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  • Nearly two-thirds of voters expect Trump to win reelection in November, poll finds

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    Opinions on the race appear to be firmly set for most voters, with 63% saying they know how they will vote no matter who is the Democratic nominee.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 13:51:18 -0500
  • 10,000 mourn victims of racist shooting rampage in Germany

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    Around 10,000 protesters marched through the central German town of Hanau on Sunday to mourn the nine people who were killed by an immigrant-hating gunman four days ago. “These days and hours are the blackest and darkest our town has ever experienced during peace times,” Hanau mayor Claus Kaminsky told the somber crowds, according to the German news agency dpa. Five of the victims were reported to be Turkish citizens.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:00:29 -0500
  • Coronavirus challenges $45 billion cruise industry

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    'Business is soft, people are scared to travel,' said Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:37:00 -0500
  • Here Comes 1984: China's Regime Is An Existential Threat to the World

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    One expert tells you why.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 17:33:00 -0500
  • Three Weinstein Accusers Could Send Producer to Prison for Life

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    (Bloomberg) -- As the jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial wrestle with a pair of charges that could send the fallen movie mogul to prison for life, the testimony of three women who don’t even appear in his indictment could help seal his fate.They’re known as Molineux witnesses in New York, where Weinstein is being tried, and they testified to their own encounters with him as prosecutors sought to persuade the jury that the two women he is charged with attacking never gave their consent to sex. Such witnesses testified in the retrial of Bill Cosby in Pennsylvania, which ended in his conviction.On Friday the jury sent a note to the judge referring to two counts of predatory sexual assault -- counts one and three on the verdict sheet it’s working from -- and suggesting it might be deadlocked.“We the jury request to understand if we can be hung on one and/or three and unanimous on the other charges. Thank you,” the jurors told the judge. He told them to keep trying.The other charges are a criminal sexual act and rape. Weinstein is accused of forcing oral sex on “Project Runway” assistant Miriam Haley in his SoHo loft in 2006 and raping aspiring actor Jessica Mann in a midtown Manhattan hotel in 2013.In a category by herself is the actor Annabella Sciorra, who told the jury that Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s. Her allegations are a linchpin for the two predatory sexual assault counts, the gravest charges facing the former Hollywood power broker.Predatory sexual assault requires a serious attack on at least two people. To find Weinstein guilty on count one, the jury would need to be persuaded by the evidence for the alleged attacks on both Haley and Sciorra. To convict him on count three, it would need to find that he assaulted both Mann and Sciorra.Read More: Weinstein Jury Stuck on Most Serious Charges, Told to Keep at ItThe testimony of the Molineux witnesses may come into play as well. Weinstein’s lawyers argue that any encounters their client had were consensual. If the jury finds the allegations of assault from these three women credible, it may decide Haley and Mann never gave Weinstein their consent either, and convict him of rape and a criminal sexual act.And if the jurors believe Sciorra, too, that will meet the requirements of predatory sexual assault -- the two counts they seem to be stuck on -- and Weinstein, 67, could spend the rest of his life behind bars.Weinstein’s lawyers have told the jury that the women had consensual, and even transactional, sex with their client, and that they “re-labeled” the encounters as assaults years after the fact in the wake of the MeToo movement.The first of the three witnesses, Dawn Dunning, testified that in 2004, when she was an aspiring actor waiting tables, Weinstein lured her to a business meeting in a hotel room and digitally penetrated her. The second, Tarale Wulff, told the court that minutes after meeting the producer in 2005, when she was working as a cocktail waitress, he dragged her up a secluded stairwell and masturbated, and later raped her in his SoHo apartment. The third, Lauren Young, said she was a model trying to make it as a screenwriter in 2013 when Weinstein trapped her in his hotel suite’s bathroom, where he stripped off the top of her dress and groped her.Such testimony about uncharged crimes is typically considered too prejudicial to allow, but it’s permitted under limited circumstances. While it can’t be used to suggest a defendant has a propensity to commit a crime, it can explore the defendant’s intent or a common theme. In New York it dates back to a landmark 1901 decision involving a chemist named Roland Molineux who was accused in a fatal cyanide poisoning.Read More: Weinstein’s ‘Trial of the Century’ Gets Its Own PodcastNew York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke ruled in December, over the objections of the defense, that the three accusers could be called to rebut Weinstein’s argument that the encounters were consensual and to show his “intent to use forcible compulsion” on Haley and Mann. The decision was unsealed on Feb. 7, revealing that prosecutors sought to call a total of five such witnesses, the same number as at the Cosby trial.In the end, Burke allowed three.“The consistent theme is that the defendant used his business stature in the movie industry to lure women to believe that he would connect them to careers in the entertainment industry,” Burke wrote, adding that the testimony could help the jury of seven men and five women understand why Haley and Mann feared reprisals if they went to the police.He said it could help the jurors decide whether Weinstein “created an engineered situation where he could be alone” with Mann and Haley “and then sexually assault them.”Weinstein’s lawyers have cited Burke’s Molineux ruling, as well as other decisions that went against them, in calling for a mistrial. Burke has denied the requests.The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).Read MoreJurors Focus on Predatory Assault, Most Serious ChargeSciorra Describes Gift of Popcorn, Then RapeWeinstein Was Jekyll and Hyde, Witness Testifies‘I Think I Was Raped’: Jury Hears Rosie Perez Back Up SciorraJessica Mann Is Grilled on Contact After Alleged Assault Accuser Called Weinstein a ‘Soul Mate,’ Friend TestifiesWeinstein’s Dream Jury Is Conservative, Traditional, SkepticalA MeToo Moment Two Years in the MakingTo contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in Federal Court in Manhattan at pathurtado@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter JeffreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:59:06 -0500
  • Mike Bloomberg's social media strategy is under fire as Twitter suspends 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts for platform manipulation

