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Sarah Isgur Flores: Former Trump aide hired as CNN political editor despite having no journalism experience

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 05:29

CNN has appointed a former Trump administration official with no journalism experience as a political editor, provoking consternation among the broadcaster’s staff and Democrat politicians. Sarah Isgur Flores, who served as chief spokeswoman and senior adviser for the US Department of Justice under attorney general Jeff Sessions, is to join the network to coordinate coverage of the 2020 presidential election. Ms Isgur Flores has previously been communications director for Republican National Committee and worked on the campaign teams of former presidential hopefuls Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz.


Palestinian president rejects tax money from Israel

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 05:26

The Palestinian Authority (PA) will no longer accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel following its decision to trim the sum over the PA's financial support of militants' families, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said. The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, an interim self-government body set up following the 1993 Oslo peace accords, has suffered a series of financial blows in the past year. Under interim peace deals, Israel collects taxes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip and makes monthly payments to the PA, which says it receives around $222 million each month.


Shamima Begum: Being stripped of my British citizenship is hard to swallow and unjust

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 05:10

Shamima Begum, the Isil bride, has described being stripped of her British citizenship is "unjust" and "hard to swallow" after she was shown the Home Office's documentation of the decision.  The 19-year-old, who had expressed the desire to return to the UK with her newborn son, was banned on Tuesday from entering the country. At a refugee camp in northeastern Syria, she was shown the Government's letter, showing that she is no longer a British national.  "I don't know what to say," she told ITV News. "I am not that shocked but I am a bit shocked. It’s a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it’s a bit unjust on me and my son." She added: "It’s kind of heart-breaking to read. My family made it sound like it would be a lot easier for me to come back to the UK when I was speaking to them in Baghouz. It’s kind of hard to swallow." Isil bride Shamima Begum | Read more Begum claimed that she was being treated harshly because "I was on the news four years ago", saying that she heard of "other people being sent back to Britain".  "I don't know why my case is any different," she added.  International law forbids nations from making people stateless by revoking their only citizenship, prompting speculation that Begum held dual citizenship through her Bangladeshi parents. But on Wednesday morning, Begum's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said his client does not have dual nationality.  While her family have said they are "considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision", Begum said she may explore a potential citizenship route through her Dutch husband. "Another option I might try with my family is my husband is from Holland and he has family in Holland," she said. "Maybe I can ask for citizenship in Holland. If he gets sent back to prison in Holland I can just wait for him while he is in prison." She married Isil fighter Yago Riedjik in Syria having travelled to the Middle East from Bethnal Green in east London in 2015. Begum have birth to their third child on Sunday. Her two other children died in Syria.  Shamima Begum's Dutch-born husband Yago Riedjik In a letter sent to her family in Bethnal Green, east London, on Tuesday, officials said the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, had made the decision in "light of the circumstances". The letter read: "Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship. "In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary's decision has been served of file today (19th February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made." The letter went on to urge Ms Begum's family to make the teenager aware of the decision, but added that she had a right to appeal. Isil schoolgirls' journey into Syria In a statement the family's lawyer said they were very disappointed by the move. Despite saying she wants to bring her baby son up in the peace and security of the UK, Begum has insisted she has no regrets about travelling to Syria. She has also been criticised for likening the deaths of 22 people in the Manchester Arena terror attack to the civilians being bombed in Isil territory. Begum defends Manchester Arena bombing The teenager, who gave birth to a baby boy on the weekend, appeared to defend the Manchester Arena bombing as tit-for-tat retaliation for air strikes in Syria.  In an interview with the BBC, she said the deaths of 22 innocent people in the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 were akin to the "women and children" being bombed in Isil territory in Baghuz. She told the broadcaster: "I do feel that it's wrong that innocent people did get killed. It's one thing to kill a soldier that is fighting you, it's self-defence, but to kill the people like women and children... "Just people like the women and children in Baghuz that are being killed right now unjustly, the bombings. It's a two-way thing really. "Because women and children are being killed back in the Islamic State right now and it's kind of retaliation. Like, their justification was that it was retaliation so I thought 'OK, that is a fair justification'." She was partly inspired by videos of fighters beheading hostages and partly by other propaganda films showing the "good life" IS could offer. 'Show me some sympathy', says Isil bride after giving birth The British schoolgirl who ran away to join Isil appealed for public sympathy following the birth of her son on Sunday. In an interview with Sky News recorded at the Kurdish-controlled camp to which she fled from the last pocket of Isil-controlled territory, Begum said there was "no evidence" she had done anything wrong and she could not see "any reason" why her child should be taken from her when she had simply been living as a housewife. Speaking just hours after giving birth, her baby at her side, she said she had no regrets about fleeing the family home in Bethnal Green, east London, to support Isil, claiming the experience had made her "stronger, tougher". She said she could see a future for herself and her son, whom she has named Jarah after one of the two children she lost to malnutrition and disease in the last three months, "if the UK are willing to take me back and help me start a new life again and try and move on from everything that’s happened in the last four years". She added: "I wouldn’t have found someone like my husband [Yago Riedijk, 26, a Muslim convert from the Netherlands] in the UK. I had my kids, I had a good time there." Her other children, Jarah and Surayah, a daughter, died aged 18 months and nine months. Asked how she felt about the debate over whether she should be allowed to return home, Begum said: "I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through. "I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left, I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back.  "I can’t live in this camp forever. It’s not really possible." In the interview, Begum apologised for the first time to her family for running away, and said that though she knew it was "like a big slap in the face" for her to ask after she had previously rejected their calls for her to return, "I really need their help".   Begum was 'OK' with Isil beheadings   The Isil bride said last week she was attracted to Isil by videos that she had seen online, which she said showed "how they’ll take care of you". She said she knew that the group carried out beheadings, but that she "was OK with it at first. I started becoming religious just before I left and from what I heard Islamically that is all allowed". "At first it was nice," she said of life in the so-called Islamic State. "It was how they showed it in the videos, you know, you come, make a family together, but then things got harder.  "We had to keep moving and moving and moving. The situation got fraught." Begum acknowledged that it would be "really hard" to be rehabilitated after everything she had been through.   "I’m still in that mentality of planes over my head, emergency backpacks, starving... it would be a big shock to go back to the UK and start again," she said. READ MORE: Allison Pearson: Thank God, Sajid Javid grasped Shamima Begum is the one person uniting Britain – against her READ MORE: Allison Pearson:  Sorry my heartless little jihadi bride, but you made your bed and now you can lie in it


