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Greece seeking Parthenon sculpture loan from Louvre : official

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 05:32

Greece has asked France to loan a Parthenon marble frieze fragment displayed at Paris's Louvre Museum to mark its 200th independence anniversary in 2021, an official said Saturday. State agency ANA on Friday said the issue had been discussed during talks between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week. In return, Greece will loan the Louvre a collection of ancient bronze artifacts, ANA said.


Joe Biden asks audience to imagine Barack Obama’s assassination

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 04:48

Former US vice president Joe Biden has speculated about how a political assassination of Barack Obama might have affected the country in 2008.Speaking at a town-hall-style campaign event nominally dedicated to health care, speculating, he went on to recall that he was accused of being gay because of his support of women’s rights in the 1970s.


Chinese ship inches closer to Vietnam coastline amid South China Sea tensions

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 01:35

A Chinese survey vessel on Saturday extended its activities to an area closer to Vietnam's coastline, ship tracking data showed, after the United States and Australia expressed concern about China's actions in the disputed waterways. The Haiyang Dizhi 8 vessel first entered Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) early last month where it began a weeks-long seismic survey, triggering a tense standoff between military and coastguard vessels from Vietnam and China. The Chinese vessel continued to survey Vietnam's EEZ on Saturday under escort from at least four ships and was around 102 kilometres (63 miles) southeast of Vietnam's Phu Quy island and 185 kilometres (115 miles) from the beaches of the southern city of Phan Thiet, according to data from Marine Traffic, a website that tracks vessel movements.


Hong Kong protesters form human chains to call for democracy

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 20:34

Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement lined the streets and part of the city's harbor front Friday, inspired by a human chain in a historic Baltic states protest against Soviet control 30 years ago. It was the latest protest in a nearly 11-week-old movement that began with calls to scrap a now-suspended extradition bill and has widened to include demands for full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality at protests. In a protest dubbed "The Baltic Way," nearly 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians formed a human chain more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) long on Aug. 23, 1989.


Psychologist approved Jeffrey's Epstein's removal from suicide watch

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 20:19

A psychologist at the federal detention center in New York City where financier Jeffrey Epstein was jailed on sex-trafficking charges had approved his removal from suicide watch before he killed himself, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday. The disclosure came in a letter dated on Thursday from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd and addressed to the leaders of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking details about the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death earlier this month. Epstein, who was 66, was found dead Aug. 10 in his cell inside a segregated housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan.


Released from death row, then returned — forced to prove race discrimination a second time

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 20:01

Cases before N.C. Supreme Court show link between slavery, Jim Crow and modern death penalty is as connected as 'ropes of the lynch-man's noose'


