Category: News

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UK Brexit Party rejects electoral pact with Conservatives
Thu, November 14, 2019 03:36 EST
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Brexit Party has rejected an electoral pact with the ruling Conservatives, saying it will field 300 candidates in next month’s election to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver on promises of a clean break with the European Union.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage made the comments Thursday, the final day for candidates to register for the Dec. 12 poll.
Farage has told the BBC his party had forced Johnson “to promise to change direction. What we now have to do is to hold him to account to make sure we get a proper Brexit, and that’s my job.”
The Daily Telegraph reported that Farage rejected a Conservative offer to put up only token opposition in 40 key seats if the Brexit Party would stand aside in other constituencies.

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Ex-insurance exec gets 6 months in college admissions scam
By COLLIN BINKLEY | Wed, November 13, 2019 05:53 EST
BOSTON (AP) — A former California insurance executive was sentenced to six months in prison for paying $450,000 to get his son and daughter admitted to the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.
Toby MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, California, was sentenced in Boston’s federal court Wednesday after pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy in June. His prison sentence is the longest among 12 other parents who have been sentenced in the widespread college admissions scandal.
MacFarlane paid $200,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to get his daughter admitted to USC as a soccer recruit in 2014, authorities said. A phony athlete profile created for his daughter said she was a three-time “US Club Soccer All American,” even though she never earned the honor.
MacFarlane later paid another $250,000 to get his son into USC as a basketball recruit in 2017, investigators said.
Most of the money was paid to Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme, while $50,000 went to an account managed by former USC athletics official Donna Heinel, who has pleaded not guilty to federal charges.
MacFarlane’s daughter graduated from USC in 2018 and never played on the soccer team. His son briefly attended the school and did not play basketball.
MacFarlane claimed the payments as business expenses so he could get tax deductions, prosecutors said. After his arrest, he repaid the IRS more than $80,000, his lawyer said.
Until earlier this year, MacFarlane was a senior executive of WFG National Title Insurance Company. His lawyers say he lost his job and his professional license following his arrest and he has had to sell some of his properties.
In a plea for leniency, MacFarlane said he was entering the most serious personal crisis of his life when Singer entered his life. MacFarlane’s marriage was falling apart, he said, and he was being treated for anxiety, depression and insomnia.
“I knew it was wrong, but at the time I was feeling completely overwrought and all I could think of was not having to worry about my kids getting into college,” MacFarlane wrote in a letter to the court. “Foolishly and selfishly, I took what seemed like an easy way out.”
Prosecutors said he deserved prison time because he used the scam twice and paid more than others in the case. His personal turmoil was no excuse, prosecutors said.
“Many people experience similar hardships without turning to criminal conduct,” prosecutors wrote in court documents. By repeating the scheme for his son, they said, MacFarlane demonstrated that it was not just a “transitory lapse in judgment.”
More than 50 people have been charged in the admissions scheme, which involves wealthy and famous parents accused of paying bribes to rig their children’s test scores or to get them admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes. A total of 19 parents have pleaded guilty, while another 15 are contesting the charges.
Also on Wednesday, a former Los Angeles test administrator pleaded guilty in the test cheating scsandal. Igor Dvorskiy entered the plea in federal court in Boston after reaching a deal with prosecutors in October.
Dvorskiy is accused of accepting bribes to help parents rig their children’s scores on the SAT and ACT. Authorities say he received $10,000 per student while administering tests at a Los Angeles school. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering, and has agreed to give up $150,000 earned through the scheme.

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Palin says she learned of divorce plans from attorney
By BECKY BOHRER 04:17 EST
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told a Christian broadcaster she learned her husband was seeking a divorce in an email from his attorney.
The revelation came in an interview released Tuesday with James Dobson, founder of the Family Talk Christian ministry. He said the interview had been conducted previously.
Palin said she received an email June 19 from the attorney, almost three months before Todd Palin filed for divorce on his birthday in September.
She described the filing that came shortly after their 31st wedding anniversary as devastating. “I thought I got shot,” she said.
Palin said they’re going through counseling and their marriage isn’t “over, over.” She said attorneys are “getting rich” off them.
Dobson had asked how people could pray for her. Palin said the prayer would be for “God’s will to be done, but that God would make sure that we know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side ….”
And “it still has to be mowed,” Dobson said, interrupting her. “And it still has to be mowed,” she said.
Palin later said God doesn’t want families to split up. “And to me, in a general sense, marriage is so extremely important as foundation of our nation. It helps make America that much greater, is that security of family, and I’m not to the point of wanting mine to be split,” she said.
A message seeking comment was left for an attorney believed to be representing Todd Palin.
The Palins have five children, one of whom is a minor.
Palin was the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee. She resigned as governor in 2009.
She is a former Fox News contributor who has written books and for years had a political action committee. She described to Dobson the last year as being in a “lull.”
She said it wouldn’t help going through this period of her life if the media were “hounding” her. She said maybe that is one of the reasons for the lull.
“Yeah, maybe that’s why God has had them not be so interested lately” because God knew what was coming, she said.

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Former Conservative minister urges UK to reject the party
By DANICA KIRKA | Wed, November 13, 2019 01:01 EST
LONDON (AP) — A former Conservative Party Cabinet minister said Wednesday that giving the party a majority in next month’s election would be “disastrous” for the U.K., in the latest example of how the Brexit debate has shattered traditional party alliances in this deeply divided country.
David Gauke, who served as justice secretary until July, said an outright victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party would likely result in Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement ensuring unfettered trade with the bloc.
“A Conservative majority after the next General Election will take us in the direction of a very hard Brexit and in all likelihood at the end of 2020 we will leave the implementation period without a deal with the EU … in effect on no-deal terms,’’ Gauke told the BBC. “And that I believe would be disastrous for the prosperity of this country, whole sectors would become unviable.”
The comments underscore the upheaval underway in British politics, triggered largely by differing views on how and whether Britain should leave the EU. Many traditional Conservative voters, once attracted by the party’s business-friendly policies and fiscal restraint, now oppose its focus on severing ties with the EU.
Johnson used a speech at a car plant to urge voters to back his party or face a “delay and dither” coalition that would be led by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and the Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon, who would push for a fresh referendum on Scottish independence that he opposes.
The prime minister said there is a “pent up tidal wave” of tens of billions of dollars of investment ready to come into Britain if the uncertainty over Brexit can be lifted.
The Labour Party is also split over Brexit, as well as by Corbyn’s left-wing policies.
Last week, a former member of Labour’s inner circle took the extraordinary step of urging voters to support Johnson. Ian Austin, an aide to Gordon Brown, the party’s last prime minister, said Labour had been poisoned by “anti-Jewish racism” under Corbyn.
Those splits are providing an opening for smaller parties such as the Liberal Democrats and Greens, who have united behind the goal of stopping Brexit. On the other side of the divide is the newly formed Brexit Party, which seeks to ensure Britain leaves the bloc as soon as possible. The Brexit Party this week said it wouldn’t run candidates in constituencies now held by the Conservatives after Johnson promised Britain would leave the EU by the end of 2020.
Gauke said this “choreographed cooperation” with the Brexit Party means Johnson is now “boxed in” by hardliners who won’t allow him to extend talks with the EU beyond the end of next year. Since it will take at least three years to negotiate a trade deal, Britain is likely to leave the bloc without an agreement next December, he said.
Because of this, Gauke said the best thing for voters to do is deny Johnson an outright majority by supporting independent candidates and Liberal Democrats. While other former Conservatives have switched to the Liberal Democrats, Gauke said he will run for re-election as an independent.
“I’m calling for people to vote for the center ground, if you like,” he said. “If independents can do well, if Liberal Democrats can do well, then we can have a Parliament that is both opposed to a no-deal Brexit and also, I have to say, opposed to Jeremy Corbyn going to 10 Downing Street.”
That will also help ensure there is a Parliamentary majority for a second referendum asking voters to choose between Johnson’s withdrawal agreement and remaining in the EU, Gauke said.
“Because the consequences of the Boris Johnson deal are so significant, we do need to check back in with the British people,” he said. “And I think it’s perfectly possible for there to be a parliamentary majority for that after the general election.”
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Gregory Katz contributed to this report.
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Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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2 dead, 3 injured in a school shooting in Russia
Thu, November 14, 2019 03:30 EST
MOSCOW (AP) — A student killed a fellow student and wounded three more in a shooting Thursday at a college in Russia before taking his own life, police said.
Russia’s state Investigative Committee said the 19-year-old shooter brought a hunting rifle to class in Blagoveshchensk near the border with China and opened fire on students, killing one and severely injuring three more.
It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the attack. The attacker shot himself soon after the police arrived.
While school shootings are relatively rare in Russia, there have been several violent attacks by students in recent years.
The college was evacuated and classes suspended. Two injured students underwent surgery in a local hospital, and one of them remained in critical condition.
Police are investigating the attack.

