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Europe’s Center Holds, Mueller Speaks, Modi Wins: Weekend Reads

Top Stories - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 08:00

Europe proved its resilience again this week. Forecasts that populists would score unprecedented gains in elections to the European Parliament proved unfounded, with the center holding and Greens surging. In the U.K., a conservative drubbing in the vote cast a shadow over the parade of hopefuls vying take the place of Prime Minister Theresa May.


10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: $8 wireless charger, $17 Wi-Fi extender, Fire TV Sticks, more

Top Stories - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 07:22

It might be the weekend, but that won't stop us from digging through hundreds of daily deals and telling you about all the best ones. Highlights from Saturday's roundup include a fast wireless charging pad for just $7.99, a top-selling Wi-Fi range extender for $16.99, Anker's best true wireless earbuds for $41.99 instead of $60, $20 off AirPods 2 (they're sold out, but order now to lock in the discount), Anker-owned eufy smart LED bulbs for $11.99 a piece, $40 off the upgraded version of Instant Pot's best-selling multi-cooker, Fire TV Stick for $29.99, Fire TV Stick 4K for $39.99, and much more. See all of today's best deals below.


I was let go as substitute teacher because I corrected my students' grammar

Top Stories - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 07:00

What students apparently objected to was me handing back their papers, hectoring them about language errors.


In a time when life seems to be going off the rails, remember modern life is extraordinary

Top Stories - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 06:00

In 2019, the news can be depressing, but the small and ordinary miracles of the modern world should prompt us to pause and be grateful.


Could Taiwan Halt an Invasion by China?

Top Stories - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 04:49

The Taiwan question has long been in a thorn in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) side. In the decades following the Shanghai communiqué, the CCP’s core strategic approach to Taiwan was to bide their time while building up national strength. As Deng Xiaoping famously proclaimed, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) can wait 100 years to reunify with Taiwan (also known as Republic of China, or ROC) if necessary.Today’s CCP appears to be operating within a much shorter time frame, however. With China’s rise to great power status, Beijing wields unprecedented economic leverage over Taiwan and is increasingly comfortable with flexing its military muscle overseas. XI Jingping is “losing patience” with the defiant island off his southeastern coast, which continues to rebuff Chinese reunification schemes premised on what Xi calls a “one country, two systems” approach.


Waive your yearly Amex fee and snag 80,000 bonus Delta miles with this limited-time offer