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    A Twitter spokesman said the identical posts violated its policy against manipulation and spam that was created in response to the 2016 election.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:08:29 -0500
  • Police at checkpoints, events scrapped as virus fears hit Italy

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    Police patrolled perimeters of virus-stricken town in northern Italy Sunday as tens of thousands of people were placed under lockdown and public events cancelled to stem Europe's worst outbreak of the new coronavirus. "Virus -- Northern Italy under Siege," read Sunday's headline in the Il Fatto Quotidiano daily, as television stations delivered a steady stream of images of masked locals and hospital workers in protective suits. "Virus Paralysis," read La Repubblica.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:48:11 -0500
  • 10 Amazing Facts About Polar Bears

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    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 15:00:00 -0500
  • US accuses Russia of huge coronavirus disinformation campaign

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    US officials say thousands of social media accounts linked to Russia are part of a coordinated effort to spread disinformation about the new coronavirus.The campaign allegedly aims to damage the US’s image and spread unfounded conspiracy theories that it is behind the outbreak which has infected nearly 78,000 globally and killed over 2,500 people.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:17:30 -0500
  • Countdown Begins to Possible End of U.S. War in Afghanistan

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    KABUL, Afghanistan -- The United States and the Taliban started the clock early Saturday on a plan to end America's longest war after more than 18 years, beginning with what they hope will be seven days of greatly reduced violence in Afghanistan.If the weeklong, partial truce holds, the two sides have agreed, they will meet on Feb. 29 to sign an agreement laying out a timetable for the U.S. to withdraw its troops.The pact is also meant to clear the way for peace talks involving the Taliban and the government in Kabul, and U.S. officials point to the reduction in hostilities as the first link in a fragile chain of events that could deliver peace in Afghanistan after more than four decades of conflict.But the Afghan government is deep in a political crisis after a bitterly disputed presidential election in which the opposition candidate claimed victory despite President Ashraf Ghani having been declared the winner. With rival claimants to legitimacy, it is unclear who would negotiate with the Taliban, whether they would be prepared to enter talks while struggling to control the government, or what kind of mandate they would have.U.S. negotiators demanded the seven-day reduction in violence, which went into effect after midnight Saturday, as a public show of the Taliban's good faith and its ability to control its fractious and scattered forces. Now it is the government in Kabul whose cohesion and command are more in doubt."I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter on Friday.A previous attempt at finalizing a deal between the Taliban and the U.S. fell apart on the verge of completion in September, with President Donald Trump citing a new outbreak of violence, and the same risk hangs over the latest try.And even if the carefully choreographed rollout of the agreement does presage the end of the American phase of the war, the plan might not spell the end of the war itself. Trump is determined, one way or another, to reduce U.S. involvement in Afghanistan to a minimum, and the Taliban's long-term commitment to compromise and power-sharing remains open to question.Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief U.S. negotiator, recently arrived in Kabul to prepare for the announcement of an agreement, to find a government that was threatening to split apart. He has been shuttling in a convoy of armed vehicles between the heavily guarded homes of the divided elite in Kabul, trying to keep the peace.In September, Afghanistan held a presidential election marred by Taliban attacks and allegations of fraud and mismanagement. It was not until Tuesday -- after nearly five months of delays, acrimonious disputes and a partial audit of the results -- that the election commission declared that Ghani had won another five-year term.His main opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, also declared victory, accusing the election body of favoring the incumbent, and called on his supporters to form their own government.The U.S. government still has not acknowledged Ghani's victory. The only public comment it has made on the results hinted at concern that the electoral mess might make matters worse."It is likely that these developments could add to the challenges Afghanistan faces, including the challenges of the peace process," Molly Phee, Khalilzad's deputy in negotiations, said Tuesday at the United States Institute of Peace, a government-funded policy group in Washington. "Our priority, and what we believe to be the priority of most Afghans, remains peace and the peace process."Since U.S. officials couldn't persuade Ghani to postpone the election, the yearlong talks with the Taliban, primarily in Doha, Qatar, became a race against Afghanistan's political calendar. Election after election has been so tainted that U.S. diplomats were essentially trying to rush through a peace deal with the Taliban before Afghanistan's latest political crisis could complicate the equation.They almost finalized a deal with the insurgents last summer that would have pushed back the election, but Trump called off the talks on the eve of the signing, and the vote went ahead.The political showdown pits technocratic Ghani and his circle of young advisers against some of the most hardened figures of recent Afghan history, survivors of years of battle and deal-making. One of Abdullah's key supporters is Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who has been accused of an array of violent acts, and until recently served as Ghani's vice president.Dostum, who has one of the most unified bases of support in the north, was the first to call for a parallel government, and to urge protests and the announcement of governors in northern provinces. Abdullah's fate could turn on how willing the general is to push the crisis, and how receptive he is to a deal with Ghani.Khalilzad, who was expected to return to Doha to prepare for the signing ceremony, has extended his stay in Afghanistan to manage the political tensions, meeting repeatedly with Ghani, Abdullah and other key political players.Late Thursday, Khalilzad told a meeting of Dostum's party that the announcement of election results had caught him by surprise, according to one participant. He and Gen. Austin S. Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, urged the participants to make sure that political rallies don't turn to violence.Analysts said the conflict was unlikely to affect the first steps of the peace process, as U.S. officials had made it clear to everyone that their priority was starting the violence reduction. But the high-stakes political showdown would make it difficult to move on to the next phase, when a unified negotiating team that includes the Afghan government is expected to sit across from the Taliban."The U.S. has clearly put its weight on the peace issue, and that message is clear to all sides -- with President Ghani agreeing to reduction of violence -- there is a consensus among the parties," said Omar Sadr, an assistant professor of political science at the American University of Afghanistan."But the election issue has created a huge gap between the political sides and that needs to be bridged in a very short time for this process to move forward," he added. "And I don't know how that can happen without Khalilzad and the U.S. stepping in."Sadr said the Americans remaining quiet on the election results gives them "maneuver room" to broker a settlement to the political crisis -- which could provide leverage to make sure the peace process doesn't fall apart.The seven-day violence reduction being rolled out closely resembles a cease-fire, barring some exceptions, officials said.The Taliban has agreed to hold back attacks on cities, highways, and major security outposts throughout the country. In return, Afghan government forces and the U.S. military, which has stepped up airstrikes in the last year, have agreed to hold back their operations.In preparation for the start of the violence reduction, Ghani has been meeting all provincial security and political leaders in recent days. He told one group that the Taliban currently carry out about 80 attacks a day, and that a reduction to about 10 attacks would be seen as a successful implementation."Our brave security and defense forces will only act in defense of themselves and the honorable people of Afghanistan," he said in a televised address late Friday.Taliban leaders scrambled to get their message of minimizing violence to the lowest units of what has increasingly been a decentralized force.In private WhatsApp messages, Taliban commanders can be heard taking pains to strike a nuance: they want fighters to hold fire and not attack, but to stay vigilant in their positions and not venture into cities and government territory.The group has long feared that a full cease-fire could divide its ranks and make remobilizing difficult if the peace process crumbled and all-out fighting resumed.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 10:11:57 -0500
  • Entrance polls show Sanders winning nearly every demographic in Nevada

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    What do union households, non-union households, men, women, and just about every other demographic in Nevada have in common?They're all caucusing for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), entrance polls for Saturday's Democratic caucuses in Nevada show. Not only did Sanders have a sizable lead when it came to early caucus results on Saturday, but these polls indicated his message has proved universal.According to entrance polls taken Saturday for The Washington Post and other news outlets, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the Democratic field in attracting black caucusgoers and those age 65 and older, by nine and eight percentage points, respectively. Sanders is meanwhile leading the field in voters age 17–29 by 56 percentage points, in Hispanic voters by 37 percentage points; and among independents by 36 percentage points.> On initial preference in the Nevada caucuses, Bernie Sanders is currently winning independents by a large margin — 49%, according to CBS News entrance polls https://t.co/4xhlHorGDS pic.twitter.com/1nLDH4e4GI> > — CBS News (@CBSNews) February 22, 2020Sanders is also winning voters age 30–44 and 45–64; white voters; somewhat liberal and very liberal voters; and both college graduates and those without a college degree — along with every other identifiable group. Those results, combined with the fact that Sanders had more than twice the votes of nearest competitor Biden with 10 percent of precincts reporting on Saturday, indicate Sanders may end up with a blowout win in the most diverse state that's had its say on the Democratic nomination so far.More stories from theweek.com Model and restaurateur B. Smith dies at 70 The stunning Southern Baptist controversy over Donald Trump and Russell Moore, explained CNN analyst: Republicans 'may regret' hoping Sanders wins nomination

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 18:41:09 -0500
  • A California man drove his Jeep off the roof of a six-level parking garage and crashed into a McDonald's, police say

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    Police say a California man drove a Jeep off a parking garage and into a McDonald's. Two people dove out of the car before it crashed.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:49:08 -0500
  • I Live in South Korea Where Coronavirus Cases are Rising. Not Much Has Changed

