says OK to bomb fleeing militants, hostages
Duterte Says OK to Bomb Fleeing Militants and Their Hostages


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Mike Posner talks about his cosmic 'joke' of a Grammy nomination (3.07/26)

Mike Posner expressed all the usual feelings Tuesday about being nominated for a Grammy Award.
He was honored. He was humbled. He was gratified. But also? He was a little suspicious.
“I’m beginning to think the universe is playing a joke on me,” he said.
That’s because Posner was recognized for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” his clever pop hit about not wanting to have pop hits.
The song, in which he details the burnout he experienced following an early brush with fame, first appeared in 2015 on an acoustic EP that signaled Posner’s happy retreat from high-gloss pop. (It was called “The Truth.”)
But then a sleek remix by the Norwegian duo Seeb took off, reaching No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Now Posner’s original is up for song of the year at the Grammys — one more accolade for a tune clearly set against them.
That’s very meaningful to me. This wasn’t an overnight thing. I started writing songs when I was 8 years old, and I’ll turn 29 on the day of the Grammys, Feb. 12. So I’m ending my 20th year of writing, and I’d like to think that I’ve progressed over those 20 years. And to be recognized by your peers…
The Grammys is a voting process, and to be eligible to vote you have to have a certain amount of album credits. So it’s not a popularity contest, and it’s also not a bunch of rich white guys in an oak boardroom deciding who wins this award. It’s people in the music industry who think what I wrote is good.
I think the album I released this year was my 10 best songs at the time. And the songs on my laptop now — I have the next two albums done, and I literally just stopped working on the third to talk to you — I think there’s many, many songs that are better. But I’m proud of “Ibiza”; I don’t think poorly of it at all.
Oh, we’re working on that. I don’t wanna give it away.
Kenneth Turan reviews the Jacqueline Kennedy biopic "Jackie," directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Natalie Portman, who shows us aspects of the first lady we might not have known before. Video by Jason H. Neubert.
Justin Chang reviews "The Comedian," a likable enough movie with terrific supporting performances but an unconvincing lead turn from Robert De Niro. Video by Jason H. Neubert.
Director Michael Dudok de Wit explains why "The Red Turtle" has no dialogue.
For her role as Jackie Kennedy, Natalie Portman says, "It's not a fashion story," but the clothes do tell a story.
Emma Stone discusses working with choreographer Mandy Moore on "La La Land. "
Emma Stone discusses working with choreographer Mandy Moore on "La La Land. "

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Britain's finance chief starts overseas tour on Brexit fears (3.07/26)

Britain's finance chief starts overseas tour on Brexit fears Associated Press - 7 December 2016 12:45-05:00 News Topics: Business, General news, Brexit referendum, Government and politics, Events People, Places and Companies: Philip Hammond, Pravin Gordhan, David Cameron, Theresa May, South Africa, United Kingdom, Europe, Africa Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Britain's Finance Chief Starts Overseas Tour on Brexit Fears
Britain’s finance chief starts overseas tour on Brexit fears


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The day in photos: Dec. 7, 2016 (2.86/26)

Gray Cranes flocking at the Agamon Hula Lake in the Hula valley in northern Israel. More than half a billion birds of some 400 different species pass through the Jordan Valley to Africa and go back to Europe during the year. Some 42,500 Gray Cranes stayed this winter in the Agamon Hula Lake instead of migrating to Africa, taking advantage of the safety of this artificial water source. Local farmers feed the birds with corn in a bid to prevent them from destroying their agricultural fields.

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UN prosecutors demand life sentence for Ratko Mladic (2.68/26)

United Nations prosecutors have demanded a life sentence for General Ratko Mladic, telling judges they should convict and imprison the former Bosnian Serb military chief for orchestrating atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
Prosecutor Alan Tieger told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that it would be "an insult to the victims, living and dead, and an affront to justice to impose any sentence other than the most severe available under law - a life sentence".
Mr Tieger was speaking at the end of prosecutors' closing statements at the conclusion of Mladic's trial on charges including genocide, murder and terror.
Verdicts are expected late next year.

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UN prosecutors demand life sentence for Gen. Ratko Mladic
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Ivanka Trump is Jewish after all says chief rabbinate (2.66/26)

In the wake of several high-profile controversies in which Orthodox converts from the US were rejected by the Israeli rabbinical courts and the chief rabbinate, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef announced on Wednesday that the recognition process is now set for “serious reform.” For several years, increasing numbers of converts from North America who have immigrated to Israel have found their conversions questioned and even rejected by the chief rabbinate and the rabbinical courts when they have come to register for marriage or other religious services.
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In July this year, the Supreme Rabbinical Court declined to recognize a convert who converted through Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, a prominent Orthodox rabbi in the US. Lookstein also oversaw the conversion Ivanka Trump, daughter of president-elect Donald Trump, and the rejection of his convert by the rabbinical courts essentially cast doubt by the rabbinical establishment over Ivanka Trump’s conversion. In September, the chief rabbinate rejected a convert who had been approved by the most senior rabbinical judge of the Orthodox Beth Din (religious court) of America, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz. One of the central problems critics of the chief rabbinate have pointed to is the fact that there are no set criteria by which the chief rabbinate and the rabbinical courts make their decisions on the issues. The announcement on Wednesday comes in response to a legal petition by the ITIM religious services advisory and lobbying group demanding that the chief rabbinate reveal either criteria or the list of rabbis on its list whose conversions it accepts. In the statement, Yosef said that together with fellow Chief Rabbi David Lau, they had decided to hold a conference next week of all the rabbinical judges on the Supreme Rabbinical Court together with the rabbis of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate in order to establish criteria for recognizing foreign Orthodox converts. “The purpose is to reach a situation in which the chief rabbinate will decide whether or not a rabbi is recognized [to convert] in accordance with known criteria, and not to enter into the details of the conversion itself… as opposed to the past situation in which chief rabbinate officials took upon themselves to examine the details of each case ” said Yosef’s office in a statement to the press. The statement is likely referring to Rabbi Itamar Tubul, the head of the Chief Rabbinate’s Marriage and Conversion Department who has been in charge of evaluating, investigating and ultimately accepting or rejecting conversions done in the US. Until now Tubul has retained the backing of Yosef, who has authority over the Marriage and Conversion Department, although Wednesday’s statement seemed to imply a reprimand for Tubul. In July however, Lau was publicly critical of Tubul and said in a letter to him that he should accept conversions authorized by Schwartz. Under the new process, any conversion authorized by a rabbi on the chief rabbinate’s list, to be drawn up in accordance with the new criteria, will be automatically approved, “except in a situation of actual problem [when] the case will be transferred to the rabbinical courts to clarify the issue. The chief rabbinate mentioned specifically the recent case of the rejection of Lookstein’s convert, noting that the same rabbi had also overseen the conversion of Ivanka Trump, daughter of president-elect Donald Trump. The statement issued by Yosef’s office said explicitly that in a situation like Ivanka Trump’s, the convert’s conversion would not need any further clarification or investigation. ITIM welcomed the chief rabbinate’s announcement which it said could alleviate “the increasing crisis between the State of Israel and these rabbis and their communities.”
“We hope that the process produced by the chief rabbinate will reduce the chaos and bureaucracy and make life easier for those seeking to tie their fate to the State of Israel,” the organization said in a press statement.
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Lawyer for man wrongly charged in WSU cop death blasts authorities (2.37/26)