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 23:35

One of the great things about Delta's co-branded rewards cards is that they can offer something all at once that a semi-frequent flyer might be hard-pressed to accumulate otherwise. We're talking, of course, about frequent-flyer miles -- or, in the case of the limited-time offer Delta just kicked off for its main cards, the sizable welcome bonuses that in a couple of instances can be as high as 80,000 bonus miles.Through July 2, the six Delta co-branded cards that are issued by American Express which we talk about below offer an impressive range of bonus miles when certain spending requirements are met. The cards include both personal and business Delta Amex cards, and for anyone who's been watching the increasingly frequent award sales Delta unveils but doesn't have enough SkyMiles in your account -- read on, because according to The Points Guy these are among the highest welcome bonus offers seen on the Delta cards. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American ExpressOn the entry-level side of the spectrum, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is offering 60,000 miles if you're a new cardholder who spends $2,000 in the first three months. Make a Delta purchase within that time, and you'll also score a $50 statement credit. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, meanwhile, has a sweeter offer -- 70,000 miles after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, plus that same $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in the first three months.Both cards waive the $95 annual fee during the first year, in addition to offering cardholders a first bag checked free on Delta flights, as well as priority boarding and 20% off of inflight purchases on Delta.The bonus miles look all the more impressive when you consider the valuation from The Points Guy of $720 for 60,000 SkyMiles and $840 for 70,000. Meaning, the bonus -- when viewed in the context of some of Delta's recent award sales -- could be enough for several round-trip domestic airfares. Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American ExpressOne step up annual fee- and benefits-wise, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express has sweetened its welcome offer to 75,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, for new cardholders who spend at least $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. Make a Delta purchase within the first three months, and there will also be a $100 statement credit. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, meanwhile, is offering 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months, plus a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in the first 3 months.Both versions of the Platinum Delta Amex come with a $195 annual fee that, unfortunately, can't be waived in year one. To take some of the sting out of that fact, the cards at least offer additional benefits like an annual companion certificate that can be used for travel in the main cabin. Owning a Platinum Delta Amex also helps you rack up MQMs toward Delta elite status, with 5,000 MQMs you earn from the welcome bonus as well as 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 redeemable miles once you spend $25,000 with the card in a calendar year. Additionally, you'll pick up another 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 redeemable miles after you spend $50,000 in a calendar year. Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and Delta Reserve® for Business Credit CardThe top-of-the-line personal credit card in this lineup is the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express. Like the Platinum Delta Amex, it comes with the possibility of earning 75,000 SkyMiles and 5,000 MQMs as long as you meet the spending requirement of $5,000 in the first three months. The Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express, meanwhile, is offering 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs after you spend $6,000 in the first 3 months.Both cards come with a $450 annual fee, but with that price you get the most benefits. Things like complimentary Delta Sky Club access when you're flying Delta, and the ability to have up to two guests accompany you at a discounted rate of only $29 per person. The Delta Reserve also offers you the ability to earn MQMs toward Delta elite status by meeting spending thresholds. Spend $30,000 with the card during a calendar year, and you'll earn 15,000 MQMs as well as 15,000 redeemable miles. Spend $60,000 in a calendar year, and you can tack on another 15,000 in both of those categories. The verdictWhile it's true that the valuation from The Points Guy puts Delta SkyMiles on the lower end of the scale when ranking the offerings from major US airlines, things are in fact changing. Delta has, for example, started to offer more frequent award sales, with more destinations and cabins available at discounted prices.This also isn't the first time Delta Amex credit cards have offered elevated welcome bonuses, but this time around the offer is definitely looking more attractive than ever.


Turkey's Erdogan absent from Mecca Islamic summit: AFP

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 22:48

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was notably absent from a key summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Saudi holy city of Mecca early Saturday, an AFP photographer said. Turkey, a regional heavyweight, was instead represented by its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Erdogan's visit would have been his first to the kingdom since the brutal murder last October of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which tarnished the international reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


Mastermind's accountant agrees to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 19:34

The bookkeeper for Rick Singer, the ringleader of the college admissions bribery scandal, has agreed to plead guilty to charges and cooperate.


NASA’s Spitzer telescope snaps ‘family portrait’ of epic proportions

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 19:06

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has a habit of providing us with some downright gorgeous views of deep space, but its latest snapshot might actually be its best yet. The image, which NASA is showcasing in a new blog post, is absolutely packed with things to see, but we'll need NASA's help to actually explain it all.The image of a mosaic of two regions of space known as Cepheus B and Cepheus C. The massive green cloud that dominates the frame is a nebula, which is a collection of loose material such as dust and gas that may eventually clump together to form other objects like stars.Along with the original image, NASA has been kind enough to provide us all with a labeled version that points out a handful of neat sights:Near the left center of the image, you'll spot the colossal star known as V374 Ceph, which astronomers theorize is surrounded by a ring of debris that allows it to cast the cone-shaped shadows off of its sides.Some of the newer features of the image, like the young nebula taking shape near the bottom right of the frame, are just babies in comparison to the larger nebula and star clusters. The image contains both new and very, very old stars and collections of objects which, NASA suggests, makes it a "family portrait" of sorts.As time passes, older star-forming regions fizzle out and new ones form from the material ejected from dying stars.https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLTiv_XWHnOZrcv46P6T4-u3v53VgGWKkh&v=p7YQ-KvGbJQAlong with the image, NASA produced a very cool video to provide additional context. It's only a couple of minutes long but does a great job of covering all the interesting features we can see in the Spitzer image.Spitzer is currently nearing its 16th year of service, which is significantly longer than the planned five-year primary mission timeline. The spacecraft is clearly still capable of delivering gorgeous views of space, so we're glad it's still around.


Sherpas on Everest: ‘This Is a Sacred Mountain. We Need to Respect It.’