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Australia’s highest court will hear Cardinal Pell’s appeal
By ROD McGUIRK | Wed, November 13, 2019 05:45 EST
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal from the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of sexually abusing children, giving Cardinal George Pell his last chance at getting his convictions overturned.
The decision by the High Court of Australia comes nearly a year after a unanimous jury found Pope Francis’ former finance minister guilty of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s, shortly after Pell became archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city.
The 78-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison in March and is no longer a member of Francis’ Council of Cardinals or a Vatican official. The Victoria state Court of Appeal rejected his appeal in August.
Pell is in a Melbourne prison, where a newspaper reported last month that he had been given a gardening job. He did not attend the High Court in Canberra to hear the decision Wednesday.
SNAP, an abuse victims’ support group, described the court’s decision as a blow to clergy abuse victims and to the Australian criminal justice system.
“We are disappointed that Cardinal George Pell and his lawyers will have yet another opportunity to attack and re-victimize the former choirboy,” SNAP spokesman Steven Spaner said in a statement.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which represents church leaders in Australia, hoped the appeal would be resolved quickly.
“This will prolong what has been a lengthy and difficult process, but we can only hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as reasonably possible and that the High Court’s judgment will bring clarity and a resolution for all,” Coleridge said in a statement.
The Vatican said it trusted the Australian legal system and noted in a statement that Pell had always maintained his innocence.
“At this time, the Holy See reaffirms once again its closeness to those who have suffered because of sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy,” said a statement from Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
Two of the seven justices — Michelle Gordon and James Edelman — heard Pell’s application for an appeal and unanimously approved it for a hearing by the full bench. The court rejects around 90% of such applications.
The two justices took the unusual step of directing the full bench to hear Pell’s application for an appeal hearing rather than hear a full appeal, but lawyers agree the effect is similar: the court will consider Pell’s argument for why his convictions should be overturned.
It is not clear whether the court would hear his application for an appeal and his appeal simultaneously, which is what happened with his state appeals court hearing in June.
An appeal hearing cannot happen before the justices return from their summer break in early February.
Pell’s lawyers did not immediately respond on Wednesday when asked by The Associated Press if the cardinal would now apply to the High Court to be released from prison on bail.
Prof. Jeremy Gans, who heads Melbourne Law School, said the court’s decision improved his prospects of making a successful application for bail.
“If he did apply, he’s got some good arguments,” Gans said.
Those arguments could include that Pell is serving a relatively short sentence while the court’s verdict could be eight months away, his advanced age, health problems and the added dangers he faces behind bars from fellow inmates as a convicted pedophile, Gans said.
Pell’s lawyers argued in their 12-page application for a High Court appeal that two state appeals court judges made error in dismissing his appeal in August. The judges made a mistake by requiring Pell to prove the abuse was impossible, rather than putting the onus of proof on prosecutors, the lawyers said.
They also said the two judges erred in finding the jury’s guilty verdicts were reasonable. Pell’s lawyers argued there was reasonable doubt about whether opportunity existed for the crimes to have occurred.
Pell’s lawyers also argued that changes in law over the years since the crimes were alleged have increased the difficulty in testing sexual assault allegations.
They say Pell should be acquitted of all charges for several reasons, including inconsistencies in the accuser’s version of events.
Prosecutors argued there is no basis for the appeal and that the Victorian courts made no errors.
Pell was largely convicted on the testimony of one victim. The second victim died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2014 when he was 31 without complaining that he had been abused.
Lawyer Vivienne Waller said she spoke on Wednesday to the victim, her client who cannot be identified, and he was “very respectful of the legal process.”
“I can understand that there are many survivors who might feel disappointed by the outcome and I can also understand that there are a lot of people who feel very deeply for my client and are concerned for his well-being and those sentiments are greatly appreciated,” Waller said.
The father of Pell’s dead victim was devastated by the court’s decision, his lawyer Lisa Flynn said.
“He was really hopeful that this would be over for him today because as the process goes on, and has gone on for some time, it is extremely retraumatizing for him,” Flynn said. “Every appeal that is announced by Pell is a downturn. It brings up the raw emotions.”
The father, who cannot be named, intends to sue the church over his son’s abuse.
Clerical sexual abuse and the Catholic Church’s handling of such cases worldwide have thrown Francis’ papacy into turmoil.
In a little more than a year, the pope has acknowledged he made “grave errors” in Chile’s worst cover-up, Pell was convicted of abuse, a French cardinal was convicted of failing to report a pedophile, and U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked after a Vatican investigation determined he molested children and adults.
Pell must serve at least three years and eight months behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole. As a convicted pedophile, he is provided with extra protection from other inmates and spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.

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Australian wildfires destroy homes and force evacuations
By ROD McGUIRK 02:33 EST
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Scores of wildfires continued to rage across vast tracts of Australia’s drought-stricken east coast on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes, some for the second time in a week.
The most intense fires were concentrated in the northeastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, although a fire emergency warning had also been issued for a blaze threatening the west coast city of Geraldton.
New South Wales had lost more than 200 homes since Friday, while 14 homes had been destroyed in southeast Queensland.
Some communities have been evacuated repeatedly as the fire danger recedes, then returns with flames fanned by strong wind changes.
Tony Wellington, mayor of the Queensland town of Noosa North Shore, said residents there were being evacuated for the second time in a week.
“It’s bad enough being evacuated once let alone multiple times,” Wellington told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “It’s terribly distressing, always, to be evacuated.”
A severe fire danger warning was in place for much southern Queensland, with soaring temperatures and thunderstorms expected.
“We’ve got another tough day today and there is an extended forecast that we are not out the woods by any means,” said Michael Wassing of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commission.
The Insurance Council of Australia, an industry body, said insurers had received 450 fire damage claims in the disaster areas.
In New South Wales, more than 50 homes were damaged or destroyed and 13 firefighters were injured overnight by catastrophic wildfires across that subsided on Wednesday.
At one point on Tuesday, 16 fires raged out of control at emergency level simultaneously across New South Wales, a near record number.
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned that rain that would quench the fire danger on the east coast is not forecast for months.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was relieved that the destruction on Tuesday had not been worse. A weeklong state of emergency for New South Wales was declared on Monday because of the fire danger, with Tuesday forecast to be the most dangerous day.
“I have to confess to being hugely relieved this morning that yesterday our amazing volunteers and emergency service personnel withstood the catastrophic conditions and did manage to save life and property,” Berejiklian said.
Fitzsimmons said none of the injured firefighters had been seriously hurt.

