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'I'm afraid of this president': Protester outside of Trump rally in Minneapolis

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 07:47

President Trump supporters and protesters clashed Thursday evening over the impeachment inquiry against the president. Tens of thousands of people showed up at the Target Center in Minneapolis, with most making their way into the arena to hear the president speak. Others, just steps away outside, spoke out against Trump.

How the NRA changed politics

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 05:48

In exploring the reasons behind the NRA’s influence, you find a lesson on the evolution of American politics, and why the group’s clout may be waning.

NRA troubles: A hunter targets the world’s most powerful gun lobby

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 05:44

NRA corruption allegations have weakened the group. Plenty of gun rights advocates are ready to step in.

Trump advisory council recommends expanding private business in national parks

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 05:00

The Trump administration is moving forward with an ambitious plan to give private businesses greater access to national parks, according to a memorandum written by an advisory council for the Department of the Interior.

Pentagon officials worried withholding aid was illegal

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 05:00

The Ukraine affair has turned into an impeachment inquiry that could see President Trump removed from office. But it is also an example of yet another federal agency — this time, the Pentagon — caught off-guard by the president’s political imperatives.

Hong Kong Protesters Are Debating a Halt to Vandalism

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 02:48

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong protesters are debating whether to lower the temperature as the battered financial center girds for another weekend of tear gas and petrol bombs.Worried that violence and destructive tactics risk alienating more moderate supporters, some activists have urged others to scale back vandalism that has shut shops, banks and train stations across the city. Their concerns include giving Chief Executive Carrie Lam a reason to delay local elections next month or discouraging U.S. lawmakers from passing a bill to support the protest movement.One post widely circulated on LIHKG -- a Reddit-like forum popular with Hong Kong’s youth -- warned that further violence risked creating internal splits within the broader pro-democracy movement, which has vigorously discussed the merits of peaceful versus more radical and disruptive actions.“The general public, including foreigners, will think the violence is escalating to the point of being indiscriminate,” the user wrote in a post that garnered more than 3,000 “upvotes,” putting it among the most popular posts that day.On Friday, hundreds once again marched throughout the city’s central business district, disrupting traffic as they held up banners and placards. Many were wearing masks in defiance of Lam’s invocation of a rarely used emergency law last week to ban protesters from wearing face-coverings at rallies.The peaceful gathering comes after tens of thousands of people flooded Hong Kong’s streets a week ago following the mask ban and the first shooting of a protester during police scuffles days earlier. The result was the most destructive weekend since the movement began over four months ago in opposition to now-withdrawn legislation that would’ve allowed extradition to mainland China.Hong Kong Police Vow to Investigate Protester Sex Assault ClaimAngered over corporate moves to support the government, protesters targeted shops, train stations and state-owned Chinese bank branches for vandalism -- acts they call “renovations.” The rail operator MTR Corp., who demonstrators accuse of colluding with police and stifling their movements, was forced to shut almost its entire network on Friday and Saturday and continues to close early for repairs.‘Quite Critical’So far, the movement has enjoyed resilient support in the former British colony as it expanded to include calls for greater democracy. But recent episodes, including protesters ambushing police, throwing Molotov cocktails at officers, beating a taxi driver and punching a JPMorgan Chase & Co. employee from mainland China have tested the public’s tolerance.“At the moment, the balance still tips in favor of the protesters because of the various misdeeds and brutality on the part of the police, but the balance may turn,“ said Joseph Cheng, a retired political science professor and pro-democracy activist. “The coming week will be quite critical.”Since protests erupted on China’s National Day on Oct. 1, police have arrested some 500 people, including 77 for violating the mask ban, and fired almost 2,000 rounds of tear gas. Dozens of people have have been injured, including two teenage protesters who were shot during fights with police.In online forums, some protesters circulated a public apology for attacks on branches of Shanghai Commercial Bank Ltd., which some had mistook for a state-owned Chinese financial institution. The Hong Kong Association of Banks said that 10% of the city’s ATMs were damaged last weekend.However, the view that vandalism should be reduced isn’t shared by all. On Thursday, a group of protesters who earlier disrupted transport links to the airport published a plan on LIHKG to pressure commercial establishments Sunday, including a color-coded guide to which establishments should be boycotted or vandalized based on their level of support for the authorities.‘I Would Tolerate All the Vandalism’One frequent protester with the surname Yip told Bloomberg News that he was angered how some businesses “stand with the government instead of the citizens.” “I would tolerate all the vandalism, even though it created troubles for me,” Yip said.Some worry the violence could sap international support, especially as the U.S. Congress considers legislation that would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trading status. The Chinese government has denounced the bill, which threatens some $38 billion of U.S. trade with Hong Kong, as an inappropriate interference in the country’s domestic affairs.“Without question, international perception is very important, and when it comes to opinions on the use of force, public figures in Washington and Wall Street certainly prefer to see peaceful singing in shopping malls and origami,” activist Joshua Wong wrote on Facebook.Lam has refused to rule out further emergency measures, or even requesting Chinese military intervention to halt the unrest. “If the situation becomes so bad, then no option should be ruled out, if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance,” she told reporters Tuesday.Some don’t want violence to be used as a pretext to delay district council elections Nov. 24, when many activists including Wong are hoping to win seats. Cheng, the retired professor, predicted that there may be fewer violent clashes this weekend as protesters engage in more peaceful events.“There will still be some radicals engaging in clashes, but the number of people involved and the scale and scope of the clashes may well decline a bit,” Cheng said. “There will be more gatherings in the shopping malls, singing, human chains, large groups of students marching quietly in the streets with masks, and then going home. I hope so.”(Updates with details of protest in fifth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 02:00