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    It is important to keep perspective. There are fifty-three million people in South Korea. Only four hundred thirty or so of them have corona, and only two have died. The sensationalism of disease outbreak coverage does not help. We have all seen too many movies, and overwrought invocations of Contagion or zombie apocalypse movies generate paranoia and unnecessary anxiety. South Korea is safe.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 08:28:00 -0500
  • Girl, 11, gave birth to baby allegedly fathered by brother

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    The 17-year-old boy told police he had sex with his sister about 100 times but did not know she was pregnant, according to charging documents.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 14:40:57 -0500
  • Haiti police exchange fire with troops near national palace

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    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian police officers exchanged gunfire for hours Sunday with soldiers of the newly reconstituted army outside the national palace, in a dangerous escalation of protests over police pay and working conditions. At least three police officers were wounded, fellow officers told The Associated Press. Haiti's raucous three-day Carnival celebration was to have started Sunday afternoon in Port-au-Prince and other major cities but the government announced Sunday night that Carnival was cancelled in the capital “to avoid a bloodbath.” Police protesters and their backers had burned dozens of Carnival floats and stands at recent protests, saying they did not believe the country should be celebrating during a crisis.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:37:56 -0500
  • Greyhound will stop allowing immigration checks on buses

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    Greyhound, the U.S.’s largest bus company, said on Friday that it will stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 13:54:53 -0500
  • Malaysia in turmoil as Anwar denounces bid to bring down govt

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    Malaysian politics was in turmoil Monday after leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim denounced a "betrayal" by coalition partners he said were trying to bring down the government, two years after it stormed to victory. Anwar's "Pact of Hope" alliance was thrown into crisis after his rivals within the coalition and opposition politicians met at the weekend reportedly to try to form a new government. Speculation is mounting that Anwar, who had been the presumptive successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, and his lawmakers would be left out of any new coalition, ending his hopes of becoming premier any time soon.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 23:50:23 -0500
  • Trump administration backs off sending coronavirus patients to Alabama -governor

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    The news came as worry grew over the spread outside China of the sometimes fatal virus, with a spike in the number of cases found in South Korea, Iran and Italy. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted that she had thanked Trump during a separate phone call.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 20:34:27 -0500
  • Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump's shared love of executive power makes them strongman soulmates

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    Like Trump in the White House, Bloomberg used his time as mayor power to push through policies — often illegal — that he decided were a good idea.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 09:04:00 -0500
  • Outcry after MSNBC host compares Sanders’ Nevada win to Nazi invasion

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    * Calls for firing of Chris Matthews after widespread anger * Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist is JewishMSNBC host Chris Matthews compared Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday to the Nazi invasion of France, spurring calls for his firing.“I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940 and the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over,’” Matthews said on air on Saturday night.“And Churchill says, ‘How can that be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.’”“So I had that suppressed feeling,” Matthews also said.Sanders, a senator from Vermont and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, is Jewish.He won the Nevada caucuses easily, helping solidify his status as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in a primary split between moderates and progressives. Sanders’ win came in the wake of a strong showing in Iowa and victory in New Hampshire.> MSNBC’s Chris Matthews likens Sanders victory in Nevada to Nazi Germany overrunning France in 1940: “It’s too late to stop him … it’s over” pic.twitter.com/6GJetLoDkq> > — Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 22, 2020Matthews’ words prompted widespread anger.“Bernie is Jewish and his family was killed by the Nazis,” tweeted David Sirota, a Sanders speechwriter and former Guardian contributor. “None of this is OK.”“This is absolutely disgusting on [Matthews’] part,” tweeted Parker Molloy, editor-at-large at Media Matters for America. “Retire, get fired, whatever. Bottom line is that Matthews needs to be out of a job.”On air, Matthews said Republicans would disclose opposition research on Sanders that would “kill him” in the general election against Donald Trump.“It looks like Bernie Sanders is hard to beat,” Matthews said of the primary, adding: “I think it’s a little late to stop him, and I think that’s the problem.”MSNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 09:51:53 -0500
  • Wrong-way crash on Interstate 95 in Georgia kills 6 people, including Virginia parents and their 3 children

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    Six people, including three children, were killed early Sunday in a head-on crash on Interstate 95, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:35:21 -0500
  • N.Y. Gov. Cuomo compares the 'virus of hate' to the coronavirus after bomb threats were emailed to 19 Jewish community centers in one single morning

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    "People are worried about the Coronavirus, which we're watching in this state – there's also a virus of hate, and it's spreading," Cuomo said.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 15:43:22 -0500
  • Coronavirus Spread by a Second Coming ‘Cult’ Has Put South Korea on ‘Maximum Alert’