Saudi Prince Pledges to Help India Fight Terror

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 04:50

“Terrorism is a common concern and Saudi Arabia will cooperate with India in fighting it, including in matters like intelligence sharing,” Prince Mohammed said in a press statement alongside Modi in New Delhi. The comments were part of the Saudi royal’s delicate diplomacy, as he visits both nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors amid heightened geopolitical tensions.


MAGA hat student sues Washington Post for $250m over coverage of confrontation with Native American man

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 04:19

A student involved in a viral confrontation with a Native American man is suing the Washington Post for $250m (£191m) over its coverage of the incident. The defamation lawsuit, filed by Covington Catholic High School pupil Nick Sandmann, claims the newspaper “wrongfully targeted and bullied” him due to its “biased agenda” against Donald Trump. The 16-year-old was wearing one of the president’s signature Make America Great Again hats when he attended an anti-abortion rally in Washington in January along with classmates from his Kentucky school.


Mariano Rivera calls child support allegations 'unfounded'

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 22:40

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Just weeks after becoming baseball's first unanimous Hall of Fame selection, Mariano Rivera is defending himself from accusations in his native Panama that he has failed to support two children he had outside his marriage.


Trump v California: president wants to get billions in rail funding back

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 21:26

The Federal Railroad Administrator has determined that the California High-Speed Rail Authority ‘has materially failed to comply with the terms’ of the construction agreement. The US Department of Transportation has announced plans to cancel $929m in federal grant funds for California’s high-speed rail project, in a move the state’s governor called “political retribution” for its lawsuit against Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.


US weighing options on American IS sympathizer in Syria

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 21:21

The United States said Tuesday it wanted to ensure foreign jihadists remain off the battlefield as it weighed options on an American detained in Syria who says she wants to return home. The United States has urged European powers to take back hundreds of their citizens who fought with the Islamic State movement in Syria, but acknowledged the situation was complex in the rare case of an American jihadist. Hoda Muthana, a 24-year-old from Alabama who became a prominent online agitator for the extremists, said in an interview published Sunday with The Guardian that she had been brainwashed online and "deeply regrets" joining the movement.