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Record cold follows early snowstorm over much of eastern US
By CAROLYN THOMPSON 04:47 EST
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Snow and cold records fell as an arctic airmass that started in Siberia spilled over a big chunk of the eastern half of the U.S., including the normally mild South, on Tuesday.
The mid-autumn taste of winter brought record single-digit temperatures to Chicago and environs; set snowfall records in Buffalo and Detroit; dusted cars with snow in Memphis, Tennessee; and froze lakes in Minnesota weeks earlier than usual.
Wisconsin farmer Bob Grove still has soybeans in the field, 20 miles south of Milwaukee, but said he can’t harvest them because the snow will clog the machinery.
“Normally, you don’t see this kind of weather to well into December,” Grove said. “It’s caught us off guard, as far as getting crops harvested. Doing what we can in between snow, rain, mud.”
The roughly 10 inches of snow in Buffalo and Detroit by Tuesday morning was a record depth for the time of year, weather service records show. Areas of Vermont and Maine saw similar totals as a wintry mix also closed or delayed hundreds of schools in northern New England.
“This is an air mass that’s more typical for the middle of January than mid-November,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Birk said in Chicago, where Tuesday morning’s low of 7 degrees (minus 13 Celsius) broke the previous record of 8 (minus 13 Celsius), set in 1986. “It is pretty much about the coldest we can be this time of year (and) it could break records all over the region.”
At least six cities in Kansas set new record lows Tuesday, led by Garden City, which dropped to minus 1 (minus 18 Celsius), breaking the record of 7 (minus 14 Celsius) set just last year. Records also fell in Wichita, Salina, Russell, Dodge City and Medicine Lodge.
In St. Louis, the mercury dipped to 11 degrees, breaking a record for the date that had stood since 1911.
Warming shelters in Memphis offered relief from a reading of 21 degrees (minus 6 Celsius), also a record low for the date.
Schools and businesses as far south as the Gulf Coast states opened late or closed Tuesday because of the unusual cold.
About 20 school systems delayed opening across north Alabama under the threat of wintry precipitation, including all the public schools around Huntsville.
Even more opened late or closed in Tennessee, and a handful of businesses and schools opened late in Georgia.
Forecasters said daytime temperatures would remain in the 30s across a wide area of the South. Freeze warnings reached from eastern Texas to coastal South Carolina, with overnight lows predicted in the 20s.
The dip to 8 degrees (minus 13 Celsius) in Indianapolis gave the city its earliest recorded fall temperature in the single digits. The closest similar reading was 11 degrees (minus 11 Celsius) recorded on Nov. 3, 1951.
Farther north, heavy lake-effect snow piled more than 10 inches high near Goshen.
In Ohio, authorities investigated two fatal wrecks in snowy and icy conditions Tuesday, one on the Ohio Turnpike in Richfield and another in Clark County. Seven passengers on a New York City-bound bus escaped serious injury when it turned on its side on a snow-slicked highway south of Syracuse. A section of Interstate 90 in Pennsylvania was back open Tuesday after being closed overnight because of jackknifed tractor-trailers.
The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan said two women, ages 81 and 64, and a 57-year-old man were killed Monday in a two-vehicle crash caused by poor road conditions. And in Kansas, the Highway Patrol said an 8-year-old girl died in a three-vehicle wreck.
Officials in central Wyoming searched for a 16-year-old boy with autism who disappeared Sunday wearing only his pajamas.
In Chicago, a plane landing Monday at O’Hare International Airport slid across the runway. No one was injured. More than 1,000 flights at O’Hare and Midway International Airport were canceled after more than 3 inches (7 centimeters) of snow fell.
In some areas, the mercury fell quickly. Temperatures in Denver climbed past 70 degrees (21 Celsius) over the weekend only to fall to 14 degrees (minus 10 Celsius) early Monday.

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As Hong Kong descends into chaos, China mulls its options
By YANAN WANG | Wed, November 13, 2019 12:38 EST
BEIJING (AP) — A sharp escalation of violence in Hong Kong is once again raising the question of how China’s central government will respond: Will it intervene, or allow the chaos to persist?
The Liaison Office, which represents mainland authorities in Hong Kong, said Wednesday that actions in the semi-autonomous territory were “slipping into the abyss of terrorism.” It pointed out that a man was set on fire Monday during an argument with demonstrators, leaving him in critical condition.
On the same day, a police officer shot a protester who was then taken to a hospital, also in critical condition.
The unabating tumult, now in its sixth month, may give China’s ruling Communist Party the justification it needs to take more direct action, analysts said.
“Beijing is hoping that the Hong Kong community will start blaming the protesters and support the restoration of order,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.
The central government must wait for the right moment to step in, Cabestan said, adding that if China acts before public opinion is fully on its side, it could exacerbate existing discontent.
While the movement began peacefully in June to oppose a now-withdrawn extradition bill, it has been increasingly defined by smaller groups of hard-core demonstrators bent on sowing chaos. Their actions, which have included setting cars on fire and smashing storefronts, have alienated many residents.
The Liaison Office described the act of setting the man on fire as “flagrant terrorism,” and pledged support for Hong Kong authorities taking measures to curb “various illegal acts of violence and acts of terrorism.”
Whereas Chinese authorities previously called the demonstrators “rioters” with behavior “close to terrorism,” they are now calling them “murderers” and tying them more explicitly to terrorism. This label may presage more severe enforcement measures and impact how demonstrators are ultimately prosecuted.
A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems,” a policy that promises Hong Kong certain democratic rights not granted to the mainland. But the arrests of pro-democracy activists and booksellers in recent years have raised fears among Hong Kong residents that Beijing is encroaching on the city’s freedoms.
During a key meeting of the party’s Central Committee at the end of October, Chinese leaders proposed establishing and strengthening the “legal system and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security” in special administrative regions like Hong Kong and Macao.
A meeting summary from China’s official Xinhua news agency did not elaborate on what this would entail, but Chinese officials have variously pointed to Article 14, Article 18 and Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.
Article 14 allows the Hong Kong-based garrison of the Chinese military to help with public order maintenance at the request of the local government. Article 18 states that national laws may be applied in Hong Kong if China’s ceremonial parliament decides that the region is in a “state of emergency” that endangers national unity or security.
“When necessary, the People’s Armed Police Force and the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison will back you up,” the nationalistic Global Times said in an editorial Monday, addressing the Hong Kong police.
Zhang Xiaoming, head of the Cabinet’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said over the weekend that Hong Kong has yet to fulfill Article 23, which stipulates that the city will “enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion” against the central government. These laws should also ban the theft of state secrets and prevent foreign political organizations from conducting political activities in Hong Kong. Beijing has repeatedly accused foreign forces of fomenting the unrest.
Proposing new national security legislation is likely to further inflame the protests, though China may not be opposed to that, said Joseph Cheng, a pro-democracy advocate and retired City University of Hong Kong political scientist.
China has made it clear that it intends to maintain a hard line politically, refusing to make any concessions to protesters while pushing ahead with unpopular security legislation, Cheng said.
A further concern is that Beijing might order the postponement of Hong Kong’s local assembly elections scheduled for Nov. 24, freezing in place the current pro-China makeup of the body and avoiding possible embarrassment for the administration of Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Although Lam has been criticized for a lack of leadership and her inflexibility, she has faithfully carried out Beijing’s will. During meetings last week in Shanghai and Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed support for her work.
At least for now, the central government appears to be leaving enforcement to local authorities, said Ben Bland, a research fellow at Australia’s Lowy Institute and author of “Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow.”
This approach allows the party to keep the issue tied to Hong Kong, as opposed to one that requires intervention at a higher level, Bland said, adding that while Beijing has several options for cracking down on the protests, each carries its own risks and could aggravate tensions.
As protesters’ tactics have become increasingly extreme, crippling regular operations in the city and plunging various districts into mayhem, Hong Kong’s government has shifted its focus toward the violence and away from the democratic reforms the movement intended to advocate.
“We all feel very depressed because we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Cheng said.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s Houthi rebels in indirect peace talks
By AHMED AL-HAJ and MAGGIE MICHAEL | Wed, November 13, 2019 12:50 EST
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels are holding indirect, behind-the-scenes talks to end the devastating five-year war in Yemen, officials from both sides have told The Associated Press.
The negotiations are taking place with Oman, a Gulf Arab country that borders both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as mediator. Oman has positioned itself as a quiet mediator in the past and in a possible sign the back-channel talks could be stepping up, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman arrived in Muscat on Monday.
The two sides have communicated via video conference over the past two months, according to Gamal Amer, a negotiator for the Yemeni rebels known as Houthis. They have also talked through European intermediaries, according to three Houthi officials.
Yemen remains a divided country. The Iran-backed Houthis have controlled the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north since 2014. The Saudi-led military coalition, which entered the war in 2015, is fighting on behalf of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his internationally recognized government.
The Oman-mediated talks began in September, after a Houthi-claimed drone struck a key crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest — and dramatically cut into global oil supplies. The United States blamed Iran, which denied involvement.
The attack laid bare the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s oil installations and appears to have propelled Riyadh toward negotiating an end to the increasingly costly war. The kingdom has also faced a growing backlash against its role in the Yemen war, including from the U.S. Congress.
The current talks focus on interim goals, such as re-opening Yemen’s main international airport in Sanaa, shut down by the Saudi-led coalition in 2016. Also under discussion is a buffer zone along the Yemen-Saudi border in areas under Houthi control.
Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, a former Yemeni foreign minister, told the AP from Oman that the Saudis’ main concerns include dismantling the Houthis ballistic and drone capabilities and the kingdom’s border security.
The Saudis are looking for assurances the Houthis will distance themselves from Shiite power Iran, the Sunni kingdom’s archrival. Riyadh has long feared the Houthis could establish an Iranian presence along the Saudi-Yemen border.
These talks could pave the way for more high-profile negotiations early next year, said one of the Houthi officials.
All officials, with the exception of Amer and al-Qirbi, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters on backchannel negotiations.
The recent rapprochement — if materialized — could put an end to a war that has killed over 100,000 people, destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure, displaced millions, and pushed the country’s 30 million people into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. However, it remains to be seen how future peace talks could shape a post-war Yemen, deeply fragmented along many fault lines during the conflict.
Last week, a senior Saudi official told a group of reporters in Washington that, “there is a sense that we need to move to resolution of this conflict.” He said the ongoing talks are also focusing on prisoner exchanges between the warring sides.
There are signs all involved in the fighting are seeking a way out. The United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition, has tried to extricate itself from the conflict and last month said it was pulling out of Yemen, after spending years financing and training militias and separatist political factions in southern Yemen.
Talks between the Yemeni rebels and the Saudis are not new.
The two sides struck a cease-fire in 2016 after a meeting in the southern Saudi region of Asir but the truce later fell apart. Amer, the Houthi negotiator, says an exchange of messages between the two sides never stopped and that they “kept a window open” for dialogue.
The Houthis and Hadi’s government have also sat at a negotiating table several times, most notably at the U.N.-brokered talks in Sweden last December, when they reached a tentative peace plan that involved a cease-fire in the flashpoint port of Hodeida, the main passageway for Yemen imports and a lifeline to Houthi-controlled areas.
However, the Oman-mediated talks are not inclusive for all parties to the conflict, according to a Yemeni government official.
President Hadi’s adviser Abdel-Aziz Jabari, who is also deputy speaker of parliament, says the government has been kept in the dark about what its Saudi patrons are negotiating.
He said he fears that Saudi Arabia could strike a deal to leave Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and key other Houthi-held areas, exclusively under rebel control — cementing the country’s divide.
“That would be a grave mistake and the Saudis would deeply regret it,” Jabari said.
Salman al-Ansari, a Saudi commentator who heads the pro-Saudi lobbying organization known as the Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee, says the Saudis were emboldened by their success in brokering a deal earlier this month between Hadi’s government forces and the UAE-backed southern separatists to halt their months-long infighting in southern Yemen.
“The kingdom never concedes anything,” al-Ansari said. “Especially when (it is about) securing its own borders and deterring Iranian influence.”
___
Michael reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Ben Fox contributed to this report from Washington.