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    This article was updated on February 23, 2020, at 11:55 p.m. local time in South Korea.SEOUL—A South Korean church whose founder says, rather mysteriously, that he represents the second coming of Christ on Earth and has unique insights into God’s revelations is getting much of the blame for a major surge in the spread of the deadly coronavirus here.Coronavirus Now a ‘Tremendous Public Health Threat’: CDCFear of the disease now known as COVID-19 actually had been on the decline in South Korea until a fresh outbreak was traced to a 61-year-old woman who belonged to the Shincheonji Church in Daegu, a city of 2.4 million about 170 miles southeast of Seoul. Soon it was clear that more than half the known cases were connected to Shincheonji parishioners.As the number of infections started climbing with disconcerting speed on Sunday, the government here put the country on the highest possible alert, opening the way for it to lock down whole cities if deemed necessary. All told, as of this writing late Sunday night local time, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 602 cases, including six people who have died. Of the total number diagnosed, 329 were members of Shincheonji or had had contact with members.A former member of the church told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that Shincheonji’s practices during worship may heighten the risk of coronavirus contagion, since participants kneel close together and sing songs with their arms on each others’ shoulders during services. There are also concerns about its presence outside South Korea, possibly including Hubei province in China, the epicenter of the growing epidemic. Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old founder and leader of the church, has called the disease the “devil's deed” and a test of faith meant to stop the growth of Shincheonji, according to Yonhap.Leaders of more traditional churches have been quick to denounce Shincheonji, which means “New Heaven and Earth.” And the spread of COVID-19 from one of the 74 Shincheonji “sanctuaries” strengthens the view among the mainstream that Shincheonji is a dangerous cult that keeps many of its 200,000 members in secret compounds while pressuring them to absorb its teachings and recruit other followers.Christian critics for years have denounced Lee Man-hee as “a heretic” who has exploited thousands of adherents since opening his first congregation 36 years ago. He calls himself “the promised pastor.”“They are not real Christians,” says a member of Korea’s Presbyterian church, the country’s largest Christian organization. “They are fake.”* * *SEWING UP SEOUL* * *Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul, has picked up on the hostile sentiment, warning against the evil the church poses in the metropolitan region of the Korean capital. “Shincheonji sect, also known as ‘Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony’ in Daegu, has become a hotbed of the infections in local communities,” he warned in a lengthy media briefing as the extent of the outbreak became known, calling for measures to stop the disease from spreading.Already, he said, confirmed cases elsewhere were “related to the church in Daegu” and “another confirmed patient in Seoul attended the chapel in that church.” It was “to proactively prevent the further spread of the virus,” he said, that “the Shincheonji churches in Seoul will be closed.”That crackdown was not the only severe measure ordered by Park. He also banned street demonstrations, notably by conservatives hostile to his own municipal government and the national government.Park, a left-leaning politician who has long advocated dialogue with North Korea, insisted he had in mind the health of old people who join in such protests waving American and Korean flags. “The symptoms and prognosis of the confirmed cases could be fatal to people with underlying conditions, and the elderly in particular,” he said, ordering the closure of welfare facilities, senior citizen centers and an historic park in central Seoul where old men frequently gather.Conservatives, hoping to defeat ruling party legislators in national assembly elections in April, denounced the ban as “politics” and promised to turn out in defiance of rows of policemen massed on the main avenue running by city hall.* * *MESSIANIC TENDENCIES* * *The role of Shincheonji in spreading the disease, however, seems far more important than political protests in a country where religious groupings often fight one another. About a third of South Korea’s 51 million people identify as Christians, but there are deep divisions among them, and these movements like Shincheonji draw adherents despite social and cultural barriers to proselytizing and preaching. Cults and cult-like groupings have proliferated, seeming to fill some sort of spiritual void in this fast-moving fast-growing country always under threat from its neighbor to the north. If the COVID-19 epidemic is striking down members of Shincheonji its critics “will say God has struck heretics,” says Michael Breen, author of books on Korean culture and a former member of the Unification Church of the late Rev. Moon Sun-myung. “A lot of people will be thinking, they kind of deserve this.”In fact, in the years since Lee Man-hee first mesmerized young Koreans with his claim to embody Jesus Christ, the Shincheonji Church has proven about as controversial as the “Moonie” Unification Church. Lee may not call himself “the messiah” or “true parent” of mankind as did Moon, but he preaches an extremist view of Christianity whose message is essentially that he came to know the meaning of Christ on Earth through the Bible’s Book of Revelation.“More people are upset with Lee than with Moon,” says Breen. “They will go after him. They are very dogmatic and judgmental.”The secrecy of the church adds to the build-up of emotions against its activities. “Health authorities are having difficulties as they could not reach or contact more than 400 followers of the church,” reported Dong A Ilbo, a leading newspaper in Seoul. It was only through GPS tracking, the paper said, that the church member who was first diagnosed was discovered to have visited Cheongdo, where an outbreak was reported in a hospital and the first person in Korea died of the disease.