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 18:51

Eleven deaths. Dangerously long lines to reach the summit. Piles of garbage. Melting ice revealing the tombs of frozen bodies.Those are the images from Mount Everest this climbing season, triggering calls for new restrictions on who can ascend the world’s tallest peak.The Sherpas, an ethnic group from the Himalayan region near Everest, have been watching as the mountain they revere—and which is a source of work for many of them—slips further away from sanctity with each passing year. Dr. Pasang Yangjee Sherpa, a cultural anthropologist now based in Seattle, tells The Daily Beast she believes there is a way for the sacred mountain and the mountaineers to co-exist. 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.


Protesters set fire to U.S. Embassy in Honduras in second day of demonstrations

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 18:48

Protesters torched the access gate to the U.S. Embassy in the Honduran capital on Friday during a second day of major protests against President Juan Orlando Hernandez. The protesters set fire to the entrance of the building in downtown ​​Tegucigalpa with about a dozen tires after dousing them with fuel, Reuters witnesses and fire services officials said. A fire department official said there were no damage to the embassy apart from the access gate.


Trump’s Mexico tariff plan divides Republicans

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 18:43

President Trump’s latest effort to crack down on migration at the southern border by imposing punitive tariffs on Mexican goods appears to be driving a wedge between the White House and some of Trump’s biggest supporters in the Senate — including immigration hard-liners who ordinarily back him on border security issues. Among Senate Republicans, only Lindsey Graham of South Carolina publicly backed the tariff plan. “I support nearly every one of President Trump’s immigration policies, but this is not one of them,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said Thursday evening, shortly after the White House announced its new tariff tactic.


Hezbollah chief warns any war against Iran would engulf region

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 18:05

The head of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah warned on Friday that if there was a war against Iran the whole Middle East region would "erupt", amid escalating US-Iranian tensions. US President Donald "Trump, his administration, and his intelligence know well that any war on Iran will not remain confined to Iran's borders", Hassan Nasrallah said. "Any war on Iran will mean the whole region will erupt," said the head of the Iran-backed movement in a televised speech, explaining that such a war was therefore unlikely.


Principal: I accidentally plagiarized Ashton Kutcher speech

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 18:00

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia principal accused of plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher in an address to his school's graduating class says he didn't mean to use someone else's work.


US cuts funds for ‘anti-propaganda’ Iran group that trolled activists

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 17:04

The Iran Disinformation Project was funded by a state department group created to counter foreign propaganda Men read headlines in front of a newspaper stand in the Iranian capital of Tehran. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images The US state department has cut off funding to a group that purported to combat Iranian propaganda, after it was found to be trolling US journalists, human rights activists and academics it deemed to be insufficiently hostile to the government in Tehran. The Iran Disinformation Project was funded by the state department’s global engagement centre which was created to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. In recent weeks however, the group’s Twitter account @IranDisinfo targeted BBC journalists, thinktank experts and civil society advocates, denouncing them as being “mouthpieces” and supporters of the Iranian government. In one case they singled out a researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), Tara Sepehri Far, because she had looked into the human rights impact of sanctions on ordinary Iranians. The group also focused on supporters of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Donald Trump withdrew from last year, particularly the National Iranian American Council, which has advocated nuclear diplomacy with Tehran. It used the hashtag #NIACLobbies4Mullahs. In response to a request for comment, a state department spokesperson said: “The bulk of the work by @IranDisinfo has been in line with the scope of a project with the Department of State. We have, however, identified recent tweets that fall outside the scope of the project to counter foreign state propaganda or disinformation.” The statement added: “Today, the Department suspended the funding for the Iran Disinfo project until the implementer takes necessary steps to ensure that any future activity remains within the agreed scope of work.” Many of the group’s controversial tweets were deleted on Friday. Brett Bruen, who was director of global engagement in the Obama White House, said that the global engagement centre was originally created to counter Russian and Isis disinformation and propaganda. However, under the Trump administration, it was starved of funds and personnel, and has an operating budget of just $20m. Lea Gabrielle, a former navy intelligence officer and Fox News journalist was hired to run it in February. “It is not being used to deal with Russian disinformation or Isis propaganda, but they are syphoning money off to attack the Iran [nuclear] deal and Iran,” Bruen said. “We know that information warfare is a serious and damaging threat, but the centre is being treated by the Trump administration like it is a reserve for dipping in to for pet political projects.” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s executive director for the Middle East and North Africa, welcomed the speed of the state department decision to cut funding to Iran Disinformation Project. “Groups like this really undermine human rights advocacy when they use it selectively as a political weapon to go after a perceived enemy.”