After prosecutors dropped criminal charges today against DeAngelo L. Davis in the killing of a Wayne State University police officer, Davis' attorney blasted law enforcement.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office announced today that Davis would not face murder charges in the death of K-9 Officer Collin Rose.
"The murder of Sgt. Rose was a tragic loss to the community and law enforcement, but it was also wrong to snatch Mr. DeAngelo Davis off the street and try this case in the media despite a lack of evidence connecting him to the crime," said Davis' attorney Nicole James. "The rush to judgment by the Detroit Police Department, Wayne State Public Safety and the Prosecutor's Office resulted in Mr. Davis being vilified and his reputation sullied by both the national and local media. "
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The prosecutor's office, in a news release, said Davis was "eliminated as a suspect" after a review of new evidence.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy refused to answer questions at 4-minute news conference today.
Davis had been charged with first-degree murder, murder of a peace officer, felon in possession of a firearm and three counts of felony firearm in connection with the killing of Rose, 29, who was shot in the head Nov. 22 at Lincoln and Brainard in Detroit. Originally, the prosecutor's office said Rose conducted a traffic investigation of Davis, called for backup while attempting to take him into custody and that Davis allegedly shot the officer.
According to court records, 36th District Court Judge Lydia Nance Adams signed an order today dismissing the charges after being petitioned to do so by prosecutors.
Earlier today, officials said Davis was expected to be released from the Wayne County Jail.
Police continue to investigate Rose's killing. In the news release, prosecutors said: "For this reason, we are not at liberty to provide further details about the dismissed case and the ongoing investigation. "
Contact Gina Damron:

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Historian Craig Shirley on Pearl Harbor: ‘December 7 Is the Linchpin of History for America’ (2.36/26)

Historian Craig Shirley, author of December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, joined SiriusXM host Matt Boyle on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. ...

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Police: Black cat crosses suspect’s path, rats him out (2.32/26)

Ephrata, Pa. — A Pennsylvania police department says a black cat was lucky for one of its officers tracking down a fugitive.
The Ephrata Police Department posted on its Facebook page that officers were searching for Jonathan Michael Steffy last month over an outstanding bench warrant.
They found the 23-year-old in a backyard but he fled. As they searched the area, one officer noticed a black cat in a nearby yard staring intently at a shed. The officer checked that shed, but it was empty. The officer again saw the cat, and it became apparent it was staring at a different shed behind the officer.
The officer opened that shed and found Steffy.
Police say their thankful for any crime-fighting help, “whether human or feline!”
It wasn’t clear if Steffy has an attorney.

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The many incarnations of Pakistani singer Junaid Jamshed (2.30/26)

Junaid Jamshed, who at one time rivaled Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt in popularity in his country, was one of at least 43 people who died when a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed on its way from Chitral to Islamabad.
He was 52.
"The voice of my youth, the voice of my generation," tweeted Huma Shah , a TV broadcaster and one of many who grew up listening to Jamshed's music.
From pop to piety
Jamshed soared to fame in the 1980s with Vital Signs, one of Pakistan's first pop bands.
From its look -- leather jackets, stone-washed jeans -- to its sound -- fresh, innovative, modern -- Vital Signs signaled change in a country that was just emerging from a long period of martial law and Islamization after the death of military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1988.
Vital Signs was one of those acts that was both commercially and critically lauded, and its impact is still felt in the country's pop music scene today.
The musician also made a name for himself as a TV personality and fashion designer, heading his own clothing line.
After a successful career as a solo singer in the 1990s, Jamshed gave up pop stardom to focus on religious music, or nasheeds. Nasheeds are performed a cappella and are paeans to the glory of God and religion.
Even in his new incarnation, Jamshed was never far from the limelight.
In 2014, Jamshed was investigated for blasphemy after he was caught on camera allegedly insulting one of Prophet Muhammad's wives, the BBC reported. He later apologized for his remarks.
He came out of the controversy unscathed and continued to amass a significant following even outside Pakistan.
At the time of his death, the singer had almost 2.8 million Facebook fans. This year, he also placed in a list of World's 500 Most Influential Muslims.
Fans react online
Jamshed's last tweet, posted Sunday, showed pictures of "Heaven on Earth" in Chitral -- the northern city where the plane took off.
Jamshed's high-profile fans shared their sadness at the news online.
Leading Islamic scholar Mufti Ismail Menk tweeted: "May the Almighty grant ease to all in the tragedy. "
While Pakistani actor and director Hamza Ali Abbasi shared image of himself with the former pop star.
And Arif Alvi, founding member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, sent prayers for his friend Jamshed.

PIA PK661 crashes with 48 people on board
Pakistani pop star Jamshed among 48 killed in plane crash


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Manatee Rescued off Cape Cod Swims to Another Unusual Spot (2.26/26)

The pregnant manatee rescued off Massachusetts ' Cape Cod and released off Florida's Atlantic coast is now in another unusual place — the Bahamas.
The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut reported this week that the manatee dubbed Washburn has been electronically tracked to the islands, about 350 miles from where she was released Nov. 1.
A Sea to Shore Alliance scientist says just as it was unusual to find a manatee off Massachusetts, it's also rare to find one near the Bahamas.
She says Washburn "has us on our toes wondering where she'll go next. "
The manatee was rescued off Washburn Island in Falmouth on Sept. 22 because of concerns that northern waters would get too cold.
She underwent a month of rehabilitation before being flown to Florida in October.

Manatee rescued off Cape Cod swims to another unusual spot
Pregnant manatee rescued off Cape Cod tracked to Bahamas


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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: This is who is responsible for Trump's election (2.25/26)

It's no secret that the presidential election and the following Cabinet appointments and events following president-elect Trump's win in November have created quite the frenzy on social media.
It seems that you can't scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or read more than two tweets without at least one (usually emotion-fueled) reference to Trump, Clinton or politics in general.
SEE ALSO: TRUMP: 'I'm going to bring down drug prices'
This, of course, includes the president-elect himself who has (for lack of better phrasing) stirred up a storm via Twitter before, during and after the election.
Donald Trump's most offensive tweets about Mexico:
Trump's success and following are often attributed to his massive Twitter presence and the debates, controversy and madness his tweets have sparked.
So, when you're CEO of the platform that gives Trump the stage he's learned to master, do you feel at all responsible?
Donald Trump's tweets about pop stars:
That's precisely the question that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was asked.
Succinct and clearly, Dorsey told The Guardian :
He did, however, elaborate on his opinions regarding Trump's twitter usage:
Twitter currently has 317M active users.
Trump tweets about recount:
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Former senator, astronaut John Glenn hospitalized (2.24/26)