“Since the entire nation is experiencing a national crisis, Shincheonji religious followers should voluntarily report symptoms and self-quarantine at home while fully cooperating with the authorities in quarantine efforts,” the paper editorialized. At the same time, Dong A called on citizens not to attack patients “even for the sake of ensuring the success of quarantine efforts.”Kukmin Ilbo, a Christian newspaper with strong ties to South Korea’s largest congregation, the evangelical Full Gospel Church in Seoul, suggested Shincheonji members are reluctant to cooperate with authorities tracing the course of the disease.North Korea’s Secret Coronavirus Crisis is Crazy Scary“It seems to be the tendency to act in a closed manner without showing much of its beliefs,” said the paper, describing Shincheonji as “a pseudo-religion or cult.” It claimed that “there were even allegations that Shincheonji sent an internal notice to the congregation telling them to say, ‘I didn’t go to church that day’ and ‘I worshipped somewhere other than there.’”Shincheonji says such claims are concocted by its mortal enemies. “There is no such thing as an internal notice,” a church official responded. More to the point, Mayor Park said, “Anyone who attended the chapels of the Shincheonji Church in Daegu must report to an emergency telephone number.” Seoul will quickly get the list of names, he said. “This is an inevitable measure to ensure and protect the health, safety and life of citizens.” Seoul, he promised, “will exert all its administrative effort.”Shin Hyun-wook, a pastor who specializes in deprogramming Shincheonji members, says they are told not to let their families know they belong to the church. “They believe in eternal life,” he says, dying only from “lack of faith.”* * *UPDATES* * *The warning “EMERGENCY ALERT” in capital letters, preceded by loud beeping sounds, flashed simultaneously on the screens of the mobile phones of millions of South Koreans late Sunday as the government elevated the fast-spreading coronavirus, now known as  COVID-19, to the highest level.President Moon Jae-in, who several days earlier had tried to calm fears and warn against panic, came on South Korean TV networks announcing “the  COVID-19 incident has been confronted by a grave watershed.”“A few days from now is a very important moment,” he said.Moon did not say what he believed had to happen in that short time span to stem the crisis other than to call for “unprecedented, powerful measures,”  but never before had the government gone to such extremes as to warn Korea’s 51 million citizens of the danger to health and safety.Armed with the authority to stop public gatherings, including political protests, the government postponed the opening of schools from next Monday, March 2, until the following Monday.Seeking to get on top of a situation about which he had been criticized for acting too slowly, Moon said his government now would “perceive the crisis” in the southeastern city of Daegu and the surrounding province as “a national one.” Henceforth, he said, the government would focus on “riding out the difficulty without sparing any support.”Earlier, the health and welfare minister, Park Neung-hoo, assured the country the virus was “limited within a specific region and group”—a reference to the members of Shincheonji. Four of the six victims of the virus died in the same hospital in Cheongdo, near Daegu. “The nation's health authorities are concerned that more virus cases will be identified at the hospital as most patients have underlying illnesses,” according to the Yonhap news service. “Transmissions taking place in hospitals and clinics are also of grave concern because of the risk of exposing sick people, who are more vulnerable to infections, to the virus.”A sign of concern about the spread of the virus was that Shinsegae, an historic department store featuring luscious displays and popular food courts, shut down the restaurants in a major branch in one of Seoul's most upscale high-rise office and apartment districts. A customer, the store announced, was reported to have come down with the virus after attending a Shincheonji gathering in Daegu.Moon pointedly urged the cooperation of Shincheonji members, noted for standing close together in mass meetings closed to outside observers and refusing to answer questions about what they are doing. “Trust and cooperation are the way to win the fight against the virus,” he said.He coupled that remark with a demand that Koreans in general refrain from mass meetings—a remark that his political foes interpreted as an effort to suppress large-scale mass protests against his policy of reconciliation with North Korea. The protests were expected to climax next Sunday, the anniversary of a short-lived revolt on March 1, 1919, against Japanese rule.The urgency of the need to halt the COVID-19 before it got out of the Daegu region and spread all over the country provided another week of vacation for Korean students of all ages and education levels.Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae postponed the opening of schools from March 2 to March 9 “to prevent the spread of infection and for the safety of students and school faculty.”The frankness with which South Korea announced the numbers of those who had suffered from the disease, including deaths, contrasted with the secrecy imposed by North Korea, which continues to tighten controls but denied any victims.Most recently, North Korea announced a quarantine on all imports, most of which come from China, many in violation of United Nations sanctions. The North’s leading newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said the quarantine for 10 days was needed since "materials being brought from another country could be used as a carrier to spread the virus."Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 13:35:16 -0500
  • Syrian capital rocked by explosions as Israel hits targets