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5 times DC testimony left its mark on the Trump presidency

5 times DC testimony left its mark on the Trump presidency

A news public phase of the impeachment inquiry kicks off Wednesday with public testimony from career State Department officials.

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LIVE: US impeachment hearings – CBC News

LIVE: US impeachment hearings CBC News Trump Teases Release Of “Tantalizing” First Phone Call With Ukraine The Late Show with Stephen Colbert WATCH LIVE: The Trump Impeachment Hearings – Day 1 – PBS NewsHour Special PBS NewsHour Stephen Colbert Celebrates ‘Im…

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Halloween Shooting in Orinda, California, Leaves 4 Dead

Several others were injured in the shooting in Orinda, east of San Francisco, the authorities said. Witnesses told local news outlets that it happened at a Halloween party.

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The prime minister’s early appearances on “Have I Got News For You,” a comedy show, helped endear him to the British public.

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Three employees were shot Wednesday evening at a Church’s Chicken in Otay Mesa, California, the San Diego Police Department said in a news release.

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NBA load management is disrespectful to former NBA players – Kendrick Perkins | The Jump

Rachel Nichols, Jackie MacMullan and Kendrick Perkins discuss Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s comments on load management saying that it is the best thing to happen to the league. They also discuss the NBA’s load management strategies and debate whether LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard’s recent decision to sit out of multiple games is acceptable in this league.
#TheJump #NBA #Sports

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Rudy Giuliani's Tweets Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

Rudy Giuliani’s Tweets Top This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Last week, Rudy Giuliani lawyered up on Twitter and the internet began to ask what triggers liberals and conservatives.

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EarthLink – News

EarthLink – News

World thirst for oil keeps growing, with SUVs a key culprit
By ANGELA CHARLTON 07:08 EST
PARIS (AP) — The world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s, with climate-damaging emissions climbing until at least 2040 — and consumers’ insatiable appetite for SUVs is a big reason why.
Mounting demand for plastic is another factor. So is increasing plane travel. And the upcoming population boom in cities across Africa and Asia.
All this is according to an important global industry forecast released Wednesday by the International Energy Agency that is used as guidance by oil companies and governments. This year, amid growing pressure from young activists like Greta Thunberg and others for tougher action on emissions, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook took a stronger-than-usual stand on climate change.
It celebrates a growing boom in solar and wind power, and urges governments to work together on changing the way we fuel our lives. And it singles out gas-guzzling SUVs for criticism.
Growing demand for SUVs in the U.S, China, Europe and elsewhere could negate all the environmental benefits of the increased use of electric cars, the report says. Because of their size, SUVs are harder to electrify than smaller vehicles.
SUVs “were the second biggest reason for global emissions growth in last 10 years, after the power sector and more than all the industrial sectors put together,” IEA director Fatih Birol told reporters in Paris on Wednesday.
Energy-intensive SUVs and pickup trucks account for about two-thirds of car sales in the U.S. and only about a third in the EU, though they are steadily growing in demand in Europe too, according to industry reports. Worldwide, about 42% of cars sold last year were SUVs, Birol said.
The World Energy Outlook, which focuses on forecasting energy needs over the next 20 years, is increasingly important to governments because of its relevance to climate policy.
Environmental advocates say the IEA still isn’t doing enough to encourage renewable energy. Oil Change International notably criticized the IEA’s “over-reliance” on natural gas as a replacement for coal, saying that will lead to “climate chaos” because gas too contributes to emissions.
As flooding in Venice hit the second-highest level ever this week, inundating St. Mark’s Cathedral and grounding gondolas, the city’s mayor blamed climate change. Scientists say it’s difficult to pin a single such event on climate change, but that increasingly extreme weather events worldwide are linked to human-caused emissions.
The IEA said that almost 20% of the growth in last year’s global energy use was “due to hotter summers pushing up demand for cooling and cold snaps leading to higher heating needs.”
Based on current emissions promises by governments, the IEA forecast global oil demand of 106.4 million barrels a day in 2040, up from 96.9 million last year. Global oil demand is due to slow in the 2030s, and coal use to shrink slightly.
Emissions will continue to rise, if more slowly than today, and won’t peak before 2040.
The U.S. is central to whatever happens next. U.S. consumers and businesses were a leading source of growing oil demand last year, the IEA says. Also, the U.S. will account for 85% of the increase in global oil production by 2030, thanks to the shale boom.
Asked about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, Birol said: “as a global issue, it’s important to have concerted efforts to address climate change.”
The report lays out a more ambitious forecast if governments are to meet the goals in the 2015 U.N. climate accord.
That would require a big boost in wind and solar power, the IEA says, and a new push for energy efficiency, which has slowed in recent years.
The more ambitious scenario would also require work on new coal plants in Asia to capture their emissions, or closing them early.
All that would lead to a big drop in oil demand — with repercussions for oil-producing countries that depend heavily on hydrocarbon income.
The report came as activist Greta Thunberg announced she will return to Europe soon from North America on a catamaran that leaves nearly no carbon footprint, part of effort to call global attention to individuals’ impact on climate change.
While the IEA said such movements and individual decisions by companies and investors “can make a major difference,” it insisted that “Governments must take the lead… the greatest capacity to shape our energy destiny lies with governments.”
___
Follow AP’s full coverage of climate change issues at https://www.apnews.com/Climate