"Sen. Glenn is at The James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University (and) was admitted there more than a week ago," Wilson wrote in an email. "I do not know his condition or illness or prognosis. I caution that even though Sen. Glenn is at The James that does not necessarily mean he has cancer. "
Glenn had heart valve replacement surgery in 2014.
He became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962.
Glenn piloted the Mercury space capsule, dubbed Friendship 7, and circled the planet three times in just under five hours on February 20, 1962. Of the original seven US astronauts who made up Project Mercury -- Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra and Donald Slayton -- Glenn is the last surviving member.
Prior to his career as an astronaut, Glenn flew 149 missions during World War II and the Korean War and received multiple medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions.
He resigned from the astronaut program in 1964 and pursued a career in politics, serving as a US senator as a Democrat from Ohio between 1974 and 1999. He even ran for president in 1984. But Glenn's time in space wasn't over.
At 77, he became the oldest person to ever travel in space. Glenn was a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery for a nine-day mission in 1998.
In 2011, he received a Congressional Gold Medal alongside Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. In 2012 , he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
This year, he attended a celebration that saw the renaming of Port Columbus Airport to John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
Glenn and his wife, Annie, have been married for 73 years. Together, they have two children.

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MPs back disclosure of Brexit plan and triggering article 50 by end of March (2.24/26)

MPs have voted by a majority of 373 in favour of a Labour motion calling on the government to set out its Brexit plan and activate article 50 before the end of March next year.
In the face of a potential revolt from some Tory MPs, Theresa May on Tuesday decided to accept a Labour motion calling for ministers to reveal their thinking before acting to leave the European Union.
In turn, however, the prime minister insisted on an amendment that asked MPs to agree to the government’s self-imposed deadline of the end of March for triggering article 50.
The house voted for the motion as amended, with 448 MPs in favour and 75 against.
Some 23 Labour MPs are understood to have voted against the amendment, but only one Tory – the former frontbencher Ken Clarke. Five Lib Dem MPs, 51 from the SNP, three SDLP, three Plaid Cymru, two independents and one Green MP also voted against.
MPs held two votes in total, with the first in favour of adding the government amendment to the original Labour motion, by 461 votes to 89, a majority 372.

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Former Saints RB Pierre Thomas testifies Cardell Hayes murdered Will Smith, ‘kept yelling out profanity’ afterward (2.24/26)

He said it was a murder.
Former Saints running back Pierre Thomas, on the stand Wednesday, said his friend and former teammate Will Smith was murdered by Cardell Hayes in April.
Thomas was out with Smith’s party in New Orleans that night and was there when Smith was shot to death following a road rage incident.
“After the shooting I stopped. I stood there in shock, telling myself, ‘That … that didn't happen. That he didn't just kill one of my friends,’” Thomas testified, according to . “My former teammate. A dude who taught me a lot.”
Man who killed Saints’ Will Smith sounded ‘evil’: Witness
Smith, a former Saints defensive lineman, was killed April 9 in New Orleans following a minor fender bender in the Lower Garden District of the city. Hayes, a 29-year-old tow truck driver, is charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder for also shooting Smith’s wife in the leg.
Thomas testified Smith’s wife calmed him down and he “thought everything was done” before the bullets flew.
Thomas said that after the shooting, Hayes “kept yelling out profanity,” consistent with other testimony during Day 3 of the murder trial that Hayes stood over Smith’s body and taunted him.
Rebecca Dooley, a passenger in Smith’s SUV, testified Hayes stood over Smith and taunted him after shooting him, saying, “Look at you now. You were showing off.”
Will Smith's widow: I don't want sympathy — I want justice
Hayes faces life in prison if found guilty. He's pleaded not guilty on the grounds he felt his life was in danger under Louisiana’s controversial “stand your ground" law that legalizes deadly force as a means of self-defense.
Smith was shot eight times, seven times in his back, after his SUV was involved in a hit-and-run with Hayes’s Hummer that night. Surveillance video indicates Smith sped off from the scene of the accident after initially rear-ending the Hummer.
Hayes allegedly pursued Smith and rammed the back of his Mercedes in retaliation, causing the cars to empty and igniting a verbal altercation.
Richard Hernandez, riding shotgun in Smith’s Mercedes SUV, said he squared off with Hayes and Kevin O’Neal, a passenger in Hayes’s Hummer, prior to the shooting. Hernandez took off his shirt, signaling that he expected a street fight when the two vehicles came together.
Deuce McAllister emotional on stand as Will Smith trial opens
“I felt there was a fight about to happen,” he testified.
Hernandez said O'Neal took a swing at him and Dooley, his wife, “dragged me off.” In conflicting testimony Wednesday, Dooley said O’Neal was trying to diffuse the situation.
Hernandez claims he didn’t know Smith was shot until after his wife told him because he left the scene alone in fear of his own life. Hernandez testified he thought Hayes was targeting him (“Where’s the white boy?”), so he left in a taxi, leaving his wife and the others behind.
Smith had a licensed handgun wedged between his seat and the center console at the time of the shooting.
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Dooley, a passenger in the backseat of Smith’s SUV, testified there was no physical altercation between Smith and Hayes before the scene turned violent.
“I just remember seeing him walk toward Will and continue to shoot and Will wasn't even moving,” Dooley said.
Smith’s wife Raquel, who was shot in the leg during the altercation, also testified Tuesday that Hernandez had taken off his shirt and was jumping around in the street during the exchange with Hayes. Defense attorney Jay Daniels indicated Hayes was threatened by Hernandez during the argument.
On Tuesday, Drew Brees and offensive lineman Jahri Evans attended the trial along with several former players including Steve Gleason, Roman Harper and Deuce McAllister, who served as a character witness for Smith.
Just last week, former Jets running back Joe McKnight was also killed in an apparent road rage incident in New Orleans just a few miles from the intersection where Smith was shot. McKnight was shot during altercation with 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, who will likely stand behind the same defense Hayes is using.

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Pennsylvania Student Faces New Bleach-in-Water Charge (2.22/26)

A central Pennsylvania university student already accused of trying to abort his girlfriend's pregnancy by putting bleach in her water has now been charged with trying to kill her in the process.
LNP ( ) reports Lancaster County prosecutors added the attempted homicide charge Tuesday against 20-year-old Theophilous Washington , of Washington, D. C.
The former Millersville University student is already awaiting trial on attempted homicide and reckless endangerment charges for attempting to kill the woman's unborn child and endangering the woman. Investigators say he had the woman drink from the bleach-tainted water bottle Oct. 28, causing her to fall ill in her dorm. She called 911; the unborn child wasn't harmed.
Washington remains jailed. His attorney didn't immediately comment Wednesday on the new charge.