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 17:13:24 -0500
  • Couple who disappeared during California getaway found alive

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    A couple who vanished during a getaway in the woods of Northern California was found Saturday by search-and-rescue workers who spent almost a week looking for them.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 18:14:09 -0500
  • Grave of slain Iraq commander, a new anti-US magnet

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    Clad in black, they joined wailing women and men beating their chests in grief at Wadi al-Salam (valley of peace), an ever expanding cemetery. All eyes were on the grave of Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Killed alongside top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, Muhandis is now revered as a martyred icon of anti-American resistance.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 22:44:26 -0500
  • Russia's Relationship With China Is Growing Despite Setbacks

    Golocal247.com news

    What are the strategic implications of Moscow and Beijing working closely together in a sensitive domain?

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:09:00 -0500
  • Joe Biden says he was arrested in South Africa on a visit to see Nelson Mandela. He has never mentioned the arrest before.

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    Former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, has mentioned at three campaign events about being arrested while trying to visit Nelson Mandela in the 1970s.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 10:58:53 -0500
  • Judge won’t bow out of Roger Stone case

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    Amy Berman Jackson accuses the defense of abusing the court’s docket with claims of bias.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:38:29 -0500
  • CDC is preparing for the 'likely' spread of coronavirus in the US, officials say

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    While coronavirus has not spread in the United States, CDC officials said they're preparing for the coronavirus to become a pandemic.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 08:44:19 -0500
  • Former 2020 Democratic candidate Williamson endorses Sanders' presidential bid

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    Marianne Williamson, who made an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has thrown her support behind former rival Bernie Sanders, appearing at a rally in Texas with the progressive senator. “Bernie Sanders has been taking a stand for a very long time,” she told the Sanders rally in Austin. Sanders appears to be gaining momentum in the Democratic nominating contest after winning in both New Hampshire and Nevada.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 18:54:02 -0500
  • Missing 6-month-old boy found dead in cemetery after mom's arrest

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    The body of Chi-Liam Cody Brown-Erickson was found hours after his mother was arrested and an Amber Alert was issued on his disappearance.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:59:49 -0500
  • For Virginia Tech parents, new gun laws a long struggle

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    When Virginia lawmakers pass sweeping new gun control laws in the coming days, it will mark the culmination of nearly 13 years of often thankless work for two parents whose children were shot in one of the country's worst mass shootings. Lori Haas and Andrew Goddard started pressing lawmakers to enact new gun laws shortly after a gunman killed 32 people and wounded more than a dozen others at Virginia Tech in 2007. Haas and Goddard have been Virginia's most visible gun-control lobbyists for years, but until recently had little to show for their work.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 09:29:25 -0500
  • Wave of racist attacks against Asian Americans in wake of coronavirus outbreak

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    Misinformation and exaggeration about the coronavirus have led to a wave of racist attacks on Asian Americans across the US.The attacks are both physical and verbal, and there are also cases of people either from East Asia, or of East Asian descent, being turned away from businesses.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 11:12:27 -0500
  • South Korea on frontline as coronavirus spreads

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    The deadly coronavirus epidemic spread further outside China on Monday as a surge of infections in South Korea made it the biggest hotspot abroad, while authorities in Europe and the Middle East battled to curb outbreaks. The number of fatalities in China also continued to soar, with 150 more confirmed deaths taking the official death toll to nearly 2,600. Chinese authorities insist they are making progress in containing the virus, citing slowing infection rates thanks to unprecedented travel lockdowns and quarantines in or near the outbreak's epicentre.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 23:33:33 -0500
  • Coronavirus: Could It Takedown China's Communist Party?

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    It's up to Xi himself.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 07:52:00 -0500
  • White House reportedly to ask Congress for coronavirus funds but the amount may not be enough

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    The White House is about to turn to Congress and request emergency funds in an attempt to curb the coronavirus outbreak, four people with knowledge of the request told Politico.So far, the vast majority of cases of the respiratory virus are in China where it originated, but it has been spreading across the globe, and over 30 people are infected in the United States. Because scientists know so little about the virus, including its incubation time, they're worried an outbreak could eventually hit the U.S.But it looks like the amount the White House plans to ask for — $1 billion — might be lower than some public health officials consider necessary, per Politico. If that's all there is, it could reportedly be exhausted swiftly by vaccine development, lab tests, and other investments. For comparison, the Obama administration requested $6 billion to fight Ebola in 2014 and received $5.4 billion.One White House official told Politico the amount is still subject to change, however. Read more at Politico.More stories from theweek.com Model and restaurateur B. Smith dies at 70 The stunning Southern Baptist controversy over Donald Trump and Russell Moore, explained CNN analyst: Republicans 'may regret' hoping Sanders wins nomination

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 07:41:52 -0500
  • The military's 'war for talent' is affecting what the Navy's future ships will look like

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    The Navy needs not only enough people but the right people, and appealing to them is influencing the design of its future ships.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:52:12 -0500
  • Ira Hayes raised the flag on Iwo Jima. 75 years later, he still inspires this Indian community.