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Tesla to build factory in Germany after subsidies announced
By GEIR MOULSON 12:35 EST
BERLIN (AP) — Germany on Wednesday hailed Tesla’s decision to build its first European factory in the country, days after the government said it would boost subsidies for buyers of electric cars.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during an awards ceremony in the German capital Tuesday evening that “we’ve decided to put the Tesla Gigafactory Europe in the Berlin area.”
The company will also set up an engineering and design center in Berlin, Musk said. He wrote on Twitter that the new plant “will build batteries, powertrains & vehicles, starting with Model Y.”
The Model Y is a small SUV scheduled to go on sale in the fall of 2020. It will start at $39,000 (35,400 euros) with a range of 230 miles (370 kilometers) per charge.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier called the announcement a “glorious success” for the country’s attractiveness to the auto industry, especially in the race to develop and produce electric cars and batteries.
Altmaier said there had been competition for the plant among European countries in recent months, but denied that the government had offered any financial support to Tesla.
“So far, subsidies haven’t been discussed,” he told reporters in Berlin. “It’s clear that Tesla will be treated the same way as all other automobile companies if it invests in Germany and creates jobs here.”
In an interview with British publication Auto Express, Musk said uncertainty over Britain’s planned exit from the European Union — and thereby the world’s biggest trading bloc — had been a factor in not building the new plant there.
“Brexit made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK,” Musk was Quote: d as saying.
Tesla did not respond to requests to elaborate on how Brexit helped swing it for Berlin, but German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that “we see in it proof of trust in Germany as a location for innovation.”
Tesla’s announcement comes just a week after German officials and auto industry leaders agreed to increase by half the existing government incentives for electric vehicles with a list price of up to 40,000 euros ($44,500) — an incentive Tesla can expect to profit from indirectly.
The subsidy will also be extended from the end of 2020 currently to the end of 2025, and the government and industry agreed to aim for 50,000 publicly accessible charging stations nationwide by 2022.
Musk said that the plan is for the factory to be built near Berlin’s new airport, which is located just outside the city limits in neighboring Brandenburg state and currently slated to open next year after years of delays.
“We definitely need to move faster than the airport, that’s for sure,” Musk said.
Germany, home to some of the world’s biggest automakers, has been overtaken by the United States, China and some European neighbors in the adoption of electric vehicles.
In July, Tesla announced plans to build its third Gigafactory — the first outside the U.S. — in Shanghai.
German automaker Volkswagen, which last week began mass production of its ID.3 electric car, welcomed rival Tesla’s decision to build the factory on its home turf.
“I’m happy that Elon is, let’s say, pulling us, but I think the German industry is really now strongly investing,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, speaking alongside Musk at Tuesday’s event. “And we will keep you alert.”
Auto industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said additional competition could benefit German automakers.
“This is good news for VW, Daimler and BMW,” said Dudenhoeffer, who heads the Center Automotive Research.
Frank Jordans and David Rising contributed to this story.

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Man charged in Vegas massacre ammunition case changing plea
By KEN RITTER | Wed, November 13, 2019 12:57 EST
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man plans to change his not guilty plea in a federal case alleging he illegally manufactured bullets sold to the gunman who carried out the Las Vegas Strip massacre, records and attorneys said.
A hearing for Douglas Haig is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Las Vegas, according to a notice posted Tuesday.
Haig, 56, is not accused of a direct role in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Haig’s attorney, Marc Victor, and Trisha Young, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich, declined to say what crime Haig will admit or what sentence he’s expected to face.
The aerospace engineer from Mesa, Arizona, pleaded not guilty and remained free without posting bond following his indictment in August 2018 on a manufacturing ammunition without a license charge. He has been prohibited from possessing guns and ammunition.
Authorities said Haig’s fingerprints were found on unfired tracer and armor-piercing bullets in the high-rise hotel suite from which shooter Stephen Paddock rained gunfire into an open-air concert crowd before killing himself.
Ammunition in the room also bore tool marks consistent with Haig’s reloading equipment, prosecutors said, and Haig’s address was on a box that police found near Paddock’s body.
Haig said after his name became public that he didn’t notice anything suspicious when he sold hundreds of rounds of ammunition to Paddock.
Victor argued that as the only person to face a criminal charge following the shooting, Haig could not get a fair trial before a jury drawn from the trauma-scarred Las Vegas community.
But the defense attorney lost bids to move the trial to another venue, to draw jurors from throughout Nevada, or to have the case heard by the judge instead of a jury.

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Prosecutor: Messages show teen plotted SC school shooting
By JEFFREY COLLINS 06:17 EST
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Prosecutors who want a teen to serve a lifelong prison sentence for killing a first-grader on a South Carolina school playground showed a judge cellphone videos and messages Tuesday that they say demonstrate he planned the crime.
Jesse Osborne pleaded guilty last year to two counts of murder for killing the boy at Townville Elementary School and shooting his father three times in the head so he could steal a pickup truck to get to his old school in September 2016.
The judge in Anderson County is deciding Osborne’s sentence. The now 17-year-old, who was 14 at the time of the slayings, faces anywhere from 30 years to life without parole.
Judge Lawton McIntosh will consider factors such as Osborne’s age and maturity at the time of the crime; his family and home environment; the circumstances of the crime; whether he knew his rights and could deal with police and prosecutors; and the possibility of rehabilitation.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning mandatory or arbitrary life sentences for teens who commit serious crimes requires the special hearing .
Prosecutors opened the hearing with more than 1,000 pages of Instagram and Skype messages, some discovered after a hearing where a judge decided he could be tried as an adult in February 2018.
Osborne’s online group, which called itself “Project Rainbow,” studied school shootings and encouraged each other to attack schools. They debated whether it was better to shoot at an elementary school or middle school, settling on the elementary school because there was no on-campus police officer.
Other videos had Osborne showing the handgun in his father’s nightstand that he would use in the killings and Osborne combing his hair three hours before the elementary school shooting, saying “got to have your hair straight when you’re going to shoot up a place. Got to look fabulous.”
Osborne kept up a Skype video call with members of the group open as he crashed his father’s truck into a fence at the elementary school he once attended and fired at children waiting to go back inside. Jacob Hall , 6, bled to death from a wound to his leg.
“I can’t stop hearing gunshots and the kids screaming and Jesse screaming. I’m freaking out,” one girl typed into the Skype chat according to testimony from Anderson County Sheriff’s detective McKindra Bibb who analyzed the cellphone.
Osborne also did internet searches on school shootings in places like Columbine, Colorado; Sandy Hook, Connecticut; and Virginia Tech. He kept on his cellphone a screen shot of a collage of some of the 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, Bibb said.
Before the shooting, Osborne told the group on Skype “god, if I get over 70 kills, I’ll be satisfied,” Bibb testified.
Videos on Osborne’s phone included one taken by his mother of him shooting a semi-automatic rifle while family members watched and a video he took of him firing plastic pellets at dogs.
A jail detective testified officials found a hole in the wall of Osborne’s cell last month and charged him with escape. Under cross-examination, Nathan Mitchell said Osborne knew his cell had a camera in it and the 9-inch (23-centimeter) hole was in a wall that the teen likely knew led to the cell next door
“You could stick a head into it,” Mitchell said. “But you wouldn’t get very far.”
In earlier hearings, defense attorney Frank Eppes suggested Osborne was bullied by other children and had a drunk, uncaring father and a poor home life.
Eppes has also said Osborne has done well in the structured environment of the juvenile prison, is remorseful about the killings and deserves a second chance even if he’s middle-aged when he’s released from prison.
The one defense witness Tuesday was Jean Claycomb, part of a volunteer program that ministers to teens in jail.
Claycomb followed up on testimony from Osborne’s teachers in jail who said he has earned his high school diploma, was a good student and took a big interest in the Bible and Christianity after a judge ruled he could be tried as an adult in February 2018. If tried as a juvenile, Osborne could have only been kept in jail until he turned 21.
After that decision, Osborne “seemed to take responsibility for what he had done and really express remorse for what he had done. That impressed me a great deal,” Claycomb said.
Osborne also pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder. Two other students and a teacher suffered minor injuries in the school shooting.
___
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP .

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Japan emperor’s harvest rite is his 1st communion with gods
BY MARI YAMAGUCHI 07:14 EST
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Emperor Naruhito will perform a secretive and controversial ritual Thursday, a once-in-a-reign event to give thanks for good harvests, pray for the peace and safety of the nation and play host to his family’s ancestral gods.
Or at least that’s what experts and officials say.
The Daijosai, or great thanksgiving festival, the most important succession ritual that an emperor performs, is closed to the public, even as taxpayer money funds it.
It has drawn criticism as a throwback to Japan’s authoritarian past and as a colossal waste of money, and provoked speculation the emperor is spending the night on a bed with a goddess.
Here’s a look at the significance of the ritual and what people are saying about it:
___
FIRST COMMUNION WITH GODS
Daijosai marks the emperor’s first communion with the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, the monarchy’s mythological ancestor, and with other gods of Shinto, the religion of the imperial family. Harvest rituals originated in Japan’s ancient rice growing culture from around the 7th century, historians say.
The two-part ritual, each one lasting a few hours, begins Thursday evening. Naruhito, after purifying himself and donning a white robe, will enter the Yukiden, one of two main halls at a newly prepared, and very expensive, shrine complex inside his palace. Only he can enter the innermost sanctum to present harvested rice, sake, vegetables, seafood and local produce from around the country to the goddess and gods.
Naruhito will offer arcane prayers for peace and bountiful harvests, then partake of the offerings in a symbolic communion. After a short break, he will perform the other ritual at another main hall, the Sukiden.
___
ONE NIGHT, $18 MILLION SHRINE
The venue, Daijokyu, is a one-off shrine complex of about 30 structures in various sizes, including the two main halls, all of which will be demolished afterward. The shrine complex alone costs about 2 billion yen ($18 million), and the whole ritual will total 2.9 billion yen ($27 million).
It’s all funded by the government.
The ritual shrank when Japan was ruled by warlords and the monarchy had little money and power. There was a 200-year hiatus before it was restored during the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled from the 17th to the 19th century.
The ritual and the shrine were expanded when the pre-World War II government deified the emperor and used his status to drive Japanese aggression. The event has not been scaled down even after the emperor became a mere symbol, with no political power, under the postwar constitution, and there’s been little public debate about the use of taxpayer money for the highly religious and secretive event.
Keiko Hongo, a University of Tokyo historian who was invited to speak before a government committee on the ritual, said officials wanted to cut costs of other events but not the Daijosai.
___
WHAT’S THE BED FOR?
There’s speculation about many aspects of the ritual, but especially about the presence of a bed in the main hall, and what it might be used for.
Some experts believe the emperor uses it to sleep with the sun goddess to gain divinity. Others say it’s for the goddess to rest and that it’s not even touched by the emperor.
“The so-called bed, as we understand it, is a sacred seat for the imperial ancestor to rest,” then-Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said before the Daijosai in 1990 was performed by former Emperor Akihito, the current emperor’s father.
Officials have denied that the emperor uses the bed to gain divinity.
___
RELIGION AND STATE
The government’s funding of the highly religious rite remains contentious.
A group of more than 200 people filed a lawsuit against the government last year, saying the ritual violates the constitutional separation of state and religion. The wartime government turned Shinto into a fascist ideology to promote its colonial aggression.
Abe’s government says even though the rite is too religious to be considered an official duty of the emperor, it is an “extremely important” succession ritual for the country’s hereditary monarchy written in the constitution and therefore it serves the public interest and deserves state funding. The cost is paid in the name of “palace expenses,” which ordinarily cover maintenance and ceremonial spending by the palace, following a precedent set by the government at the time of the earlier event.
“There seems to be a political intention to resist (calls to stop funding the ritual) because of a sense of nostalgia for the (prewar) era,” Takeshi Hara, a monarchy expert at the Open University of Japan, told a TBS radio talk show this week.
Abe’s government wants the emperor to be a more authoritative figure, as he was before the end of World War II.
___
IMPERIAL CRITICISM
Naruhito’s younger brother, Crown Prince Akishino, says he is against using public money for the ritual and that it’s questionable under a constitution that separates religion and state.
“It’s a royal family event, and it is highly religious,” Akishino said last year. The palace budget for the Imperial family’s private activities, including religious ones, was about one-seventh of the amount needed for the event. “I think the Daijosai should be held … by making it an affordable ceremony.”
His view was quickly dismissed by the government and conservatives, but widely welcomed by some palace watchers and legal experts. They say it’s doable because the emperor already performs a regular annual harvest ritual in November at the palace’s existing shrines.
___
Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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NBA Top 10 Plays of the Night | November 12, 2019

Check out the top 10 plays of the night from around the league on Nov. 12 featuring Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul and more!