Company wants to curry favour with conservatives to protect its ‘section 230’ legal immunity * Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniersEric Schmidt being interviewing on Bloomberg in 2014. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWhen Eric Schmidt was asked on a radio show in 2014 why Google was supporting an ultra-conservative climate-denying pressure group in Washington, the then chairman of the internet giant offered an unequivocal response: it was wrong and Google was not going to do it again.“The consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future,” Schmidt told NPR. People who opposed or questioned climate science were making the world “a much worse place”, he added, and Google “should not be aligned with such people”.But five years later, Google still funds more than a dozen organisations that deny the climate crisis and oppose political action to try to solve it. Among them is the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the group that launched the notorious Cooler Heads Coalition two decades ago, a group of conservative and libertarian pressure groups dedicated to dispelling the “myths” of global heating.The Guardian has collaborated with leading scientists and NGOs to expose, with exclusive data, investigations and analysis, the fossil fuel companies that are perpetuating the climate crisis – some of which have accelerated their extraction of coal, oil and gas even as the devastating impact on the planet and humanity was becoming clear. The investigation has involved more than 20 Guardian journalists working across the world for the past six months.The project focuses on what the companies have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions they are responsible for, since 1965. The analysis, undertaken by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute, calculates how much carbon is emitted throughout the supply chain, from extraction to use by consumers. Heede said: "The fact that consumers combust the fuels to carbon dioxide, water, heat and pollutants does not absolve the fossil fuel companies from responsibility for knowingly perpetuating the carbon era and accelerating the climate crisis toward the existential threat it has now become."One aim of the project is to move the focus of debate from individual responsibilities to power structures – so our reporters also examined the financial and lobbying structures that let fossil fuel firms keep growing, and discovered which elected politicians were voting for change. Another aim of the project is to press governments and corporations to close the gap between ambitious long-term promises and lacklustre short-term action. The UN says the coming decade is crucial if the world is to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of global heating. Reining in our dependence on fossil fuels and dramatically accelerating the transition to renewable energy has never been more urgent.For Google, providing financial backing to groups such as CEI and the Cato Institute – staunch free marketeers – has nothing to do with climate science, and everything to do with its effort to curry favour with conservatives on its most pressing issue in Washington: protecting an obscure section of the US law that is worth billions of dollars to the company.The law – known as section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – was established in the 1990s, at a time when the internet was in its infancy, and helped to give rise to internet giants, from Google to Facebook, by offering legal immunity to the companies for third party comments, in effect treating them as distributors of content and not publishers.Section 230, in effect, allowed Google and Facebook to be shielded from the kinds of libel laws that can ensnare other companies, such as newspapers.The law has important advocates across the political spectrum, from Democrats who hail it as a triumph of free speech, to Republicans who say it has promoted free enterprise and innovation.But now some lawmakers, including Republicans, think it might be time to revise section 230. The senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, has said Google’s alleged bias in favour of Democrats means it is not a neutral platform and should not be protected from liability.Google’s decision to give to groups such as CEI reflects an attempt to win friends in Republican and conservative circles, and support those lawmakers on the right who are champions of section 230.