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    75 years ago, Ira Hayes was one of the six Marines captured in the historic photograph raising the American flag on Iwo Jima.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:33:02 -0500
  • Trump departs for quick trip to India to see big crowds

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    U.S. President Donald Trump departed on Sunday on quick trip to India, where he is to see crowds so large that they will make the much ballyhooed turnout for his campaign rallies pale in comparison. With a travel time of 17 hours, Trump and his wife, Melania, were headed first to Germany for a refueling stop at Ramstein military base before heading on to Ahmedabad, India, which is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hometown. There, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather to greet Trump on Monday for a road show leading to a rally in a cricket stadium with a capacity of over 100,000.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 09:58:06 -0500
  • Chris Matthews Likens Bernie’s Strong Nevada Showing to France Falling to Nazi Germany in WWII

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    Cable news personalities had a lot to say about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) early lead in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, with MSNBC's Chris Matthews likening it to the shock of France falling to Germany during WWII.“It looks like Bernie Sanders is hard to beat... I think it's a little late to stop him, and that's the problem,” Matthews said during a panel segment. “It's pretty much over unless that changes.”He then dropped the eyebrow-raising WWII reference, seemingly as a way to describe how Sanders has—in his view—clinched the Democratic nomination.“I'm reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940. And the general calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over,’” Matthews said. “And Churchill says, ‘How can it be? You got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It's over.’”Other pundits also marveled at Sanders’ lead, with CNN’s Van Jones claiming the jaws of the Democratic “establishment” were “hanging off their faces.”“Nobody thought six months ago thought we would be sitting here with Bernie Sanders on his way to the nomination. He's on his way to the nomination,” he said. “Something could happen to stop him. Somebody may have some marbles to throw at the stairs or banana peel, they better find it. Because this guy is off and running.”Jones commented on the impressive Latino turnout for the Vermont senator, claiming that he was “running as if he's a Latino candidate now.”He also pointed to younger voters who caucused for Sanders, claiming their support has been a “youthquake.” “You got a new generation stepping up. They're not scared of any of these ideas and they're tired of hearing Republicans calling everything we say socialist. They ruined the word socialist,” he said.Another MSNBC personality, Joy Reid, attributed Sanders’ lead to the “sheer unadulterated rage”of young voters who she said were motivated to “throw the tables over” to vote for Sanders.“They're turning the tables over and they don't care what the potential result is. They're the hungriest,” she said. “No one is as hungry, angry, enraged and determined as Sanders voters. Democrats need to sober up and figure out what the hell they are going to do about that.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 19:14:19 -0500
  • Two arrested as search for missing 15-month-old girl continues

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    "This case is unlike anything I've ever been involved in," a sheriff said. Toddler Evelyn Mae Boswell has not been seen in nearly two months, but it "was just reported this week."

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 13:14:10 -0500
  • China's Xi calls for action on economy amid virus outbreak

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    Warning that China’s virus epidemic is “still grim and complex,” President Xi Jinping called on Sunday for more efforts to stop the outbreak, revive industry and prevent the disease from derailing the spring planting of crops.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:54:40 -0500
  • Conservatives claim victory in Iran polls after record low turnout

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran's conservatives claimed victory Sunday in a general election marked by the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution amid public anger against the government, an economic downturn and the disqualification of half the candidates. A conservative resurgence would heap pressure on beleaguered President Hassan Rouhani and signal a shift from four years ago when reformists and moderates won a slender majority in parliament. "Victory for the anti-American candidates, a new slap for Trump," crowed the ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:04:25 -0500
  • How China Is Humiliating Pakistan

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    Pakistan sees itself as a major regional power but recent events show that Beijing considers Pakistan little more than a subordinate colony to be exploited but not heard.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 19:30:00 -0500
  • Moscow targets Chinese with raids amid virus fears

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    Bus drivers in Moscow kept their WhatsApp group chat buzzing with questions this week about what to do if they spotted passengers who might be from China riding with them in the Russian capital. The befuddlement reflected in screenshots of the group exchanges seen by The Associated Press had a common source - instructions from Moscow's public transit operator Wednesday for drivers to call a dispatcher if Chinese nationals boarded their buses, Russian media reported. A leaked email that the media reports said was sent by the state-owned transportation company Mosgortrans told dispatchers who took such calls to notify the police.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 02:28:57 -0500
  • Cases of the coronavirus are spiking outside of China and the World Health Organization warned 'the window of opportunity is narrowing' to contain it

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    South Korea admitted it failed to keep the virus out of the country as cases now surge, and many countries are reporting their first cases and deaths.

    Sat, 22 Feb 2020 04:59:34 -0500
  • CDC: Re-test confirms Westerdam cruise ship passenger 'never had coronavirus'

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    After Holland America's MS Westerdam disembarked, a passenger tested positive for coronavirus. Following a re-test, the CDC says she never had it.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:53:42 -0500
  • U.S. judge rejects Roger Stone's request she be kicked off his case

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    A U.S. federal judge on Sunday denied a request by Roger Stone's lawyers that she be removed from the case in which she last week sentenced the long-time adviser to President Donald Trump to three years and four months in prison. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had been accused of bias by Stone's attorneys in a filing on Friday that called for her recusal. Stone, 67, was convicted on Nov. 15 of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:35:58 -0500
  • Sanders Brushes Off Questions on Costs, Age on ‘60 Minutes’

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:15:00 -0500
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