A Federal Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 18:32

Earlier today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutional order, limited the reach of expansive nondiscrimination laws, and protected a Christian couple from having to choose between their business and their conscience.The facts of the case are simple. The plaintiffs, Carl and Angel Larsen, are videographers who create “commercials, short films, and live-event productions.” While they work with anyone of any race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion, they will not produce videos that advance viewpoints that violate their Christian beliefs. That includes videos that “contradict biblical truth; promote sexual immorality; support the destruction of unborn children; promote racism or racial division; incite violence; degrade women; or promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.”The Larsens hoped to begin producing wedding videos, but Minnesota interpreted its human-rights act to require them to “produce both opposite-sex- and same-sex-wedding videos, or none at all.” Minnesota would also require them to produce videos that depicted “same- and opposite-sex weddings in an equally ‘positive’ light.” This raised the possibility that a gay couple who didn’t like the subjective quality of a video the Larsens produced for them could seek state sanctions based on alleged sexual-orientation discrimination.With the assistance of my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens filed suit, claiming that Minnesota’s rule would compel them to speak in support of messages they oppose. The trial court ruled in favor of the state, and the Larsens appealed.One of the key constitutional questions of our time is whether the First Amendment will retain its supremacy and potency even as nondiscrimination rules and regulations expand in scope and reach. In this case, the Eight Circuit answered answered with an emphatic “Yes,” and it did so through a majority opinion that provided a clear roadmap for future courts and future controversies.Judge David Stras’s majority opinion begins with a simple, obvious, but crucial conclusion. The Larsens’s wedding videos are a “form of speech that is entitled to First Amendment protection.” Though they don’t make feature films, their wedding videos would still clearly communicate a message in the same way that films do. As the court explained, their wedding videos would be designed to tell “healthy stories of sacrificial love and commitment between a man and a woman” and celebrate the “divinely ordained” marriage covenant.Moreover, the fact that the Larsens were producing videos for profit did not diminish their constitutional protection. Documentaries make money. Feature films make money. Are they not clearly protected speech? To put it plainly, Minnesota was attempting to engage in one of the most intrusive state actions on the First Amendment. It was attempting to compel the Larsens to deliver a message they opposed.Yet that finding did not end the inquiry. State agencies have long argued that the governmental interests supporting public-accommodation laws and other nondiscrimination statutes are so compelling that they can and should override the speech protections of the First Amendment. In constitutional legalese, they claim that nondiscrimination laws are so vital they should be able to survive “strict scrutiny.”If the court did find that nondiscrimination laws can even compel speech, it would invert the constitutional order. It would relegate the First Amendment to second-class status — less potent than a mere state regulation. Indeed, this is the argument that much of the legal Left has been making for years. They view First Amendment–based arguments against public-accommodation laws or other nondiscrimination statutes as a form of special pleading by religious Americans, a request to be exempt from the fair and just rules that govern the rest of us.But this is exactly backwards. The First Amendment is part of our nation’s governing document, and it recognizes the unalienable rights possessed by all Americans — not just people of faith.  State and local regulators are engaged in special pleading. They’re seeking carve-outs from the supreme law of the land.Judge Stras understands this reality quite clearly. “Even antidiscrimination laws, as critically important as they are,” he writes “must yield to the Constitution. And as compelling as the interest in preventing discriminatory conduct may be, speech is treated differently under the First Amendment.”Yes. Exactly. He continues:> Regulating speech because it is discriminatory or offensive is not a compelling state interest, however hurtful the speech may be. It is a “bedrock principle . . . that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”There are those who will claim that this decision will clear the way for wholesale discrimination in the name of “free speech.” It will do no such thing. Instead it will protect a small minority of creative professionals who do not discriminate against any member of any protected class from being conscripted into saying things they do not believe.We can expect that Minnesota will appeal to the Supreme Court, and if the Court accepts review it will be difficult to see SCOTUS reversing the court of appeals. The case that wedding videos represent protected speech is very strong, and once it’s deemed to be protected speech, the Court would have to contradict key prior precedents to overcome the Larsons' rights of conscience and compel their speech as a condition of doing business.One should always be cautious when projecting case outcomes, but the Eighth Circuit has laid the judicial foundation for a ruling that should, ultimately, reaffirm the primacy of the Constitution in American law.


Rep. Steve King wants to make abortion point in 'softer way'

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 18:31

Backed by supporters at a news conference in Des Moines, the Iowa Republican affirmed his belief that abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. King faced criticism for his comment Aug. 14 that questioned whether there would be "any population of the world left" if not for births due to rape or incest. The remarks were condemned by numerous groups and individuals, including Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to oust King, Democratic presidential candidates as well as the Iowa Republican Party and Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership.


Dow, stocks dive off Trump's latest comments on US-China trade war

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 18:22

Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street Friday after President Donald Trump called on U.S. companies to consider alternatives to doing business in China


Chinese embassy says the US is trying to suppress Huawei

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 17:48

An embassy statement to The Associated Press said the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities is "of course different" from China's detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. "The Meng Wanzhou incident is not just a judicial case, but the U.S. using state power to work with its certain ally to suppress a private high-tech Chinese enterprise on unwarranted charges.


The Latest: Harris gets warm welcome at California meeting

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 17:37

California Sen. Kamala Harris is getting a rousing hometown welcome at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in San Francisco. Harris is looking to California as a potentially key part of her path to the Democratic presidential nomination. With scores of supporters in the gallery Friday, Harris harkened back to her first political race for district attorney.


Six EU nations agree to take 356 Ocean Viking migrants

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 17:16

Six EU countries Friday agreed to take in 356 migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean after a two-week standoff again exposed the failure of European leaders to deal quickly with desperate people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa. The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, run by charities MSF and SOS Mediterranee, had been seeking a port after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between August 9 and 12. The migrants screamed with joy as the news broke, the adults sweeping their children into their arms and dancing and singing.