Wicked Audio Arq truly wireless earphones review

Macworld - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 20:08

There’s a lot to be said for owning an inexpensive pair of earphones. If they get damaged or lost, it won’t hurt as much as it would if they’d cost more. They might not sound as good as a set of high-end cans do: but hey, they were inexpensive. The trick to finding a set of low-cost earphones that’ll make you happy is knowing how to draw the line between inexpensive and cheap.

Inexpensive allows you to shrug away all of the things that your earphones can’t do. It’s cool because they sound good enough, work reasonably well, and don’t make you want to throw them across the room in frustration. Cheap means that, even if they didn’t cost you much, they’re still not good enough. When using a cheap product, you find yourself wishing that you’d spent more. Cheap makes you want to buy something else. Cheap ends up with you leaving your earphones in a drawer.

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Best smart sprinkler controller

Macworld - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 18:53
Whether you’re motivated by water conservation, saving money, a drive to render every aspect of your home smart, or all the above, a smart irrigation controller will scratch that itch.

Alabama woman who joined Islamic State seeks return to US

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 18:16

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama woman who left home to join the Islamic State group after becoming radicalized online realized she was wrong and now wants to return to the United States, a lawyer for her family said Tuesday.


Aurora gunman's family: 'We deeply apologize' for shootings

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 18:13

AURORA, Ill. (AP) — The family of the man who fatally shot five people at a suburban Chicago manufacturing warehouse is offering condolences to the victims' families, with one relative saying "we deeply apologize" for the killings.


Snow, ice, torrential rain brings weather havoc to 39 states, 200 million people

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 18:08

A powerful storm will roar across the US over the next 2 days, spreading heavy snow, torrential rain, and crippling ice to more than 200 million Americans.


How Social Security could get benefits boosted to help most vulnerable like widows

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 17:54

Despite a looming funding shortfall, proposals to enhance Social Security benefits are being circulated.


FBI Probing Whether Smollett Sent Threatening Letter to Himself

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 17:36

The FBI is working with the U.S. Postal Service to determine whether Empire actor Jussie Smollett sent himself a threatening letter in the days before the "hate crime" he is now under investigation for allegedly staging, two federal officials told ABC News Tuesday.The two Nigerian brothers who told Chicago Police last week that Smollett paid them to stage a racially motivated attack on him have also told the authorities that Smollett sent himself the threatening letter that arrived on the Empire set on January 22, just seven days before they claim they conducted the hoax attack.The brothers, one of whom worked as an extra on Empire, reportedly claimed that Smollett was motivated to stage the attack after his coworkers' reaction to the letter did not live up to his expectations.The letter, which was accompanied by crushed up aspirin, is now being analyzed at an FBI crime lab.Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo agreed to cooperate with police last week after they were presented with evidence that they purchased the rope that Smollett claimed was placed around his neck by two attackers who yelled racist and homophobic slurs before shouting "this is MAGA country" as they fled.Smollett's attorneys maintain that he was attacked and have denied that he was complicit in staging the assault.“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," Smollett's attorneys said in a statement Saturday. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."


Third migrant dies in Border Patrol custody in as many months

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 17:12

A migrant man died in Border Patrol custody on Monday, following the deaths of two Guatemalan children in the agency's custody in December.


Democrats drop lawsuit against former acting attorney general

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 16:45

Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Mazie Hirono had sought to bar Whitaker from serving as attorney general, arguing that President Donald Trump violated the U.S. Constitution in November by depriving the Senate of its power to act on such appointments. Democrats have expressed concern that Whitaker could undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to win the 2016 election.


Lesbian couple turned away by Indiana tax preparer four years after Mike Pence signed anti-LGBTQ law

Top Stories - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 16:26

A married lesbian couple in Indiana were turned away by a tax preparer when they attempted to file their taxes jointly last week, making them one of many victims of the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws. Bailey and Samantha Brazzel got married last July and decided to file their taxes jointly for the first time. The couple went to Carter Tax Service in Russiaville to meet with Nancy Fivecoate, a tax preparer Ms Bailey used for the last four years.


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