“I think the future of conservatism is up for grabs in the Trump era,” said one person who is familiar with the company’s thinking on political giving. “We are in a moment where Google has been injected in a lot of culture wars … and there is a lot of hostility in conservative circles.”There is little doubt that Google has a loyal friend in CEI. In a recent letter to members of Congress, CEI and other conservative groups called for the protection of section 230, saying it had created “new venues for conservative speech”, and that lawmakers who wanted to upend it were “well-meaning but mistaken”.CEI has also defended Google in other realms. In a recent op-ed published in the Atlantic, a CEI senior fellow named Mario Loyola argued that the launch of a recent antitrust investigation into Google by 48 state attorneys general, led by the Texas attorney general Ken Paxton – a strong supporter of Ted Cruz – would not do anything to help the public.A CEI spokesperson, who declined to comment on questions about Google, told the Guardian: “CEI is a nonprofit organisation that advocates free-market solutions to public policy issues. CEI’s research programmes and positions are developed independently by policy experts and reflect a longstanding, steadfast dedication to principles of economic liberty and limited government.”When Google was asked about its support for CEI and groups like it, a company spokesperson said: “We sponsor organisations from across the political spectrum that advocate for strong technology policies. We’ve been extremely clear that Google’s sponsorship doesn’t mean that we endorse that organisation’s entire agenda – we may disagree strongly on some issues.”Google employees have privately spoken out about the company’s support for some conservative groups. In a discussion with employees in March 2018 – a recording of which was heard by the Guardian – Adam Kovacevich, who at the time served as head of public policy at Google (he has since left the company), defended the company’s alignment with some conservatives.He said he had been directed to forge the relationships after the 2016 election of Donald Trump. It reflected a view that the company was seen as too close to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democrats.The discussion took place after a controversy over Google’s sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual meeting of conservatives, where Google hosted a party.To the consternation of many employees, its logo appeared on banners next to the NRA’s. In his opening remarks on the call, Kovacevich said it was important to build relationships not only with people in power “but also the people who influence them”.“It can be hard sometimes to reconcile our business interests with our stated values, and finding that balance is something our team has to navigate really on a daily basis, and it has gotten more and more complicated,” Kovacevich can be heard saying in the recording.While Google staff seemed to accept Google needed to forge ties across the political spectrum, the majority of the employees on the call expressed concern that the company was too far out of step with its values. The Wall Street Journal and Wired have previously reported on the meeting.This year, Google did not sponsor CPAC. But big technology companies were frequently named – and lambasted – by conservative participants in their speeches. In one case, the rightwing provocateur James O’Keefe encouraged tech employees to secretly record colleagues in their offices in order to expose their alleged biases.“We will equip you with a camera,” O’Keefe said. “If they’re lying, cheating, scamming, we’re going to find them, make them famous internet celebrities, expose them for all the world to see.”