House Intelligence chief warns spy agencies of Trump 'politicization'

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:49

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Friday warned the FBI and U.S. spy agencies that President Donald Trump is trying to "politicize" U.S. intelligence and law enforcement. Schiff criticized Trump for giving Attorney General William Barr "sweeping" powers to declassify or downgrade the secrecy of government reporting while conducting what the Justice Department is calling a "review" of "intelligence activities" related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.


Wall St Week Ahead-Struggles of transport stocks transmit caution to market

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:29

Add this to worries about Wall Street: The index of planes, trains and trucking companies, considered an important stock barometer of the U.S. economy's health, is struggling. The Dow Jones Transportation Average swooned 10.2% in May, a far steeper decline than that of the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500. For analysts who closely watch the transports, this could be a sign of deeper market stress.


Swalwell Calls on Congress to Impeach Barr, Mnuchin

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:10

Representative Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), a long-shot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, called on his colleagues Friday to impeach Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin over their refusal to comply with lawmakers' subpoena-backed document demands.“I’m for bringing Mueller in, getting the full Mueller report, impeaching Barr and Mnuchin to get the documents, being prepared for impeachment,” the California Democrat said on MSNBC’s Hardball. “But I recognize that the rule of law here is the most important thing we can protect. It’s very fragile. This is the most extreme remedy. So, first thing’s first: Let’s get rid of the first two obstructors in Barr and Mnuchin and then get the information. . .”Mnuchin has refused to turn over President Trump's income taxes on the grounds that Congress lacks a legitimate legislative purpose in demanding them. Barr, meanwhile, has refused to comply with House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler's demand that he turn over the full, unredacted Mueller report and the evidence underlying it because to do so would violate federal statutes governing the release of classified information.Echoing a now-familiar line of Democratic attack, Swalwell went on to accuse Barr of acting as the president's defense attorney in his presentation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings. Swalwell and fellow Democrats have lambasted Barr for allegedly misrepresenting Mueller's findings in the summary of Mueller's report he delivered weeks before releasing the redacted report in its entirety.At issue is Barr's emphasizing the fact that Mueller failed to reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice, a failure Democrats have argued -- and Mueller's Wednesday press conference seemed to confirm -- was due strictly to existing guidance from the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president.Barr, in an ABC News interview that aired Thursday evening, said he believed Mueller could have reached the conclusion that the president did not criminally obstruct justice based on the available evidence. He also reiterated a point he initially made during his congressional testimony earlier this month: Mueller's team repeatedly told him that its decision not to reach a conclusion with respect to obstruction of justice was not due to the OLC guidance.


'Dangerous overcrowding' in US migrant facilities: government report

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 15:56

A US Department of Homeland Security report warned Friday of "dangerous overcrowding" in El Paso, Texas facilities for holding just-arrived migrants, with rooms packed with more than five times the number authorized. The report by the DHS inspector general said the health and security of both migrants and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials is under threat by squeezing people into holding rooms designed for a fraction of their numbers. "We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety not just of the detainees, but also DHS agents and officers," the report said.


Ramadan culture takes a fashionable turn, straining budgets

Top Stories - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 15:49

“We have to look our best when we are invited during Ramadan,” Amina says. For many Arab families, advertising, peer pressure, a growing middle class, and Gulf-led consumerism are steering the holy month – traditionally a period of fasting, spiritual reflection, and family affairs – toward a social season of high expectations on par with Christmas in the United States. Slowly creeping into the holiday the past two decades, Ramadan consumerism is hitting new heights in the region this year.


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