Hotline for detained migrants featured on Orange is the New Black shut down

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 17:10

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut down hotline that connected detained migrants to an advocacy groupFounded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the Netflix production and was named in the show. Photograph: Handout/Getty ImagesUS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has shut down a national hotline that connected detained migrants to an advocacy group, a month after the hotline was featured in a storyline in the hit TV series Orange is the New Black.Founded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants in the world’s largest immigration detention system with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the award-winning Netflix production and was named in the show.Freedom for Immigrants runs and supports visitation programs in detention centers. It sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ice, alleging the government agency was retaliating and violating its right to exercise free speech after its profile grew.“Ice is attempting to silence its critics and block people in immigration detention from connecting with communities on the outside,” said Christina Fialho, the group’s co-executive director. “It’s disappointing, but not unexpected, that Trump’s Ice would engage in such cruel and undemocratic behavior.”Shawn Neudauer, an Ice spokesman, said all Ice facilities provide detainees with reasonable access to phones and that detainees are allowed to make free calls to an Ice-approved list of free legal service providers.“Pro bono organizations found to be violating [Ice] rules may be removed from the platform,” Neudauer said. “However, removal from this platform in no way limits the ability of an Ice detainee to phone such an organization directly should the detainee wish to do so.”The Ice phone system is operated by Talton Communications, which is mandated to provide free extensions to groups such as the UN refugee agency, consulates and Freedom for Immigrants.Freedom for Immigrants had three pro-bono extensions operating in detention centers when Donald Trump took office. Ice shut down two of the extensions before the final one was closed on 7 August.Fialho said the cease-and-desist letter was the first step in potential litigation, though the group was hoping to avoid court.“We very much hope we can resolve this amicably, but our team is also ready to enforce our rights under the constitution,” she said.Before Ice shut down the hotline it closed more than a dozen of Freedom for Immigrants detention center visitation programs. They were ultimately reinstated.The final season of Orange is the New Black focuses on the immigration detention system, which is run by Ice, and highlights how difficult it is for people in prison to contact family or friends because of the high cost of making phone calls in detention.In one scene, Gloria (Selenis Leyva) tells Maritza (Diane Guerrero) about the hotline and warns: “You gotta be careful, though. Apparently as soon as Big Brother figures out you’re using the hotline, they shut it down.”Fialho said the hotline was important for helping migrants connect with the outside world.“We would get calls from people who hadn’t been able to communicate with family members to tell them they’ve been taken by Ice, that they are in this particular immigration detention facility,” she said.While the extension number was supposed to be written on a sheet available to migrants in every detention center, Fialho said Ice had never made it easily available and people learned about the hotline through word of mouth instead.Now that the extension is gone, detained migrants can still use the Freedom for Immigrants hotline, but the group will have to shoulder the cost. The extension was also supposed to be unmonitored. Ice can listen in on a normal call.Orange is the New Black actors including Guerrero, Emily Tarver and Laura Gómez signed a letter to Ice demanding the hotline be restored.


An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 16:42

Leon Haughton told The Washington Post he was jailed for 82 days after customs officials in Baltimore alleged that the three jars of honey were meth.


Woman finds venomous spider in her ear after mistaking it for water

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 16:22

The discomfort in Susie Torres’ left ear felt like the water that can get stuck there after swimming. She heard swooshing when she woke up on Tuesday and assumed it had been caused by an allergy shot.Torres, of Kansas City, Missouri, discovered she was wrong when doctors extracted a dime-sized, venomous brown recluse spider, Fox 4 News reported.


CNN's Brooke Baldwin Blasts Trump for Joking About Plummeting Dow Jones

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 16:01

Minutes after President Donald Trump cracked a Twitter joke Friday over the plunging stock market, CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin slammed the president for making light of the economic damage currently being felt by workers and farmers.The president sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average in a tailspin on Friday morning when he raged on Twitter over China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, calling Fed Chair Jerome Powell an “enemy” and ordering American companies to look for alternatives to China while promising to announce a response to the tariffs later in the afternoon.Hours after his first tweetstorm, the president broke his Twitter silence by jokingly mentioning another bit of news that took place on Friday while also referencing the big stock market dip.“The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 Presidential Race!” Trump wrote, bringing up the Massachusetts congressman’s announcement that he was ending his long-shot presidential campaign.At the end of a CNN segment discussing the potential longterm economic concerns surrounding the escalating trade war with China, Baldwin pointed out that Trump had just sent out his schlocky tweet.“I’m glad this is all funny to the president,” she said, flashing a look of disgust. “Whether it’s farmers losing their livelihoods or workers losing party of their hard-earned 401(k)s, it’s hilarious, Mr. President,” Baldwin concluded.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.


Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 15:21

As she cleans up the counter where the teenagers at her church’s Vacation Bible School ate their cookies and yoghurt, Luba Yanko complains about the state of the country. President Donald Trump is trying to act on Christian values, she believes. But from what she reads online, it seems that a certain group keeps getting in the way.Trump, she says, “is surrounded by a Zionist environment with completely different values from Christians. It’s kabbalist. It’s Talmudic values. Not the word of God.”


Chinese buyers pull back from U.S. housing market, hurting home sales

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 15:13

Chinese investors are buying fewer U.S. homes because of money controls in China. That's lowering prices and giving U.S. buyers a better chance to buy


Florida will be target of tropical depression expected to form off Southeast coast this weekend

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 14:46

A tropical disturbance that formed Wednesday near the Bahamas continues to spin toward Florida.


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