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EarthLink – News

Bolivia’s president resigns amid election-fraud allegations
By PAOLA FLORES and CARLOS VALDEZ | Sun, November 10, 2019 06:46 EST
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian President Evo Morales announced his resignation Sunday under mounting pressure from the military and the public after his re-election victory triggered weeks of fraud allegations and deadly protests.
The decision came after a day of fast-moving developments, including an offer from Morales to hold a new election. The crisis deepened dramatically when the country’s military chief went on national television to call on him to step down.
“I am sending my resignation letter to the Legislative Assembly of Bolivia,” the 60-year-old socialist leader said, portraying his departure as the culmination of a “coup d’etat.”
He added: “I ask you to stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking.”
Before Morales had even finished his statement, people began honking their car horns in La Paz and other cities and took to the streets to celebrate, waving Bolivian flags and setting off fireworks.
“This is not Cuba, nor Venezuela. This is Bolivia, and Bolivia is respected,” a crowd in the capital shouted.
Large crowds formed in the main squares in the capital, with many people rejoicing and some crying tears of joy. Protesters lay down in front of the presidential palace and set a coffin on fire to symbolize the death of the Morales government.
“We are celebrating that Bolivia is free,” said one demonstrator near the presidential palace.
It was not immediately clear who would succeed Morales. His vice president also resigned, as did the Senate president, who was next in line.
Morales was the first member of Bolivia’s indigenous population to become president and was in power for 13 years and nine months, the longest span in the country’s history.
But his claim to have won a fourth term last month set off unrest that left three people dead and over 100 injured in clashes between his supporters and opponents.
Earlier Sunday, the Organization of American States said in a preliminary report that it had found a “heap of observed irregularities” in the Oct. 20 election and that a new vote should be held.
Morales agreed to that. But within hours, the military chief, Gen. Williams Kaliman, made it clear that would not be sufficient.
“After analyzing the situation of internal conflict, we ask the president to resign, allowing peace to be restored and stability to be maintained for the good of our Bolivia,” Kaliman said.
The leadership crisis escalated in the hours leading up Morales’ resignation. Two government ministers in charge of mines and hydrocarbons, the Chamber of Deputies president and three other pro-government legislators announced their resignations. Some said opposition supporters had threatened their families.
In addition, the head of Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal stepped down after the release of the OAS findings. The attorney general’s office said it would investigate the tribunal’s judges for possible fraud.
Mexico’s foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, criticized the military involvement in the day’s events crisis, saying that “we reject it.”
Writing on Twitter, Ebrard said: “Mexico will maintain its position of respect for democracy and institutions. Coup no.”
Jennifer Cyr, an associate professor of political science and Latin American studies at the University of Arizona, also voiced concern about the military commander calling on Morales to resign, calling it “extremely troubling” and “sad.”
The OAS report and Morales’ acceptance of a new election were positive steps that could have calmed Bolivia’s divisions, she said. “Now I am not sure what will happen.”
Morales was first elected in 2006 and went on to preside over a commodities-fed economic boom in South America’s poorest country. The combative former leader of a coca growers union, he paved roads, sent Bolivia’s first satellite into space and curbed inflation.
But many who were once excited by his fairy-tale rise grew wary of his reluctance to leave power.
He ran for a fourth term after refusing to abide by the results of a referendum that upheld term limits for the president. He was able to run because Bolivia’s constitutional court disallowed such limits.
After the Oct. 20 vote, Morales declared himself the outright winner even before official results indicated he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with opposition leader and former President Carlos Mesa. A 24-hour lapse in releasing results fueled suspicions of vote-rigging.
The OAS sent a team to look into the election. It called for a new contest with a new electoral tribunal.
“Mindful of the heap of observed irregularities, it’s not possible to guarantee the integrity of the numbers and give certainty of the results,” the OAS said in a statement.
During the unrest, protesters torched the headquarters of local electoral tribunal offices and set up roadblocks that paralyzed parts of Bolivia.
The pressure on Morales had increased ominously Saturday when police on guard outside the presidential palace abandoned their posts, and police officers retreated to their barracks in at least three cities.
The state news agency ABI said Morales announced his resignation from Chapare province, where he began his career as a union leader. At the end of his speech, he said he was returning to Chapare.
“I return to my people who never left me. The fight goes on,” he said.
___
Associated Press writer Luis Andres Henao in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed to this report.

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NRA turmoil creates rift among some big donors
By LISA MARIE PANE | Sun, November 10, 2019 01:05 EST
Joe Olson was once such a passionate supporter of the National Rifle Association that he pledged to bequeath several million dollars from his estate to the gun organization upon his death.
But the steady drip of investigations and misspending allegations and a shakeup at the top ranks of the NRA compelled him to alter his will. The NRA will no longer get his money.
“The rot had gotten worse and I simply decided: No, I’m not giving those people my money,” Olson said.
Olson reflects what has become a new challenge for the NRA as its legal and financial issues stack up: the loss of big donors.
The NRA attributes much of its success and power to rank-and-file members who contribute a few dollars here and there throughout the year, but it’s the big-ticket donors who fuel the organization’s finances. They also play a role in who serves on the board of directors and are active on the NRA social and fundraising scene, whether it’s at galas or hunting trips.
And there are signs that some of them are growing uneasy over the NRA’s troubles.
One of them went so far to as to file a lawsuit against the NRA claiming misuse of funds and started a website that seeks changes to the NRA — from the ouster of longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre, to halving the size of the 76-member board of directors.
The donor, David Dell’Aquila, also claims that he has gotten others like him to withhold millions of dollars.
Over the years, Dell’Aquila has given about $100,000 and he and his wife pledged to bequeath several million dollars from an estate he amassed after a career as a technology consultant.
Large donors have long been a reliable source of money for the NRA, helping fuel the clout that it wields in American politics.
In 2017, the NRA received seven donations of more than $1 million, including one for more than $18 million, according to tax records. The NRA’s 2018 records are not available yet, meaning it’s too early to know how the recent turmoil engulfing the group affected contributions.
Despite the handful of million-dollar-plus donors, the group saw its overall contributions plummet from $124 million in 2016 to $98 million in 2017.
An NRA member for about 20 years, Dell’Aquila became more heavily involved after attending an annual meeting for the first time in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. A longtime hunter, Dell’Aquila said it was after that meeting that he decided to contribute big sums to the NRA, seeing it as an organization that would help preserve gun rights.
He went in with gusto, becoming a member of the Charlton Heston Society, an elite group of NRA faithful. Then, earlier this year, Dell’Aquila started to hear the rumors and see media reports of excessive spending by NRA leaders. He witnessed the showdown that spilled out in the public during this year’s annual meeting, when then-President Oliver North was denied a second term after seeking LaPierre’s resignation.
When Dell’Aquila asked some NRA directors and others at headquarters for more information on how donations were being spent, he said he didn’t get sufficient answers.
“I was just getting lip service,” he said.
A few months ago, he filed a lawsuit against the NRA claiming it has engaged in fraud and financial misconduct. The lawsuit cites many of the allegations that have emerged in other legal cases in recent months, including that LaPierre expensed hundreds of thousands of dollars in wardrobe purchases at a high-end clothier.
Carolyn Meadows, the NRA’s new president, called the lawsuit “a misguided and frivolous pursuit.”
“Here’s all you need to know: This lawsuit parrots claims from an individual who has worked for anti-NRA organizations and openly campaigned against our cause and our Association. End of story,” Meadows said.
While some big donors such as Olson and Dell’Aquila have pulled back, other big donors have doubled down.
Janet Nyce, a longtime member who along with her husband has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, said she called up NRA headquarters and felt they were open and honest about the challenges facing the organization, assuring her that the donations were being well spent.
When she got a call one day from another NRA member asking if she wanted to participate in a movement to withhold donations, she and her husband instead pulled out their wallets and wrote out checks to the NRA.
“We are supporting the NRA, there’s just no two ways about it,” she said.
Joe Gregory, who is the CEO of an investment firm and founder of the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom — a group of NRA donors who have contributed or pledged at least $1 million — chalked up the turmoil to internal politics and defended LaPierre’s expenses as a necessary part of being a CEO.
The demands pushed by Dell’Aquila, he said, “border on being unrealistic and not serious.”
He’s especially disappointed to see some of his fellow big donors start to abandon the NRA, particularly as the 2020 presidential election approaches and the NRA’s influence in preserving the Second Amendment is at stake.
“It’s important that we stick together,” he said.
For Dell’Aquila’s part, he’s not ready to back down from his fight.
He’s even planning to attend next year’s annual meeting, which will again be held in Nashville. He said he wants to see if LaPierre and others in the inner circle will talk with him.
“I’m not one to back down,” he said.