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Fake news is domestic terrorism (Opinion) (2.21/26)

The story was fictional, but the fear it produced was real. We laugh at this today, or appreciate its artistry as satire. The "Greatest Generation" may have been great -- but they were awfully gullible, too! We're much more media savvy than our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents... or not. Look no further than the phenomenon of fake news -- false stories reported on the Internet and often amplified by social media. As someone who has spent a career in law enforcement, I can say without hesitation that fake news -- producing it and sharing it -- constitutes a very real threat to public safety.
Fake news can ruin reputations, lives, and careers. It can wreck businesses. It can be used to terrorize individuals, public officials, or anybody somebody doesn't like. It can influence elections. Fake news can even contribute to shaping decisions made by leaders of companies, institutions, government agencies, and the government itself. Fake news can kill.
On December 5, fake news propelled 28-year-old Edgar M. Welch as he drove from his home in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Washington, D. C. At 3 p.m., he walked into Comet Ping Pong , a popular pizzeria in the northwest quadrant of the nation's capital carrying a rifle. Some sources say he pointed it at a restaurant employee, but all that is known for certain is that he fired it. Whether he intended to kill, he thankfully hit no one. Police responded, and while much of the neighborhood was locked down, heavily armed officers took Welch into custody.
It is only by the grace of God that the rifle round fired by Welch found no human target in the busy family restaurant he invaded. But we have been warned: Fake news can trigger real bullets.
Welch told police that he was on a mission to "self-investigate" a news story posted on Facebook and on websites including The New Nationalist and The Vigilant Citizen under headlines like this : "Pizzagate: How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington's Occult Elite. " Appearing in variations across the Internet shortly before the presidential election, "pizzagate" consisted of dozens of online news "reports" that Hillary Clinton was the mastermind of a criminal ring that kidnapped children, using the backroom of Comet Ping Pong to "molest and traffic" them. These stories sent Welch to the pizzeria to "self-investigate" -- with his rifle.
He was not alone in having taken the stories with dead seriousness. James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong, had been receiving "hundreds of death threats... via texts, Facebook and Twitter," all alleging that his restaurant "was the home base of a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta. " Many of Alefantis' employees were also being barraged with similar online accusations and threats.
It is obvious to assume that Welch suffers from some delusional disorder. Yet, as I say, he was -- and is -- not alone in giving credence to stories that Clinton -- the former first lady, US senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate -- partnered with her campaign chairman, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and counselor to President Barack Obama, in a child sex trafficking enterprise headquartered in the backroom of a DC pizza parlor. No less a figure than Michael G. Flynn, the son of retired US Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. (Mike) Flynn, whom President-elect Donald Trump has named as his national security adviser, tweeted on December 4 : "Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many 'coincidences' tied to it. " A few days later, the younger Flynn left the transition team , though Trump officials would not explain why.
A month earlier, on November 2, Lt. Gen. Flynn himself had tweeted "U decide -- NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc... MUST READ! " The only trouble here is that the NYPD blew no such whistle. As reported by Politico, the retweeted "news" is fake, as were Lt. Gen. Flynn's retweeted stories that Hillary Clinton "secretly waged war" on the Catholic Church and that President Obama is a "jihadi" who "laundered" money for Muslim terrorists. (It was Obama who appointed Flynn in 2012 as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency). Lt. Gen. Flynn currently has 106,000 Twitter followers.
Fake news is unquestionably an industry, and a growth industry to boot. "How much money can you bring in by making stuff up and putting it on the Internet? " the Washington Post asked Paul Horner, "a prolific, Facebook-focused fake-news writer. "I make like $10,000 a month from AdSense (a company that sells advertising placement on websites)," Horner answered. The Post went on to report that "among a growing group of Macedonian teenagers who see fake-news sites as a way to make easy money from American gullibility, the most successful can make about $5,000 a month... "
I would argue, however, that regardless of its profits, fake news' stock-in-trade is terrorism. We are all too familiar with the way I SIS uses the Internet to incite collective and individual acts of terrorism in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. The ISIS online strategy is to win recruits by undermining local national allegiances, loyalties, and values, and to destroy faith in government. This is also precisely the effect of fake news. And that makes fake news a form of domestic terrorism.
The First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech, of the press, and of peaceful assembly, all rights indispensable to democracy, makes it difficult for government and law enforcement to combat fake news. I am greatly heartened by the December 5 announcement by a coalition among Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft "that they have teamed up to fight the spread of terrorist content over the web by sharing technology and information to reduce the flow of terrorist propaganda across their services. " Welcome to the fight, I say. I only hope that these and other tech companies will recognize fake news -- deliberate disinformation intended to do harm -- as terrorist propaganda.
In the meantime, it is up to us, the stakeholders in the world's greatest democracy, not to believe the Martians are invading just because the Internet tells us they are. Media of all kinds is vital to our freedom. In a 1787 letter to the Virginia statesman Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson wrote , "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. " Strong words, good words, and I agree with them. But each of us, whether we are a parent, teacher, police officer, or presidential adviser, needs to do three things, without exception, before sharing a story on social media. Consider the source. Weigh the source. Question the source.

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Kim Kardashian allegedly 'wants a divorce' from Kanye West (2.20/26)

Following a string of outbursts that led up to husband Kanye West's 8-day hospitalization, Kim Kardashian reportedly wants a divorce from the rapper.
According to Us Weekly's sources , Kardashian "wants a divorce" from West, and she building a case up that will help her attain sole custody of the couple's two children, North, 3, and Saint, 1.
SEE ALSO: Angelina Jolie not moving to London, will remain in L. A. to 'continue family therapy sessions,' rep says
She "doesn't want to stay married," the source continues. But "it will take some time before she can do anything" as West continued to recover from his breakdown late last month that landed him at UCLA Medical Center.
See photos of the couple together:
The rapper, who is currently receiving outpatient care at a rental home away from the pair's Bel Air mansion, did attend a small get together to celebrate son Saint's birthday party last weekend, but other than that, Kardashian "is being very protective and doesn't want Kanye around the kids right now. "
Though her husband's hospitalization was recent, Kardashian has allegedly "felt trapped for a while" now and "doesn't want to stay married. "
It's been a nightmare last few months for the couple since Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in early October, and reports from the past few weeks have pointed to the terrifying incident as the cause of the couple's recent marriage troubles.
See Kim Kardashian's best Instagrams of 2016:
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Kanye’s circle wants him to run from ‘crazy’ Kardashians
Kim Kardashian 'wants divorce from Kanye West after he recovers from breakdown and is plotting to get full custody of the kids'


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Trump almost ruins his own market rally after negative comments on drug stocks, but Dow resilient (2.18/26)