The Navy SEALs Could Take on Iran's Special Forces in a War

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 01:00

But at a price.

Three dead in China bridge collapse

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 23:12

Three people were killed and two injured in eastern China when a highway overpass collapsed and crushed cars below it, local officials said Friday. Videos posted online showed a large section of the bridge in Jiangsu province swaying before falling on top of moving vehicles on Thursday night. Other images showed crushed cars, with only their front sections or headlights visible under a huge block of grey concrete.

Report: Pompeo's senior adviser resigns as Ukraine controversy intensifies

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 23:06

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's senior adviser, Michael McKinley, is stepping down, The Washington Post reports. McKinley is not happy that Pompeo has not publicly supported diplomats who have been mentioned as part of the Ukraine scandal, the Post says. A career diplomat who has served as ambassador to Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, McKinley was not directly involved in Ukraine policy, but as a top aide, he lets Pompeo know the mood inside the State Department.Like McKinley, many inside the State Department are disheartened by Pompeo not backing up the diplomats, especially Marie Yovanovitch. Now on leave from the State Department and a fellow at Georgetown University, Yovanovitch was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until May, when she was recalled. She was the target of a right-wing smear campaign, spread by President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and accused of being disloyal to the administration. As part of the impeachment inquiry, she has been summoned to testify before three House committees, and is scheduled to appear on Friday.

California governor slams PG&E, saying 'greed,' 'mismangement' led to widespread power cuts

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 22:09

California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized PG&E; for greed, mismanagement amid power cuts

Burning trash sparks fire that destroys homes in California

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 21:50

Burning trash dumped along a road sparked a wildfire Thursday that high winds quickly pushed across a field of dry grass and into a Southern California mobile home park, destroying dozens of residences. Riverside County fire officials said authorities responded to "numerous" medical emergencies at the park. Several residents were transported to hospitals but there were no details on their conditions, Riverside County Fire Department Capt. Fernando Herrera said.

Former California police officer convicted of sexually assaulting five women while on duty

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 21:07

A California jury on Wednesday found former police officer Noah White Winchester guilty of sexually assaulting five women while on duty.

Navigating the California grid: Today's Toon

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 20:32

Want to keep up with USA TODAY's editorial cartoons? Bookmark this page. We'll update it frequently.

Uber driver not guilty in death of passenger in Denver

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 19:08

A jury on Thursday found an Uber driver not guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of a passenger he said attacked him while driving on a freeway in Denver. Jurors sided with Michael Hancock, 31, who argued that he was defending himself against passenger Hyun (Huhn) Kim.

Lindsey Graham dishes on Trump in hoax calls with Russian pranksters

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 18:37

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has in the last year become something of a congressional point man for President Trump’s negotiations with Turkey, leading discussions on everything from Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile system over the summer to its more recent incursion into northern Syria.

Ford SEMA Custom Builds Include Wild and Off-Road-Ready Rangers

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 18:31

An advance look at a few of the nearly 50 Fords that will be at the SEMA show in Las Vegas soon.

Migrant Alleged to Have Raped Woman Immediately after Sheriff’s Office Ignored ICE Detainer and Released Him Is Arrested

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 17:22

An undocumented Salvadoran immigrant accused of raping a woman immediately after he was released from custody by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, which failed to honor an Immigration and Customs Enforcement order to detain him, was arrested by ICE agents on Wednesday, the agency has announced.Antonio Ulises Perez, 38, was released from the Oklahoma County Jail on Wednesday and went "almost immediately" to the house of the woman he is accused of raping. ICE arrested Ulises Perez later on Wednesday, the agency said in a statement.ICE filed a detainer request with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, before Ulises Perez was released, asking that he be transferred to immigration authorities, but the Sheriff's Office refused to honor it "in direct contravention of federal immigration law," ICE said in a statement."Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event," the statement said. "A few months ago, Oklahoma County decided to no longer honor ICE detainers and began releasing criminal aliens back into the local community at the expense of law-abiding citizens."“It is unconscionable that someone who is sworn to uphold the law would find it acceptable to release an alleged rapist who is illegally present in the U.S. back into the community when there are other options available under federal immigration law,” read a statement from Marc Moore, the field-office director for ICE Dallas. “Within a few hours of being released, this illegal alien was back at the home of the rape victim where he was free to re-victimize her and harm other members of the community.""Fortunately, ICE deportation officers were able to quickly locate this individual and safely take him back into custody," Moore said.

Evidence from ex-Dallas cop's murder trial fuels mistrust

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 17:20

Evidence from the trial of a former Dallas police officer convicted of killing her neighbor has fueled new questions about whether accused officers are treated differently than other suspects, including testimony that a camera in the cruiser where the officer sat after the shooting was flipped off and that her sexual text messages with her partner were deleted. It also has led Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall to announce the internal affairs department would look into the deleted texts and deactivated camera. The Dallas County District Attorney's Office declined to comment Wednesday on whether it is also investigating.