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Pope says he intends to go to South Sudan, urges dialogue
By FRANCES D’EMILIO | Sun, November 10, 2019 09:24 EST
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday called for South Sudan politicians to salvage a tenuous peace deal and to bring a definitive end to conflicts to the African nation, which he announced he intends to visit in the coming year.
In public remarks from a Vatican palace window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Francis also urged South Sudan’s leaders to find “consensus” for the good of the country, where hundreds of thousands of people died in a civil war several years ago.
President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar last week agreed to postpone forming a coalition government for 100 days to resolve security and governance issues.
“I direct special thoughts to the dear people of South Sudan, which I must visit this year,” Francis said. He didn’t give details of his travel plans, but the Vatican indicated that by “this year” he meant the upcoming year, 2020.
The pope travels to Asia on a pilgrimage later this month.
Francis referred to a visit by the two leaders at the Vatican this year, when, in a dramatic gesture of humility, he got down on his knees and kissed their feet to entreat them to preserve peace.
“With the recollection still vivid of the spiritual retreat by the authorities of the country, held at the Vatican last April, I want to renew my invitation to all actors of the national political process to search for what unites and overcome what divides in the spirit of true brotherhood,” the pope said.
“The South Sudanese people have suffered too much in these last year and awaits with great hope a better future, above all the definitive end to conflicts and a lasting peace,” Francis said.
He urged the country’s leaders to work tirelessly to favor “inclusive dialogue” while searching for consensus for the good of South Sudan and encouraged the international community not to neglect accompanying the nation on the path to national reconciliation.
Saying he “nurtures special affection” for South Sudan, he called for prayers for the country.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. In 2013, the country plunged into civil war, which left at least 400,000 people dead.

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Macron marks Remembrance Day, 101 years since end of WWI
By THOMAS ADAMSON | Mon, November 11, 2019 06:34 EST
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron marked Remembrance Day on Monday by relighting the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, below a spectacular giant tricolor flag.
Greeted by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Macron laid a wreath and inspected troops during the otherwise low-key ceremony marking 101 years since the Armistice that ended the combat of World War I.
He also stopped by the nearby tomb of French wartime leader Georges Clemenceau.
The rousing sound of military band brass music was slightly muffled by persistent rain for the hundreds of spectators — including former French Presidents Francois Holland and Nicolas Sarkozy — thronging the Champs Elysees avenue, some of whom waved French flags.
Macron was lunching with guests at the Elysee Palace, who include flag bearers and presidents of veterans associations.
The French leader will later inaugurate a monument for the hundreds of soldiers who died in foreign operations since 1963, whom the military calls “the fourth generation of fire.”
Since the 1960s, 549 French soldiers have died in 17 theaters of conflict including 141 in Lebanon, 129 in Chad, 85 in Afghanistan and 78 in the former Yugoslavia.
Commemorations were also underway in France’s wartime ally, Britain.
The Royal British Legion urged the nation to remember the 100th anniversary of the first two-minute silence observed on Armistice Day by shutting out modern technology and all distractions.
“This year we’re asking the nation to pause — mute your phone, close your laptop, switch off the telly — for just two minutes and pay your respects to our Armed Forces community, past and present,” the legion said on its website. “Join us at 11 a.m. on 11 November for the two-minute silence.”
The HMS Queen Elizabeth held one of the many ceremonies taking place across Britain to mark the day. Posting a short video on Twitter, the ship’s crew honored the fallen by spelling out “Lest we Forget” on the aircraft carrier’s massive deck.
Britain’s largest ceremony took place Sunday . The event in central London is traditionally held on the closest Sunday to the anniversary of the end of World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.
Queen Elizabeth II led the nation in remembering the war dead, as the political leaders paused campaigning for Britain’s Dec. 12 election to take part in a somber service in London.
The queen, dressed in black, watched from a balcony as her son and heir Prince Charles laid a wreath of scarlet poppies on the Cenotaph war memorial near Parliament. The 93-year-old monarch, who served as an army mechanic during World War II, performed the wreath-laying herself for most of her 67-year reign, but has cut back on her public duties.
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Danica Kirka in London contributed

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Justices take up high-profile case over young immigrants
By MARK SHERMAN | Sun, November 10, 2019 02:47 EST
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking up the Trump administration’s plan to end legal protections that shield 660,000 immigrants from deportation, a case with strong political overtones amid the 2020 presidential election campaign.
All eyes will be on Chief Justice John Roberts when the court hears arguments Tuesday. Roberts is the conservative justice closest to the court’s center who also is keenly aware of public perceptions of an ideologically divided court.
It’s the third time in three years that the administration is asking the justices to rescue a controversial policy that has been blocked by several lower courts.
The court sided with President Donald Trump in allowing him to enforce the travel ban on visitors from some majority Muslim countries, but it blocked the administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Roberts was the only member of the court in the majority both times, siding with four conservatives on the travel ban and four liberals in the census case. His vote could be decisive a third time, as well.
The program before the court is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that aimed to bring out of the shadows people who have been in the United States since they were children and are in the country illegally. In some cases, they have no memory of any home other than the U.S.
With Congress at an impasse over a comprehensive immigration bill, President Barack Obama decided to formally protect people from deportation while also allowing them to work legally in the U.S.
But Trump made tough talk on immigration a central part of his campaign and less than eight months after taking office, he announced in September 2017 that he would end DACA.
Immigrants, civil rights groups, universities and Democratic-led states quickly sued, and courts put the administration’s plan on hold.
There are two questions before the Supreme Court: whether federal judges can even review the decision to end the program and, if they can, whether the way the administration has gone about winding down DACA is legal.
In that sense, the case resembles the dispute over the census citizenship question, which focused on the process the administration used in trying to add the question to the 2020 census. In the end, Roberts wrote that the reason the administration gave for wanting the question “seems to have been contrived.”
There also are similarities to the travel ban case, in which the administration argued that courts had no role to play and that the executive branch has vast discretion over immigration, certainly enough to justify Trump’s ban. In the Supreme Court decision, Roberts wrote that immigration law gives the president “broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States. The President lawfully exercised that discretion.”
The Supreme Court fight over DACA has played out in a kind of legal slow motion. The administration first wanted the justices to hear and decide the case by June 2018. The justices said no. The justice Department returned to the court a year ago, but the justices did nothing for more than seven months before agreeing to hear arguments.
The delay has bought DACA recipients at least two extra years because a decision now isn’t expected until June 2020, which also could thrust the issue into the presidential campaign.
In part the court’s slow pace can be explained by a preference to have Congress legislate a lasting resolution of the issue. But Trump and Congress failed to strike a deal on DACA.
Janet Napolitano, the University of California president who served as Obama’s homeland security secretary when DACA was created, said the administration seems to recognize that ending DACA protections would be unpopular.
“And so perhaps they think it better that they be ordered by the court to do it as opposed to doing it correctly on their own,” Napolitano said in an interview with The Associated Press. She is a named plaintiff in the litigation.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who is arguing the administration’s case at the Supreme Court, pushed back against that criticism.
“We think the way we did it is entirely appropriate and lawful. If we did it in a different way, it would be subject to challenge,” Francisco said at a Smithsonian Institution event exploring the current Supreme Court term.
The Trump administration has said it moved to cut off the program under the threat of a lawsuit from Texas and other states, raising the prospect of a chaotic end.
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions determined DACA to be unlawful because Obama did not have the authority to adopt it in the first place. Sessions cited an expansion of the DACA program and a similar effort to protect undocumented immigrants who are parents of American children that were struck down by federal courts. A 4-4 Supreme Court tie in 2016 affirmed the lower court rulings.
Texas and other Republican-led states eventually did sue and won a partial victory in a federal court in Texas.
The administration’s best argument is a simple one, said Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston: “The Supreme Court should allow the Trump Administration to wind down a policy it found to be unlawful, even if reasonable judges disagree about DACA’s legality.”
Trump has said he favors legislation on DACA, but that it will take a Supreme Court ruling for the administration to spur Congress to act.
On at least one point, Trump and his DACA critics agree.
“Only legislation can bring a permanent sense of stability for all of these people,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith. Microsoft joined the challenge to the administration because, Smith said, 66 employees are protected by DACA.
The Department of Homeland Security is continuing to process two-year DACA renewals so that in June 2020, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients will have protections stretching beyond the election and even into 2022.
If the high court rules for the administration, it is unclear how quickly the program would end or Congress might act.

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