The tape remains pretty resilient, doing what's necessary to keep the indexes hovering near their highs. Different sectors are taking their turn in the lead on a day-to-day basis. Riskier stocks have been leading for weeks, the financials won't rest, corporate credit is firm, semis are well-bid and the transports are in a momentum trance.
So it's hard to find too many alarming cracks in the market just yet. Here's what I'm watching heading into the closing bell:
The nasty PEOTUS-prompted drop in health care is masking a strong market beneath the surface.
Two-thirds of NYSE stocks are higher and the equal-weighted S&P is up twice as much as the benchmark. Money continues to shuttle among sectors, but doesn't depart the market with any urgency (yet). It remains reminiscent of August — the market drifts sideways to up after a quick panic and upward repricing, lolling around and churning; maybe we get a little pullback to jolt people awake as we did then, because it's not often that the indexes merely trudge listlessly deeper into new-high territory — at least not to stay there.
Defensive sectors get a bid Wednesday as bond yields relax lower again. Maybe the drop in Treasury yields shows a bit of caution ahead of the ECB meeting and Fed next week? Or is it that "35-year bull markets" don't die quietly no matter how many people insist on burying them? In any case, the outperformance of stocks versus bonds had become quite stretched lately. Here's a look at the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) versus the iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond ETF (IEF):
A little give-back probably makes some sense, even if you think that's a clear, durable breakout in favor of stocks over bonds:
The biggest near-term concern is probably sentiment. Signals continue to accumulate suggesting both the fast "Tinder trader" crowd and the "long-term commitment" investors are feeling pretty comfortable, perhaps overly complacent right now. The VIX under 12 is not in itself a sell signal; it largely reflects how calm the market has been lately, and the prospect of a sleepwalk toward the holidays.
But when expectations of short-term volatility get this low, stocks can become susceptible to little windstorms started by unassuming butterflies. (Might the ECB see inflation nearer to its target and not promise more QE? Will we get a DJT tweet hostile to some beloved company or sector? Who knows?) The weekly Investors Intelligence bull/bear poll probed further into the happy zone with bulls near 39 percent and bears below 20 percent. The CNNMoney Fear/Greed Index is at 79 on the 100 scale. It was higher briefly in the summer, but once it gets up near 80 there tends to be pretty limited immediate upside.
I'm monitoring a couple of names as direct reads on the most simplistic versions of the so-called Trump trade: Goldman Sachs (higher rates, deregulation, deals and "friends in high places") and United Rentals (equipment for building roads, bridges, walls and luxury resorts). They're breathing some pretty thin air up here:
I'm more interested in the sturdy action in stocks tethered to the consumer, which are less clearly dependent on hoped-for legislation. Autos are having another good day, specialty retail and consumer-finance companies are leaders as well. ( Discover Financial is up 3 percent to a new 52-week high.) Is the market trying to say we could be in for a flush or borrow-and-spend at least in coming months as everyone un-clenches from the campaign and tries to look on the bright side? We'll see…

Trump market rally could be derailed unless...
US STOCKS-Dow, S&P hit highs; Trump comment hammers drug stocks
US STOCKS-Dow, S&P hit highs but Trump comments slam drug stocks
Pharma, biotech stocks fall after Trump comment on drug prices


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Inside Trump Tower: where the transition plays out in plain sight (2.18/26)

Anyone can walk right into Trump Tower.
In the month since Donald Trump was elected president, his namesake tower on Fifth Avenue has been fortified. Planes have been diverted from flying overhead. Dull-eyed dogs sniff the pavement out front, where large men in black helmets stand holding long guns. It looks like a no-go zone, which makes sense, because it’s almost the president’s house.
But as hundreds of tourists and other curiosity-seekers discover every day, Trump tower is no fort, even now. No serious airport in the country today is as easy to enter. There’s a bag scanner, but no visible metal detector for visitors to walk through.
Inside the airy public atrium, it’s the same shopping mall and food court that Trump conceded to the people of New York City in 1983, the year the tower was finished. With the same stinky public bathroom in the basement and the same concrete-tile patio on floor five, the same brass vitrines at street level, and the same waterfall weeping down five stories of orange Breccia pernice marble on the atrium’s east wall.
The difference now is, the next president of the United States – who is running his presidential transition out of his apartment high above – might suddenly pop out of the elevators, like he did on Tuesday morning, to accuse the country’s largest aerospace and defense contractor of “doing a little bit of a number” on the country. The governor of Iowa might wander by. A billionaire tech executive, or the second-richest man in Japan. Laura Ingraham, looking just like she does on TV.
The buzz lured Kyra Niklewicz and her husband, Dave, to make a detour to the tower on Tuesday before catching the Rockettes on a trip to the city from their home in Rochester, New York. Kyra, a medical technologist who works in a hospital, said the couple was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the tower was.
“We’re excited about Donald Trump ,” she said. “I think he offers definitely a different perspective. He’s pro-life – that’s very important to us. And I think we need to give him a chance.”
The Niklewiczes were enjoying the scene from two of the best seats in the house, in the lobby’s floating Starbucks, which is planted on a catwalk that boasts views of the Fifth Avenue entrance one way, the waterfall the other way, and – best of all for people-watching – the elevators directly below. The area is banned to TV cameras, but the angles are sufficiently irresistible that cameramen keep appearing there, only to be kicked back downstairs by security guards.
The media is technically restricted to a semicircular pen facing the elevators, set off by red velour ropes on brass stanchions, which were definitely not purchased with this in mind. But reporters without large cameras, like anyone else on the scene, are free to wander about, for example to the downstairs food court, where Trump’s communications director, Jason Miller, spent about half an hour eating a buffet lunch.
“We’re conducting this process daily,” said Miller, ambushed as he finished his soda, of the selection of Trump’s cabinet. “The president-elect is talking to a lot of qualified people every day.” Then he smiled, said thanks and jumped in an elevator.
Eric Trump, the president-elect’s second son, was flushed unexpectedly at midday from the Trump Grill, on which the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences has conferred its Star Diamond award, according to multiple plaques. At the grill, a bloody mary called the You’re Fired costs $15 – about right for a tourist destination in midtown Manhattan. Flanked by quick-striding men in suits, the scion escaped through a quiet elevator bank one storey below the main one, which explained how he had snuck in there unseen.
Now, about those prices. Trump is a luxury brand, but the atrium of his tower is an oasis of relative affordability in the middle of one of the most obscenely opulent consumer districts on earth. Prada is across the street, Bergdorf and Van Cleef are kitty-corner, and Gucci occupies commercial space elsewhere in the building.
Tiffany & Co, directly next door to the tower, complained last week that holiday sales were down because of the bothersome security cordons. The jeweler has created an entry corridor, defiantly draped in powder blue, to its front door from a security checkpoint at the end of the block.
Tiffany, at its least expensive, sells glass bowls for a couple hundred dollars. Inside Trump tower, Trump-branded glassware starts at $3.50. Golf accessories, books and apparel can all be purchased at prices you’d find in a campus bookstore. There’s a perfume for less than $20.
Slightly pricier are the items on offer at the basement booth operated by Donald J Trump for President, Inc. Here is the official campaign swag familiar from the rallies: T-shirts $25, hats $30, sweatshirts $50. But don’t try buying this gear if you’re not an American: proceeds count as campaign donations, which are not legal for non-citizens to make.
Sales at the Trump swag stand were not brisk. No one inside the tower on Tuesday, in fact, was sighted wearing Trump gear. People wore green sweatshirts that said North Dakota, and sports team hats and puffy coats. Maybe they had Trump T-shirts on underneath.
As of 12.47pm on Tuesday, the Trump swag booth had recorded one solitary sale, according to an inventory sheet left carelessly on display. It was a hat.
By far, the best commercial opportunities on the premises are to be found in a souvenir shop in the basement’s deepest recess, not counting the bathroom. It’s where locals go to buy lottery tickets and cigarettes, and where the visitor might pick up a generic Statue of Liberty magnet or an NYPD sweatshirt.
The shop’s proprietor, who did not want to give his name because his office sits under 63 stories of pure Trump weight, said that while he would love to, he was not allowed to sell Trump-branded gear, because Trump was selling those products himself.
“He’s a businessman, man,” said the man. “He’s a very smart guy. And he’s going to make money.”
Rising back out of the basement to street level, lifted by an escalator past tourists filming their descents on their phones, one has a prime view of a 40ft tree installed at the base of the waterfall for the holiday season – no competition for Rockefeller center, but not bad.
The tree is the centerpiece of the tower’s Christmas décor that includes wreaths, prop golden gift boxes with red bows and Nutcracker soldiers standing sentinel on the escalator landings. The background music is Barry Manilow and Bing Crosby – Silent Night, White Christmas , Rudolph and the rest.
It’s as pleasant as any mall or airport around Christmastime, but with an added air of expectancy. In 44 days, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.
Meanwhile, at the foot of his tower, anyone can walk right in. And make a purchase.

Trump shakes up transition team, elevates Pence's role
You're Hired? Inside the interviews as Trump picks Cabinet


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Why the US military is trying to streamline its misconduct cases (2.18/26)

WASHINGTON — Military leaders are trying to fix the lengthy, inconsistent process for investigating senior officers accused of misconduct, The Associated Press has learned. They are seeking to change a hodgepodge system in which investigations can drag on for years while taxpayers pay six-figure salaries to officers relegated to mid-level administrative posts.
Trust in the disciplinary system "is strained," the chiefs of the four military services said in a memo to Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The memo was obtained by The Associated Press.
The chiefs said they planned to set up a task force to study the issue. It would be created by the end of the year and likely include members of the military, lawmakers, and former investigators or inspectors general. The panel would be charged with providing specific proposals within 10 months.
The memo said the service leaders have concerns about "our internal processes to respond promptly and equitably when there are accusations of misconduct. "
There are no real policy guidelines or regulations that govern where the officers go and what jobs they can hold while they wait for investigations to end. Instead, decisions are made by commanders on a case-by-case basis that provides little guarantee of equal treatment across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, or even for those within the same service.
"We are very frustrated by the amount of time it takes for us to process things," said Lt. Gen. Gary Cheek, director of the Army staff. "In many cases this is in fairness to the individual as well as to run the process through the levels of review. But it can take months to adjudicate some of these and we would greatly prefer that to be weeks, not months. "
Eugene Fidell, a lawyer who specializes in military cases and teaches at Yale Law School, said the lengthy process wastes money and is particularly damaging for those ultimately found innocent or not charged. And he said it can treat officers differently, even if they committed the same offense.
"There are people who are hung out to dry, and it's extremely unfair because it's virtually impossible to put Humpty back together again," Mr. Fidell said.
As an example, for the past year, Army Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis has been poring over older military regulations to see what needs updating. His work, in a small suburban Virginia office as a special assistant to the Army's personnel chief, isn't far from the Pentagon. But it's a universe away from his high-powered job as senior military adviser to Carter – a job he lost amid charges of improper behavior and misuse of a government credit card.
He will stay there until the Army decides on his case and determines at what rank he can retire – a decision that could affect his annual income by tens of thousands of dollars.
The Navy, meanwhile, has officers wrapped up in a lengthy, complicated corruption investigation, involving bribes from Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as "Fat Leonard. " A total of 16 people, including nearly a dozen current and former Navy officials, have been charged so far in the scandal, which has dragged on for about three years.
In some cases, such as Lewis', the investigation is done by the Pentagon's inspector general. Others are handled by the military services' inspectors general, and in cases like "Fat Leonard," the Justice Department drives the probe.
For many Americans, as The Christian Science Monitor's Mark Sappenfeld wrote in 2006, the military-justice system seems "remote and impenetrable. "
There are about a half-dozen active duty senior leaders – mainly two- and three-star officers – who are working in administrative jobs now, waiting for final decisions on misconduct investigations. Over the past five years, there have been nearly 30.
Investigators sometimes have to go back and recreate history, months and years after it occurred and after people and commanders have long moved on. There is concern that stretching out the process makes it difficult to send a clear signal to others that bad behavior won't be tolerated.
Cheek, who is responsible for deciding where Army officers go and what they do while under investigation, said it's important to remember that an accused soldier is innocent until proven guilty and he defended the need to handle incidents on a case-by-case basis.
The investigations are largely done the same way, he said, but "they all have different issues they're working through. We have to match it to the individual circumstances. "
He said that "when we have someone who has mistreated people or done something wrong, we hold them appropriately accountable. We may not advertise that or announce it from the mountain tops but every case has a process it has gone through very deliberately. "
He noted that the officers under investigation are usually at the lowest point of their lives.
"I am dealing with someone who is enormously distraught, many times incredibly embarrassed by what's happened," Cheek said. "I've got to show frankly some compassion toward them no matter what. We're not going to condone what they've done, but we're going to treat them right. "

APNewsBreak: Military targets handling of misconduct cases
APNewsBreak: Military to review how misconduct cases handled
Military targets handling of misconduct cases
Military to review how misconduct cases handled


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Former football coach arrested in Belfast over sex abuse claims (2.18/26)

A former football coach has been arrested in Northern Ireland over sex abuse claims. Jim McCafferty, 71, who was involved in football in Scotland and Ireland from the 1980s, was arrested in Belfast by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) after walking into a police station. It follows an interview that McCafferty, originally from Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, gave to the Irish Mirror newspaper. McCafferty, who now lives in Belfast, was formerly a kit man at Celtic, Hibs and Falkirk. Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones, from the PSNI's public protection branch, said: "A 71-year-old male has been arrested by detectives after presenting himself at a station in Belfast. "He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences against children in Northern Ireland. He is currently helping police with their inquiries. " In Scotland, police say they have received information about alleged historic offences and will investigate. A police spokesman said: "Police Scotland has received a report of non-recent sexual abuse and will commence inquiries to establish the full circumstances surrounding this matter. "

Belfast police investigating abuse arrest former coach
Ex-football coach Jim McCafferty to face court on child sex charge


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BofAML: July 11 was more important than Brexit, Trump or the Fed (2.17/26)

When investors look back on the most significant event of 2016, it won't be June 23's Brexit vote or Donald Trump's Nov. 8 election victory, or even if the Fed's expected rate hike in December.
Instead, it will be July 11.
That was the day everything changed, at least according to the view of Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
On that day, longer-term bond yields hit what Hartnett and a number of other market experts believe was a multi-decade low, not expected to be seen again anytime soon.
The move was sparked by expectations that aggressive central bank monetary policy was about to be replaced by fiscal policy measures aimed at goosing the world's economy through big spending.
For investors, that means the end of a generational bond bull market and the beginning of a new regime.
"That day was the day that the greatest bull market ever in the bond market ended. Since then, yields have been rising. That without a doubt is the biggest event of 2016," Hartnett said Wednesday at BofAML's annual outlook for the year ahead. "Everyone was positioned for that to continue. "
Like many others on Wall Street, BofAML had to rewrite the script after Trump won. The general theme of inflation, rising yields and fiscal stimulus expectations wasn't entirely new, but the degree could be something markets didn't expect.
The turn in bond yields was "a massive, secular inflection point" that will have major effects, Hartnett said.
The investing themes shift from globalism to protectionism, from a focus on Wall Street to one on Main Street, and from big, large-cap stock market names that everyone knows to small companies that may not be so familiar.
"Take your pick. But these rotations are very violent, and they've only just begun," Hartnett said.
As for specific levels, BofAML sees the S&P 500 rising to 2,300 by the end of 2017 — just a 4 percent gain from here — while the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rises to 2.65 percent in that timeframe, or about a quarter-point from current levels, and the euro to edge closer to parity with the dollar at 1.05.
It doesn't sound like much, but Hartnett said it will be a rough ride getting there as investors deal with a new landscape.
"These are sort of moderate moves from where we are today, but they should mask tremendous volatility under the surface," he said.

Trump: Presidency 'far more important' than business
The New Statesman Cover | Brexit to Trump


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Ohio GOP official's US Senate bid could mean bitter rematch (2.16/26)

Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel will again challenge Democratic U. S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018, setting up what could be a rematch of what was one of the country's most bitter, expensive and closely watched Senate races four years ago.
Mandel announced Wednesday he intends to again run as someone who is intent on shaking up Washington and will capitalize on the anti-establishment movement that propelled Donald Trump's presidential victory.
"I'm running to transfer the power from the politicians to the people. In that regard, our mission and message is very similar to President-elect Trump," said Mandel, a formidable fundraiser who has butted heads with Republican Gov. John Kasich over taxes and Medicaid expansion.
Soon after Mandel's announcement, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed Mandel who had backed Rubio's presidential bid last year over the home-state Kasich.
Mandel, a 39-year-old Marine veteran who did two tours in Iraq, pledged to campaign to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and institute term limits for Congress — repeating a theme he sounded in 2012 when he constantly referred to Brown as a career politician.
Brown, a second-term Democrat who also served in the U. S. House and is a former Ohio secretary of state, has spent much of his life in elected office. He was among those mentioned as a possible running mate for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton this past fall.
Mandel has been the state's treasurer since 2010 and before that served two terms in the state legislature.
He lost to Brown by 6 percentage points the first time around, in 2012, a presidential election year that saw Obama carry Ohio at the top of the ticket. Brown was buoyed then by his support for the auto industry bailout and Mandel's opposition to the industry rescue that affected about 800,000 Ohio jobs.
Their first match-up was highlighted by an onslaught of negative ads. Conservative outside groups spent nearly $40 million in Ohio criticizing Brown.
Ohio Democrats on Wednesday brought up criticisms of Mandel that came out during the earlier campaign, including hiring friends and political operatives into his state office and being a no-show to some official state duties.
"Since Day One in the treasurer's office Josh Mandel has always been more interested in furthering his own political career than doing his job," said state Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger.
Some questioned four years ago whether Mandel, who started his political career as student body president at Ohio State University and then became a Cleveland-area city councilman, had been damaged by what was a rancorous campaign against Brown.
Mandel said afterward that several Ohio Republicans had bounced back after tough defeats, including former Gov. George Voinovich and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Mandel this time could face a primary race against U. S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, who is thought to be interested in running for a statewide office.

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Ohio's GOP treasurer plans another run for US Senate


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A look at three investigations of senior military officers (2.16/26)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Military leaders are launching a broad review of how the services investigate accusations of misconduct by senior officers, citing deep concerns about how long the process now takes and whether it treats people equally. There are no real policy guidelines or regulations that govern where the officers go and what jobs they can hold while they wait for bad conduct investigations to end. Often they are sent to jobs as special assistants to senior leaders, where they languish for more than a year, at taxpayers' expense, until decisions are made. A look at three senior officers whose investigations have been publicly reported: ___ Army Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis: Defense Secretary Ash Carter's former senior military aide used his government credit card at strip clubs or gentlemen's clubs in Rome and Seoul, drank in excess and had "improper interactions" with women during business travel with Carter, according to an investigation by the Defense Department inspector general released in October. Lewis is serving as a special assistant to the Army's personnel chief while waiting for a final decision on the findings. ___ Army Maj. Gen. David Haight: An Army Inspector General investigation concluded that Haight had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who was not his wife, and that he misused government resources, including a department cellphone and computer, for a "high volume" of personal calls and emails. He is serving as a special assistant for the Army's deputy chief of staff for operations, and a decision on the case is expected in the near future. __ Army Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby was relieved of command of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, in September, due to loss of confidence in his ability to lead. No other details about the case have been released.

APNewsBreak: Military targets handling of misconduct cases
Military targets handling of misconduct cases
APNewsBreak: Military to review how misconduct cases handled
Military to review how misconduct cases handled


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Lawyer to judge: Don’t stick taxpayers with $5M tab for Jill Stein (2.16/26)

Michigan Republicans and pro-recount advocates went at it again in federal court this morning, one side pushing for the recount to end and to save taxpayers millions, the other arguing it needs to continue so that voters can know if fraud took place.
U. S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, who heard the arguments, said he would issue a written decision. He did not say when.
Two key questions that emerged at the hearing: Is the Michigan recount an issue for the federal court, which has so far let the recount go forward, or the state courts, to decide? And can Green Party candidate Jill Stein -- a candidate who has virtually no possibility of winning the presidency -- request a recount under state law?
The Michigan Republican Party and Michigan Attorney Genera'ls Office argued first, urging the judge to end the recount, saying the Michigan Court of Appeals has already decided this issue. Specifically, they said, the appeals court held that Stein, who took 1% of the vote and came in fourth place, had no standing to seek a recount because she is not an aggrieved party and had no chance at winning.
They also argued the recount is unfairly costing taxpayers too much money: by one estimate $500,000 a day.
"Don't become the first federal court in the country to order a recount ... for a candidate who lost by 2 million votes," argued attorney John Bursh, who is representing the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
But Stein's lawyers argued a recount is needed in order to figure out if something did go wrong. And that the issue has not yet been finalized in the state courts because they plan to pursue further appeals in the state courts, and the Michigan State Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on the issue.
"The state court decision is not final," attorney Hayley Horowitz argued on behalf of Stein. "There is no way to know whether fraud occurred without conducting the recount. "
Horowitz argued that a recount can raise "clear flags " if something went wrong and then trigger a forensic audit.
Moreover, a recount might not change whether Stein won, but it could tilt the election to another candidate Hillary Clinton, who lost by only10,704 votes a tiny fraction of the total number of Michigan voters.
Election attorney John Pirich, who testified for the Republicans, said at the hearing the recount so far has shown no major discrepancies.
For example, he said, out of recounts in 10 counties, 66 votes were changed between Clinton and Trump. But he did note that more than half the precincts in the city of Detroit would not be recounted due to problems. He didn't elaborate on why.
Goldsmith had ordered the recount to begin Monday, two days before state officials had scheduled it to start.
His decision to start an immediate recount was upheld by a 3-judge panel with the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday.
But moments later, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a 3-0 opinion said the recount never should have started because the person requesting it — Green Party candidate Jill Stein — had no chance of winning with her 1% of the total vote, and was therefore not a qualified aggrieved party under state law.
President-elect Donald Trump and the Michigan Republican Party have argued that point all along — that Stein has no standing to request a recount. Recount opponents also have argued that the recount is unfairly costing Michigan taxpayers “nearly $1 million per day,” and that this is an issue for the state courts to decide, not federal courts.
In issuing an immediate recount, Goldsmith concluded that Stein and Michigan voters would have suffered "irreparable harm" if the recount was not started quickly enough to get it completed before a Dec. 13 federal deadline to guarantee Michigan's 16 electoral votes are counted.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers met in Lansing today.
Last Friday, the board deadlocked 2-2 on Trump's objection to Stein's request for a recount, which allowed the hand recount to move forward. But the Michigan Court of Appeals now says the board erred in its decision.
The board of state canvassers has previously noted that Michigan's electors already have been certified and their names have been sent to Washington.
In addition to Michigan, Stein is also seeking recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — battleground states that have voted Democratic in recent elections but shifted to Republican in 2016. If recounts resulted in all three states flipping to Democrat Hillary Clinton from Trump, Clinton would win the presidency.
Stein has said she doesn’t expect to change the outcome, but wants to test the integrity of voting systems.

US judge to hear arguments on Michigan presidential recount
Judge considering requests to end recount in Michigan


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Trump Supporters Shatter Mainstream Media Narrative (2.16/26)

A Trump supporter describes how corrupt Hillary Clinton is controlled by the global elite.
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Therapy pig to meet with passengers at San Francisco airport (2.16/26)

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Passengers at San Francisco International Airport will soon be greeted by a tutu-wearing therapy pig before their flights.
The San Francisco SPCA shared a photo introducing LiLou the Juliana breed pig as the newest member of its "Wag Brigade" of therapy animals.
"Our department has a history of welcoming different species, including chinchillas, a bearded dragon, a turtle, guinea pigs, and a Moluccan cockatoo," the SPCA said. "LiLou is, so far as we know, the first pig since we started in 1981. "
The SFO's Wag Brigade launched in 2013 and features more than 300 cats, dogs and rabbits who wear vests that read "Pet Me! " to help ease the stress of travel, according to Mercury News.
"Since its launch in 2013, the SFO Wag Brigade has become a favorite amenity among travelers," Director of Guest Experience Christopher Birch said. "With the addition of LiLou, we can look forward to more moments of surprise and delight for guests at our airport. "
LiLou passed her Animal Assisted Therapy training "with flying colors" and proved to be popular with clients, as she visited different facilities and showed off her more than ten tricks.
"Most people have never had the opportunity to meet a pig, and literally everyone wanted to interact with her," AAT Mentor Dianne Bates said.

Therapy Pig 'LiLou' at San Francisco Airport Helps People Fly
San Francisco Bay Area weather forecast


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Michael Moore: ‘Disrupt the Inauguration’ (2.15/26)

Liberal documentary filmaker Michael Moore is encouraging Americans to take to the streets to protest the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“Disrupt the Inauguration. The Majority have spoken – by nearly 2.7 million votes &counting! Silence is not an option,” Moore tweeted Wednesday morning to his three million Twitter followers.
Disrupt the Inauguration. The Majority have spoken – by nearly 2.7 million votes &counting! Silence is not an option
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 7, 2016
Moore’s tweet linked to a webpage for DisruptJ20, a social justice campaign calling for “a bold mobilization against the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017.”
“We call on all people of good conscience to join in disrupting the ceremonies,” the website reads. “If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule.”
Read more

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Michael Moore: “The American People Do Not Support” President-Elect Trump


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Spotify's Top 10 most viral tracks (2.14/26)

The following list represents the most viral tracks on Spotify, based on the number of people who shared it divided by the number who listened to it, from Friday Nov. 25, to Thursday Dec. 1, via Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Spotify. UNITED STATES 1. Jarle Skavhellen, "The Ghost In Your Smile" (Mors Kjeller Records) 2. Travelle, "Nobody Else" (Universal Music Norway) 3. DJ Suede The Remix God, "You Name It! (#UNameItChallenge)" (Fast Life Entertainment / EMPIRE) 4. The Weeknd, "I Feel It Coming" (Republic Records) 5. Odunsi (The Engine), "Situationship (feat. AYLØ)" (Bowofoluwa Odunsi) 6. Theo Lawrence & The Hearts, "Made to Last" (Gentilly Potion) 7. LVNA, "Windows" (LVNA) 8. Rando, "Collide (feat. Akeera)" (Rando) 9. Ashanti, "Helpless (feat. Ja Rule)" (Atlantic Records) 10. Crying Robot, "Different Sides" (Epic Amsterdam) UNITED KINGDOM 1. Mighty Mark, "F Trump" (Zoo On Mars) 2. Julius Cowdrey, "7 Roads (I See You)" (Instrumental) 3. The Weeknd, "I Feel It Coming" (Republic Records) 4. Dwayne Johnson, "You're Welcome" (Walt Disney Records) 5. Childish Gambino, "Redbone" (Glassnote Entertainment) 6. Emily Burns, "Take It Or Leave It" (Honeycomb Records) 7. James Vickery, "Epiphany" (Lemon Records) 8. UB40 featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey, "Purple Rain - Unplugged" (Universal Music Operations) 9. J. Bernardt, "Calm Down" (Play It Again Sam) 10. The Weeknd, "Sidewalks" (Republic Records) GLOBAL 1. The Weeknd, "I Feel It Coming" (Republic Records) 2. Mighty Mark, "F Trump" (Zoo On Mars) 3. Noah Cyrus, "Make Me (Cry)" (RECORDS, LLC) 4. The Weeknd, "Sidewalks" (Republic Records) 5. Grace VanderWaal, "I Don't Know My Name" (Columbia Records) 6. DJ Suede The Remix God, "You Name It! (#UNameItChallenge)" (Fast Life Entertainment / EMPIRE) 7. The Weeknd, "Stargirl Interlude" (Republic Records) 8. Dwayne Johnson, "You're Welcome" (Walt Disney Records) 9. The Weeknd, "Party Monster" (Republic Records) 10. The Weeknd, "Secrets" (Republic Records) __

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AT&T deal to buy Time Warner would give it a bunch of major TV studios (2.14/26)

AT&T's plan to purchase Time Warner for $85 billion would give the company far more than just a handful of popular basic cable channels — it would also include some of the most prolific television studios in the industry.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, senators raised concerns that the deal would let the combined company charge competing